History of Person County

Person was formed in 1791 from Caswell. The act was to become effective February 1, 1792. It was named in honor of General Thomas Person, a Revolutionary Patriot, a member of the Council of Safety and a trustee of the University of North Carolina. He gave a large sum of money to the University, and a building was erected in his honor, which is called Person Hall. It is in the north central section of the State and is bounded by Granville, Durham, Orange and Caswell counties, and the State of Virginia. The present area is 390.87 square miles and the 1990 population was 30,180. In 1792 Pittman's was mentioned in an act as the place where the courthouse was to be established. In 1793 Roxboro was established as the courthouse and is now the county seat.

A Person County Point of View
Jim Clayton

There is much that could, and should, be said about Person County. If we chose to speak of her geographical location there would be things to say. She has the rivers, lakes and streams...the woodland. She’s an almost perfect square that nestles against ‘Ole Virginia’ motherland of so many who have long occupied her hills, valleys and levels. A host of these families were there for her birth and though ensuing years saw many family members depart there are great numbers who stayed on and stoked the home fires. Back home, here in old Person County.

She has the history, if we would speak of it. Coming into being late in the eighteenth century, the eastern half of sister Caswell. There are historic dates we could post for her beginning and we could mention the evolution of her churches, schools and courts of law and we could include dates. Perhaps this is all that should be said, however, for this writer Person is much, so much more.

Person County was a state of mind too. There are her sons and daughters, too numerous to mention, the ‘Miss Bessies’ and ‘Robert Blackwells’ all these passed by here. Best place to go to receive big, friendly waves from door, dooryard and field. No solicitation needed, you just waved back...a loud ‘Howdy’ was not out of order. The smell of honeysuckle, ‘granddad’s whiskers’ ...lilac in springtime, cool sips of well water ‘neath shady oaks in the searing heat of summer, not to mention good conversation and food. The smell of hickory smoke in autumn as you found your way down winding white, sandy roads. Winters were often as winters go, sometimes bleak, but a game of rook or checkers down at the cross-roads family store was just the ticket. Some of the names come softly to mind, ‘Calvin Warren’s’ or ‘Gentrys’...’Hesters.’ Going home, that’s what it was, still is. Genealogy is like that, going back to home people and home places...going as far back as you can.



This map depicts the districts in Orange County in 1774. See the explanation below the map to understand the division into Caswell and subsequently into Person.

Districts in green became Person County in 1792.

St Martins
(later Caswell)



St Laurence


(later Nash)

St Davids




St Lukes


St James








St Marys


St Asaph




St Thomas


St Marks



The above map showing the districts of Orange County, North Carolina in 1774 is from Person County Compilations by Katherine Kerr Kendall, page 3. It was reproduced there from Misc Records of Orange County, Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC, file number C.R. 073.928.18.

On May 9, 1777, the top eight districts (3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, and 14) became Caswell County. At the June 1777 Session of the Caswell County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, the name of Dunsmore District was changed to Nash District. At the March 1778 session the district of St. Martin’s was changed to Caswell District.

In 1792 the eastern four districts of Caswell County (11, 12, 13, and 14) became Person County (green background above). The name of the St. Laurence District is sometimes written as St. Lawrence.

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