Brunswick County North Carolina

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Early settlers here were the Cape Fear Indians, related to the Waccamaw and Choctaw Indians. The area was called "Chicora " which ran from Columbus county down into South Carolina where Horry County is located. White settlers were English and French Huguenot settlers. There are accessible and popular ocean front communities such as Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, and Bald Head Island. Cape Fear is near Bald Head Island on the south. Cape Fear River is the county's eastern border with the Intracoastal Waterway.[1][2] [3]

Early 1500 Spanish explorers sailed along the coast of the area of early Brunswick County, North Carolina, but none set foot on Brunswick soil.
1521 Francisco Gordillo and Pedro de Quejo explored the coastline. Lucas Vasques de Allyon may have sailed along Brunswick County in 1526 when looking for a place to build his settlement, San Miguel. This ended up being built in the area of current Georgetown, South Carolina (40 miles southward. [2]
1629 Colonial records designated the border to be "the main branch of a large river falling into the ocean at Cape Fear"..In the early 1700s ,the Cape Fear River below the fork was called the "Thoroughfare" and the Brunswick River was called the Northwest Branch of the Cape Fear River.[2]However people understood the boundary line between North Carolina and South Carolina was (30 miles SW) of the Cape Fear River. [4]
1662 William Hilton of Massachusetts Bay Colony explored the Cape Fear area, searching for areas to establish a new settlement. A Native American guided Hilton and his party to an Indian town, called "Necos", which is thought to be in the present Brunswick County. He wrote a favorable report. Many of the Cape Fear Indians died of "white man's diseases", were killed, or died in the Yamassee war. Native Americans of Brunswick Country were called originally Town Creek Indians. At the end of the Yamassee War, they were all removed from Brunswick County and placed on a reservation in Williamsburg County, South Carolina.[2] Hilton's report lured New Englanders into Brunswick county. [5][2]
1663 Some New Englanders bought (thirty-two square miles) of land near Town Creek from the local Cape Fear Indians. They did not like the area and returned to New England after 2-3 months..[2]
1666 Sir John Yeamans of Barbados brought a 2nd group to the Town Creek area, beginning the first town of the colony called Charles Town 6 years prior to the 2nd Charles Town on the Ashley River in South Carolina. Charles Town I peaked with 800 people. After a pamphlet was distributed in England of the virtues of Cape Fear region, more colonists settled. By August a hurricane wiped out the settlement, leaving the colonists to walk to the Albemarle region or Virginia.[2]
1713-14 Landgrave Thomas Smith II received the grant of Barren Island (Bald Head).[2] Smith Island (Bald Head Island) area was granted to Thomas Smith. This area would become Southport . [5][3]
1725 Gov. George Burrington distributed land on the Cape Fear to lure colonists. Settlers came from South Carolina due to lower taxes in North Carolina.. Immigrants came from England due to the deep water port. Col. Maurice Moore (son of Gov. James Moore of S.C.) used his land grant to found Brunswick Town on a 1,500-acre grant on the west bank of the river. [2] [5] This provided a port of entry for ships from

the Atlantic onto the Cape Fear River. Although it the seat of New Hanover Precinct, the General Assembly never met there. The Governor's Council did meet there. [6] The location was 20 miles north of the Cape Fear River near Town Creek. This was in the swamp region and Indian attacks occurred. It was a home for two royal governors and has historic sites. [1]

