North Carolina Family Research

A Detailed Outline for Hobby Genealogists for the Piedmont Area

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Before you began your genealogy research, you first acquire the desire of learning more about your family. It begins as an interest but as you research further, the interest grows. Similar as a seed planted along your personal trail, the names of long ago are written down on sticky notes, absorbed in your head and the records never give you enough data to satisfy your need. This is the beginning of a genealogy tree. The branches extend and beckon to be recognized. Tax records, censuses, land grants, late nights, endless caffeine and eyeglasses all await you. It’s a passion that only fellow genealogists understand. “I’ve finally found the maiden name of my 6th great grandmother!!!!!” Many don’t understand your excitement, but other researchers do and while they are enjoying the moment with you, they are also anxious to hear the surname to see if it may link to their family too. Genealogy is an amazing route to travel and contains so much more than estate files and sticky notes. So, Welcome, pull up a chair and enjoy your visit. North Carolina is one of the most fascinating states to conduct genealogy research. You can find records dating to the mid 17th century. You only have to know where to look and how to look. Let’s begin.

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Surname

Researching without the correct name will only lead you to outer space. You have a surname, but you have to consider spelling variations of the name. For instance, Kramer, Cramer, Cromer and Crommer are all the same surname. You can research databases using the Soundex Code. This will give you much more information that you can sift through in order to pinpoint and identify the individual you are currently looking for. All through history, individuals have been named at birth and known by friends and other acquaintances by a totally different name. Nicknames exist today just as they did centuries ago. Immigration from another country not only required the immigrants to take an oath of allegiance, in some cases, it required the immigrant to change his or her last name. Having the Right name is vital before you research in North Carolina or anywhere within the world.

Piedmont Location

Majority of piedmont early settlers migrated from the northern colonies during the mid 18th century, such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine and Virginia. When they arrived to North Carolina from these areas, they settled primarily in the area, east of the Yadkin River and west of the sandhills area near present day Fayetteville and Sanford. County tax lists and early land grants will give you the exact location of your early piedmont ancestor. Every early county tax list is not online and sadly, some of these are lost forever due to courthouse fires or other circumstances. County history is extremely important to your research. Without the history and timeline of the county, you are researching in the dark. To understand North Carolina county timeline, click here. Majority of land grants are available and many of these are online. Searchable databases can be located at North Carolina Land Grants and at North Carolina State Archives. Estate wills and court records can give you the location as well. Once you have the correct name and the correct location, you then can establish a research trail. Keep in mind the changing boundaries of the state and counties as you move along your research timeline.

Research Timeline

It’s important to create a timeline for the ancestor you are searching for. If you’re not sure exactly what the timeline is, begin with what you know. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s not to guess on genealogy data. Guessing is left for the lottery, the percentages are basically the same. Once you know the timeline, look for historical events within the timeline. For instance, what was going on in the area at the time. This will heighten your search techniques and allow you to search certain criteria.  North Carolina Encyclopedia is a great source for this as an online tool. Your local library and historical societies are great choices as well.

History of Online Research

Majority of researchers of present day, typically research online. And, YES, there are many different ways to research online today versus 20 years ago. The websites that were available then were very few and the information was mainly donated by volunteers or librarians who wanted to make the information available, freely with no obligations. As the years progressed, a few genealogy companies began to emerge and these companies began collecting this data for commercial use. Volunteers began to disappear and genealogists began to keep their records private because they didn’t intend for the information to be used on a commercial revenue basis. As the volunteers were eliminating their data on the internet,  a monopoly of genealogy companies began to make themselves known and fees began to surface for subscriptions, memberships and more. The majority of the free sites that remained online became unknown to the future researcher. These sites were no longer being updated  and many were left abandoned. A few sites that remained were the exception, the #1 site- Rootsweb and the #2 site- The Genealogical Society of Utah, now known as Family Search. Both have been transformed over the years. The #1 North Carolina site was, The American History Project. It was filled with link after link of county records. It was a volunteer program and many county documents were stored on the #1 site of Rootsweb in order to gain popularity and to take advantage of the free pages offer with Rootsweb. But this all changed when Rootsweb was sold in 2008. Many volunteers who were actively donating data online left the site for good and slowly began disappearing from the internet. Other commercial companies began to appear and the online genealogy world forever changed from that point onward. The history of online genealogy allows a better understanding of online techniques in today’s market. I refer to online genealogy as a market, because it has vastly changed during the past 20 years and now resides within commercial trade as millions and millions of revenue are reported for large genealogy companies.

