Waxhaw, North Carolina, also known as the Town of Waxhaw, is a town in Union County, North Carolina. Waxhaw is a Charlotte, North Carolina suburb located less than 20 miles from the city center. Waxhaw had a population of 20,534 people according to the United States Census of 2020. The zip codes for Waxhaw are 28173. 704 is the area code. The town motto is “Proud of our past. Passionate about our future.”

In 1842, Union County was founded from the eastern part of Mecklenburg County and the western part of Anson County. Monroe was established as the county seat of Union County in 1843. President James Monroe was the inspiration for the name. Union County had a population of 10,051 people according to the 1850 U.S. Census. The population of Union County was 201,292 in the 2010 United States Census, and was 238,267 in the 2020 United States Census. Waxhaw is located in Union County’s southwest corner. In 1889, the General Assembly passed House Bill 1019, incorporating Waxhaw as a town. However, the history of the Waxhaw settlement dates back to the 1720s.

A Brief Historical Overview of Waxhaw and Union County

The similarities in language and culture between the Catawbas and the Waxhaw are at the center of this controversy of were the Waxhaw Indians a separate tribe. The flattening of their infants’ foreheads was a unique custom practiced by both tribes. As a result of this custom, the Waxhaw and Catawba people developed unnaturally wide eyes and a sloping forehead. This deformity was obtained by binding their infants to boards shortly after they were born. The Waxhaw Indians, like the Catawbas, used tree bark to cover their homes. The Waxhaw Indians, like the Catawba, lived in structured villages with a council building and a vast open area where tribal assemblies were held.

The Yamasee War (1715-1717) was fought in South Carolina between European settlers and Yamasee Indians. Trading between Native Americans and settlers and traders, as well as the Indian slave trade, were the origins of this war. The Yamasee Indians formed alliances with more than a dozen other Native American tribes, including the Waxhaw and Catawba. In the South Carolina backwoods, the Yamasee and their allies came dangerously close to annihilating the settlers. Those settlers who were not killed fled to Charles Town (Charleston, SC) for safety. Over 400 settlers were reportedly slain in Native American attempts to dislodge the European immigrants. Farms and communities were set on fire. The Yamasee allies were all involved in the fight to varied degrees. A number of Native Americans were slaughtered, but the exact number is unknown. The Waxhaw Indian population was destroyed to the point of extinction as a result of this struggle. The surviving Waxhaw Indians are said to have disintegrated and been assimilated into the Yamasee or Cheraw tribes at the end of the conflict. After 1717, the Waxhaw Indians, if they were separate from the Catawba Indians, were deemed extinct as a separate tribe.

The Catawba people, or Catawba Indians, were the first known residents of the Waxhaw area in what would become Union County. For thousands of years, the Catawba people, known as the Iswä (yeh is-WAH h’reh), had lived in the Catawba River valley. The Catawba word isiswä, which means “people of the river.” Before the English colonization of the Carolinas, the Catawba people were thought to number in the tens of thousands. The introduction of European illnesses by European explorers, traders, and settlers had a disastrous effect on the Catawba population. Smallpox, more than any other disease, is thought to have killed the most Catawba people.

Smallpox has previously resulted in large-scale outbreaks that infected entire regions and countries. Smallpox killed an estimated 400,000 people per year in Europe throughout the 18th century. The Catawba population had been reduced to roughly 400 by 1775, during the “1775-1782 North American smallpox outbreak.” By the 2010 United State Census, the Catawba population had barely risen to 2,600 people.

In the early 18th century, the first settlers of European descent arrived in the Waxhaw area. The Catawba people have a long history of trading with other Indian tribes as well as incoming European settlers. The Catawba Indians and Europeans were able to keep peace thanks to this commerce-based partnership.

Settlers began to arrive in greater numbers in Union County and Waxhaw in the 1750s and 1760s. The majority of the immigrants were Scots-Irish. These immigrants mostly came from Philadelphia over the Great Wagon Road. Around 10 miles west of Waxhaw lay the left fork of the Great Wagon Road (the section of the road that led to Augusta, Georgia, via Lancaster and Camden, South Carolina.) The majority of the newcomers were subsistence farmers, with a few tradesmen thrown in for good measure. Even the tradesmen, in most cases, maintained small farms.

Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845), the seventh President of the United States, was born in the Waxhaws to Scots-Irish colonists. Andrew and Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, his parents, had only recently moved to the Waxhaws from Northern Ireland. His parents are thought to have arrived in Philadelphia and traveled the Great Wagon Road to the Waxhaws. Before Andrew Jackson Jr. was born, his father perished in an agricultural accident. His bereaved mother moved him and his brothers in with relatives in the area.

Andrew Jackson was a lawyer, politician (sitting in both chambers of Congress for Tennessee), and a United States Army general before becoming the seventh president of the United States (1829–1837). As president, Jackson was a proponent of expansion and a staunch supporter of the Union. Furthermore, Jackson governed as a champion of the ordinary man in the face of a corrupt political aristocracy. His presidency also saw the start of the Indian removal policy and the Trail of Tears that followed. His backing for the forcible expulsion of Native Americans from their ancestral lands, as well as following horrors, overshadow any of his presidency’s beneficial achievements.

The exact location of Andrew Jackson’s birthplace has long been a source of contention between North Carolina and South Carolina. The state boundary territory of Waxhaw had not been formally surveyed at the time of his birth due to its remoteness. Both states claim him as a native son, despite the fact that evidence points to both states as his birthplace.

A skirmish during the American Civil War took place near the crossroads of Bigham and Brady roads in Waxhaw at where a general store once stood, Wilson’s Store. Sherman’s army feinted towards Charlotte after marching through South Carolina, leaving a wide trail of destruction in its wake. General Joseph Wheeler, a Confederate, was dispatched to Waxhaw to repel Union forces and ascertain Sherman’s marching route.

Wheeler set up a defensive line at Wilson’s Store on March 1, 1865. When a small group of Union cavalry approached Wilson’s Store, they were quickly repulsed by a barrage of Confederate fire. The Union cavalry attacked Wilson’s Store a second time after reorganizing and getting reinforcements. The Union cavalry retreated with three deaths and an unknown number of wounded after this second fight lasted less than thirty minutes. Five Union soldiers were taken by Confederate forces, and one Confederate soldier was wounded.

Between Monroe and Waxhaw, the Georgia, Carolina, and Northern Railroad (G.C. & N. Railroad) built the railroad in 1888. The rail line was built right through the heart of Waxhaw, and it still runs through it today. The train line was supposed to connect Monroe and Atlanta. In 1888, however, it only went nine miles to Waxhaw. The train line finally reached Atlanta in 1892, but only after another railroad had purchased the G.C. & N. Railroad.

Up until that moment, the railroad had been the area’s most important economic driver. Agriculture has always been the area’s economic backbone, and it has remained so until recent times. Cotton was a major crop in the area from the mid-1800s until the mid-1900s. Cotton was the most profitable cash crop in the area. Cash crops are those that are grown solely for the purpose of sale rather than consumption. 2,000 bales of cotton were produced and sold in 1888, the first year of the railroad. Over 5,000 bales of cotton were produced and sold the next year. Cotton mills began to appear in the Waxhaw area in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Long into the twentieth century, this rural agricultural economic basis persisted. The ever-increasing economy of Charlotte has been a major contributor in the rise of Union County and Waxhaw since the 1990s. Because of its proximity to Charlotte, the area’s economic base has shifted, and it is now serving as a bedroom community for Charlotte commuters. Easy access to US Interstate 485 through Providence Road (US Highway 16).

Per the United States Census Bureau for Waxhaw

Historical population of Waxhaw:
Census Pop. %±
1900 752 —
1910 602 −19.9%
1920 750 24.6%
1930 840 12.0%
1940 611 −27.3%
1950 818 33.9%
1960 729 −10.9%
1970 1,248 71.2%
1980 1,208 −3.2%
1990 1,294 7.1%
2000 2,625 102.9%
2010 9,859 275.6%
2020 20,534 73.9%

According to the 2020 United States Census, the population was 20,534 people.
According to the 2010 United States Census, the population was 9,859 people.
Females account for 51.6 of the population.
Males account for 48.4% of the population.
32.5 percent of the population is under the age of 18.
8.8% of the population is 65 or older.
Education level of a high school diploma or above: 97.1 percent
57.0 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
From 2015 to 2019, the median home value was $329,400.
85.2 percent of homes are occupied by their owners.
Total households (2015 – 2019): 4,773
The Town of Waxhaw had 1,181 enterprises according to the United States Census in 2012.

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