Columbus County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Columbus County, North Carolina
Map

Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of the USA highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Statistics
Founded 1808
Seat Whiteville
Largest City Whiteville
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

954 sq mi (2,471 km²)
937 sq mi (2,427 km²)
16 sq mi (41 km²), 1.7%
Population
 - (2010)
 - Density

58,098
161/sq mi (62/km²)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website: www.columbusco.org
Named for: Christopher Columbus

Columbus County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 58,098. Its county seat is Whiteville.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a 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) (1.7%) is water. It is the third-largest county in North Carolina by land area. There are several large lakes within the county, including Lake Tabor and Lake Waccamaw.

One of the most significant geographic features is the Green Swamp, a 15,907-acre area along highway 211 in the north-eastern portion of the county. It contains several unique and endangered species, such as the venus flytrap. The area contains the Brown Marsh Swamp, and has a remnant of the giant longleaf pine forest that once stretched across the Southeast from Virginia to Texas.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • I-74
  • US 74
  • US 76
  • US 701
  • NC 11
  • NC 87
  • NC 130
  • NC 131
  • NC 211
  • NC 214
  • NC 242
  • NC 410
  • NC 904
  • NC 905

History

The county was formed in 1808 in the early federal period from parts of Bladen and Brunswick counties. It was named for Christopher Columbus.

In 1983, State and Federal Investigators began Operation Gateway US, an investigation into the activities of several elected officials in Brunswick and Columbus counties. Law enforcement seized 37 million dollars of illegal drugs, and arrested several leading citizens in the area. The scandal was labeled "COLCOR" in the press, shorthand for Columbus Corruption.

Waccamaw Siouan Indian tribe

The Waccamaw Siouan Indians are one of eight state-recognized tribes. Their homeland territory is at the edge of Green Swamp in present-day Columbus County. Historically, the "eastern Siouans" had territories extending through the area of Columbus County prior to any European exploration or settlement in the 16th century.

English colonial settlement in what was known as Carolina did not increase until the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Following epidemics of infectious disease, the indigenous peoples also suffered disruption and fatalities during the colonial Tuscarora and Yamasee wars. Afterward most of the Tuscarora people migrated north, joining other Iroquoian-speaking peoples of the Iroquois Confederacy in New York State by 1722, when they declared their migration ended and official tribe relocated to that area.

The Waccamaw Siouan ancestors retreated for safety to an area of Green Swamp near Lake Waccamaw. Throughout the 19th century, the Waccamaw Siouan were seldom mentioned in the historical record. Toward the end of the century, the U.S. Census recorded common Waccamaw surnames among individuals in the small isolated communities of this area.

In 1910, the earliest-known governmental body of the Waccamaw Indians was officially created, named the Council of Wide Awake Indians. At a time of racial segregation in North Carolina schools, the council sought to gain public funding for Indian schools, as the Lumbee (then known as Croatan Indians) had achieved in the late 19th century. They also hoped to gain federal recognition as a tribe, but it was rare for landless Indians and was associated with the tribes that had official treaties with the United States, typically those on reservations. The Council opened its first publicly funded school in 1933, founding others soon after. They continued to have difficulty in getting state funding for schools, as minorities had been disenfranchised in North Carolina since passage of a suffrage amendment in 1900 that created barriers to voter registration. The Council campaigned for federal recognition in 1940 during the President Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, which had passed the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, encouraging tribes to re-establish self-government.

The name Waccamaw Siouan was first officially used in US government documents in 1949, when a bill intended to grant the tribe federal recognition was introduced in Congress by the representative of this district. The bill was defeated in committee the following year. But changes in federal policy following Native American activism in the 1960s and 1970s enabled the Waccamaw Indians to obtain more public funding and economic assistance even without federal recognition.

The Waccamaw Siouan have been recognized by the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs since 1971, as one of eight state-recognized tribes. The tribe organized as the Waccamaw Siouan Development Association (WSDA), a nonprofit group founded in 1972. The group is headed by a nine-member board of directors, elected by secret ballot in elections open to all enrolled tribal members over the age of 18; in addition, the board includes a chief, whose role is largely symbolic.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 3,022
1820 3,912 29.5%
1830 4,141 5.9%
1840 3,941 −4.8%
1850 5,909 49.9%
1860 8,597 45.5%
1870 8,474 −1.4%
1880 14,439 70.4%
1890 17,856 23.7%
1900 21,274 19.1%
1910 28,020 31.7%
1920 30,124 7.5%
1930 37,720 25.2%
1940 45,663 21.1%
1950 50,621 10.9%
1960 48,973 −3.3%
1970 46,937 −4.2%
1980 51,037 8.7%
1990 49,587 −2.8%
2000 54,749 10.4%
2010 58,098 6.1%
Est. 2015 56,694 −2.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 54,749 people, 21,308 households, and 15,043 families residing in the county. The population density was 58/sq mi (23/km²). As of 2004, there were 24,668 housing units at an average density of 26/sq mi (10/km²). The racial makeup for the county was 68.9% White, 23.1% Black or African American, 5.1% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 4.7% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. 2.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

By 2005 62.3% of the county population was White. 31.1% of the population was African-American. 3.2% of the population was Native American. According to the 2010 census, 1,025 people in Columbus County self-identify as Waccamaw Siouan. 2.8% of the population was Latino.

There were 21,308 households out of which 31.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.80% were married couples living together, 15.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.40% were non-families. 26.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.70% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 24.40% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 92.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.40 males.

The 2003 median income for a household in the county was $27,659, and the median income for a family was a little more than $33,800. Males had a median income of $28,494 versus $19,867 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,415. About 17.60% of families and 20.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.00% of those under age 18 and 25.50% of those age 65 or over.

Communities

Cities

Map of Columbus County North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
Map of Columbus County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels

Towns

Townships

  • Bogue
  • Bolton
  • Bug Hill
  • Cerro Gordo
  • Chadbourn
  • Fair Bluff
  • Lees
  • Ransom
  • South Williams
  • Tatums
  • Waccamaw
  • Welch Creek
  • Western Prong
  • Williams
  • Whiteville

Census-designated places

Unincorporated areas


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