Alamance County, North Carolina
Flag of Alamance County, North Carolina
Motto: pro bono publico
Map of North Carolina highlighting Alamance County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of USA NC
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded January 29, 1849
Named for Native American word to describe the mud in Great Alamance Creek
Seat Graham
Largest city Burlington
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

435 sq mi (1,127 km²)
430 sq mi (1,114 km²)
5 sq mi (13 km²), 1.10%
 - (2010)
 - Density

131/sq mi (51/km²)
Congressional districts 6th, 13th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Alamance County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It coincides with the Burlington, North Carolina, Metropolitan Statistical Area. Formed in 1849 from Orange County to the east, Alamance County has been the site of significant historical events, textiles, manufacturing, and agriculture in North Carolina.

As of the 2010 census, the population of the county and MSA was 151,131.[1] Its county seat is Graham.



Re-enacting the Battle of Alamance.

Before being formed as a county, the region had at least one known small Southeastern tribe of Native American in the 18th century - the Sissipahaw who lived in the area bound by modern Saxapahaw, the area known as the Hawfields, and Haw River in the county [2][3] European settlers entered the region in the late 17th century chiefly following Native American trading paths, and set up their farms what they called the "Haw Old Fields", fertile ground previously tilled by the Sissipahaw. The paths later became the basis of the railroad and interstate highway routes.[4]

Alamance County was named after Great Alamance Creek, site of the Battle of Alamance (May 16, 1771). This pre-Revelutionary War battle in which militia under the command of Governor William Tryon crushed the Regulator movement. The Great Alamance Creek, and in turn the Little Alamance Creek, according to legend, were named after a local Native American word to describe the blue mud that was found at the bottom of the creeks. Other legends say that the name came from another local Native American word meaning "noisy river" or for the Alamanni region of Rhineland, Germany, where many of the early settlers would have come from.[5]

During the American Revolution, several small battles and skirmishes occurred in the area that would one day become Alamance County, several of them during the lead-up to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, including Pyle's Massacre, the Battle of Lindley's Mill[6] and the Battle of Clapp's Mill.

In the 1780s, the Occaneechi Native Americans returned to North Carolina from Virginia, this time settling in what is now Alamance County rather than their first location near Hillsborough.[7] In 2002, the modern Occaneechi tribe bought 25 acres (101,000 m2) of their ancestral land in Alamance County and began a Homeland Preservation Project which includes a village reconstructed as it would have been in 1701 and a 1930s farming village.[7]

During the early 19th century, the textile industry grew heavily in the area, and as such, the need for better transportation grew. By the 1840s several mills were set up along the Haw River and near Great Alamance Creek and other major tributaries of the Haw. Between 1832 and 1880, there were at least 14 major mills powered by these rivers and streams. Mills were built by the Trollinger, Holt, Newlin, Swepson, and Rosenthal families, among others. One of the mills, built in 1832 by Ben Trollinger, is still in operation. It is owned by Copland Industries and sits in the unincorporated community of Carolina and is the oldest continuously-operating mill in the state of North Carolina.[8]

One of the notable textiles produced in the area were the "Alamance Plaids" or "Glencoe Plaids" used in everything from clothing to tablecloths.[8] The Alamance Plaids manufactured by textile pioneer Edwin M. Holt were the first colored cotton goods produced on power looms in the South, and paved the way for the region's textile boom.[9] (Holt's home is now the Alamance County Historical Society.[10]) But by the late 20th century, most of the plants and mills had now gone out of business, including the mills operated by Burlington Industries, a company that was based in Burlington.

Alamance Cotton Mill Edwin M Holt photograph 1837

Alamance Cotton Factory, built by Edwin M. Holt, first manufacturer of colored cotton fabrics in the South on power looms. Photograph taken in 1837 after factory constructed.

By the 1840s, the textile industry was booming, and the railroad was being built through the area as a convenient link between Raleigh and Greensboro. The county was formed January 29, 1849 [11] from Orange County.

