Introduction and Contents

"Centennial History of Alamance County"


I stopped at an antique store in Burlington, NC just to look around. While looking through the books I found one titled "Centennial History of Alamance County 1849 - 1949" by Walter Whitaker. Printed in the United States by the Dowd Press, Inc. Charlotte, NC

There are several very interesting stories in this book and as I was reading them it made me wonder just how I could share it with you and not get into trouble with a copyright. Well, in the front of the book it states ----

In order that material from this book can be used as widely as possible, it does not carry a copyright. Proper credit to the source of information, however, will be appreciated.

I am going to put as much as possible here, at least for a while. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

There are many misspelled words in this book which I did not try to correct because they add to the flavor of the book, also I have tried not to add any of my own.

Mary Ellis






in collaboration with





Burlington, North Carolina


"Prince, all enquiry will be vain

Of weeks or years where they repose;

No answer comes but this refrain:

But where, ah where be last year's snows?"

Francois Villon


ALAMANCE COUNTY'S Centennial observance celebrated this year would have failed the dignity of its worthy estate entirely had not this factual report on progress been undertaken compiling an assembly of historic review for the record and posterity.

The Author of this work, Walter Whitaker, is a student of history whose continuing educational background includes the fields of journalism on active assignment in general reporting, the fields of travel and experience in World War II, and currently in the classrooms of the University of North Carolina.

In his diligent research for this completed work, the Author explored the archives in their places in the Libraries, among the court and legal documentary evidence in the permanent file; from the attic recesses and crevices cobwebbed and clammy under their musty veneer; from the depth of old trunks splintered and worn - giving up texts tattered, faded and barely discernible; from photographs tintype and modern, from the spring that bubbles rippling historic jewels along memory lane.

Alamance County may be referred to sentimentally, and truthfully, as the first in the alphabet of All-American "States" within the Colonial States. Hers is the tradition of a hardy, devout, pioneer stock; God fearing, humble while yet proud and courageous, pioneers conquering the wilderness; freedom loving conquerors of oppression, men and women going forward pushing the frontier before them by their toil, their determination, their faith in divinity; creators of a new world for themselves and their descendants following them.

Alamance County may be referred to, also, as among the leaders from the beginning in the fields of textiles, weaving and knitting; developing a diversified and substantially growing industrial eminence year after year whose products are recognized world-wide because of their quality; the trade mark of selected raw materials processed by skillful hands directed by the character of honest and alert minds, most of them descendants of pioneer community builders.


While Mr. Whitaker's work explores the history of a Century, the development of Alamance County from the stage coach trail, the bedrock crossing of the streams, unfolds the pattern of progress on the intensely active scene over a period of a half century.

From the clearing in the forest where the families lived, and tilled the soil, came small settlements and about them larger developments; growing from village to hamlet, from hamlet to town to city. Along came too, and remarkably swift in lapsed time comparable to history, the developments by science and invention to add to the enjoyment of life, to eliminate time and toil, to expand educational advantages, to culture a higher degree of religious and social belief and fraternity, to improve standards of business ethics and encourage greater initiative in the pursuit of success and happiness.

This work as an interesting review of the past in the history of this section, and as an inspiring challenge to generations whose leadership will shape and command the future of Alamance County, ought to be in every home, in the business offices, the schools, the libraries in the country - studied, protected, preserved because of its intrinsic value. It is a commendable work by this young Author historian.

Staley A. Cook, Managing Editor

Burlington, N. C., Daily Times-News



"History," it has been said, "is an account of some thing which never happened, written by someone who wasn't there." Since the material included in this book covers a period of more than two hundred and fifty years, I cannot claim that the work contains no errors. A vast number of sources have been consulted in preparing this material, and in many instances it has been difficult to select the most plausible from a group of conflicting facts. Whenever the available sources differed on any important subject, however, I have attempted to denote such differences.

