Haywood County's inception dates to December 23, 1808, when General Thomas Love successfully introduced a bill separating Haywood County from Buncombe County. Officially established in March 1809, the county became a haven for more than 300 families, drawn to the region by the allure of the Appalachian Mountains.
The roots of Haywood County's settlement trace back to the American Revolution when General Griffith Rutherford and his troops marched against the Cherokee. The soldiers, captivated by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, returned to settle the area after the war. Following the Revolution, a treaty in 1783 shifted the Cherokee boundary from the Blue Ridge to the Pigeon River, opening the region to settlement. Land grants awarded to soldiers, such as the 250,240-acre grant to David Allison in 1796, played a pivotal role in populating the area. Notably, Thomas Love and his brother Robert became influential landowners, shaping the county's landscape.
The first election of county officials took place on March 27, 1809, with at least 12 justices of the peace, many of whom had served during the Buncombe County era. Robert Love was elected clerk of court, and William Allen assumed the role of Sheriff. The county seat, chosen by a group of seven men, ultimately rested on the generous offer of 17 acres by Robert Love, shaping the present-day Main Street in Waynesville.
John Haywood, the state treasurer and an individual who never set foot in or visited the region, lent his name to the newly formed county. In 1828, the western part of Haywood County became Macon County, and in 1851, portions of Haywood and Macon Counties combined to form Jackson County.
For those eager to delve deeper into Haywood County's storied past, the North Carolina Room of the Haywood County Public Library in Waynesville offers a comprehensive resource. As part of the county's Bicentennial Celebration in 2008, a new history commissioned by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners provides a detailed account of the county's evolution over two centuries.