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Lincolnton, North Carolina
View along Main Street (NC 27)
View along Main Street (NC 27)
"Near the City. Near the Mountains. Near Perfect."
Location of Lincolnton, North Carolina
Location of Lincolnton, North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Lincoln
Named for Benjamin Lincoln
 • Total 8.75 sq mi (22.66 km2)
 • Land 8.68 sq mi (22.47 km2)
 • Water 0.07 sq mi (0.19 km2)
833 ft (254 m)
 • Total 10,486
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,291.07/sq mi (498.48/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 704
FIPS code 37-38320

Lincolnton is a city in Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States, within the Charlotte metropolitan area. The population was 10,486 at the 2010 census. Lincolnton is northwest of Charlotte, on the South Fork of the Catawba River. The city is the county seat of Lincoln County, and is the only legally incorporated municipality wholly within the county.


Schenck Mill Lincolnton North Carolina 1813
Lincoln Cotton Mills, built 1813.
10-year-old factory worker in Lincolnton, 1908

This area was long occupied by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. It was not settled extensively by European Americans until after the American Revolutionary War of the late 18th century.

In June 1780 during the war, the future site of Lincolnton was the site of the Battle of Ramsour's Mill, a small engagement in which local Loyalists were defeated by pro-independence forces among the British colonists. Some historians consider the battle significant because it disrupted Loyalist organizing in the region at a crucial time.

After the Revolution, the legislature organized a new county by splitting this area from old Tryon County (named in the colonial era for a royally appointed governor). The 1780 battle site was chosen for the seat of Lincoln County. The new city and the county were named for Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

The Piedmont area was developed for industry, based on using the water power of the fall line. With the advantage of the Catawba River, Lincolnton was the site of the first textile mill built in North Carolina, constructed by Michael Schenck in 1813. It was the first cotton mill built south of the Potomac River. Cotton processing became a major industry in the area. St. Luke's Episcopal Church was founded in 1841.

Most of the Civil War battles took place elsewhere but Lincoln County men fought for the Confederacy. Among them was Confederate Major General Stephen Dodson Ramseur, who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek in the final year of the Civil War. He came from Lincolnton and his body was returned there for burial. Confederate Missionary Bishop Henry C. Lay spent the final months of the Civil War in the town. In the closing months of the war, Union forces occupied Lincoln County on Easter Monday, 1865.

As county seat and a center of the textile industry, city residents prospered on the returns from cotton cultivation. The city has numerous properties, including churches, which have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since the late 20th century. It has three recognized historic districts: Lincolnton Commercial Historic District, South Aspen Street Historic District, and West Main Street Historic District. These were centers of the earliest businesses and retail activities. There was much activity around the Lincoln County Courthouse on court days, when farmers typically came to town to trade and sell their goods.

Residences, churches and other notable buildings marked the development of the city; they include the Caldwell-Cobb-Love House, Emanuel United Church of Christ, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Eureka Manufacturing Company Cotton Mill, First Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Methodist Church Cemetery, Lincolnton Recreation Department Youth Center, Loretz House, Old White Church Cemetery, Pleasant Retreat Academy, Shadow Lawn, St. Luke's Church and Cemetery, and Woodside.

In 1986, Lincolnton expanded by annexing the town of Boger City.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.2 square miles (21 km2), of which, 8.2 square miles (21 km2) of it is land and 0.12% is water.


The city has grown since 1980 as part of the Charlotte metropolitan area expansion.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 848
1870 886 4.5%
1880 708 −20.1%
1890 957 35.2%
1900 828 −13.5%
1910 2,413 191.4%
1920 3,300 36.8%
1930 3,781 14.6%
1940 4,525 19.7%
1950 5,423 19.8%
1960 5,699 5.1%
1970 5,293 −7.1%
1980 4,879 −7.8%
1990 6,847 40.3%
2000 9,965 45.5%
2010 10,486 5.2%
2019 (est.) 11,200 6.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Lincolnton racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 7,413 66.84%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 1,485 13.39%
Native American 43 0.39%
Asian 103 0.93%
Pacific Islander 1 0.01%
Other/Mixed 504 4.54%
Hispanic or Latino 1,542 13.9%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 11,091 people, 4,668 households, and 2,652 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 10,683 people, 3,878 households, and 2,943 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,219.4 people per square mile (470.9/km2). There were 4,146 housing units at an average density of 507.4 per square mile (195.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 65.98% White, 24.49% African American, 0.41% Asian, 0.33% Native American, 4.15% from other races, and 1.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.87% of the population.

There were 3,878 households, out of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.6% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.6% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,684, and the median income for a family was $39,949. Males had a median income of $29,615 versus $21,768 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,667. About 14.4% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 15.9% of those age 65 or over.


High schools

  • East Lincoln High School
  • Lincoln Charter school
  • Lincolnton High School
  • North Lincoln High School
  • West Lincoln High School

Middle schools

  • East Lincoln Middle School
  • Lincoln Charter School
  • Lincolnton Middle School
  • North Lincoln Middle School
  • West Lincoln Middle School

Elementary schools:

  • Lincoln Charter School
  • Battleground Elementary School
  • GE Massey Elementary School
  • S Ray Lowder Elementary School
  • Love Memorial Elementary School
  • Norris S. Childers Elementary School
  • Pumpkin Center Elementary School
  • Pumpkin Center Intermediate School

Charter schools:

  • Lincoln Charter School


  • Gaston College: Lincolnton Campus

Notable people

  • Lester Andrews, chemist
  • Paul Bost, racecar driver
  • Dennis Byrd, member of College Football Hall of Fame
  • Jim Cleamons, professional basketball player, assistant coach with nine NBA championships
  • Charles L. Coon, teacher, school administrator, child labor reformer, and advocate for African American education
  • Drew Droege, actor
  • John Horace Forney, major general in Confederate States Army during American Civil War
  • Peter Forney, U.S. Representative from North Carolina and captain during Revolutionary War
  • William H. Forney, U.S. Representative from Alabama; grandson of Peter Forney, nephew of Daniel Munroe Forney, and brother of John Horace Forney
  • Charles A. Gabriel, 11th Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
  • William Alexander Graham, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, U.S. senator, member of Confederate Senate, governor of North Carolina and Whig candidate for vice president of the United States
  • Connie Guion, pioneering female physician
  • James Pinckney Henderson, first governor of Texas, U.S. senator, lawyer, politician and soldier
  • Robert Hoke, Confederate major general who won Battle of Plymouth; businessman and railroad executive
  • William A. Hoke, associate justice and chief justice of North Carolina Supreme Court
  • Rufus Zenas Johnston, recipient of Navy Cross and Congressional Medal of Honor
  • Charles A. Jonas, politician and U.S. Representative from North Carolina
  • Charles R. Jonas, U.S. Representative from North Carolina
  • Devon Lowery, retired pitcher for Kansas City Royals
  • Candace Newmaker, killed during therapy session; her death received international coverage
  • Barclay Radebaugh, basketball coach at Charleston Southern University
  • Stephen Dodson Ramseur, Confederate major general mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia in 1864
  • Hiram Rhodes Revels, first African-American U.S. senator
  • Dick Smith, baseball player
  • C. J. Wilson, professional football player
  • Ken Wood, baseball player
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