Tag Archives: Genealogy

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.

Lunch and Learn: Finding Your Ancestors

Lunch and Learn flyerOn May 10-13, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) will hold its annual conference in Raleigh. To help participating genealogists prepare for their visit, the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will host two Facebook Live sessions on its Facebook page. The “Lunch and Learn: Finding Your Ancestors” series will take place over two days:

  • Wednesday, May 3 at 12 noon – Tune in to hear about genealogical research at the Government and Heritage Library, part of the State Library of North Carolina.
  • Thursday, May 4 at 12 noon – Learn about resources available both in the Search Room and online from the State Archives of North Carolina.

The State Archives has also updated the information under the genealogical research tab on this blog in preparation for NGS 2017. If you have any additional questions about your upcoming visit to the State Archives, please contact us.

PC2124: Slave Deed of Gift of Sam

deedfrontside_pc2124

Front side of deed of gift of Sam, age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to his daughter, Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847.

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Collections Archivist, of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Private Collections (PCs) are an important source for researchers seeking not only genealogical information, but also important context for understanding family, social, and economic history. Likewise, PCs are an especially valuable resource for those tracing slave ancestry and a sense of the broader historical context and personal details. In honor of Black History Month, February 2017, this post shines a light on rich aspects of the life of Samuel (Sam) Ritter (ca. 1822-1892). Such focus places Samuel in a position of respect far above the offensive fact that he was born into slavery and given as a man of 25 to a girl of 12, the eldest daughter of the slave master.

Realities conveyed in bare facts, such as the foregoing, can bring pain and offend our humanity and sense of human dignity. Difficult as it is to view papers documenting unsavory facts, we must continue to seek and to make available all that offer clues, especially in the difficult challenge of slave ancestry. Such is true of the donation in 2016 to Private Collections of a single item titled: “Slave Deed of Gift of Sam, Age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847.” PC.2124.

In the course of a recent day’s work, I set out to discover and document the usual background facts expected in the writing of a finding aid. Additionally, I wanted to make meaningful sense of this unusually troubling deed of gift and to provide some basis for investigations by future researchers. The bare facts of this 1847 deed of gift were especially provocative, and I was vexed enough to raise the obvious questions, and a few more. For starters, I wanted to know: Did Sam survive ownership by young Jane? If she married during the next decade or so, did Sam become part of her husband’s estate, and what was his name and locale? Did Sam escape to the North? Or if he survived in North Carolina past the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, what surname did he assume? Where did he live? Did he ever reach position of dignity as a head of a household? Did he have a vocation, and a family of his own? And finally, who were Sam’s parents and siblings?

Though a seasoned archivist and historian, I admit to being somewhat daunted thinking of the span of time and the proverbial brick walls that I might hit in researching Sam from the year 1847 to the year 1870—when black individuals and families were first named on the U.S. Federal Census. There was the realistic possibility of no clear answers to any of my questions. Still, I proceeded to build into my finding aid’s biographical and historical note a basic chronological framework. With many other projects awaiting attention, I strove to find as much factual information as I could find in a reasonable length of time. Yet even the essential clue of finding Jane’s future married name in the North Carolina Marriage Bonds and the Marriage Index was denied. Consequently, I resorted to a wide assortment of Internet searches. The end result was a mix of unproven clues about the Ritter family, scattered about the Internet, and facts derived from the standard sources, mainly census records. I offer the following as an approach that others might consider when seeking to trace and to highlight the life of a particular individual.

deedsamnamedexcerpt

Excerpt from deed of gift identifying a “negro man Slave named Sam aged about twenty five years.”

In this case, it was necessary to begin with the first-named slave owner conveying the “gift” of Sam’s person. Research revealed him to be John Richardson Ritter (ca. 1793–1860), a son of John (ca. 1760–1828) and Elizabeth H. Richardson Ritter (ca. 1760–1842). The younger John was married around 1813 to Mary Kennedy (1802–1865 or before), Moore County. The couple is shown on the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Census residing with three sons and five daughters, with birth dates ranging from around 1829 to 1850.

An essential character in my query was the said Jane Ritter, born in 1835, and the oldest daughter of the Ritter couple. As stated, she was 12 years of age when her father deeded to her the “gift” of “ownership” of Sam, age 25, born around 1822. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census slave schedule does not list Jane Ritter as a slave owner, but shows that her father, John R. Ritter, claimed two females, ages 30 and 12, mulatto; and eight males, with three of the four children therein described as mulatto. The two adult males included one listed as 35, and the

other as 30 years of age. The latter man was probably Sam, named in the 1847 deed of gift. It should be noted that John R. Ritter is not listed as a slave owner in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census slave schedules. That was probably the year of his death, and it is uncertain what happened to the ten slaves, ascribed to him in 1850.

