Columbus County, North Carolina

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Welcome to Columbus County, North Carolina

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Settlers encountered the Native Americans when they paddled up the Cape Fear River. Thus they named them the Cape Fear Indians, Waccamaw Indians and the Saponas. The Waccamaw Indians were part of 8 state-recognized tribes, were peaceful Indians, and retreated to live near the Green Swamp (near the Waccamaw River). Many surnames in isolated communities of this area were found by the end of the century.[1][2]
1600's-1700's Settlers from England and some freedmen of Virginia and northeastern North Carolina settled on an island on the Cape Fear River. Free African Americans from Virginia became free in the 1600's and 1700's. Many of Columbus families descend from these slaves who were freed before the 1723 Virginian law. Many became landowners, were accepted by their white neighbors. [2]
Carolana colony
1696 Bath Precinct was organized under the English Crown. The area was from Albemarle County to the Cape Fear River. The Act of the General Assembly to create Columbus County was done since the settlers here had difficulty conducting their legal affairs.. It took fifty years for the settlements to begin. [1][2][3]
Rumor has said "Osceola", chief of the Seminoles was born on the Waccamaw River, to father, John Powell, a white man. [1]
1711-1713 The Tuscarora War, Yamassee War (1715) The Waccamaw Indians lived around Lake Waccamaw in the Green swamp of Columbus County. [4]
1722 Settlements did not increase in Carolina until late 1600's and 1700's. Settlers brought their European diseases, which the Indians had no resistance for, reducing the population. Many Tuscarora moved northward to join the Iroquoians in the Iroquois Confederacy in New York. [4]
1729 New Hanover County was created. In 1734 Bladen County split off from New Hanover County. 1764 Brunswick formed from New Hanover County and Bladen County. [1][2]
1734 William Bartram, a Colonial planter wrote the first description of Columbus County. He traveled over the state and documented his findings of garden plants, when visiting his brother. He included a description of Lake Waccamaw and the Indian mounds nearby. [1][2]
Gen Francis Marion.
Settlers of Columbus County migrated here from Britain; many were indentured servants who worked off the indenture, and when free, some moved to northeastern North Carolina from other colonies such as Virginia, Maryland, or Barbados via the Cape Fear River. All were searching for land in a new frontier.
1776 American Revolution - Gen. Francis Marion, Gen. Huger of South Carolina and the Horrys met in Brompton, to reorganize Marion's men in New Hanover County. Numerous men of Marion's Men were from Bladen and Brunswick counties, which today would place them in Columbus County. [1]
1776 ~Two battles in the Columbus area of the American Revolution were
(1) Battle of Seven Creeks near Pireway. Gen. Joseph Graham was heard to say they treated the wounded, buried the dead, then moved on to Marsh Castle. After this they heard Cornwallis had surrendered. They moved to Lake Waccamaw to join Col. Smith near Livingston.
Browns Marsh Battles, 1781 Revolution
(2)1781 Brown Marsh Battles were the last of American Revolution skirmishes many skirmishes near Clarkton in Bladen County After Loyalist Colonel David Fanning captured the Thomas Burke, Whig governor. It seems they were transporting the prisoners to the British in Wilmington, when Fanning was ambushed by Gen. Butler's Whig army in Alamance County at Lindley's Mill. Bullets tore up a farm east of Brown Marsh. [5] [6][2][7]

Patriots of this county were:

Stephen Smith (1746-1784) (buried in Hallsboro, marked by a Revolutionary War symbol . Smith married Joanna Council (1753-1833).
James Council was Paymaster of Troops, member of the Provincial Congress of Halifax, North Carolina and Wilmington Dist. Bladen County Regiment company commander at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.
William Norris (1766-1860), a "Farmer and Soldier of the American Revolution."
Coleman Nichols (1737-1825)
Elias Duncan (1750-1830, Militia, Wilmington District
1791 William Bartram, studied the flora of Lake Waccamaw, then wrote of his travels and published it, in "Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida" [4]

