Although Scotland County is relatively
young among North Carolina counties, having been formed in 1899, it has a
rich and interesting history. As is true with all history, the history of
this county is so entwined with our geography, sociology, economics, and
government that separating them is neither feasible nor desirable. Because
of this, and because of the variations in the pattern of settlement in the
various parts of the county, no attempt has been made to make this the
typical chronological history. Instead, a brief background summary will be
presented. Then an imaginary tour of the county will follow, with items of
historical interest inserted geographically rather than chronologically.
The earliest settlers in what is now Scotland County were composed largely
of Highland Scots. It is fairly well established by several writers of
Scottish history that there were Highlanders living in this area as early
as 1729, when North Carolina became a royal colony. However, much of the
Scot settlement came in the next quarter century. It was during this
period that many Scots pushed up the Cape Fear River into the area
surrounding their Cross Creek settlement, later Campbellton, now
Fayetteville, and consequently, into the area that is now Scotland County.
Through the ensuing years, other groups and individuals have come to the
county, bringing their own heritage to mingle with that of the Scots,
Scotch-Irish, English, Welsh, and African. Some of our present-day
citizens can even link their heritage to that of the first Americans --
the Native Americans. So although the name of the county is Scotland and
the Scottish influence is quite strong, the Scots have no monopoly on the
county or its history.
The political beginning for Scotland County came when the legislature of
North Carolina, on February 20, 1899, created the new county. The county
was formed entirely from Richmond County. The entire area had been a part
of Anson County and, before that, a part of Bladen.
The main reason given for the movement to break away from Richmond County
was that the county seat, Rockingham, being some twenty to thirty miles
away, was too far from the eastern part of the county. Any business in the
county seat required an all-day trip and sometimes an overnight stay on
the part of many citizens. However, there seem to have been other factors
at work, including a strong red shirt movement and much dissatisfaction
with the county government at Rockingham. There were charges and
counter-charges and strong feeling displayed by both proponents and
opponents of the new county. A petition opposing the formation of the new
county was circulated in the legislature of 1895 by Richmond County
opponents of the separation, and in the petition attention was called to
the small number of Populists and Republicans who voted in Laurinburg. The
accusation was that the number was so small because of intimidation in the
heavily Democratic town. One sentence read: Laurinburg, in politics, ought
to be called Rottenburg.
Mr. Maxey John wrote the act which created the county. He had written
similar acts twice before. In 1893, the act failed to pass the General
Assembly, and in 1895, the act passed, but with a provision for an
election in all Richmond County to approve or disapprove the new county.
The election failed to approve the new county, and no serious attempt was
made in the 1897 session of the General Assembly, which was
Republican-Fusionist controlled. However, in 1899, another attempt was
made. The act was introduced in the General Assembly by Mr. Hector McLean,
who is sometimes called the Father of Scotland County.