The 1940 Census is Here!

Today, April 2, 2012, is an exciting day in the genealogy world; the 1940 census is being released after the federally-mandated 72 year embargo!

At 9am EST, the National Archives & Records Administration is releasing the images on their website at  You may wish to visit the site at 8:30am EST however for the live webstream event that will preface the release. When the images are made available online, there will not be an index right away – you’ll need to have the Enumeration District for the people/places you wish to search.  More information about how to start your census search is available from the NARA website

As equally exciting though is that YOU CAN HELP CREATE A FREE INDEX;,, and FindMyPast have partnered to create the US Community Indexing Project to recruit volunteers to help with the indexing.  After all, the sooner the index is created, the sooner you can get started searching your family members.  Visit for details on how to get started.  Most importantly – why not let those indexing credits count towards a good cause!

On April 11, 2012, the images for North Carolina were made available to be indexed.  You can sign up to contribute your efforts to the USGenWeb one of 4 ways.

Go ahead! Join the cause and help us get this index online. I plan to do some indexing, will you?


Looking for a NC Cemetery?

Then you may be interested in one of the latest offerings from the North Carolina State Archives & State Library of North Carolina.  In the past several weeks, they have added  scans of the cemetery surveys done across the state by the Works Progress Administration (now called Works Projects Administration).

example cemetery survey listing

Done as part of the WPA Historical Records Survey, these files are a great resource as they focused on recording burials that occurred before 1914.  The surveys were conducted over a several year time span ( I think the 1930s and 1940s) and have thousands of names included.

Granted, not all the information will be accurate  – typos abound, some cemeteries are not listed, some are listed with erroneous locations, etc., but it will not hurt to check.   There are records for 97 counties –  you have to check these out!  You can find them at  More information about the project can be read on the NC State Archives blog.

If you want to stay on top of new things as added, you may wish to follow Ashley, an archivist there, who posts regularly to Twitter as items are added.  Wouldn’t it be great if more states put their WPA files online? Do you know of any others that do? If so, please share by leaving a comment.

You Never Know What You’ll Find

Have you been following all the great records FamilySearch has been adding to their website?  There are many NC related record sets for you to search and/or browse.   To see what records are available, visit the page of North America collections and scroll down to those titles that begin with “North Carolina,” — collections are listed in alphabetical order.


Tonight, while browsing the Wake County Death Certificates 1900-1909 death certificates recently added, I found an interesting record that made me pause.  It was a hand-written note on letterhead from the Elmington Manor estate in Gloucester County, Virginia noting that a 90 year-old black woman named Sallie Heywood (possibly Haywood) had passed way on the property, the home of Reverend Thomas Dixon,  in March 1900.  Her death was due to natural causes.  Dr. Phillip Taliaferro wrote the note and affirmed that her body was safe for transportation back to Raleigh for burial.  She was interred in the City Cemetery March 3, 1900.

Given the note and my curiosity, I sought to see what I could learn about Sallie and Elmington Manor.


A few moments after searching for the manor and owner Thomas Dixon, I quickly learned that he was the author of the screenplay for the movie Birth of A Nation.  He was a native of Cleveland County and his uncle was a Ku Klux Clan leader. Elmington Manor was described in the August 15, 1903 issue of the New York Times as “the most beautiful estate in the South.” Some of his papers are held at my alma mater no less, Emory University.

Given Rev. Dixon’s viewpoints on the relationship between blacks and whites  I then reflected on what Sallie was doing there at his manor and what life may have been like for her.  Was she visiting family? Did she have an existing relationship with the Dixon family?  I wonder if she has descendants? Do they know about the tie to Thomas Dixon?  I have not yet found any information about Sallie but finding this record and her association to Thomas Dixon was interesting.

Check the collections at FamilySearch – you never know what you’ll find.

Update: The Wake County Death Certificates are part of the North Carolina, County Records, 1833-1970 database.

Celebrating Births!

When James Earl Dillard was born January 7, 1911 in Caswell County, NC , his father, James Edgar Dillard caused some upward eyebrows:

Some thought Ed DILLARD was having fits the other morning. They said he went out and turned over his buggy, then climbed on top of the house and crowed like a rooster. Closer enquiring revealed that a little stranger had come to Ed’s home, and he was rejoicing. Ed lives at Corbett. — pg. 1 of the January 12, 1911 issue of the Mebane Leader newspaper of Alamance County, NC.

That’s a way to celebrate!   😀

This birth announcement appeared in the January 12, 1911 issue of the Mebane Leader newspaper of Alamance County, North Carolina.  It is one of many articles I’ve abstracted for the NCGenWeb NC People in the Papers database. This newspaper, along with several others, have recently been added to the website to their North Carolina Newspapers collection.  Full-text issues are up and can be searched or browsed so you definitely will want to check them out.

Also of interest for those seeking birth records in the state is that’s North Carolina Birth Index which spans 1800-2000.  Records are from the NC State Library and while not all counties are included, it is definitely worthwhile to consult.  In fact, young baby boy Dillard’s birth record is included.

New Book: Miles Lassiter (circa 1777-1850) of Randolph County

While browsing the North Carolina Genealogy Research Community Facebook page tonight, I noticed a link shared to a story about a woman’s journey to document the life of one of her ancestors.


