Greensboro skyline

Early History

Settlement, Revolutionary War, and Early Establishment


Saura and Keyauwee Indians were the earliest inhabitants of Piedmont North Carolina. The first settlers in the Greensboro area were mostly Germans, Quakers of Welsh and English descent, and Scotch-Irish who came from Northern colonies. These pioneers worked the land and shaped the future for generations to come. Permanent settlement began around 1740.

To thwart the invasion of North Carolina by 1,900 redcoats under Lord Cornwallis, American Major General Nathanael Greene deployed 4,400 rebels in three battle lines at Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. Cornwallis held the field after an intense, two-hour fight, but lost one-quarter of his army, which hastened his eventual defeat at Yorktown seven months later.

See this history come to life at the annual Battle of Guilford Courthouse Anniversary and Reenactment every March. Learn more about the battle and the time period with a lecture series, a commemorative observance, military encampments, music, and programs.


In 1807, residents of the area voted to create a new, more centrally located seat of government. The following year, elected officials mapped out a 42-acre tract of land, paid $98 to purchase it, and suggested it be named Greensborough after the patriot commander Nathanael Greene.

The new town prospered and became a center for educational and economic opportunities. Greensboro was and continues to be a “chosen center.”

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