The Founding of Norlina

Through the years many different stories have been told about the founding of the community and town of Norlina.  The materials that follow, give dates and information on the beginning of this town called Norlina.

The Founding of Norlina Monument

The facts provided below are from the following sources:

Mary Lib Taylor

The Record - Warrenton, NC - J. R. Rodwell, Editor

The Norlina Headlight - Norlina, NC - J. C. Hardy, Editor

Past / Present Mayors of Norlina

Courtesy of Mary Lib Taylor
  • The Town of Norlina is situated on land which, was a part of a grant to John Langford for his service in the Revolutionary War.

  • The Langford, Wortham, and Duke families seem to be the largest land owners of what is now the present day site of the Town of Norlina. These families were living here when this area was Bute County, North Carolina.

  • John Langford lived in the Warrenton District from 1792 to 1799. The district joins Smith Creek District about where the Norlina town limits begin on the Warren Plains Road.

  • On January 12, 1799, John purchased 167 and one- half acres in Smith Creek District from Thomas Wortham. At John’s death in 1823, he owned 382 and one- half acres in Smith Creek District.

  • John Langford married Martha Duke and had six daughters and two sons. Two of the Langford daughters married into the Rose family. One daughter married a Wortham. William P. Rose married Delia Langford. They had no children.

  • William’s brother, John Parham Rose, married Mary H. Langford. John and Mary Rose had twelve children. One of their sons, Robert Franklin Rose, settled on land in Smith Creek Township, which he had bought in part from his father and his uncle William P. Rose. This land is located in and north of the present town of Norlina.

  • The Richmond, Petersburg, & Carolina Railroad was one of nine railroads forming the Seaboard Air Line Railway. Earlier the Seaboard Air Line Railway had merged with the Raleigh-Gaston Line.

  • In 1898 a group of executives of the emerging Seaboard Air Line Railway decided to make a juncture of its line with the Raleigh-Gaston Railroad.

  • The Richmond, Petersburg, & Carolina Railroad, in 1900, extended its lines south from Petersburg, to join the Raleigh-Gaston Railroad.

  • On February 15, 1900, Robert F. Rose sold the Richmond, Petersburg, & Carolina Railroad 4.8 acres for the building of a depot at the junction for $1.00. A son of Robert’s, John Horace Rose, also sold the railroad 6.1 acres for $40.00.

  • On March 21, 1901, Robert Rose, sold 17 lots of different sizes, including one lot to his son Willie Rose.

  • Robert Franklin Rose died on May 12, 1907 and his will states that his executors deed a well- located lot to a number of Methodists, on which they can build a church.

  • The Warren County Board of Education purchased in, December 1909 from Robert’s estate, 2.5 acres to erect a public school building. The price was $187.50.

  • Before the town was named Norlina, the area was called Mount Regis. The name Norlina, is known to have been chosen as part of North and Carolina.

  • Other early families who lived near the railroad junction, which became Norlina, were  Hundley, Walker, Parker, Hagood, White, Paschall, and Williams.

  • Some quotes copied from “The Record”, the Warrenton weekly newspaper, with J. R. Rodwell, Editor.

  • 1898 Oine News – Smith Creek is hopeful of the new railroad and especially the town at R. F. Rose’s.

  • Friday, April 1, 1898 – Big work is being done on the new railroad from Ridgeway to Richmond. Mr. J. R. Paschall wants twenty hands to cut ties right away.

  • Friday, January 4, 1901 – The new post office established at Ridgeway Junction is “Norlina” instead of “Carolina” as stated in our last issue.

  • Friday, January 18, 1901 – Norlina is growing. The big hotel there is now running and it is said that some days 100 travelers take dinner there.

  • Friday, March 8, 1901- It is said the five train loads of people took dinner at Norlina last Sunday. They were on their way to the inauguration.

  • With the Town of Norlina being a railroad junction, the town grew rapidly. It soon had two hotels, the Norlina Hotel at the train depot, and Rosewood Hotel, also Fairview Inn, a local residence and boarding house.

  • Some of the other early buildings housed: Watkins Dry Goods, Miles Hardware, Read and Forbes Funeral Parlor, Norlina Wholesale Grocery run by J. L. Overby with Mr. Bell of Macon as a salesman, and a jail.   Also, a tobacco warehouse co-op, Dowtin’s Commissary, N.C. Cotton Association, Fleming’s Dry Goods, Fleming’s Cotton Gin, Haymore’s Drugstore, and the Metropolitan Café, run by Jack the Greek.  And, an ice plant, a planing mill in 1906, J. L. Watson’s shoe shop, and Hilliard’s Blacksmith Shop.     

