North Carolina County Resources

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This entry was originally written by Johni Cerny and Gareth L. Mark for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the North Carolina Family History Research series.
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The Lords Proprietors planned three counties in Carolina in 1664: Albemarle, Clarendon, and Craven. Craven County lay in South Carolina, and Clarendon County was abandoned in 1667 after achieving a population of about 800. Albemarle County included too large an area to provide adequate local government, so it was subdivided into Berkeley, Carteret, and Shaftesbury precincts about 1668. About 1681, the three original precincts were divided and renamed Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank, and Perquimans precincts. By about 1689 the four precincts functioned as de facto counties. In 1696 Bath County was formed; it was divided into Archedale, Pamptecough, and Wickham precincts in 1705. The Provincial Government of North Carolina recognized the de facto status of the precincts and declared all precincts to be counties in their own right in 1739, and Albemarle and Bath counties were abolished.

Research in North Carolina county records can begin with the microfilmed North Carolina material at a central collection, such as the North Carolina State Archives, Allen County Public Library (see page 204), the FHL, or other repositories with the North Carolina Core Collection. However, county seats may still hold additional material, including original deed and will books. What follows is an outline of beginning dates of extant records of each county. When counties were formed in North Carolina, many county clerks copied appropriate records from the parent county. In other cases, records pertaining to the land and families of the new county were transferred wholesale. Most counties therefore have some records that pre-date the formation of the county. The register of deeds at the county seat holds land and vital records; the clerk of the superior court holds probate records and court records if they have not been transferred to the state archives in Raleigh. Land records may include deeds, grants, plats, and other miscellaneous items. Probate records include not only wills, but also loose estates records, most of which have not been microfilmed. Court records may include apprentice bonds, bastardy bonds, and officials’ or constables’ bonds in addition to dockets, fee and account books, and court minutes and orders. The beginning dates do not imply that all records are extant since some of North Carolina’s county records have been lost due to fire and other causes.

County records information is quoted from Guide to Research Materials in the North Carolina State Archives, Section B: County Records (11th rev. ed., Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1997), describing more than 9,000 bound volumes, 21,000 boxes of loose records, and 24,000 reels of microfilm. County formation information is derived from the above Guide, David Leroy Corbitt, The Formation of the North Carolina Counties, 1663–1943 (1950; 2d printing, Raleigh, N.C.: State Department of Archives and History, 1969); William Perry Johnson, “North Carolina Precincts and Counties, 1663–1911,” The North Carolinian 2, no. 2 (June 1956): 165-72; and Helen F. M. Leary, ed., North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 2d ed. (Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996).


Map County County Address Date Formed Parent County(ies) Birth Marriage Death Land Probate District Court #
E2 Alamance 124 W. Elm St., Graham 27253-1312 1849 Orange 1913 1853 —— 1793 1832 1849
Albemarle 1664 (abolished 1739 when its precincts were declared counties) original
Divided into Carteret, Berkeley, and Shaftesbury precincts about 1668. Divided into Carteret, Berkeley, and Shaftesbury precincts about 1668.
A2 Alexander 621 Liledoun Rd., Taylorsville 28681-0000 1847 Iredell/Wilkes/Caldwell 1913 1867 1913 1833 1847 1853
Record loss, 1865.
B1 Alleghany P.O. Box 366, Sparta 28675-0366 1859 Ashe 1914 1861 1914 1859 1859 1862
Record loss, 1932.
C5 Anson 114 N. Greene St., Rm. 30, Wadesboro 28170-2100 1750 Bladen 1921 1741 1921 1749 1751 1771
Record loss, 1868. Records fragmented.
Archdale Precinct 1705 (renamed Craven Precinct about 1712) precinct of Bath
A1 Ashe 150 Government Cir., Ste. 2500, Jefferson 28640-9378 1799 Wilkes 1913 1828 1913 1778 1801 1805
Record loss, 1865. Records fragmented.
A2 Avery P.O. Box 640, Newland 28657-0640 1911 Caldwell/Mitchell/Watauga 1914 1911 1914 1911 1911 1911
Bath 1696 (abolished 1739 when its precincts were declared counties) original
Divided into Archedale, Pamptecough, and Wickham precincts, 1705.
J3 Beaufort P.O. Box 1027, Washington 27889-1027 1705 (as Pamptecough Precinct; renamed 1712; declared a county, 1739) precinct of Bath —— 1847 —— 1695 1720 1744
Records fragmented. Delayed birth certificates are available.
