Pender County Townships - Information
Atkinson is a rural town in west Pender County. From 1880 to 1882 the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad extended the railroad line from the seacoast to the mountains. The town of Atkinson was established when W.H. Lewis gave his land for the local railroad station to be built. At that time though, the town was called Lewis because Mr. Lewis was so giving of his time and efforts toward the development of the area. After the town was incorporated in 1909 Mr. Lewis renamed the town Atkinson, in commemoration of an engineer named Atkinson.
In the years that have passed and at the present time Atkinson maintains fine farming with lots of produce and blueberries. In 1925 the County erected the Atkinson school which still stands today and is used for town events. Atkinson recently had its 100 years celebration on October 10, 2009.
Nestled in the heart of Pender County, Burgaw is a small town known for its friendly people and picturesque surroundings. So much so, several films and television shows have been filmed here. Burgaw is conveniently located 25 minutes from Wilmington and area beaches. Burgaw offers a wide variety of shopping and casual dining.
The rich farmlands, festivals and historic architecture of the town have helped Burgaw grow tremendously over the years. Our fields have produced plentiful crops of corn, tobacco, soybeans, cotton and several berries. One of Pender County's largest crops is the blueberry. Burgaw is home of the North Carolina Blueberry Festival, held annually on the third Saturday in June. Get your walking shoes ready and take a stroll through our shady streets to see for yourself the unique characteristic that make Burgaw "A Charming Town Year Round."
The town of Currie was settled in 1888 and named for John H Currie, a director of the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad.
The community of Currie is a most progressive settlement of farmers and business men. Currie has for the most part remained unchanged; a place with farmlands, small homes and winding roads. Wildlife such as deer and bears can be spotted anytime of the day.
The Bell House is one of the oldest homes in Currie, built in 1864 by descendents of Elizabeth Moore. Also still standing is a one room schoolhouse located on Hwy 210.
Currie is home of the historic Moores Creek National Battlefield. On the dawn of February 27, 1776, the Patriots over took the Loyalist. The park offers a visitor's center, a trail that leads across the bridge, exhibits, and picnic area. A reenactment of the battle is held annually the last full weekend in February.
In between the beautiful beach communities of Surf City and Topsail Island and the historical western portion of Pender County you'll find Hampstead, NC. Hampstead was once a small fishing village and whistle stop alongside the Atlantic Coast Line RR. Legend has it that Hampstead got its name from George Washington in the late 1780s. It seems during one of Washington's many trips along the King's Highway he planned to spend the night in the area and feast on the abundant mullet caught in the Topsail sound. However, when he arrived, as luck would have it, the mullet were not running. Washington had to "feast" on ham instead and from that day on the area was known as "Hampstead", (pronounced - ham' stead). Now it is probably the fastest growing area in the state, as more and more folks are choosing to live here. Many neighborhoods front the waterway, more are along the numerous creeks and even more line the area's four golf courses.
Known as "The Seafood Capital of the Carolinas," Hampstead is home to many local seafood vendors and a growing number of popular restaurants. Travelers can enjoy everything from casual family dining to elegant but comfortable golf course eateries, and a few local hot spots in between! In addition, Hampstead presents a wonderful and diverse array of shops for area tourists. From eclectic boutiques to mainstream storefronts, Hampstead shopping is sure to please even the most discerning of tastes, both young and old alike. Whether you're looking for the perfect gift to take home to a friend or loved one, or just a wonderful memento from your vacation, shopping locally in Hampstead will most certainly get you to your final "destination!" At the very least, you'll want to be sure to mark your calendars for Mother's Day weekend, and join us that Saturday for the "Celebrate Hampstead" Festival, a favorite local tradition in which businesses and the arts collide for the benefit of the Greater Hampstead Chamber of Commerce and the Topsail Schools' arts programs.
Maple Hill, located in the extreme eastern area of Pender County, with its broad open spaces, is quite an agricultural center and a community of fine farmers who are known for their delectable ham meats and turkeys.
