Lenoir County, North Carolina

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Lenoir County is in the Coastal Plain region of North Carolina (U.S. state) and has an estimated population of 57,961 people (2005 est.).[1] Kinston is the county seat, and it is also home to the communities of La Grange and Pink Hill. The county was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero General William Lenoir. The USS Lenoir (AKA-74) was, in part, named in honor of Lenoir County.

Formation and history

The one-hundred modern counties of North Carolina were formed from a few original counties established during the early colonial period. These original counties were split, divided, and further sub-divided numerous times through the years. The now nonexistant county of Bath was formed in 1696. Craven County was established in 1705 from a piece of Bath County. Johnston County was formed out of Craven in 1746. The county of Dobbs was formed from Johnston County in 1759. Lenoir County was formed from a section of the now extinct county of Dobbs in 1791.[2]

Geography and natural features

Lenoir County is located in eastern North Carolina nearly midway between Virginia and South Carolina, and nearly midway between New York City and Orlando, Florida.[3] The dominant geographic feature of the county is the Neuse River and its tributaries.[4] The Neuse flows from west to east and divides the county into two nearly equal parts. Most streams in Lenoir flow into the Neuse or its tributaries. Small streams are numerous, and nearly every farm is drained by a natural stream or a small ditch that leads to one. There are some broad, flat, and level areas known as "pocosins" that are poorly drained. Some lowlands near larger streams are marshy and subject to flooding. The currents of the county's streams have been described as sluggish.

The county is irregularly shaped and bordered on the north by Greene County, on the west by Wayne and Duplin counties, on the south and east by Jones County, and also on the east by Craven and Pitt counties. The county has a land area of 399 square miles.

Like most of North Carolina's Coastal Plain region, Lenoir's land is nearly level with occasional shallow valleys, but there are gently rolling areas near some streams. The Neuse River, Contentnea Creek, and other large creeks exhibit what are called "second bottoms" or terraces caused by erosion during prehistoric times. These terraces run anywhere from a few hundred feet to about four miles from their edge to the water. In between, the land is close to being level.

Lenoir County's soil is mostly sandy with a gray color to it. Under the sandy surface lies a subsoil of clay, sandy clay, and sand which holds an abundance of organic material. During prehistoric times, Lenoir County was swampy. The swamp like conditions helped in the accumulation of this organic material.

In the southeastern part of the county, near the headwaters of Trent River and Bearwell Pocosin, the elevation is around 25 feet above sea level. The small town of Dawson in the north is 100 feet above sea level. The county seat of Kinston is 44 feet above sea level. The land in Lenoir County slopes eastward.

The climate of the county has been called "oceanic" meaning that the seasonal changes in temperature are not as great as they are further inland. The Atlantic Ocean plays a big role in determining the weather. Bogue Inlet is about fifty miles southeast of Kinston. Lenoir has short and mild winters and long but not overly hot summers. Spring and fall temperatures are pleasant to mild. Lenoir County occasionally sees snow, but it rarely stays on the ground for more than a day or two. Rainfall is well distributed throughout the year. The average length of the frost-free season is 209 days.


Lenoir County is home to nineteen public schools (ten elementary, four middle, three high schools, and two alternative schools), and two private academies (Parrott Academy and Bethel Christian Academy). Lenoir Community College is the only institution of higher education in the county, and there are two four-year institutions in neighboring counties (East Carolina University and Mount Olive College). 71.9% of the Lenoir County population twenty-five and over are high school graduates, and 13.3% of the same group have earned a bachelor's degree or higher.

Source materials

  • Cooper, Edwin B., Jr., et al (eds.) (1981). The Heritage of Lenoir County. The Lenoir County Historical Association. ISBN 0-894-59155-X. 
  • Johnson, Talmage C., and Charles R. Holloman (1954). The Story of Kinston and Lenoir County. Edwards and Broughton Company. ASIN B000FRTZB8. 
  • Kohler, Mike (1976). 200 Years of Progress: A Report of the History and Achievements of the People of Lenoir County, 1776-1976. Kinston-Lenoir County Bicentennial Commission. ASIN B0006CVK5G. 
  • Little, M. Ruth, and Robbie D. Jones (1998). Coastal Plain and Fancy: The Historic Architecture of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina. The Lenoir County Historical Association. ISBN 0-966-83190-X. 
  • Powell, William S. (1963). Annals of Progress: The Story of Lenoir County and Kinston, North Carolina. State Department of Archives and History. ISBN 0-86526-124-5. 

Internet sources