Berkeley Precinct about 1668 (renamed Perquimans Precinct about 1681) precinct of Albemarle
J2 Bertie P.O. Box 530, Windsor 27983-0530 1722 Chowan Precinct, Albemarle County —— 1762 —— 1721 1728 1724
F5 Bladen P.O. Box 1048, Elizabethtown 28337-1048 1734 (as Pelham Precinct; renamed 1734)New Hanover Precinct, Bath County 1913 1868 1913 1784 1766 1866
Record losses, 1800 and 1893. Also called Pelham Precinct.
G6 Brunswick P.O. Box 249, Bolivia 28422-0249 1764 New Hanover/Bladen 1914 1804 1914 1764 1764 1782
Record loss, 1865.
C7 Buncombe 205 College St., Ste. 300, Asheville 28801-3001 1791 Burke/Rutherford 1887 1842 —— 1791 1815 1790
Record losses, 1830 and 1865. Records fragmented.
A3 Burke 200 Avery Ave., Morganton 28655-3103 1777 Rowan 1913 1780 1913 1770 1776 1755
Record loss, 1865.
Bute 1764 (abolished 1779) Granville —— —— —— 1778 1760 1764
Records transferred to Warren and Franklin counties.
C4 Cabarrus Governmental Center, P.O. Box 707, Concord 28025-0707 1792 Mecklenburg 1914 1792 —— 1784 1793 1793
Record loss, 1876.
A2 Caldwell 905 West Ave., N.W., P.O. Box 2200, Lenoir 28645-2200 1841 Burke/Wilkes 1914 1841 1914 1840 1830 1838
K1 Camden 117 N. NC 343, Camden 27921-0190 1777 Pasquotank 1913 1848 1913 1739 1766 1802
Records fragmented.
J5 Carteret 402 Courthouse Sq., Beaufort 28516-1898 1722 Craven Precinct, Bath County 1912 1746 1912 1721 1744 1723
Carteret Precinct about 1668 (abolished about 1681) precinct of Albemarle
Divided into Currituck and Pasquotank Precincts about 1681.
E1 Caswell P.O. Box 98, Yanceyville 27379-0098 1777 Orange 1913 1775 1913 1777 1771 1767
A3 Catawba P.O. Box 389, Newton 28658-0389 1842 Lincoln 1913 1843 1913 1837 1843 1843
E3 Chatham P.O. Box 87, Pittsboro 27312-0087 1770/1771 Orange —— 1772 —— 1771 1771 1757
A8 Cherokee 75 Peachtree St., Murphy 28906-2947 1839 Macon 1913 1837 1913 1838 1848 1846
Record losses, 1865, 1895, and 1926.
J2 Chowan P.O. Box 1030, Edenton 27932-1030 about 1668 (as Shaftsbury precinct)*precinct of Albemarle 1913 1747 1913 1678 1694 1715
Record loss, 1848. Records fragmented. * Formed as Shaftsbury Precinct about 1681, it was renamed Chowan about 1681 and declared a county, 1739.
Clarendon 1664 (abolished 1667) original
A8 Clay P.O. Box 118, Hayesville 28904-0118 1861 Cherokee 1913 1870 1913 1845 1862 1868
Record loss, 1870. Early records fragmented.
A4 Cleveland P.O. Box 1210, Shelby 28150-1210 1841 Rutherford/Lincoln 1908 1851 1913 1792 1795 1838
F6 Columbus 111 Washington St., Whiteville 28472-3323 1808 Bladen/Brunswick 1913 1867 1913 1802 1808 1817
H4 Craven 406 Craven St., New Bern 28560-4911 1705 (as Archdale Precinct)*precinct of Bath —— 1740 —— 1710 1737 1712
Formed as Archdale Precinct, it was renamed Craven about 1712 and declared a county in 1739.
F4 Cumberland P.O. Box 1829, Fayetteville 28302-1829 1754 Bladen 1913 1800 1913 1752 1757 1755
K1 Currituck P.O. Box 39, Currituck 27929-0039 about 1681 (as a precinct; declared a county, 1739)Carteret Precinct, Albemarle County 1914 1851 1914 1735 1772 1799
Record loss.
K3 Dare P.O. Drawer 1000, Manteo 27954-1000 1870 Currituck/Tyrrell/Hyde —— 1870 —— 1804 1832 1869
Davidson (Tenn.) 1783 Washington, Tenn.
