History of Leland


Background & Early Days

What is today know as Leland was, in the mid 1890s, a small settlement at the crossroads where Village Road crossed the Wilmington, Columbia, and Augusta Railroad.

The name of this settlement formally became Leland when, in late 1897, Joseph W. Gay and other area citizens petitioned the U.S. Post Office Department in Washington D.C., for a local post office and submitted three possible names for the post office. Leland, the name of Gay's nephew, Leland Adams, was selected.

The new post office opened on February 10, 1898, with Gay as Postmaster. The post office was located in a corner of Gay’s General Store.

Due to its proximity to the Brunswick River, Leland served as an early transportation center. Ferries were in place across the Brunswick and Cape Fear rivers for travelers going north and south. A bridge was built across the Brunswick River in 1890, prior to the Cape Fear River bridge. But the Brunswick River Causeway across Eagles Island was a problem area because of the wetness of the soil and swamps between the two rivers, so by 1923, the road from the Brunswick River through Leland had been hard-surfaced and was known as State Road 20.

Two churches - Woodburn Presbyterian and Woodburn Baptist - were named after the Woodburn family, which was a later subdivision of the Belvedere Plantation, the home of William Dry and Gov. Benjamin Smith. The Belvedere subdivision forms the nucleus of what is now the Town of Leland.

The Town was incorporated in 1989. Each year, the Town celebrates its incorporation with the Founders' Day celebration on the second Saturday of September.