Pender County


Though one of the state’s five largest counties in land mass, Pender is home to just 65,000 people or roughly the population of the Town of Apex. And it has doubled in population since 1990.

Formed in 1875 out of New Hanover County, Pender is named after William Dorsey Pender, a Confederate officer killed in the Battle of Gettysburg. There is some confusion and disagreement about the origin of Burgaw, the county seat. Originally called Cowan and then changed by state law to Stanford, it was changed again in the late 1800s and likely named after Burgaw Creek, which is labeled on early maps as both “Bargaw” and “Bergaw.”

The county is traversed by extensive intercoastal and inland waterways. The Black River is recognized as one of only two pollution-free rivers in the nation and the Cape Fear has played a major role in the county’s growth for two centuries.

The flat terrain and soil in Pender County have made it ideal for the county’s primary crop — blueberries. Sweet potatoes, strawberries, tobacco, soybeans, peanuts, corn, and grapes also contribute significantly to the county’s economy, as does tourism: Pender is home to Topsail Island, one of North Carolina’s more popular beaches.

Bill Clinton won Pender County on his way to the White House in 1992, but no Democratic presidential nominee has carried the county since. It’s now overwhelmingly Republican – both Donald Trump in 2020 and Ted Budd in 2022 earned at least 64% of the vote.


Elected Officials

County Data