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.
Map of NC in 1760 showing the location of Dobbs County – Image courtesy of Learnnc.org
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.
In honor of women’s history month, we will look at some articles about women from NCpedia as examples of how to trace your female ancestors. This post will focus on verifying the marriages of Martha McFarlane McGee Bell, born around 1735 and died about 1820.
Martha first married John McGee about 1759. According to published memoirs about Martha (see source list below), John had been previously married with two children of his own. John left a will in 1774. At the time of John’s decease, there were five children. A few years later around 1779, Martha married William Bell. Martha died in 1820 while William died in 1821.
Although there are multiple sources that share information about her, few of them cite documentation to prove any of it. In the absence of reliable sources to back up the information, it is necessary to verify as much as possible through original records.
Image courtesy of LEARN NC.
The 1840 census began June 1st and ended February 1st of 1841. Information given was as of the census day, not the day of enumeration. In cases like this, the census may have been enumerated on December 1st with an age given as 12, but that age was as of June 1, 1840, so it’s possible there was a birthday between the census day and the date of enumeration.
As in 1830, the 1840 census had a printed form for enumerators to use. Unlike other years, there were no missing census pages for any state. Also, a new state and territory were included: Iowa and the Wisconsin Territory. Although Oregon became a territory by 1840, it was not included.
In December 2016, I talked about the basic information in city directories and how they can be helpful for research. In this post, I want to show you how I used city directories in conjunction with other records to trace the Pettiford family of Raleigh. I learned a lot from tracking this family from 1875-1930. Finding this them in the city directories led me to other records, such as deeds, marriage records, and in some cases, just confirmed relationships as you can see from the image above.
1891 Raleigh City Directory