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Yancey County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Yancey County
Yancey County Courthouse
Yancey County Courthouse
Official seal of Yancey County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Yancey County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Founded 1833
Named for Bartlett Yancey
Seat Burnsville
Largest town Burnsville
 • Total 313 sq mi (810 km2)
 • Land 313 sq mi (810 km2)
 • Water 0.6 sq mi (2 km2)  0.2%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 57/sq mi (22/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 11th

Yancey County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,818. Its county seat is Burnsville.

This land was inhabited by the Cherokee prior to European settlement, as was much of the Southern Appalachian region.


Independent and sturdy Scottish, English, and Scotch-Irish settlers of the Carolina frontier had crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and settled the Toe River Valley by the mid-18th century. In the year 1796, one of the early land speculators, John Gray Blount, paid for 326,640 acres (1322 km²) of land, a portion of which later became Yancey County, N.C.

In December 1833, the General Assembly established a new western county, named Yancey, from sections of Burke and Buncombe Counties. Yancey County was named in honor of one of North Carolina's most distinguished statesmen, Bartlett Yancey, of Caswell County. As a U.S. Congressman (1813–1817) and as speaker of the N.C. Senate (1817–1827), he was instrumental in many accomplishments that benefited the state, including the creation of an education fund that was the beginning of the N.C. Public School System. He was an advocate of correcting the inequality in representation in the General Assembly by the creation of new western counties; but he died on August 30, 1828, over five years before the General Assembly created a new county named in his honor. In Yancey's boundaries looms Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern U.S., at 6,684 feet (2037 m) above sea level.

On March 6, 1834, "Yellow Jacket" John Bailey conveyed 100 acres (0.4 km²) of land for the county seat. John was given the nickname for his famous temper as told in the books "The Bailey Family of Yancey County,North Carolina" and "Heritage of the Tow River Valley" by Lloyd Richard Bailey, Sr. The town was named Burnsville in honor of Captain Otway Burns, who voted for the creation of the new western county when he was serving in the General Assembly. The grateful people named their county seat for Captain Burns, a naval hero in the War of 1812. A statue of Captain Burns stands on a 40-ton, Mount Airy granite pedestal in the center of the town's public square, which was given the official name of "Bailey Square" by the Yancey County Board of Commissioners on September 1, 1930. The statue of Captain Burns was given to the county on July 5, 1909, by Walter Francis Burns, a grandson of the sea captain. The inscription reads:

Otway Burns - Born in Onslow County, North Carolina, 1777 - Died at Portsmouth, North Carolina, 1850. Sailor - Soldier - Statesman. North Carolina's Foremost Son in the War of 1812-1815 - For Him, This Town Is Named - He Guarded Well Our Seas, Let Our Mountains Honor Him.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 313 square miles (810 km2), of which 313 square miles (810 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) (0.2%) is water. Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m), within Mount Mitchell State Park in Yancey County is the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River.> The Black Mountains, of which Mt. Mitchell is a part, contains five of the 10 highest peaks east of Mississippi, all over 6,400 ft (1,951 m). In descending order of height, they are: Mount Mitchell, Mount Craig, Balsam Cone, Mount Gibbs and Potato Hill.>

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

Major highways

  • US 19
  • US 19E
  • US 19W
  • NC 80
  • NC 128
  • NC 197


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 5,962
1850 8,205 37.6%
1860 8,655 5.5%
1870 5,909 −31.7%
1880 7,694 30.2%
1890 9,490 23.3%
1900 11,464 20.8%
1910 12,072 5.3%
1920 15,093 25.0%
1930 14,486 −4.0%
1940 17,202 18.7%
1950 16,306 −5.2%
1960 14,008 −14.1%
1970 12,629 −9.8%
1980 14,934 18.3%
1990 15,419 3.2%
2000 17,774 15.3%
2010 17,818 0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2020 census

Yancey County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 16,625 90.01%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 104 0.56%
Native American 57 0.31%
Asian 40 0.22%
Pacific Islander 1 0.01%
Other/Mixed 627 3.39%
Hispanic or Latino 1,016 5.5%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 18,470 people, 7,510 households, and 5,081 families residing in the county.


As of 2015 the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Yancey County, North Carolina are:

Largest ancestries (2015) Percent
English 16.4%
American 16.2%
German 15.1%
Irish 12.8%
Scottish 5.8%
Scots-Irish 4.8%
Welsh 2.0%
Dutch 1.5%
French(except Basque) 1.1%
Swedish 0.9%


Map of Yancey County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Map of Yancey County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels



  • Brush Creek
  • Burnsville
  • Cane River
  • Crabtree
  • Egypt
  • Green Mountain
  • Jacks Creek
  • Pensacola
  • Price's Creek
  • Ramseytown
  • South Toe

Unincorporated communities

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