Jacksonville is a city in Onslow County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 United States census, the population stood at 70,145, which makes Jacksonville the 14th largest city in North Carolina. Jacksonville is the principal city of Onslow County and is included in the Jacksonville, North Carolina metropolitan area. In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Jacksonville as the fifth fastest-growing small city in the United States. Demographically, Jacksonville is the youngest city in the United States with an average age of 22.8 years old, which can be attributed to the large military presence. The low age may also be in part due to the population drastically going up over the past 80 years, from a mere 783 in the 1930 census to 70,145 in the 2010 census.
The first known settlers of the Jacksonville area were Native Americans who lived there as early as 1000 B.C., coinciding with the Folsom Period. During this time, the Indians began to cultivate maize on a large scale to better feed their families. It is estimated that the boatload of maize produced by each family was enough to last them throughout an entire year. When Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León first came to visit the area in 1513 he found it inhabited by a tribe of about 40,000 natives calling themselves the Timucua people.
However, when French explorer René Goulaine de Laudonnière visited just 12 years later in 1565 he found very few of them living on the banks of the St. Johns River. These first French explorers named their discovery as “The River of May”, because they arrived just before the month of May.
In 1822, a man by the name of Mr. Levi James was one of the earliest permanent white settlers in Jacksonville after immigrating from Charleston, South Carolina. He settled near the intersection of what is now Ocean Street and Newnan Street (opposite site of present-day Daniel’s Seafood Restaurant, which currently resides at that location). About three years later in 1825, another group of people consisting primarily of families began to settle along the banks between Newnan Street and Broad Streets (near present-day Hemming Park). particular area became known as LaVilla, which was the first organized townsite in present-day Jacksonville.
In 1831 a man named Bishop Elijah Baker founded the Baptist Missionary Society of Florida and started a school for boys known as the Kings School. It was located near the intersection of Broad Street and Bay Street (now Main Street) where St. John’s Cathedral now stands today. The school educated both white and black students from wealthy families who lived in LaVilla as well as slaves belonging to plantation owners across Duval County. Unfortunately, this institution only lasted about five years before its doors were closed for good by Baker himself due to financial problems at his church.
Today, this area is now an historical district of Jacksonville that includes St. John’s Cathedral, the St. James Building, and St. Nicholas Hotel.
Jacksonville was incorporated for the first time as a town on July 3, 1832 after becoming the largest city in Florida for over 40 years but it retained its status as county seat of Duval County when Florida became a state in 1845. The town adopted its first municipal charter in March 1846 and residents were finally able to elect their own mayor who represented them at City Council meetings before Governor William Pope Duval appointed him or her to office. This practice continued until 1901 when voters opted for a new charter which allowed only males with property registered to vote to participate in local politics until 1920 when women finally gained suffrage.
In addition to receiving their own political rights, Jacksonville gradually began to develop into a major port city in the early 1900s when steamboats started traveling up and down the St. Johns River. The town was not only an important part of Florida’s economy at this time but also supported many jobs related to timber harvesting, phosphate mining, farming, cattle ranching, railroads, naval shipyards, and lumber mills that were scattered all across Duval County (Jacksonville).
It is the county seat of Onslow County, and the home of the United States Marine Corps‘ Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station. Jacksonville is located adjacent to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast area.
On 21 June 2016, the City of Jacksonville, NC, became the first jurisdiction to adopt a paid holiday honoring the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which made slavery in the United States and its territories illegal. The resolution of adoption targets the prevention of the modern slavery epidemic in the form of human trafficking, which includes forcing children to engage in labor and combat.
In recognition of the history of African Americans (and remembering the Montford Point Marines who faced second class citizenship), Jacksonville honored their heritage and the enfranchisement their ancestors received from the 13th Amendment. The holiday (Freedom Day) will be celebrated on the second Monday in December, which will always fall between the dates of the states’ ratification (6 December 1865) and Secretary of State’s proclamation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (18 December 1865).