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Town History

According to local tradition, around the year 1756, an Irishman named Caleb Story was awarded a land grant from the Royal Colony of Carolina for 400 acres of beautiful, rolling wood that would eventually come to be known as Kernersville. In the years that would follow, the land would change hands. First, to another Irishman named David Morrow, and then, by 1771 to man named William Dobson. Dobson, referred to as “Captain Dobson” was an emigrant from Ireland who was also a justice of the peace. He would eventually go on to buy other tracts of land that adjoined the original 400 acres, until his tract contained 1133 acres. William Dobson eventually built an inn and store house where the main roads crossed. The greater of these roads was the inter-colonial stage line, making an inn an ideal business venture. According to the official Moravian diaries of this time period, we know that Dobson’s Tavern was the first stopover place on the long journey between settlements of Salem and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. According to George Washington’s diary, he stopped at Dobson’s Tavern to have breakfast on June 2, 1791. The President was on his Southern tour and was spending time in Salem before visiting the Battleground of Guilford.

                In 1813 William Dobson sold his 1032 acres “at the crossroad” to Gottlieb Schober. Among many other occupations, Schober continued to run the inn at the crossroads. It was Schober’s son Nathan who would eventually sell the 1032 acres to Joseph Kerner on November 14, 1817.  Joseph Kerner, who was born in Furtwangen, Germany, along with his family, would continue to run the inn and related businesses at crossroads. The inn was now known as Kerner’s crossroads. Joseph would buy more land until his tract contained 1144 acres. Upon his death, his three children, John Fredrick, Salome, and Phillip, would divide the land between them. After this, the children would begin breaking off smaller tracts of land and selling them. By the time of the American Civil War a village had developed around Kerner’s crossroads. By this time, the inn had been sold to William Penn Henly, but the Kerner name had stuck. On March 31, 1871 the small village that surrounded the inn at the crossroads was incorporated into the town of Kernersville. The population was 147. The town lost no time moving forward and by 1873 the railroad came through the town of Kernersville and brought with it a boom in population. By 1880 the population was close to 500 and by 1888 the town population would double.

                The population has continued to grow as Kernersville continues to be the heart of the Triad. Today, Kernersville boasts a population of more than 25,000 citizens.

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