1808 Columbus formed from Bladen and Brunswick counties, North Carolina during the federal era from parts of Bladen and Brunswick Counties. It is thought to have been named for Christopher Columbus, although there is no evidence of Columbus visiting here. Columbus County formed from Bladen and Brunswick Counties. Columbus County was created by the North Carolina General Assembly as #3 county in size [1][8][3][9][10]
1810 Whiteville (first called White's Crossing) and Fair Bluff are Columbus County's oldest towns. White's Crossing was laid out on land of James White, a senator. By 1873 Whiteville was Columbus County.[1]
1832 Whiteville was the county seat (named for James B White, who donated land for the courthouse in 1808) and a first state senator. [11] >
1862-1865 The Civil War
1882 Chadbourn began and prohibited whiskey sales. Chadborn has never had legal liquor stores. Tabor city is known for its yams grown near the South Carolina border. Riegelwood is on the other side of the county with a paper mill. People on Crusoe Island feel they are descendants of Sir Walter Raleigh's lost colony, "Roanoke", [2][1]
1910 For governing the Waccamaw, the Council was called Wide Awake Indians. This was during segregation.. These Native American children were grouped with the African American children. This council's intention was to gain public funding for the Indian's schools. he Lumbee or Croatan Indians had gained this fundingin the 1800's. [2]
1910 Columbus county museums were built in the late 19th century as well as the Old Trading Post. This Old Trading Post , in the late nineteenth century, was a central place for farmers and area merchants to trade their farm products in Fair Bluff. The North Carolinian Museum of Forestry stands in Columbus County. [2]
Columbus county has many cultural businesses and festivals. They include the Cultural Arts Center, the Columbus County Theatre Association, Fair Bluff Historical Society, Columbus Chorus Christmas Concert, the Strawberry Festival, and the North Carolina Yam Festival.[2]
North Carolina map showing position of county
Columbia County Economics depended on agriculture, forestry, and manufacturing. In the past Farmers grew pecans, peanuts, soybeans, potatoes, yams, corn, Cattle poultry, Catfish. Textiles are produced in factories such as furniture, tools, windows, and plywood, and doors. [2]
John Burgwin (1731-1803), came here as a colonial officer and merchant. After his brother inherited their father's estate, John left South Wales, England to seek a fortune in the new world. 1750/51, Burgwin was employed as a merchant in Charleston, South Carolina with the firm of Hooper, Alexander and Company with its business in Wilmington, and Burgwin. He built the Burgwin-Wright house in Wilmington, which served as Lord Cornwallis' headquarters while he occupied the city in 1781. In addition to his Wilmington townhouse, Burgwin inherited from his wife the Hermitage Plantation and adjoining Castle Haynes Plantation. He also owned Marsh Castle at Lake Waccamaw in Columbus (then Bladen) County.[2]
Columbus county partially borders the state of South Carolina. The early people here were the Waccamaw Indians. Then English, French and Scottish settlers came here to settle.


Whiteville , NC, a small town charm with a similar to that of a "Mayberry Twist" has a long history, with festivals to round out the town. Streets are lined with trees, dogwoods, and azaleas which bloom in the spring and decorate the historic homes and churches. The North Carolina Museum of Forestry shows the logging history of the area. Also one can tour the courthouse, courthouse square, Reuben Brown House. There are specialty stores, and an old fashioned soda fountain in Guiton's Drug Store. The Gurganus Milling Company shows the grain milling process.[9]
Guiton's Drug store
Many old fashioned limeades or milkshakes can be found in Guitions Drug Store. The North Carolina Forestry Museum shows the history and cultural heritage provided by the logging industry and forests.[9]
Fair Bluff, NC has the Old Trading Post, the oldest building in Fair Bluff, located on the Lumbar River where farmers of Robeson, Bladen, and Columbus Counties brought their produce or other goods to either be sold or exchanged for other needed goods since many did not deal in cash the late 18th century (farmers of Robeson, Bladen and Columbus Counties . The Fair Bluff Depot museum, The Old Trading Post closed in 1960's, and today is a museum showing the past early 1900's railroad era. [9]
Fair Bluff, NC after hurricane.
Fair Bluff, North Carolina is a small River Town is in the Southeastern part of Columbus County. Here one may visit malls, museums, and stores. The antique malls are downtown, while on the Riverside Boardwalk, the Lumber River and Cypress Swamp can be visited. Also the 1897 Fair Bluff Depot Museum is now a museum to see 1900's equipment and other memorabilila. Visitors may see the wildlife while kayaking or canoeing among the cypress trees with the spanish moss. The black water river has fishing for bream, catfish, bass, and pike. Of interest is the Fair Bluff Depot Museum.[9]
Tabor City has a 1905 St. Paul Methodist Church and the Mt Tabor School which used the early building technique of 1820's, was built near 1870.[9]
Chadbourn Dept
Schools. The governing council opened the first school with trouble for state funding. The 1934 disenfranchisement put barriers for state funding. Beginning in 1934 FDR, Franklin D Roosevelt was encouraging self government. After The first publicly funded school began, others were founded. The 1960 -70's activism enabled the Waccamaw Indians to gain their funding and assistance since the The State Commission recognized was recognized of one of 9 state recognized tribes.[2]

Adjacent Counties

  • Bladen county
  • Brunswick county
  • South Carolina


Courthouse #1, 1809 -was built of wood in 1809, on the present site.

