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
the North Carolina Family History Research series.
History of North Carolina
North Carolina Vital Records
Census Records for North Carolina
Background Sources for North Carolina
North Carolina Maps
North Carolina Land Records
North Carolina Probate Records
North Carolina Court Records
North Carolina Tax Records
North Carolina Cemetery Records
North Carolina Church Records
North Carolina Military Records
North Carolina Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
North Carolina Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Ethnic Groups of North Carolina
North Carolina County Resources
Map of North Carolina
County Map of North Carolina

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 Orange19131853 ——179318321849
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/Caldwell19131867 1913183318471853
Record loss, 1865.
B1 Alleghany P.O. Box 366, Sparta 28675-0366 1859 Ashe19141861 1914185918591862
Record loss, 1932.
C5 Anson 114 N. Greene St., Rm. 30, Wadesboro 28170-2100 1750 Bladen19211741 1921174917511771
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 Wilkes19131828 1913177818011805
Record loss, 1865. Records fragmented.
A2 Avery P.O. Box 640, Newland 28657-0640 1911 Caldwell/Mitchell/Watauga19141911 1914191119111911
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 ——169517201744
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 ——172117281724
F5 Bladen P.O. Box 1048, Elizabethtown 28337-1048 1734 (as Pelham Precinct; renamed 1734)New Hanover Precinct, Bath County19131868 1913178417661866
Record losses, 1800 and 1893. Also called Pelham Precinct.
G6 Brunswick P.O. Box 249, Bolivia 28422-0249 1764 New Hanover/Bladen191418041914176417641782
Record loss, 1865.
C7 Buncombe 205 College St., Ste. 300, Asheville 28801-3001 1791 Burke/Rutherford18871842——179118151790
Record losses, 1830 and 1865. Records fragmented.
A3 Burke 200 Avery Ave., Morganton 28655-3103 1777 Rowan191317801913177017761755
Record loss, 1865.
Bute 1764 (abolished 1779) Granville—————— 177817601764
Records transferred to Warren and Franklin counties.
C4 Cabarrus Governmental Center, P.O. Box 707, Concord 28025-0707 1792 Mecklenburg19141792——178417931793
Record loss, 1876.
A2 Caldwell 905 West Ave., N.W., P.O. Box 2200, Lenoir 28645-2200 1841 Burke/Wilkes191418411914184018301838
K1 Camden 117 N. NC 343, Camden 27921-0190 1777 Pasquotank191318481913173917661802
Records fragmented.
J5 Carteret 402 Courthouse Sq., Beaufort 28516-1898 1722 Craven Precinct, Bath County191217461912172117441723
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 Orange191317751913177717711767
A3 Catawba P.O. Box 389, Newton 28658-0389 1842 Lincoln191318431913183718431843
E3 Chatham P.O. Box 87, Pittsboro 27312-0087 1770/1771 Orange——1772——177117711757
A8 Cherokee 75 Peachtree St., Murphy 28906-2947 1839 Macon191318371913183818481846
Record losses, 1865, 1895, and 1926.
J2 Chowan P.O. Box 1030, Edenton 27932-1030 about 1668 (as Shaftsbury precinct)*precinct of Albemarle191317471913167816941715
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 Cherokee191318701913184518621868
Record loss, 1870. Early records fragmented.
A4 Cleveland P.O. Box 1210, Shelby 28150-1210 1841 Rutherford/Lincoln190818511913179217951838
F6 Columbus 111 Washington St., Whiteville 28472-3323 1808 Bladen/Brunswick191318671913180218081817
H4 Craven 406 Craven St., New Bern 28560-4911 1705 (as Archdale Precinct)*precinct of Bath——1740——171017371712
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 Bladen191318001913175217571755
K1 Currituck P.O. Box 39, Currituck 27929-0039 about 1681 (as a precinct; declared a county, 1739)Carteret Precinct, Albemarle County191418511914173517721799
Record loss.
K3 Dare P.O. Drawer 1000, Manteo 27954-1000 1870 Currituck/Tyrrell/Hyde——1870——180418321869
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 Rowan191418221914180818171820
Record loss, 1866.
C2 Davie 123 S. Main St., Mocksville 27028-2464 1836 Rowan191318511913179218081829
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 Hanover191417551914175417591784
Records fragmented.
E2 Durham 200 E Main St., Durham 27701-3649 1881 Orange/Wake——1881——188118751881
H2 Edgecombe P.O. Box 10, Tarboro 27886-0010 1741 Bertie191417601914173217301744
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——184918451848
F2 Franklin 113 Market St., Louisburg 27549-2523 1779 Bute191317891913178117761774
A4 Gaston P.O. Box 1578, Gastonia 28053-1578 1846 Lincoln——1848——184618391847
Record loss, 1874. Records fragmented.
