Alamance County
Pro Bono Publico (For the Public Good)
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 36°02′N 79°24′W / 36.04°N 79.4°W / 36.04; -79.4
Country United States
State North Carolina
FoundedJanuary 29, 1849
Named forNative American word to describe the mud in Great Alamance Creek
Largest cityBurlington
 • Total435 sq mi (1,130 km2)
 • Land424 sq mi (1,100 km2)
 • Water11 sq mi (30 km2)  2.5%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density356/sq mi (137/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district13th

Alamance County /ˈæləmæns/ (About this soundlisten)[2] is a county in North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 151,131.[3] Its county seat is Graham.[4] Formed in 1849 from Orange County to the east, Alamance County has been the site of significant historical events, textile manufacturing, and agriculture.

Alamance County comprises the Burlington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point Combined Statistical Area. The 2018 estimated population of the metropolitan area was 166,436.[3]


Re-enacting the 1771 Battle of Alamance from the War of the Regulation.

Before being formed as a county, the region had at least one known small Southeastern tribe of Native American in the 18th century, the Sissipahaw, who lived in the area bounded by modern Saxapahaw, the area known as the Hawfields, and the Haw River.[5][6] European settlers entered the region in the late 17th century chiefly following Native American trading paths, and set up their farms in 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.[7]

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 Indian word to describe the blue mud found at the bottom of the creeks. Other legends say the name came from another local Indian word meaning "noisy river", or for the Alamanni region of Rhineland, Germany, where many of the early settlers came from.[8]

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,[9] and the Battle of Clapp's Mill.[10]

In the 1780s, the Occaneechi Indians returned to North Carolina from Virginia, this time settling in what is now Alamance County rather than their first location near Hillsborough.[11] In 2002, the modern Occaneechi tribe bought 25 acres (100,000 m2) 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.[11]

During the early 19th century, the textile industry grew heavily in the area, 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.[12]

One notable textile produced in the area was the "Alamance plaids" or "Glencoe plaids" used in everything from clothing to tablecloths.[12] 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.[13] (Holt's home is now the Alamance County Historical Society.[14]) But by the late 20th century, most of the plants and mills had gone out of business, including the mills operated by Burlington Industries, a company based in Burlington.

Alamance Cotton Factory, built by Edwin M. Holt, first manufacturer of colored cotton fabrics in the South on power looms, photograph taken in 1837
Alamance Cotton Factory, built by Edwin M. Holt, first manufacturer of colored cotton fabrics in the South on power looms, photograph taken in 1837

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[15] from Orange County.

Civil War

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.[16] At the time of the convention, around 30% of Alamance County's population were slaves (total population around 12,000, including roughly 3,500 slaves and. 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 (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.[17]


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, an African-American 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 (a progressive reform branch of the Federal Government), helped to establish the Republican party in North Carolina, and advocated establishing a school for African Americans. 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, with 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 (July 8) 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 Democratic Party 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.

Dairy industry

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.

World War II and the Cold War

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 plant closed in 1992 and sat abandoned until 2005, when it was purchased by a local businessman for manufacturing.

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

21st Century

Alamance County's population has grown significantly, with the city of Mebane tripling in size between 1990 and 2020. The county has seen significant business and industry growth, including the additions of the North Carolina Commerce Park and the North Carolina Industrial Center, as well as new retail opportunities near Interstate 85/40 on the eastern (Tanger Outlets) and western (University Commons and Alamance Crossing) sides of the county.[18]

Some growth has been attributed to illegal immigration, which has led to ongoing legal issues. In 2012, the Department of Justice found the Alamance County Sheriff's Office to use discriminatory policing,[19] however the case was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder, finding that the government failed to demonstrate that the ACSO had engaged in discriminatory policing.[20]

Beginning in 2014, the county has been home to a number of political demonstrations.[21] In October, 2020, during a demonstration prior to the 2020 United States Presidential Election, Alamance County sheriff's deputies and Graham police used pepper spray against crowd members.[22] Law enforcement reported that pepper spray had been deployed to disperse the crowd following an assault on an officer who was trying to shut down a generator the march organizers had brought, in violation of a signed agreement.[23]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 435 square miles (1,130 km2), of which 424 square miles (1,100 km2) are land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (2.5%) are covered by water.[24]

The county is in the Piedmont physiographical region. It has a general rolling terrain with the Cane Creek Mountains rising to over 970 ft (300 m)[25] in the south-central part of the county just north of Snow Camp. Bass Mountain, one of the prominent hills in the range, is home to a world-renowned bluegrass music festival every year. Also, isolated monadnocks are in the northern part of the county that rise to near or over 900 ft (270 m) above sea level.

The largest river that flows through Alamance County is the Haw, which feeds into Jordan Lake in Chatham County, eventually leading to the Cape Fear River. The county is also home to numerous creeks, streams, and ponds, including Great Alamance Creek, where a portion of the Battle of Alamance was fought. The three large municipal reservoirs are: Lake Cammack, Lake Mackintosh, and Graham-Mebane Lake (formerly Quaker Lake). The southwest end of the county is drained by North Rocky River Prong and Greenbrier Creek, two tributaries of the Rocky River in the Deep River system.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
2020 (est.)171,346[26]13.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[27]
1790-1960[28] 1900-1990[29]
1990-2000[30] 2010-2013[3]

As of the census[31] of 2010, there were 151,131 people, 59,960 households, and 39,848 families residing in the county. The population density was 347.4 people per square mile (134.1/km2). There were 66,055 housing units at an average density of 151.9 per square mile (58.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 71.1% White, 18.8% Black or African American, 0.7% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 6.1% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. 11% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 59,960 households, out of which 29.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 27.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 26.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.7% under the age of 19, 7.2% from 20 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.7 years. For every 100 females there were 92.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $44,430, and the median income for a family was $54,605. Males had a median income of $31,906 versus $23,367 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,477. About 13.7% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.


BurlingtonElonGibsonvilleGrahamMebaneGrenn LevelHaw RiverOssipeeSwepsonville
Clickable map of the communities Click to enlarge





The county is divided into thirteen townships, which are both numbered and named.

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

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

Ghost towns

According to a 1975 study of the history of post offices in North Carolina by Treasure Index, Alamance County has 27 ghost towns that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Additionally, five other post offices no longer exist. These towns and their post offices were either abandoned as organized settlements or absorbed into the larger communities that now make up Alamance County.[32]

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Alamance County.[33]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Burlington (partially in Guilford County) City 49,963
2 Graham City 14,153
3 Mebane (partially in Orange County) City 11,393
4 Elon Town 9,419
5 Gibsonville (mostly in Guilford County) Town 6,410
6 Glen Raven CDP 2,750
7 Haw River Town 2,298
8 Green Level Town 2,100
9 Saxapahaw CDP 1,648
10 Swepsonville Town 1,154
11 Alamance Village 951
12 Woodlawn CDP 900
13 Ossipee Town 543
14 Altamahaw CDP 347