The story, published today in the Courier-Tribune newspaper of Asheboro, NC, describes the work done by Margo Lee Williams in tracing the life of her ancestor, Miles Lassiter.  Lassiter, was an early African-American Quaker and Ms. Williams has spent more than 20 years researching his life and his family. She’s learned quite a bit about him and I’m sure her work can serve as inspiration for many of us working on our family history.

Ms. Williams will be doing a book-signing this weekend at the Asheboro Public Library – an event sponsored by the Randolph County Genealogical Society.

The book is available in print and electronic format.

Wordless Wednesday: Soapstone Tombstones in Davidson County

Davidson County is home to several unique hand-carved headstones made out of soapstone in German folk art tradition.  Katherine Benbow, our Western Piedmont Regional Coordinator, recently visited Abbott’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church and took pictures of these unique stones.

Phillip Horney
Joseph Idol















Learn more about them on the Davidson County, NCGenWeb site.

North Carolina Directories

If you ask me, I think we have one of the best overall digitization programs ever.  The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is building a robust collection of digital items – photos, yearbooks, scrapbooks and more.  The latest addition is their City Directories collection.

They are still continually adding to the site, so you will want to check often.  You can browse by the city, by the county, or by the date of the directory.  Directories are valuable sources of genealogical information so you will definitely wish to take a look.  So far, the counties with the largest collections of directories are Buncombe, Forsyth, Wake, New Hanover and Durham.  If you have family that you’ve been looking for try here.

New North Carolina Chapter of the Palatines To America


Press Release – Palatines To America, German Genealogy Society Forms NC Chapter

RALEIGH, NC (September 22, 2011) – Would you like to learn more about your German ancestors? A group of people from all across the state have come together to form a North Carolina Chapter of the Palatines To America, German Genealogy Society. It is open to all who are of German descent or who have an interest in German genealogy and history.

The national Palatines To America organization was founded in 1975 in Columbus, Ohio and has seven state chapters and over 2,000 members. The national society publishes a quarterly journal, “The Palatine Immigrant”, which focuses on research and a quarterly newsletter, “The Palatine Patter”, which focuses on the activities of the national and state chapters.

North Carolina has two areas that had significant German immigration during the 18th century: New Bern was founded by German Palatine and Swiss settlers in 1710, and the piedmont which had several German groups including the German Reformed, Lutherans, Moravians, and others who settled during the mid 1700s.

In succeeding generations, many families of German descent traveled down one of three branches of the great wagon road from Pennsylvaniato North Carolina and settled in the piedmont as well as others who settled along the coast coming from the coastal northeast. In the 1920s, a group of descendants of the New Bern German Palatines formed The North Carolina Society of the Descendants of the Palatines. Their group was active until the 1950s. During the last century, there have been many people of German descent who have moved to all parts of the state.

The inaugural meeting of the North Carolina chapter will be Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the Wake County Southeast Regional Library, 908 Seventh Avenue, Garner, NC 27529. The meeting will be held in a seminar format from 10:15 am to 3:15 pm.

Three speakers will be featured: Mr. Jerry Miller, President of the Palatines To America NC Chapter who will make a presentation about the Palatines To America organization and conduct a short business meeting; Mr. Victor T. Jones, Jr., Special Collections Librarian at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library, Kellenberger Room, and President-Elect of the North Carolina Genealogical Society, will make a presentation about the “Early Settlers of New Bern”, and Mrs. Bonnie
Everhart, Past Chairman of the Palatines to America Immigrant Ancestor Register and former PalAm National Librarian and Historian, will make a presentation about “Researching the Holt Family Line Into North Carolina.”

There will also be a panel discussion about the resources available to Palatines To America members by Mrs. Everhart, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Miller. The Inaugural Meeting/Fall seminar is open to the public with a $10.00 registration fee. Registrations at the door are fine, please call or email to confirm your attendance.

For more information about the society, North Carolina charter membership, and to register for the Fall seminar, please visit, or email, or call 919.744.0219.


Jerry Miller, President, Palatines To America, German Genealogy
Society, North Carolina Chapter
919.744.0219 (President’s Direct Telephone) (President’s Email)

David French, NC Chapter Publicity Director (Media Contact)
919.480.2011 (Media Telephone) (Media Email)

Fresh Looks for Some of Our Counties

It’s been a busy summer here in the NCGenWeb.  Some of our counties have new designs and we invite you to check them out!

The counties that have been updated include Mecklenburg, McDowell, & Randolph.

Mecklenburg County NCGenWeb










McDowell County NCGenWeb










Randolph County NCGenWeb











You can keep up with site updates for McDowell and Mecklenburg by subscribing to their RSS feeds (here and here respectively).   Be sure to visit the sites to check out the recent changes.

NC Government & Heritage Library Needs You!

The NC Government & Heritage Library is conducting a crowd-sourcing pilot and could use your help.  This week staff uploaded images into a Flickr set (find it here) and would like to know if you can log onto Flickr and contribute by transcribing them.   At the time of this post, there were 164 documents in the set, though some have already been transcribed.

There are quite a range of documents there – family bible records, newspaper clippings, handwritten family trees, handwritten letters, church records, etc; a large variety.

letter from James Woods Babcock

Their first batch of 50 documents was transcribed in 49 days – how awesome is that?  To transcribe, all you need to do is log into your Flickr account and leave your transcriptions as a comment.  Won’t you contribute?