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
C3 Davidson P.O. Box 1067, Lexington 27292-1067 1822 Rowan 1914 1822 1914 1808 1817 1820
Record loss, 1866.
C2 Davie 123 S. Main St., Mocksville 27028-2464 1836 Rowan 1913 1851 1913 1792 1808 1829
Dobbs 1758 (abolished 1791) Johnston —— 1785 —— 1746 —— ——
Divided into Glasgow and Lenoir counties, 1791.
G5 Duplin P.O. Box 910, Kenansville 28349-0910 1750 New Hanover 1914 1755 1914 1754 1759 1784
Records fragmented.
E2 Durham 200 E Main St., Durham 27701-3649 1881 Orange/Wake —— 1881 —— 1881 1875 1881
H2 Edgecombe P.O. Box 10, Tarboro 27886-0010 1741 Bertie 1914 1760 1914 1732 1730 1744
Land records prior to 1759 are among those of Halifax County.
Fayette 1784 (abolished 1784) Cumberland
Formation repealed 1784.
C2 Forsyth 201 N. Chestnut, 5th Floor, Winston-Salem 27101-4120 1849 Stokes —— 1849 —— 1849 1845 1848
F2 Franklin 113 Market St., Louisburg 27549-2523 1779 Bute 1913 1789 1913 1781 1776 1774
A4 Gaston P.O. Box 1578, Gastonia 28053-1578 1846 Lincoln —— 1848 —— 1846 1839 1847
Record loss, 1874. Records fragmented.
J1 Gates P.O. Box 148, Gatesville 27938-0148 1779 Chowan/Hertford/Perquimans 1913 1779 1913 1776 1762 1768
Glasgow 1791 (renamed Greene, 1799) Dobbs
A8 Graham P.O. Box 575, Robbinsville 28771-0575 1872 Cherokee 1913 1873 1913 1789 1847 1864
F2 Granville P.O. Box 906, Oxford 25765-0906 1746 Edgecombe 1913 1758 1913 1746 1746 1742
Greene (Tenn.) 1783 Washington, Tenn.
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
H3 Greene 229 Kingold, Ste. D,Snow Hill 28580-1331 1791 (as Glasgow; renamed 1799) Dobbs 1913 1875 1913 1857 1809 1861
Record loss, 1876. Records fragmented.
D2 Guilford 301 W. Market St., P.O. Box 3427, Greensboro 27402-3427 1770/1771 Rowan/Orange 1913 1770 1913 1771 1771 1774
H2 Halifax P.O. Box 38, Halifax 27839-0038 1758 Edgecombe 1913 1770 1913 1716 1759 1759
E4 Harnett 301 W. Cornelius Harnett Blvd., Lillington 27546-0759 1855 Cumberland 1914 1892 1914 1855 1854 1875
Record losses, 1892 and 1894. Records fragmented.
Hawkins (Tenn.) 1787 Sullivan, Tenn.
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
B7 Haywood 215 N Main St., Waynesville 28786-3869 1808 Buncombe 1913 1808 1913 1786 1803 1809
C8 Henderson 100 N. King St., Hendersonville 28792-5053 1838 Buncombe 1914 1838 1913 1835 1838 1838
J2 Hertford County Office Bldg. #1 , P.O. Box 116 1759 Chowan/Bertie/Northampton 1911 1868 1911 1862 1868 1830
Record losses, 1830 and 1862. Records fragmented.
E4 Hoke P.O. Box 120 , Raeford 28376-0210 1911 Cumberland/Robeson 1911 1911 1911 1911 1911 1911
K3 Hyde P.O. Box 188, Swan Quarter 27885-0188 1705 (as Wickham Precinct; renamed 1712; declared a county, 1739) precinct of Bath 1877 1742 1877 1736 1745 1713
B3 Iredell P.O. Box 788, Statesville 28677-0788 1788 Rowan 1913 1788 1913 1788 1787 1786
Record loss, 1854.
B8 Jackson 401 Grindstaff Cove Rd., Sylva 28779-3250 1851 Haywood/Macon —— 1853 —— 1853 1853 1853
Records fragmented. Delayed birth certificates are available.
F3 Johnston P.O. Box 1049, Smithfield 27577-1049 1746 Craven 1914 1746 1914 1748 1760 1759
Records fragmented.
H4 Jones P.O. Box 340, Trenton 28585-0340 1779 Craven 1914 1851 1914 1779 1760 1807
Record loss, 1862.
