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Where do some of the strange town names in Columbus County come from?

Ken Little

Two men ride a tractor along Main St. in Cerro Gordo in December, 1995. StarNews file photo.

Q. Where does the name ‘Nakina’ in Columbus County come from? Also where do Cerro Gordo (“fat hill” in Spanish), Pireway, and some of the other stranger names in the area originate?

A. Jennifer Holcomb, executive director of the Columbus County Tourism Bureau, found some answers in a 1980 book edited by Ann Courtney Ward Little titled “Columbus County North Carolina Recollections and Records.”

Nakina was first known as Rangtan. Later it was named Wattsville. About 1910, it became necessary to change the name for the establishment of a post office. Since there was another community named Wattsville, the village adopted the Indian name Nakina, according to the book.

According to local legend, Cerro Gordo was named for the battle of Cerro Gordo which occurred in 1847, during the Mexican War.

Another local legend supports that contention. Supposedly, a local dignitary, upon seeing a fight break out at the dedication of the town’s first railroad depot, remarked, “This reminds me of the ‘Battle of Cerro Gordo.’”

Much speculation has centered around the origin of the name Pireway, Holcomb said.

Mrs. J. L. Blake of Leland conducted extensive research in Brunswick County records and uncovered some pertinent information:

On June 14, 1767, Edward Wingate conveyed 320 acres on the “Waggamaw River” to Lewis Dupree. The acreage, identified as Pyraway, formerly belonged to Lewis John, according to Blake’s research.

For more information about Columbus County and its communities, visit www.discovercolumbuscounty.com


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User-contributed question by:
Martin Smith

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