The Catawba County Government Center is located at 100A South West Boulevard, Newton, NC 28658; phone: 828-465-8200.
The first white settlers in present-day Catawba County came in 1747 when Adam Sherrill and his family, originating from Virginia's Shenandoah valley, crossed the Catawba River and settled on the western bank. It is believed that Henry Weidner (also known as Johann Heinrick Weidner), a German immigrant from the region of Saxony, was also among this first party to cross the Catawba. He had arrived in Philadelphia in 1741 and received his first land grants in what was then Anson County in 1750. Local tradition claims that Weidner built a stone house, in a style typical to Germans, and lived there for some years before leaving the state for South Carolina because of violent Indian disputes. Weidner stayed away for several years and returned to his homestead before the end of his life.
Another early pioneer to present-day Catawba County was "Gentleman" John Perkins. Perkins also is believed to have come into the county as a young man with the Adam Sherrill party. Perkins became known as an experienced frontiersman and in 1752 at the age of 19, was chosen by Bishop Gottlieb Spangenberg of the Moravian Brotherhood of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to aid the brotherhood in its search for the site of a proposed permanent settlement in western North Carolina. It is possible that the Bishop obtained a sizable land grant from the Earl of Granville. By 1755 Perkins owned several thousand acres of land in present day Catawba and Burke Counties.
A great number of the early settlers of Catawba County were Scotch-Irish. Driven by a lack of religious freedom, many Scotch-Irish Protestants left England for the rural lands of Pennsylvania and Maryland. However, in the 1730s and 1740s, mass European migrations caused Pennsylvania land prices to inflate, thus encouraging the Scotch-Irish to seek cheaper lands in Virginia and North Carolina.
Also among the county's early settlers were the Germans. In the early 1700s thousands of Germans had been forced to flee their native land because of intolerable political, religious and economic conditions. So large a number of these people migrated to Pennsylvania that by 1775 1/3rd of its population was German, or so-called "Pennsylvania Dutch." Due to economic and land pressures, the Germans, like the Scotch-Irish, moved southward into and through the Shenandoah valley during the mid 1700s. Coming into present-day Catawba County, the Germans settled primarily in the South Fork valley of south central Catawba County.
Newton was created to be the county seat of Catawba County, after the North Carolina General Assembly voted to lay off and establish the new county in 1842. Many people from the northern part of Lincoln County, which became Catawba County, felt that due to poor transportation and communication, they should have a county seat closer than Lincolnton, the county seat at that time.