American Civil WarEdit

In 1861, the United States began to fragment due to growing questions of states' rights concerning issues of slavery, money, agriculture, and representation. In February of that year, a peace conference was held in Washington, DC. North Carolina sent five delegates to this conference, including Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin of the town of Haw River. Justice Ruffin was opposed to secession, but was voted down. Later on, President Buchanan said that if Ruffin had persisted, the war might have been averted. In March, 1861, Alamance County residents voted overwhelmingly against North Carolina's secession from the Union, 1,114 to 254. Two delegates were sent to the State Secession Convention, Thomas Ruffin and Giles Mebane, were both in favor of remaining with the Union, as were most of the delegates who were sent to the convention.[12] At the time of the convention, around 30% of Alamance County's population were slaves (total population of c. 12,000 people including c. 3,500 slaves and c. 500 free blacks).

Overall, North Carolina was reluctant to join other Southern states in secession from the United States. It opposed secession during the Peace Conference of 1861, and refused to secede from the Union when Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. Repeated efforts by secessionists failed to convince the state legislature to secede from the Union failed. Commencement of hostilities in Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861, however, changed public opinion towards secession. When Lincoln called up troops, Governor John Ellis replied, "I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina." After a special legislative session, North Carolina's legislature unanimously voted in favor of secession on May 20, 1861.

Alamance County joined the rest of North Carolina as the state split off from the Union and joined the Confederate States. Although no battles took place in the county itself, Alamance County did send its share of soldiers to the front lines. In July 1861, for the first time in American history, soldiers were sent in to combat by rail. The 6th North Carolina was loaded on to railroad cars at Company Shops and transferred to the battlefront at Manassas, Virginia (First Battle of Manassas).

Although the citizens of Alamance County were not directly affected throughout much of the war, in April 1865, the citizens witnessed firsthand their sons and fathers marching through the county, just days before the war ended with the surrender at Bennett Place near Durham. At Company Shops General Joseph E. Johnston stopped to say farewell to his soldiers for the last time. By the end of the war, 236 individuals from Alamance County had been killed in the course of the war, more than any other war since the county's founding.[13]

Alamance County Courthouse

Alamance County Courthouse in Graham, NC.

Aftermath of the American Civil WarEdit

Some of the most significant effects of the Civil War were seen after the war. Alamance County briefly became a center of national attention when, in 1870, Wyatt Outlaw, Town Commissioner in Graham, was lynched by the "White Brotherhood," the Ku Klux Klan. He was president of the Alamance County Union League of America (an anti Ku Klux Klan group), helped to establish the Republican party in North Carolina and advocated establishing a school for African Americans. His offense was that Gov. Holden had appointed him a Justice of the Peace, and he had accepted the appointment. Outlaw’s body was found hanging thirty yards from the courthouse, a note pinned to his chest read: “Beware! You guilty parties – both white and black.” Outlaw was the central figure in the political cooperation between blacks and whites in the county.

Governor Holden declared Caswell County in a state of insurrection (July 8) and sent troops to Caswell and Alamance counties under the command of Union veteran George W. Kirk, beginning the so-called Kirk-Holden War. Kirk’s troops ultimately arrested 82 men.

The Grand Jury of Alamance County indicted sixty-three Klansmen for felonies and eighteen for the murder of Wyatt Outlaw. Soon after the indictments were brought, Conservatives within the legislature passed a bill to repeal the law under which the indictments had been secured. The sixty-three felony charges were dropped. The Conservatives then used a national program of “Amnesty and Pardon” to proclaim amnesty for all who committed crimes on behalf of a secret society. This was extended to the Klansmen of Alamance County. There would be no justice in the case of Wyatt Outlaw.

Support for the cause of Reconstruction led to the impeachment and removal of Governor William Holden by the North Carolina Legislature in 1871.

Dairy industryEdit

The county was once the state leader in dairy production. Several dairies including Melville Dairy in Burlington were headquartered in the county. With increasing real estate prices and a slump in milk prices, most dairy farms have been sold and many of them developed for real estate purposes.

Airplanes and radarsEdit

During World War II Fairchild built airplanes at a plant on the eastern side of Burlington. Among the planes built at the plant were the AT-21 gunner used to train bomber pilots. Near the Fairchild plant was the Western Electric Burlington works. The plant built radar equipment and guidance systems for missiles on top of many other electronics for the government. The guidance system for the Titan missile was built there. The plant was closed in 1992 and sat abandoned until 2005, when it was purchased by a local businessman for manufacturing.


Alamance County has provided North Carolina with three of its governors and two U. S. Senators: Governor Thomas Holt, Governor and U. S. Senator Kerr Scott, Governor Robert W. (Bob) Scott (Kerr Scott's son), and U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordan.

