Alamance County, North Carolina

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Alamance County
Alamance County, North Carolina
Founded 1849

Alamance County is a county 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. Its county seat is Graham.



Before being formed as a county, the region had at least one known small Southeastern tribe of Native American in the 1700s - the Sissipahaw who lived in the area bound by modern Saxapahaw, the area known as the Hawfields, and Haw River in the county [1][2] European settlers entered the region in the late 1600s 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.[3]

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.

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[4] 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.[5] In 2002, the modern Occaneechi tribe bought 25 acres 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.[5]

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.[6]

One of the notable textiles produced in the area were the "Alamance Plaids" or "Glencoe Plaids" used in everything from clothing to tablecloths.[6] 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. (Holt's home is now the Alamance County Historical Society.) 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.

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 [7] from Orange County.

Adjacent counties

Municipalities and communities

Incorporated cities and towns

Alamance County's Incorporated Cities and Towns are home to over 93,850 people.[8]

Incorporated Cities, Towns, and Villages in Alamance County
  • 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.
  • 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


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

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

Unincorporated communities

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

Unincorporated Communities and Census Designated Places of Alamance County

Ghost Towns

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.[9]

Former Post Offices in Alamance County
  • Albright - site located approximately 1 mile 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 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 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 east of Snow Camp
  • Iola - about 3 miles east of Altamahaw, NC nearly due north of Glencoe, NC
  • Lacey - Located about 1 mile east of Eli Whitney
  • Leota - approximately 1 mile south of Eli Whitney
  • Loy - Located at the northern base of Bass Mountain
  • Manndale
  • Maywood - approximately 3 miles northeast of Altamahaw
  • McCray (McRay) - located about 2 miles east-northeast of Glencoe, NC
  • Melville - Located approsimately 2 miles west-southwest of the intersection of Interstate 40 and NC Highway 119
  • Morton's Store - approximately 2 miles 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 east-northeast of the current community of Pleasant Grove
  • Pleasant Lodge - Located 1 mile to the west of the site of Oakdale, near the Alamance-Guilford Line
  • Rock Creek - located 4 miles due south of Alamance, NC
  • Shallow Ford - Located 1 mile east of Ossipee, NC
  • Shady Grove
  • Stainback - Located about 2 miles 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 from the Alamance-Caswell Line
  • Vincent - Located 2 miles north-northeast of Pleasant Grove, NC


  1. John R. Swanton, "North Carolina Indian Tribes", Indian Tribes of North America, 1953, at Accss Genealogy, accessed 25 Mar 2009
  2. "Sissipahaw Indian Tribe History", John R. Swanton, Indian Tribes of North America, 1953, at Access Genealogy, accessed 25 Mar 2009
  3. "The Trading Path in Alamance County, a Beginning", Alamance County Historical Association, Trading Path Association: Preserving our Common Past
  4. Battle of Lindley's Mill
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation". Southern Neighbor. November 2009. 
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. Alamance County North Carolina Genealogy
  8. Populations given are from the 2008 Census Estimate (Microsoft Excel file)
  9. Burlington Times-News, December 11, 1975
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