History of Bladenboro

The King of England gave the grant of land on which to live to his son, the Earl of Bladen, in the early 1700's. This grant of land, reaching to the Mississippi river and now comprising fifty-six counties, was named Bladen County in his honor. At that time, all of the small sections were called "Boroughs". The name, Bladenboro, is derived from "Bladen" and "Borough".
The 200 acre grant of land which included Bladenboro was made by His Excellency, Governor Richard Cashwell, to Rehand Redin on August 26, 1779. It is recorded in Book 6, Page 43 in the office of the Secretary of State. The original seal of the state, held in a small circular piece of wood, was attached to insure safe delivery, as the written grant was carried by a man on horseback.
At one time, most of the town and surrounding territory for several miles was owned by Absalom Wilson and his descendants, John and Dunham Wilson and their families. Later the lands were sold or granted to a Mr. Ward, Joshua Lee, Michael Lee, Shepard Lee, Samuel Elkins, Archibald Elkins, Thomas Bryant, Jonathan Singletary and Josiah Stafford.
In 1857, Robert Tate came to Bladenboro directly from Scotland and built a store where he conducted a mercantile business and also the town's first turpentine distillery. His sweetheart, also from Scotland, soon joined him here. They built a home on the north side of Bryant Swamp where they lived until their death. They reared a family that has done much for the cultural life of that section of Bladen County.
Bladenboro really began to be a town before that time. Robert Ivey, great-grandfather of the Monroe-Singletary children, settled just south of the center of what is now the business section of the town. This family has played an important role in the history of Bladen County as well as in that of Bladenboro. At various times, Mr. Robert Ivey and his son, Turner Ivey, would purchase hundreds of acres of land. John and Charles Ivey were sons of Turner Ivey. They were the wealthiest men at that time in that section. The Singletary family donated land for the first school house in Bladenboro and also the site for the First Baptist Church and parsonage.
A new era dawned in the Bladenboro with the building of the Seaboard Railway in 1859.
In 1885, two brothers, R.L. and H.C. Bridger, came to Bladenboro from Little River, South Carolina. Beginning with a little more than $1,000, they set up a partnership known as R. L. Bridger and Brother. They built a large store and purchased lands adjacent to the town. During the following years, the Bridger brothers and their sons, established and operated these businesses: Turpentine Operations-1885; Cotton Gin-1887;Bank-1908 and Cotton Mills began operations in 1912.
Until 1893, when the last barroom was closed, Bladenboro was without schools. Five men, H.C. Bridger, S.N. Ferguson, Monroe Singletary, R.L. Bridger and James White had the vision and means to erect a two-story frame building where the Baptist parsonage now stands. In 1901, the Academy was sold to the public for $650. Bonds were issued in 1917 for the purpose of building a consolidated school. 1918 marked the completion of the $55,000 building now used as the grammar school. in 1992, the Bladenboro Historical Society took over this building and began restorations so the building can be used for a community building. In 1920, home economics and agriculture found their way into the school. Since then, buildings housing these projects, the high school, elementary building and gym have been erected. In 1990, Bladenboro's Bulldogs won the State Basketball Championship for 1-A.
The Bank of Bladenboro was organized and built in 1908, practically all the capital coming from the local people.
Other Facts about Bladenboro:
  • Post Office - Bryant Swamp opened January 9, 1853 (near Richardson) moved to Bladenboro on March 29, 1866.
  • The great typhoid epidemic was in 1903
  • Bladenboro's first Mayor was Mr. Dan Edwards. Dan Edwards, who served in 1903 was followed by: Woodbury Wilson in 1910; J.G. Freeman in 1913; H.J. White, Sr. 1924-1928; Clifford Buie 1928-1930; Sam Butler 1930-1932; J.A. Bridger 1932-1947; W.G. Fussell 1947-1957; C.B. Hasbrouck 1957-1974; Edgar C. Evans 1974-1993; Livingston Lewis 1993-2013 and Rufus Duckworth 2013-present.