Raeford, North Carolina is located in Hoke County, North Carolina's 99th county. The bill establishing Hoke County was enacted into law on February 18, 1911, to become effective on April 3, 1911.
The first officials of the new county were appointed by the governor to serve until an election could be held. Jeptha Peele and W.T. Covington were appointees as commissioners to meet the county commissioners of Cumberland and Robeson counties, primarily to lay off boundaries of the new county. Hoke had to assume its per capita share of the public indebtedness of the parent counties and pending court cases were transferred to the new county. These actions were necessary due to the fact that the new county had been formed from land acreage formerly within the other two counties.
Raeford was designated as the county seat. The governor had the authority to appoint the entire slate of first officials, but chose to let a primary election by the people select the list. W.B. McQueen became the first Clerk of Court, J. Hector Smith, the Register of Deeds; Edgar Hall, Sheriff; W. McCraney, the Treasurer, and County Commissioners were elected as follows: J.W. Johnson, Chairman, S.J. Cameron and J.A. McPhaul; Surveyors J.L. McFadyen; Coroner, Dr. A.P. Dickson; Supt. of Education, Prof. J.A. McGoogan; Board of Education, N.A. McDonald, John A. Hodgin and Neill McKinnon; County Attorney, J.W. Currie; State Senator (1914) J.W. Johnson; and State Representative (1914) Thomas McBryde.
The county initially contained 268,000 acres with a population of about 10,000. There were no paved roads and the economy was strictly based on cotton. The only high school in the county was the Raeford Institute. This school was established by the Dr. A.P. Dickson family, the J.W. McLauchlin family and the McRae family. In the fall of 1903 the main building burned, and the school was moved to the Presbyterian Church, and four months later was moved into a new building...later the numbers of buildings for the institute grew to nine. In 1910 the school had an enrollment of 325 students. Raeford, chartered in 1901, was composed almost exclusively of people who had moved to the community in the interest of their children obtaining a better education.
Raeford was originally settled on the site of an old cotton field, in 1898, with those few families who had settled there making up the population in 1898. In 1899, the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad was extended to the present location and present day Raeford began. When the first train came down the track, it is said that teachers let the children from the institute walk through the woods to meet the train.