Before the American Revolution, early settlers seeking land near Lockwood’s Folly River applied for patents and received warrants for surveys of selected tracts. Upon payment of fifty shillings for each 100 acres (400,000 m2), the warrantee could receive a permanent grant for Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs.
Benjamin Holden in 1756 bought four mainland tracts and the island between his plantation and the ocean. This island extended from Lockwood’s Folly Inlet west six miles (10 km) to Bacon Inlet. Benjamin and his sons used the island for fishing and cattle grazing. During the Civil War Holden Beach and Lockwood’s Folley Inlet became the resting place of several shipwrecks: the Confederate blockade runners CSS Elizabeth and CSS Bendigo and the Union blockade ship USS Iron Age (1862). The remains of the USS Iron Age can be seen on most eastern end of the island during the periods of low-tide. Its wreck is marked with an orange navigation warning buoy and is located between Holden Beach and Oak Island. While the vessel’s wreck is roughly 200 feet long only the base of the engine’s exhaust funnel and a small portion of superstructure are visible above water. The ship is easily reached during low tide by swimming but the wreck is extensively covered in abandoned fishing hooks and gear that may present potential hazards