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Sampson County, North Carolina
Sampson County Courthouse, Clinton.jpg
Sampson County Courthouse in Clinton
Seal of Sampson County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Sampson County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of the U.S. highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1784
Named for John Sampson
Seat Clinton
Largest city Clinton
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

962 sq mi (2,492 km²)
960 sq mi (2,486 km²)
2 sq mi (5 km²), 0.2%
 - (2020)
 - Density

67.1/sq mi (26/km²)
Congressional district 3rd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

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.[1] Its county seat is Clinton.[2]


Sampson County was established in April 1784 following the American Revolutionary War. The North Carolina General Assembly formed it 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 Scot-Irish immigrants from Northern Ireland, many of whom 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. Pioneer families lived 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, Blue, Ezzell, James Murphy, Ward, Sellers, Parrish, Fryar, Williamson and Bass families. In 1745, McCulloch 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 Scot-Irish immigrants were soon joined by descendants of the Swiss colony in New Bern. Some time later, they were joined by pioneers from the northern states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Among the first European settlers of the area was John Sampson. Sampson was appointed as the first Register of Deeds for Duplin County. He served as a Lt. Colonel, and then a Lt. General in the county's militia, and was later elected as the first mayor of Wilmington. Sampson brought with him Richard Clinton, believed to be his stepson.

As an adult, Clinton soon distinguished himself in governmental and military service, serving as Duplin County's Register of Deeds for ten years. He was elected to the Provincial Congress held at Hillsboro. In 1776, at the outbreak of the Revolution, Clinton organized a company of militia 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, Clinton was elected as one of the first members of the House of Commons, representing the County of Duplin as a House member. Clinton continued as a representative of Duplin County until the creation of Sampson County in 1784. Clinton secured passage of the act creating the new county, and proposed the name "Sampson" in honor of John Sampson, his stepfather and benefactor.

In the 21st century, a significant minority in Sampson County are members of the state-recognized Coharie Native American Tribe. In the past during the segregation era, many Coharie were previously classified as black, or mulatto, regardless of their personal identification as Native American. The Coharie had a matrilineal kinship system, and children were considered to be born to the mother and her people; they took their status from her. Children born to a Coharie mother were generally reared as Native American in culture. The state's insistence on a binary racial system, based on slavery as a racial caste, resulted in loss of identification in the records and disrupted social continuity among some Native American groups. Since the late 20th century, the Coharie have reorganized and gained formal recognition by the state government.

George Edwin Butler, author of The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools (1916), claimed that the Croatan were mixed-race descendants of English settlers on the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. The persons associated as Croatan were variously classified as "White", "Mulatto", "Colored", and "Negro" in the censuses of the 19th century. There was no category for Indian.

But most historians do not believe the myth of the Croatan Indians in North Carolina. No records exist of any English settlement inland of the North Carolina coast prior to 1703, when John Lawson explored the inner region of the territory. Butler claimed that Lawson had come across Native Americans who were tilling the land in the English style, 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.[3] Mainline historians have found no evidence that any Europeans survived from Roanoke Island. DNA analysis of the "Indians" of Sampson County have not supported such early 20th c. myths.


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.[4] 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 in the watersheds of the Black and South Rivers and Six Run Creek.

Adjacent counties[]

Major water-bodies[]

  • Black River, home to one of the oldest trees in the world (1622 years old) in Bladen County
  • Great Coharie Creek (Black River tributary)
  • Six Run Creek
  • South River

Major highways[]

  • I-40
  • US 13
  • US 421
  • US 701
  • NC 24
  • NC 41
  • NC 50
  • NC 55
  • NC 96
  • NC 242
  • NC 403
  • NC 411
  • NC 903

Other major Infrastructure[]

  • 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.


Historical populations
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%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
1790–1960[6] 1900–1990[7]
1990–2000[8] 2010–2020[9]

2020 census[]

Sampson County racial composition[10]
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[11] 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.


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


  • Clinton (county seat and largest city)


  • Autryville
  • Garland
  • Harrells
  • Newton Grove
  • Roseboro
  • Salemburg
  • Turkey

Census-designated places[]

  • Bonnetsville
  • Delway
  • Ingold
  • Ivanhoe
  • Keener
  • Plain View
  • Spiveys Corner
  • Vann Crossroads

Unincorporated communities[]

  • Moltonville
  • Suttontown


  • Belvoir
  • Dismal
  • Franklin
  • Halls
  • Herring
  • Honeycutt
  • Lisbon
  • Little Coharie
  • McDaniels
  • Mingo
  • Newton Grove
  • North Clinton
  • Piney Grove
  • Plain View
  • Rebel City
  • 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.[12] 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.[13]


Currently Sampson County leans strongly towards the Republican Party in presidential elections. No Democratic presidential candidate has gained an absolute majority of Sampson County's votes in a presidential election since Jimmy Carter did so in 1980, although Bill Clinton won a plurality in 1992 and Bob Dole's 1996 plurality was just ninety-one votes out of over seventeen thousand.