The first will book begins in 1817, and there is a sequence to the present date. The county court minutes begin in 1818. The first deed book begins in 1810, and the sequence since is complete.
The marriage bonds are all lost. (or not filed)

Courthouse #2, 1852 was replaced by a brick building.

Courthouse #3 The 1852 courthouse was replaced by a present spacious and handsome one, in 1918., following a fire in the building. No records have been lost by fire.



Columbus County located in the Coastal Plain region of southeastern North Carolina
The county formed in 1808 from Brunswick and Bladen Counties, being named for Christopher Columbus
the county partially borders the state of South Carolina.
Crops werecorn, soybeans, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes, catfish, pecans, peanuts, beef and dairy cattle, and poultry.
Manufactured products- textiles, plywood, doors, windows, furniture, and tools.
Size - total area of 954 square miles (2,470 km2), of which 937 square miles (2,430 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2)
Comparison - third-largest county in North Carolina by land area
Type the county is agricultural with manufacturing
Crops: pecans, peanuts, soybeans, potatoes, corn, cattle, poultry, and catfish
Green Swamp, with a pine savanna ecosystem.
plants here= Venus fly traps, pitcher plants, sundews
River/s Waccamaw River, Lumber River
Factories here manufacture tools, textiles, plywood, doors, furniture and windows.
Railways Carolina Southern ceased service to the county, 2012
Efforts to increase economic development need to have railroad service.
Railway July 2014, Carolina Southern agreed for Columbus, Horry, Marion counties to control the rail lines, including repairing the tracts and re-establish the rail service. Columbus county voted to restart the service, and received a 10-year grant, The new target date ws 2016 as the rail lines ere idle 6 years.
Trees -cypress trees draped with Spanish moss on the – one of the most scenic and wild black water rivers on the East Coast. For the fishing enthusiast, cast your lures against cypress knees and wait for the impending explosion of bream, catfish, bass, pike and other fresh water fish.
Plants found in the Green Swamp's unusual pine savanna ecosystem - sundews, pitcher plants, and Venus flytraps near the Waccamaw River. [2] [1]
Lakes - Lake Waccamaw, the largest natural lake between New York and Florida, was the site of the Indian habitation long befogs a large natural lake dating before white men arrived.. Its River flows form there, liking the southeastern part of South Carolinaand coastal ports. it is on the edge of the Green Swamp Preserve which has carnivorous plants. The swift water of the Lumbar River form the border of the western part and Cape Fear River are the northeastern border. The Capefear, Lumber and Waccamaw Rivers were the mode of transportation through the wooded county before Roads were developed. The Port City of Wilmington was settled and developed commercially.
Location- Columbus County is located near the Atlantic Ocean. Its Southeastern section are lowlands of the coastal plain. It has Brunswick County on the east, Robeson County on the West, and Bladen and Pender Counties one the north. [9]

Protected Areas

  • Green Swamp 15,907-acre area in the north-eastern portion of the county
  • Lake Waccamaw State Park shallow, tea-colored water accommodates wildlife viewing and fishing, and more than seven miles of trails allow hikers to explore multiple ecosystems and rare plants. This has (52) species of game and non-game fish.
  • Venus fly trap
  • Marsh Swamp, and has a remnant of the giant longleaf pine forest that once stretched across the Southeast from Virginia
  • Green Swamp 15,907-acre area in the north-eastern portion of the county
  • Lake Waccamaw State Park shallow, tea-colored water accommodates wildlife viewing and fishing, and more than seven miles of trails allow hikers to explore multiple ecosystems and rare plants with (52) species of game and non-game fish.


In 2000, 54,749 people were here with a population density of 58 people/sq mi.. Races were 68.9% White, 23.1% Black or African American, 5.1% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 4.7% from other races, 2.7% of the population were Hispanic . 2005 62.3% of the county population was White, 31.1% of the population was African-American, and 3.2% of the population was Native American. In 2010, there were 1,025 people in the county who were identified as Waccamaw Siouan. yet only 2.8% being Latino. The sad information is in 2006-2012, Columbus County was the leading county taking opioid pills with an average of 113.5 pills per person per year [13]


1979-82 State and Federal investigators conducted Operation NC Gateway. This investigated elected official lin the county illegal activities. This is short for Columbus Corruption. This included the Brunswick County Sheriff, The high amount of narcotics was about $180 million. An undercover investigation of spec. Agent Robert Drdak who testified to a grand jury about Brunswick and Columbus citizens activities including 35 people. Brunswick Co. Sheriff had charges to smuggle drugs, providing protection to drug smugglers. Shallotte police Chief had charges with intent to distribute 1,100 to 1,400 pounds of marijuana). His brother and Lake Waccmaw Police Chief had charges for taking bribes for protection. Columbus Commissioner gave a undercover agent money to deal with a reporter as sentenced to jail. There was a state Rep nvolved in alleged burning of warehouses that belonged to another state senator. The Lt Governor was involved in an alleged bribe, but was acquitted by the jury.


