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Town of Atkinson


Atkinson, a township in Pender County, North Carolina was originally called "Lewis" and was established around 1890 and was incorporated in 1909.

The land which the town of Atkinson now sits on was once owned by the Bonham Family and was known as part of the Bonham Plantation or Estate. This was prior to the Civil War. The Bonham Family owned vast amounts of land. 

In 1887, Margaret Jane Bonham Lewis gave her son William Hezikiah Lewis 100 acres from land which was given to her by her father, Hezikiah Bonham, Jr.

The Cape Fear Yadkin Valley Railway was looking at running a line from Fayetteville to Wilmington. The North State Improvement Co. of Greensboro did the railroad's route study.

William Hezekiah donated the lands to be used to establish the town of Atkinson. Lewis hired North State to lay out his 100 acres in city blocks.

A survey was performed from Fayetteville to Wilmington across the western part of New Hanover County (now Pender County) to establish the most feasible route to build a railroad from the seacoast to the mountains - a distance of approximately 350 miles. The southern extension was completed in 1882 and subsequently a railroad station was built in Lewis.  The North State Improvement Co. of Greensboro did the railroad's route study. Lewis hired North State to lay out his 100 acres in city blocks.

The line was completed in 1890. Sure enough, the first train from Fayetteville to Wilmington passed through Atkinson around 10 a.m., coming back around 4 p.m.

Lewis deeded a block to the railroad for a depot. The first lot he sold became a general merchandise store. Houses, churches and schools soon followed.

The railroad spelled the end for nearby Point Caswell, where farmers had put wares on boats on the Black River bound for Wilmington. Today, Point Caswell is just homes and marshy woodlands.

In 1910, Atkinson had a population of 600. Now it's around 250

Then known as "Lewis", the area was renamed "Atkinson" by W. H. Lewis, in commemorating a man named Roger P. Atkinson, Chief Engineer, who was one of the main factors in the completion of the railroad. Mr. Lewis, gave much time and effort in building up the area. 

A school was built in 1880, with a dormitory for boys and one for girls. Children attending school stayed there all week and went home on the weekend. Most lived so far away from the school this was the only alternative. 

The Episcopal Church was formally dedicated on March 20, 1896 by the Rev. A. A. Watson, Bishop of the Diocese and Rev. Wooten, the pastor, as well as, Rev. Dr. Strange and Rev. Skinner of Wilmington. History shows that Mrs. Virginia Russ Hawes wanted her children to attend the Episcopal church and since there wasn't one locally at the time, she had timber cut from her property and the church built in her yard. Services were held in the church from 1896 until 1950. The church building and land is now owned by the Harold Aikens family, as well as, the Hawes home, which they have restored. 

The Baptist Church was organized in 1896. About 1904, a wooden building was constructed on the Walsh Henry and W. H. Lewis property in Atkinson. It served both as a church and a school. The pastor was Rev. Charles H. Uttley. Worship services were held in this building until 1948 when the new sanctuary was dedicated. In 1972 an educational Building was added. 

 In 1924, all the school buildings burned to the ground. The County of Pender built a new school - "Atkinson High School", on land purchased from the Henry family. 

The Drug Store (no longer used as such) was built by George Highsmith Sr. in 1923. One hundred-fifty five thousand, five hundred and six prescriptions were filled in this drug store. The drug store closed after the death of Dr. G. Beard in 1962. 

The Freewill Holiness Church originated from a group of members from the Freewill Baptist Church of Point Caswell who moved to Atkinson and disbanded the Church.

In 1951 a group calling themselves the Freewill Holiness Church began having services in Lenmore Johnson's home. Dennis Hill of Clinton was the first pastor. Mrs. Esther Horrell Woodcock, mother-in-law of Lenmore Johnson was an original member of the old Baptist Church in Point Caswell. A year later, services were being  held in a building belonging to Mrs. Sudie Henry, who has been said to be the instigator of the church.

Bill Bradshaw donated the lands for the new church. S. L. Moore gave the first $50 for the new building. Mr. Moore was an active member of the Atkinson Baptist Church, taught Sunday School at his own church in the morning and and was Superintendent and teacher at the Holiness Church in the afternoon. The present building was started in 1952 and completed in 1955. It still has a practicing congregation. 

The Agriculture Building, which was a part of the Atkinson High School, has been remodeled and converted into Atkinson's Town Hall. Prior to having use of this property, the town shared office space with the fire department. 

Read about the Town of Atkinson and it's 100 Year Celebration!

Atkinson Centennial Celebration

See old photos of Town of Atkinson.

Atkinson Photos

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