If your ancestors came to North Carolina in the 1600s, there is a good chance they lived in an abolished county at some point. Some abolished counties, such as Dobbs County, were created after 1700. As genealogy researchers, we are taught when boundaries change and new counties are formed records created in the original county stay there rather than moved to the new county; however, that leads to the question of what happens with records created in abolished counties.
Dobbs County Formation and Records
Let’s take a look at Dobbs County, created in 1758 from part of Johnston County. Only a few records exist; there are some wills, which are in the Thornton W. Mitchell’s will book index. There were also deeds, which are not dated. Dobbs County was abolished in 1791 when it split into Glasgow and Lenoir Counties. Any records that were mixed in with Lenoir County records have been destroyed by court house fire in 1878 and again in 1880.
Heritage of Dobbs County
Dobbs County was named for Arthur Dobbs, governor of North Carolina 1754-1765. The county seat was Kingston, which is now known as Kinston and the current county seat of Lenoir County.
Neighboring counties going clockwise from the North were: Edgecombe, Pitt, Craven, Duplin, and Johnston Counties. In 1764, the size of the county increased slightly in the southeastern corner when it gained land from Craven County. However, it lost almost half its size when Wayne County was created from the northwest portion of Dobbs in 1779 and then again when Jones was created from the southeast portion in 1788. In 1791, the remainder of the county was split between Glasgow in the north and Lenoir in the south.
Corbitt, David Leroy. The Formation of North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943. Raleigh, NC: State Department of Archives and History, 1987.
Guide to County Records in the North Carolina State Archives. Raleigh, NC: Office of Archives and History, 2009.
Leary, Helen. North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996.
Long, John H. (ed), and Gordon DenBoer (comp.). North Carolina: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1998.
Mitchell, Thornton W. North Carolina Wills: A Testator Index, 1665-1900. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992.
Powell, William S. and Michael Hill. The North Carolina Gazetteer: A Dictionary of Tar Heel Places and Their History. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. (Note: This is also available online through NCpedia)