north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Maurice Moore, the son of South Carolina governor James Moore, established himself in North Carolina in 1725 with a 1,500-acre grant from the Lords Proprietors. As a business venture, Moore laid out Brunswick Town, located in present-day Brunswick County, in 1726. It was named for King George I of England who was a member of the German House of Brunswick-Hanover. Situated on the Cape Fear River, the town became the colony's chief port for exporting naval stores and lumber to Europe and the West Indies. In the 1730s Brunswick was designated as the county seat of New Hanover County, only to become the seat of the newly created Brunswick County in 1764. A Brunswick Town estate known as “Russellborough” was the home of Royal Governors Arthur Dobbs and William Tryon until 1770 when the governor’s mansion was constructed in New Bern.

     Brunswick residents faced a series of hardships. On September 4, 1748, sailors from Spanish ships came ashore and attacked the town. Citizens drove out the Spaniards and ransacked their ship. They sold the ship’s contents and even the sailors themselves, using the proceeds to finance the construction of St. Philip’s Church. In February of 1766, residents rallied against the Stamp Act in one of the earliest acts of armed resistance to the Crown in America. Several years before the Boston Tea Party, that action halted the collection of tax along the Cape Fear. Owing to the loss of the governors’ residence, the growth of Wilmington, destructive hurricanes, and the prevalence of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, by the onset of the Revolutionary War, most citizens had deserted Brunswick Town. In February of 1776, British troops burned several of the town’s buildings. By 1779, a new county seat was established at Lockwood Folly Bridge and Brunswick ceased to exist as an incorporated town.

     After it was burned, the town lay in ruins until the Confederate Army constructed Fort Anderson on the site in 1862. After the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865, Union troops captured the fort. In the 1950s and 1960s state archaeologists began uncovering the foundations of Brunswick. Today the walls of St. Philip’s, dating back to 1754, and the foundation of Russellborough are visible. Brunswick Town is a state historic site operated by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

James Laurence Sprunt, The Story of Orton Plantation (1958)
Lawrence Lee, The Lower Cape Fear in Colonial Days (1965)
North Carolina Historic Sites, Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson website:
William S. Powell, North Carolina Gazetteer (1968)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources