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Sampson County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Sampson County
Sampson County Courthouse in Clinton
Sampson County Courthouse in Clinton
Official seal of Sampson County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Sampson 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 1784
Named for John Sampson
Seat Clinton
Largest city Clinton
 • Total 962 sq mi (2,490 km2)
 • Land 960 sq mi (2,500 km2)
 • Water 2 sq mi (5 km2)  0.2%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 61.4/sq mi (23.7/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Sampson County is the second-largest county, by land area, in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 59,036. Its county seat is Clinton.


Sampson County was formally and legally established in April 1784 by the North Carolina General Assembly from an area taken from neighboring Duplin County. Land from neighboring Wayne County and New Hanover counties would be annexed later.

The early settlers were Scotch-Irish immigrants from North Ireland, many of who came to the colony of North Carolina under the protection and inducements of Henry McCulloch, a wealthy London merchant. The community of Taylors Bridge, located about halfway between Clinton and Harrells in lower Sampson County (at the time Duplin County), was one of the earliest European settled areas of the county, with pioneer families living there as early as the 1730s or 1740s. The first settlers of the area were Edmond Matthis, William Johnson, William Robinson and John Register, followed by members of the Peterson, Knowles, Vann, Boney, Merritt, Pearson, Powell, Herring, Rogers, Bryant, Ezzell, James Murphy, Ward, Sellers, Parrish, Fryar, Williamson and Bass families. In 1745, McCullough had obtained grants from the British Crown covering some 71,160 acres of land "lying and situated on the branches of the North East and Black River." The Scotch-Irish immigrants were soon joined by descendants of the Swiss colony in New Bern, and sometime later, pioneers from the northern states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Among these first European Settlers of the area was John Sampson. Sampson was the first register of deeds of Duplin County. He served as a Lt. Colonel, and then a Lt. General in the county’s militia and was later the first mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina. John Sampson brought along who is thought to be his step-son Richard Clinton. Like his stepfather, Richard Clinton soon distinguished himself in governmental and military service, serving as Duplin County’s Register of Deeds for ten years, and then in the Provincial Congress held at Hillsboro. In 1776, Richard Clinton organized a company of militia minutemen from upper Duplin County and led them as captain in the defense of Wilmington against the British. He was later appointed Colonel of Cavalry and Brigadier General of the Fayetteville District. Upon the establishment of the state government of North Carolina by the Halifax Constitution of 1776, Richard Clinton served as one of the first members of the House of Commons, representing the County of Duplin as a House member while his brother-in-law James Kenan served in the Senate . Clinton continued as a representative of Duplin County until the creation of Sampson County in 1784. Clinton secured the passage of the act creating the new county, and proposed the name "Sampson" in honor of John Sampson, his stepfather and benefactor.

There is indeed evidence of a mixed European / Native American population in Southern and Western Sampson County prior to the settlements of the earliest Scottish, English, and Irish people in the 1740s.

Currently, a significant minority of the people living in Sampson County are members of the state recognized Coharie Native American Tribe. Many of these tribe members have slowly begun to recognize their Native American status over the last few decades, whereas before they considered themselves to be of European and African ancestry.

According to George Edwin Butler who wrote "The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools" about this particular group of Native Americans in Sampson County in 1916, many of these Natives were classified as "Whites", "Mulatto", "Colored" and "Negro" during the census' of the 19th century. Census enumerators reported that these people had European and African looking features and names, but acted clannish towards outsiders.

There is reason to believe that these Native Americans of Sampson County may actually be descendants of the The Lost Colony and Free Blacks who assimilated with the Native tribes upon the colony's collapse. There are no records of any English Settlement inland of the North Carolina Coast prior to 1703 when John Lawson explored the inner region of North Carolina. During his exploration, he found Native Americans who were tilling the land, speaking an antiquated English, having gray and blue eyes, and wanting Lawson to teach them how to "speak from a book" as their forefathers did. Further evidence supports this claim by way of these Native Americans bearing English surnames that match the surnames of those who were thought to have perished at the The Lost Colony.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 947 square miles (2,450 km2), of which 945 square miles (2,450 km2) is land and 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2) (0.2%) is water. It is the second-largest county in North Carolina, and the largest in terms of land area. It is second to Robeson County, which has a total area of 951 square miles (2,460 km2)

The county is drained by the Black and South Rivers, as well as Six Run Creek.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 6,162
1800 6,719 9.0%
1810 6,620 −1.5%
1820 8,908 34.6%
1830 11,634 30.6%
1840 12,157 4.5%
1850 14,585 20.0%
1860 16,624 14.0%
1870 16,436 −1.1%
1880 22,894 39.3%
1890 25,096 9.6%
1900 26,380 5.1%
1910 29,982 13.7%
1920 36,002 20.1%
1930 40,082 11.3%
1940 47,440 18.4%
1950 49,780 4.9%
1960 48,013 −3.5%
1970 44,954 −6.4%
1980 49,687 10.5%
1990 47,297 −4.8%
2000 60,161 27.2%
2010 63,431 5.4%
2020 59,036 −6.9%
2021 (est.) 58,990 −7.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

2020 census

Sampson County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 29,729 50.36%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 13,944 23.62%
Native American 1,002 1.7%
Asian 216 0.37%
Pacific Islander 18 0.03%
Other/Mixed 1,878 3.18%
Hispanic or Latino 12,249 20.75%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 59,036 people, 23,416 households, and 15,705 families residing in the county.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 63,431 people, 22,624 households, and 16,214 families residing in the county. The population density was 67.1 people per square mile (25/km2). There were 26,476 housing units at an average density of 27 per square mile (10/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 56.7% White, 27% Black or African American, 2% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander and 2% from two or more races. 16.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 22,273 households, out of which 33.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.60% were married couples living together, 14.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.20% were non-families. 23.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.80% under the age of 18, 9.40% from 18 to 24, 29.70% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 12.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 98.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,793, and the median income for a family was $38,072. Males had a median income of $26,806 versus $20,657 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,976. About 13.50% of families and 17.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.50% of those under age 18 and 21.50% of those age 65 or over.

