Fayetteville, North Carolina is one of those U.S. cities with an eventful and diverse history. Here are some interesting facts about the history of Fayetteville NC and how it has grown into a thriving city of commerce, democracy and patriotism during the last few centuries.
Early Indigenous Inhabitants
Prior to the 1700s, the area of what is now known as Cumberland County, was previously inhabited by the various groups of the Siouan Native Americans. These tribes followed after the cultural norms of previous aboriginal generations for over 12,000 years.
The Yamasee and Tuscarora War
Between 1711 and 1717, violent wars broke out between the British settlers of the Providence of Carolina and two dominant Native American tribes at the time, the Yamasee and the Tuscarora. These violent conflicts resulted in the colonial victory over the native peoples, giving the English colonists indisputable control over the coast of North and South Carolina.
Settlement Along Cape Fear River
Beginning in 1756, settlement was established along the Cape Fear River, a 191 mile long slow-moving channel originating in the wetlands of central North Carolina, extending to the edge of the East Coast, and flowing in to the Atlantic Ocean. The river gets its name from Cape Fear, the natural landform that has developed where the river and the ocean come together.
Aside from the colonial influence of Great Britain, the ancestry of Fayetteville primarily traces back to the Scottish Highlanders who settled in the area to form two different towns along the Cape Fear River. Throughout the mid 1700s, land grants were issued by the Royal Governor of North Carolina, who encouraged the Scots to settle near the towns, with promises of land grants, tax exemptions, economic development, and a temperate climate.
The Formation of Fayetteville
Cross Creek was a town that first originated as a trading post known as, Spring Hill in 1756. The second settlement, Campbellton, was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1762. Being only a mile apart, these towns merged to form Fayetteville in 1783 following the American Revolutionary War. The convergence was named after Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer who supported the American forces during the war against Great Britain.
Fayetteville’s Golden Decade
Following its establishment, Fayetteville grew as a center of government and commerce during the 1780s. Its control over Cape Fear River was significant because it was the only passable waterway throughout the region. Additionally, Fayetteville became known for its system of plank roads, which put the town on the map as an accessible trade hub. In 1789, Fayetteville was selected as the place for North Carolina delegates to meet when they ratified the U.S. Constitution.
Most Notable Fayetteville Disasters
In 1831, a destructive fire broke out known as, the Great Fire of 1831, burning nearly 600 buildings to the ground. Another disaster followed during the American Civil War in 1865 when a force of 60,000 soldiers under the command of William T. Sherman wreaked havoc on the town. A large armory that manufactured weapons and ammunition for the Confederacy was destroyed. Many of the reconstructed buildings following these disasters are still standing today.
Fayetteville After the Civil War
In 1918, the U.S. Army established Fort Bragg, which eventually expanded to become the nation’s largest military training post. Because of this military hub that supported World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, Fayetteville’s population exploded. Now a mid-sized city in North Carolina, Fayetteville is known for the preservation of several historical landmarks that draws tourists and history enthusiasts year round.