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Why do they call it Burgaw?

Ben Steelman

Hard to say. According to local historians, the name comes from a band of Indians who lived in the vicinity. A “Burgaw Plantation” appears in records as early as 1764, and Burgaw Creek, northeast of the present town, is shown on the Collet map of 1770. (Mapmaker Abraham Collet, however, spelled it “Bargaw.”)

It almost missed being Burgaw. When Pender County was set up by the General Assembly in 1875, legislators specified that the place chosen as county seat should be named “Cowan.” Two years later, though, that law was amended to call the new town “Standard.” That name proved unpopular, though; according to the North Carolina Gazetteer, locals had been calling the settlement Burgaw as early as the Civil War. In 1879, however, the legislature bowed to reality, and “Standard” was formally changed to Burgaw.

Pronunciation note: The locals usually put the accent on the last syllable, but not too heavily: “Bur-GAW.”

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5 Responses to “ Why do they call it Burgaw?”

  1. On August 5, 2009 at 7:51 am Gary Webb wrote:

    Have several generations of family born and raised in Burgaw. I was always told that “burgaw” or bargaw was an Indian word for “Mud Hole”.

  2. On August 8, 2009 at 8:46 am Bill Barnhill wrote:

    My understanding is that the the town was originally to be called “Stanford” not “Standard”. In 1879 the name “Stanford” was by law changed to
    “Burgaw”. It is the County Seat of Pender County.

    I also have the understanding that the name “Burgaw” was taken from a local tribe of native americans and that it did mean “mudhole”.

  3. On September 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm Renee Lyna wrote:

    I heard that Burgaw means “mud” in native American language. Not sure if it’s true but I thought I’d pass it along.

  4. On December 15, 2013 at 10:36 am Teresa Coleman wrote:

    The pronunciation of the town of Burgaw, as long as I have lived here, as been BUR-gaw, not Bur-GAW.

  5. On November 15, 2017 at 7:17 pm T Bryan wrote:

    Burgaw is BURgaw. Why do people put false information on such an important website of information without checking their facts more closely?

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