In 1839 Guilford County was divided into 18 townships with a common or public school located in each. Every township was given an identifying name, and these names commemorate important historical figures or geographic features. Gilmer and Morehead Townships comprise the incorporated area of Greensboro, while most of High Point Township is included in the City of High Point.
Bruce Township is located northwest of Greensboro and was named for Charles Bruce, an early County Commissioner, legislator, and the leading citizen of Bruce’s Crossroads, the original name for the Summerfield community. For a period of time the name of the township was changed to Summerfield, honoring an evangelist who conducted a revival in the area.
Center Grove Township is thought to be named for a large grove of oak trees which at one time surrounded the Center Methodist Church, which was located at the approximate center of the original County.
Clay Township was named for Henry Clay, the Kentucky statesman whose career in national politics spanned almost fifty years. Known as “The Great Compromiser”, he helped to organize the Whig Party. Guilfordian John Motley Morehead was elected Governor of North Carolina on this ticket in 1840.
Deep River Township was named for the Deep River, one of the tributaries of the Cape Fear River, and the Deep River Community.
Fentress Township received its name from the Fentress family which settled in the south-central part of the county. It is believed that the township was named for Frederick Fentress, a local resident who served as area postmaster from 1841 to 1866.
Friendship Township was named for the Society of Friends to reflect the English Quaker heritage of the area west of Greensboro.
Greene Township, located in the southeast corner of the county, was named to honor the commander of the Colonial soldiers at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, General Nathanael Greene.
High Point Township was named after the Town of High Point. Railroad surveyors found that the site of the present-day City of High Point was the highest point on the survey between Goldsboro and Charlotte.
Jamestown Township, situated east of the City of High Point, was named after the Town of Jamestown. The town’s name was derived from the given named of its found, James Mendenhall.
Jefferson Township was named for the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence.
Madison Township was named for James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, and his wife, Dolley Payne Madison who was born in Guilford County.
Monroe Township was names for James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States and a proponent of forbidding European interference in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere, hence the Monroe Doctrine.
Oak Ridge Township, located in the northwest corner of the county, was named for the Oak Ridge Community and the fact that the highest ridge in Guilford County is located nearby. North Carolina Highway 150 follows the crest of this ridge through the county.
Rock Creek Township was named for the Rock Creek Branch of the Alamance Creek, which flows within its borders.
Sumner Township was named to honor Brigadier General Jethro Sumner. Born in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, in 1733, he served in the French and Indian War and then moved to Warren County, NC. At the “outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he was appointed major of the Halifax Militia Men. In April 1776 he was placed in command of a Continental Line regiment, the Third North Carolina…” After serving in northern battles, he was promoted to brigadier general in 1779, and sent south. He was recruiting at the time of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, but he “joined Greene’s army in time for the Battle of Eutaw Springs in September 1781. Following the war, Sumner was prominent in the NC Chapter of the Society of the Cincinnati until his death March 18, 1785. Originally buried in Warren County, Sumner’s remains and grave monument were moved to Guilford Courthouse in 1891.” (“The Monuments at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park,” by Thomas E. Baker, pp. 18-19)
Washington Township, located in the northeast corner of Guilford County, was named for General George Washington, the first President of the United States and commander of the American Revolutionary Army.