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Present Day Online Research

As stated earlier, online research has grown tremendously over the years. It’s amazing to discover the changes through the years. You may have an online subscription to the many corporations now involved with genealogy or you may rely on your own personal online search engine to obtain records. Online genealogy companies will inform you what they have on their database. You may be able to locate the majority of your family on one site and you may not. It all depends what the company has available for you online. A multitude of records are available by using certain simple keywords and a variety of search engines.  All that is required to perform a simple online search like this is to insert keywords for the search engine to do it’s job. Direct free search engines for North Carolina are North Carolina Genweb and North Carolina Genealogy Society just to name a few. There are more of these free databases online and they can be found if you insert the keyword, “free”. Also, use several search engines, there are many out there in the internet world and each one is slightly different from the other. The results from these different search engines will amaze you with the results.  Keywords are vital on getting the results you want. Think about what you are searching for and enter the keywords that speak this for you. Sometimes too much information is just too much data to go through. Concentrate on what’s important and narrow your search in this manner.

Online Family Trees

The trees located online can be used as “Hints & Clues”. The trees themselves are not sources and should not be used this way with your own personal lineage. You discover someone’s tree and it names an ancestor you have been looking for. After the excitement calms down, look for the source that proves the information. If you don’t see it, the new discovery is just a simple clue for you to investigate further if you wish. It’s not a legal binding document, a family Bible or proof that states this particular person is your ancestor. 95% of online trees contain incorrect data, lineage failures and fabricated information. You may contact the person who owns the tree and they inform you they received the information from a book, for instance. Get the name of the source so you can verify the information. Many family genealogy books have errors as well, look for the legal proof. Without the proof, it’s a simple clue.

Following The Legal Trail

Each and every family that lived in the piedmont area of North Carolina associated with the current government in some form. They paid taxes, submitted information to census takers and acquired a means of making a living such as farming. Births occurred along with deaths and many owned land. All of these actions are intertwined with government documents which creates a legal trial to follow. These type of documents are available for research on many different levels. The NC Archives houses all of these documents from each and every county of North Carolina and even those counties that no longer exist today. County government documents can be located at the current county seat courthouse. Even city and town documents can be located in individual settlements and historical societies. Several North Carolina books have been published during the past 100 years that pertain to these documents such as tax lists, will abstracts and much more. 33 counties suffered lost records due to fires, etc. For the piedmont area, Guilford county is among the worst as far as records destroyed or lost. The legal trail leads to proof of your ancestor’s existence and lineage to you.

Snail Mail & Email

The older genealogist loves snail mail. You arrive at the mailbox and guess what, the will of 4th great grandfather has arrived. You now hold the legal document proving his existence and the names of his wife, children and witnesses to the death event. Handwritten or typed letters say so much about your passion and drive to locate the answers you seek. This works especially well with older family members who may hold the key to your research. The piedmont area has the best hospitality and loves to share with others. Librarians and the archivists located at the NC State Library do respond to snail mail requests on a regular basis. Please provide them with as much information as possible when submitting a request. The state archives will charge you for the copies and out of state residents will also pay a search fee. To read more about the fees, click here. Local historical societies will respond to your request by snail mail as well. These societies are comprised mostly of volunteers who are eager to respond to your request. Email communications are a vital tool to genealogy research. Email can allow documents to be attached for quick viewing and filing  on your computer.  Everyone has access to email these days and it’s a quick communicator that provides privacy unlike social media sites or message boards online.

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The piedmont area of North Carolina holds many details within it’s history. The past can come alive as you research your ancestors in this area and learn how they lived and where. Land grants of long ago can lead you to the original homestead and possibly a family cemetery in the woods. Words can’t describe the feeling as you walk along the same land as your ancestors did over 250 years ago.

For links to local piedmont area historical societies and county databases, visit the NC Genealogy Links page. The page is updated on a weekly basis, so visit it often for new surprises and links. The next blog will continue the discovery of early land grants in Rockingham County. Wishing you all great success with your research and share your great discoveries and adventures with Piedmont Trails. As always, your support is greatly appreciated here and your presence is greatly valued. May sunny days follow you along your journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Settlers Of Rockingham County, NC

18th Century Land Grants of Matrimony Creek

Rockingham County began it’s origins from Guilford County in 1785. The Cheraw Indians lived in the area for many years. Another name for them was often referred to as Saura Indians. They spoke in Sioux dialect and lived in villages between the Catawba River and Yadkin River. They migrated during the late 17th century to present day Stokes and Rockingham counties. Several brutal attacks occurred during the early 18th century which left the villages in dismay.  In 1710, the Senaca tribe from the northwest attacked several villages within the area. The Cheraw or Saura Indians soon migrated southeast to Pee Dee River. Rockingham received it’s name from British Prime Minister, Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Marquis de Rockingham. He was the Prime Minister during the 1765 Stamp Act.

Matrimony Creek begins in Virginia and flows south through Rockingham County until it reaches the Dan River near Highway 311. Ironically, the little creek in Virginia splits away from Bear Branch and continues to present day Highway 220 into North Carolina. There are two Matrimony Creek sections, and one creek. This is why location is so important to the genealogy researcher. In other words, Matrimony Creek joins Bear Branch and flows together for approx. 2 miles in Virginia. Matrimony Creek is rumored to obtain the name from a bachelor residing in the area. Of course, no proof of this is in existence, but it would be interesting to know the story.

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Sullivant

Owen Sullivant received a land warrant consisting of 400 acres along Matrimony Creek on March 20, 1753.

Cantwill

Isaac Cantwill is recorded as a preacher of a church located along Matrimony Creek. The record states that in 1756, the church has a total of 28 members. Matrimony Creek Primitive Baptist Church was officially organized on September 17, 1776. By 1790, Aaron, Charles and Jacob Cantwill (Cantril) can be located on the census for Rockingham County.

James

Among the first settlers of Matrimony Creek was a man named Abraham James. On August 27th of 1762, Abraham received 697 acres located on both sides of Matrimony Creek. Abraham moved his family to Wilkes County and can be located on the 1790 census.  Isaac James entered on April 19, 1779, 200 acres and was issued on October 22, 1782 Book 48, page 139 Grant 630. William James entered on August 1, 1780, 440 acres and was issued on November 8, 1784 Book 56, page 208 Grant 1000.

Hopper

William Hopper recorded 510 acres on May 10, 1762 Book 6, page 161 Grant 20. He originally entered 700 acres in 1761. The Hopper surname is very active in present day Rockingham County, but William moved his family to Wilkes County and can also be found on the 1790 census near Abraham James. Soon after, William moved again to Orange County. Several family members remained near Matrimony Creek. Darby Hopper entered 235 acres on February 26, 1795. The grant was issued on April 24, 1800 in Book 107, page 362, Grant 397. James Hopper entered 200 acres on February 27, 1797 and was recorded on December 20, 1804. Book 120, page 213, Grant 510. Other family notes consists of a Joshua Hopper married Eliza Green and moved to Jacksonville, Illinois where he died in 1851. Thomas Darby Hopper was born in 1731 in Virginia and died in 1820 in Rockingham County, NC. He married Mary Rebecca Morgan.

Gowen

Aaron Gowen entered 410 acres in 1764. It was issued on May 16, 1786 in Book A, page 33. Aaron sold his land to Turbefield Barnes on October 26, 1786 Book A, page 139. At this time, a James Gowen also sold land for a 100 pounds to Thomas Henderson. The 1790 census shows James Gowing listed in Rockingham County. For more family deed records, click the link here.

