Onslow County in North Carolina, with its rich and varied history, offers a fascinating glimpse into both colonial and modern America. The earliest known European contact with what is now Onslow County occurred in 1524 when French explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano encountered Native Americans along the coast. The region, initially part of Bath County and Craven Precinct, was later established as Onslow County in 1734 by the General Assembly, taking its name from Sir Arthur Onslow, a prominent British parliamentarian.

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The first European and English settlers arrived around 1713, drawn to the area’s waterways and pine forests. After facing natural disasters like a lethal hurricane in 1752, the county courthouse was moved from Town Point to Wantland’s Ferry, which later became Jacksonville, named after President Andrew Jackson, and was incorporated in 1842.

Onslow County’s economy traditionally revolved around agriculture, forest products, and fishing. Key crops included Indian corn and peas, while livestock farming was also prevalent. The county had an early start in manufacturing with the presence of gristmills and sawmills. Shipbuilding gained importance during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. A notable historical fact is that Onslow was the birthplace of the Prometheus in 1818, North Carolina’s first steamboat.

The 20th century, especially the World War II period, brought significant changes to Onslow County. The establishment of military installations like Camp Davis and Camp Lejeune transformed the county’s economy and demographics. Camp Lejeune, opened in 1941, became a major Marine Corps training facility, significantly influencing the county’s development.

Today, Onslow County is characterized by its flat, gently rolling terrain, covering 767 square miles. It boasts a rich outdoor life with over 30 miles of beautiful beaches, rivers, and abundant marine life. The New River, unique for having its headwaters and mouth in the same county, adds to the county’s scenic beauty. The county remains an agricultural force while simultaneously developing its industry, tourism, and residential communities​.

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