In 1912 the Wilmington Morning Star took note of several points of historical interest in Pender County. Among these was the Swann plantation, the “ancient mill site of the Swanns that ground corn and wheat in ‘ye olden days.’” Nearby could be found the remains of a brickyard. The site was the longtime seat of the Swanns, among the more notable families in the Cape Fear region and one amongst many eighteenth-century plantations along the Northeast Cape Fear River.
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The lands first were granted to John Baptista Ashe in 1727 who was married to the former Elizabeth Swann, sister to John and Samuel Swann. The Moseley map of 1733 indicates that John and Samuel both had established residences on the river by that time. John Swann established the original Swann Point plantation. A traveler in 1734 described his estate as “the finest place in all Cape Fear.”
Nearby was Samuel Swann’s plantation home, “The Oaks,” about a mile to the northeast of his brother’s estate. Samuel Swann, born in 1704, served as a surveyor on the party locating the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia in 1728. Swann was as speaker of the Assembly for about twenty years before his death in 1774. He worked with Edward Moseley on the first revisal of the Laws of the Province of North Carolina. The work, issued in 1752 and known as Swann’s Revisal, was the first book published in the colony.
Swann’s house, acquired by Alexander Duncan Moore in 1812, burned shortly thereafter. Port Swannsborough and the town of Swansboro in Onslow County were named for Samuel Swann.
Mattie Bloodworth, History of Pender County (1947)
E. Lawrence Lee, The Lower Cape Fear in Colonial Days (1965)
James Sprunt, Chronicles of the Lower Cape Fear (1916)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 489-490—sketch by Mattie Erma E. Parker
Wilmington Morning Star, January 2, 1912