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Missing some of your history? Check this

by | Jul 16, 2016 | News

Have you hit a dead end in trying to piece together your ancestors’ stories? Has an old cemetery gone missing? Can’t find the will, birth or death certificate, or tax record you want? You could be looking in the wrong place. Maybe a county jumped out from under you.

More than 10 percent of North Carolina’s 100 counties didn’t exist during the Civil War and three others, born in 1861, have no antebellum history.

Clay, Mitchell and Transylvania are war babies. Avery, Dare, Durham, Graham, Hoke, Lee, Pamlico, Pender, Scotland, Swain and Vance weren’t there in 1861, which means your first task is to find out what “there” was calling itself before it became what it is today.

Counties can be writhing, tricky things, appearing out of nowhere and then changing shape – sometimes more than once. The old Bladen “precinct” spat out dozens of them before settling into its current configuration.

Don’t be discouraged. The Internet can provide the needed information — in most cases, with only a small investment of time and effort. And the potential payoff is large even if you find no antebellum bigwigs, Civil War heroes or Reconstruction-era villains. If someone back up your line worked for the division that created your county, or tried to block it, that’s a story all by itself.

Knowing where to start is like turning the key to a door that opens into a room full of information. You’ll often find that some other researcher has already done the heavy lifting for you, or some of it.

Whether you retrieve one story or a dozen, the North Carolina Civil War History Center makes it easy to share and preserve that history. Just go to our Featured Stories page and have at it. We expect its name to stay put.

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