  • There was a hunting club, which later became the Norlina Woman’s Club; a dentist office, on the lot where the old Hunting Lodge stands, Rose Chapel, and Presbyterian Church, and a Methodist church, in 1911. Later, a Baptist church in 1912, in 1901 Mumphord’s Store, Snipes and Medlin Stores, Katzenstein’s Store, New Era Printing Company, the Land Lumber yard, and a telephone exchange.

  • The Norlina School was first a frame building erected about 1909 on the site of the present day Norlina Christian School Gym. It faced what is now Highway 1.  It was later moved to the site where the school stands today. The frame building was used until 1915.

  • Mr. Howard F. Jones, Superintendent of Warren County Schools, and editor of the Warren Record newspaper states:  “On July 23, 1915, we have just voted, at Norlina, $12,500.00 of bonds for the purpose of erecting a building suitable to the present, and future needs of that thriving community, and at Macon, $10,000.00, for erecting a modern and model high school.”

  • In August 1915, Mr. Jones reports the school bonds of Norlina and Macon have been sold and work will begin soon on the new, modern brick building.

  • On September 10, 1915, Mr. Jones writes: “The Norlina Graded School opened with full attendance Monday. The Norlina School folks are determined to have a school second to none. They are going to teach high school subjects, including the eleventh grade. The contractor is on hand and work on their handsome $12,000.00 building is underway. J. W. Stuart and Company was the contractor for the building. The school opened on February 1, 1916.

  • The Norlina Underpass was built about 1915, according to information from Mr. F. M. “Happy” Egerton. Population of Norlina in 1916 was 700, with two hotels and a newspaper.

  • The growth of the town was at its peak just before and during the time of World War II.  The railroads played a very important part in the war, as it provided important and necessary transportation for the troop trains both north and south, and also to the seaports at Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia.

  • During the war years there were 18 passenger trains a day to run through Norlina north and south, and four passenger trains daily on the Portsmouth, Virginia Line. This number did not include the freight trains on both lines, or the troop trains that transported Army Soldiers, Naval seamen, WACS, Waves, Marines, Merchant Marines, and Seabees.

  • The railroad station had to increase the length of its outside waiting and baggage area to accommodate the large number of people and baggage during their stops and layovers in Norlina.

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The Record
Warrenton, NC
J.R. Rodwill, Editor
  • September 7, 1898 - Nutbush has its “Enterprise” and Hawtree has its “Wise”, but “every dog has its day” and Smith Creek, though late, is to be the most favored of them all, as the Virginia and N.C.R.R.A. Co., has decided to locate a depot ( union) near Mr. R. F. Rose’s. Surveyors have laid off enough building lots to require sticks by the car load, and will give away every other lot. Apply early if you wish one.

  • Friday, September, 1898 – Major C. H. Scott spent a few days at home the first of the week. The major is engaged on the new railroad from Petersburg to Ridgeway. Last week he, with the Corps of Engineers, laid out a plot of a town, at the junction of this new road with the S. A. L. on Mr. R. F. Rose’s land. Warren Plains and Ridgeway will be flag stations. Road to be completed at once.

  • Friday, November 15, 1912 – The work of erecting the quarters of the Bank of Warren at Norlina has begun. This new bank building will be a big improvement for Norlina and will soon be completed.

  • The new barber shop, next door to the post office, is again open for business after being closed for a few days. There are two first class barbers in attendance and will be glad to serve you.

  • We regret to announce the destruction by fire of two stores at Norlina on Sunday. The stores were conducted by H. E. Walker of Littleton who did a fancy grocery business and Mr. Walter Hundley’s.

  • Mr. H. C. Williams of Norlina has just put on a automobile livery service to carry passengers to and from Norlina, Wise, and Warrenton for the regular fare. This is an improvement and a much needed one and we wish Mr. Williams success.

  • Friday, November 22, 1912 – Some stores are being built in Norlina. Also the following people are building houses:   T. S. Cottingham, W. S. Hicks, Sr., H. C. Fleming, Leland F. Bugg, and George T. Walker, building a two story house.