Maple Hill is said to be named for the number of maple trees, or a large maple tree that stood on a hill either in or adjacent to the community.
This community has been the home of the James family for many, many years, their ancestors originally coming from Wales during Colonial times. Now the family, like many others, is scattered all over, but the elder member, Mr. Gibson James, represented the County in the Legislature two consecutive terms and was also a member of the Board of County Commissioners for several years. Joshua James, son of Gibson James, resigned as Clerk of the Superior Court in Pender to volunteer for the army.
Maple Hill has furnished many patriotic citizens both in the War Between the States, the First World War, as well as World War II.
Kinchen F. Powers was Sheriff of Pender County for one term and Ben Wooten Court Crier for a number of years, where many of his family have resided for years as well as the Laniers, Raynors, and many other farmers; some of its farmers marketing as many as five thousand turkeys in a season.
Penderlea, in northwestern Pender County is a unique agricultural community established in 1934 by the US Department of the Interior as the first of 152 subsistence resettlement projects under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Laid out in horseshoe fashion around a central community center, Penderlea was known as a "farm city," with a school that included an auditorium, gymnasium and teacherage. Radiating off the community center were small 20 acre farms believed sufficient to provide homesteaders subsistence and cash income to purchase homesteads under a lend/lease arrangement by the government. Each homestead featured a 2-3 bedroom house, a barn, poultry house, hog house and wash house. Designed not only to provide modern new homes and land to penniless young farmers, the homestead projects employed thousands of out of work men in the Civilian Conservation Core, another of Roosevelt's recovery measures. In 1937, Eleanor Roosevelt made a personal visit to Penderlea to boost nationwide enthusiasm for her husband's New Deal proposals and to encourage the young farmers and their families to take advantage of the opportunity to own their own land.
Today, Penderlea, is one of Pender County's historical tour destinations where you can visit the Penderlea Homestead Museum housed in one of the first ten homes built on the project. The original school at the heart of the community's center remains one of the very best in the county. Three hard-surface roads connect Penderlea to the surrounding towns of Wallace, Burgaw, and Watha where railway stations once awaited shipment of produce from this viable agricultural community.
Visit www.penderleahomesteadmuseum.org to find out about ongoing efforts to preserve the history of Penderlea.
Rocky Point located nine miles south of Burgaw, is a small community of several hundred people. Here you will find farmers, business owners, and many of the younger generation who commute between here and Wilmington.
During Revolutionary times, and since that time, Rocky Point was the residence of many Colonial families and was always famous for its wonderfully fertile soil, growing bountiful crops each year without the aid or use of much fertilizer. Within a five mile radius of the town, there are as many as five thousand acres of fertile marl sub-soil land that will last as long as time itself.
In 1880 the French brothers operated the rock quarries and marl beds on their property called Excelsior Plantation. It was known at that time as the only place where this special fertilizer was made from the chalk marl deposits and therefore recommended highly by the State chemists.
When the channel of the Cape Fear River was deepened, the rock that filled the new inlet below Wilmington came from the Rocky Point section on the North East Cape Fear River. When completed in 1875, it was called "The Rocks."
Scotts Hill was named for a family named Scott who lived on a hill in the vicinity of what is now the Old Scotts Hill AME Church. Apparently, the roads in the vicinity were prone to flooding and people would try to contact the Scotts to see if the roads were passable.
Today, the name Scotts Hill is applied to a community straddling the Pender/New Hanover county line along U.S. 17, between Porters Neck to the south and Browntown (named for the local Brown family) to the north. The center of the area was and still is Poplar Grove Plantation, founded by James Foy Jr. in 1795 and famous for peanut cultivation. A number of Foys and Foy descendants still live in the area. Since 1980, the plantation has been open to the public as an historical attraction, educational facility and host to many wonderful weekly and annual events. President George Washington in 1791 and President James Monroe in 1819 passed through and "paused" in Scotts Hill on their way to Wilmington as many travelers do today.
