|Named for||Bartlett Yancey|
|• Total||313 sq mi (810 km2)|
|• Land||313 sq mi (810 km2)|
|• Water||0.6 sq mi (2 km2) 0.2%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||59/sq mi (23/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Yancey County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 18,470. 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 and 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 (1,321.9 km2) of land, a portion of which later became Yancey County, North Carolina.
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 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 (2,037 m) above sea level.
On March 6, 1834, "Yellow Jacket" John Bailey conveyed 100 acres (0.40 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. He was also 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 naval 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 the Mississippi, all over 6,400 ft (2,000 m). In descending order of height, they are: Mount Mitchell, Mount Craig, Balsam Cone, Mount Gibbs and Potato Hill.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||104||0.56%|
|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 the census of 2000, there were 17,774 people, 7,472 households, and 5,372 families residing in the county. The population density was 57 people per square mile (22 people/km2). There were 9,729 housing units at an average density of 31 units per square mile (12 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.99% White, 0.57% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.41% from other races, and 0.56% from two or more races. 2.69% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 7,472 households, out of which 27.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.20% were married couples living together, 7.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 25.40% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 21.20% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 26.40% from 25 to 44, 27.10% from 45 to 64, and 18.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 95.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $29,674, and the median income for a family was $35,879. Males had a median income of $26,800 versus $20,885 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,335. About 10.90% of families and 15.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.10% of those under age 18 and 16.30% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2015 the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Yancey County, North Carolina are:
|Largest ancestries (2015)||Percent|
Yancey County is a member of the North Carolina Councils of Governments, Region D: High Country Council of Governments.
The county has two law enforcement agencies. The Burnsville Police Department operates in the town limits, while the Yancey County Sherriff's Office has jurisdiction over the rest of the county, aside from US Forest Service and State Park land, where law enforcement is provided by those respective agencies. State law enforcement agencies operating in the county, with offices in the in Burnsville, include the Highway Patrol (Troop G) and the Department of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice (Probation Officers and Juvenile Court Counselors). The State Bureau of Investigation assists the other agencies and investigates use of lethal force by law enforcement.
The Yancey County Schools system serves the K-12 public school students of the county. There are five members of the School Board, elected on even years to four year terms. Three seats are elected on presidential/gubernatorial election years, and two on midterm years. In 2017, the NC General Assembly passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Michele Presnell, to change the YCS board elections from non-partisan to partisan. As of 2023, the partisan makeup of the board is four Republicans and one Democrat. Kathy Amos is the current Superintendent.
In 2016, the YCS Board voted to consolidate three elementary schools in the west and north of the county (Bald Creek, Bee Log, and Clearmont) into one school, which was named Blue Ridge. At the time of its closure in 2018, Bee Log was the smallest school in the state with enrollment of 45. Bald Creek and Clearmont closed the following year. Yancey County schools currently consists of the following schools:
High school students have the option to enroll in Mayland Early College High School at the main campus Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine.
There are two private schools in the county: Arthur Morgan School in Celo and Yancey County Christian School in Burnsville.
Mayland Community College serves the Toe River Valley counties of Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey. The main campus is in Spruce Pine, on the Avery-Mitchell line, but the Yancey Learning Center, a satellite campus, is just outside of the Burnsville town limits on the west side.
Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library serves the county, with the Yancey County Public Library branch located in Burnsville in the Yancey Collegiate Institute Historic District.
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