Alleghany County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. . It was named for the Allegheny Mountains. The word “Alleghany” is said to be derived from the Indian name meaning “fine stream,” an appropriate name for these beautiful hills shattered by the New River, the second oldest river in the world. Myth has it that the New River was revealed by Peter Jefferson, relative of Thomas Jefferson. Leading a party of surveyors, he was astonished to come upon a “new” river at the back the mountains. Tools and artifacts have been found in the New River Valley dating back to the Paleo-Indian culture. Native American tribes that have engaged the area consist of the Cherokee and Shawnee.
The county is divided into seven townships: Cherry Lane, Cranberry, Gap Civil, Glade Creek, Piney Creek, Prathers Creek, and Whitehead. Numerous boundary adjustments have been made since it was established, but none have resulted in new counties. Alleghany County is located in northwestern North Carolina, and its northern border is with the State of Virginia. The county is located entirely within the Appalachian Mountains region of western North Carolina. Most of the county is located atop a rolling plateau that ranges from 2,500 feet to 3,000 feet above sea level. The southern border of the county drops abruptly nearly 1,500 feet to the Foothills region of North Carolina. The plateau is crossed by numerous hills and mountains. The highest point in the county is Peach Bottom Mountain – Catherine Knob at 4,175 feet above sea level. The major rivers of Alleghany County are the New River, and the Little River; the latter flows through the town of Sparta, the county seat.
Alleghany County is the state’s fifth smallest county in land area encompassing 233 square miles and sixth smallest in population with around 10,000 residents. It is bordered by Grayson County, Va., on the north, and by North Carolina counties: Ashe on the west, Wilkes to the south and Surry to the east. Sparta, its county seat and only municipality, sits at the crossroads of US 21 and NC 18 at the county’s center.
The county was settled in the late 1700′s by hardworking pioneers mainly by English, German, Scottish, and Irish descent, some having migrated down the “Wagon Road” from Pennsylvania. Many of their descendants still live on land that was granted to their families nearly 200 years ago.
Alleghany County was created by an act of the 1858-59 session of the North Carolina legislature out of the northeastern piece of Ashe County. A surveyor was hired to establish the most central location for the county seat, but bickering over the location and the Civil War postponed the establishment of a permanent home for county government until 1868.
In 1870 James H. Parks, David Landreth and David Evans donated 50 acres of land for the county seat where Sparta is now located. Belief has it that it was proposed the county seat be named after Parks, but he refused and suggested it be named after the Greek city-state.
The first arrivals were hunters, but the farmers soon followed with names like Osborne, Gambill, Cox, Bryant, McMillan, Tolliver, Woodruff, Simmons, Crouse, Edwards, Pennington, Jones and Choate. Several of these family names are unusual to other areas, but still familiar in the county today.
Robert L. Doughton: Bob Doughton (1863–1954) was a powerful United States Congressman from Alleghany County from 1911-1953. From 1933-1947 he was the Chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee. He used his influence as Chairman to create the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs along the county’s eastern and southern borders. Doughton Park, the largest and most popular park on the Parkway, is named in his honor. He also played a major role in the passage of the Social Security Act. His former home is presently a bed-and-breakfast in Alleghany County.
Rufus A. Doughton: Born in 1857, he was the older brother of Robert Doughton. A well-known politician in his own right, he served as the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, and was Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina from 1893-1897. He died in 1946.
Franklin Delano Reeves (July 14, 1932–January 1, 2007), better known as Del Reeves, was an American country music singer, best known for his “girl-watching” novelty songs of the 1960s including “Girl on the Billboard” and “The Belles of Southern Bell”. He is also known for his 1968 trucker’s anthem, “Looking At The World Through A Windshield”, which demonstrated he was capable more than just novelty songs. He became one of the most successful male country singers of the 1960s. He was born in Alleghany, North Carolina July 14, 1932. He died January 1, 2007 at 74.
Old Prison Camp