We stumped a lot of locals asking about “El Paso,” and no wonder. The name hasn’t been used, apparently, since the early 1900s.
According to the “Unincorporated Communities” page at www.brunswickcountync.gov, El Paso was the name of a post office in what is now the Lanvale community. Post office records show it was established on Aug. 13, 1877, discontinued on Nov. 4, 1878, re-established on June 12, 1884, then closed for good on Dec. 31, 1909.
William W. Drew was the first El Paso postmaster, followed by Carrie C. Drew on June 12, 1884, and John J. Knox, who took over on June 24, 1902. The John J. Knox House still stands at 7941 Ocean Highway East.
According to Lawrence Lee’s “History of Brunwick County,” El Paso had a sawmill and possibly a turpentine distillery.
Although the post office closed in 1909, the old El Paso post office was a stop on the Wilmington, Brunswick and Southern Railroad, a 30-mile line that ran from Navassa to Southport between 1911 and 1942. Called the “Willing But Slow” by locals, the struggling line was shut down early in World War II, and the U.S. War Department recycled its steel tracks for the war effort. (For more on this railroad, click here.)
The Lanvale post office opened in 1912, and the name seems to have been accepted for the whole community soon afterward. SR 1438 in northeastern Brunswick County is known as Lanvale Road.
The questioner noted that a number of Gores lived in the El Paso area. Among these was Jesse Dewitt Gore Sr. (1831-1907), who is buried in the Chadwick Cemetery in Leland. Gore was apparently a member of Bethel Primitive Baptist Church near Hickman’s Crossroads and was chosen as a messenger to the Mill Branch Association in 1887.
Date posted: November 15, 2012
User-contributed question by:
Rita Gore Scheckler