Main Births etc
Hillsborough, North Carolina
—  Town  —
The Eno River at Hillsborough
Motto: "You'll be a fan for life" -Orange County Motto
Location of Hillsborough, North Carolina
Coordinates: 36°04′14″N 79°06′15″W / 36.07056, -79.10417Coordinates: 36°04′14″N 79°06′15″W / 36.07056, -79.10417
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Orange
 • Total 4.6 sq mi (11.9 km2)
 • Land 4.6 sq mi (12 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 6,087
 • Density 1,188.7/sq mi (459.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 27278
Area code(s) 919

The town of Hillsborough is the county seat of Orange County, North Carolina.[1] The population was 6,087 in 2010.[2]

Its name was unofficially shortened to "Hillsboro" over the years (beginning in the 19th century) but was changed back to its original spelling in the late 1960s.


Native-American history[]

Local Native American groups had lived in the Hillsborough area for thousands of years by the time European-American settlers discovered the area. Siouan-language groups such as the Occaneechi and the Eno were living in the Hillsborough area at the time of European contact, before they were displaced. The explorer John Lawson recorded visiting "Occaneechi Town" when he travelled through North Carolina in 1701.

In the early 18th century, the Occaneechi left Hillsborough for Virginia, returning to the area around 1780.[3] An original Occaneechi farming village was excavated by an archaeological team from UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1980s.[3] A replica of an Occaneechi village stands close to the original Eno River settlement.[3]

Colonial period and Revolutionary War[]


The Earl of Hillsborough

File:Hboro small.jpg

An early map of the town produced in 1768 by Claude J. Sauthier.

Hillsborough was founded in 1754, and was first owned, surveyed, and mapped by William Churton (a surveyor for Earl Granville). Originally to be named Orange, it was named Corbin Town (for Francis Corbin, a member of the governor's council and one of Granville's land agents), and renamed Childsburgh (in honor of Thomas Child, the attorney general for North Carolina from 1751–1760 and another one of Granville's land agents) in 1759. It was not until 1766 that it was named Hillsborough, after the Earl of Hillsborough, the British secretary of state for the colonies and a relative of royal Governor William Tryon.

Hillsborough was an early Piedmont colonial town where court was held, and was the scene of some pre-Revolutionary War tensions. In the late 1760s, tensions between (in a nutshell) Piedmont farmers and county officers welled up in the Regulator movement, which had its epicenter in Hillsborough.[4] With specie scarce, many inland farmers found themselves unable to pay their taxes and resented the consequent seizure of their property. Local sheriffs sometimes kept taxes for their own gain and sometimes charged twice for the same tax. Governor William Tryon's conspicuous consumption in the construction of a new governor's mansion at New Bern fuelled the movement's resentment. As the western districts were under-represented in the colonial legislature, it was difficult for the farmers to obtain redress by legislative means. Ultimately, the frustrated farmers took to arms and closed the court in Hillsborough, dragging those they saw as corrupt officials through the streets.[4] Tryon and North Carolina militia troops marched to the region and defeated the Regulators at the Battle of Alamance in May 1771.[4] Several trials were held after the war, resulting in the hanging of six Regulators at Hillsborough on June 19, 1771.

The town was used as the home of the North Carolina state legislature during the American Revolution.[5] Hillsborough served as a military base for British General Charles Cornwallis in late February 1781. The United States Constitution drafted in 1787 was controversial in North Carolina. Delegate meetings at Hillsborough in July 1788 initially voted to reject, following Anti-Federalist views. They were persuaded to change their minds partly by the strenuous efforts of James Iredell and William Richardson Davie and partly by the prospect of a Bill of Rights. The Constitution was later ratified by North Carolina at a convention in Fayetteville.

William Hooper, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was buried in the Presbyterian Church cemetery in October 1790. However, his remains were later reinterred at Guilford Court House Military Battlefield. His original gravestone remains in the town cemetery.

The Antebellum Period and American Civil War[]

The Burwell family ran a girl's academy called the Burwell School from 1837 to 1857 in their home on Churton Street. Elizabeth Keckley was enslaved in the Burwell household as a teenager. She later became the dressmaker and confidant of Mary Todd Lincoln and wrote a memoir.

When the Civil War began, Hillsborough was reluctant to support secession. However, many citizens went off to fight for the Confederacy.

In March 1865, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston wintered just outside of Hillsborough at the Dickson home, which now serves as the Hillsborough Welcome Center in downtown (the house was moved from its original site in the early 1980s due to commercial development). The main portion of the Confederate Army of Tennessee was encamped around Greensboro.

After his March to the Sea, while camped in Raleigh, Union General William T. Sherman offered an armistice to Johnston, who agreed to meet to discuss terms of surrender. Johnston, traveling east from Hillsborough and Sherman, traveling west from Raleigh along the Hillsborough-Raleigh Road, met approximately half-way near present-day Durham (then Durham Station) at the home of James and Nancy Bennett, a farmhouse now known as Bennett Place. The two generals met three times on April 17, 18th, and finally on the 26th, which resulted in the final terms of surrender. Johnston surrendered 89,270 Southern troops who were still active in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. This was the largest surrender of troops during the war, and effectively ended the Civil War.[5]

Local culture[]

Orange County Historical Museum

Art galleries and museums[]

Historic sites[]

There are numerous historical sites to visit in Hillsborough. The Town was established where the Great Indian Trading Path crossed the Eno River. For many years Hillsborough was a leading town in its region of North Carolina and many significant historical events occurred here. There remain more than 100 late eighteenth and nineteenth century structures that illustrate this history. In addition, there are numerous secondary buildings, bridges, mill sites and dams along the Eno River, and Native American relics from the locations of ancient towns stretching back thousands of years.[6]

The newly constructed Riverwalk is an approximately 1.8-mile, 8-foot-wide, asphalt, accessible urban greenway constructed along the historic Eno River corridor. The greenway will connect into regional trail systems.[7]

Alexander Dickson House The Hillsborough Visitors Center operates from this late-18th century Quaker-plan house. It was moved from its original location (1 mile southeast of Hillsborough) to its present location in the heart of the historic district. The site also includes an office used by Confederate Gen. Joseph. Address: 150 E. King Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278 Phone: 919-732-7741

Old Orange County Courthouse 1844 Greek-revival building designed and built by local builder John Berry. The courthouse is still in use for county judicial business. Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Closed major holidays. Free. Address: N. Churton and E. King Streets Hillsborough, NC 27278

Ayr Mount 1815 Federal-era plantation house, restored and furnished with period antiques and fine art. Guided tour. The estate includes the one mile long Poet's Walk (free). March 15-December 15, Wed-Sat 11am, Thurs-Sun 2pm. Other times by appointment. Closed major holidays. $12 admission to the home. Address: 376 Saint Mary’s Road Hillsborough, NC 27278 Phone: 919-732-6886

The Inn at Teardrops The Inn Ca. 1768

The Inn at Teardrops CA 1758

The name comes from the teardrop shaped glass on the front doors and the molding around the eaves of the house.

Owned by Edmund Fanning until he sold it to Thomas King, an Inn keeper, in 1768. The main body of the present structure is probably King's old Inn. Notable eighteenth-century owners include General Thomas Person, Peter Malett, William Duffy and John Taylor, who was clerk of the Superior Court from 1800 to 1845. In 1938 the J.W. Richmond family bought the property and re-opened the house as a private residence. He reopened the house after extensive renovations, as 'The Inn at Teardrops', a bed and breakfast.[8]Currently owned and managed by Tom Roberts, the Inn operates as an old fashioned Bed and Breakfast, with antique-filled rooms in a home atmosphere offering the charm of the quaint village in the heart of historic Hillsborough.
Address: 175 W. King St. Hillsborough NC, 27278 Telephone: P: (919)732-1120 C: (919)418-2488

Margaret Lane Cemetery Margaret Lane Cemetery, sometimes called the Old Slave Cemetery, first appears in written record in 1885. It is believed that Peter Brown Ruffin, a landowner and employer to the west of Hillsborough, bought the two 1-acre lots that comprise the cemetery from the town in 1854 as a burial. Address: W. Margaret Lane and Occoneechee St. Hillsborough, NC 27278 Phone: 919-732-1270

Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail Occoneechee Speedway, just outside Hillsborough, was one of the first two NASCAR tracks to open and is one of two tracks remaining from that inaugural 1949 season, Martinsville Speedway being the other. The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail (HOST), is a three-mile (5 km) trail located on 44 acres (178,000 m2) at the site of the former Speedway. Bill France and the early founders of NASCAR bought land to build a one-mile (1.6 km) oval track at Hillsborough, but opposition from local religious leaders prevented the track from being built in the town and NASCAR officials built the large speedway Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama instead.[9]


Hillsborough is located at 36°4′29″N 79°6′15″W / 36.07472, -79.10417 (36.074794, -79.104183),[10] along the Eno River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.6 square miles (12 km2), of which, 4.6 square miles (12 km2) of it is land and 0.22% is water.


Downtown Hillsborough

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 5,446 people, 2,101 households, and 1,428 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,188.7 people per square mile (459.1/km²). There were 2,329 housing units at an average density of 508.3 per square mile (196.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 60.26% White, 34.83% African American, 0.51% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 1.62% from other races, and 2.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.79% of the population.

There were 2,101 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.9% were married couples living together, 20.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.0% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the town the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 86.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,111, and the median income for a family was $46,793. Males had a median income of $36,636 versus $29,052 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,818. About 11.0% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.1% of those under age 18 and 16.6% of those age 65 or over.


Hillsborough is part of the Orange County School District. Cameron Park Elementary, Grady A. Brown Elementary, Pathways Elementary, Central Elementary and Hillsborough Elementary Schools (K-5), two middle schools and two high schools are located in the town of Hillsborough.

Notable people[]

For its size, Hillsborough has a high concentration of residents who are nationally known artists and authors, including Lee Smith, Jill McCorkle, Allan Gurganus, Michael Malone, Annie Dillard, Hal Crowther, Frances Mayes, and David Payne.[11]

  • George B. Anderson (1831–1862) – Civil War Confederate general, killed at the Battle of Antietam
  • Annie Dillard (born 1945) – Author
  • Allan Gurganus (born 1947) – author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
  • William Hooper (1742–1790) – A lawyer and politician who signed the United States Declaration of Independence for North Carolina
  • Tinka Jordy (born 1954) – Sculptor[12]
  • Elizabeth Keckley (1818–1907) – Dressmaker and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln and enslaved in the Burwell Household
  • Michael Malone – Edgar Award-winning novelist and Daytime Emmy Award-winning soap opera writer
  • Doug Marlette (1949–2007) – cartoonist and author, maintained a home in Hillsborough and was buried there[13]
  • Frances Mayes (born 1940) – Author
  • Logan Pause (born 1981) – Soccer player
  • Connie Ray (born 1956) – Actress, The Torkelsons
  • Thomas Sayre – Sculptor[14]
  • Lee Smith (born 1944) – Author
  • Billy Strayhorn (1915–1967) – Jazz composer, pianist and arranger
  • Shepperd Strudwick (1907–1983) – Actor


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b c "Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation". Southern Neighbor. November 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Bishir, Catherine (2005). North Carolina Architecture. UNC Press. pp. 55–56. 
  5. ^ a b "Minding the museum". Chapel Hill News. July 25, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Racing vs. Religion". Historic Hillsborough. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  11. ^ Nimocks, Amber (September 2010). "A Literary Community". Our State. Retrieved on February 7, 2013. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Cartoonist Doug Marlette dies in wreck". Raleigh News and Observer. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
  14. ^

External links[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

History resources[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Hillsborough, North Carolina. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.