Person County, North Carolina

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Person County
Person County, North Carolina
Founded 1791

Person County is a county located in the Piedmont region in north-central North Carolina in the United States. It is part of the Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Area. The population was 35,623 at the 2000 census.

The county seat is Roxboro.Template:GR The Hyco Lake area and southern portion of the county are the fastest growing, with new businesses and subdivisions.


This area was inhabited by indigenous peoples, ancestors of Native Americans, for 12,000 years, over which time they developed varying cultures. Starting about 1000 CE, the Mississippian culture peoples built earthwork mounds in their chiefdoms in the western part of the state, such as Joara. Some of these native people were encountered by the Spanish Juan Pardo expedition in the mid-1500s, which at Fort San Juan established the first European settlement in the interior.

Other European explorers arrived in Person County in the 1600s. 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. Some migrants brought enslaved African Americans with them, or imported some later.

European-Americans 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 each.

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


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.

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 at the Elizabethan-era settlement of Roanoke Island. No verifiable links to the Roanoke Colony have been documented.

In 2003 the Indians of Person County changed their name to Sappony, to indicate their connection to the historical Saponi, a Southeastern Siouan tribe. Historians believe that this Siouan-related nation became extinct as a distinct entity in the Eastern states, although individual descendants continue. No historical documentation links the contemporary Sappony to the historical Saponi.

In the 19th century, ancestors of the current Sappony included many persons of multiracial heritage: European and African in addition to Native American. The slave societies of the colonies and early United States did not recognize American Indians separately and at different times counted them among the free blacks, mustees, mulattoes for free people of color at different times. The county's multiracial population was one of a number of frontier communities which anthropologists classified as tri-racial isolates. Later 20th c. research has shown that many of these people migrated from Virginia in the late 18th and early 19th century. They were descendants of people of color free in Virginia before the American Revolution. Researcher Paul Heinegg has shown that most of these free families originated in marriages between white women and African or African-American men. Some free Native Americans who adopted English customs may have married into African-American communities as well. Heinegg 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.[1]

Revolutionary & Civil War

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 (often referred to as "General" because he was named the 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 1775-6 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 800 to 1000 soldiers to the Confederate cause. A granite monument at the Person County Courthouse honors E. Fletcher Satterfield, who advanced the Confederate flag at Gettysburg. After the war, many of the area's large plantations were divided into smaller farms.

Agriculture and industry

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, 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 textiles 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 Century

Residential & Commercial development has grown steady 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.

2010 Tornado

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

See March 2010 Carolina tornado outbreak.

Initial touchdown of the tornado occurred along fire tower Road off Moores Mill Road in extreme southeast Person County as a weak EF0 with wind speeds of 65-70 mph. The tornado then moved northeast crossing Helena-Moriah Road. Trees including both pines and hardwoods were sheared off a quarter to halfway up. Damage here was rated as EF0 (70-80 mph). The tornado continued moving northeast striking a subdivision off Stoney Mountain Road and Mountain Ridge Road. Several trees were twisted off and uprooted and a couple of modular homes sustained damage when trees fell on them. Estimated winds were 75-85 mph rating it an EF0. The worst damage occurred as the tornado moved northeast across Medford Oakley Road. Numerous pines and hardwoods were snapped off and uprooted and a modular home was moved off its foundation. The tornado reached EF1 strength here with winds of 90-100 mph. The tornado then moved into a wooded area where it weakening producing minor damage to an old barn and weak tree damage near Peed Road. Wind speeds here were estimated at 65 mph.

Law and government

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

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
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
Vickie L. Nelson, School Board Member


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.

Cities and townships

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

Roxboro is the county seat, 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

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

Adjacent counties


As of the censusTemplate:GR 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 $45,321 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 $21,817. 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 (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

Roxboro MedAccess


Higher education

  • 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

Person County School System

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

  • 5,831 students
  • 530 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 685
North Elementary (K-5) Marionette Jeffers, Principal Eagles -, - 309
North End Elementary (K-5) Crystal Brooks, Principal Jets -, - 289
Oak Lane Elementary (K-5) Rick Chambers, Principal Cougars Green, White 253
Stories Creek Elementary (K-5) Veronica I. Clay, Principal Gators Green, - 401
South Elementary (K-5) Michael Ziemba, Principal Shooting Stars -, - 396
Woodland Elementary (K-5) Kirk Brozy, Principal - -, - 239
Northern Middle (6-8) Darkarai Bryant, Principal Raiders -, - 752
Southern Middle (6-8) John McCain, Principal Panthers Black, Grey 727
Person High (9-12) Steve Hester, Principal Rockets Blue, White 1,780
Person County Learning Academy (Alternative school) (6-10) Simon Justice, Director - -, - 50

State Sponsored Charter schools

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

Notable residents



External links

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia adapted for use as a quick research reference on this wiki. The original content was here: Person County, North Carolina. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the ENC Phillips Group Wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.