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Asheboro is a city in Randolph County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 21,672 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Randolph County.
Asheboro was founded on Christmas day in 1796, and was named for Governor of North Carolina Samuel Ashe who served from 1795 to 1798. In 1996, the city held a year long bicentennial commemoration of its founding.
The Town of Asheboro received its original charter from the State Legislature on Christmas Day 1796 - a time when the topic of the day was President George Washington's "Farewell Address" as published in The Philadelphia American Advertiser only a few weeks earlier. The village itself dates to 1780 when citizens demanded that the county seat be relocated from Johnstonville to a place more convenient for citizens of the almost square 801 square miles (2,070 km2) of Randolph County, North Carolina. Asheboro came into being on land owned by Jesse Henley and the first session of court was held here on June 12, 1793.
The town of Asheboro began to take form on a 50-acre (200,000 m2) tract with the focal point the courthouse square on Main Street. In 1805 a large two-story frame building housed the courthouse and gradually lawyers and court officials took up residence here. For almost the first century of the town's existence, court-related business was the primary business of town. The sleepy village came to life when court was in session, turning the square into a carnival of activity that ranged from horse swapping to the selling and imbibing of grog. The whooping and yelling often caused the presiding judge to order the high sheriff to halt the ruckus.
Asheboro was designated a post office in 1814. In November 1824, Jonathan Worth, a 22-year-old lawyer, took up residence in Asheboro and became the town's most prominent citizen. After serving six terms in the Legislature and two terms as state treasurer, he served two terms as Governor of North Carolina, from 1865 to 1868. There was no formal town government until 1829. The town petitioned the legislature to reincorporate and appoint new commissioners so that improvements could be made. From 1836 to 1844, Benjamin Swaim, a lawyer and editor, published the town's first newspaper, Southern Citizen, a weekly. In one of his editions, Swaim called Asheboro an "uncommonly healthy and pleasant" village of about 100 inhabitants. In 1850-51, the Fayetteville and Western Plank Road section through Asheboro was completed. At this time Asheboro had 32 households totaling 154 people, including 11 free blacks.
The first church in Asheboro, the Methodist Episcopal Church, was built in 1834. The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1850 and a sanctuary built in 1852. By this time much of the wealth of the town resulted from gold mining operations nearby. Asheboro is now the the home of diverse Christian denominations as well as to Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Baha'is.
A period of stagnation followed the American Civil War. In 1876, Asheboro's population had grown to about 200. Asheboro still had only two churches and two academies, one for males and one for females. Two hundred bales of cotton were sold at the Asheboro market that year.
The High Point, Randleman, Asheboro and Southern Railroad arrived in Asheboro in July 1889, marking the beginning of a period of prosperity and growth. Competition came in 1896 with the arrival of the Montgomery Railroad, from Star, North Carolina to Asheboro. The railroad depots and a disastrous fire caused the center of town to shift from Main Street to Sunset Avenue.
The second century of Asheboro was marked by the establishment of its first bank, The Bank of Randolph, and Asheboro Telephone Company, both established in 1897.
The arrival of the railroads caused a population explosion. The population nearly doubled every 10 years: 1890, 510; 1900, 992; 1910, 1,865; 1920, 2,559; and 1930, 5,021. By 1912 there already were about 30 stores in Asheboro plus two roller mills, two chair manufacturers, a lumber plant, hosiery mill, wheelbarrow factory and foundry.
The present county courthouse was completed in July 1909, at a cost of $34,000 and the next 10 years resulted in unparalleled growth. Electricity arrived, along with a water system fed by wells. The fire department was organized, a new public school built and the first hospital organized. The industrial base expanded from wood products and blacksmith shops to textiles. The first of today's base of hosiery mills came with the chartering of Acme Hosiery Mills on December 19, 1908. The original product was cotton stockings.
Without warning, on January 10, 1923, the Post Office Department changed the spelling of the town's name to "Ashboro". A compromise spelling of "Asheboro" resulted after a loud protest from citizens and Congressman William Cicero Hammer of Asheboro.
The business tempo of the 1920s was smothered by The Great Depression and World War II, but the aftermath of World War II resulted in a flurry in industrial plants to augment the cluster of hosiery plants here. Stedman Manufacturing Co. expanded its handkerchief manufacturing during the war to make T-shirts for the Navy. Klopman Mills was organized with its first plant in Asheboro. Eveready Battery Co., with two plants in Asheboro, was the first infusion of a mix of industries, followed by B.B. Walker Shoe Co., Black & Decker, Georgia Pacific, Klaussner Furniture Industries, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. wire plant, Knorr Best Foods, Kayser-Roth Hosiery, and others.
Asheboro City Schools were desegregated by court order in 1970. The Central School built for African Americans by a Rosenwald grant was closed and eventually purchased by the East Side Improvement Association. It was renovated into East Side Homes for the Elderly and is now listed on the National Historical Record.
In its Bicentennial Year, Asheboro had a population of 17,559, a land area of 14.81 square miles (38.4 km2), a total property valuation of more than $992 million and a tax rate of 52-cents per $100 valuation. The City of Asheboro furnishes water and sewer service for the 1,371-acre (5.55 km2) site of the North Carolina Zoo near Asheboro, the world's largest natural habitat zoo, and to a number of outlying homes, industries and communities.
In recent years the City of Asheboro has concentrated on building a solid base of services with the creation of a series of lakes for water supply, fresh water and waste water treatment plants, city streets and utilities. The present emphasis is on territorial expansion and planned development.
The Courthouse built in 1909 has been abandoned and a new courthouse was completed in 2002.
Lawmakers in Raleigh tried to annex Dave's Mountain into Asheboro city limits by planting public sewers into its neighborhoods. However, this has not yet happened due to protests by residents of the mountain. A special meeting between the lawmakers in Raleigh and the protesting residents was held in Asheboro on May 8, 2008. Before the lawmakers arrived, the protesting residents demonstrated in front of the building in which the meeting was going to take place. As a result, the lawmakers put their decision on annexing the mountain or not on hold. This entire event was covered by FOX 8 News, and The Courier-Tribune (Randolph County, North Carolina's main newspaper).
The citizens voted to allow the sale of beer, wine and other spirits after a heated election in 2008.
Asheboro is now the home of many diverse Christian denominations as well as to Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Baha'is.