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Fire! revisited

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Last month, I posted a tip of the week about fires in county courthouses and the records they destroyed. Although a little over 1/3 of North Carolina counties have had to deal with court house fires at one time or another and another 1/3 of the counties have missing records for unknown reasons, there still may be ways to work around it.

In her book, North Carolina Research: Genealogical and Local History, Helen Leary explains not all records were kept in the courthouse. A courthouse fire does not equate a total loss of records before that time period, just the records in the courthouse. The author suggests examining all records that are left from any surviving records. Below is a list of other records that may still assist in your search:

  • Census Records
  • Newspapers
  • Higher Court Records – This would include state supreme court, district courts,
  • State Level Records – we are all familiar with county level records, but there are many state level records as well that can lend clues. These also include records for the many current and former State Agencies.
  • Federal Level Records – this would include military and pension, immigration, naturalization,
  • British Records – before the Revolutionary War, there was no Federal Government. Many of the same records at the Federal level may also be in the British records
  • Records of Neighboring Counties – for land holders especially, this can be great. Some land holders have records in 2 or more counties where they own land and not necessarily just land records.
  • Private Records – these include manuscript records at the State Archives of North Carolina. In fact, the State Archives has a finding aid of private records in their collection. This also includes family Bibles. To view digitized Bible records that were held by the State Archives of North Carolina, take a look at the North Carolina Family Records Online database that includes family Bibles among other resources. This database is continually growing.
  • Governor’s Records – Govenors have left papers when they leave office. Many have been published and are available at the Government & Heritage Library.

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