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site interprets the colonial and Civil War history of the region. [1]
'1740 Newton was incorporated as the town of Wilmington which became the new county seat of New Hanover County. This infuriated the settlers on the west side of the Cape Fear River, and they began a decades long campaign to secede from New Hanover County.[2]It was County seat until 1779.[2] [5]
1) Arthur Dobbs built his mansion,Russellborough, then died 1765. [5]
2) The next Governor, William Tryon had plans for a mansion in 1765 after the first Governor died. Tryon moved into his mansion in 1770, Tryon Palace, which was located in New Bern. [5]
1741-1761 Brunswick Town citizens and settlers on west side of the the Cape Fear River agitated for their independence. Brunswick Town became first county seat of Brunswick County. [7]
1748 two Spanish privateers attacked the area of Cape the Local militia drove them back to the ships where they continued to bombard Cape Fear. After one of the Spanish privateers ships blew up, the privateers retreated. By 1750's more work was done with Capt. Robert Howe and militia being stationed at Fort Johnston in 1766 with the intention of arming the slaves. [8]
1750 Shallotte was settled in 1750. The first roads were sandy and built between Wilmington and Shallotte. Since this made travel difficult, the river travel was still easiest for travel. [3] Brunswick Town started with (360 acres), which was divided into (336) half-acure lots with (24 ) town squares, along with a commons. Some land was reserved for a church, cemetery, a courthouse with jail, but these were never built. [6] [8]
Brunswick County
1754 St. Philips Church began with construction. Public apathy, monetary problems and natural disaster delayed the final completion in 1768. When Wilmington, Brunswick Town began to decline. Wilmington was also beset by other troubles, including the 1748 attacks of two Spanish privateers and a destructive 1761 hurricane. Nonetheless, the town became the seat of Brunswick County when that county was created in 1764 out of New Hanover and Bladen Counties.[6]
Old Georgetown Way began as a trading post Its name, was changed in 1860 to
1764 When Brunswick County was created Brunswick Town became the county seat of Brunswick County - the only town in North Carolina to serve as county seat for two different counties. Development of the Barrier Islands began in earnest during the 1950's. [2]
Brunswick Town decreased due to the 2nd governor's mansion being in New Bern and the popularity of Wilmington. British troops attacked Brunswick Town during the Revolutionary War and never rebuilt. By 1830 the townsite land was sold to the Orton Plantation owner for $4.25 [9] [10]
February 1766 The citizens assaulted Governor Tryon's home, in opposition of the Stamp Act. As a result William Penning, comptroller of Customs, resigned. [6] [2] [10][5] The struggle for liberty in these years began, such as an armed resistance to the Stamp Act at Brunswick Town.[11]
1767 Gov Gabriel Johnston authorized construction of a fort for defense of the Cape Fear River area with the lending of (10 small cannons) from the governor of SC. NC legislature appropriated 2000 pounds for the construction. [8]
Fort Johnston
1768= This map is in the British library showing where the Brunswick buildings are marked on the ground. Brunswick Town remained the first county seat of the newly formed Brunswick County until after the Revolutionary War. [6]
24 April 1775 American patriots attacked the home of Josiah Martin at New Bern, British royal governor of the Province of North Carolina. Martin of Province of Carolina sent his family back to New York and took refuge oninto . He was arming the slaves there. John Ashe, American Patriots learned of the plot and led colonists against Fort Johnson in July 1775. Gov Martin and and allies removed the military stores, dismounted the fort's cannon, and fled on a HMS British ship, HMS "Cruiser" in the Cape Fear River. American patriots took control and burned Fort Johnston, plus the home of its commandant. British troops kept trying to rouse American loyalists to return Gov Martin to power, Instead they met up with American patriots. The last being: Scottish Highlanders at Battle of Morre's Creek Bridge. In 1778 The Fort was rebuilt again.. It later became Smithville.[8]
Gov. Josiah Martin
1776 Brunswick Town was nearly abandoned when the British partially burned it.[6] The British razed many plantations and the burned Brunswick Town to the ground. It was never rebuilt and Brunswick Town began to slowly die away. [2] The

British razed many nearby plantations, which, with the burning of Brunswick Town in 1776, left the county destitute for years until after the Civil War. [11]

Ft Johnston, surviving building, a museum
1779 The county seat was located at Lockwood's Folly and a temporary court house was established at the mouth of the Lockwood Folly River on the south/west bank. [10][5]
1784 Walkersburgh began as a new town with a court house, jail, tavern, and homes The locale was inland at the primary bridge across the Lockwood Folly River, but the town never really materialized and the Courthouse building fell through.[2][5]
Pre-1786 John Bell held court in his home until the1st courthouse was built in 1786. [5]
1792 -Smithville began at the mouth of the Cape Fear River on the west bank in Brunswick County and grew..
1800's There were roads built from Wilmington to Shallotte, then to Georgetown, South Carolina where a Naval Stores area was located. These were sandy and close to difficult for travel so the River trade was still easiest method for travel..
1808 The County Seat moved from Brunswick Town on the Cape Fear River to Smithville and continued (169 years). After a rename of Southport, The County Seat moved again moved to below to the area below the Town of Bolivia. [10] An Act was passed which authorized the courthouse to be moved from Lockwood Folly to Smithville and the removal of the court house from Lockwood Folly to Smithville. [12] [2]

::New Town, New Liverpool or Newton formed on the east side of Cape Fear River, which later became known as Wilmington [6]

