Ex-slave or governor’s daughter — who named Burlington?

“Burlington’s original name, Company Shops, is a shortened version of Company’s Repair Shops, and in 1864 the townspeople — who hated the name — briefly changed it to Vance, only to have the North Carolina Railroad tell them to change it back to Company Shops.

“On February 1, 1887, after the North Carolina Railroad had made mass layoffs in Company Shops, the town held a meeting to discuss the name.

“Various names were suggested, including Carolinadelphia, but no one could agree — until one man spoke up.

“ ‘After hearing all of this arguing, former slave and former town commissioner John Lane remarked that he had not heard such a fuss since the stock law requiring all livestock to be penned up that had been passed a short time before, resulting in the confinement of Burlington, a tame Jersey bull belonging to [postmaster?] Daniel Worth, [local historian Walter] Boyd said.

“The townspeople’s ‘ears perked up’ at the name, and it was chosen as a compromise….”

— From “Historian finds Burlington’s story in the details” by Jessica Williams in the Burlington Times-News (Nov. 20)


“The name Company Shops was applied to the community until 1887, when a list of names suggested by local citizens was referred to a committee for decision. Burlington is said to have been suggested by Katherine Scales, daughter of Governor Alfred M. Scales.”

— From “The North Carolina Gazetteer,” edited by William S. Powell and Michael Hill (2010)