Historically the county was unusual in the South in turning strongly towards the Republican Party between the 1890s and World War II – a time when most of the region was solidifying as the overwhelmingly Democratic "Solid South". Even with its historic Populism a fading memory, and no Unionist history, Sampson was one of seven North Carolina counties to vote for Wendell Willkie in 1940, and one of fourteen to vote for Thomas E. Dewey in 1944. This was due to the fact that it was the leading centre for the Populist Party during the 1890s under local hero Marion Butler – more so indeed than Nash and Chatham counties which had given James B. Weaver a plurality in the 1892 election – and the fact that to compete with the dominant Democratic Party the two would fuse, with the result that after the Populists' demise its adherents turned to the Republicans.[14]

Political Culture[]

United States presidential election results for Sampson County, North Carolina[15]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 17,411 60.84% 10,966 38.32% 241 0.84%
2016 14,838 57.23% 10,547 40.68% 543 2.09%
2012 14,422 55.10% 11,566 44.19% 186 0.71%
2008 14,038 53.91% 11,836 45.46% 164 0.63%
2004 12,600 56.53% 9,649 43.29% 39 0.17%
2000 10,410 54.11% 8,768 45.57% 61 0.32%
1996 8,241 47.82% 8,150 47.30% 841 4.88%
1992 8,007 43.12% 8,698 46.84% 1,863 10.03%
1988 8,524 51.49% 8,009 48.38% 22 0.13%
1984 10,665 53.87% 9,115 46.04% 16 0.08%
1980 8,097 46.06% 9,090 51.71% 391 2.22%
1976 6,968 43.82% 8,869 55.77% 65 0.41%
1972 9,684 65.76% 4,888 33.19% 154 1.05%
1968 6,597 41.44% 4,797 30.13% 4,527 28.43%
1964 7,634 48.62% 8,067 51.38% 0 0.00%
1960 7,338 49.02% 7,632 50.98% 0 0.00%
1956 6,685 48.16% 7,197 51.84% 0 0.00%
1952 6,449 48.11% 6,956 51.89% 0 0.00%
1948 4,932 46.76% 4,965 47.07% 651 6.17%
1944 6,062 58.96% 4,220 41.04% 0 0.00%
1940 5,769 53.04% 5,107 46.96% 0 0.00%
1936 4,948 45.46% 5,937 54.54% 0 0.00%
1932 4,127 45.09% 4,911 53.66% 114 1.25%
1928 5,579 70.94% 2,285 29.06% 0 0.00%
1924 3,188 60.79% 2,021 38.54% 35 0.67%
1920 5,353 68.81% 2,426 31.19% 0 0.00%
1916 2,727 66.58% 1,369 33.42% 0 0.00%
1912 84 2.17% 1,265 32.69% 2,521 65.14%
1908 2,465 64.78% 1,335 35.09% 5 0.13%
1904 1,777 62.22% 1,079 37.78% 0 0.00%
1900 2,002 58.64% 1,257 36.82% 155 4.54%
1896 1,271 30.82% 2,789 67.63% 64 1.55%
1892 1,325 31.04% 1,299 30.43% 1,645 38.53%
1888 1,608 40.15% 2,390 59.68% 7 0.17%
1884 1,591 38.41% 2,551 61.59% 0 0.00%
1880 1,626 43.26% 2,122 56.45% 11 0.29%

In the North Carolina House of Representatives, Sampson County is in the 22nd District with Bladen County, represented by Republican William D. Brisson,[16] In the North Carolina Senate, it lies within the 9h Senate District, represented by Republican Brent Jackson.[17]


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
  • J.C. Holliday Library (Clinton)
  • Bryan Memorial Library (Newton Grove)
  • Miriam Lamb Memorial Library (Garland)
  • Roseboro Public Library (Roseboro)

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,[18] 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[]


  1. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Sampson County". 4/19/2022. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. 
  3. ^ "The Croatan Indians of Sampson County". University of North Carolina. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. 
  6. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. 
  7. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. 
  8. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. 
  9. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. 
  10. ^ "Explore Census Data". 
  11. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. 
  12. ^ "Agricultural and Forestry Data of Sampson County". 
  13. ^ "NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services". 
  14. ^ Scher, Richard K.; Politics in the New South: Republicanism, Race and Leadership in the Twentieth Century, pp. 88–89 ISBN 131528491X
  15. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". 
  16. ^ "North Carolina House of Representatives District 22" (in en). 
  17. ^ "DRA 2020". 
  18. ^ Liberty Hall Archives

External links[]

Coordinates: 34°59′N 78°22′W / 34.99, -78.37

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Sampson County, 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.