A History of Whiteville, North Carolina

Columbus County Court House - Whiteville, North Carolina

Whiteville's beginnings date back to 1733 land grants. James B White, for whom Whiteville is named, owned over 2,000 acres of land which included a plantation, Marsh Castle. It was originally part of 640 acre tract of land inherited by John Burgin and his wife, Margaret. John Burgin, an attorney, served as secretary to Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs in 1754 and was Treasurer of the colony in 1766.

In the years following the Revolutionary War, the area became more populous. For the convenience of these settlers, a new county, Columbus, was established from Bladen and Brunswick Counties. The site of Columbus County Courthouse was chosen and given to Columbus County by James B. White, who became the county's first state senator. Today's Court House Square can be seen on the original plan of Whiteville.

Later, the railroad depot was located south of Whiteville at Vineland, which existed as a separate town until 1926 when it became part of Whiteville. The Vineland section is still referred to as "downtown" and old Whiteville as "uptown".

Soldiers from Whiteville and Columbus County participated in the major battles of the Civil War from Manasses to Appomatox. Residents of Whiteville reported hearing the guns fired at Fort Fisher in 1865. Tales of looting and destruction, by marauders from Sherman's army, have been handed down for years.

As the South slowly rebuilt after the Civil War, so did Columbus County and Whiteville. Better roads and communications in the early decades of the twentieth century changed Whiteville from an agricultural community to a growing town. Population increased over 30% from 1920 to 1930.


Columbus Court House was granted a U.S. Post Office on July 1, 1811, and its first Postmaster was James B. White. The name was changed to Whitesville on September 24, 1829, and its first Postmaster was William Kemp. This was because there was already a town named Whitesville in Anson County with a Post Office, but this Post Office was closed down during 1829. The "s" was dropped and the name was officially changed to Whiteville in 1889 by the U.S. Post Office.


© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved