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Person County, North Carolina
Seal of Person County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Person County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of the U.S. highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1791
Seat Roxboro
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

404 sq mi (1,046 km²)
392 sq mi (1,015 km²)
12 sq mi (31 km²),
 - (2010)
 - Density

673/sq mi (260/km²)

Person County is a county located in the Piedmont region in north-central North Carolina in the United States. The population was 39,464 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Area.

The county seat is Roxboro.[1] The Hyco Lake area and southern portion of the county are the fastest growing with new businesses and subdivisions.

History[edit | edit source]

The colonial government established Person County as part of Edgecombe County in 1746. County designations kept changing, as it was part of Granville County from 1746–1752; included in Orange County until 1778; and part of Caswell County until 1791/1792. By dividing Caswell County into two squares–each side measuring approximately twenty (20) miles in length, the settlers formed two counties of 400 square miles (1,000 km2) each. The county was named after General Thomas Person, a Revolutionary War patriot, who made significant contributions to Person County and surrounding areas.

The area was inhabited by indigenous peoples, ancestors of Native Americans, for 12,000 years, over which time they developed varying cultures. The Historical tribes later encountered by explorers in this area were generally Siouan-speaking, such as the Saponi, Occaneechee and other groups. Other European explorers arrived in Person County in the 17th century. European-American settlement, by immigrants of Scots, Scots-Irish, English, French Huguenot, and German ancestry, did not take place until the mid-17th through 19th centuries.

Religious affiliation in the county has reflected the early northern European cultural base and been predominantly Protestant. There are fewer people of Catholic and other faiths. Due to the county's proximity to Virginia, the Carolina coast, and the Appalachian foothills, a wide variety of Southern American English dialects can be heard, with Virginia Piedmont, Coastal Southern, South Midland, and African American Vernacular English the most common.

Revolutionary & Civil War[edit | edit source]

The county was named for General Thomas Person, a Revolutionary War patriot, who made significant contributions to Person County and surrounding areas. He was a trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His generous donations were recognized by the construction and naming of Person Hall.

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Moore, Deputy Quartermaster General of the Hillsborough district, was another Revolutionary War hero of note, commanding Person County troops in the Battle of Camden. He was taken prisoner and placed on the prison ship Torbay. In 1775-1776 he purchased property in the southern part of the county and named it Mt. Tirzah. His house, built in 1778 and still at its original site, has been recently renovated. Moore was buried near the house along with many other family members.

During the Civil War, Person County supplied between 800 and 1000 soldiers to the Confederate Army. A granite monument at the Person County Courthouse honors E. Fletcher Satterfield, who advanced the Confederate flag at Gettysburg.

Late 19th century[edit | edit source]

J.A. Long, W.W. Kitchin, A.R. Foushee, J.S. Bradsher, J.C. Pass, W.F. Reade, and R.E. Long were key leaders who helped make a transition to a more diversified economic base after the Civil War. The arrival of the newly constructed Norfolk and Western Railroad was a major influence around 1890, as it enabled the addition of tobacco processing plants and warehouses to the rural economy. Although the processing plants disappeared many years ago, a few of the warehouses still stand.

J.A. Long established Peoples Bank in 1891 and the Roxboro Cotton Mills in 1899, later known as Tultex Yarns. Long died in 1915 but was succeeded by his son, J.A. Long, Jr., who began attracting new business to Roxboro. Baker Company opened here in 1923, making textile manufacturing a major contributor to the local economy for decades. Baker was merged with Collins and Aikman Corporation (C&A), becoming a major industry in Person County for several decades before closing in August 2006. Textile manufacturers have moved to other locations in the US and overseas.

20th & 21st centuries[edit | edit source]

Residential and commercial development have grown steadily over the past few years in part due to the county's location near the Research Triangle region. The Hyco Lake area and southern portion of the county has seen an influx of new home and commercial development in the late 20th and early 21st-century. The county's largest employers are GKN, Eaton Corporation and Georgia-Pacific Corporation.

On the night of March 28, 2010 between 11:55pm and 12:05am EDT, an EF1 tornado packing winds of 70-85 mph struck the Timberlake and Rougemont community. This was one of at least eight tornadoes that hit North Carolina.[2] See March 2010 Carolina tornado outbreak.

On the afternoon of April 16, 2011 at approximately 2:30pm EDT, an EF2 tornado struck the Bethel Hill community. [3] See April 2011 tornado outbreak.

Law and government[edit | edit source]

Person County Courthouse

Person County is a member of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments. The county government is administered by an elected county commission, and county law enforcement is administered by an elected Sheriff and his officers. Although the county is politically conservative, local politics are still dominated by the Democratic Party.

Elected Officials[edit | edit source]

Brad Miller (D), U.S. House of Representatives
Ellie Kinnaird (D), State Senator
W.A. "Winkie" Wilkins (D), State Representative

Dewey Jones (D), Sheriff
Todd Boycher (D), Police Chief

Johnny M. Lunsford (D), County Commission Chair
Larry Bowes (D), County Commissioner
Ray Jeffers (D), County Commissioner
Kyle Puryear (R), County Commissioner
Jimmy Clayton (D), County Commissioner

Gordon Powell, School Board Chairman
Jimmy Wilkins, School Board Vice-Chairman
Pecolia Beatty, School Board Member
Ronnie P. King, School Board Member
Margaret Bradsher, School Board Member

Geography[edit | edit source]

A sunset on Hyco Lake in northwest Person County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 404 square miles (1,047 km²), of which, 392 square miles (1,016 km²) of it is land and 12 square miles (31 km²) of it (2.92%) is water.