Jane Ritter, also known as Dicie Jane (1835–1891), was still living in her parents’ household during the census enumeration of 1860. Family reports, lacking documentation, indicate that Jane Ritter was married in late 1861 to Nelson J. Hunsucker (1833–1875). The 1870 census does verify that Nelson Hunsucker was recorded by the census taker as a farmer, with a full household. Family named include Hunsucker’s wife, Dicie Jane, his mother, four young Hunsucker children, plus a boy of 10, possibly a relative, and one Samuel Ritter, black, age 22, with an approximate birth year of 1848. The Hunsucker household and farm were located in Ritters Township, Moore County. These welcomed pieces of information, made me suspect that the young Samuel Ritter (SRJr) might well be the son of the elder Samuel Ritter (SRSr)

It is more than coincidental that on the 1870 census another Samuel Ritter, black, is listed as a farmer in Ritters Township, and located in fairly close proximity to the Hunsucker farm. If the age this older Samuel Ritter gave to the census taker is correct, his birth year was around 1819. This is within three years and remarkably close to the projected birth year of the slave, Sam (described as age 25 in the said Ritter family deed of gift of 1847). Signs surely point to the high probability that Samuel and Sam were indeed the same, and I will hereafter designate him as SRSr.

There are several other pieces of additional interest in the 1870 census record. First, the household of SRSr includes Elisabeth/Elizabeth, age 28, a mulatto, and six children, ranging in ages from ten years to infancy. Secondly, there is additional information in the census form’s “Personal estate” category, column 9. The enumerator entered 100 (dollars) for SRSr’s personal property (defined generally as including all bonds, stocks, mortgages, notes, livestock, plate, jewels, or furniture). The practice was to leave the column blank if the valuation was less than $100.

This category of “Personal estate” was, in fact, left blank for the neighboring Hunsucker family, and some of the other white families in the area. Additionally, it is assumed that the elder Samuel Ritter had title to the land that he farmed, and was not in the category of sharecropper that described so many men during the 19th and on into the 20th century. Finally, Elisabeth Ritter was entered on the form as being able to read, though not write. Samuel Ritter, on the other hand, like so many of that era, could neither read nor write.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census also suggests a possibly cooperative relationship between the white Hunsucker family and the two black Samuel Ritters (SRSr and SRJr) and their families. By 1880 Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker is now a widow and listed as a farmer/head of household. The older SRSr, now 60 years old, is again registered as a farmer, and his name has the actual designation of “Senior.” Notably, there is only one residence separating his farm from that of the Hunsucker farm. The young Samuel Ritter (SRJr) who previously lived with the Hunsucker family, is now married, and listed as a farmer, with several young children. Significantly, he and his family are residing in a residence adjacent to the senior Samuel Ritter, most certainly his father, SRSr. Furthermore, SRSr lives in the second residence down, and SRJr lives in the third residence down from the Hunsucker homestead.

Following these families gives rises to even more unanswered questions, and surely the

deedtitle_reverseside

Excerpt from reverse side of deed of gift, with title and partial court endorsement.

loss of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census compounds the problem. Since SRSr does not appear on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, we can assume that he died sometime between the 1880 and 1900 enumerations. One unproven family record on the Internet indicates that he died in 1892. If true, then SRSr lived well past the average life expectancy for men of that era. We know with fair amount of certainty that Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker died in 1891 because of the existence of her gravestone at the Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery, close to Ritters Township, in the town of Carthage.

Overall, discovering several positive connections to SRSr and his family has indeed been gratifying. Though I did not answer all questions, the results exceeded what I could reasonably anticipate when I first initiated my inquiries. For other researchers who have a family and/or a historical interest in SRSr and family, further in-depth research can take myriads of other directions. Thanks to the starting point presented through a single 1847 deed of gift, we have a better understanding of SRSr’s life and the legacy that he represents. We can never know the exact and undoubtedly complex nature of the relationships between the white Ritter family/Hunsucker family and the black Ritter family. It is certain, however, that their lives intersected in significant ways. It can probably be safely surmised that the relationship between Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker (d. ca. 1891) and Sam Ritter (d. ca. 1892), was at least cooperative on some levels and peaceful enough so that they could live almost side-by-side on their farms until the end of their days.

See also in honor of Black History Month, February 2017, a blog post written by Elizabeth Crowder, about the McCormick, Green, and Shaw Collection. PC.2130.

Collection Overview:

PC. 2124. Slave Deed of Gift, of Sam, age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to his daughter, Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847. This document was proven and duly registered in the January court session of 1848, by the oath of Benjamin P. Person. 1 item.

 

Interpreting the North Carolina World War I Service Cards

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

World War I service card for William Crittenden

World War I service card for William Crittenden.

The North Carolina WWI Service Cards are now available online for free through the joint efforts of FamilySearch and the State Archives of North Carolina. These cards were originally prepared after World War I by the U.S. War Department for use by the North Carolina Adjutant General’s office. The WWI Service Cards report on men and women who claimed residency in North Carolina and who served in official military capacities—including nurses, medics, and chaplains—during World War I. The cards include such information as name, military service number, home town, age or birth date, place and date of induction, units in which served, ranks held, dates of overseas service, and date of discharge from active military service.

However, the cards can be difficult to interpret, as numerous individuals were involved in creating the cards, and several different formats of both cards and information were used by the War Department. Also, the cards were created as two separate sets based on division of military branches. One set of cards includes individuals who served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Air Service (or also called the Army Air Force informally at the time, which is the precursor of today’s U.S. Air Force), and U.S. Marine Corps. The other set of cards includes the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. This is important to understand, as there are different abbreviations and formats for the different card sets. Navy and Coast Guard service cards are large and contain more detailed service information than those of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

At the time of the War Department’s production of the cards, they created a 13-page list of abbreviations and their meanings as utilized on the cards. The State Archives is posting this list so that the public can understand the service history more completely when they access the online cards. Even with this list of abbreviations, it is still confusing to understand the context of the service history. In the course of my work with the Military Collection at the State Archives, I have had to learn how to interpret the cards’ information accurately, and would like to share a tutorial on using the cards.

Continue reading

North Carolina World War I Military Data Now Searchable Online

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources press release – you can find other press releases on www.ncdcr.gov.]

World War I service card for James Alston of Wake Forest, N.C.

World War I service card for James Alston of Wake Forest, N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C. – Nearly 100 years ago, thousands of North Carolina men shipped out to Europe to serve in the Great War. Who were they? Where did they come from and how did they serve? Who were the men and women who served at home and overseas?

A searchable database of North Carolina’s World War I service cards, compiled after the war, is now available online at Family Search (familysearch.org) and can help answer those questions.

Using data from cards maintained at the State Archives of North Carolina, the database, searchable by name, includes place and date of induction, residence, and place and date of birth for officers, enlisted men, nurses, medics and chaplains who served in an official military capacity during World War I. Branches of service include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The actual service card is viewable through the database and contains additional information such as rank, unit, overseas service date and date of discharge from active military service.

“These service cards serve as a fundamental resource for those wishing detail about 80,000 North Carolinians who served their country during World War I,” said Matthew Peek, Military Collection archivist at the State Archives. “The searchable database created by Family Search makes our records freely accessible to everyone as we head into the 100th commemoration of American’s entry into World War I.”

The project is part of North Carolina’s official commemoration of the centennial of America’s entrance into World War I.

“The State Archives preserves many World War I archival records and we are pleased to partner with Family Search to make this military information easily accessible,” said State Archivist Sarah Koonts. “As the 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in the war approaches, we’ll be working with other divisions within the department to create programs that honor those men and women who served our country.”

World War I created the modern world by undermining European aristocracy, shifting national borders, industrializing warfare and expanding the public realm of women, among other effects. North Carolina emerged from this first global conflict less rural, more worldly, and better equipped to serve the nation through industry, military installations and shipbuilding enterprises at our ports.

The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ World War Centennial Committee will oversee the state’s official Commemoration of World War I. For more information and to learn more about commemorative activities, please visit our website at www.ncdcr.gov/worldwar1. To learn more about the collection, please visit FamilySearch’s Wiki page at http://bit.ly/2emn8ZK. Search the database itself at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2568864 and then take a look at the original service cards created by the North Carolina Adjutant General.

About the State Archives of North Carolina

The State Archives of North Carolina State Archives collects, preserves, and makes available for public use historical and evidential materials relating to North Carolina. Its holdings consist of official records of state, county and local governmental units, copies of federal and foreign government materials, and private collections.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

Night of the Living Bit Rot and Other October News

It’s Halloween, which means it’s a good time to remind you to prepare for the Bit Rot Apocalypse.

This short film was created by State Archives staff as part of Electronic Records Day, along with several blog posts. They are among the many new items available online this October, including:

Several recent posts from our records management blog may be of interest to History For All the People readers:

In other October news, last week the State Library of North Carolina announced that NCpedia is getting a new look. They invite members of the public to help test the redesigned website and give their feedback.

Troop Returns Digital Collection

The Troop Returns from the State Archives of North Carolina Military Collection are now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection includes lists, returns, records of prisoners, and records of draftees, from 1747 to 1893. The majority of records are from the Revolutionary War North Carolina Continental Line.

milcoll_troop_returns_b4f8_contline_dragoons_troop_list_01

“A list of the troop of Dragoons commanded by Captain Lawrence Thompson”. Troop Returns. Military Collection. State Archives of North Carolina.

Militia records generally include the names of the officers and soldiers, and are usually organized by district or county. Continental Line records include field returns, general returns, draft records and enlistment records. These may be organized by military unit or location. When available, the commanding officers’ name is included in the item description and is searchable in the collection.

This digital collection is currently in-progress, and more items will be added as they become available. Check back for the future post on the completion of the collection.

For more specific collection information, including information on the items not yet available, please see the Troop Returns finding aid.