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Alamance County
Alamance County Courthouse and Confederate Memorial
Flag of Alamance County
Official seal of Alamance County
Pro Bono Publico (For the Public Good)
Map of North Carolina highlighting Alamance 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.
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Founded January 29, 1849
Named for Native American word to describe the mud in Great Alamance Creek
Seat Graham
Largest city Burlington
 • Total 435 sq mi (1,130 km2)
 • Land 424 sq mi (1,100 km2)
 • Water 11 sq mi (30 km2)  2.5%%
 • Total 171,415
 • Density 404.3/sq mi (156.1/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 4th

Alamance County is a county in North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 171,415. Its county seat is Graham. 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.


Re-enacting the Battle of Alamance

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 bound by modern Saxapahaw, the area known as the Hawfields, and the Haw River. 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.

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 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 Court House, including Pyle's Massacre, the Battle of Lindley's Mill, 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. 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 which includes a village reconstructed as it would have been in 1701 and a 1930s farming village.

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.

One of the notable textiles produced in the area were the "Alamance Plaids" or "Glencoe Plaids" used in everything from clothing to tablecloths. 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.

Alamance Cotton Mill Edwin M Holt photograph 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 after factory constructed.

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 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 were both in favor of remaining with the Union, as were most of the delegates who were sent to the convention. At the time of the convention, around 30% of Alamance County's population were slaves (total population of c. 12,000 people including c. 3,500 slaves and c. 500 free blacks).

Overall, North Carolina was reluctant to join other Southern states in secession; the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1961 changed that. 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 in favor of secession on May 20, 1861.

No battles took place in the county itself. Alamance County 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 the citizens 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 individuals from Alamance County had been killed in the course of the war, more than any other war since the county's founding.


Some of the most significant effects of the Civil War were seen after the war. Alamance County briefly became a center of national attention when, in 1870, Wyatt Outlaw, an African American Town Commissioner in Graham, was killed by the "White Brotherhood," the Ku Klux Klan. He was president of the Alamance County Union League of America (an anti Ku Klux Klan group), helped to establish the Republican party in North Carolina and advocated establishing a school for African Americans. His offense was that Gov. Holden had appointed him a Justice of the Peace, and he had accepted the appointment. Outlaw's body was found hanging thirty yards from the courthouse, a note pinned to his chest read: "Beware! You guilty parties – both white and black." Outlaw was the central figure in the political cooperation between blacks and whites in the county.

Governor 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 sixty-three Klansmen for felonies and eighteen for the murder of Wyatt Outlaw. Soon after the indictments were brought, Democrats within the legislature passed a bill to repeal the law under which the indictments had been secured. The sixty-three felony charges were dropped. The Conservatives 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.

Support by Governor William Holden for the cause of 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 at the plant were the AT-21 gunner used to train bomber pilots. Near the Fairchild plant was the Western Electric Burlington works. During the Cold War, he plant built radar equipment and guidance systems for missiles on top of many other electronics for the government. The guidance system for the Titan missile was built there. The plant was 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.


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.


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) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (2.5%) is water.

The county is in the Piedmont physiographical region. The county has a general rolling terrain with the Cane Creek Mountains rising to over 970 ft (300 m) 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. There are also isolated monadnocks 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 River, 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. There are three large municipal reservoirs: Lake Cammack, Lake Mackintosh, and Graham-Mebane Lake (formerly Quaker Lake).

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 11,444
1860 11,852 3.6%
1870 11,874 0.2%
1880 14,613 23.1%
1890 18,271 25.0%
1900 25,665 40.5%
1910 28,712 11.9%
1920 32,718 14.0%
1930 42,140 28.8%
1940 57,427 36.3%
1950 71,220 24.0%
1960 85,674 20.3%
1970 96,362 12.5%
1980 99,319 3.1%
1990 108,213 9.0%
2000 130,800 20.9%
2010 151,131 15.5%
2020 171,415 13.4%
2021 (est.) 173,877 15.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2020 census

Alamance County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 102,487 59.79%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 33,555 19.58%
Native American 584 0.34%
Asian 2,811 1.64%
Pacific Islander 86 0.05%
Other/Mixed 7,189 4.19%
Hispanic or Latino 24,703 14.41%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 171,415 people, 64,316 households, and 41,793 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the census 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.

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

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

  • Cedarock Park, located 6 miles (10 km) south of the intersection of Interstate 85/40 and NC Highway 49. The park is home to the Cedarock Historic Farm, an old mill dam, and two disc golf courses.
  • Great Bend Park at Glencoe, located 4 miles (6 km) north of the intersection of US Highway 70, and NC Highways 87, 62, and 100 in downtown Burlington. Great Bend Park contains parts of the Haw River Land and Paddle Trails and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, along with picnicking, fishing, and other opportunities. The park was built around the site of the Glencoe Mills, an area that is currently under renovation with an old mill that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



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) Southern Conference. 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.


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.

Going east-west in the county:

  • I-85.svg I-40.svg Interstate 85 / Interstate 40 (concurrent), also known as the Sam Hunt Freeway, named after a former North Carolina Secretary of Transportation. Interstates 85/40 run east-to-west through the central part of the county.
  • US 70.svg U.S. Highway 70. Highway 70 nearly parallels 85/40 a few miles north of the interstates as it passes through the downtown sections of Burlington, Haw River, and Mebane.

