Alleghany was formed in 1859 from Ashe. It was named for an Indian tribe, and the name is derived from "a corruption of the Delaware Indian name for the Alleghany and Ohio Rivers and is said to have meant "a fine stream." It is in the northwestern section of the State and is bounded by the state of Virginia and Surry, Wilkes and Ashe counties. The present land area is 233.03 square miles and the 1990 population was 9,590. The act creating the county ordered the court to be held at Shiloah Church until the public buildings were erected unless otherwise directed by the justices of the peace. Commissioners were named to locate a site for the county seat at the geographical center of the county, acquire the land, establish the town of Sparta, and erect the courthouse. Sparta is the county seat.

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