Vice-President William Rufus King
You Could Be Living in King County

Reprinted with permission of the Mt. Olive Tribune and cannot be 
reproduced without permission. 

"Our Heritage"  
April 7, 1989

By Claude Moore

(Editor’s note: Oscar Bizzell of Newton Grove is a guest columnist this 
week. Bizzell, a local historian, is editor of the Huckleberry Historian. 
The following article recently appeared in the Sampson County Review.)

If the Civil War had occurred a few years later, or not at all, the people 
in north Sampson, south Johnston, east Wayne & east Duplin would have 
been living in King County. Newton Grove might have been the county seat. 
This would have been done in honor of Vice President William R. (Rufus) 
King, a native of the Newton Grove area.

King was born April 7, 1786, & reared on a plantation near the south bank 
of Craddock Swamp, along what is now SR 1711 at its junction with SR 
1713. A part of the old home still stands southeast of Newton Grove.

Although King County, NC was never established, the state of Washington 
did establish a King County, the home of Seattle. That county honors Mr. 

As a lad, William R. King attended Grove Academy, Kenansville & Donaldson 
Military Academy, Fayetteville.

In 1799, he entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, & 
graduated in 1803. Then he went to Fayetteville to read law under the 
tuition of William Duffy.

Settling in Clinton, NC, King was admitted to the bar in 1806 at the early 
age of 20, and quickly won a wide popularity in Sampson County.

He was elected to the NC House of Commons in 1808, and again in 1809, & to 
the US Congress in 1818 where he served until 1816.

King resigned from Congress in November 1816 to accept the post of Secretary 
of Legation to Russia. In 1820 he returned to the practice of law in 
Clinton, but shortly thereafter emigrated to Cahaba, Alabama. Upon the 
admission of Alabama as a state, King was elected to the US Senate & was 
re-elected three times.

In 1844, King was appointed Minister to France. In 1848, he was elected 
again to the US Senate to represent Alabama, but resigned January 18, 1853 
to run for Vice President on the Democratic ticket with Franklin Pierce. They 
were elected.

But King was sick with tuberculosis contracted during his service in Europe.
His doctor sent him to Havana, Cuba for his health & he took the oath of 
office there on March 4, 1853. He hurried home only to die soon after his 
arrival at his plantation on April 18, 1853.

In later years he was honored by Sampson County with a monument at the 
north entrance to the Sampson County Courthouse. Moreover, a state 
historical marker stands south of Newton Grove at Monk’s Cross Roads, along 
US 701.

Five years after the death of Vice President King, a bill was introduced in 
the NC Senate to create a county called King, to include the old King 
Plantation. In 1758, Dr. J.T. Leach, NC Senator from Johnston County, 
introduced Senate Bill 90 to establish a new county by the name of King. 
The bill read as follows: Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the 
State of North Carolina & it is hereby enacted by authority of the same. 
That a new county be and the same is hereby laid off & established, to be 
composed of parts of Sampson, Johnston, Duplin & Wayne counties, bounded 
as follows: 

Beginning at the Bunn Ford on Mingo Creek in the county of Johnston, thence 
to the nearest point on Stone Creek, thence down the meanders of said creek 
to the road leading from William Peacock’s to Smithfield, thence crossing 
this said creek north, striking the ridge dividing said Mingo Creek & 
Hannah Creek, the said ridge crossing the Smithfield road from George 
Snead’s at the cross path beyond Antiock Church. Thence a direct line to 
Hannah Creek bridge near Major Nathan Williams, thence with said Hannah 
Creek to Mill Creek, to the Neuse River, thence to Graham’s Store, thence 
to the Cross Roads, thence to the corner of Sampson, Wayne & Duplin 
counties, thence the Duplin line to Young’s Swamp, thence up said swamp to 
the Darden place, thence to James Andrews’, thence to Benjamin Bowdens’, 
thence to Harrison’s Store, thence to Jackson & Boys Store, thence to the 
junction of Mingo and Black River, thence up the said stream to the 

And said county of King is hereby invested with all the rights and 
privileges and investitures of the other counties of this state, 
Signed: J.T. Leach, Johnston.

The bill was introduced in the Senate on December 14, 1858, read the first 
time, passed, and referred with recommendations to committee.

No record was found that the bill was ever brought up again. Soon 
thereafter, the state became concerned with national issues that lead to 
the War Between the States in 1861. 

However, William R. King was instrumental in creating the state of 
Washington, and they named a county for him. Moreover, the huge King dome 
sports arena, with frequent national television coverage, honors the memory 
of William R. King of Sampson County, NC.

With the NCAA basketball championship games to be played in the King Dome 
on April 1-3, Sampsonians should be reminded of their most famous & 
accomplished native son, William Rufus DeVanne King.

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