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The history of Greensboro NC

The History of Greensboro, NC

Greensboro, NC, which is today a thriving economic center didn’t quite start off that way; its beginnings are more humble. County commissioners paid a mere $98 for 42 acres in 1808 and the named it after General Nathaniel Green, the man who led forces in the revolutionary war of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. In fact, many people tend to think that the name Greensboro is because the city is so green. This is not the case; it seems that over the years the last “e” in Greene was quietly dropped and it stayed that way. It seems to have survived in some parts though – there is a Greene Street, Greene Township, General Greene School as well as Greene school.

The area that is today known as Greensboro was initially settled by 2 kinds of Native American Indians, the Saura and the Keyauwee and it was called Piedmont. Initial settlers were mostly Germans, Welsh and English Quakers and some Scott-Irish immigrants. They all came in from the northern colonies looking for new land to settle in. More permanent settlement could be seen from around 1740. When the revolutionary war came around, General Greene, to hold back 1,900 Redcoats who wanted to take the area deployed 4,400 men in 3 battle lines at the Guilford Courthouse on the 15th of March. He won the battle. Later, in 1808, local town officials carved out a 42 mile area and paid $98 for it and named it after the General.

The first official census was conducted in 1828 and is telling of the times; it showed that Greensboro, NC had 369 white residents, 101 slaves, 26 freemen, 5 stores and 3 salons. The wealthiest man in the area then was Henry Humphreys and he built and began to operate the first steam powered cotton mill in the area; it was the first of its kind in North Carolina. With up to 75 looms in production in 1833, he could export cotton fabric to surrounding states.

At about the same period, religious groups started 2 schools that are in existence to this day. The Quakers founded Guilford College then named the New Garden Boarding School. Being co-educational, it was also the first of its kind in North Carolina. The Methodists in their part funded and built another school, the Greensboro

College. Several other outstanding institutions followed Bennett College in 1873, UNCG in 1892 and A&T in 1891.  African Americans also participated in the founding of schools with Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown founded the Palmer Memorial Institute in Guilford County but this was closed in 1971.

It has had some tense political moments especially when it came to fighting for the county seat but it seems to have survived these spats. Today, it is home to a bustling economy with all kinds of modern infrastructure.

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