Brunswick County over years has been divided into several districts [2]
1812 The districts became six[2]
  1. Northwest became current township
  2. Town Creek became current township
  3. Smithville became current township
  4. Shallotte became current township
  5. Lockwood Folly became current township
  6. Waccamaw - became current township
1820- A Trading post was built near the new rod between Wilmington and Shallotte, called Old Georgetown Way.[3][3]
1820-50 Old Georgetown Way , a trading post was built on the Lockwood Folly River, near the road between Wilmington and Shallotte. This trading post was originally called the "Old Georgetown Way," then shortened to "Old G.W.," with local settlers calling it "'Supply"' in the late 1860s.[5]
1830 Lockwood Folly became Shallotte with a post office and the river was called the Shallotte River. Old maps show the name of Shallotte actually going back before the 1730's. [3]
1837 Lockwood Folly was named Shallotte twice according also to U.S. Postal Records research. On December 13, 1837 the U.S. Post Office Department accepted an application for changing the name to Shallotte and granted February 21, 1837. This PO was active until December 29, 1858.
April 26, 1859 Four months after the first Shallotte PO was closed down. There was '"Old Shallotte"' and the current '"Shallotte"'. On old maps these can clearly be shown.
1861-1865 During the Civil War, Brunswick County men quickly answered to the army during this war. the Confederate army built Fort Anderson on the old Brunswick Town ruins as a defense.[5]men of Brunswick County were quick to answer the call to arms in the CivilWar. Fort Caswel was also built.. Since they were near the river there was blockade running activity and numerous wrecks.. Poverty and privation that occurred in all of the south was here also. [11]
Fort Anderson During the Civil War attack in 1865, cannon balls hit and destroyed the St. Philip's Church. After the area was abandoned by the Confederates, then the Union soldiers removed the church's cornerstone and desecrated the graves. [5] [6]
County formation history:
Index entry for the county:,_North_Carolina_Genealogy
1887 Smithville was renamed to Southport, and was becoming a thriving port town.[2]
{{Blue|Bolivia began in 1890's and incorporated in1911}} , due to Bolivia being the center In 1977 the county seat was moved to Boliviahen became the Brunswick County seat in 1977. At this point the , the county seat was moved from Southport to Bolivia because Bolivia was closer to the center of the county and could provide better service to the population. This was accomplished by a public referendum that certainly brought about a lot of tension within the county at that time. [2]
Other towns began, such as: Exum, Ash, Longwood, Grissettown, and Thomasboro, Hickman's Crossroads, Maco, Bishop, Bellville, Winnabow. The Green Swamp is in the middle of the county which is the largest swamp of North Carolina.. [13]

Boiling Springs Lakes started in the 1960's. Southport is a favorite golfing spot.[2][12]

1887 Smithville was renamed to Southport, which continued to be the county seat until, 1977. served as the county seat until 1977. [12]
Brunswick Co, NC 1911

1930 The US Army Corps of Engineers dredged the US Intracoastal Waterway. Upon completion of this several "barrier islands" became attractive properties immediately after World War II. Development began in earnest in the 1950s, with the boom beginning in the 1960s. Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Long Beach, Yaupon Beach, and Caswell Beach have all been incorporated since the 1950s, and are tremendous vacation attractions today.
1945 After World War II, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway. Then some barrier islands were developed. [2]
1960 - The housing boom began for Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Long Beach, Yaupon Beach, and Caswell Beach. These are vacation attractions today. [3]
1975 Since Bolivia was near the center of the county, the County Seat was moved from Southport to Bolivia. This made it easier for service to be attained by the citizens. [2]
1977 A referendum changed the county seat to Bolivia. This has been county seat has continued to be the county seat of Brunswick County to today. [12]
Colonial and Civil War sites in Brunswick County are The Bald Head Island Lighthouse (“Old Baldy”), the Brunswick Inn, Fort Johnston, and the Orton Plantation. Several museums and cultural groups such as theSouthport Maritime Museum, the Bald Head Island Conservatory.[5]
INLAND TOWNS and other small towns sprang up. Exum came into being. Ash was home to Waccamaw High School until all schools were consolidated in 1973. Longwood, Grissettown, and Thomasboro came along in the southern part of the county. As did Calabash (home of world famous seafood) and Hickman's Crossroads. On the northern end of the county, Maco, Bishop, Bellville, and Winnabow grew into towns. While, in the middle of the county remains the ever-present Green Swamp, the largest swamp in North Carolina.[12]
1975 The County Seat was moved from Southport to Bolivia because Bolivia was closer to the center of the county and could provide better service to the population.[12]
  • Boiling Springs Lakes was started in the 1960s, and is a favorite golfing community near Southport.
  • The Brunswick generating Station is located 20 feet above sea level about 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Two GE (General Electric) boiling water reactors are cooled with Cape Fear River water in this area. This water is then discharged into the Atlantic. A filtration system removes any debris from the cooling water, such as fish or crustaceans.. After the water enters the nuclear plantiy it is discharged into a 5-mile canal to flow under the Intra-Coastal Waterway. [14]

Duke Energy is the majority owner of the majority owner and operator of the Brunswick plant. According to a 2010 NRC study, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has risk for core damage of the reactor by an earthquake (1 in 66,667). During Hurricane Florence of 2018, two of the reactors were shut down prior to the impact of the tropical storm winds.[15]

Today this is now known as Supplynamed in honor of John Walker, where the permanent court house moved. [12]

Adjacent Counties

  • Pender County - north.
  • New Hanover County - east.
  • Columbus County - west and northwest.


