Burke was formed in 1777 from Rowan. The act was to become effective June 1, 1777. It was named in honor of Dr. Thomas Burke, a member of the Continental Congress and governor of North Carolina, 1781-1782. It is in the west central section of the State and is bounded by Catawba, Cleveland, Rutherford, McDowell, Avery and Caldwell counties. The present land area is 505.06 square miles and the 1990 population was 75,740. The act establishing Burke specified that the first court was to be held at a place the justices should decide until they selected a permanent place for the courthouse and had the same erected. In 1784 Morgansborough was established and made the county seat. Morganton is the present county seat.

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