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What is the history of the Berlin community?

Ben Steelman

Our questioner thought Berlin was on the Northeast Cape Fear River in Pender County near Lanes Ferry. We checked with both the Pender and New Hanover County public libraries, though, and with some local historians such as Hattie Squires in Currie, and none of them had ever heard of a “Berlin” in Pender.

A “New Berlin,” however, was once located on the other side of the Northeast Cape Fear River — in Columbus County, not far from Riegelwood, near the Brunswick County Line.

This is the community of Delco, off U.S. 74. Back in the 1800s, it was a stop on the Wilmington, Columbia & Augusta Rail Road, originally known as Brinkly. In 1913, it was incorporated as “New Berlin.” Hugh MacRae — who, around this time, was recruiting immigrant farmers for such communities as Castle Hayne — had bought land nearby and was trying to attract German colonists to the area.

Once the United States entered World War I, however, having the same name as the enemy’s capital city was suddenly an unpopular idea. Thus, in 1918 (according to The North Carolina Gazetteer), the community’s name was changed to Pershing, in honor of Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe.

After six months, however (for unknown reasons, according to the Gazetteer), locals changed the name again — to Delco, in honor of the Delco Light Plant Co., which had just installed lighting in the local high school. These days, Delco is home to Acme-Delco Middle School.

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One Response to “ What is the history of the Berlin community?”

  1. On January 28, 2010 at 3:33 pm mark mckoy wrote:

    The Tanner/Schenck map published in 1822 shows the community of Berlin in Pender county across from the mouth of Island creek which is just below Lanes ferry.

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