Burke County, North Carolina

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Burke County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2000, the population was 89,148. Its county seat is Morganton[1].

The first European settlement in the interior of North Carolina and what would become the United States was made by Spanish in 1567, when they built Fort San Juan at the large Native American settlement of Joara near present-day Morganton. They renamed the settlement Cuenca.[2] However the following year the Indians killed the Spanish and burned the fort. It was two centuries before Europeans tried to settle there again.

Burke County is part of the HickoryLenoirMorganton Metropolitan Statistical Area.



Native Americans of the Mississippian culture inhabited the county long before Europeans arrived in the New World. The largest Mound Builder settlement was at Joara, a 12-acre (49,000 m2) site and regional chiefdom near present-day Morganton. It was the center of the largest Native American settlement in North Carolina, dating from about 1000 A.D. and expanding into the next centuries.[2]

In 1567 a Spanish expedition arrived and built Fort San Juan, claiming the area for the colony of Spanish Florida. They had been sent by the governor at Santa Elena, Parris Island in South Carolina. Captain Juan Pardo, leader of the expedition, left about 30 soldiers at the fort while continuing his exploration. In the spring of 1568 the Indians attacked the fort, killing the soldiers and burning the fort. Introduction of European diseases and takeover by larger tribes led to Native American abandonment of the area. It would be centuries before the next Europeans - English, Scots-Irish and Germans - attempted to settle here again.[2]

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