Place:Robeson, North Carolina, United States

Alt namesRobesonsource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Coordinates34.633°N 79.1°W
Located inNorth Carolina, United States     (1787 - )
Also located inBladen, North Carolina, United States     (1734 - 1787)
See alsoHoke, North Carolina, United StatesChild county (source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990)
Bladen, North Carolina, United StatesParent county (Source:Wikipedia)
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Robeson County is a county in the southern part of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 134,168. Its county seat is Lumberton. The county was formed in 1787 from part of Bladen County. It was named in honor of Col. Thomas Robeson of Tar Heel, a hero of the Revolutionary War.

Robeson County comprises the Lumberton, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Fayetteville–Lumberton–Laurinburg, NC Combined Statistical Area.

Since 2008, Robeson County has been identified as among the 10% of United States counties that are majority-minority; its combined population of American Indian, African American and Hispanic residents constitute more than 68 percent of the total. Members of the state-recognized Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, make up most of the 38 percent of the population who identify as Native American.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is located in the county. It developed from a normal school established here in the late 19th century for the training of teachers of students classified as Indian, from mixed-race families who had been free before the Civil War. In the late 1880s local state legislator Hamilton McMillan gained state authorization for separate schools for this population, which he theorized were descended from Croatan Indians. The public system was otherwise racially segregated into blacks (mostly freedmen's children), and whites.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Archaeological excavation performed in Robeson County reveals widespread, continuous occupation of the region by various cultures of indigenous peoples since the end of the last Ice Age. They had camps and settlements near the Lumber River for its water, transportation, fish and related wildlife resources. Local excavations reveal that Native American peoples made stone tools, using materials brought to present-day Robeson County from the Carolina Piedmont. The large amounts of ancient pottery found at some Robeson County sites have been dated to the early Archaic Woodland period. Materials show that local settlements were part of an extensive Native American trade network with other regions. Portions of the river basin show that Robeson County was a "zone of cultural interactions."

Swamps, streams, and artesian wells provided an excellent supply of water for Native peoples. Fish were plentiful, and the region's lush vegetation included numerous food crops. "Carolina bays" continue to dot the landscape. Numerous 10,000-year-old Clovis points found along their banks indicate indigenous peoples used these depressions as campsites.

Colonial era

Early written sources specific to the territory of Robeson County region are few for the post-contact period of European colonization until the later 18th century and after.

Bladen County encompassed a portion of what is today Robeson County. English colonials named the river "Drowning Creek". After the violent upheavals of the Yamasee War of 1715–1717, and the Tuscarora War of 1711–1715, families of Algonquian Waccamaw left the South Carolina Colony in 1718 (it then encompassed North Carolina). They may have established a village west of present-day Pembroke, North Carolina by 1725.

Most of the surviving Iroquoian-speaking Tuscarora, who were not taken as slaves, migrated north as a tribe, settling in New York by 1722 and becoming accepted as the sixth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

In 1725, surveyors for the Wineau factory charted a village of Waccamaw Indians on the Lumber River, a few miles west of where Pembroke has developed. In 1773, colonial Governor Arthur Dobbs related a report from his agent, Col. Rutherford, head of a Bladen County militia, that a "mixed crew" of 50 families were living along Drowning Creek. They were referred to as "mullatos," generally meaning people of African and European descent.

The anthropologist John R. Swanton of the Smithsonian Institution tried to identify the origin of the ethnic group known as Croatan Indians since the late 19th century. Swanton posited that the multi-racial people were the descendants of Siouan-speaking peoples, of which the most prominent in the area were the Cheraw and Keyauwee.

Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, many migrants from Virginia entered the frontier area, including free people of color, most of whom were descended from colonial unions and marriages between free white women and African or African-American men. By the late eighteenth century, settlement patterns shifted. The name of the region's river was changed.

After the American Revolution, the newly established state used a lottery to dispose of lots for developing Lumberton. The town was incorporated in 1788, and John Willis proposed the name "Lumberton", after the important lumber and naval stores industry. This dominated the otherwise agricultural economy of Robeson County throughout the nineteenth century.

Lumberton was developed at a section known throughout that century as "Drowning Creek," a term still used for the headwater portions of the river. The first Robeson County courthouse was erected on land of the Red Bluff Plantation, donated for that purpose by Lumberton founder John Willis. Robeson County's post office was established in 1794. In 1809, the state legislature renamed Drowning Creek as the Lumber River, after the area's major industry.

In the 1790–1810 censuses, descendants of these families were classified as both white (European American) and free people of color, a classification which included people of African-European, African-Native American, and tri-racial ancestry. These settlers were subsistence farmers and held few slaves.

Late 20th-century researchers have traced 80 percent of the free people of color in North Carolina listed in those two decades of federal censuses to African American families who were free in Virginia in colonial times. Based on court records, land deeds, indentures and other material, Paul Heinegg found that the free people of color (mixed-race) were descended mostly from white women (which is what gave them free status so early) and men who were African or African American in unions of the colonial years. In addition, some African male slaves had been freed in Virginia as early as the mid-17th century. Together with free white women, they founded free families of several generations before migrating to other areas. In the early years of the southern colonies, working-class whites and Africans had lived and worked closely together, marrying and forming unions. Many free people of color migrated to frontier areas to gain relief from the racial strictures of the coastal plantation areas.

