The Origin of Hoke County

(Taken from the 1996 Business & Industry Directory of The News-Journal)

Born in 1911

The Hoke County Journal of October 17, 1916 recounts the formation of Hoke County: "The bill creating the county of Hoke passed the State Senate of the legislature of 1911 in January, but it did not pass the House until three weeks later. The bill passed its 3rd and final reading Feb. 15th, 1911, and was ratified on the 17th."

The creation of the county is an interesting lesson in political maneuvering. John W. McLauchlin served Cumberland County in the State Senate. He lived about four miles from where the Hoke Courthouse now stands. He had an understanding of the problems of people living so far from the county seat. He knew that the people of north Robeson County who were his neighbors also lived two days travel from their county seat.

One of the arguments for the formation of a new county was that lawbreakers were not apprehended. The area which is now Hoke was a "wilderness" of "pine barrens". There were no roads; only "tracks" or dirt, two-rut trails connected the houses or farms. "Advocates of the new county promised to "develop a large section of country largely in the woods."

In 1907, Senator McLauchlin proposed the creation of a new county to be named Glenn County. It would include a part of Cumberland and a section of Robeson County, both tremendous counties. Cumberland people were opposed. A group of Robeson County people thought that North Robeson County would serve them better with a county seat in Red Springs. In the years of debate, there was speculation that personal finances were involved. Some of the strong proponents on the new county were also involved in the formation of a new bank in Raeford. The 1907 legislation failed and in 1909 similar legislation was again introduced. Again, the proposal was the creation of Glenn County from two townships of Cumberland and two from Robeson. It was defeated.

A 1911 newspaper accounty says, "Today between three and four hundred advocates of the county of Hoke went to Raleigh to be present at a joint hearing before the legislative committees on counties, cities, and towns." The years of effort had produced the support. A new county name had been selected; Hoke County would be named for the very popular Robert F. Hoke of Confederate Civil War fame.

"The Cumberland opposition was manifested through Hon. C.G. Rose, Maj. McKeithan, Senator Nimocks, and the Representative Currie. The Robeson protests were entered by Messrs McLean, Stephen McIntrye, E.J. Britt, and ex-Congressman Patterson. The North Robeson rejoinder came through Leon T. Cook Esq. and Col. Hinsdale of Raleigh. The Hoke county rejoinder was made of Capt. J.W. McLauchlin of Raeford and Senator Webb of Asheville, and to say they wiped the earth with the opponents of Hoke County is an inadequate expression." The law passed to go into effect on April 1, 1911, but the date of organization was placed on the 5th of the month.

Named for Gen. Hoke

Hoke County is named for an illustrious general of the Confederacy, Gen. Robert F. Hoke. The man and the county name give insights into the way North Carolinians were thinking in 1911.

John W. McLauchlin, State Senator from Cumberland County, lived four miles from what is now Raeford. In 1907, he introduced legislation which would have created Glenn County (Named for the governor) out of a sparsely settled area of Cumberland and Robeson Counties. There was no interest in passing such a bill in the 1907 Assembly or in the 1909 General Assembly when he presented it again. There were those who thought a new county in the area might be good, but they argued for naming it North Robeson. In the 1911 Genral Assembly, legislation was passed creating Hoke County. The name change was very important in passing the legislation.

Robert F. Hoke served the Confederacy with distinction. He is thought to have been a possible successor to Robert E. Lee should such a position ever exist. He was a classmate of Lee and a good frined. General Hoke was a hero of the Conferderacy. He had captured 3,000 prisoners at a battle in Plymouth. He was a spirited and inspiring commander. North Carolinians had filled his ranks and were proud of the successes they achieved under him. North Carolinians across the state wanted to have General Hoke honored. A new county named for him was a popular concept with people across the state.

A native of Lincolnton, Robert Hoke was living in Raleigh in 1911. He had become a railroad president and was a citizen of state-wide prominence. Railroads and their executive officers were very important in the financial and political life of the country at the turn of the century. To have one of their own honored with a county named was a politically popular piece of legislation with some powerful individuals.

Allowing Hoke County to be named Hoke was the only honor accepted by Robert F. Hoke in his lifetime. He was a much respected young Confederate officer and a much respected citizen in his later life. His name and popularity help make the creation of the ninety-ninth county possible in 1911.