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Genealogy Tip of the Week

Abolished Counties: Glasgow County

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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 Glasgow 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 counties in 1791 with Glasgow County in Blue

Glasgow County shaded in blue

Glasgow County Formation and Records

Let’s take a look at Glasgow County, created in 1791 from Dobbs County. The County was abolished only eight years later in 1799. Greene County was created in 1799 from Glasgow County. Unfortunately, there was a court house fire in 1876 in Greene County that destroyed any records from Glasgow County.

Heritage of Glasgow County

Glascow County was named for James Glasgow, who was Secretary of the State of North Carolina 1777-1798. When James Glasgow became involved in land fraud, the name changed to Greene County in honor of Nathanael Greene, a highly respected General of the Revolutionary War.

Neighboring counties going clockwise from the North were: Edgecombe, Pitt, Craven, Lenoir, and Wayne Counties. In 1793, Glasgow gave a small southwestern corner to Wayne County; it remained unchanged as Glasgow County until it was abolished.

Although there are no surviving county records for Glasgow County, there are some state records. The State Archives of North Carolina has records on state land grants, including land fraud records. The Government and Heritage Library also has one book on land entries in Glasgow County. Come visit us and read the book!

Further Reading

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)

Census Tips: 1850 Census

NC county boundaries in 1850
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The 1850 census was the seventh federal census. Census day was June 1, 1850. Census day is when gathering information for the census began. All information was for the previous year ending on that day. Several changes happened with procedures and the type of information recorded. In 1850, the Census Office was created and began operation. The enumeration continued to be taken door to door, but the duties of the newly formed office was to collect the returns for each state and prepare reports. Until 1902 when the Census Office became its own federal agency, the office would disband after each enumeration was complete and form again in order to prepare for the next census in ten years.

NC county boundaries during the 1850 census

In addition to the original census schedule, two other copies were made. One copy was  given to the Secretary of State for each state or territory. Another copy was given to each county court for that county’s enumeration. It is important to keep that in mind while looking at the 1850 census and beyond. You may be looking at an  image of the original, but you might be looking at a copy, or even a copy of the copy. This presents a lot of room for human error.

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Tip of the week: Using Sanborn Maps

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Sanborn maps are a valuable research tool. These maps are fire insurance maps dating 1866-1959. Approximately 3,000 cities have Sanborn maps that cover all 50 U.S. states, Canada, and Mexico.

North Carolina maps include 145 towns within 85 counties; however, different cities have maps for different years. For example, the town of Hertford in Perquimans County has maps for the years of 1916, 1923, 1929-1940. On the other hand, Concord in Cabarrus County has maps dated 1885, 1887, 1892, 1897, 1902, 1906, 1911, 1921, and 1927.

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Abolished Counties: Dobbs County

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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 around 1760 showing the location of Dobbs County

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.

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