In the nineteenth century, mixed-race people sometimes identified as Indian, Portuguese or Arab, to account for physical differences from northern Europeans and to escape the racial segregation associated with descendants of Africans. Some may have descended from Atlantic Creoles, men of mixed African-Portuguese ancestry identified by the historian Ira Berlin as part of the "charter generation" of slaves, but most were descendants of English white women and African men in the British colonies. Some likely intermarried with remnants of Indian tribes who remained in the area. Names on early land deeds and other historic documents in Robeson County correspond to many of the families of free people of color, including ancestors of contemporary Lumbee.[1] Settlements included Prospect and Red Banks.

The Lumbee oral tradition says that they developed as a people from Native American ancestors, including refugees of other tribes, such as the Cheraw and Tuscarora, most of whom left the Carolinas in the early 18th century. They likely also intermarried with the free people of color of the area, absorbing their children into their culture. They developed in the antebellum era through a process of ethnogenesis.

Nineteenth century

By the beginning of the American Civil War, many remnant Native Americans in the Upper South struggled to survive and their status continued to decline. Since 1790, Native Americans in the southern states were enumerated as "free persons of color" on the local and federal census, included with free African Americans.

By 1835, in the wake of Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion of 1831, North Carolina like other southern states reduced the rights of free people of color. Out of fear of slave rebellion aided by free blacks, the legislature withdrew the rights of free people of color to vote, serve on juries, own and use firearms, and learn to read and write.

During the 1830s, the federal government forced Indian Removal, relocating the Cherokee and other of the Five Civilized Tribes of the Deep South and lower Southeast to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Native Americans who stayed in the Southeast tended to live in frontier and marginal areas to avoid white supervision.

Civil War

North Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861. A major yellow fever epidemic in 1862 killed 10 percent of the Cape Fear region's population. Most white men of military age had either enlisted with the Confederacy or fled the region. The Confederate Army conscripted African-American slaves as workers to build a system of forts to defend Fort Fisher, near Wilmington. Some free people of color from as far away as Robeson County (80–90 miles) were also impressed as laborers.

Robeson County's home guard included county magistrates, clergymen, and lawyers, who mainly represented the interests of the planter class. During the war, large slaveholders were exempted from participation in the army. The Home Guard raided local farmers, taking food supplies and livestock for the Confederate Army and their own use. When they raided the farmstead of Allen Lowrie, they killed Lowrie and his son William.

His surviving son Henry Berry Lowrie, a mixed-race man of Amerindian and White heritage, swore revenge and led an insurgency against the upper class, raiding homesteads and driving off livestock.

Late in the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman and his army began to push their way toward Robeson County as they headed north. After hearing of the Union Army's burning of Columbia, South Carolina on February 17, 1865, residents of Robeson County worried about the troops' advance. Washington Sandford Chaffin, a Methodist minister in Lumberton speculated in his diary about how the county might be treated by Sherman and his Yankees. Chaffin noted that Henry Berry Lowry and his gang were "doing much mischief in this country." Lowry's gang had "torn up and destroyed" Confederate white homesteads. In the late stages of the war, such gangs and insurgents carried out private feuds.

During the next seven years, Henry Lowry led a group of free people of color, poor whites and blacks in one of many postwar insurgent movements during years of social disruption. He campaigned against the white elite. His activities made him a folk hero to many of the poorer folk.

In a county with a high proportion of people of color, both Native Americans and African Americans were oppressed by the Jim Crow system established in the state after white conservative Democrats regained power following the Reconstruction era. The state legislature passed laws to raise barriers to voter registration and disenfranchise minorities. In 1900 the Democrats adopted a constitutional suffrage amendment which lengthened the residence period required before registration (which worked against sharecroppers and tenant farmers), and enacted both an educational qualification (to be assessed by a registrar, who were white and applied it subjectively) and prepayment of a poll tax (difficult for poor people to raise who did not use much cash). A grandfather clause exempted from the poll tax those entitled to vote on January 1, 1867. The effect in North Carolina was the complete elimination of black and mixed-race voters from voter rolls by 1904. Contemporary accounts estimated that 75,000 black male citizens across the state lost the vote.

Twentieth century

Racial segregation continued through the 20th century, affecting the criminal justice system and the administration of federal aid programs in the state and county. Racial discrimination has been documented in farm and other aid programs.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, local farmers in 1938 formed a mutual-aid cooperative, known as the Red Banks Mutual Association. They made a 99-year lease on a large plot of land, which they farmed together through the association until 1968. Historian Ryan K. Anderson explored this association for its contributions not only to members' survival during the Depression, but its influence in building stability and networks within the community.

As in other southern states, local Ku Klux Klan chapters persisted in North Carolina into the late 20th century (and some still likely exist). In early 1958 they called for a gathering in Maxton, intended to intimidate the Lumbee and other people of color. On January 18, 1958, armed Lumbee responded by gathering many more men and they chased off an estimated 50 Klansmen and supporters led by grand wizard James W. "Catfish" Cole in what became known as the Battle of Hayes Pond, after the site of the action.


Date Event Source
1782 Land records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1783 Probate records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1787 County formed Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1790 First census Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
1795 Court records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1803 Marriage records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1913 Birth records recorded Source:Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources
1920 No significant boundary changes after this year Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990

Population History

source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
Census Year Population
1790 5,326
1800 6,839
1810 7,528
1820 8,204
1830 9,433
1840 10,370
1850 12,826
1860 15,489
1870 16,262
1880 23,880
1890 31,483
1900 40,371
1910 51,945
1920 54,674
1930 66,512
1940 76,860
1950 87,769
1960 89,102
1970 84,842
1980 101,610
1990 105,179

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