  • Brunswick County is a member of the regional Cape Fear Council of Governments. Most of the county was highly pro-secession and part of the Democratic “Solid South”, during the Civil War
1779 The first court house was located on John Bell's plantation , which was near the mouth of the Lockwood Folly River.
1779 The county seat was located at Lockwood's Folly and a temporary court house was established at the mouth of the Lockwood Folly River on the south/west bank.
1784 The court house was situated more inland at the bridge across the Lockwood Folly River and a new town was established, named Walkersburgh, which included the court house, a jail, and several homes as well as a tavern. But, the town never really materialized.[2]
1975 The County Seat was moved from Southport to Bolivia because Bolivia was closer to the center of the county and could provide better service to the population.


Location- Coastal Plain region of southeastern North Carolina
Area- 1,050 square miles (2,700 km2), of which 847 square miles (2,190 km2) is land and 203 square miles (530 km2) (19%) is water
Rivers- The Brunswick River and the Cape Fear River
Locale The county lies in the inner coastal plain
Fertile- Brunswick County soil was less fertile than the “Black Belt” and consequently had pro-Union and Populist sympathies.
Agricultural products - tobacco, vegetables, berries, corn, oats, sweet potatoes, swine, beef cattle, and poultry
Manufactured products- polyester fibers, children's clothes, lumber, and citric acid.
Crops-tobacco, vegetables, berries, corn, oats, sweet potatoes, swine, beef cattle, and poultry; and manufactured products include polyester fibers, children's clothes, lumber, and citric acid.
areas for a growing number of retirees.
Charter boat fishing on the Intracoastal Waterway is another important recreational activity in the region.
Brunswick County is located in the south part of North Carolina with the Atlantic Coast as the Eastern border. Its beaches and communities attract tourists and vacationers to places such as Sunset beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach, Bald Head Island, and Ocean Isle Beach.
Cape Fear River forms the western border.. The Intracoastal Waterway passes through the county. The fishing industry has impaction the economy. In the 1700's and 1800's rice production led the state.[5]
Crops- corn, cotton, rice, indigo, and tobacco; forests yielded a bountiful supply of naval stores and lumber of the high quality

Protected Areas

  • The current County seal, depicts (four ) primary industries of Brunswick County.[10]

Brunswick County's leading industries are finishing, agriculture and manufacturing. For a while in the 1700's Rice production was leading. [5] [12]


IN 2000, there were 73,143 people residing in the county with a population density of 86 people per square mile (33/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 82.30% White, 14.38% Black or African American, 0.68% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.32% from other races, and 1.01% from two or more races. 2.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Median income for a household in the county was $35,888, or for a family was $42,037. The per capita income for the county was $19,857. About 9.50% of families and 12.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.40% of those under age 18 and 8.10% of those age 65 or over.[16]


Places and events:

  • Southport Maritime Museum
  • Brunswick County Historical Society
  • Bald Head Island Conservatory.
  • North Carolina Fourth of July Festival
  • Christmas-by-the-Sea Festival
  • North Carolina Festival-by-the-Sea
  • North Carolina Oyster Festival
  • The county has many famous sites dating to colonial and Civil War history well known.
    • Bald Head Island Island
    • The Brunswick Inn
    • Fort Johnston
    • Orton Plantation


Southport Maritime Museum
Bald Head Island Consevatory
Brunswick County Historical Society.


  • beaches that draw millions of vacationers
  • golf courses are a popular attraction for visitors (as well as a growing number of retirees)
  • Charter boat fishing on the Intracoastal Waterway
  • O1d mill sites
  • Some of the o1d miII dams are present day road beds.


  • Boiling Spring Lakes
  • Northwest
  • Southport
  • Belville
  • Bolivia (county seat)
  • Calabash
  • Carolina Shores
  • Caswell Beach
  • Holden Beach
  • Leland
  • Navassa
  • Oak Island
  • Ocean Isle Beach
  • Sandy Creek
  • Shallotte
  • St. James
  • Sunset Beach
  • Varnamtown
  • Bald Head Island


Brunswick County's population was estimated to be 85,000 in 2004.




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