Politics and government

Lying between overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic Orange County and Durham County to the east, equally Democratic Guilford County to the west, and heavily conservative and Republican Randolph County to the southwest, Alamance leans Republican, though not as overwhelmingly as many other suburban counties in the Piedmont Triad. The last Democratic nominee for president to carry Alamance County was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[34][35]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2020 53.5% 46,056 45.1% 38,825 1.4% 1,210
2016 54.6% 38,815 41.9% 29,833 3.5% 2,509
2012 56.3% 38,170 42.6% 28,875 1.1% 731
2008 54.2% 34,859 44.9% 28,918 0.9% 576
2004 61.5% 33,302 38.2% 20,686 0.4% 187
2000 62.2% 29,305 37.1% 17,459 0.7% 327
1996 53.7% 22,461 37.8% 15,814 8.6% 3,586
1992 48.3% 20,637 36.4% 15,521 15.3% 6,543
1988 65.5% 24,131 34.3% 12,642 0.2% 78
1984 69.7% 26,063 30.1% 11,230 0.2% 77
1980 53.1% 18,077 44.2% 15,042 2.8% 947
1976 41.9% 12,680 57.5% 17,371 0.6% 180
1972 74.6% 22,046 23.1% 6,833 2.3% 670
1968 36.5% 12,310 24.5% 8,241 39.0% 13,139
1964 49.6% 15,177 50.4% 15,397
1960 52.1% 14,818 47.9% 13,599
1956 52.4% 12,123 47.6% 11,029
1952 45.9% 11,388 54.1% 13,402
1948 33.3% 5,124 53.9% 8,287 12.8% 1,969
1944 35.1% 4,976 64.9% 9,184
1940 22.8% 3,382 77.2% 11,429
1936 25.9% 3,847 74.1% 11,025
1932 34.8% 4,478 64.0% 8,240 1.3% 164
1928 61.5% 6,810 38.5% 4,260
1924 39.4% 3,217 59.5% 4,859 1.1% 93
1920 46.8% 4,619 53.2% 5,255
1916 47.9% 2,278 52.0% 2,476 0.1% 5
1912 3.8% 150 54.3% 2,132 41.9% 1,647
1908 50.4% 2,184 48.8% 2,113 0.8% 34
1904 48.1% 1,770 51.8% 1,907 0.1% 2
1900 53.5% 2,256 45.6% 1,923 0.9% 38
1896 49.6% 2,314 49.3% 2,302 1.1% 50
1892 37.7% 1,301 49.0% 1,691 13.3% 458
1888 45.3% 1,544 50.4% 1,716 4.3% 148
1884 43.7% 1,259 55.7% 1,607 0.6% 18
1880 45.4% 1,247 53.3% 1,463 1.2% 34

Alamance County is a member of the regional Piedmont Triad Council of Governments. The county is led by the Alamance County Board of Commissioners and the County Manager, who is appointed by the Board of Commissioners. County residents also elect two other county government offices: the Sheriff and Register of Deeds.

Elected officials of Alamance County as of 2019
Official Position Term ends
County Commissioners
Amy Scott Galey Chair 2022
Eddie Boswell Vice-Chair 2020
William "Bill" Lashley Commissioner 2020
Steve Carter Commissioner 2022
Tim Sutton Commissioner 2020
Other County-Wide Offices
Terry Johnson Sheriff 2018
Hugh Webster Register of Deeds 2020

Alamance County has provided North Carolina with three of its governors and two U. S. senators: Governor Thomas Holt, Governor and U. S. Senator Kerr Scott, Governor Robert W. (Bob) Scott (Kerr Scott's son), and U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordan.

County manager

Alamance County adopted the council-manager form of government in the 1970s, where the day-to-day management of county business is done by an individual hired by the commissioners' board. Since the establishment of the office, the following persons have served as county managers:

Current manager

Bryan Hagood (March 2017 – present).[36]

Past managers

Walker and David Smith held dual roles as county manager and county attorney during their terms.

Arts and recreation

The arts

The Paramount Theater serves as a center of dramatic presentations in the community. To the south there is the Snow Camp Outdoor Drama which has plays from late spring to early fall in the evenings. Alamance County is also home to the Haw River Ballroom, a large music and arts venue in Saxapahaw.


Old Dam at Cedarock Park
Old Dam at Cedarock Park

Alamance County, Burlington, Graham, Elon, Haw River, Swepsonville, and Mebane all have small parks that are not listed here. Major parks include:



The Burlington Royals are a rookie league baseball farm team based in Burlington. They were previously known as the Burlington Indians, but changed affiliations in 2006 from Cleveland to Kansas City. This version of the team has been active since 1985, but Burlington hosted a minor league baseball team for many years under the Burlington Indians and Burlington Bees.


The Elon University Phoenix play in the town of Elon. The Phoenix compete in the NCAA's Division I (Championship Subdivision in football) Colonial Athletic Association. Intercollegiate sports include baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, and tennis for men, and basketball, cross-country, golf, indoor track, outdoor track, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball for women.


