Swansboro's origin come from a settlement around the plantation of Theophilus Weeks. In 1783, Swansboro was incorporated as a town, taking its name Samuel Swann, a Speaker in the North Carolina House of Commons and a resident of Onslow County. In 1818, Otway Burns built the Prometheus, the first steamboat actually constructed in North Carolina. The town, originally spelled Swannsborough, is sometimes called "The Friendly City by the Sea". M.N. Lisk, a popular Swansboro mayor, was the creator of the annual Mullet Festival, one of the first coastal seafood festivals in North Carolina. It is also the town featured in Nicholas Sparks' novel "The Guardian."