E3 Lee P.O. Box 1968, Sanford 27331-1968 1907 Chatham/Moore 1913 1908 1913 1908 1906 1908
H4 Lenoir P.O. Box 3289, Kinston 28501-3289 1791 Dobbs 1914 1791 1914 1737 1869 1874
Record losses, 1878 and 1880. Records fragmented.
A3 Lincoln 115 W. Main St., Lincolnton 28092-2601 1779 Tryon 1913 1779 1913 1763 1765 1771
Records fragmented.
B8 Macon 5 West Main St., Franklin 28734-3005 1828 Haywood 1913 1828 1913 1820 1830 1822
C7 Madison P.O. Box 579, Marshall 28753-0579 1851 Buncombe/Yancey 1913 1851 1913 1851 1851 1837
H3 Martin P.O. Box 668, Williamston 27892-0668 1774 Halifax/Tyrrell 1913 1872 1913 1774 1774 1809
Records loss, 1884. Records fragmented.
D7, A3 McDowell 60 East Court St., Marion 28752-4041 1842 Burke/Rutherford 1914 1842 1914 1813 1841 1822
B4 Mecklenburg 600 E. Fourth St., Charlotte 28321-2846 1762 Anson 1913 1783 1913 1762 1713 1774
D6, A2 Mitchell 26 Crimson Laurel Cir., #2, Bakersville 28705-9510 1861 Burke/Caldwell/McDowell/Watauga/Yancey 1913 1861 1913 1789 1823 1861
Record loss, 1907.
D4 Montgomery P.O. Box 425, Troy 27371-0425 1779 Anson 1913 1779 1913 1769 1785 1807
Record loss, 1835. Records fragmented.
E4 Moore P.O. Box 905, Carthage 28327-0905 1784 Cumberland 1913 1851 1913 1787 1783 1784
Record loss, 1889. Records fragmented.
G2 Nash 120 W Washington St. #3072, Nashville 27856-1376 1777 Edgecombe 1913 1777 1913 1739 1770 1751
G6 New Hanover 320 Chestnut St., Rm. 502, Wilmington 28401-4068 1729 (as a precinct; declared a county, 1739) Craven Precinct, Bath County 1879 1741 1879 1729 1732 1738
Records fragmented.
H1 Northampton P.O. Box 808, Jackson 27845-0808 1741 Bertie 1917 1811 1917 1741 1759 1771
H5 Onslow 118 Old Bridge St., Jacksonville 28540-4229 1734 New Hanover Precinct, Bath County 1914 1745 1914 1712 1735 1732
Record losses, 1752 and 1786.
E2 Orange P.O. Box 8181, Hillsborough 27278-8181 1752 Bladen/Granville/Johnston 1913 1779 1913 1752 1752 1752
J4 Pamlico P.O. Box 776, Bayboro 28515-0776 1872 Beaufort/Craven 1913 1872 1913 1869 1752 1752
Pamptecough Precinct 1705 (renamed Beaufort Precinct, 1712) precinct of Bath
K2 Pasquotank P.O. Box 39, Elizabeth City 27907-0039 about 1681 (as a precinct;declared a county, 1739) Carteret Precinct, Albemarle County 1691 1691 1691 1666 1709 1737
Pelham Precinct 1734 (renamed Bladen Precinct, 1734) New Hanover Precinct, Bath County
G5 Pender P.O. Box 5, Burgaw 28425-0005 1875 New Hanover 1913 1875 1913 1875 1875 1875
K2 Perquimans P.O. Box 45, Hertford 27944-0045 about 1668 (as Berkeley precinct; renamed about 1681;declared a county, 1739) precinct of Albemarle 1659 1659 1913 1681 1709 1688
E1 Person 304 S. Morgan St., Rm. 212, Roxboro 275739-5245 1791 Caswell 1913 1791 1913 1774 1792 1775
H3 Pitt 1717 W. Fifth St., Greenville 27834-1601 1760 Beaufort 1913 1826 1913 1762 1836 1850
Record loss, 1857. Records fragmented.
D8, A4 Polk P.O. Box 308, Columbus 28722-0308 1855 Henderson/Rutherford —— 1855 —— 1830 1851 1847
D3 Randolph 707 McDowell Rd., P.O. Box 4728, Asheboro 27204-4728 1779 Guilford 1913 1779 1913 1779 1773 1772
D4 Richmond P.O. Box 504, Rockingham 28379-0504 1779 Anson 1914 1779 1914 1762 1772 1772
E5 Robeson 701 N. Elm St., Lumberton 28358-4891 1787 Bladen 1913 1803 1913 1782 1783 1795
D1 Rockingham 371 NC 65, Wentworth 27375-0206 1785 Guilford 1913 1785 1913 1785 1772 1786
C3 Rowan 130 West Innes St., Salisbury 28144-4365 1753 Anson 1913 1753 1913 1753 1743 1753
Record loss, 1865.
