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Person County, North Carolina
Seal of Person County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Person County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of the USA highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1791
Seat Roxboro
Largest City Roxboro
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

404 sq mi (1,046 km²)
392 sq mi (1,015 km²)
12 sq mi (31 km²),
 - (2010)
 - Density

101/sq mi (39/km²)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Named for: Thomas Person

Person County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population was 39,464 at the 2010 census. The county seat is Roxboro.

Person County is included in the Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 1,998,808 in 2012. It is located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.

The Hyco Lake area and southern portion of the county are the fastest growing with new businesses and subdivisions.


The colonial government established Person County as part of Edgecombe County in 1746. County designations kept changing, as it was part of Granville County from 1746–1752; included in Orange County until 1778; and part of Caswell County until 1791/1792. By dividing Caswell County into two squares–each side measuring approximately twenty (20) miles in length, the settlers formed two counties of 400 square miles (1,000 km2) each. The county was named after Brigadier General Thomas Person, a Revolutionary War patriot, who made significant contributions to Person County and surrounding areas.

The area was inhabited by indigenous peoples, ancestors of the Native Americans, for 12,000 years, during which time they developed differing cultures. The historical tribes encountered here by early Spanish explorers were generally Siouan-speaking, including the Saponi, Occaneechee, and other groups.

Settlement by immigrants of Scots, Scots-Irish, English, French Huguenot, and German ancestry began in the mid-17th and continued into the 19th centuries. The settlers tended to be yeoman farmers, and few owned any slaves.

Religious affiliation in the county reflects the early northern European cultural base and is predominantly Protestant. Because of Person County's proximity to Virginia, the Carolina coast, and the Appalachian foothills, a wide variety of Southern American English dialects can be heard here, with Virginia Piedmont, Coastal Southern, South Midland, and African American Vernacular English being common.

Revolutionary and Civil Wars

The county was named for Brigadier General Thomas Person, a Revolutionary War patriot, who made significant contributions to Person County and surrounding areas. He was a trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His generous donations were recognized by the construction and naming of Person Hall.

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Moore, Deputy Quartermaster General of the Hillsborough district, was another Revolutionary War hero, commanding the Person County militia at the disastrous Battle of Camden. He was captured and held on the prison ship Torbay. In 1775-1776 he purchased property in the south of Person County and named his plantation Mt. Tirzah. His home, constructed in 1778, has been renovated recently. Stephen Moore was buried in the family cemetery.

During the Civil War, Person County supplied between 800 and 1000 soldiers to the Confederate Army. A granite monument at the Courthouse honors E. Fletcher Satterfield, who carried the Confederate flag at Gettysburg.

Late 19th century

J.A. Long, W.W. Kitchin, A.R. Foushee, J.S. Bradsher, J.C. Pass, W.F. Reade, and R.E. Long were key leaders who helped make a transition to a more diversified economic base after the Civil War. The arrival of the newly constructed Norfolk and Western Railroad was a major influence around 1890, as it enabled the addition of tobacco processing plants and warehouses to the rural economy. Although the processing plants disappeared many years ago, a few of the warehouses still stand.

J.A. Long established Peoples Bank in 1891 and the Roxboro Cotton Mill in 1899, later known as Tultex Yarns. His home at Roxboro, the James A. and Laura Thompson Long House, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Long died in 1915 but was succeeded by his son, J.A. Long, Jr., who began attracting new business to Roxboro. Baker Company opened here in 1923, making textile manufacturing a major contributor to the local economy for decades. Baker was merged with Collins and Aikman Corporation (C&A), becoming a major industry in Person County for several decades before closing in August 2006. Textile manufacturers have moved to other locations in the US and overseas.

20th and 21st centuries

Residential and commercial development have grown steadily over the past few years in part due to the county's location near the Research Triangle region. The Hyco Lake area and southern portion of the county have had an influx of new home and commercial development in the late 20th and early 21st-century. The county's largest employers are GKN, Eaton Corporation and Georgia-Pacific Corporation.

