Discover rural life in Hoke County, bordering the low country of South Carolina. Hoke county is dotted with small, unincorporated communities like Ashley Heights, Five Points, Silver City, Arabia, and Rockfish. Raeford is the county seat of Hoke County, and the most populated area of the county. Hoke County is among the smallest counties in North Carolina, with just a few highlights this day.

Raeford, NC

Tucked away in the fabled Sandhills of North Carolina lies the City of Raeford, a ‘typical Scottish town.’ The fragrant Carolina pine forests and expanses of fertile land provide the perfect pastoral setting. Majestic magnolias grace front lawns and springtime flaunts an unrivaled palette of azaleas.

Raeford was named for John McRae and A.A. Williford, who operated a turpentine distillery and general store, respectively. Each took a syllable from his name and created the name Raeford for the post office they established. The McRae family, who lived at the “ford of the creek,” was at one time made up primarily of old Highland Scot families. And the Upper Cape Fear Valley of North Carolina was, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the largest settlement of Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots in North America. Today, many of these old families continue to live in the area. Since World War II, many Lumbee Indian families have moved northward from Robeson County and now constitute a significant element of the population that is otherwise European and African American.

Of note, George Floyd was born near Raeford.

Raeford benefits from the unique city blend of an intimate community, offering a small-town, friendly atmosphere within shouting distance of major metropolitan amenities, but without the “big-city” hustle. Bordering Fort Bragg, Raeford offers easy, everyday access to all areas on post. The are is also ideally situated near some of the world’s renowned golf courses of Pinehurst and the Sandhill region.

Raeford-Hoke Museum

The original McLauchlin-McFadyen House, now the Raeford-Hoke Museum (111 South Highland St.) is a neoclassical revival design with 6,000 square feet of heated space. Located on five acres, the museum also includes The Parker-Ray House, an emergency service museum, doll house, school house, and country store plus a genealogy room.

The Raeford-Hoke Museum, a non-profit organization, began its preservation project in 2002 with the purchase of The McLauchlin-McFadyen House. The mission of the museum is to preserve the history, culture, and artifacts of the local area. The Museum houses many historical artifacts, photographs, and genealogies of Raeford and Hoke County.

The museum is free to tour, but donations are welcome as the museum is a nonprofit supported by volunteers and donations. They also hold annual events, such as Singing on the Grounds, History Day for the Children, Open House at Christmas, a Wine Tasting, and the Leadership-Hoke Tour.

Parker-Ray House

In 1899 Louis and Willa Ray, daughter of Dr. W.G. Ray, one of the first doctors in this area built their home in Cumberland County (an area that become Hoke County in 1911) and remained there the rest of their lives. Times changed, the families moved on, and the house became vacant. The house was eventually donated to the Raeford-Hoke Museum and has been renovated to the style of the early 1900s, completed in Spring 2015.

In 1899, the Hoke County entity did not exist, but the land and people of that area of Cumberland County did and Louis Parker found both attractive. He and five of his brothers and sisters moved to the area. He bought 200 acres on the road to Fayetteville, about four miles northeast of the small town of Raeford. That section of Cumberland became part of Hoke County when Hoke was recognized as a county in 1911.

Willa’s ancestors had been in the area since the 1740s. having been forced out of Scotland by the English King. She and Louis married, cleared the land and used the timber to build a home in which they lived the reminder of their lives. Their children and grandson (Richard Neeley) were born in the upper right bedroom. Over the years their land developed into a thriving farm.

The Parker family moved on, leaving the home vacant. Richard Neely and his niece Suzanne Neely Bridges, descendants of Louis and Willa, donated the house to the museum, including funds to move and restore it.

Mill Prong House
This house is not open to the public, but you’ll find it at 3062 Edinburgh Rd.

In the last half of the 18th century, more than 20,000 Highland Scots, including John Gilchrist and the father of Col. Archibald McEachern, immigrated to the Cape Fear Region of North Carolina, the largest Highland Scot settlement in America. Many left Scotland after 1746, the year the Scots rallied under Prince Charles Stuart only to suffer defeat by the British at the Battle of Culloden.The Scots in the Cape Fear Region were divided in their sympathies during the Revolutionary War and the area around McPhaul’s Mill was a center of Loyalist activity. Many followed the appeal of their heroine, Flora MacDonald, and joined the Loyalists who suffered defeat once again at the Battle of Moore’s Creek near Wilmington.

In 1781, Patriot General Rutherford defeated the local Loyalists in a final battle near Mill Prong. During the last year of the Civil War, General Sherman passed through the area on his way to where the Battle of Bentonville, the largest Civil War Battle in North Carolina, was fought. His troops bashed in the family piano, which once again resides at Mill Prong.

Paraclete XP Indoor Skydiving

Nervous about skydiving? At Paraclete XP Indoor Skydiving, you can get a sense of skydiving in a controlled environment. You’ll go through a brief training, then suit up. Though they offer 2-minute adventures, which doesn’t sound like much, it really is when you are doing something that’s high adrenaline. Plus, when you think about actual skydiving, it’s about a minute of freefall before you open your chute. You don’t need any previous experience and, in fact, the experience is open to novices and experts alike. You may catch expert aerialists practicing drills here in between novice flights. Be sure to stop downstairs for an a display showing how the vertical wind tunnel operates. It’s an amazing set up and the experience–and the rush–are definitely worth it! You can even purchase a video of your experience. Oh, and there’s plenty of space for spectators to watch. Once you’ve got bitten by the bug, you can go actual sky diving with Paraclete as well.

Next up–Scotland County!

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