Buncombe County, North Carolina

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Buncombe County, North Carolina
Buncombe County Courthouse in Asheville
Seal of Buncombe County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Buncombe County
Location in the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1791
Named for Edward Buncombe
Seat Asheville
Largest city Asheville
 • Total 660 sq mi (1,709 km2)
 • Land 657 sq mi (1,702 km2)
 • Water 3.5 sq mi (9 km2), 0.5%
 • (2010) 238,318
 • Density 363/sq mi (140/km²)
Congressional districts 10th, 11th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.buncombecounty.org

Buncombe County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 238,318.[1] Its county seat is Asheville.[2]

Buncombe County is part of the Asheville, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The county was formed in 1791 from parts of Burke County and Rutherford County. It was named for Edward Buncombe, a colonel in the American Revolutionary War, who was captured at the Battle of Germantown.[citation needed] The large county originally extended to the Tennessee line. Many of the settlers were Baptists, and in 1807 the pastors of six churches including the revivalist Sion Blythe formed the French Broad Association of Baptist churches in the area.[3]

In 1808 the western part of Buncombe County became Haywood County. In 1833 parts of Burke County and Buncombe County were combined to form Yancey County, and in 1838 the southern part of what was left of Buncombe County became Henderson County. In 1851 parts of Buncombe County and Yancey County were combined to form Madison County. Finally, in 1925 the Broad River township of McDowell County was transferred to Buncombe County.

In 1820, a U.S. Congressman, whose district included Buncombe County, unintentionally contributed a word to the English language. In the Sixteenth Congress, after lengthy debate on the Missouri Compromise, members of the House called for an immediate vote on that important question. Instead, Felix Walker rose to address his colleagues, insisting that his constituents expected him to make a speech "for Buncombe." It was later remarked that Walker's untimely and irrelevant oration was not just for Buncombe—it "was Buncombe." Thus, buncombe, afterwards spelled bunkum and then shortened to bunk, became a term for empty, nonsensical talk.[4] This, in turn, is the etymology of the verb debunk.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 660 square miles (1,700 km2), of which 657 square miles (1,700 km2) is land and 3.5 square miles (9.1 km2) (0.5%) is water.[5]

The French Broad River enters the county at its border with Henderson County to the south and flows north into Madison County. The source of the Swannanoa River, which joins the French Broad River in Asheville, is in northeast Buncombe County near Mount Mitchell. A milestone was achieved in 2003 when Interstate 26 was extended from Mars Hill (north of Asheville) to Johnson City, Tennessee, completing a 20-year, half-billion dollar construction project through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Major highways

National protected areas

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 5,812
1810 9,277 59.6%
1820 10,542 13.6%
1830 16,281 54.4%
1840 10,084 −38.1%
1850 13,425 33.1%
1860 12,654 −5.7%
1870 15,412 21.8%
1880 21,909 42.2%
1890 35,266 61.0%
1900 44,288 25.6%
1910 49,798 12.4%
1920 64,148 28.8%
1930 97,937 52.7%
1940 108,755 11.0%
1950 124,403 14.4%
1960 130,074 4.6%
1970 145,056 11.5%
1980 160,934 10.9%
1990 174,821 8.6%
2000 206,330 18.0%
2010 238,318 15.5%
Est. 2014 250,539 [6] 5.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790-1960[8] 1900-1990[9]
1990-2000[10] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 206,330 people, 85,776 households, and 55,668 families residing in the county. The population density was 314 people per square mile (121/km²). There were 93,973 housing units at an average density of 143 per square mile (55/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 89.06% White, 7.48% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.15% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. 2.78% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 85,776 households out of which 27.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.50% were married couples living together, 10.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.10% were non-families. 28.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the county the population was spread out with 21.90% under the age of 18, 8.60% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 24.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 92.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,666, and the median income for a family was $45,011. Males had a median income of $30,705 versus $23,870 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,384. About 7.80% of families and 11.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.30% of those under age 18 and 9.80% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government

Buncombe County is a member of the Land-of-Sky Regional Council of governments.

Buncombe County has a council/manager form of government.

The 2014 election voted in the current commissioners: Brownie Newman, Mike Fryar, Ellen Frost, Joe Belcher, Miranda DeBruhl, Holly Jones, and chair David Gantt.[12] The county manager is Wanda Greene.

The North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention formerly operates the Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center in Swannanoa for delinquent boys, including those without sufficient English fluency. It opened in 1961.[13]


File:Map of Buncombe County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels.PNG
Map of Buncombe County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels




  • Asheville
  • Avery Creek
  • Black Mountain
  • Broad River
  • Fairview
  • Flat Creek
  • French Broad
  • Hazel [14]
  • Ivy
  • Leicester
  • Limestone
  • Lower Hominy
  • Reems Creek
  • Sandy Mush
  • Swannanoa
  • Woodfin
  • Upper Hominy

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 17, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. David Benedict (1813). "NORTH-CAROLINA". A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE BAPTIST DENOMINATION IN AMERICA, AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. Lincoln & Edmands. Retrieved 2010-08-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. debunk - The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, accessed 2009-01-11
  5. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. http://www.buncombecounty.org/Governing/commissioners/Default.aspx
  13. "Swannanoa Valley YDC" (Archive). North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. April 28, 2006. Retrieved on December 16, 2015.
  14. though not listed on the census map below, it shows up here: https://www.buncombecounty.org/common/landRecords/mappers_townships.pdf

External links

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