In 1777, Burke county was formed from Rowan County. It was named for Thomas Burke, a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1781 and Governor of North Carolina from 1781 to 1782. The western Piedmont was settled by many Scots-Irish and German immigrants in the mid-to-late 18th century. They were generally yeoman farmers and fiercely independent.
Burke County citizens participated in the Battle of Kings Mountain that pitted Appalachian frontiersmen against the loyalist forces of the British commander Ferguson at Kings Mountain, SC in the American Revolution, rather than waiting for him to come to them, militiamen throughout the Blue Ridge crossed over the mountains and thus were called the “Over Mountain Men.”