On the night of March 28, 2010 between 11:55pm and 12:05am EDT, an EF1 tornado packing winds of 70-85 mph struck the Timberlake and Rougemont community. This was one of at least eight tornadoes that hit North Carolina.

On the afternoon of April 16, 2011 at approximately 2:30pm EDT, an EF2 tornado struck the Bethel Hill community.

The Holloway-Walker Dollarhite House, Henry-Vernon House, Burleigh, and Waverly Plantation are listed on the National Register of Historic Places outside Roxboro.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 404 square miles (1,050 km2), of which 392 square miles (1,020 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (2.9%) is water.

Person County contains parts of three major river basins: the Neuse, the Roanoke and the Tar, providing essential clean drinking water to the south and east of the state. The origin of the Tar River is in southeast Person County. In the northwest section of the county is Hyco Lake, with Mayo Reservoir in the northeast section. Both lakes are used for electrical power generation and recreation. Near the western border with Caswell County is Lake Roxboro. Part of the Neuse River begins here with the Flat River, where it combines with the Little and Eno rivers to go into Falls Lake and create the Neuse.

The Uwharrie Mountains, part of North Carolina's easternmost mountain range, are the oldest mountain range in North America. They are the lowest mountain range in the state. The Uwharries begin in Montgomery County and terminate at Hager's Mountain in the hills of northern Person County.

The county is largely covered by rolling hills divided by farmlands and forest. The area's ridges are not narrow and sharp like those in some parts of the Piedmont, and the gullies and ditches are not as abrupt. The northern part of the county between the lakes is skirted by a plateau. The highest point of the county is a prominent hill in Roxboro, where the county seat has located its water reservoir tank. Person County claims two small mountains - Hager's Mountain, north of Roxboro, and Mt. Tirzah in the southeastern part of the county. The geology of the county is dominated by igneous formation, overlaid by a variety of soils. Granite boulders are strewn across the county.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 6,402
1810 6,642 3.7%
1820 9,029 35.9%
1830 10,027 11.1%
1840 9,790 −2.4%
1850 10,781 10.1%
1860 11,221 4.1%
1870 11,170 −0.5%
1880 13,719 22.8%
1890 15,151 10.4%
1900 16,685 10.1%
1910 17,356 4.0%
1920 18,973 9.3%
1930 22,039 16.2%
1940 25,029 13.6%
1950 24,361 −2.7%
1960 26,394 8.3%
1970 25,914 −1.8%
1980 29,164 12.5%
1990 30,180 3.5%
2000 35,623 18.0%
2010 39,464 10.8%
Est. 2015 39,259 −0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2010, there were 39,464 people, 15,826 households, and 10,979 families residing in the county. The population density was 91 people per square mile (35/km²). There were 15,504 housing units at an average density of 40 per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 68.1% White, 28.3% Black, 0.61% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.37% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.09% of the population.

There were 14,085 households out of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.8% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,559 and the median income for a family was $54,474. Males had a median income of $30,970 versus $22,804 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,189. About 9.4% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.9% of those under age 18 and 17.3% of those age 65 or over.



  • Person County Airport, located 6 miles (10 km) south of Roxboro on U.S. Route 501
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport, located 42 miles (68 km) south of Roxboro
  • Piedmont Triad International Airport, located 82 miles (132 km) southwest of Roxboro

Major highways

  • US 501
  • US 158
  • NC 49
  • NC 57
  • NC 157

Interstate 85 is the closest interstate highway to the county, located 29 miles south in Durham.


  • Norfolk Southern - freight rail service


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


Census-designated place


  • Allensville
  • Bushy Fork
  • Cunningham
  • Flat River
  • Holloway
  • Mount Tirzah
  • Olive Hill
  • Roxboro
  • Woodsdale

Unincorporated communities

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