The Rutherford County Courthouse is located at 229 North Main Street, Rutherfordton, NC 28139; phone: 828-288-6100.
Rutherford County, located in southwestern North Carolina, was formed from Tryon County in 1779 and named for Griffith Rutherford, an Indian fighter, member of the Provincial Congress and Revolutionary War general. Rutherfordton, incorporated in 1793, is the county seat. The county's population, isolated by poor roads, consisted primarily of subsistence farmers until the introduction of the textile industry in the late nineteenth century. The powerful Broad and Second Broad Rivers in the southeastern section of the county provided the incentive for local investors to build water powered textile mills, and the arrival of the railroad in 1887 created an outlet for cash crops and accelerated industrial development.
Raleigh Rutherford Haynes and Simpson B. Tanner are credited with bringing the modern textile industry to Rutherford County about the same time the first railroad lines arrived. R. R. Haynes began to acquire land in the High Shoals area of the Second Broad River as potential locations for textile mills in 1885. His partners included Simpson B. Tanner, J. S. Spencer and J. M. Scott. Work on the first mill, named Henrietta after Simpson Tanner's mother-in-law, Mrs. Henrietta Spencer, commenced in 1887. When the Henrietta Mill was completed in 1893 it was the largest textile plant in North Carolina. The mill started out with 10,000 spindles and soon increased to 28,000. The second Henrietta Mill, with 48,000 spindles, was constructed in the nearby community of Caroleen in 1896.