On February 8, 1779 two new counties were formed out of Tryon County, North Carolina. The first, Lincoln County, was named after General Benjamin Lincoln of the Continental Army.
General Benjamin Lincoln, 1784
The second county formed from old Tryon County was also named after a famed, heroic General of the Continental Army. However, on April 14, 1779, a scant two months later, the North Carolina assembly met and renamed the second county after a more locally famous leader, General Griffith Rutherford, who had led local militia in a campaign against British allied Cherokees called the Rutherford Trace.
General Griffith Rutherford
Whatever the reason for changing the name of the county, it proved fortuitous for a year later the county’s original namesake defected to the British, earning a dubious place in history and forever becoming synonymous with treason.
Congratulations, Rutherford County citizens, you could have been residents of (Benedict) Arnold County.