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The city of Marion, North Carolina is the county seat of McDowell County. It was founded specifically to be the county seat. In the 1840s, the community was very divided as to where they county seat should be built. To settle the matter, a local man, Sam Carson, donated 50 acres for the seat. The commissioners got thirteen more, and that was the end of the argument. Therefore, on March 14, 1844, the location was decided upon. It was named in honor of Brigadier General Francis Marion, who served in the American Revolution. General Marion's nickname was "Swamp Fox," due to his use of guerrilla warfare. In November 1894, a huge fire swept through Marion razing most of the buildings. There was no public water available and many of the public documents which had been in the courthouse were lost. The town was quickly rebuilt and thrived, and when the Clinchfield Railroad ran through town, the population grew even more.

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