A History of Red Springs, North Carolina

Highland Games in Red Springs, North Carolina

Steeped in traditions traced from the Scottish Highlanders, Red Springs was founded in 1775 by Sailor Hector McNeill on a tract granted by King George III and signed by North Carolina Royal Governor Josiah Martin. The town's name originated from the red pigment found in the local mineral springs. The medicinal value of the springs made Red Springs a center of population both as a health resort and a hub for agricultural, industrial, and educational activities.

In 1852, Malcolm McNeill, the grandson of Sailor Hector, built a hotel which was replaced by the Townsend Hotel in 1891. The Lumber Bridge military company took part in the festive July 4th opening of McNeill's Hotel.

Incorporated in 1887, Red Springs has long been associated with education. In 1852, a frame school building was built near the hotel. For nearly forty years it was the site of religious meetings, dances, and school. The North Carolina Military Academy opened in 1899 and attracted male students until 1908.

In 1896, Red Springs Seminary opened as a female seminary. It was renamed Flora MacDonald College in 1914 to honor the Scottish heroine who had helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the Stuart uprising in Scotland. Today the building, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, houses Flora MacDonald Academy, as K-12 college preparatory private school.

The annual Flora MacDonald Highland Games and Gathering of Clans is held in October. Dancing, pipe band competition, and traditional games attract many visitors to the two day event.

Cotton, soybean, tobacco, and lumber production have long been associated with the economic progress of this community. Textiles and agri-business form a sold foundation for industrial expansion.

When founded, Red Springs was in Bladen County. It is now in Robeson County, North Carolina.

Red Springs was granted a US Post Office on June 23, 1852, and its first Postmaster was Mr. William McNeill. On December 11, 1866, this PO was closed. The second incarnation of Red Springs occurred when the US Post Office Department officially changed the name of an existing town named Dora to Red Springs on June 18, 1884, with Postmaster Mr. John M. Buie. It has been in continuous operation ever since.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved