The History of Guilford County, North Carolina

History relates the rise and progress of the human spirit. History is the story of what has been done. It shows the free play of reason, and is mind objectified into strenuous, potential, fruitful activity.

Guilford County is the heart of Piedmont North Carolina. Once it was the hunting-ground over which the Catawba Indian chased the buffalo and built his wigwam fires by the many whispering streams. By right of discovery the Spanish claimed possession until England assumed her place as mistress of the seas. In 1776 the British Colonies of America declared their power of self-government. Old Mecklenburg of North Carolina was the first to raise the flag of Independence. In 1861 North Carolina withdrew from the United States to become one of the Confederate States of America, and the star of destiny shone red above her. In five years the Old North State was again admitted into the Union. In the galaxy of nations the United States of America takes her place as the honored of all the world.

Guilford County is midway between the mountains and the sea. Greensboro, the County seat, is a city of twenty-two thousand inhabitants, situated a thousand feet above sea level, midway in the state from Raleigh and Charlotte, Asheville and Wilmington. High Point is twelve miles south of Greensboro.

Guilford is the typical Piedmont region. From her broad- backed ridges many creeks and rivers rise. Near the swell of land. Oak Ridge, two of the largest rivers of the state have their origin. Here the upper waters of the Dan of the Roanoke, and of Deep River and Haw River of the Cape Fear, almost intermingle in the loving gambols of childlike springs. The Great Alamance, the Little Alamance and the Stinking Quarter Creeks also have their source in this County. These waters turn more cotton-mill wheels than any other in North Carolina.

Guilford County has an almost uniform soil and forest growth. Oak, hickory, walnut, persimmon and maple abound. The soil of the wide ridges is of yellow, sandy, gravelly loam underlaid by a yellow and red clay.

The southern part of the County belongs to the cotton zone; the western part to the tobacco zone. Guilford is the wheat-growing and fruit-raising County of the State. Before the War mining was carried on profitably. Gold and copper are found on the south side of the Southern Railway, which bisects the County, and iron on the north side.

Guilford County is rectangular, 28 miles east and west, 24 miles north and south. There are eighteen townships, namely: Oak Ridge, Summerfield, Center Grove, Monroe, Madison, Washington, Deep River, Friendship, Morehead, Gilmer, Jefferson, Rock Creek, High Point, Jamestown, Sumner, Fentress, Clay and Green.

In regard to the people of this County succeeding chapters will show. How really to know them is by experience. In no way does one come closer to understanding them than by writing the history of their county.

In the history of Guilford County only four dates have anything like a general value. These are: 1750, when the first settlement was made; 1774, when the Quakers freed their slaves and began to agitate the slavery question; 1840, when the Whig idea attained supremacy and the internal improvement and educational wave began to break over the country; and 1865, the close of the Civil War. Around these dates each of these ideas has hovered like a shadow with a penumbra fainter and fainter in effect.


Table of Contents.

CHAPTER I. Guilford County, Its Establishment... II
CHAPTER II. The Settlement... 13
CHAPTER III. Prerevolutionary Land Grants... 20
CHAPTER IV. The Part of Guilford in the Revolution... 24
CHAPTER V. "Minute Packet," 1782-'88... 33
CHAPTER VI. Notes from the Minute Docket, 1796-1811... 40
CHAPTER VII. The Slavery Question... 46
CHAPTER VIII. The Part of Guilford in the Civil War... 52
CHAPTER IX. Industrial Development... 55
CHAPTER X. History of Education in Guilford... 77
CHAPTER XII. History of Religion in Guilford... 114
CHAPTER XII. The Towns of Guilford and History of Families... 132


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Guilford County was erected in 1770 by an Act of the General Assembly then in session at Newbern. The Act creating it reads as follows:

"An Act for erecting a new County between the Towns of Salisbury and Hillsboro, by taking part of the Counties of Rowan and Orange.

I. Whereas, the great Extent of the respective Counties of Rowan and Orange, render the attendance of the Inhabitants of Part of Rowan County, and the Inhabitants of the upper Part of Orange County, to do public Duties in their respective Counties, extremely difficult and expensive: For Remedy whereof.

II. Be it enacted by the Governor, Council, and .Assembly, and by the Authority of the same. That a Line beginning at a Point twenty-five Miles due West of Hillsborough, running thence North to the Virginia Line, then West to a Point due North of the Painted Springs, then South to Anson Line, then along Anson and Cumberland Lines to a Point due South of the Beginning, then North to the Beginning, be erected into a distinct County by the name of Guilford County, and Unity Parish."