Do you ever wonder how your hometown or the section of the county you’re from got its name? In Alleghany County the names are obvious for certain sections like Piney Creek, Cherry Lane, and Roaring Gap. At one time the county even had locations like Nile and Egypt on their maps, so it was only natural to question where exactly the name Gap Civil derived.
Gap Civil is the gap between the mountains leading from Sparta to Twin Oaks down Highway 21 North. In its early beginnings Gap Civil had a post office. Until the creation of the Post Office as we know it today, mail would often be delivered by neighbors, friends, merchants, and even Native Americans.
It was not until Benjamin Franklin came along in 1737 that Post Offices would have a better way of carrying out the delivery of communication from town to town and eventually coast to coast.
Naturally the Post Office would be a significant location in any county, often with numerous people flowing in and out throughout the day to have heard some of the latest news or be a place of casual disagreement. Because of this our township, and our Post Office derived their name.
The story goes that sometime in the 1840s a fight broke out causing an individual to shout out “This is as civil place!”, or “The gap is civil!” I have heard both sayings over the years. It is this discourse that cemented the name Gap Civil to the post office in April 1846.
What I did not realize was that the same man who would name our county seat, Mr. James H. Parks, was also Post Master in 1858 some years after the fight. Mr. Parks would name our county seat, Sparta, once again changing the Post Office name in 1879, but leaving Gap Civil as the name of our township.
Alleghany County Historical-Genealogical Society. Alleghany County Heritage of North Carolina. Winston Salem, NC: Hunter Publishing Company, 1983.