The purpose of this book is to provide a chronological picture of the historical advancement and achievements of Alamance County and its people. In some places, I have found it necessary to sacrifice narrative quality for factual reporting, and in other places, I have omitted facts in order to make the narrative more concise and readable. Due to the limitations of time, budget, and purpose, it has also been necessary to exclude entirely some topics, particularly family genealogy and detailed descriptions of individual achievements.

The material has been arranged chronologically, and an effort has been made to give prominence to communities, events and persons in proportion to their historical contribution to the county. Such an effort has not been entirely successful due to the lack of material on certain subjects. It is my hope that I have discolored no facts, misrepresented no events, nor failed to give as true and as accurate a picture of my county as possible.

Miss Sallie W. Stockard, John W. Harden, and the late Dr. W. T. Whitsett have written previous histories of Alamance County, and while their works remain valuable sources as narratives of the early days of the county, it is fitting that a more complete and more timely chronology should mark the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of Alamance. I hope that future historians, the school children of this county, those who


wish to know the county better-might all benefit from this Centennial History.

Especially do I appreciate the invaluable assistance of Howard White, city editor of the Burlington Times-News; Floyd Ellington, Ed Moss and Oliver Paris, who assisted in writing portions of the Book; J.W. Watkins,Jr., whose sketches appear herein; Richard Minor, Times-News photographer; Professor J.W. Barney of Elon College, who proofread the manuscript; Mrs. Frances Satterfield who assisted in typing the manuscript; George D. Colclough, executive secretary of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce; and the large number of county residents who loaned old photographs for use.

The major portion of my writing was done in a dormitory room at the University of North Carolina, simultaneously with my school work, and I wish to thank my roommates and fellow-students for their patience and encouragement.

Research for the book was done in the North Carolina room of the University library at Chapel Hill; archives of the State Historical Commission, Raleigh; the L. Banks Holt Library, Graham High School; May Memorial Library, Burlington; and throughout Alamance, Orange and Guilford counties, where I visited historical sites and talked with those who knew these things best. It is impossible to list all of those who helped to make this book possible, but I am particularly indebted to the following - among many others:

Dr. Will S. Long, Jr., Walter Sellars, M.E. Yount, Sr., E.P. Dixon, Dr. J. A. Hunter, Jere W. Bason, H. W. Scott, Jesse Miller, Mrs. Arthur Williams, Mr. and Mrs. J.DeWitt Foust,Sr., Miss Essie Cofield, Stanley A. Cook, W.T. and James Pugh, E. Ray Bond,Jr., Paul Simpson, Roy Davis, Thomas S. Bradshaw, Thomas Coble, Jr., Robert Cook, and Mr. and Mrs. H. G. McElroy.

W. E. W.


Introduction (By Staley A. Cook)




Chapter 1-The Wilderness


Chapter 2-The Promised Land


Chapter 3-Light In The Wilderness


Chapter 4-The Gathering Storm


Chapter 5-"Fire and Be Damned!"


Chapter 6-"Good Seed Sown In Good Ground"


Chapter 7-Ante-Bellum Alamance


Chapter 8-The New County


Chapter 9-E. M. Holt And The Cotton Mill


Chapter 10-The Coming Of The Iron Horse


Chapter 11-The War Years


Chapter 12-The Aftermath


Chapter 13-Growing Pains


Chapter 14-The New Era


Chapter 15-Two Governors


Chapter 16-Business And Industry


Chapter 17-Agriculture


Chapter 18-Education


Chapter 19-The Growth Of Services


Chapter 20-Civic And Cultural Life


Chapter 21-Recent Years










Chapter 1

Chapter 6

Chapter 11

Chapter 16

Chapter 21

Chapter 2

Chapter 7

Chapter 12

Chapter 17


Chapter 3

Chapter 8

Chapter 13

Chapter 18

Book index

Chapter 4

Chapter 9

Chapter 14

Chapter 19

Chapter 5

Chapter 10

Chapter 15

Chapter 20

Last updated 05/21/2000 Mary Ellis
[email protected]