Person County, North Carolina

Person County, North Carolina

Infobox U.S. County
county = Person County
state = North Carolina

map size = 250
founded = 1791
seat = Roxboro
area_total_sq_mi =404
area_land_sq_mi =392
area_water_sq_mi =12
area water percentage = 2.92%

census estimate yr = 2006
population_footnotes =
pop = 37356

timezone = Eastern Standard
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = Eastern Daylight
utc_offset_DST = -4
web =

Person County is a county located just north of Durham (Durham County) in the Northwest Piedmont in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Part of the Durham Metropolitan Area, officially designated the Durham-Orange-Chatham-Person Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The population was 35,623 at the 2000 census.

The county seat is RoxboroGR|6. The southern part of the county is the fastest growing with new subdivisions and businesses.


Person County was established by colonists as part of Edgecombe County in 1746; part of Granville County from 1746-1752; included in Orange County until 1778, and even part of Caswell County until 1791/1792. By dividing Caswell County into two squares–each side measuring approximately twenty (20) miles in length, two counties of 400–square miles were formed.

Roxboro is the only incorporated municipality in the county although there nine townships, many with community centers or postal offices. The city of Roxboro was chartered January 9, 1855.

Person County was settled by a variety of groups, including Native Americans for hundreds of years. Settlers of Scots, Scots-Irish, English, French Huguenot, African and German ancestry came much later. Religious affiliation in the county is predominantly Protestant with a small contingent of Catholics and other groups. Due to its proximity to Virginia, the Carolina coast, and the Appalachian foothills, a wide variety of Southern American English dialects can be heard in the county, with Virginia Piedmont, Coastal Southern, South Midland, and African American Vernacular English being the most common.

Early 20th century local legends claimed that the Indians of Person County (recognized by the state as a tribe in 1911) were descended from the first British colonists of North America, the Elizabethan-era settlement of Roanoke Island, often called the "Lost Colony". No verifiable links to the Roanoke Colony have been documented. In 2003 the Indians of Person County changed their name to Sappony, to indicate descent from the historical Saponi, a Siouan -related nation once thought to be extinct in the East.

Ancestors of the Sappony in the area in the 19th c. included many of multiracial ancestry, one of a number of frontier communities which anthropologists classified as a tri-racial isolate. Later 20th c. research has shown that many of these people migrated from Virginia, descendants of people of color free in Virginia before the American Revolution. Most of these free families originated in marriages between white women and African or African-American men, as Paul Heinegg has documented. Free Native Americans who adopted English customs married into African-American communities as well. Free people of color migrated with European settlers to frontier regions of Virginia and North Carolina. They sometimes established relatively isolated communities where they could evade racial strictures of the plantation areas. Sometimes later generations married white and assimilated to the majority; other members chose African-American partners; and others identified as more exclusively Indian. Late 20th c. researchers have documented that 80 percent of the people listed as free people of color in the NC censuses of 1790-1810 could be traced to African Americans free in Virginia before the Revolution. [Paul Heinegg, "Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware" [] , accessed 15 Feb 2008]

The county was named for General Thomas Person, a Revolutionary War Patriot, who made significant contributions to Person County and surround areas. He was a trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, donating large sums of money to the institution and being recognized by the construction of Person Hall.

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Moore (fondly bestowed the title of General) was another Revolutionary War hero of note, commanding troops in Person County. The story is told of his riding to the top of hill, admiring the beauty of the view and vowing to return to his "Lost Eden" after the war. In 1793 he purchased property in the southern part of the county and named it Mt. Tirzah (Mount Beautiful) or "General Moore's Mountain." The old home is still located at its original site and owned by a descendant. The front porch overlooks the same inspiring view. Moore was buried on a nearby hill.

During the Civil War, Person County supplied 800 to 1000 soldiers to the Confederate cause. A granite monument on the Person County Courthouse lawn honors E. Fletcher Satterfield, who advanced the Confederate flag at Gettysburg. After the war, the area's large plantations were divided into many small farms.

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 Norfolk and Western Railroad was a major influence around 1890, facilitating the addition of tobacco processing plants and warehouses. 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 textiles a major contributor to the local economy. 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.

The county's current largest employers are GKN, Eaton Corporation and Georgia-Pacific Corporation.

Law and government


Elected Officials

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

Dewey Jones (D), Sheriff

Johnny M. Lunsford (D), County Commission Chair
Larry Bowes (D), County Commissioner
Larry Yarborough (R), 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
Vickie L. Nelson, School Board Member


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 SE 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 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 and 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 much 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, with granite boulders strewn across the county.

Cities & Townships

Roxboro is the county seat, and located roughly at the center of the county.

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

*Hurdle Mills

Adjacent counties

*Halifax County, Virginia - north
*Granville County, North Carolina - east
*Durham County, North Carolina - south-southeast
*Orange County, North Carolina - south-southwest
*Caswell County, North Carolina - west


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 35,623 people, 14,085 households, and 10,113 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 68.79% White, 28.21% Black or African American, 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 $37,159, and the median income for a family was $44,598. Males had a median income of $30,970 versus $22,804 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,709. 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.


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 Park (PCBIC) located on Durham Road (US 501) and North Park located north of Roxboro on North Park Drive.

Person County is also part of 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.


Person County is served by [ Person Memorial Hospital] .

Notable residents

*Robert L. Blackwell, the only soldier from North Carolina to receive the Medal of Honor for service during World War I. He was killed in action in 1918.
*Carl Long, NASCAR driver
*Jim Thorpe, Champions Tour golfer
*Dolley Madison, (Dorothea Payne) wife of President James Madison and First Lady of the United States
*Tom Long, CEO and President of SABMiller Brewing Company
*Jamie Barnette, CFL quarterback, and record setting college quarterback at N.C. State
*Enos Slaughter, aka "Country", St. Louis Cardinals, and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee
*Wendy Palmer, former WNBA player
*Tracey Chambers, stock car driver
*Oscar Scott Woody, sea post clerk aboard Titanic
*Margie Bowes, American Country Music singer



External links

*Research Triangle Metropolitan Region ("The Triangle")
* [ Person County Government]
* [ Person County GIS]
* [ City of Roxboro, NC]
* [ Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce]
* [ Person County Economic Development]
* [ The Courier-Times]

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