  • I-74
  • US 74
  • US 76
  • US 701
  • NC 11
  • NC 87
  • NC 130
  • NC 131
  • NC 211
  • NC 214
  • NC 410
  • NC 904
  • NC 905


  • Mille-Christine McCoy, the world famous Siamese twins born in 1851, gravesite and Bogue Chapel, built in 1875 in Hallsboro.


  • Two state prisons, one at Tabor City, the Tabor City Correctional Institution, in Tabor City and one at Brunswick, NC.,
  • Reuben Brown House , home of the first principal of Whiteville Academy in 1852. *Guition’s Drug Store in downtown Whiteville, for a milkshake or lemonade.
  • North Carolina Forestry Museum , showing the natural history and cultural heritage of North Carolina ‘s forests and forestry
  • North Carolina Watermelon Festival in July
  • Lake Waccamaw
  • Lake Waccamaw Depot Museum, built 1904 . The Lake Waccamaw Museum showcases the natural history of the area, Native American artifacts, the turpentine industry and railroad memorablia.
  • Cultural Arts Center
  • Columbus County Theatre Association
  • Fair Bluff Historical Society
  • Columbus Chorus Christmas Concert
  • the Strawberry Festival
  • the North Carolina Yam Festival.
  • Columbus County Arts Council
  • Old Trading Post, in Fair Bluff - place for merchants and farmers of surrounding counties to trade farm products
  • North Carolinian Museum of Forestry stands in Columbus County. [2]
  • Columbus county has Cultural Arts Center
  • Columbus County Theatre Association
  • Fair Bluff Historical Society
  • Columbus Chorus Christmas Concert
  • the Strawberry Festival
  • North Carolina Yam Festival


  • Whiteville County Seat 1832
  • Boardman
  • Bolton
  • Brunswick
  • Cerro Gordo
  • Chadbourn
  • Fair Bluff
  • Hallsboro
  • Lake Waccamaw
  • Sandyfield
  • Tabor City


  • Population 30,124.




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    Reuben Brown House.

    Railroad depots' history in the area shown in the buildngs that have been converted into museums in Chadbourn, Fair Bluff, Lake Waccamaw and Whiteville. The North Carolina Museum of Forestry reflects the forestry industry for the county. Many buildings such as Reuben Brown House, the Columbus County Courthouse, Mille-Christine Gravesite, Bogue Chapel, the Trading Post and Mt. Tabor School show a little of the history of the county of the Indian presence here, the Colonial times, Revolutionary War period, the Railroad creation and contributions, the Civil war history and the later Reconstruction.<ref></ref>
    There are many treasures of Columbus County in its cities of Whiteville, Hallsboro, Lake Waccamaw, Chadbourn, Fair Bluff and Tabor city.. Interesting places to see such as the Reuben Brown House, <ref></ref>

    Most of the free African Americans of Virginia and North Carolina originated in Virginia where they became free in the seventeenth and eighteenth century before chattel slavery and racism fully developed in the colonies. In his book Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware.

    The Chadbourn Depot (opened in 1810) by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, has railroad history, furnishings, 1900's fashions, memorabilia and Audobon prints. <ref></ref>

    Lake Waccamaw has a gravesite of the 1851 Siamese twins and Bogue Chapel was built in 1875 in Hallsboro. The Lake Waccamaw Depot of 1904, show Native American artifacts, railroad memorabilia and turpentine industry. <ref></ref>
    Whiteville logo
    Whiteville, the County Seat has its historic courthouse, courthouse square. The Reuben Brown House housed the Whiteville Academy in 1852. This was a late Federal-era frmhousebuilt by a schoolmaster about 1830/1840. It was built on farmland near the Columbus County Law Enforcement Center. The layout consisted of (2) large rooms with fireplaces, connected by a door, and two smaller attach rooms opening on an enclosed passageway. The house has lumber cut by the Pine Log Road Saw Mill. <ref>,25930&pgurl=History%20of%20The%20Reuben%20Brown%20House%20%7C%20Whiteville,%20NC</li>

    <li id="_note-7">[[#_ref-7|↑]],_North_Carolina</li></ol></ref>

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