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Morganton NC was founded in 1777 after the formation of Burke County in the same year. Burke County was named after Dr. Thomas Burke (1747-1783), a member of the Continental Congress and Governor of North Carolina.

Morganton was initially called Morganborough and is the county seat of Burke County. Morganton was named after Daniel Morgan (1736-1802), who is considered one of the best battlefield tacticians during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).

Due to its colder summer climate, the North Carolina Supreme Court held its August Sessions in the Burke County Courthouse each year from 1847 to 1861, a significant event at that time for a town with a population of only 558.

The railroad reached Morganton in 1868, bringing summer vacationers to the town.

In 1875, the North Carolina General Assembly with the help of Samuel Tate passed a bill, which brought the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum to Morganton. The facility opened in 1883. Its name changed to the Broughton Hospital in 1959.

In 1891 with a population of 1,557, Samuel Tate helped to influence legislation to move the North Carolina School for the Deaf from Raleigh to Morganton. The school opened in 1894.

Today, Morganton, a town of 17,000, has an upcoming food and arts community amid a well-preserved historic downtown area.