Tar Heel, North Carolina

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Tar Heel, North Carolina
A pasture on the edge of Tar Heel
A pasture on the edge of Tar Heel
Location in Bladen County and the state of North Carolina.
Location in Bladen County and the state of North Carolina.
Coordinates: 34°43′56″N 78°47′32″W / 34.73222°N 78.79222°W / 34.73222; -78.79222Coordinates: 34°43′56″N 78°47′32″W / 34.73222°N 78.79222°W / 34.73222; -78.79222
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Bladen
 • Type Mayor–council government
 • Mayor Roy Dew[1]
 • Total 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
 • Land 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 125 ft (38 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 117
 • Estimate (2016)[2] 143
 • Density 760/sq mi (290/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 28392
Area code(s) 910
FIPS code 37-66740[3]
GNIS feature ID 0995863[4]

Tar Heel is a town located in Bladen County, North Carolina, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 117.[5]

Tar Heel is home to the largest pig processing plant in the world which opened in 1992, operated by Smithfield Foods and is located just north of the town limits.


Tar Heel is located at 34°43′56″N 78°47′32″W / 34.73222°N 78.79222°W / 34.73222; -78.79222 (34.732353, -78.792284),[6] on the banks of the Cape Fear River. Its major highways are NC 87 and NC 131. Fayetteville is 25 miles (40 km) to the north, Elizabethtown is 15 miles (24 km) to the southeast, and Lumberton is 16 miles (26 km) to the southwest.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), all of it land.[5]


This farming community has a history dating back to the Revolutionary War. Colonel Thomas Robeson, for whom Robeson County was named, lived in the Tar Heel community. His home is located just to the east of the town. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as Walnut Grove.

The town of Mayville, no longer in existence, was on the Robeson and Bladen County line and was the village mentioned in the diary of Elizabeth Ellis Robeson (1847–1866).[7][8] Just when the village moved to what is now Tar Heel is unknown. During the Civil War, Colonel Thomas Purdie and Captain Daniel Munn, residents of the Tar Heel area, led troops at Gettysburg and Fort Fisher.

The Town of Tar Heel was incorporated by the State of North Carolina in 1964.

The origin of the town name is different from the nickname given to the state of North Carolina. The town was known for its landing on the Cape Fear River. The state operated a ferry at this landing, and it was a major loading point for vessels that transported agricultural goods to the market in Wilmington. The major product was barrels of turpentine. Tar Heel had several turpentine stills, and the remains of some of the old stills can be found in the area. The results of transporting the barrels of turpentine, leaking barrels, caused a tar-like material to be found around the landing and the access to the river. When the community people talked of going to the village, it was said they were going to get tar on their heels, thus the name Tar Heel.

The town of Tar Heel is often confused with Chapel Hill's "Tar Heel Town", home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels.

The Purdie House and Purdie Methodist Church and Walnut Grove are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[9]


The town of Tar Heel is governed by a mayor/council governing body. The mayor and council are elected to two-year terms. The town's council meets monthly. In July 2011, the town of Tar Heel made world news when it was announced that no one was running for any of the four positions on the town board.[10][11][12] The town held the election and Roy Dew was elected mayor of Tar Heel by write-in votes in November 2011. Also elected to the town's council by write-in votes were Angela Hall, Sam Allen, and Derek Druzak (2013).[1]


The services provided by this small rural community are:

  • Street maintenance, sanitation pickup for residents, and street lights.
  • Police protection is provided by the Bladen County Sheriff's Office.
  • Fire protection is provided by the Tar Heel Rural Volunteer Fire Department.
  • Water services are provided by the Tar Heel Water Corporation.


Public schools, part of the Bladen County School system, in the Tar Heel area:


The Tar Heel Community is home to various churches. Below is the list of churches:


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2016143[2]22.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

As of the census of 2010, there are 117 people, 60 households, and 34 families residing in the town. The racial makeup of the town is White, 93% African American, 0.00% Native American, 3.4% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.00% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. 5.1% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.[14]

See also[edit]

  • Tar Heel - an expression that was used during the Civil War and became the origin of the state's nickname - even though similar it is not the origin of the town's name.
  • An American Trilogy (book) about the same piece of land in Tar Heel, site of decimation of aboriginal tribes by Christian settlers; a plantation where African-American slaves once worked; and now the site of factory farms for pigs, and the world's largest slaughterhouse


  1. ^ a b "Cape Fear Region Results". Fayetteville Observer. November 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Tar Heel town, North Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ Robeson, Elizabeth Ellis (1975). The Diary of Elizabeth Ellis Robeson Bladen County, North Carolina From 1847 to 1866 (Paperback ed.). Bladen Co. Historical Society. OCLC 2924746. 
  8. ^ Elizabeth Ellis Robeson at Find a Grave
  9. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  10. ^ 'No one signs up to run for office in Tar Heel', WECT, July 15, 2011 [1]
  11. ^ Associated Press, 'No one bothers to run in small NC town's election', in the Albuquerque Journal, July 15, 2011 [2]
  12. ^ Associated Press, 'No one bothers to run in small NC town's election', in The Sacramento Bee, July 15, 2011 [3][permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Tar Heel town, North Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 6, 2014.