Bladen County
Bladen County Courthouse, Elizabethtown
Bladen County Courthouse, Elizabethtown
Flag of Bladen County
Official seal of Bladen County
Official logo of Bladen County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Bladen County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 34°37′N 78°34′W / 34.62°N 78.56°W / 34.62; -78.56
Country United States
State North Carolina
Founded1734
Named forMartin Bladen
SeatElizabethtown
Largest townElizabethtown
Area
 • Total887 sq mi (2,300 km2)
 • Land874 sq mi (2,260 km2)
 • Water13 sq mi (30 km2)  1.4%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2021)
29,525
 • Density33.8/sq mi (13.1/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district7th
Websitebladennc.govoffice3.com

Bladen County (/ˈbldən/)[1] is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 29,606.[2] Its county seat is Elizabethtown.[3] The county was created in 1734 as Bladen Precinct and gained county status in 1739.[4]

History

Bladen County was formed in 1734 as Bladen Precinct of Bath County, from New Hanover Precinct.[5] It was named for Martin Bladen, a member of the Board of Trade.[6] With the abolition of Bath County in 1739, all of its constituent precincts became counties.

Bladen's original residents included the Waccamaw people.[7][5]

Bladen County began as a vast territory, with indefinite northern and western boundaries. Reductions in its extent began in 1750, when its western part became Anson County. In 1754 the northern part of what was left of Bladen County became Cumberland County. In 1764 the southern part of what remained of Bladen County was combined with part of New Hanover County to form Brunswick County. In 1787 the western part of the now much smaller county became Robeson County. Finally, in 1808 the southern part of Bladen County was combined with part of Brunswick County to form Columbus County. Bladen County is considered the "mother county" of North Carolina because of the 100 counties in North Carolina, 55 of them at one point belonged to Bladen County.

Geography

Interactive map of Bladen County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 887 square miles (2,300 km2), of which 874 square miles (2,260 km2) is land and 13 square miles (34 km2) (1.4%) is water.[8] It is the fourth-largest county in North Carolina by land area.[9]

State and local protected areas

Major water bodies

Adjacent counties

Major highways

Major infrastructure

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
17905,100
18007,02837.8%
18105,671−19.3%
18207,27628.3%
18307,8117.4%
18408,0222.7%
18509,76721.8%
186011,99522.8%
187012,8317.0%
188016,15825.9%
189016,7633.7%
190017,6775.5%
191018,0061.9%
192019,7619.7%
193022,38913.3%
194027,15621.3%
195029,7039.4%
196028,881−2.8%
197026,477−8.3%
198030,49115.2%
199028,663−6.0%
200032,27812.6%
201035,1909.0%
202029,606−15.9%
2021 (est.)29,525[11]−0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2013[16]
2020[17]

2020 census

Bladen County Racial Composition[18]
Race Num. Perc.
White 15,830 53.47%
Black or African American 9,505 32.1%
Native American 701 2.37%
Asian 47 0.16%
Pacific Islander 8 0.03%
Other/Mixed 969 3.27%
Hispanic or Latino 2,546 8.6%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 29,606 people, 13,636 households, and 8,691 families residing in the county.

2000 census

As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 32,278 people, 12,897 households, and 8,937 families residing in the county. The population density was 37 people per square mile (14/km2). There were 15,316 housing units at an average density of 18 per square mile (7/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 57.22% White, 37.91% Black or African American, 2.04% Native American, 0.10% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.97% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. 3.71% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

By 2005 55.8% of the population of Bladen County was non-Hispanic whites. 36.8% of the population was African-American. 5.0% of the population of was Latino. 2.3% of the population was Native American.

There were 12,897 households, out of which 30.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.90% were married couples living together, 15.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.70% were non-families. 27.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.50% 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 2.97.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.60% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 25.20% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,877, and the median income for a family was $33,974. Males had a median income of $27,799 versus $21,973 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,735. About 16.60% of families and 21.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.70% of those under age 18 and 24.20% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politics

Bladen County is a member of the Lumber River Council of Governments, a regional planning board representing five counties.[20]

Following the 2018 United States Midterm Elections, an investigation was opened into accusations of an absentee ballot fraud scheme directed by McCrae Dowless in Bladen County, within North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. Accusations were based around the Republican Primary election, in which Mark Harris defeated incumbent Robert Pittenger, and around the general election, in which Harris initially appeared to defeat Democrat Dan McCready. As of December 2018, the investigation is currently ongoing.[21][22] Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, Democrat, said it was possible over 1,000 ballots had been destroyed.[23] According to District Attorney Jon David, Republican, the county has a "troubled history of political groups exploiting the use of absentee ballots."[24] The scandal brought national media attention to Bladen.[25]

As of 2022, Bladen County is home to about 22,000 registered voters, comprising about 9,700 registered Democrats, about 5,100 Republicans, and about 7,000 unaffiliated voters.[26]