J1 Gates P.O. Box 148, Gatesville 27938-0148 1779 Chowan/Hertford/Perquimans191317791913177617621768
Glasgow 1791 (renamed Greene, 1799) Dobbs
A8 Graham P.O. Box 575, Robbinsville 28771-0575 1872 Cherokee191318731913178918471864
F2 Granville P.O. Box 906, Oxford 25765-0906 1746 Edgecombe191317581913174617461742
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) Dobbs191318751913185718091861
Record loss, 1876. Records fragmented.
D2 Guilford 301 W. Market St., P.O. Box 3427, Greensboro 27402-3427 1770/1771 Rowan/Orange191317701913177117711774
H2 Halifax P.O. Box 38, Halifax 27839-0038 1758 Edgecombe191317701913171617591759
E4 Harnett 301 W. Cornelius Harnett Blvd., Lillington 27546-0759 1855 Cumberland191418921914185518541875
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 Buncombe191318081913178618031809
C8 Henderson 100 N. King St., Hendersonville 28792-5053 1838 Buncombe191418381913183518381838
J2 Hertford County Office Bldg. #1 , P.O. Box 116 1759 Chowan/Bertie/Northampton191118681911186218681830
Record losses, 1830 and 1862. Records fragmented.
E4 Hoke P.O. Box 120 , Raeford 28376-02101911 Cumberland/Robeson191119111911191119111911
K3 Hyde P.O. Box 188, Swan Quarter 27885-0188 1705 (as Wickham Precinct; renamed 1712; declared a county, 1739) precinct of Bath187717421877173617451713
B3 Iredell P.O. Box 788, Statesville 28677-07881788Rowan191317881913178817871786
Record loss, 1854.
B8 Jackson 401 Grindstaff Cove Rd., Sylva 28779-32501851Haywood/Macon——1853——185318531853
Records fragmented. Delayed birth certificates are available.
F3 Johnston P.O. Box 1049, Smithfield 27577-10491746Craven191417461914 174817601759
Records fragmented.
H4 Jones P.O. Box 340, Trenton 28585-03401779Craven191418511914 177917601807
Record loss, 1862.
E3 Lee P.O. Box 1968, Sanford 27331-19681907Chatham/Moore191319081913190819061908
H4 Lenoir P.O. Box 3289, Kinston 28501-32891791Dobbs191417911914173718691874
Record losses, 1878 and 1880. Records fragmented.
A3 Lincoln 115 W. Main St., Lincolnton 28092-26011779Tryon191317791913176317651771
Records fragmented.
B8 Macon 5 West Main St., Franklin 28734-30051828Haywood191318281913182018301822
C7 Madison P.O. Box 579, Marshall 28753-05791851Buncombe/Yancey191318511913185118511837
H3 Martin P.O. Box 668, Williamston 27892-06681774Halifax/Tyrrell191318721913177417741809
Records loss, 1884. Records fragmented.
D7, A3 McDowell 60 East Court St., Marion 28752-40411842Burke/Rutherford191418421914181318411822
B4 Mecklenburg 600 E. Fourth St., Charlotte 28321-28461762Anson191317831913176217131774
D6, A2 Mitchell 26 Crimson Laurel Cir., #2, Bakersville 28705-95101861Burke/Caldwell/McDowell/Watauga/Yancey191318611913178918231861
Record loss, 1907.
D4 Montgomery P.O. Box 425, Troy 27371-04251779Anson191317791913176917851807
Record loss, 1835. Records fragmented.
E4 Moore P.O. Box 905, Carthage 28327-09051784Cumberland191318511913178717831784
Record loss, 1889. Records fragmented.
G2 Nash 120 W Washington St. #3072, Nashville 27856-13761777Edgecombe191317771913173917701751
G6 New Hanover 320 Chestnut St., Rm. 502, Wilmington 28401-40681729 (as a precinct; declared a county, 1739) Craven Precinct, Bath County187917411879172917321738
Records fragmented.
H1 Northampton P.O. Box 808, Jackson 27845-08081741Bertie191718111917174117591771
H5 Onslow 118 Old Bridge St., Jacksonville 28540-42291734New Hanover Precinct, Bath County191417451914171217351732
Record losses, 1752 and 1786.
