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William Lenoir

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William Lenoir (May 20, 1751 - May 6, 1839) was a Revolutionary War general and American politician.

Lenoir was born in Brunswick County, Virginia. He was the youngest of ten children. While still a young child, Lenoir's family moved near Tarboro, North Carolina, and, soon thereafter, his father passed away. When he was about twenty years of age, Lenoir married Ann Ballard. They eventually settled in what is now Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The couple would have nine children.

Lenoir's new home was near Fort Defiance, and he took an active role in defending what was still considered part of the frontier. In 1776, he accompanied General Rutherford in his expedition against the Cherokee Indians. By 1780, Lenoir was a captain under Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, actively engaged in opposition to the British government and the large contingent of Tories who populated the area. In the Battle of King's Mountain, Captain Lenoir was wounded in his arm and side. In February of 1781, under the command of Henry Lee, father of Robert E. Lee, Lenoir was involved in a battle that became known as Pyle's Massacre. During that engagement, Lenoir's horse was shot from under him, and his sword was broken during hand-to-hand fighting, but he emerged unscathed. Following the war, Lenoir stayed in military service with the state militia for eighteen years. He eventually attained the rank of Major General.

Lenoir served as a justice of the peace in North Carolina for sixty-two years. His many other local posts included terms as chairman of the county court and Clerk of Superior Court for Wilkes County. Lenoir was elected to both the North Carolina Senate and the North Carolina House of Representatives during his long political career, and he became the Speaker of the Senate from 1790 to 1795. Lenoir was one of the original trustees of the University of North Carolina, and was president of the board for two years.

In honor of Lenoir's long and distinguished career in service to his country and state, numerous places and buildings bear his name including Lenoir County, the city of Lenoir in western North Carolina, Lenoir Hall at UNC, USS Lenoir (AKA-74), and many public schools across the state.

Source Materials

  • Ashe, Samuel A. (1905). Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present. C.L. Van Noppen. ASIN: B00086O5SY. [1]