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.”
Date posted: March 6, 2009