Law and governmentEdit

Alamance County is a member of the regional Piedmont Triad Council of Governments. The county is led by the Alamance County Board of Commissioners and the County Manager, who is appointed by the Board of Commissioners. County residents also elect 2 other county government offices: the Sheriff and Register of Deeds.

County commissionersEdit

  • Linda Massey, Chairman (current term ends in 2012)
  • William H. Lashley (current term ends in 2014)
  • Tom Manning (current term ends in 2012)
  • Eddie Boswell (current term ends in 2012)
  • Tim D. Sutton (current term ends in 2014)

County managerEdit

Alamance County adopted the council-manager form of government in the 1970s, where the day-to-day management of county business is done by an individual hired by the commissioners board. Since the establishment of the office, the following persons have served as county managers of Alamance County:

Current ManagerEdit

Craig F. Honeycutt began serving as county manager in April 2009. He came to Alamance County from the City of Laurinburg, North Carolina.

Past ManagersEdit

  • David I. Smith (July 2005 - December 2008)
  • David S. Cheek (July 1998 - June 2005)
  • Robert C. Smith
  • Hal Larry Scott
  • D. J. Walker

David I. Smith and D. J. Walker held dual roles as county manager and county attorney during their terms of service as county manager.


Terry Johnson (current term ends in 2010)

Register of deedsEdit

Hugh Webster (appointed, current term ends in 2012)

Hugh Webster was appointed to serve out the remaining 2 years of David Barber's term, when Barber was elected as Clerk of Court.


Alamance County is home to a local public education system, several private elementary and secondary schools, a community college, and a private university.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 435 square miles (1,130 km2), of which 430 square miles (1,100 km2) is land and 5 square miles (13 km2) (1.10%) is water.

The county is in the Piedmont physiographical region. The county has a general rolling terrain with the Cane Creek Mountains rising to over 970 ft (300 m).[14] in the south central part of the county just north of Snow Camp. Bass Mountain one of the prominent hills in the range is home to a world renowned Bluegrass music festival every year. There are also isolated monadnocks in the northern part of the county that rise to near or over 900 ft (270 m). above sea level.

The largest river that flows through Alamance County is the Haw River, which eventually feeds into Jordan Lake in Chatham County, eventually leading to the Cape Fear River. The county is also home to numerous creeks, streams, and ponds, including the Great Alamance Creek, where a portion of the Battle of Alamance was fought. There are 3 large municipal reservoirs: Lake Cammack, Lake Mackintosh, and Graham-Mebane Lake (formerly Quaker Lake).

Major highwaysEdit

Alamance County has several state and federal highways running through it.

Interstates and U.S. highwaysEdit


Interstates 85 and 40 run concurrently as seen from Exit 141 in Burlington, facing east. The Interstates run east to west through the central part of the county.

Going east-west in the county:

  • I-85 I-40 Interstate 85 / Interstate 40 (Concurrent), also known as the Sam Hunt Freeway, named after a former North Carolina Secretary of Transportation. Interstates 85/40 run east-to-west through the central part of the county.
  • US 70 U.S. Highway 70. Highway 70 nearly parallels 85/40 a few miles north of the interstates as it passes through the downtown sections of Burlington, Haw River, and Mebane.

N.C. state highwaysEdit

  • NC 49 N.C. Highway 49 runs southwest to northeast from the Liberty area, through Burlington, Graham, and Haw River, to the Pleasant Grove Community area before turning northeast and continuing into Orange County.
  • NC 54 N.C. Highway 54 runs from its northern hub at the intersection of Highway 54 U.S. Highway 70 in Burlington southeast to the Orange County line in the southeast part of the county.
  • NC 62 N.C. Highway 62 runs southwest to northeast from the Kimesville Community area, through Burlington, to the Pleasant Grove Community area. It then turns North and heads to Caswell County.
  • NC 87 N.C. Highway 87 runs from southeast to northwest through the county, from the Eli Whitney Community area through Graham, Burlington, and a small part of Elon, before turning northeast and heading through the Altamahaw-Ossipee area, finally moving into Caswell County.
  • NC 100 N.C. Highway 100 forms a loop through downtown Burlington, starting at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Chapel Hill Road before moving north, then northwest, before going through Elon and moving on to Gibsonville and Guilford County.
  • NC 119 N.C. Highway 119 runs roughly north from its southern hub at an intersection with N.C. Highway 54, moving through Mebane and heading north into Caswell County.

