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Alamance County (1849)

After residents in the western half of Orange petitioned for a new county, Alamance County was carved out of Orange County and established in 1849.  The county’s name has two derivations: Alamance Creek, a tributary of the Haw River, and the Battle of Alamance, 1771.

Some important towns are located in Alamance County.  Graham is the county seat and is named after Governor William Alexander Graham.  Burlington, the county’s largest city, grew out of the North Carolina Railroad’s necessity for a central location, as well as a surge in textile manufacturing. Alamance County also includes the town of Elon, home to Elon University.  Other towns and cities in Alamance County include Alamance, Gibsonville, Green Level, Haw River, Mebane, Ossipee, and Swepsonville.

Although its not one of the oldest counties in the state, many notables were born in Alamance County.  Governors Thomas Michael Holt, William Kerr Scott, and Robert Scott, all hail from the town of Haw River. U.S. Congressmen Alexander Mebane and Thomas Samuel Ashe are natives of Hawfields, an unincorporated community in the county. Basketball Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow, and her sister Deborah Yow (Athletic Director at North Carolina State University) call Gibsonville home, as do former NFL wide receiver Torry Holt and his brother, safety Terrence Holt.

In the state’s Piedmont region, rolling terrain define Alamance County. The Cane Creek Mountains, located in the south-central part of the county, rise to nearly 1,000 feet. Bass Mountain, a noted hill among the range, is home to the Bass Mountain Bluegrass Music Festival, annually held in April. Alamance, however, is also known for the Haw River. The county’s industry and transportation were once tied closely to the Haw River, whose tributaries connect Alamance with neighboring Wake, Chatham, and Durham County.


“Alamance County.” William S. Powell, ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC 2006), p. 25.

“Where We’ve Been – A History of Alamance County.” Alamance County Home. (Accessed June 27, 2011).

By Sai Srikanth, North Carolina History Project

See Also:

Related Categories: Counties
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Timeline: 1836-1865
Region: Statewide , Piedmont Plateau

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