A History of Raeford, North Carolina

Hoke County Court House - Raeford, North Carolina

Raeford, North Carolina is located in Hoke County, North Carolina's 99th county. The bill establishing Hoke County was enacted into law on February 18, 1911, to become effective on April 3, 1911.

The first officials of the new county were appointed by the governor to serve until an election could be held. Jeptha Peele and W. T. Covington were appointed as commissioners to meet the county commissioners of Cumberland and Robeson counties, primarily to lay off boundaries of the new county. Hoke had to assume its per capita share of the public indebtedness of the parent counties and pending court cases were transferred to the new county. These actions were necessary due to the fact that the new county had been formed from land acreage formerly within the other two counties.

Raeford was designated as the county seat of Hoke County. The governor had the authority to appoint the entire slate of first officials, but chose to let a primary election by the people select the list. W. B. McQueen became the first Clerk of Court, J. Hector Smith, the Register of Deeds; Edgar Hall, Sheriff; W. McCraney, the Treasurer, and County Commissioners were elected as follows: J. W. Johnson, Chairman, S. J. Cameron and J. A. McPhaul; Surveyors J. L. McFadyen; Coroner, Dr. A. P. Dickson; Supt. of Education, Prof. J. A. McGoogan; Board of Education, N. A. McDonald, John A. Hodgin and Neill McKinnon; County Attorney, J. W. Currie; State Senator (1914) J. W. Johnson; and State Representative (1914) Thomas McBryde.

The county initially contained 268,000 acres with a population of about 10,000. There were no paved roads and the economy was strictly based on cotton. The only high school in the county was the Raeford Institute. This school was established by the Dr. A. P. Dickson family, the J. W. McLauchlin family and the McRae family. In the fall of 1903, the main building burned, and the school was moved to the Presbyterian Church, and four months later was moved into a new building... later the number of buildings for the institute grew to nine. In 1910, the school had an enrollment of 325 students. Raeford, chartered in 1901, was composed almost exclusively of people who had moved to the community in the interest of their children obtaining a better education.

Raeford was originally settled on the site of an old cotton field, in 1898, with those few families who had settled there making up the population in 1898. In 1899, the Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad was extended to the present location and present-day Raeford began. When the first train came down the track, it is said that teachers let the children from the institute walk through the woods to meet the train.

The gentlemen who operated the turpentine distillery and general store at old Raeford, located near what is known as the swimming hole on Rockfish Creek, wanted the post office in their store for the convenience of the townspeople. In order to choose a name for the post office, they took a syllable from each of their names...one being John McRae, and one being A.A. Williford...Thus the name "Raeford" was given to the town.

The first newspaper, Facts and Figures, was published from March 1905 to early 1911 by D. Scott Poole and in 1911, F. P. Johnson bought the paper and published it until September 1913. He changed the name to the Hoke County Journal. On September 3, 1913, J. W. Johnson and other citizens organized and incorporated the Raeford Publishing Company, with Bion H. Butler as Editor. In January of 1915, D. Scott Poole rented the machinery and again became editor of the paper, which he continued to call the Hoke County Journal. In 1928, Paul Dickson, Sr., started another paper, the Hoke County News, and eventually consolidated the two papers as The News-Journal. Upon Mr. Dickson's death, Mrs. Dickson published the newspaper until 1946 when it was taken over by Paul Dickson, Jr.

In 1918, Little River Township, located in the northern part of the county, was separated from the remainder of Hoke County by the Ft. Bragg Reservation, and in 1958, the 20,000 acres of the township became part of Moore County.

It would be impossible to cover the entire history of all the events that have taken place to bring Raeford and Hoke County to their present level of growth and development. The community has grown and no longer resembles the town that grew out of a need for educating children and transporting cotton to market.

Industrial development has kept the economy alive in spite of the mechanization of farms that has driven many families from agricultural activity during the past thirty years.

Unilever USA-HPC, Burlington Industries, the House of Raeford, Inc., Tar Heel Turkey Hatchery, Unify, and Hoke Rubber Products, Inc. are major industrial firms providing employment in Hoke County today. Other business and professional firms provide the bulk of non-farm employment.

Raeford was granted a U.S. Post Office on August 11, 1885 in Cumberland County, and its first Postmaster was Arthur A. Williford. In 1911, the Raeford Post Office was now in Hoke County. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved