Kinston, North Carolina

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Kinston is a city in Lenoir County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 23,688 at the 2000 census. It was the county seat of Dobbs County from 1779 to 1791, and has been the county seat of Lenoir County since its formation in 1791. It is the home of the Kinston Indians baseball club of the Carolina League. Kinston is served by the Kinston Regional Jetport. Kinston is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region.

Kinston is also home of the N.C. Global TransPark (GTP), a combined airport and industrial complex developed by the State in Lenoir County. Caswell Center, a campus providing support services and boarding for mentally handicapped, is also located in Kinston. The major city high school is Kinston High School. The closest major city is Greenville, approximately twenty-two miles to the north.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 43.7 km² (16.9 mi²). 43.3 km² (16.7 mi²) of it is land and 0.4 km² (0.2 mi²) of it (0.95%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 23,688 people, 9,829 households, and 6,074 families residing in the city. The population density was 546.7/km² (1,415.7/mi²). There were 11,229 housing units at an average density of 259.1/km² (671.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 35.27% White, 62.64% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.66% from other races, and 0.67% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.14% of the population.

There were 9,829 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.7% were married couples living together, 22.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 81.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,630, and the median income for a family was $35,867. Males had a median income of $28,688 versus $21,442 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,779. About 19.7% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.0% of those under age 18 and 18.9% of those age 65 or over.


Prior to the establishment of the city, the area was known as Atkins Bank, which referred to a bluff just above the Neuse River once owned by Robert Atkins. Atkins Bank was the site of farms, a tobacco warehouse, and a Church of England mission. Prior to English settlement, the area was inhabited by the Neusiok Indians.

Kinston was created by an act of the North Carolina General Assembly in December of 1762 as Kingston, in honor of King George III who had just recently ascended to the throne. The bill to incorporate it was introduced by Richard Caswell, who made his home there and later served as the first Governor of the State of North Carolina from 1776 to 1780. The conclusion of the American Revolution brought a change of name to Kinston in 1784 in order to show the population's new distaste with royalty. In 1833, Kinston briefly became Caswell, in honor of the governor, but reverted to Kinston the following year.

Once created, commissioners appointed to design the town began to accept "subscriptions" for numbered lots. To keep a lot, subscribers were required to build brick homes of specific dimensions within three years or lose their rights to the property. The town was laid out with border streets named East, North, and South, with the western border of the town being comprised of the Neuse River. The two principal roads within these borders were named for King George and Queen Charlotte, and they remain King and Queen Street to this day. Other streets were named in honor of Governor Dobbs (later renamed Independent Street) and the commissioners.

In December of 1791, an act was passed in the General Assembly abolishing Dobbs County and forming Lenoir County and Glasgow County. At that time, Kinston was named the county seat for Lenoir County.

Throughout this period, Kinston was an unincorporated town, but it finally became incorporated through an act of the legislature in January of 1849. Following incorporation, the population grew rapidly. In 1850, the population was estimated at 455 people, and just ten years later, it had more than doubled to over one thousand.

During the onset of the Civil War, Camp Campbell and Camp Johnston were established near the city as training camps, and a bakery on Queen Street was converted to produce hard tack in large quantities. There was also a factory for the production of shoes for the military located in Kinston. The Battle of Kinston took place in and around the city on December 14, 1862. The Battle of Southwest Creek (March 8, 1865) also occurred very near the city. It was at this later battle that the Confederate Ram Neuse was destroyed. Remnants of this ship have been salvaged, and there is an effort underway for the construction of a replica vessel. Union forces occupied the city following the battle and remained through the Reconstruction.

Despite the hardships of war and Reconstruction, the population of the city continued to grow. By 1870, the population had increased to eleven hundred people and grew to more than seventeen hundred within a decade. The late nineteenth century saw expansion into new areas of industry, most notably the production of carriages. Kinston also became a major tobacco and cotton trading center. By the start of the twentieth century, more than five million pounds of tobacco were being sold in Kinston's warehouses annually. Along with the growth in population and industry was a growth in property values. Some parcels increased in value more than five fold within a twenty year period.

The twentieth century saw a variety of industries come to Kinston including lumber mills, cotton mills, and even professional sports in the form of a minor league baseball team. Later growth would come in the form of a Du Pont plant for the manufacture of polyester fibers as well as pharmaceutical factories. Growth finally slowed following the sixties, but there has been some effort to reinvigorate the economy through various means with limited success.

Sports and Recreation

Kinston is home to three golf courses: Kinston Country Club, Falling Creek Golf Course, and Bill Fay Park Par 3 Golf Course. It also boasts a disc golf course[1] and the Neuseway Nature Park, Campground and Meeting Facility.[2] Grainger Stadium is home to the Kinston Indians minor league baseball team as well as youth and college level baseball tournaments.[3] The Kinston Drag Strip provides a variety of motor sports events throughout the year.[4]

In 1956, Kinston was the site of a perfect game of billiards as Willie Mosconi sank 150 balls in a row in one inning against Jimmy Moore.[5]

Notable Natives of Kinston