September 24, 2011, I attended a one day workshop / lecture series
about the records in the North Carolina State Archives. The Friends of the
Archives sponsored the workshop, which was the first one they had given in over
Tar Heels in the Family Tree? A Genealogical Introduction to
The second lecture of the day was Tar Heels in the Family Tree? A Genealogical Introduction to
Records. The speaker was Helen F.
M. Leary, CG (Emeritus), FASG, FNGS. North
Helen is a noted family historian, lecturer, and author, and this was the first time I heard her speak. Helen provided a wealth of information on doing research in NC as well as what seemed like little know facts even for those of us who are native North Carolinians and have lived here most of our lives.
Helen began her presentation by discussing the different geographical regions of
and how North Carolina ’s
geography affected the type of economy that developed within the state. North Carolina
If you know anything about
geography, you know we have the outer banks
/ barrier islands, which inhibited the development of a deep-water port for
money crop sales and for immigration. So, it was pointless to grow things that
would be difficult to ship. North
Slow moving rivers that can take produce out to sea define the coastal plains. The biggest farms and plantations were located in this area of the state.
The piedmont area consisted mostly of clay-type soil. As a result, manufacturing arose in this area of the state.
So, due to its geography,
’s economy was based mainly on subsistence
farming, land speculation and eventually manufacturing. There were very few
large plantations. North
Helen pointed out on several occasions that
the daughter to North Carolina with
regard to laws and immigration patterns. Virginia
was defined as three settlement areas, North
which became NC, Clarendon, which failed, and Craven, which became Albemarle . South
Helen stated that the most valuable
for genealogists are Records of the Counties, which were called precincts prior
to 1739, Family Bibles and other private manuscripts, and Land Grants. North Carolina
The Records of the County were created in the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions prior to 1868 and by various county officials after this date. The Court of Pleas and Quarter is also known as the
Two types of records that Helen talked about and that I found interesting were the Apprenticeship Records and the Bastardy Bonds, Helen pointed out that Apprenticeship Records often provided a clue as to the identification of a father as an illegitimate boy / man often became an apprentice under his biological father. Bastardy Bonds on the other hand are for orphans whose parents were legally married.
Helen also pointed out that Marriage Bonds were filed in the wife’s county of residence and apprentices could not marry. Something I did not realize or know until then.
Other just general research tips that Helen provided are
- Even if there was not a will, look at estate records since the property had to be listed and given a value.
- Never take the information from one census and declare that’s it.
- For “burned” counties, determine what records were not in the courthouse.
However, Helen’s best tip was the following:
Research is finding out. Never stop looking!