north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The son of an early pioneer of backcountry North Carolina, James Wellborn was born in 1767 in the area which is now Wilkes County. Wellborn lived a long life in the region and served his community in various political and military realms in addition to maintaining a substantial plantation. In 1800 Wellborn owned over 12,000 acres and fifteen slaves. Much of Wellborn’s wealth came to him as a result as a result of a series of lawsuits. Other property was acquired as a result of his marriage in 1794 to Rebecca Montgomery, daughter of another well-established backcountry pioneer. Wellborn and his wife, along with her sister, donated land they inherited from his father-in-law to create the town of Wilkesboro.

     Wellborn began his political career with minor local posts such as county justice and as an advocate for education. He then represented his county as a senator in the General Assembly for twenty-seven years, beginning in 1795 and as a member of the House of Commons in 1846. One of his first prominent positions came in 1805 when he was named by Governor James Turner as one of three commissioners chosen to settle a boundary dispute between North Carolina and South Carolina. He also served the state as a delegate to the Convention of 1835, when the state’s constitution was revised.

     While serving as a politician, Wellborn also served as a member of the North Carolina militia, and, by 1812, he had risen to the rank of Brigadier General. In 1812 he resigned his position with the militia in order to accept a commission as a colonel in the 10th Regiment of the United States Army during the War of 1812. Wellborn’s central responsibility during the conflict was to train soldiers from North Carolina and neighboring states in addition to recruiting new troops from those areas. Wellborn returned to his public life after the war, died at his home in 1854, and was buried in a family cemetery. In 1992 the owner of Carolina Glue Chip Company in Wilkesboro was charged with misdemeanor grave desecration after building his plant atop the cemetery.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, VI, 158-159—sketch by William S. Powell
Gene Welborn, Welborns and Related Families with Roots in North and South Carolina (1994)
Journal of the Convention, Called by the Freemen of North-Carolina, to Amend the
Constitution of the State, Which Assembled in the City of Raleigh, on the 4th of June, 1835, and Continued in Session Until the 11th Day of July Thereafter, online edition, Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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