Category Archives: Government Records

New Digital Collections: Colonial Court Records & District Superior Court Records

The State Archives of North Carolina would like to announce the addition of two new collections to the North Carolina Digital Collections: Colonial Court Records and District Superior Court Records.

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The Colonial Court Records digital collection includes two series: Estate Papers, CCR. 179-CCR.186, and Land Papers, CCR.187. Records relating to any of the higher courts in early North Carolina represented in the series Colonial Court Records (CCR) are extremely scarce until 1683, and are almost non-existent for several higher courts well after that date. Records of the General Court, the most important of these courts in terms of powers and amount of business transacted, do not begin to be abundant until 1694. It functioned from as early as 1670 until 1754 and during those years heard a great number of lawsuits involving decedents estates. When the records of this court were arranged at the Archives about 1959, papers from cases concerning estates were sorted out of the other loose papers and were designated Estates Records even though they were not true estates reports, inventories, accounts, etc. Papers concerning approximately seven hundred estates resulted. They were then foldered individually by decedent and arranged alphabetically.

For a more detailed account of what records are in the Colonial Court Records Collection, please see the CCR finding aid.

The District Superior Court Records digital collection currently contains only one district, Edenton District, from 1756 to 1806. It includes writs, transcripts, narratives, inventories of estates, notes, bonds, appeals, and subpoenas relating to the settlement of estates in the counties under the jurisdiction of the Edenton District Superior Court. It also includes a short subseries of guardians’ records (1760- 1805) arranged by name of the ward, and records of unnamed decedents and wards.

The supreme courts of justice system, in effect briefly from 1755 to 1759, served as the immediate predecessor and the pattern on which the district superior courts system was based. Under the supreme courts of justice, the colony of North Carolina was divided into five districts–each with its own independent court. The following towns served as the seats of the court districts: Edenton, Enfield, New Bern, Salisbury, and Wilmington.

Each supreme court of justice was independent and had the same jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters in their respective districts. Duties of the district superior courts also included the power of probate for deeds and wills. The state’s judiciary system underwent several more changes, with varying changes in duties and jurisdictions of the district superior courts until 1806 when the district superior courts were closed and replaced by superior courts erected in every county seat in the state. For a more detailed account of court history please seeing the digital collection landing page, or NCPedia article “State Judiciary.”

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The Scary Truth Series, Pt. II

This is the second of three entries in a special Halloween-inspired blog series highlighting a collection of ghost stories, legends, folklore, and facts from North Carolina. Like sweet tea and college basketball, folklore is a major part of North Carolina’s cultural heritage. Legends and stories passed down from generations keep the state’s history alive and ultimately help us remember life as it once was.

The Scary Truth Series, Pt. I
The Scary Truth Series, Pt. III

Maco Light

Legend has it that a “ghost light” was all that remained from a fatal train accident that occurred over a century ago just outside of Wilmington in a small, unincorporated community named Maco. The details have become a bit fuzzy over the years, and after being told and retold thousands of times, the story has taken on a life of its own.

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Illustration of the Maco Light by R. A. Sharpe in a 1956 issue of Our State Magazine. (source)

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The Scary Truth Series, Pt. I

This is the first of three entries in a special Halloween-inspired blog series highlighting a collection of ghost stories, legends, folklore, and facts from North Carolina. Like sweet tea and college basketball, folklore is a major part of North Carolina’s cultural heritage. Legends and stories passed down from generations keep the state’s history alive and ultimately help us remember life as it once was. 

The Scary Truth Series, Pt. II
The Scary Truth Series, Pt. III

The Murder Mystery of Nell Cropsey

On November 21, 1901, Nell Cropsey mysteriously vanished from her family home near the Elizabeth City waterfront. Her body was discovered nearby in the Pasquotank river 37 days later, a mere 130 yards from where she was last seen. The first glaring suspect: Jim Wilcox, her suitor. Despite two trials and the subsequent conviction of Wilcox, many questions about her death remain unanswered. Some say her spirit haunts her family home to this day.

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Portraits of Jim Wilcox (left) and Nell Cropsey (right), courtesy of the Museum of the Albemarle.

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Electronic Records Day – Text Messages as Public Records

This entry is cross-posted from the G.S. 132 Files, the official Records Management blog of the State Archives of North Carolina.