Adjacent countiesEdit

Arts and recreationEdit

The arts Edit

Paramount Theater serves as a center of dramatic presentations in the community. To the south there is the Snow Camp Outdoor Drama which has plays from late spring to early fall in the evenings.


Old Dam at Cedarock park


Alamance County, Burlington, Graham, Elon, Haw River, Swepsonville, and Mebane all have other small parks that are not listed here. Major parks include:

Alamance CountyEdit

Cedarock Park, located 6 miles (9.7 km) south of the intersection of Interstate 85/40 and NC Highway 49. Cedarock Park is home to the Cedarock Historic Farm, an Old Mill Dam, and two Disc Golf Courses.

Great Bend Park at Glencoe, located 4 miles (6.4 km) north of the intersection of US Highway 70, and NC Highways 87, 62, and 100 in Downtown Burlington. Great Bend Park contains parts of the Haw River Land and Paddle Trails and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, along with picnicking, fishing, and other opportunities. The park was built around the site of the Glencoe Mills, an area that is currently under renovation with an old mill that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

City of BurlingtonEdit


Professional Edit

The Burlington Royals are a rookie league baseball farm team based in Burlington. They were previously known as the Burlington Indians, but changed affiliations in 2006 from Cleveland to Kansas City. This version of the team has been active since 1985, but Burlington did host a minor league baseball team for many years under the Burlington Indians and Burlington Bees.


The Elon University Phoenix play in the town of Elon. The Phoenix compete in the NCAA's Division I (Championship Subdivision in football) Southern Conference. Intercollegiate sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, and tennis for men, and basketball, cross-country, golf, indoor track, outdoor track, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball for women.

Up until 1999, the mascot of Elon was the Fightin' Christians. The moniker is said to have been coined by a sportswriter covering a contest in the 1930s between Elon and nearby Guilford College, a Quaker school. Prior to the 1930s, Elon was known simply as the Christians. The nickname was chosen due to Elon's proximity to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and the Duke Blue Devils. However, many did not feel that the nickname was universal enough for a team making the transition to Division I athletics, so a new mascot was adopted, the Phoenix. The choice came from the 1923 fire that destroyed almost the entire campus. Soon after the fire, the university trustees began planning to make Elon "rise from the ashes". The Phoenix was a mythical creature that rose from the ashes of its predecessors. The Christian symbolism is not lost with the Phoenix, however, which can be seen as a symbol of the Resurrection.


Today, Alamance County is often described as a "bedroom" community, with many residents living in the county and working elsewhere due to low tax rates, although the county is still a major player in the textile and manufacturing industries.

The current county-wide tax rate for Alamance County residents is 57.5 cents per $100 valuation. This does not include tax rates imposed by municipalities or fire districts.


As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 130,800 people, 51,584 households, and 35,541 families residing in the county. The population density was 304 people per square mile (117/km²). There were 55,463 housing units at an average density of 129 per square mile (50/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 75.61% White, 18.76% Black or African American, 0.35% Native American, 0.90% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.19% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. 6.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 51,584 households out of which 31.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.10% were married couples living together, 12.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.10% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.80% under the age of 18, 9.90% from 18 to 24, 29.90% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 14.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,168, and the median income for a family was $46,479. Males had a median income of $31,906 versus $23,367 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,391. About 7.60% of families and 11.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.30% of those under age 18 and 12.90% of those age 65 or over.

Municipalities and communitiesEdit

Incorporated cities and towns Edit

Alamance County's Incorporated Cities and Towns are home to over 93,850 people.[16]

  • Alamance -the smallest town in Alamance County, population 357
  • Burlington - the largest city in Alamance County, population 50,857.
  • Elon - formerly called "Elon College", population 7,060.
  • Gibsonville - A town shared with Guilford County, population 4,738
  • Graham - the County Seat, population 14,533
  • Green Level - incorporated in 1990, population 2,149
  • Haw River - town named for the river on which it was built, population 2,012
  • Mebane - a city shared with Orange County, population 10,624
  • Ossipee - a small town in Northwestern Alamance County, population 467
  • Swepsonville - a mill town located on the banks of the Haw River, population 1,053


Map of Alamance County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels

Map of Alamance County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels

The county is divided into thirteen townships, which are both numbered, named, and contain the following municipalities:

Unincorporated communitiesEdit

Over 54,000 people do not live in an incorporated community in Alamance County.

