Vance County, North Carolina

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Vance County, North Carolina
Seal of Vance County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Vance County
Location in the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded 1881
Named for Zebulon Baird Vance
Seat Henderson
Largest city Henderson
 • Total 270 sq mi (699 km2)
 • Land 254 sq mi (658 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (41 km2), 6.0%
 • (2010) 45,422
 • Density 179/sq mi (69/km²)
Congressional districts 1st, 13th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
File:Vance county flag.jpg
Vance County flag.

Vance County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 45,422.[1] Its county seat is Henderson.[2]

Vance County comprises the Henderson, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Combined Statistical Area, which had a 2012 estimated population of 1,998,808.


The county was formed by the white Democratic-dominated legislature in 1881 following the Reconstruction Era from parts of Franklin, Granville, and Warren counties. The county is named after Zebulon Baird Vance, a Governor of North Carolina (1862–65 & 1877–79) and United States Senator (1879–94).

According to the 1955 book, Zeb's Black Baby, by Samuel Thomas Peace, Sr., this was a political decision to concentrate blacks and Republicans in one county and keep Democratic majorities in the other counties, an example of gerrymandering:

The formation of Vance County was accomplished largely as a political expediency. It was in 1881 when Blacks in large numbers were voting solidly Republican. Granville and Franklin Counties were nip and tuck, Democratic or Republican. From the Democratic standpoint, Warren County was hopelessly Republican. But by taking from Granville, Franklin and Warren, those sections that were heavily Republican and out of these sections forming the new county of Vance, the Democratic party could lose Vance to the Republicans and save Granville and Franklin for the Democrats. [U.S.] Senator Vance was a Democrat. He took kindly to this move and thanked the [North Carolina] Legislature for honoring him with naming the new county after him. At the same time...Vance showed his humor by always referring to Vance County as 'Zeb's Black Baby.'

In the 1890 Census, Vance County was more than 63 percent African American.[3] In 1894 a biracial coalition of Populists and Republicans elected African American George M. White to the US Congress and gained control of the state house. The Democrats were determined to forestall this happening again. White strongly opposed the new constitution, saying "I cannot live in North Carolina and be a man and be treated as a man."[4] He left the state after his second term expired, setting up a business in Washington, DC.[4]

The Democrats in the North Carolina legislature settled the political competition with the Republicans by following other southern states and passing a law in 1896 making voting more difficult, and a new constitution in 1899 that disfranchised most blacks by poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses. Contemporary accounts estimated that 75,000 black male citizens of the state lost the vote.[5][6] In 1900 blacks numbered 630,207 citizens, about 33% of the state's total population.[7] This situation held until past the mid-20th century and after passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.[8]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 270 square miles (700 km2), of which 254 square miles (660 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (6.0%) is water.[9]

Kerr Lake and Kerr Lake State Recreation Area are partially located in Vance County.

Adjacent counties

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 17,581
1900 16,684 −5.1%
1910 19,425 16.4%
1920 22,799 17.4%
1930 27,294 19.7%
1940 29,961 9.8%
1950 32,101 7.1%
1960 32,002 −0.3%
1970 32,691 2.2%
1980 36,748 12.4%
1990 38,892 5.8%
2000 42,954 10.4%
2010 45,422 5.7%
Est. 2014 44,614 [10] −1.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
1790-1960[12] 1900-1990[13]
1990-2000[14] 2010-2013[1]

From 1930 through 1970, the rural county population declined and growth slowed markedly as many blacks migrated to the North for better jobs and other opportunities in the Great Migration. Combined with other economic changes, this resulted in the county losing what had been its large African-American majority by the late 20th century. In the early 21st century, the white and black populations are nearly equal.

As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 42,954 people, 16,199 households, and 11,647 families residing in the county. The population density was 169 people per square mile (65/km²). There were 18,196 housing units at an average density of 72 per square mile (28/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 48.21% White, 48.31% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.03% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 4.56% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 16,199 households out of which 33.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.00% were married couples living together, 20.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 24.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.06.

The county had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state for the year 2005 as researched by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition of North Carolina. The rate was 110.4 per 1000 teens, significantly above the state average of 61.7 per 1000 teens.

In the county the population was spread out with 27.10% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 28.80% from 25 to 44, 22.60% from 45 to 64, and 12.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 89.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,301, and the median income for a family was $36,389. Males had a median income of $28,284 versus $21,433 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,897. About 16.30% of families and 20.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.70% of those under age 18 and 19.30% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government

Vance County is governed by a seven-member board of Commissioners, who appoint a county manager [1]. Vance County is a member of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments.[16]



Map of Vance County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels



Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities


  • Dabney
  • Henderson
  • Kittrell
  • Middleburg
  • Sandy Creek
  • Townsville
  • Watkins
  • Williamsboro

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Vance County, North Carolina" demographics
  4. 4.0 4.1 "George Henry White", Black Americans in Congress, US Congress
  5. Albert Shaw, The American Monthly Review of Reviews, Vol.XXII, Jul-Dec 1900, p.274
  6. Richard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 17, 2000, pp. 12-13
  7. Historical Census Browser, 1900 US Census, University of Virginia, accessed 15 Mar 2008
  8. Michael J. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality (Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 32
  9. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Kerr Tar Regional Council of Governments

External links

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