Wadesboro was established as Anson's county seat in 1783 by Colonel Thomas Wade and his brother-in-law, Captain Patrick Boggan, who offered the land. Street were laid off and named for Revolutionary War notables: Generals George Washington, Nathaniel Greene, Daniel Morgan, and Griffith Rutherford; Colonels Thomas Wade and William Washington; and Governors Richard Caswell and Alexander Martin. The town was first called New Town, later changed to Wadesborough.
In 1894, George Little, later joined by his brother, Henry Wall Little, opened a store on South Greene Street. The hardware store, H.W. Little and Co., is still owned and operated by the Little family. Prior to the Great Depression, the store was the marketing center for cotton, Anson County's main crop, and kept track of world prices at the New York Cotton Market through Western Union delivering a market bulletin every 15 minutes.
Wadesborough gained international attention in May of 1900 when scientists gathered to observe a total eclipse of the sun. The U.S. Congress appropriated money to set up observation posts and the Smithsonian Institute sent a representative, as did the British Astromical Society. The London Times sent reporters to join those from the New York, Chicago and Washington newspapers.