Lincolnton is a city in Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 10,683 at the 2011 census. It is the county seat of Lincoln County. The city and the county were named for Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. In June 1781, the location was the site of a small battle in which local Loyalists were defeated by pro-Independence forces, an engagement called Ramsours Mill. A reenactment of that battle is presented each year on its anniversary. Although not large, some historians consider the battle significant because it disrupted Loyalist organizing in the region at a crucial time and can be seen as leading to the favorable result for Patriots at King's Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse and ultimately Yorktown. Although the area remained a hotbed of disloyalty, the battle site was chosen for the seat of the new county after the old Tryon County, named for a hated royally appointed governor, was divided into Lincoln and Rutherford counties. Lincolnton, a former textile mill town, is located northwest of Charlotte, on the South Fork of the Catawba River, often called the South Fork River. Lincolnton was the site of the first textile mill built in the state, the Schenck-Warlick Mill, constructed by Michael Schenck in 1813.
In the 1990s, the city expanded eastward by annexing a formerly independent town, Boger City. The annexation greatly increased the tax base and population of Lincolnton.
Lincolnton is governed by a mayor and four-member city council, who hire a city manager to oversee day-to-day governance. City council members serve four-year terms and the mayor serves for two years. They are elected in partisan elections in odd years. Council members represent city wards in which they must reside, but are elected at-large. The mayor conducts city meetings, normally the first Thursday of each month, and votes only in case of a tie. Lincolnton has traditionally been run solely by Democrats, but currently has a bipartisan government for the first time in its history. The city electorate narrowly backed Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. The rest of Lincoln County has generally leaned Republican, and heavily favored Republican John McCain in the 2008 election. John Gilleland Jr., a Republican, is mayor and faces re-election in 2011. His opponent will be Democrat Patricia Huskey, the former Lincoln County clerk of court. Gilleland came to office by defeating Democratic incumbent David Black, who is also the Lincoln County schools attorney, in 2009. Council members whose terms end in 2013 are Republican Devin Rhyne of Ward I and Democrat Carroll Heavner of Ward III. Council members whose terms end in 2011 are Ward III Democrat John "Les" Cloninger (the mayor pro tem) and Ward IV Democrat Larry Mac Hovis. Two candidates, Thomas Hawk and Sam Ausband, are competing in the 2011 Republican primary to challenge Cloninger. Hovis will face a challenge from Republican Tim Shain in the 2011 general election.