Callahan

Darby Callahan entered 53 acres along the creek. The grant was issued on November 17, 1790 in Book 76, page 197, Grant 77. The 1790 census lists Josias and William Callahan living in Stokes County. Ezekiel Callahan entered 2 tracts of land on April 7, 1779. 200 acres were issued on October 22, 1783 Book 54, page 38 Grant 725. 100 acres were issued on October 22, 1783 Book 54, page 119 Grant 912.

Harris

Jesse and Thomas Harris entered 175 acres along Matrimony Creek on October 13, 1798 and was issued August 20, 1802. Book 115, page 312, Grant 443. Nathaniel Harris entered on September 17, 1793, 60 acres and was issued December 20, 1796 Book 91, page 445 Grant 247. Nathaniel Harris also entered 350 acres on March 1, 1797 and was issued December 18, 1799 Book 106, page 191 Grant 381. Charles Harris entered on November 21, 1778, 200 acres and was issued on October 11, 1783 Book 54, page 122 Grant 918.

Jameson

Thomas Jameson entered 140 acres along Matrimony Creek on August 24, 1796. The patent was never recorded.

Johnston

Joseph Johnston entered on August 28, 1780, 589 acres and was issued on November 8, 1784 Book 56, page 219 Grant 1038.

Cook

Reubin Cook entered on May 23, 1780, 600 acres and was issued on November 8, 1784 Book 56, page 194 Grant 964.

Odle

William Odle entered 25 acres on February 8, 1791 and was recorded on July 16, 1795 Book 86, page 465 Grant 215. The 1790 census for Rockingham County shows the surname Odle as John, Joseph, Lewis, Uriah and William.

Carter

Nathan Carter entered 100 acres on February 11, 1797 and was issued December 18, 1799 Book 106, page 186 Grant 373. The 1790 census for Rockingham County shows a Thomas Carter listed.

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Cobler

Christopher Cobler entered 300 acres on November 28, 1778 and was issued on March 1, 1780 Book 33, page 299 Grant 253. Frederick Cobler entered August 16, 1784, 50 acres and was issued on May 16, 1787 Book 65, page 141 Grant 1449.

Powell

John Powell entered 100 acres on March 30, 1779 and was issued on March 1, 1780 Book 33, page 337 Grant 291.

Roberts

Richard Roberts entered on September 6, 1778, 200 acres and was issued on March 1, 1780 Book 33, page 441 Grant 395.

Davison

Richard Davison entered on January 2, 1780, 440 acres and was issued on October 22, 1782 Book 48, page 61 Grant 466.

Roach

John Roach entered on May 17, 1779, 100 acres and was issued on October 22, 1782 Book 48, page 122 Grant 594.

Leak

John Leak owned many acres of land along Matrimony Creek in 1773. He organized Leaksville in 1795 and built his home near the Dan River. By 1800, John Leak no longer owned his vast amount of land in the area.

Price

Reece Price settled near Matrimony Creek. He built his home in the area and married twice. To learn the detailed history of the Price family, click the link here.

Grogan

Henry Grogan was issued 200 acres on March 1, 1780 Book 33, page 235 Grant 239.

Matrimony Creek was used as a guideline from Virginia into North Carolina. A trail separated from the The Great Wagon Road and wandered narrowly near Beaver Creek where once was a fort during the mid 18th century. The fort was to offer security from Indians who were still living in the wilderness at the time. During the Revolutionary War, the creek was used once again along with the old trail to direct the troops of  Col. Abraham Penn on March 11, 1781.

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Rockingham County’s history is filled with details that pertain to our ancestors lives. The way they lived, laughed, celebrated, cried and mourned. Matrimony Creek winds through the county, the lands of our relatives, just as it did many years ago until it joins the Dan River. Thank You for visiting our posting about the waters of Matrimony Creek and it’s early settlers. Wishing you all well with your journey.

