A History of Swansboro, North Carolina

Swansboro's history began around 1730, when the first permanent settlement was established on the former site of an Algonquin Indian village at the mouth of the White Oak River in Onslow County. In 1783, the colonial port town of Swannsborough was incorporated in honor of Samuel Swann.

The bustling port of Swannsborough thrived and shipbuilding became its major industry. The town's most famous ship builder was Captain Otway Burns, builder of the Prometheus, the first steamboat constructed in North Carolina. Captain Burns' earlier exploits as the commander of the privateer vessel, the Snapdragon, had already brought much honor to the town. The port continued to prosper until the end of the Civil War.

The decline of the shipping industry initiated considerable growth of lumber and naval stores, which succumbed to the Great Depression in the 1920s. The town's people then turned to another natural resource, the sea, and the development of the commercial fishing industry.

Marine Corps bases at Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune brought economic growth during the second World War. Growth has continued to the present day, but Swansboro has managed to retain the quaint charm and quiet character of a picturesque colonial port while developing its successful fishing and tourist industries.

On March 24, 1864, a closely coordinated Army-Navy expedition departed Beaufort, North Carolina, on board side-wheel steamer U.S.S. Britannia. Some 200 soldiers were commanded by Colonel James Jourdan, while about 50 sailors from U.S.S. Keystone State, Florida, and Cambridge were in charge of Commander Benjamin M. Dove. The aim of the expedition was the capture or destruction of two schooners used in blockade running at Swansboro, North Carolina, and the capture of a Confederate army group on the south end of Bogue Island Banks.

Arriving off Bogue Inlet late at night, the expedition encountered high winds and heavy seas which prevented landing on the beach. Early on the morning of the 25th, a second attempt was made under similarly difficult conditions, but a party got through to Bear Creek where one of the schooners was burned. Bad weather persisted throughout the day and the expedition eventually returned to Beaufort on the 26th with its mission only partially completed.

Swansborough was granted a US Post Office on April 1, 1799, and its first Postmaster was Mr. A. Carmalt. It has been in continuous operation ever since.

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