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Columbus County, North Carolina facts for kids

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Columbus County
Columbus County Courthouse, Whiteville
Map of North Carolina highlighting Columbus County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Founded 1808
Named for Christopher Columbus
Seat Whiteville
Largest city Whiteville
Area
 • Total 954 sq mi (2,470 km2)
 • Land 937 sq mi (2,430 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (40 km2)  1.7%%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2018)
55,655
 • Density 160/sq mi (62/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 7th

Columbus County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina, on its southeastern border. Its county seat is Whiteville. The 2020 census showed a loss of 12.9% of the population down to 50,623. This included inmate prison population of about 2500.

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.

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%
2020 50,623 −12.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2020

According to the U.S. Census, the population was 50,623. The ethnic data of residents of Columbus County in 2020 was defined as White, 59.3%; African American, 28.6%; Hispanic 5.2%; American Indian, 3.4%; Asian, 0.3%; and Pacific Islander, 0.2%. Individuals identifying as two or more races accounted for 3% of the population while individuals identifying as a race “other” than any listed were 0.3%.

2010

As of the 2010 census, the population was 58,098.

2005

In 2005 62.3% of the county population was White, 31.1% of the population was African-American, and 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.

2003

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.

2000

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.

Opiod Use

Columbus County led the state in opioid pills per person from 2006 to 2012 averaging 113.5 pills per person per year.

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

Economics

The economy of Columbus County centers on agriculture and manufacturing. Columbus farmers produce crops such as pecans and peanuts, along with soybeans, potatoes, and corn. Cattle, poultry, and catfish are other agricultural products in the county.

Factories in the region produce textiles, tools, and plywood. Household products such as doors, furniture, and windows are also manufactured in Columbus.

Carolina Southern stopped railroad service to the county in 2012, and efforts to restore service have proven difficult. However, as of July 2014, positive developments were reported to return railroad service to the area, which was considered integral to spur economic development.

in July 2014, Carolina Southern agreed to begin the process of allowing the counties of Horry County, South Carolina, Marion, South Carolina and Columbus County, NC to assume control of the area rail lines. The goal was to repair the railroad tracks and bridges through local governments and then to find a buyer to re-establish service to the area. A public hearing on the matter was held on October 6, 2014. During that meeting, the Columbus County Commissioners voted to support the initiative to restart rail service with a 10-year grant for the program. Some of the commissioners may not have revealed that they will benefit from the re-establishment of rail service. The Horry County Council in October 2014 also voted to provide funding to reestablish railroad service to the area. Although originally it was thought service could be restored as early as spring 2015, however, the sale of the railroad was not completed until August, 2015 to R.J. Coleman Railroad.. A new target date of February 2016 was announced, as millions of dollars are expected to be spent repairing the rail lines that have been idle since 2011.

The county ranks low in state health rankings.

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