ROWAN COUNTY was first settled by Scotch-Irish who originally lived in Lancaster County, PA and moved 435 miles down the “Great Wagon Road” to Trading Ford on the Yadkin River.
The Colonial Records of North Carolina reveal the first inhabitants of the region now comprising Rowan County as Alexander Cathey and John Brandon, both Justices of the Peace for Anson County in 1749, and the Locke and Nesbitt families. They arrived before 1749 and lived near what is now the Prison Camp on old Highway 29. The Germans from the Palatinate District on the Rhine River migrated to Pennsylvania in the 1740s and 20 years later followed their Scotch-Irish neighbors to Rowan County. They settled primarily along Dutch, Second, and Buffalo Creek in the eastern part of Rowan. As the upper region of Anson County (est. 1749) became settled, the Colonial Assembly, assenting to the requests of these pioneers, established the County of Rowan and the Parish of Saint Luke on April 12, 1753. At this time, Rowan County included all the territory north to Virginia, east to what is today Guilford County, and west to the mountains. Later, 26 counties were cut out of Rowan. The county was named for Matthew Rowan, acting governor of the colony in 1753.
The deed for Salisbury is dated February 11, 1755. The court center, called prior to this time Rowan County House, was a bustling little village of seven or eight log cabins, the courthouse and a jail and pillory, according to Governor Arthur Dobbs who visited here in late 1755. The courthouse dates to 1753 with records of deeds, marriages, and miscellaneous documents of value. Papers formerly in the clerk’s office (i,e., early court minutes) are stored at the State Department of Archives in Raleigh. Familiar names in American history adorn these records. Andrew Jackson, William R. Davie, Richard Henderson, Daniel Boone, Lord Cornwallis, Richard Caswell and other prominent local families such as the Barkleys, Hoovers and Polks, all ancestors of presidents or vice-presidents, appear often in county documents.
The climate in the Salisbury area is moderate. The massive mountains of Western North Carolina form a natural barrier against the cold east-west winds. While definitely “southern” in climate, Salisbury is far enough north and has sufficient altitude to escape the humid summers endured by many other southern regions. Extremes in climates are rare and short-lived. In winter the high temperature averages about 50F., with a low around 32F., The total snowfall is normally about six inches a year. Summer highs average about 87F. with a low of 66F. All in all, the climate of Salisbury affords many pleasant days of enjoyable living.
Salisbury, the county seat of Rowan County, is located in the heart of the beautiful Piedmont area, the industrial heart of North Carolina. Located on Interstate 85, 35 miles from Charlotte and Winston-Salem, Salisbury is in one days’ travel time to any major city on the east coast. It is the approximate halfway point between Washington, DC and Atlanta.
Salisbury has grown from a small town to a nice small city of over 31,315 as of July, 2008. This is the latest state estimate. Rowan County’s 1990 population according to the census was 110,605.
Salisbury is at the crossroads of I-85, U.S. 29,52,70,601 and N.C. 150. Over 3 million people live within 90 miles of Salisbury, 1.5 million within 55 miles and 60 percent of the population of the United States within a overnight truck haul. The seaports of Wilmington, Morehead City, Charleston and Norfolk are less than a one-day truck haul away. Rowan County Airport, three miles from downtown Salisbury, has a 5500-by-100 foot paved and lighted runway. Hanger space and private plane servicing are available. The major commercial airports at Charlotte and Greensboro are less than an hours drive from Salisbury. These airports provide services to all parts of the United States. Charlotte’s airport also provides service to London and Frankfurt.