Jacob Weaver Bowman, a young politician who was elected to represent Yancey County, introduced the bill in the State House of Commons. Bowman was a lawyer who was born in the Relief community and campaigned for the State House on the promise of creating Mitchell County and establishing Bakersville as the county seat. He was one of only three representatives elected from north of the Toe River since Yancey County’s formation in 1833.
Bowman’s successful efforts capped a decade of attempts to convince legislators of the need for a new county. In 1850, 1857, and 1859, documented efforts to make a county north of the Toe River failed in the legislature. Some have suggested the split between Mitchell and Yancey was mainly due to sentiment north of the Toe River against Secession. While that played a major part, other issues such as the lack of representation in governmental affairs combined with local geography and the lack of roads also played a role in Mitchell’s creation.
On February 20, 1861, the Legislature returned to their action of the 16th, outlining specific instructions as to how the county would be organized. A court of pleas was to be held in the home of Eben Childs in the community of Childsville, which was located near the present-day Avery County Airport at the base of Humpback Mountain. The February 20th act also named James Bailey, Sr. and David Proffitt of Yancey County, Joseph Conley of McDowell County, Alonzo C. Avery of Burke County, and Thomas Farthing and John Harden of Watauga County as commissioners appointed to select a location for a county seat. After the location was chosen, Tillman Blalock, J.A. Person, Eben Childs, and Jordan Harden were to lay off town lots. The legislature specified that the community would be named Calhoun in honor of for former Vice-President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina.
This group never reached a consensus on the location of the community and the Legislature stepped in again. On September 4, 1861, Moses Young, John B. Palmer, John S. Brown, Win C. Erwin, and Nicholas W. Woodfin were appointed to select Calhoun’s location. On October 17th, Lysander D. Childs and Ebenezer Childs donated fifty acres of land in Childsville for the county seat.
The justices of the peace in the Mitchell County refused to levy taxes to build a courthouse in Calhoun, citing its inconvenient location for county residents. The matter returned to the Legislature in 1862, which authorized a vote in the county on creating Calhoun or naming the community of Davis as the county seat. Davis was the name that Bakersville assumed at some point in the years surrounding the Civil War. It was originally created from the plantation of David Baker on Cane Creek in the 1840s, but no record as to why its name was changed to Davis exists. Some historical accounts have proposed that the name was in honor of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, while others have suggested that it was named for the Davis family which was prominent in Toe River valley, but no one knows for sure..
The vote by county residents was for Davis, but the Legislature apparently didn’t accept the results. In 1863 an act was passed requiring the county seat to be located in the geographical center of Mitchell County, the location of which was determined to be Norman’s Hill (present-day Ledger). In the first of feuds between Raleigh and county residents through the years, the act was apparently ignored as court was held in Davis for the first time in 1866. The Legislature apparently did not attempt to enforce their wishes for Norman’s Hill. In 1868, residents expressed their displeasure with the name Davis, reverting the community to its original name of Bakersville and filing to incorporate the town and having it named the permanent county seat. This was completed by 1871. In the 1920s there was a movement to dissolve the recently-created Avery County and restore it to Mitchell, plus move the county seat for the united counties to Norman’s Hill, but it was unsuccessful.

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