United States presidential election results for Bladen County, North Carolina[27]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 9,676 56.50% 7,326 42.78% 123 0.72%
2016 8,550 53.78% 7,058 44.40% 289 1.82%
2012 7,748 48.56% 8,062 50.52% 147 0.92%
2008 7,532 48.66% 7,853 50.73% 95 0.61%
2004 6,174 50.14% 6,109 49.61% 30 0.24%
2000 4,977 45.63% 5,889 53.99% 42 0.39%
1996 3,335 37.22% 4,952 55.27% 673 7.51%
1992 3,214 31.58% 5,700 56.01% 1,263 12.41%
1988 3,770 42.77% 5,031 57.08% 13 0.15%
1984 4,701 48.07% 5,064 51.78% 14 0.14%
1980 2,745 30.70% 6,104 68.27% 92 1.03%
1976 1,546 20.37% 6,009 79.18% 34 0.45%
1972 4,205 64.72% 2,201 33.88% 91 1.40%
1968 1,746 20.79% 2,754 32.80% 3,897 46.41%
1964 2,169 32.45% 4,516 67.55% 0 0.00%
1960 1,854 29.87% 4,353 70.13% 0 0.00%
1956 1,542 27.44% 4,078 72.56% 0 0.00%
1952 1,710 32.78% 3,506 67.22% 0 0.00%
1948 500 12.77% 2,831 72.33% 583 14.90%
1944 731 22.33% 2,542 77.67% 0 0.00%
1940 543 15.66% 2,925 84.34% 0 0.00%
1936 551 14.09% 3,360 85.91% 0 0.00%
1932 808 23.12% 2,651 75.85% 36 1.03%
1928 1,911 55.18% 1,552 44.82% 0 0.00%
1924 786 33.31% 1,551 65.72% 23 0.97%
1920 1,064 35.43% 1,939 64.57% 0 0.00%
1916 651 34.05% 1,261 65.95% 0 0.00%
1912 33 1.96% 1,140 67.70% 511 30.34%

Economy

Agriculture constitutes a major part of Bladen County's economy.[25] Smithfield Foods operates a pork processing facility north of the town of Tar Heel, the largest such plant in the world.[28] It employs 5,800 workers, making it the county's largest employer.[29] The county is the largest producer of blueberries in the state. Area farmers also grow soybeans, peanuts, corn, wheat, and cotton.[25] The county suffers from a large poverty rate and is one of the most economically-distressed counties in the state.[9]

Communities

Map of Bladen County, North Carolina, with municipal and township labels
Map of Bladen County, North Carolina, with municipal and township labels
Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church, Elizabethtown
Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church, Elizabethtown

Towns

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Townships

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2022 Estimates of Bladen County.[30]

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2022 Estimate)
1 Elizabethtown Town 3,391
2 Bladenboro Town 1,550
3 White Lake Town 800
4 Clarkton Town 625
7 East Arcadia Town 401
6 Kelly CDP 395
7 White Oak CDP 337
8 Dublin Town 262
9 Butters CDP 246
10 Tar Heel Town 91

See also

References

  1. ^ Talk Like A Tarheel Archived 2013-06-22 at the Wayback Machine, from the North Carolina Collection's website at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Bladen County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "North Carolina: Individual County Chronologies". North Carolina Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2009. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Jason, Bordeaux (2010). "Bladen County in the 1700s". NCpedia. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  6. ^ Proffitt, Martie (April 17, 1983). "Local history offers tasty tidbits". Star-News. pp. 1C. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  7. ^ Martin, Jonathan (2016). "Bladen County (1734)". North Carolina History Project. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Mildenberg, David (April 20, 2021). "Bladen County's crafty approach to economic development". Business North Carolina. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  10. ^ "Oldest Taxodium disticum". Eastern OLDLIST. Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, Inc. & Eastern Kentucky University. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  11. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Bladen County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  14. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  16. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  17. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Bladen County, North Carolina". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  18. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 7, 2021.
  19. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  20. ^ "Richardson explains role of LRCOG to Rotary Club". The Laurinburg Exchange. January 28, 2020. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  21. ^ Morrill, Jim (November 29, 2018). "'Tangled web' in Bladen County has questions swirling about votes in the 9th District". The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte, North Carolina. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  22. ^ Gardner, Amy; Ross, Kirk (November 29, 2018). "Certification in limbo in N.C. House race as fraud investigation continues". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  23. ^ Casiano, Louis (December 6, 2018). "Over 1,000 ballots may have been destroyed in NC congressional race, DA says". Fox News. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Henderson, Bruce; Doran, Will (December 7, 2018). "In 2 NC counties with 'rough politics,' election fraud claims are nothing new". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c Nagem, Sarah (March 30, 2022). "Bladen County, shrinking but hopeful, creates a plan for its future". Border Belt Independent. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  26. ^ Nagem, Sarah (April 20, 2022). "Here are some primary races to watch in Bladen County for May 17 election". Border Belt Independent. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  27. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  28. ^ Wooten, Alan (April 18, 2020). "Coronavirus: Smithfield Foods worker at Tar Heel plant tests positive; a second Bladen resident also infected". The Bladen Journal.
  29. ^ Schofield, Ivey (May 16, 2021). "'Strong human capital and innovation:' How Bladen County has created plans for future development". Border Belt Independent. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  30. ^ "Bladen County NC - Cities, Towns, Neighborhoods, & Subdivisions". northcarolina.hometownlocator.com. Retrieved April 19, 2022.

Coordinates: 34°37′N 78°34′W / 34.62°N 78.56°W / 34.62; -78.56