Search NC Records
Other NC Resources
North Carolina County records can vary extensively from county to county in either quality as well as quantity. Some have already been very carefully conserved while some have been significantly misused and neglected. Some North Carolina records have purely vanished. For genealogists carrying out research in North Carolina you will find no effective replace to have an on-site search of county court house records.
North Carolina is divided into 100 counties. Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders. North Carolina county history stretches over 340 years, beginning in 1668 with the creation of Albemarle County and ending with the 1911 creation of Avery and Hoke counties. Five counties have since been divided or abolished altogether, the last being Dobbs County in 1791.
In 1664 there were 3 counties created by the Lords Proprietor in Carolina. They were Clarendon, Craven, and Albemarle counties. In 1667 Clarendon County was dissolved. Its population never grew beyond 800 people. Craven County stayed in existence, but was located in what is now South Carolina. Around 1668 Albemarle County was divided into the precincts of Carteret, Berkeley, and Shaftesbury. Those precincts were divided and renamed, in 1681, to Currituck, Chowan, Perquimans, and Pasquotank. By 1689 those precincts were, for all intents and purposes, acting as if they were counties. Bath County was created in 1696. In 1705 it was divided into 3 precincts, called Pamptecough, Wickham, and Archedale. In 1739 all existing precincts were declared counties by North Carolina's Provincial Government. At that time both Bath and Albermarle counties were dissolved.
The FHL, North Carolina State Archives and Allen County Public Library all have centralized collections of county records available. Other information, such as will and deed books, may be found at the county seats.
Many county clerks recorded documents and records from their parent counties when the new counties were formed. Sometimes all records were simply transferred. So, some counties may have records on file that are older than the counties themselves. The county seat is home to the register of deeds, which keeps vital records for the county. Probate records cab be found in the superior court clerk's office. Other court records may also be available there, but many have been transferred to the North Carolina State Archives. Probate records include estate records and wills. Land records may include plats, grants, deeds, and other documents. Court records may consist of bastardy bonds, dockets, constables' bonds, apprentice bonds, account books, orders, and court minutes. Not all records are still extant. Some have been destroyed in fires and other circumstances over the years.
|County||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Alexander||1847||Caldwell, Iredell and Wilkes Counties||Taylorsville|
|Avery||1911||Caldwell, Mitchell and Watauga Counties||Newland|
|Bladen||1734||New Hanover County||Elizabethtown|
|Brunswick||1764||Bladen and New Hanover Counties||Bolivia|
|Buncombe||1791||Burke and Rutherford Counties||Asheville|
|Caldwell||1841||Burke and Wilkes Counties||Lenoir|
|Cleveland||1841||Lincoln and Rutherford Counties||Shelby|
|Columbus||1808||Bladen and Brunswick Counties||Whiteville|
|Craven||1705||Bath County||New Bern|
|Dare||1870||Currituck, Hyde and Tyrrell Counties||Manteo|
|Duplin||1750||New Hanover County||Kenansville|
|Durham||1881||Orange and Wake Counties||Durham|
|Gates||1779||Chowan, Hertford and Perquimans Counties||Gatesville|
|Greene||1799||Dobbs (Glasgow) County||Snow Hill|
|Guilford||1771||Orange and Rowan County||Greensboro|
|Hertford||1759||Bertie, Chowan and Northampton Counties||Winton|
|Hoke||1911||Cumberland and Robeson Counties||Raeford|
|Hyde||1712||Original county||Swan Quarter|
|Jackson||1851||Haywood and Macon Counties||Sylva|
|Lee||1907||Chatham and Moore Counties||Sanford|
|Lenoir||1791||Dobbs (Glasgow) County||Kinston|
|Macon||1842||Burke and Rutherford Counties||Marion|
|Martin||1851||Buncombe and Yancey Counties||Franklin|
|McDowell||1774||Halifax and Tyrrell Counties||Williamston|
|Mitchell||1861||Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Watauga and Yancey Counties||Bakersville|
|New Hanover||1729||Craven County||Wilmington|
|Onslow||1734||New Hanover County||Jacksonville|
|Orange||1752||Bladen, Granville and Johnston Counties||Hillsborough|
|Pamlico||1872||Beaufort and Craven Counties||Bayboro|
|Pasquotank||1668||Albemarle County||Elizabeth City|
|Pender||1875||New Hanover County||Burgaw|
|Polk||1855||Henderson and Rutherford Counties||Columbus|
|Swain||1871||Jackson and Macon Counties||Bryson City|
|Transylvania||1861||Henderson and Jackson Counties||Brevard|
|Tyrrell||1729||Chowan, Currituck and Pasquotank Counties||Columbia|
|Union||1842||Anson and Mecklenburg Counties||Monroe|
|Vance||1881||Franklin, Granville and Warren Counties||Henderson|
|Wake||1771||Cumberland, Johnston and Orange Counties||Raleigh|
|Watauga||1849||Ashe, Caldwell, Wilkes and Yancey Counties||Boone|
|Wayne||1779||Dobbs (Glasgow) County||Goldsboro|
|Wilson||1855||Edgecombe, Johnston, Nash and Wayne Counties||Wilson|
|Yancey||1833||Buncombe and Burke Counties||Burnsville|
North Carolina seems to have counties that no longer are in existence. They were recognized by the state, provincial, or territorial government. Most of these counties were established and disbanded during the 19th century; county boundaries have modified little since 1900 in the great number of states. These counties should be researched when performing genealogy and family history research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or merged with a different county.
The harm to North Carolina courthouses tremendously has a impact on genealogists in each and every way. Not only are these types of historic buildings torn from each of our lifetimes, so are the records they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, among others. Once destroyed they're destroyed permanently. Even though they happen to have been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn as well. The most heartbreaking side of this is the reason that almost all of our courthouses are destroyed as a result of arsonist. However, not all records were lost. A number of North Carolina counties have endured a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.
The first item is the county name, followed by the date of courthouse destruction, () describes what caused the destruction and if records were destroyed.