N.C. state highways

  • NC 49.svg N.C. Highway 49 runs southwest to northeast from the Liberty area, through Burlington, Graham, and Haw River, to the Pleasant Grove Community area, before turning northeast and continuing into Orange County.
  • NC 54.svg N.C. Highway 54 runs from its northwestern end at its intersection with U.S. Highway 70 in Burlington southeast to the Orange County line in the southeast part of the county.
  • NC 62.svg N.C. Highway 62 runs southwest to northeast from Kimesville, through Burlington, to Pleasant Grove. It then turns north and heads to Caswell County.
  • NC 87.svg N.C. Highway 87 runs from southeast to northwest through the county, from Eli Whitney through Graham, Burlington, and a small part of Elon, before turning northeast and heading through the Altamahaw-Ossipee area, finally moving into Caswell County.
  • NC 100.svg N.C. Highway 100 forms a loop through downtown Burlington, starting at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Chapel Hill Road before moving north, then northwest, then going through Elon and moving on to Gibsonville and Guilford County.
  • NC 119.svg N.C. Highway 119 runs roughly north from its southern terminus at an intersection with N.C. Highway 54, moving through Mebane and heading north into Caswell County.


Map of Alamance County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Map of Alamance County with municipal and township labels





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

  • 1 (Patterson)
  • 2 (Coble)
  • 3 (Boone Station)
  • 4 (Morton)
  • 5 (Faucette)
  • 6 (Graham)
  • 7 (Albright)
  • 8 (Newlin)
  • 9 (Thompson)
  • 10 (Melville)
  • 11 (Pleasant Grove)
  • 12 (Burlington)
  • 13 (Haw River)

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 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.

  • Albright - site located approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) south of exit 153 on Interstate 40
  • Carney - Near the site of Cedarock Park
  • Cane Creek
  • Cedarcliff - located between Swepsonville and Saxapahaw
  • Clover Orchard - approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) northeast of Snow Camp
  • Curtis (Curtis Mills) - located approximately 1/2 mile southeast of the current village of Alamance
  • Glenddale - site approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Pleasant Grove near the Alamance-Caswell county line
  • Hartshorn - about 1½ miles south southeast of the Alamance Battleground Historic Site
  • Holmans Mills - site approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Snow Camp
  • Iola - about 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Altamahaw nearly due north of Glencoe
  • Lacey - Located about 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Eli Whitney
  • Leota - approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) south of Eli Whitney
  • Loy - Located at the northern base of Bass Mountain
  • Manndale
  • Maywood - approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of Altamahaw
  • McCray (McRay) - located about 2 miles (3.2 km) east-northeast of Glencoe
  • Melville - Located approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) west-southwest of the intersection of Interstate 40 and NC Highway 119
  • Morton's Store - approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) 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 Road
  • Oneida
  • Osceola
  • Pleasant Grove - Located in the far northeast part of the county, 2 miles (3.2 km) east-northeast of the current community of Pleasant Grove
  • Pleasant Lodge - Located 1-mile (1.6 km) to the west of the site of Oakdale, near the Alamance-Guilford county line
  • Rock Creek - located 4 miles (6.4 km) due south of Alamance
  • Shallow Ford - Located 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Ossipee
  • Shady Grove
  • Stainback - Located about 2 miles (3.2 km) east-northeast of Green Level
  • 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 (4.8 km) from the Alamance-Caswell county line
  • Vincent - Located 2 miles (3.2 km) north-northeast of Pleasant Grove

Population ranking

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

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Burlington 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


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 Branch 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.

Notable people

B. Everett Jordan
U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordan
Governor Thomas Michael Holt North Carolina
Governor Thomas M. Holt
  • Jacob Brent, born in Graham, starred as "Mr. Mistoffelees" in the Broadway and movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats
  • Billy Bryan, Center for the Denver Broncos, from 1977 to 1988 grew up in Burlington.
  • Several generations of Alex Haley's family may have lived in Alamance County, as noted in his 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family - coming from Africa to Virginia, to Caswell County to Alamance County and moving to Tennessee after the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Thomas Michael Holt, Governor of North Carolina from 1891 to 1893
  • John "John Boy" Isley, born and raised in Graham, "John Boy" of the John Boy and Billy Show
  • Charley Jones, born in Alamance County, Major League Baseball player
  • B. Everett Jordan, U. S. senator (Class 2) from 1958 to 1973
  • Don Kernodle, born in Burlington, five-time NWA champion and tag team partner of Sgt Slaughter; appeared in Paradise Alley with Sylvester Stallone
  • Jack McKeon, manager of the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins
  • Meg Scott Phipps, North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner (2001–2003)
  • Tequan Richmond, born in Burlington, stars as Drew Rock in Everybody Hates Chris, and played a young Ray Charles in the movie Ray
  • Jeanne Robertson, humorist and professional speaker
  • Robert W. (Bob) Scott (Kerr Scott's son), Governor of North Carolina from 1969 to 1973
  • W. Kerr Scott, Governor of North Carolina from 1949 to 1953, U. S. senator (Class 2) from 1954 to 1958
  • Brandon Tate, born in Burlington, American football wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League
  • Will Richardson, American football Offensive Linemen for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Alamance para niños

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