E2 Orange P.O. Box 8181, Hillsborough 27278-81811752Bladen/Granville/Johnston191317791913175217521752
J4 Pamlico P.O. Box 776, Bayboro 28515-07761872Beaufort/Craven191318721913186917521752
Pamptecough Precinct 1705 (renamed Beaufort Precinct, 1712) precinct of Bath
K2 Pasquotank P.O. Box 39, Elizabeth City 27907-0039about 1681 (as a precinct;declared a county, 1739) Carteret Precinct, Albemarle County169116911691166617091737
Pelham Precinct 1734 (renamed Bladen Precinct, 1734) New Hanover Precinct, Bath County
G5 Pender P.O. Box 5, Burgaw 28425-00051875New Hanover191318751913187518751875
K2 Perquimans P.O. Box 45, Hertford 27944-0045about 1668 (as Berkeley precinct; renamed about 1681;declared a county, 1739) precinct of Albemarle165916591913168117091688
E1 Person 304 S. Morgan St., Rm. 212, Roxboro 275739-52451791Caswell191317911913177417921775
H3 Pitt 1717 W. Fifth St., Greenville 27834-16011760Beaufort191318261913176218361850
Record loss, 1857. Records fragmented.
D8, A4 Polk P.O. Box 308, Columbus 28722-03081855Henderson/Rutherford——1855——183018511847
D3 Randolph 707 McDowell Rd., P.O. Box 4728, Asheboro 27204-47281779Guilford191317791913177917731772
D4 Richmond P.O. Box 504, Rockingham 28379-05041779Anson191417791914176217721772
E5 Robeson 701 N. Elm St., Lumberton 28358-48911787Bladen191318031913178217831795
D1 Rockingham 371 NC 65, Wentworth 27375-02061785Guilford191317851913178517721786
C3 Rowan 130 West Innes St., Salisbury 28144-43651753Anson191317531913175317431753
Record loss, 1865.
D8, A4 Rutherford 289 N. Main St., Rutherfordton 28139-25031779Tryon191317741913176817821779
Record loss, 1907.
F4 Sampson County Office Bldg., 435 Rowan St., Clinton 28328-47291784Duplin191318671913175217781790
Record losses, 1865 and 1921.
D5 Scotland P.O. Box 489, Laurinburg 28352-04891899Richmond191319001913190018871887
Shaftesbury Precinct about 1668 (renamed Chowan Precinct about 1681) precinct of Albemarle
C4 Stanly 201 S. Second St., Albemarle 28001-57411841Montgomery191318501913184018391841
C1 Stokes P.O. Box 20, Danbury 27016-00201789Surry191317901913176017531782
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 27017-88201770Rowan191217781912177117701770
A7 Swain P.O. 2321, Bryson City 28713-23211871Jackson/Macon——1871——187118711871
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 28712-37281861Henderson/Jackson191318611913186118611861
Tryon 1768Mecklenburg——————1769——1769
Divided into Lincoln and Rutherford Counties in 1779. Records transferred to Lincoln County.
K3 Tyrrell P.O. Box 449, Columbia 27925-00491729Bertie/Chowan, Currituck,Pasquotank precincts, Albemarle County191317421913173617391735
C4 Union 500 N. Main St., Rm. 921, Monroe 28112-47301842Anson/Mecklenburg191318421913184218371843
F1 Vance 122 Young St. Ste. B, Henderson 27536-42681881Granville/Franklin/Warren191318811913184918811881
F3 Wake P.O. Box 550, Raleigh 27602-05501770Cumberland/Orange/Johnston——1770——177417701769
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 27589-06191779Bute191417791914176417631769
Washington District 1776original
Ceded to the United States in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory (later Tennessee).
J3 Washington P.O. Box 1007, Plymouth 27962-10071799Tyrrell191218511912177917951815
Record losses, 1862, 1869, and 1881.
A2 Watauga 842 W King St., Ste. 1, Boone 28607-34851849Ashe/Caldwell/Wilkes/Yancey191418731914183018581873
Record loss, 1873. Records fragmented.
G4 Wayne P.O. Box 227, Goldsboro 27530-02271779Dobbs191317901913178017761782
Wickham Precinct 1705 (became Hyde Precinct, 1712) Bath
B2 Wilkes 110 North St., Wilkesboro 28697-24281777Surry/Washington District191317781913174117771761
G3 Wilson P.O. Box 1728, Wilson 27893-17281855Edgecombe/Nash/Johnston/Wayne191318551913183618401850
B2 Yadkin P.O. Box 146, Yadkinville 27055-01461850Surry191418501914179318361845
D7, A2 Yancey Courthouse, Rm. 11, Burnsville 287141833Buncombe/Burke191318511913183118381834
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