Person County contains parts of three major river basins: the Neuse, the Roanoke and the Tar, providing essential clean drinking water to the south and east of the state. The origin of the Tar River is in southeast Person County. In the northwest section of the county is Hyco Lake, with Mayo Reservoir in the northeast section. Both lakes are used for electrical power generation and recreation. Near the western border with Caswell County is Lake Roxboro. Part of the Neuse River begins here with the Flat River, where it combines with the Little and Eno rivers to go into Falls Lake and create the Neuse.

The Uwharrie Mountains, part of North Carolina's easternmost mountain range, are the oldest mountain range in North America. They are the lowest mountain range in the state. The Uwharries begin in Montgomery County and terminate in the hills of Person County.

The county is largely covered by rolling hills divided by farmlands and forest. The area's ridges are not narrow and sharp like those in some parts of the Piedmont, and the gullies and ditches are not as abrupt. The northern part of the county between the lakes is skirted by a plateau. The highest point of the county is a prominent hill in Roxboro, where the county seat has located its water reservoir tank. Person County claims two small mountains — Hager's Mountain, north of Roxboro, and Mt. Tirzah in the southern part of the county. The geology of the county is dominated by igneous formation, overlaid by a variety of soils. Granite boulders are strewn across the county.

Townships[edit | edit source]

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

The county is divided into nine township districts: Allensville, Bushy Fork, Cunningham, Flat River, Holloway, Mount Tirzah, Olive Hill, Roxboro, and Woodsdale (which includes Bethel Hill).

Unincorporated communities[edit | edit source]

There are several unincorporated communities along the outskirts of the city of Roxboro or in the rural parts of the county:

Adjacent counties[edit | edit source]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

As of the census[4] of 2010, there were 39,464 people, 15,826 households, and 10,979 families residing in the county. The population density was 91 people per square mile (35/km²). There were 15,504 housing units at an average density of 40 per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 68.1% White, 28.3% Black, 0.61% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.37% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.09% of the population.

There were 14,085 households out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.8% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,559 and the median income for a family was $54,474. Males had a median income of $30,970 versus $22,804 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,189. About 9.4% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.9% of those under age 18 and 17.3% of those age 65 or over.

Economy[edit | edit source]

The economy of Person County is dominated by electrical, textile, administrative, manufacturing, aerodynamics, winery, brokering, food processing, automotive, aluminum and paper products. Diversification from traditional flue cured tobacco to include burley tobacco and other modes of agriculture is underway.

Person County is home to two industrial parks: Person County Business and Industrial Center (PCBIC) located on Durham Road (US 501) and North Park located north of Roxboro on North Park Drive.

Person County is also near North Carolina's Research Triangle, home to numerous high-tech companies and enterprises.

Person County offers a strategic location for business and industry, as it is within an hour’s drive of North Carolina's two major economic centers, the Research Triangle Park (Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh) and the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point), and a two-hour drive of Richmond, Virginia.

Hospital & Clinic[edit | edit source]

Roxboro MedAccess

Education[edit | edit source]

Higher education[edit | edit source]

  • Piedmont Community College with branches in Person County and neighboring Caswell County, offers associate degrees, technical training programs, and college credit which is transferable to local state supported colleges/universities.

Public education[edit | edit source]

Person County School System[edit | edit source]

Public education is provided by the Person County School System and administers a single unified school district with a K-12 program.

  • 5,300 students
  • 650 staff
Person County Schools
Name Principal/Director Mascot Colors Enrollment
Earl Bradsher Pre-School Center (Pre-K) Amy Seate, Director Shining Stars -, - 186
Early Intervention & Family Services (Pre-K) Dana Faulkner, Director - -, - -
Helena Elementary (K-5) Dr. Kay Allen, Principal Hornets Black, Yellow 684
North Elementary (K-5) Aisha Howard, Principal Eagles -, - 296
North End Elementary (K-5) Darkarai Bryant, Principal Jets -, - 235
Oak Lane Elementary (K-5) Crystal Welch, Principal Cougars Green, White 252
Stories Creek Elementary (K-5) Veronica I. Clay, Principal Gators Green, - 415
South Elementary (K-5) Michael Ziemba, Principal Shooting Stars -, - 330
Woodland Elementary (K-5) Kirk Brozy, Principal Lakers -, - 219
Northern Middle (6-8) Andrew Brehler, Principal Raiders -, - 496
Southern Middle (6-8) John McCain, Principal Panthers Black, Grey 607
Person High (9-12) Steve Hester, Principal Rockets Blue, White, Cardinal 1,458
Person County Learning Academy (Alternative school) (6-10) Simon Justice, Director - -, - 50

State Sponsored Charter schools[edit | edit source]

The State of North Carolina also provides for a certain number of charter schools. These schools are administered separately from the Person County School System. Roxboro has 2 charter schools:

  • Bethel Hill Charter School, a public school exempt from the state's public school system that offers young kids an alternative for grades K-6. Total Enrollment - 369.
  • Roxboro Community School, an alternative to the state public school system located in uptown Roxboro. The school is housed in a renovated cotton mill and opened for the 2006-2007 school year. Currently serves grades 6-12. Total Enrollment - 418.

Private education[edit | edit source]

Transportation[edit | edit source]

Air[edit | edit source]

Major highways[edit | edit source]

Railroad[edit | edit source]

Notable people[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 36°23′N 78°59′W / 36.39, -78.98

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