Surf City has been the commercial heart of Topsail Island for over 60 years. The town has grown from a small fishing village that was home to a small handful of families to a year-round community of some 1,900. Visitors enjoy Surf City as "the way the beach used to be," quiet and serene. Cross our historic "swing bridge," step back into the past and begin your family tradition.
Generations of visitors have enjoyed Surf City, because of its clean and uncrowded beaches that have become a hallmark of the town. Here visitors enjoy the touch of sand on their feet, the scent of the breezes or the constant motion of the waters as they stretch toward a deep blue sky. They may spot a pod of dolphin passing by or a flock of shore birds passing overhead.
Lying west of Surf City, Topsail Sound and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway separate the island from the mainland. This narrow body of water, with its nearby estuaries and wetlands, provides the perfect setting for canoeing, kayaking, skiing and fishing.
A variety of indoor and outdoor dining facilities features coastal Carolina cuisine. Local fare ranges from shellfish and finfish to uniquely seasoned surf, turf and poultry. Whatever you enjoy, whatever your budget allows, Surf City can provide it. The central business district offers a surprising choice of shopping opportunities -- from boutiques that carry a variety of distinctive gifts to specialty shops featuring foods, souvenirs, resort wear and items for recreational activities.
Located just off the southeastern North Carolina coast, halfway between Jacksonville and Wilmington, NC, Surf City is easily accessible from I-40 and US Route 17 via NC Highways 50 and 210.
The community of St Helena was developed and colonized by Hugh MacRae. The community was named for an Italian queen, and most of the streets have Italian names. The first settlers came to St. Helena in 1903 from northern Italy. There are descendants of Italians, Belgian, Hungarian, Serbian, Ukrainians, Russian, and Slovak families living in the community who contribute to the cultural and education aspects of Pender County.
St. Helena was incorporated in 1988 and became the largest town geographically in Pender County. The original settlers are getting older and their children are moving away. However, the draw is the same today as in early days. People looking for a large lot to build homes or raise horses. St. Helena continues to grow but maintains the rural areas as they were when the first settlers arrived to the area.
Incorporated in 1963, the town Topsail Beach is named for its location on Topsail Island. It reaches from Surf City's town limits to the southernmost tip of the Island. Not only does it have some of the best beaches but is also home to several restaurants including the original "Beach Shop & Grill", a general store, unique shops, Jolly Roger Fishing Pier and the Islands only bookstore, Quarter Moon Books. Locally owned and operated motels offer views of the ocean or the sound. The town also has its own marina and boat ramp where visitors can participate in all kinds of boating, water sports and fishing. If you are more into relaxing and long walks on the beach, you will find an abundance of shells to take home with you.
Topsail Beach is also home to the famous Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center where they care for and rehabilitate sick and injured loggerheads and other species. Once they are well, they release them back into the ocean. It is an emotional but rewarding experience to watch them go free. A short walk from the Sea Turtle Hospital is the Missiles and More Museum where you can learn all about the Island and its history. They can tell you what those interesting tall white rectangular buildings are located all over the island. The third weekend in October, the town hosts "Autumn with Topsail" that features juried artists displaying and selling their work.
Named for Hiawatha, this quiet Pender County community lies between Burgaw and Wallace just off Highway 117.
Watha was originally named South Washington dating back to 1836 when the railroad was built. The name was changed to Watha since another town named Washington in the state caused mail to be sent incorrectly.
The first courthouse in Pender County was located in Watha. In 1926 the town suffered a devastating fire which destroyed much of the town.
Today it remains largely a residential area with an estimated population of 172. In February 2009, Watha celebrated its 100 year anniversary.
Many of its residents are retired and enjoy the rural quaintness so often repeated in the western part of Pender County.
The information above on the towns located in Pender County was obtained from the official Pender County Tourism Web Site:
Click on the link below and visit the Pender County Tourism Web Site and review all the information available!!
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids