The community that became Jacksonville was firmly established in the pre-Civil War era. Wantland’s Ferry changed its name in 1819 to Onslow Court House (Figure 5) and in 1842 it was again changed to Jacksonville (Watson 1995:29). The town was named for Andrew Jackson who had recently served as President of the United States (Watson 1995:33). One of the first institutions of public education in Onslow, a female seminary, was constructed in Jacksonville in 1851. It admitted males several years later and became the Jacksonville Male and Female Seminary (Watson 1995:42).
The backbone of Onslow County’s economy in the antebellum era remained, as in years before, agriculture and naval stores (Watson 1995:47). By 1840, the county ranked fourth in naval stores production among all counties in North Carolina. Aside from agriculture and naval stores, the county’s economy was somewhat diversified. Shipbuilding, fishing, and milling each had a visible presence in the decades before the Civil War (Watson 1995:49-51).