D8, A4 Rutherford 289 N. Main St., Rutherfordton 28139-2503 1779 Tryon 1913 1774 1913 1768 1782 1779
Record loss, 1907.
F4 Sampson County Office Bldg., 435 Rowan St., Clinton 28328-4729 1784 Duplin 1913 1867 1913 1752 1778 1790
Record losses, 1865 and 1921.
D5 Scotland P.O. Box 489, Laurinburg 28352-0489 1899 Richmond 1913 1900 1913 1900 1887 1887
Shaftesbury Precinct about 1668 (renamed Chowan Precinct about 1681) precinct of Albemarle
C4 Stanly 201 S. Second St., Albemarle 28001-5741 1841 Montgomery 1913 1850 1913 1840 1839 1841
C1 Stokes P.O. Box 20, Danbury 27016-0020 1789 Surry 1913 1790 1913 1760 1753 1782
Sullivan (Tenn.) 1779 Washington, Tenn.
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
Sumner (Tenn.) 1787 Davidson, Tenn.
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
B1 Surry 118 Hamby Rd., Ste. 329, Dobson 27017-8820 1770 Rowan 1912 1778 1912 1771 1770 1770
A7 Swain P.O. 2321, Bryson City 28713-2321 1871 Jackson/Macon —— 1871 —— 1871 1871 1871
Record loss, 1879. Delayed birth certificates are available.
Tennessee (Tenn.) 1788 Davidson, Tenn.
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
C8 Transylvania 28 E. Main St., Brevard 28712-3728 1861 Henderson/Jackson 1913 1861 1913 1861 1861 1861
Tryon 1768 Mecklenburg —— —— —— 1769 —— 1769
Divided into Lincoln and Rutherford Counties in 1779. Records transferred to Lincoln County.
K3 Tyrrell P.O. Box 449, Columbia 27925-0049 1729 Bertie/Chowan, Currituck,Pasquotank precincts, Albemarle County 1913 1742 1913 1736 1739 1735
C4 Union 500 N. Main St., Rm. 921, Monroe 28112-4730 1842 Anson/Mecklenburg 1913 1842 1913 1842 1837 1843
F1 Vance 122 Young St. Ste. B, Henderson 27536-4268 1881 Granville/Franklin/Warren 1913 1881 1913 1849 1881 1881
F3 Wake P.O. Box 550, Raleigh 27602-0550 1770 Cumberland/Orange/Johnston —— 1770 —— 1774 1770 1769
Walton (Ga.) 1803 (abolished 1812)
Was a settlement of Georgia but was actually in North Carolina; see Walton (old), Georgia.
G1 Warren P.O. Box 619, Warrenton 27589-0619 1779 Bute 1914 1779 1914 1764 1763 1769
Washington District 1776 original
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
J3 Washington P.O. Box 1007, Plymouth 27962-1007 1799 Tyrrell 1912 1851 1912 1779 1795 1815
Record losses, 1862, 1869, and 1881.
A2 Watauga 842 W King St., Ste. 1, Boone 28607-3485 1849 Ashe/Caldwell/Wilkes/Yancey 1914 1873 1914 1830 1858 1873
Record loss, 1873. Records fragmented.
G4 Wayne P.O. Box 227, Goldsboro 27530-0227 1779 Dobbs 1913 1790 1913 1780 1776 1782
Wickham Precinct 1705 (became Hyde Precinct, 1712) Bath
B2 Wilkes 110 North St., Wilkesboro 28697-2428 1777 Surry/Washington District 1913 1778 1913 1741 1777 1761
G3 Wilson P.O. Box 1728, Wilson 27893-1728 1855 Edgecombe/Nash/Johnston/Wayne 1913 1855 1913 1836 1840 1850
B2 Yadkin P.O. Box 146, Yadkinville 27055-0146 1850 Surry 1914 1850 1914 1793 1836 1845
D7, A2 Yancey Courthouse, Rm. 11, Burnsville 28714 1833 Buncombe/Burke 1913 1851 1913 1831 1838 1834