For hundreds of years the Trading Path brought Native Americans to this area to hunt, and Europeans soon followed. After stopping first in the Northeast, settlers originally from England, Scotland and Wales migrated south through Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to North Carolina….and to Davidson County. They were attracted by abundant land, thick forests, many streams and the mighty Yadkin River, which now forms the county’s western boundary. A large number of Germans also migrated to Davidson County, and many residents today boast German surnames. Among the Germans were Moravians, who had settled in great numbers in the Wachovia settlement of Salem.
Named in honor of Revolutionary War hero General William Lee Davidson, the county was thinly settled when it was founded in 1822, and was still considered the backcountry of North Carolina.
Lexington is named for the famous battle of the Revolution, and soon became the county seat.
Later, when the exact path of the North Carolina Railroad was determined, John W. Thomas, one the railroad’s major promoters, founded his namesake city, Thomasville.
Davidson County Historical Museum
The Davidson County Historical Museum is located in the Old Courthouse on the square in Historic Uptown Lexington. The Courthouse itself is a historical treasure, built in 1858. On the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, the Old Courthouse is regarded as one of the foremost examples of temple form architecture in the Southeastern United States. The museum offers exhibits, programs and other activities that capture the history of Davidson County through local artifacts, photographs and archival materials from growing collections. In addition, the second floor courtroom remains intact as it was when serving the community in its original capacity. Visitors can view the judge's bench, jury box and prisoner's holding cage.
Exhibits at the Historical Museum
In the First Floor Gallery on permanent exhibit is a diorama entitled "Lexington: The County Seat Comes of Age".
In the Davidson Room and Gift Shop: "An Honor to the County" features a scale model of the courthouse and the town square when the building was initially constructed in 1858. Commemorative items of your trip can be found in the gift shop area.
Articles about past and current exhibits are available on the Museum website.
Click here to support the Davidson County Historical Museum Foundation.
Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10 am to 4 pm
Send an e-card of the Historical Museum to a friend!
2 South Main Street, Lexington
Civil War Trail Markers
North Carolina’s Civil War Trails are the latest link in a series of trails that meander through the states of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia North Carolina and soon in Tennessee also.
The markers identify and interpret locations of both great campaigns and lesser-known Civil War sites. There are six markers in Davidson County.
Thomasville Depot: Key Stop and Refuge, 44 West Main Street, Thomasville
This marks a major stop on the NC Railroad. Here soldiers waved goodbye to family members as they went off to war, and local factories shipped shoes produced for the Confederate Army.
Caring for the Sick and Wounded, one block south of Main and Salem Streets, Thomasville
This marker notes locations which served as a refuge for sick and wounded Confederate soldiers outside the war torn eastern section of the state. Late in the War, Union soldiers joined the wounded Confederate soldiers.
Thomasville City Cemetery: Union of Combatants, 205 Memorial Park Drive, Thomasville
This is the only known site where Confederate and Union soldiers are buried together.
Lexington in the Civil War: Occupation and Fire, Davidson County Courthouse, 2 South Main Street, Lexington
Here, the Federalist field command of the 9th Pennsylvania quartered during the summer of 1865. On November 23, 1865, a fire damaged the interior of the courthouse. It was assumed Union troops set the fire, but according to a local resident, many of the troops helped extinguish the fire saving important county records.
The Homestead: Unexpected Houseguests, 408 South Main Street, Lexington
The Homestead on South Main Street in Lexington was built in 1834 as the home for Dr. W. R. Holt, his wife and family. When the family learned that General Kilpatrick was on the outskirts of Lexington, Dr. Holt left to safe guard his plantation, Linwood. Mrs. Louisa Holt invited General Kilpatrick to be her houseguests while they were in town, possibly saving her home from destruction.
Pine Grove Camp: Confederate Goverment Seat, Lake Thom-a-Lex, Yokeley Road, Lexington
On the evening of April 16, 1865, a pine grove outside Lexington effectively became the capital for the Confederate States of America and the State of North Carolina when President Jefferson Davis and Governor Zebulon Vance camped along the banks of Abbott’s Creek.
Davidson County Trail Map & brochure
The "Big Chair"
Thomasville is known worldwide for the Big Chair, originally built in 1922. It reflects the history and tradition of the area's internationally acclaimed furniture makers. It has been featured on the cover of New York Times Magazine, on Good Morning America and a host of other programs and publications. The Chair, a reproduction of a Duncan Phyfe dining room chair on display at the Smithsonian, stands an impressive 18 feet from its 12-foot limestone base. For many, the Big Chair is also a symbol of the area's many furniture outlets which attract shoppers year-round. In downtown Thomasville, you can't miss the Big Chair, located next to the railroad tracks and near North Carolina's oldest railroad depot.
Located at the intersection of West Main and Salem Street, Thomasville
NC Vietnam Memorial
Just between Lexington and Thomasville at the rest stop on Interstate 85, you will find the North Carolina Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. Construction of the memorial honoring the more than 216,000 North Carolinians who served in Vietnam was funded by private donations and is built on a 1½ acre landscaped site that includes 100 North Carolina River Birch trees which represent our 100 counties. The memorial, constructed of bricks made in North Carolina, lists the names of more than 1,620 North Carolinians killed or missing in Vietnam. The memorial reflects the proud tradition of patriotism and loyalty to our country by North Carolina's dedicated servicemen and women.
I-85 at the NC Rest Stop
County Square Monuments
Located in the county square in Uptown Lexington you’ll find monuments which recognize the service of county residents during the World Wars and Korean Wars as well as a Confederate Monument erected in the early 1900’s.
Located at the intersection of Main and Center Streets, Lexington
Davidson County Library
Leonard … Hinkle… Sowers… Do these names look familiar? Maybe one of them appears in your family tree. You’ll find microfilmed marriage, birth and death certificates, burial plot records, and knowledgeable staff to guide you along. You might also find the secret to your past at one of our historical cemeteries in our cemetery records. Among them are Beck’s Reformed, Pilgrim Reformed, Abbotts Creek, Tom’s Creek Primitive Baptist and Thomasville City Cemetery, the only Civil War Cemetery with both Confederate and Union soldiers buried together in common graves.
602 South Main Street, Lexington
Built in 1870, this is the second oldest standing depot in North Carolina and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The depot now houses the John W. Thomas Visitors’ Center and contains memorabilia about Thomasville’s history.
44 West Main Street, Thomasville
PDF Articles (Download Files)
A Brief History by Anne M. Edwards
North Carolina Historical Markers in Davidson County
This information was compiled using information provided by various destinations and sources. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, we can not assume responsibility for changes or omissions. Please confirm information with your destination prior to visiting.