Sampson County, North Carolina

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Sampson County, North Carolina
Sampson County, North Carolina Courthouse.jpg
Sampson County Courthouse in Clinton (circa 1910–1915)
Seal of Sampson County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Sampson County
Location in the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1784
Named for John Sampson
Seat Clinton
Largest city Clinton
 • Total 962 sq mi (2,492 km2)
 • Land 960 sq mi (2,486 km2)
 • Water 2 sq mi (5 km2), 0.2%
 • (2010) 63,431
 • Density 67/sq mi (26/km²)
Congressional district 7th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Sampson County is the second-largest county in North Carolina by area. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 63,431.[1] Its county seat is Clinton.[2]


Sampson County was formally and legally established in April 1784 by the North Carolina General Assembly 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 Scotch-Irish immigrants from North Ireland, many of who 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, with pioneer families living 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, Ezzell, James Murphy, Ward, Sellers, Parrish, Fryar, Williamson and Bass families. In 1745, McCullough 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 Scotch-Irish immigrants were soon joined by descendants of the Swiss colony in New Bern, and sometime later, pioneers from the northern states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Among these first European Settlers of the area was John Sampson. Sampson was the first register of deeds of Duplin County. He served as a Lt. Colonel, and then a Lt. General in the county’s militia and was later the first mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina. John Sampson brought along who is thought to be his step-son Richard Clinton. Like his stepfather, Richard Clinton soon distinguished himself in governmental and military service, serving as Duplin County’s Register of Deeds for ten years, and then in the Provincial Congress held at Hillsboro. In 1776, Richard Clinton organized a company of militia minutemen 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, Richard Clinton served as one of the first members of the House of Commons, representing the County of Duplin as a House member while his brother-in-law James Kenan served in the Senate . Clinton continued as a representative of Duplin County until the creation of Sampson County in 1784. Clinton secured the passage of the act creating the new county, and proposed the name "Sampson" in honor of John Sampson, his stepfather and benefactor.

There is indeed evidence of a mixed European / Native American population in Southern and Western Sampson County prior to the settlements of the earliest Scottish, English, and Irish people in the 1740s.

Currently, a significant minority of the people living in Sampson County are members of the state recognized Coharie Native American Tribe. Many of these tribe members have slowly begun to recognize their Native American status over the last few decades, whereas before they considered themselves to be of European and African ancestry.

According to George Edwin Butler who wrote "The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools" about this particular group of Native Americans in Sampson County in 1916, many of these Natives were classified as "Whites", "Mulatto", "Colored" and "Negro" during the census' of the 19th century. Census enumerators reported that these people had European and African looking features and names, but acted clannish towards outsiders.

There is reason to believe that these Native Americans of Sampson County may actually be descendants of The Lost Colony and Free Blacks who assimilated with the Native tribes upon the colony’s collapse. There are no records of any English Settlement inland of the North Carolina Coast prior to 1703 when John Lawson explored the inner region of North Carolina. During his exploration, he found Native Americans who were tilling the land, 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. Further evidence supports this claim by way of these Native Americans bearing English surnames that match the surnames of those who were thought to have perished at The Lost Colony.[3]


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 drained by the Black and South Rivers, as well as Six Run Creek.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
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%
Est. 2016 63,124 [5] −0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[10] 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



Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]


  • Belvoir
  • Dismal
  • Franklin
  • Halls
  • Herring
  • Honeycutt
  • Lisbon
  • Little Coharie
  • McDaniels
  • Mingo
  • Newton Grove
  • North Clinton
  • Piney Grove
  • Plain View
  • 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 Industry began to lose production value in the county to the lack of cheap labor due to the eradication of slavery among many other factors, and subsistence agriculture then become the primary industry. The county has steadily gained a stronger manufacturing and services industry since the Civil war.

As of 2007, agricultural land covered over 50% of the counties land area.[11] A wide range of crops are grown in the county ranging from vegetables, fruits and berries; to Tobacco, Peanuts, Corn, Soybeans and Wheat among many others. 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 grower of turkeys and the second largest grower of hogs in the state.[12]


Presidential Elections Results[13]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 57.2% 14,838 40.7% 10,547 2.1% 543
2012 55.1% 14,422 44.2% 11,566 0.7% 186
2008 53.9% 14,038 45.5% 11,836 0.6% 164
2004 56.5% 12,600 43.3% 9,649 0.2% 39
2000 54.1% 10,410 45.6% 8,768 0.3% 61
1996 47.8% 8,241 47.3% 8,150 4.9% 841
1992 43.1% 8,007 46.8% 8,698 10.0% 1,863
1988 51.5% 8,524 48.4% 8,009 0.1% 22
1984 53.9% 10,665 46.0% 9,115 0.1% 16
1980 46.1% 8,097 51.7% 9,090 2.2% 391
1976 43.8% 6,968 55.8% 8,869 0.4% 65
1972 65.8% 9,684 33.2% 4,888 1.1% 154
1968 41.4% 6,597 30.1% 4,797 28.4% 4,527
1964 48.6% 7,634 51.4% 8,067
1960 49.0% 7,338 51.0% 7,632
1956 48.2% 6,685 51.8% 7,197
1952 48.1% 6,449 51.9% 6,956
1948 46.8% 4,932 47.1% 4,965 6.2% 651
1944 59.0% 6,062 41.0% 4,220
1940 53.0% 5,769 47.0% 5,107
1936 45.5% 4,948 54.5% 5,937
1932 45.1% 4,127 53.7% 4,911 1.3% 114
1928 70.9% 5,579 29.1% 2,285
1924 60.8% 3,188 38.5% 2,021 0.7% 35
1920 68.8% 5,353 31.2% 2,426
1916 66.6% 2,727 33.4% 1,369
1912 2.2% 84 32.7% 1,265 65.2% 2,521

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.

In the North Carolina House of Representatives, Sampson County is mainly in the 22nd District, represented by Democrat William D. Brisson, although a small part in the east of the county is part of the 21st District represented by Democrat Larry M. Bell. In the North Carolina Senate, it lies within the 10th Senate District, represented by Republican Brent Jackson.

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]


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. It resides in Newton Grove, North Carolina, and is a small 1A school.

County Schools[edit]

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[edit]

Elementary schools
  • Butler Avenue
  • L.C. Kerr
  • Sunset Avenue
Middle school
  • Sampson
High school
  • Clinton


Major highways[edit]


  • 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.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "The Croatan Indians of Sampson County". University of North Carolina. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  8. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^ "Agricultural and Forestry Data of Sampson County". Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ "NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services". Retrieved July 15, 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Scher, Richard K.; Politics in the New South: Republicanism, Race and Leadership in the Twentieth Century, pp. 88-89 ISBN 131528491X
  15. ^ Liberty Hall Archives

External links[edit]

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