 

The Origins of Kernersville

The Story Of A Small Town In Forsyth County, NC

What defines a small town? Could it be the actual size of the population? Could it be the boundaries that restrict its growth? Or could it mean something more, a feeling of belonging? A feeling that means home. Kernersville is one of those special places that welcomes you in with a smile. Nestled in Forsyth County near present day Winston-Salem, Kernersville speaks volumes of history as soon as you enter through the city limits. The downtown streets are narrow with little shops all in a row. Shade provided by the trees lining the sidewalks cast shadows on your feet as you stroll along. The crossroads located in the center of town were distinguished many years ago with the name of Dobson’s Crossroads. At one time, a tavern with an inn stood at the road welcoming weary travelers. Before this, David Morrow owned the land who purchased it from Caleb Story. Caleb Story held a land grant dated 1756 for 400 acres of what is now known as part of Kernersville. Before Caleb Story, the land belonged to the Indians. Cherokee, Catawba and the Sioux were among these tribes. Broken pottery has been located within the city limits of Kernersville along with numerous amounts of arrowheads. Several of these I have found personally and wondered what stories they could tell if only allowed to speak.

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Map of Kernersville 1834

During the late 18th century, Dobson’s Crossroads was a major stop along the route north, so many travelers would rest at the tavern and the inn. It was built circa 1772 by William Dobson. He raised his family and operated the daily functions of the business. The main road that crossed in front of the tavern was the colonial stage road. If you have ancestor’s who migrated the Great Wagon Road and settled in or around the area of Kernersville, it’s very probable that they may have stopped or even stayed at the inn. After the Revolutionary War, George Washington was making his way on his southern tour. He was visiting the country after he was elected as our first president. He arrived at the crossroads June 2nd, 1791 and breakfast was prepared for him. Washington had just left Salem on May 31st. This will give you an idea on the length of travel time it took between Salem and what is now known as Kernersville. Present day travel would take you approx. 15 minutes. It should be noted that George Washington made several stops along the way and did not travel at night.

Dobson Crossroad

Dobson Tavern and Crossroads

William Dobson sold the land which now consisted of over a thousand acres to Gottlieb Schober in 1813. Gottlieb traveled to Carolina with the Moravians and was the first postmaster of Salem. He left the Moravian church and moved his family to the inn. Gottlieb’s son, Nathaniel inherited the property and continued to operate the tavern which also by now had a store. Joseph Kerner purchased the property from Nathaniel on November 14, 1817 and moved his family from the Friedland settlement. Friedland, a Moravian settlement was located approx. 7 miles from the inn. To learn more about Friedland, click here. The origins of Kernerville’s name arrives with Joseph Kerner. Joseph and his family continued to operate the business renaming it Kerner’s Crossroads. He purchased additional lands increasing his vast amount to a total of 1,144 acres before his death in 1830. The division of the land occurred among the children of Joseph Kerner and the lands remained within the immediate family until 1841 when Salome, daughter of Joseph, and her husband, Appollos Harmon, sold a portion of their property. Bits and pieces were donated or sold over the years until the inn was sold as well. Phillip Kerner, son of Joseph, operated the inn until he sold the property to Robert Henly of Randolph County. Eventually, the crossroads began to take on the appearance of a community. By the end of the Civil War, several churches had been built along with other businesses and by 1871, Kernersville was incorporated. What happened to the inn? Well, Henly operated the inn until 1882 when he sold the property to Dr. Sapp. The inn was renamed Sapp Hotel and Dr Sapp operated a drug store on the premises as well. Years later, it became known as Auto Inn until eventually the inn was torn down and replaced with another business. The days of the tavern and the inn are lingering in the past with the stories and the people of long ago.

 A Sampling of Surnames of Kernersville

Adkins, Blackburn, Blackwell, Brooks, Coltrane, Cooke, Davis, Dicks, Donnell, Dunlap, Flynt, Frentress, Friende, Fulp, Fulton, Galloway, Greenfield,  Harmon, Huff, Ingram, Johnson, Joyce, Joyner, Kerner, Lain, Leak, Lindsay, Linville, Lowery,Matthews, Morris, Morton, Motsinger, Pepper, Phillips, Pinnix, Plunkett, Prince, Record, Ring, Roberts, Sapp, Shore, Sigmon,Snow, Stafford, Sullivan, Swaim, Swisher, Teague, Vance, Walker, Weatherly, Whicker, Whitaker

What makes a small town special? The answer to this is fairly easy and I think everyone would agree with me, it’s the people. The seeds of a town are held by the roots of it’s people, nourished to grow beyond it’s original boundaries to new beginnings and blue skies. It’s the daily routines of neighbors, the casual events at the local store, the children attending school, the baseball games, the dances filled with hopeful romances, the picnics and parades. It’s the rhythm of the people creating a heartbeat that unites a small town. That’s the “special”. As always, Thank You all so much for your support of Piedmont Trails and I wish you all great success with your journey to the past.

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Pictured at the beginning of the blog is Korner’s Folly. You can learn more about this amazing house by clicking here. Built by the grandson of Joseph Kerner, the house has special features unlike any other in the state. Jules Korner was a very unique person who traveled the world and decided to help design and build this magnificent home. It’s located in the heart of Kernersville. Thanks Again Everyone and we’ll see you along the trail.

 

4th of July Celebration

18th Century to Present Day

During the early summer of 1776, a document was signed declaring the birth of a new nation. The date, July 4th, 1776,  has been known as the beginning of the United States of America, one nation under GOD, with liberty and justice for all. John Adams would state that the true date of birth was July 2nd, but the signers of the Declaration of Independence completed the signatures on July 4th and so declared this date as the official birth of our country. The citizens of this new country watched as volunteered soldiers marched to war during that first summer. Many would not see their loved ones again. The first celebrations of independence consisted of many different formats. A popular theme was conducting a funeral for King George complete with procession, hymns and funeral service. Other themes gathered the citizens for a social party complete with music and food. Fort settlements left from the French and Indian war, were now equipped with continental solders. Cannons would be fired along with muskets to celebrate the new country’s birthday.

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As the years went by, the customs would vary and new ideas would surface such as parades, fireworks and barbecues. But the reason for celebration would remain the same. Massachusetts was the first state to proclaim July 4th as a holiday and by 1870, the famous date was proclaimed a federal holiday. Banners would fly on store fronts, festivities would be planned for months in advance for the birth date. By the early 20th century, small American flags would be flying in children’s hands eagerly awaiting the start of the town’s parade. Fireworks could be seen for miles against the dark night sky. The boom of the firecrackers would literally make the ground shake. The rumble of long ago remembered and embraced with unity.

During the 18th century, many church bells would announce the 4th of July. Gatherings filled with rejoicing, praise and admiration of the new country. Pride would be driven into the stories passed down from one generation to the next. So that all who listen would forever know how important liberty was, is and will be. As a small child, I was able to witness the bicentennial  celebration of 1976 in my hometown. My mother purchased dress patterns for me and my little sister reflecting the 18th century and made our dresses for the town celebration. The mayor dressed as George Washington and the entire town participated in the events. A time capsule was placed at the town library to be opened in 2026. Fifers practiced for weeks in preparation of the parade march. It was a time in my childhood that I will always remember. Years later, while researching my family genealogy, I discovered a picture of my great grandfather dressed as Uncle Sam during a 4th of July parade during the 1940’s. The newspaper was filled with details on the day’s events and a new story was added to my research. For our ancestors who were living during those turbulent early years, the country was young. It was a time of awakening filled with the ability to change the world and make it a better place for everyone. The 4th of July stood for a new way of life, a new beginning and better opportunities for the children, the grandchildren and the generations to come. The voices of long ago can still be heard. Their stories are filled with details as we all search the worn pages of documents. But, don’t forget to write your own stories as well. So your voice will join the pages of the researchers yet to be born.

I wish you all a Happy 4th of July as we honor 242 years of our country’s birth. I’ll end with a few words from our forefather, Benjamin Franklin, “Where Liberty is, There is My Country.”

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