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 facts provided below are from the
Mary Lib Taylor
The Record - Warrenton, NC - J. R. Rodwell,
The Norlina Headlight - Norlina, NC - J. C.
Past / Present Mayors of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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
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.
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
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
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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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- All Rights Reserved
by Norlina City Commission
Links of Interest
- Norlina Junction Park -
Norlina Book -