Guilford County was established in 1771 from Orange County (which formed about the eastern third) and Rowan County (which formed about the western two-thirds). It included what is now Randolph County (which separated in 1779) and Rockingham County (which separated in 1785).

Settlement began in the late 1740s and grew rapidly in the 1750s.

Settlers came from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, and the eastern and central counties of North Carolina.

Migration into Guilford County was frequently over the Great Wagon Road through the Valley of Virginia.

Group migrations were made by German Lutherans and Reformed settlers from Pennsylvania beginning in the late 1740s; Scots-Irish Presbyterians from the Pennsylvania-Maryland border area in the 1750s; Quakers from many locations in the 1750s; scattered Virginia Baptists organized meetings in the 1750s; and Methodists from the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the 1770s and 1780s.

“Moving On” to the south, west and northwest began almost immediately and picked up speed about 1800. Upper Georgia and South Carolina were favored, then sights were set on the Cumberland Gap as a way to Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.

The Battle at Guilford Courthouse was fought on 15 March 1781. Cornwallis won, but the victory left the British army so weak that it caused them to lose the campaign in the southern colonies, and led to the surrender at Yorktown.