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Harnett County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Harnett County
Harnett County Courthouse
Harnett County Courthouse
Map of North Carolina highlighting Harnett 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 1855
Named for Cornelius Harnett
Seat Lillington
Largest city Dunn
 • Total 601 sq mi (1,560 km2)
 • Land 595 sq mi (1,540 km2)
 • Water 6.3 sq mi (16 km2)  1.1%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 228.5/sq mi (88.2/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 9th, 13th

Harnett County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 133,568. Its county seat is Lillington, and its largest city is Dunn. Harnett County is part of the Fayetteville Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Harnett County was formed in 1855 from land given by Cumberland County. It was named for American Revolutionary war soldier Cornelius Harnett, who was also a delegate to the Continental Congress. The first settlers came to the region in the mid-1720s, and were followed by Highland Scots immigrants. The Scots settled in the foothills, where land was more affordable, rather than in the rich alluvial soil area of the coastal plain. After the defeat by the British of Bonny Prince Charles at Culloden, Scots immigrants came up the Cape Fear River in ever increasing numbers and settled in western Harnett County. British immigrants had settled primarily along the banks of the Cape Fear River in the coastal area, generally from Erwin to Wilmington.

During the American Revolutionary War, many of the Scots were Loyalists. In their defeat in Scotland, they had been forced to take ironclad vows that prohibited taking up arms against the British.

Though Harnett County was not a site of warfare during the Civil War, one of the last battles took place near Averasboro which was once the third most populated town in North Carolina but is no longer in existence. During the Carolinas Campaign the Left Wing of General William Sherman's army under the command of Maj. General Henry W. Slocum defeated the army of General William Hardee in the Battle of Averasborough and proceeded eastward. A centennial celebration of the event was held in 1965 at the site of the battlefield.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 601 square miles (1,560 km2), of which 595 square miles (1,540 km2) is land and 6.3 square miles (16 km2) (1.1%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • I-95
  • US 301
  • US 401
  • US 421
  • NC 24
  • NC 27
  • NC 42
  • NC 55
  • NC 82
  • NC 87
  • NC 210
  • NC 217


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 8,039
1870 8,895 10.6%
1880 10,862 22.1%
1890 13,700 26.1%
1900 15,988 16.7%
1910 22,174 38.7%
1920 28,313 27.7%
1930 37,911 33.9%
1940 44,239 16.7%
1950 47,605 7.6%
1960 48,236 1.3%
1970 49,667 3.0%
1980 59,570 19.9%
1990 67,822 13.9%
2000 91,025 34.2%
2010 114,678 26.0%
2020 133,568 16.5%
2021 (est.) 135,966 18.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2019

2020 census

Harnett County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 77,876 58.3%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 26,769 20.04%
Native American 978 0.73%
Asian 1,408 1.05%
Pacific Islander 242 0.18%
Other/Mixed 7,396 5.54%
Hispanic or Latino 18,899 14.15%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 133,568 people, 46,416 households, and 31,025 families residing in the county.


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




  • Anderson Creek
  • Averasboro
  • Barbecue
  • Black River
  • Buckhorn
  • Duke
  • Grove
  • Hectors Creek
  • Johnsonville
  • Lillington
  • Neills Creek
  • Stewarts Creek
  • Upper Little River

Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities


Harnett County is home to Campbell University and to 27 other different schools: 4 primary schools, 13 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, 4 high schools, and 1 alternative school.

  • Primary: Anderson Creek, Gentry, Harnett, North Harnett
  • Elementary: Angier, Benhaven, Boone Trail, Buies Creek, Coats, Erwin, Highland, Johnsonville, LaFayette, Lillington-Shawtown, Overhills, South Harnett, Wayne Avenue
  • Middle: Coats-Erwin, Dunn, Harnett Central, Overhills, Western Harnett, Highland
  • High: Harnett Central, Overhills, Triton, Western Harnett
  • Alternative: STAR Academy (grades 6–12)
  • University: Campbell University

The county is served by the Harnett County Library System, based in Lillington with branches at Angier, Coats, Dunn, Erwin, Anderson Creek Primary School, and Boone Trail Community Center and Library.

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