Today, Alamance County is often described as a "bedroom" community, with many residents living in the county and working elsewhere due to low tax rates, although the county is still a major player in the textile and manufacturing industries. The current county-wide tax rate for Alamance County residents is 58.0 cents per $100 valuation. This does not include tax rates imposed by municipalities or fire districts.

The top employers in Alamance County are:

Company City Location type Employees
Alamance-Burlington School System Burlington HQ 3,329
Laboratory Corp of America Burlington HQ 3,200
Alamance Regional Medical Center Burlington HQ 2,240
Elon University Elon Main Campus 1,403
Wal-Mart Burlington Branch 1,000
Alamance County Graham HQ 956
City of Burlington Burlington HQ 806
Alamance Community College Graham HQ 652
Honda Power Equipment Mfg Swepsonville HQ 600
GKN Driveline North America Mebane Branch 500
Glen Raven Inc. Altamahaw Branch 500


Alamance County is served by the Alamance-Burlington School System, several private elementary and secondary schools, Alamance Community College, and Elon University.


Alamance County has several state and federal highways running through it.

Interstates and U.S. highways

Interstates 85 and 40 run concurrently as seen from Exit 141 in Burlington, facing east.  The Interstates run east to west through the central part of the county.
Interstates 85 and 40 run concurrently as seen from Exit 141 in Burlington, facing east. The Interstates run east to west through the central part of the county.

Going east-west in the county:

N.C. state highways

Notable people

U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordan
U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordan
Governor Thomas M. Holt
Governor Thomas M. Holt

See also


  1. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. May 5, 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  2. ^ Talk Like A Tarheel Archived June 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, from the North Carolina Collection's website at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ John R. Swanton, "North Carolina Indian Tribes", Indian Tribes of North America, 1953, at Access Genealogy, accessed March 25, 2009
  6. ^ "Sissipahaw Indian Tribe History", John R. Swanton, Indian Tribes of North America, 1953, at Access Genealogy, accessed March 25, 2009
  7. ^ "The Trading Path in Alamance County, a Beginning", Alamance County Historical Association, Trading Path Association: Preserving our Common Past
  8. ^ "North Carolina Counties - List of all and Alamance County". Archived from the original on October 21, 2009.
  9. ^ "Hadley Society Photo Gallery". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2007.
  10. ^ "The Battle of Clapp's Mills". November 19, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation". Southern Neighbor. November 2009.
  12. ^ a b "Alamance County, NC". Archived from the original on February 16, 2012.
  13. ^ "Marker: G-82". Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
  14. ^ Alamance County Historical Museum, Burlington, North Carolina Archived April 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Alamance County North Carolina Genealogy - Family History Resources". Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2006.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 4, 2008. Retrieved August 13, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Economic Development". Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  19. ^ "Justice Department Releases Investigative Findings on the Alamance County, N.C., Sheriff's Office". September 18, 2012.
  20. ^, Sarah Newell Williamson. "U.S. District Court judge dismisses lawsuit against Alamance County sheriff". Greensboro News and Record. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  21. ^ "9 arrested while protesting Alamance County's contract with ICE, organizers say". November 25, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  22. ^
  23. ^ WRAL (November 2, 2020). "Alamance sheriff's office: Gas can, generator created danger during march to polls". Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  24. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  25. ^ GIS System Contours found on the Alamance County Website[full citation needed]
  26. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  27. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  28. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  29. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  30. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  31. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "U.S. Census website".
  32. ^ Burlington Times-News, December 11, 1975
  33. ^ Promotions, Center for New Media and. "US Census Bureau 2010 Census". Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  34. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  35. ^ Retrieved January 13, 2021. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ Times-News, Burlington. "Alamance County commissioners hire Hagood as new county manager". Greensboro News and Record. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ "Cross Roads History".
  39. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed. (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-578970-8.

Further reading

Coordinates: 36°02′N 79°24′W / 36.04°N 79.40°W / 36.04; -79.40