Ghost TownsEdit

According to a 1975 study of the history of post offices in North Carolina history by Treasure Index, Alamance County has 27 ghost towns that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries that no longer exist. Additionally, five other post offices no longer exist. These towns and their post offices were either abandoned as organized settlements, or were absorbed into the larger communities that now make up Alamance County.[17]

  • Albright - site located approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) south of exit 153 on Interstate 40
  • Carney - Near the site of Cedarock Park
  • Cane Creek
  • Cedarcliff - located between Swepsonville and Saxapahaw, NC
  • Clover Orchard - approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) northeast of Snow Camp, NC
  • Curtis (Curtis Mills) - located approximately 1/2 mile southeast of the current village of Alamance, NC
  • Glenddale - site approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Pleasant Grove near the Alamance-Caswell Line
  • Hartshorn - about 1½ miles south southeast of the Alamance Battleground Historic Site
  • Holmans Mills - site approsimately 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Snow Camp
  • Iola - about 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Altamahaw, NC nearly due north of Glencoe, NC
  • Lacey - Located about 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Eli Whitney
  • Leota - approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) south of Eli Whitney
  • Loy - Located at the northern base of Bass Mountain
  • Manndale
  • Maywood - approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of Altamahaw
  • McCray (McRay) - located about 2 miles (3.2 km) east-northeast of Glencoe, NC
  • Melville - Located approsimately 2 miles (3.2 km) west-southwest of the intersection of Interstate 40 and NC Highway 119
  • Morton's Store - approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Altamahaw
  • Nicholson - Located near the Intersection of NC Highway 87 and Bellemont-Mount Hermon Road.
  • Oakdale - Located in the southwest of the county, near the intersection of NC Highway 49 and Greensboro-Chapel Hill Rd.
  • Oneida
  • Osceola
  • Pleasant Grove - Located in the far northeast part of the county, 2 miles (3.2 km) east-northeast of the current community of Pleasant Grove
  • Pleasant Lodge - Located 1-mile (1.6 km) to the west of the site of Oakdale, near the Alamance-Guilford Line
  • Rock Creek - located 4 miles (6.4 km) due south of Alamance, NC
  • Shallow Ford - Located 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Ossipee, NC
  • Shady Grove
  • Stainback - Located about 2 miles (3.2 km) east-northeast of Green Level, NC
  • Sutpin - on the same latitude as Snow Camp, approximately halfway between Snow Camp and Eli Whitney
  • Sylvester
  • Union Ridge - near the east bank of Lake Cammack, about 3 miles (4.8 km) from the Alamance-Caswell Line
  • Vincent - Located 2 miles (3.2 km) north-northeast of Pleasant Grove, NC

Notable residentsEdit

B. Everett Jordan

U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordan.

Governor Thomas Michael Holt North Carolina

Governor Thomas M. Holt

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Population Data found at
  2. ^ John R. Swanton, "North Carolina Indian Tribes", Indian Tribes of North America, 1953, at Accss Genealogy, accessed 25 March 2009
  3. ^ "Sissipahaw Indian Tribe History", John R. Swanton, Indian Tribes of North America, 1953, at Access Genealogy, accessed 25 March 2009
  4. ^ "The Trading Path in Alamance County, a Beginning", Alamance County Historical Association, Trading Path Association: Preserving our Common Past
  5. ^ "North Carolina Counties - List of all and Alamance County". Archived from the original on 2009-10-24. 
  6. ^ Battle of Lindley's Mill
  7. ^ a b "Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation". Southern Neighbor. November 2009. 
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Alamance Cotton Mill, North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
  10. ^ Alamance County Historical Museum, Burlington, North Carolina
  11. ^ Alamance County North Carolina Genealogy
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ GIS System Contours found on the Alamance County Website
  15. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ Populations given are from the 2008 Census Estimate (Microsoft Excel file)
  17. ^ Burlington Times-News, December 11, 1975
  18. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th edition ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-578970-8. 

External linksEdit

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Coordinates: 36°02′N 79°24′W / 36.04, -79.40

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Alamance County, North Carolina. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.