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American History
Scotland County, North Carolina


by Betty P. Myers, 1975
Revised 1977, 1994

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.

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