The Town of Boone, in cooperation with the State of North Carolina’s Historical Marker program, designated its first marker (documenting Boone’s statewide significance in the ginseng trade) in November 2015.
In 2017, the Town of Boone applied for a state marker covering the tragic 1940 Flood, which devastated Boone and Watauga County and killed at least 16 local residents. Ultimately, the state’s marker committee determined that the 1940 Flood “was a subject of local significance” and not worthy of statewide commemoration through the state’s historical marker program.
Shortly thereafter, the Boone Town Council authorized the creation of a Boone Historical Marker program, with the 1940 Flood as the first topic of the new initiative. Ever since, the Boone Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has reviewed and evaluated proposals for the town’s historical marker program, authoring the marker designation report or working with applicants to co-author reports that provide sufficient historical documentation to justify local marker designation. The HPC is continuously at work on new local historical marker proposals and currently maintains a list of topics for new markers as funds permit.
To propose a topic for a historical marker, please use the submission box at the bottom of this page.
Councill’s Store was the area’s first post office, established in 1823 and operated by Jordan Councill, Jr. (1799-1875), a prominent merchant, livestock trader, and slaveholder. In 1849, the North Carolina legislature appointed Councill as one of three commissioners tasked with laying out the town of Boone as the seat for the newly established Watauga County, specifying its location on land that Councill and Ransom Hayes donated for that purpose just west of Councill’s Store. Councill, who served as the local postmaster from 1823 to 1859 and from 1860 to 1866, consented to changing the post office name to Boone in 1850. The site of the marker, opposite the current site of Boone Town Hall, is where the Councill's Store was moved to after Daniel B. Dougherty acquired it in the 1880s.
Source: John Preston Arthur's History of Watauga County, North Carolina (1915)
Hayes-Bryan-Greene Cemetery (2022)
The Hayes-Bryan-Greene Cemetery contains the graves of several key figures in Boone’s early history. These individuals include Ransom Hayes (circa 1805-1868), who donated 25 acres for the laying out of the new Watauga County seat in 1849. Judge Leander Lawrence Greene (1845-1898) was an important North Carolina lawyer and jurist who reportedly privately endorsed Black disenfranchisement in the contentious 1898 election. William Lewis Bryan (1837-1928) was a Meat Camp native who married Ransom Hayes’s daughter, Sallie. Bryan was appointed by the NC legislature as Boone’s first mayor in 1872—a position he held intermittently for more than 25 years. Of Bryan’s numerous tourism initiatives, include the Daniel Boone Monument and the Daniel Boone Trail, which boosted Boone’s early twentieth-century economy and solidified local lore associating Daniel Boone with the Boone vicinity.
From the marker location, the cemetery is approximately, 600 years to the northwest.
The Junaluska community is one of the oldest, intact communities of color in western North Carolina. Beginning with free and enslaved individuals who settled the hillside prior to the Civil War, the community began to coalesce by 1898, when residents built the Boone Methodist Chapel. By 1918, Junaluska featured a Black primary school, numerous residences, and the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church. Despite the injustices of segregation and racial inequality, Junaluska remains a vital part of Boone’s history.
To view the Junaluska Historic Marker Ceremony Program, watch the video linked here.
Detail crop from a 1954 image by Palmer Blair, courtesy of Sarah Lynn Spencer and the Digital Watauga Project.
Image from the Paul and Ruby Weston Collection, Digital Watauga Project.
The 1940 Flood (2018)
In mid-August 1940, a hurricane stalled over western North Carolina. More than 13 inches of rain fell in the span of three days. Ensuing floods caused more than 2,000 landslides and killed 16 people. Boone was cut off from the outside world for days.
One casualty of the flood was the tracks of the Linville River Railway. The flood permanently ended train service to the railway’s eastern terminus at Boone.
Ginseng, a native root, has been prized worldwide for its medicinal uses and harvested by Watauga County locals since the 1800s. Traders like Besty Calloway and Bacchus Smith were particularly renowned for their harvests during the 19th century. In the 20th century, Wilcox Drug Company of Boone, located at that time on Howard Street, rose to national prominence as the world’s largest exporter of botanicals, including local ginseng.