  • Friday, November 29,1912 – Fifty lots were sold roughly for $95.00 to $300.00, with a large crowd was present. A brass band and much Norlina enthusiasm were present.  A letter from one of the “high-up” railroad officials states that Norlina would be made a local freight terminal which was quite an addition to its population. The property sold was part of the estate of Mr. Robert F. Rose, deceased, and it lies on the north side of the railroad. The Atlantic Coast Realty Company handled the sale.

  • December 13, 1912 – The new building of the Bank of Warren at Norlina is being rapidly built and is now nearly completed on the outside. The building is a credit to Norlina.

  • Walker Drug Company has sold the building they now occupy and have commenced to erect a brick building near their old store, which they will occupy when completed.

  • February 1, 1935 – Among numerous highway projects to be let in Raleigh, next Tuesday, February 5th, we note one that reads as follows: 4931 Warren, concrete approaches the underpass at Norlina on Route 158.

  • May 8, 1936 – The building committee appointed to formulate plans to complete the Norlina Methodist Church consists of : S. A. Tudor, W. A. Delbridge, T. J. Jones, T. T. Hawks, J. L. Overby, and Dr. H. H. Foster. (Note: Remodeling and addition of Sunday School Rooms).

  • May 19, 1936 – Hotel Norlina announces the opening of the new soda shop located in the hotel.

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The Norlina Headlight
Norlina, NC
J.C. Hardy, Editor
  • April 5, 1935 – Fire was discovered in Norlina High School building on Thursday night of last week about 8:40. Someone entered the building through a window, secured a desk drawer filled with paper, catalogues, etc. and placed the drawer before the door of the principal’s office. Gas was then poured upon the papers and a fire was started. The building was damaged to the extent of something over $200.00 which was covered by insurance.

  • April 26, 1935 – The name of the South’s most revered hero, General Robert E. Lee, will be carried by a new passenger train between New York, Atlanta, and the Seaboard Air Line Railway on April 28th.

  • August 2, 1935 – A gold mine is to be reopened in Gold Mine Township, three miles from Wood, N. C. , Franklin County. The Norlina Mining Company has charge of the enterprise and has invested thousands of dollars worth of equipment and machinery.

  • November 1, 1935 – Two of our businessmen, W. S. Hicks, Jr. and P. E. Brauer, have organized a bonded warehouse for the storing of cotton and are soliciting your patronage.

  • April 17, 1936 - Mr. and Mrs. P. E. Riggan have taken over the operation of the Metropolitan Café. Miss Mary Frances Henin, sister of Mrs. Riggan, is working there also. They are daughters of Mrs. T. F. Henin of Roanoke Rapids.

  • May 18, 1934 – Norlina Funeral Home is locating in the Bank of Norlina building. E. B. Watkins, Assistant Manager, and W. H. Read and Sons, Owner.

  • July 22, 1934 – The Seaboard Air Line Railway has a force of hands here this week laying the foundation for the building of a shed from the front of the passenger station beyond the water tank. The next thing needed is a new passenger station. We hear some remodeling may be done after the shed is completed.

  • August 10, 1934 – Walter Hundley appointed postmaster succeeding W. Boyd White who served over twelve years.

  • August 17, 1934 – Mr. And Mrs. Ludwig Lauerhan of Asheville were recent guests at Hotel Norlina. Before her marriage, Mrs. Lauerhan was the well known Miss Betty Bronson of motion picture fame. She is probably best remembered for her role as “Peter Pan.”

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Past & Present Mayors of Norlina
  • L. H. Hawks (1913-1915)
  • J. C. Hardy (1915-1917)
  • J. L. Overby (1917-1919)
  • J. C. Hardy (1919-1921)
  • A. L. Fleming (1921-1927)
  • M. C. Johnson (1927-1928)
  • J. P. Andrews (1928-1929)
  • C. T. Gallion (1929-1931)
  • A. L. Fleming (1931-1939)
  • J. C. Hardy (1939-1947)
  • W. S. Terrell (1947-1951)
  • R. L. Deloach (1951-1953)
  • G. P. Grissom (1953-1969)
  • W. L. Knight (1969-1971)
  • E. L. Perry (1971-1981)
  • H. K. Davis (1981-1983)
  • E. L. Perry (1983-1987)
  • W. K. Delbridge (1987-1991)
  • W. B. Newman (1991-2007)
  • Dwight Pearce (2007-present)
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