NC 2014 Visitor's
August 6, 2014 by
Henderson NC is a small town
situated within rolling hills about 35 miles north of Raleigh near the
Virginia/North Carolina state line. Wake Forest and
Kerr Lake are within a few minutes drive.
And, the main interstate 85 runs past town. Today
Henderson is known as the "Gateway City" or "Triangle North".
Perhaps known as the town where 20th
century soul singer Ben E. King hails, Henderson was built upon a
farm first owned by a man named Samuel Reavis, Sr. Reavis fondly
referred to his late 1700s homestead as the Lonesome Valley. By the
early 1800s, Lewis Reavis (son) ran a small store near the stagecoach road.
Incorporation of Henderson happened in 1841. The name for
the town was chosen in honor of Lewis's friend and Judge Leonard
An African American secondary school was built in 1887 by Presbyterian
church members. The school remained open until the 1970s, when
integration of America's students became law. Today, the school houses
Henderson Institute Historical Museum.
The seat of Vance County in North Carolina, Henderson really
stated growing in the late 1830s after the Gaston/Raleigh railroad line was
completed in 1835 near the town. A passenger station was built in 1837
and businesses flocked to the area. Much of the land was given to the
railroad as an enticement for economic growth. One such item that
spurred tremendous growth was tobacco, ultimately seeing the small town of
Henderson become a tobacco hub in the 1870s.
A booming town in the 19th century, Henderson had grown to include
several cotton gins, warehouses, tobacco houses and numerous general product
stores by the 1880s. Fires destroyed the wooden structures twice but
that didn't dissuade Henderson's determined populace from quickly
John D. Cooper and brother David opened the first cotton mill in
Henderson in 1895 on the north side of town. Business was booming
in the cotton industry, leading to the opening of a second one, the Harriet
Mill, in south Henderson in 1901, spinning coarse yarns. Two
more cotton mills were opened by the Cooper brothers, one in 1909 and the
other in 1913. After modernizing the mills just prior to WWII,
employees rebelled and joined the Textile Workers Union of America.
After the company refused to arbitrate concerns of the union workers in
1958, they went on strike. The mills were closed for four months until
the company decided to open with willing nonunion workers. This led to
physical fights, shootings, and bombings which further resulted in police
protection for the new workers. A preemptive agreement was reached but fell
through after it was discovered the first-shift jobs were given mainly to
the non-union employees. The National Guard was brought in and dozens
of union members were convicted of different acts of violence.
The first fire station was built in Henderson in 1882, housing two
hand-operated fire trucks capable of shooting a stream of water about 100
feet. It later became known as the "Nelson Hose Company", in honor of
the man who developed Henderson's water supply network. By the early
1900s the fire department had expanded to include a number of volunteer
firefighters and a horse-drawn fire truck. And, in 1908 a more
significant fire station was built on North Garnett Street - a clock tower
building that held mounted hooks for drying the fire hoses.
taking on a $10,000 investment in 1915 the fire department purchased a new
fire truck. Today, Henderson features a second fire station,
built in 1974.
Here is a picture of Henderson NC in 1918 (from the City of Henderson
In 1924, the
H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library opened
doors, following a generous $40,000 grant from the family of Henry Leslie
Perry, a Henderson NC lawyer, and wife Janie Hall Perry.
The population of Henderson NC is about 15,000 (as of 2012), with
55% being females and 45% males. This is a 5% drop since 2000.
Much of the population entails retirees taking it easy. Elevation at
Henderson is around 500 feet. Total land area of the town of Henderson
is about 8 square miles.
The zip codes
for Henderson NC are 27536 and 27537.
Recent efforts for the town involve upgrading the downtown area,
especially the historic district. During the summer months, you can
enjoy "Music on Main", a street festival that takes place each Friday,
featuring oldies rock music. The local farmer's market is not to be
Home sales have dropped significantly since the 2008 housing bust, and
perhaps because of the high crime in the area (including the nearly 100
registered sex offenders who call Henderson NC home - as of June 20,
2014). Speaking of homes, here is the home the author of this website
lived for the first two years of his life back in the late 1960s. It's located out on Height
Street near one of the cotton mills....
About 30% of the population does not have a high school diploma, while
15% have earned a Bachelor's degree, and 5% with a professional degree.
There is a 14% unemployment rate in Henderson NC (as of July 2014).
As for crime, the town sees about five or 6 murders per year, with 8 coming
in 2012. There are about 75 robberies annually. Assaults come in
at around 100 per year. Car thefts happen about 75 times per year.
In 2012, there were a total of approximately 900 serious crimes in
Henderson NC, as compared to the national average of 250. Violent
crimes were 662, with the national average being 214. Property crimes
in Henderson were 987 in 2012, with the national average of 266.
Robberies, burglaries, thefts, and assaults also far outnumber the national
The nearest large cities to Henderson include Durham (36 miles to
the southeast), and Raleigh (47 miles south). Other towns near
Henderson is located at
and within an area of 8 square miles.
Demographically speaking, Henderson NC has a population density of
1,950 people per square mile. About 58% of the population is black
while 31% is white. The average age is 36 years old. There are
about 6,300 households, of which the average income is $23,000. About
1/4th of Henderson falls below the poverty line.
Recommend Henderson NC?
Have you ever been to Henderson NC? What did you think? Would you
recommend this town to others?