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Alamance County, North Carolina

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  • Betsy Ross Fowler (1925 - 2016)
    Betsy Ross Vaden Fowler, daughter of Charles and Gertrude Vaden of Raleigh, passed away peacefully on Friday, January 8th in Burlington, NC. Pre-deceased by her husband J Richard Fowler, daughter Eliza...
  • Beverly Guthrie (1818 - 1819)
  • Annie Jane Smith (1877 - 1969)
  • Billy Wade McPherson (1937 - 2019)
    Billy Wade McPherson, 82, of West Columbia, passed away on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. Born in Burlington, NC on August 24, 1937, he was a son of the late Junie and Christine Thompson McPherson and the...

Please add profiles for those who were born, lived or died in Alamance County, North Carolina.

Official Website


Alamance County was named after Great Alamance Creek, site of the Battle of Alamance (May 16, 1771), a pre-Revolutionary War battle in which militia under the command of Governor William Tryon crushed the Regulator movement. Great Alamance Creek, and in turn Little Alamance Creek, according to legend, were named after a local Native American word to describe the blue mud found at the bottom of the creeks. Other legends say 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 came from.

During the
American Revolution, several small battles and skirmishes occurred in the area that became Alamance County, several of them during the lead-up to the Battle of Guilford Court House, including Pyle's Massacre, the Battle of Lindley's Mill, 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. In 2002, the modern Occaneechi tribe bought 25 acres of their ancestral land in Alamance County and began a Homeland Preservation Project that includes a village reconstructed as it would have been in 1701 and a 1930s farming village.

During the early 19th century, the textile industry grew heavily in the area, and so 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, at least 14 major mills were powered by these rivers and streams. Mills were built by the Trollinger, Holt, Newlin, Swepson, and Rosenthal families, among others. One of them, built in 1832 by Ben Trollinger, is still in operation. It is owned by Copland Industries, sits in the unincorporated community of Carolina and is the oldest continuously operating mill in North Carolina.

One notable textile produced in the area was the "Alamance Plaids" or "Glencoe Plaids" used in everything from clothing to tablecloths. 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.

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 on January 29, 1849 from Orange County.

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, who both opposed secession, as did most of the delegates sent to the convention. At the time of the convention, around 30% of Alamance County's population were slaves (total population of c. 12,000, including c. 3,500 slaves and c. 500 free blacks).

North Carolina was reluctant to join other Southern states in secession until the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861. 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 for secession on May 20, 1861.

No battles took place in Alamance County, but it sent 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 onto railroad cars at Company Shops and transferred to the battlefront at Manassas, Virginia in the First Battle of Manassas.

Although the citizens of Alamance County were not directly affected throughout much of the war, in April 1865 they 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 people from Alamance County had been killed in the course of the war, more than any other war since the county's founding.

Some of the Civil War's most significant effects were seen after it ended. Alamance County briefly became a center of national attention when in 1870 Wyatt Outlaw, a negro 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, helped to establish the Republican party in North Carolina and advocated establishing a school for blacks. His offense was that Governor William Holden had appointed him a Justice of the Peace, and he had accepted the appointment. Outlaw's body was found hanging 30 yards from the courthouse, a note pinned to his chest reading, "Beware! You guilty parties – both white and black." Outlaw was the central figure in political cooperation between blacks and whites in the county.

Holden declared Caswell County in a state of insurrection 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 63 Klansmen for felonies and 18 for the murder of Wyatt Outlaw. Soon after the indictments were brought, Democrats in the legislature passed a bill to repeal the law under which the indictments had been secured. The 63 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.

Holden's support for Reconstruction led to his impeachment and removal by the North Carolina Legislature in 1871.

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.

During World War II, Fairchild Aircraft built airplanes at a plant on the eastern side of Burlington. Among the planes built there was the AT-21 gunner, used to train bomber pilots. Near the Fairchild plant was the Western Electric Burlington works. During the Cold War, the plant built radar equipment and guidance systems for missiles and many other electronics for the government, including the guidance system for the Titan missile.

The USS Alamance, a Tolland-class attack cargo ship, was built during and served in and after World War II.

Adjacent Counties

Cities, Towns, Villages & Communities

  • Alamance
  • Bellemont
  • Burlington
  • Carolina
  • Dogwood Acres
  • Eli Whitney
  • Elon
  • Gibsonville (part)
  • Glencoe
  • Graham (County Seat)
  • Green Level
  • Haw River
  • Hawfields
  • Mandale
  • Mebane (part)
  • Mount Hermon
  • Ossipee
  • Snow Camp
  • Swepsonville


  1. Patterson
  2. Coble
  3. Boone Station
  4. Morton
  5. Faucette
  6. Graham
  7. Albright
  8. Newlin
  9. Thompson
  10. Melville
  11. Pleasant Grove
  12. Burlington
  13. Haw River

Ghost Towns

Albright | Carney | Cane Creek | Cedarcliff | Clover Orchard | Curtis | Glenddale | Hartshorn | Holman's Mills | Iola | Lacey | Leota | Loy | Manndale | Maywood | McCray | Melville | Morton's Store | Nicholson | Oakdale | Oneida | Osceola | Pleasant Grove | Pleasant Lodge | Rock Creek | Shallow Ford | Shady Grove | Stainback | Sutpin | Sylvester | Union Ridge | Vincent



Alamance Battleground

National Register of Historic Places

USS Alamance AKA-75


Genealogy Trails

NC GenWeb

Alamance County Historical Museum