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Sylva, the seat of Jackson County, was chartered in 1889 and takes its name from a wayfaring Dane, William D. Sylva, who once worked as a handyman for E. R. Hampton, the man who owned most of the land where the town now sits. When it came time to apply for a post office, Hampton asked his small daughter, Mae, what the town should be named. Sylva, said the young girl, who had taken a liking to her father's hired hand. With the coming of the railroad in the late 19th century, the town developed into the commercial center of southwestern North Carolina. In 1912, a county-wide referendum moved the county seat from Webster to Sylva, leading to the construction of Western North Carolina's most photographed building, the historic Jackson County Courthouse, which sits atop a hill overlooking Main Street.
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