In recognition of Electronic Records Day 2017, sponsored by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), the State Archives of North Carolina presents the short film “The Texting Club.” This video was created for educational purposes only.

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New Digital Collection: The General Assembly Session Records

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Session of November-December, 1768: Lower House Papers, messages to and from Governor Tryon. Available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The General Assembly Session Records collection is now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection features records of early North Carolina state legislatures from the State Archives of North Carolina. The documents consist of bills and resolutions, petitions, committee reports, messages from the governor, legislative messages, tally sheets, election certificates, resignations, and other material related to the work of each session of the General Assembly. The physical collection includes items from 1709 through 1999, but the digital collection will focus on the earliest materials. This digital collection is currently in progress, and more items will be added as they are digitized. Check back for future updates on the status of this project.

While the first official assembly was said to occur around 1665, it wasn’t until 1776 that the first state constitution was ratified by the “representatives of the freemen” and the General Assembly was given full legislative power as well as the authority to choose all state executive and judicial officers. Several amendments have been made to the state’s constitution over time, which has altered the powers and structure of the General Assembly.

For more information on the history of the North Carolina General Assembly, please check out these NCpedia pages developed by the State Library:

Other resources:

For more information on the General Assembly Session Records collection, please search our MARS catalog. Another digital collection of interest includes the Federal State and Constitutional Materials, which highlight North Carolina government’s role in the ratification of federal amendments and its own internal efforts to protect the rights of its citizens dating back to the Declaration of Rights in 1776.

Grand Opening: State Archives of North Carolina Store

[This blog post was written by Vann Evans, Correspondence Archivist in the Collection Services Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [N_53_15_6340]

Piggly Wiggly Store Selling and Displays, 1949. [Call number: N_53_15_6340] From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC.

To further its mission of providing access to North Carolina’s public records, the State Archives offers researchers the ability to request records and pay for reproductions from the comfort of their home. In 2012, the State Archives first began accepting electronic payments. Since that time, over seven thousand researchers stretching from Murphy to Manteo, across all fifty states, and from many foreign countries have utilized this service. On April 29, the State Archives of North Carolina opened its new online store.

Some highlights of the new store include images of record types and descriptions of records advertised, links to helpful collection guides, box lists, and digital collections. Other changes include enhanced security protections for credit card data and the addition of new record categories, like Coroners’ Inquests, Bastardy Bonds, Guardian Records, and Revolutionary War era materials.

North Carolina residents never incur fees when requesting records. If a record is found, an invoice will be generated in response to your inquiry. The invoice includes a citation for the material requested and a quote for copying costs. If no record is found the invoice will state that instead.

Since 1978, out-of-state residents have been required to submit a search and handling fee (presently $20), which offsets the cost to North Carolina taxpayers for this service.

Tax Lists and Records

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Wake County tax list from the Treasurer & Comptroller collection (Treasurer and Comptroller. Box 8. State Archives of North Carolina.)

With tax season fast approaching, North Carolina State Archives unveils a new digital collection, entitled Tax Lists and Records, drawing from General Assembly, Treasurer & Comptroller and Secretary of State records.  The bulk of the records are from the Colonial and Revolutionary War eras, but some lists date from as late as 1853.

Lists sent to the General Assembly are from various counties and give the names of the heads of households and others who were subject to taxation. Horses, cattle, livestock, and other luxury goods such as carriages and coaches are also often referenced. Information about slaves may also be present in these lists.

Tax records sent to the State Treasurer or Comptroller relate to the settlement of accounts between local officials and the state. These records generally include the names of the heads of households, acreage, valuation, and number of polls (a tax of a fixed amount levied on adult males, female heads of households and slaves) in the household (black and white). Horses, cattle, livestock, and other luxury goods such as carriages and coaches are also frequently referenced.

Thirty-four tax lists from the Secretary of State records list households subject to taxation in fifteen counties. Information in these records generally includes the name of the head of household, acreage, valuation, and number of polls in household (black and white). Counties included in these lists are: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dobbs, Gates, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Johnston, Jones, Martin, Montgomery, Nash, New Bern District, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Richmond, Rutherford, Sampson, Surry, Tyrrell, Warren, and Wilkes.