Sampson County is also one of the largest producers of hogs in the nation, and second in the state, with a population of over 2 million hogs.


Major highways

  • I-40
  • US 13
  • US 421
  • US 701
  • NC 24
  • NC 41
  • NC 50
  • NC 55
  • NC 242
  • NC 403
  • NC 411
  • NC 903


  • Clinton-Sampson County Airport (IATA: CTZ, ICAO: KCTZ, FAA LID: CTZ) is a public use airport located two nautical miles (4 km) southwest of the central business district of Clinton, a city in Sampson County, North Carolina, United States. It is owned by the city and county


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



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


  • Belvoir
  • Dismal
  • Franklin
  • Halls
  • Herring
  • Honeycutt
  • Lisbon
  • Little Coharie
  • McDaniels
  • Mingo
  • Newton Grove
  • North Clinton
  • Piney Grove
  • Plain View
  • South Clinton
  • South River
  • Taylors Bridge
  • Turkey
  • Westbrook


Historically, Sampson County has been an agricultural county with a slow rise in population since the creation of the county. The agricultural sector continues to be one of the leading pillars of the economy. Leading industries prior to the 20th century were naval stores, timber and agriculture. After the Civil War, the Naval Stores and timber industries began to lose production value in the county to the lack of cheap labor due to the eradication of slavery among other factors; as a result, subsistence agriculture became the primary industry. The county has steadily gained stronger manufacturing and services industries since the Civil War.

As of 2007, agricultural land covered over 50% of the county's land area. A wide range of crops are grown in the county ranging from vegetables, fruits and berries to tobacco, peanuts, corn, soybeans and wheat. Manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, education and retail are the primary sources of employment in the county.

As of 2012, Sampson County is the largest producer of hay and flue-cured tobacco in North Carolina. Sampson County is the largest producer of turkeys and the second largest producer of hogs in the state.


Sampson County has a county-wide public school system for the grades of K-12 with the exception of the City of Clinton, which has its own public school district for grades K-12. The only post-secondary public institution in the county is Sampson Community College. Hobbton High School is the oldest school building in Sampson County; located in Newton Grove, it is a small 1A school.

County schools

Elementary schools
  • Clement
  • Hargrove
  • Hobbton
  • Midway
  • Plain View
  • Roseboro
  • Salemburg
  • Union
Intermediate school
  • Union
Middle schools
  • Hobbton
  • Midway
  • Union
  • Roseboro-Salemburg
High schools
  • Union
  • Hobbton
  • Midway
  • Lakewood
  • Sampson Early College High School

Clinton-City Schools

Elementary schools
  • Butler Avenue
  • L.C. Kerr
  • Sunset Avenue
Middle school
  • Sampson
High school
  • Clinton


The Sampson County Library System serves Sampson County residents through four different libraries and a specialized outreach service intended for patrons who are home-bound and unable to visit the library. The libraries share a publicly accessible catalog and courier service. The Sampson County Library System offers online resources including eBooks, audiobooks, numerous genealogy databases, and online Driver's Education. The libraries also participate in Interlibrary Loan services. Computer classes and Story Time programs are offered at the member libraries.

Library Locations

The J.C. Holliday Library in Clinton is the headquarters library for the county. It houses the largest collection of items including research materials and a local history and genealogy collection. There are also reference and children's services provided at this branch.

Notable people

  • William R. King, a politician and diplomat who was elected both to the House of Representatives and the Senate. In 1852, he was elected as the 13th US vice-president on a ticket with Franklin Pierce.
  • Micajah Autry, American merchant, poet and lawyer who died in the Texas Revolution at the Battle of the Alamo.
  • Theophilus H. Holmes, was a career United States Army officer and a Confederate Lieutenant General in the American Civil War.
  • James Kenan, a military leader of the American Revolutionary War, and an early senator of the state of North Carolina.
  • Robert Herring Wright, the first president of East Carolina Teachers Training School.
  • Marion Butler, a Populist U.S. senator from the state of North Carolina between 1895 and 1901. and brother of George Edwin Butler.
  • George Edwin Butler, a local Lawyer, Civic Leader, and Author of The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools.
  • Lauch Faircloth, U.S. Senator (R-NC) 1993–99, born: January 14, 1928
  • Gwendolyn Faison, Former Mayor of Camden, New Jersey (2000–2010)
  • Gabriel Holmes, 21st Governor of North Carolina 1821–1824, (1769 – September 26, 1829)
  • Theophilus H. Holmes, U.S. Army officer and Confederate general in the American Civil War (November 13, 1804 – June 21, 1880)
  • Rufus G. Herring, United States Naval Reserve Officer and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in World War II.
  • John Merrick, African American entrepreneur, founder and president of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which for much of the 20th century was the largest company run by African Americans in the U.S.
  • Curtis Smith, World Champion and Hall of Fame Drag Racer.
  • Willie Weeks, an American Bass Guitarist and Musician.

See also

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

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