Wayne County was founded in 1779 after a division in Dobbs County was directed by the North Carolina General Assembly. The County was named for War Hero Continental General "MAD" Anthony Wayne.
The first seat of Wayne County was Waynesborough, situated on the banks of the Neuse River, a few hundred feet west of the present US Highway South Bypass. It was incorporated in 1787 and was a thriving town with a courthouse, jail, taverns, stores and many homes. Riverboats brought freight and passengers into town. Stagecoaches stopped to change horses and for passengers to transfer to Raleigh, Tarborough, New Bern or Fayetteville.