Attracted by the waterways and longleaf pine forests, the first European and English settlers arrived in Onslow County in 1713. Onslow County was formed in 1734 and was named for the Honorable Arthur Onslow, Speaker of the British House of Commons. After a lethal 1752 hurricane, the county courthouse was relocated from Town Point to Wantland’s Ferry; this settlement was eventually incorporated in 1842 and named Jacksonville after President Andrew Jackson. Onslow County dramatically changed in the early 1940s with the establishment of the Army’s Camp Davis near Holly Ridge (now closed), and the creation of Camp Lejeune in 1941.
Onslow County’s flat, gently rolling terrain covers 767 square miles and is located in the southeastern coastal plain of North Carolina, approximately 120 miles east of Raleigh, and 50 miles north of Wilmington.
The city of Jacksonville is the county seat, and the areas surrounding the city constitute the major population centers and growth areas in the county. The county is home to more than 150,000 people and includes the incorporated towns of Holly Ridge, Richlands, Swansboro, North Topsail Beach, part of Surf City, and unincorporated Sneads Ferry. Approximately 156,000 acres comprise the U.S. Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune and more than 43,000 marines and sailors are stationed there.
Onslow County Government consists of a seven-member Board of Commissioners, elected at large for four-year terms. Commissioners are: Chairman Jack Bright, Vice-Chairman Paul Buchanan, Commissioner Royce Bennett, Commissioner Timothy Foster, Commissioner Robin Knapp, Commissioner Mark Price and Commissioner William Shanahan III. The Clerk to the Board is appointed by the Commissioners and serves at the pleasure of the Board. Ms. Julie S. Wand was appointed in February, 2011.
Onslow County Government employs over 1,200 people in the county.