Formation of North Carolina Counties


Albemarle County - Formed in 1664. Original N.C. county, abolished in 1739

Alamance County - Formed in 1849 from Orange County.

Alexander County - Formed in 1847 from Caldwell, Iredell and Wilkes Counties. County courthouse burned in 1865 and many records were lost.

Alleghany County - Formed in 1859 from Ash County

Ashe County - Formed in 1799 from Wilkes County

Anson County - Formed in 1750 from Bladen County

Avery County - Formed in 1811 from Mitchell, Watauga and Caldwell Counties.

Bath County - Formed in 1696 from the territory south of Albemarle Sound. It consisted initially of Archdale (Craven), Pamtecough (Beaufort) and Wickham (Hyde) precincts. It was discontinued in 1739 when the precincts were renamed as counties. Records descended to Beaufort County, the court of which continued to sit at Bath Town, the county seat of Bath County.

Beaufort County - Formed about 1705 as Pamtecough Precinct of Bath County; name changed to Beaufort about 1712. There are some Bath and Hyde county wills and deeds among Beaufort County Records. Original wills of Beaufort County to 1877 are in the North Carolina State Archives. Original wills after 1877 are in the custody of the county clerk.

Bertie County - Formed in 1722 from Chowan County. Recording of wills began in 1760. Some original wills probated late in the 19th century are missing.

Bladen County - Formed in 1734 from New Hanover County. Two fires destroyed many court records. A few early wills were recorded in deed books, but wills were not regularly recorded until about 1834. The few surviving original wills remain in the custody of the county clerk.

Brunswick County - Formed in 1764 from New Hanover and Bladen Counties. Recording of wills on a regular basis began about 1869. Wills before 1875 are recorded in Will Book "B". Early wills from 1764 to 1783 are recorded in Deed Books "A" and "B". Books in custody of county clerk.

Buncombe County - Formed in 1791 from Burke and Rutherford Counties. A courthouse fire in 1830 destroyed many records. The courthouse burned two more times, in 1848 and 1865. Wills books for wills probated after 1830 are complete, but many original wills, especially before 1865 are missing. Records in custody of county clerk.

Burke County - Formed in 1777 from Rowan County. In April, 1865 records from the courthouse were burned by Union troops. Some original wills probated prior to 1865 survived and are in the State Archives. Wills proved after 1865 are in the custody of the county clerk.

Bute County - Formed in 1764 from Granville County. Discontinued in 1779 when the county was divided between Franklin and Warren counties. Wills were recorded in record books which are in the State Archives.

Cabarrus County - Formed in 1792 from Mecklenburg County. Recording of wills began in 1843. In 1875 a courthouse fire destroyed some records, including most of the original wills. Wills survive for testators with surnames beginning with the letters H, M, W and Y. Many Original wills are missing.

Caldwell County - Formed in 1841 from Burke and Wilkes Counties. Recording of wills began in 1841. Records essentially intact.

Camden County - Formed in 1777 from Pasquotank County. Will books covering 1777 to 1822 are missing. The earliest probate date of surviving original wills is 1859.

Carteret County - Formed in 1722 from Craven County. Beginning in 1765 wills recorded in a "Record of Wills and Bonds" book, which is in the state Archives. Existing Will Book "A" does not begin until 1830.

Caswell County - Formed in 1777 from Orange County. Recording of wills began in 1777 in record books lettered "A" through "T". Original wills after 1867 are in the custody of the county clerk.

Catawba County - Formed in 1842 from Lincoln County. The first wills were recorded in 1843. Records essentially intact.

Chatham County - Formed in 1771 from Orange County. Recording of wills in Will Books began in 1798. From 1784 until 1798 wills were recorded in a record book identified as "Deeds, Bills of Sale, Inventories of Estates, Wills", which is in the State Archives. The will book recording copies of wills prior to 1784 has disappeared.

Cherokee County - Formed in 1839 from Macon County. Union troops burned the courthouse in 1865, destroying most of the records. Recording of wills did not resume until 1869.

Chowan County - Originally formed as a precinct of Albemarle County. Recording of wills on a regular basis began about 1803. Original will books in State Archives.

Clay County - Formed in 1861 from Cherokee County. In 1870 the courthouse burned, including will books and original wills.

Cleveland County - Formed in 1841 from Rutherford and Lincoln Counties. Records essentially intact.

Columbus County - Formed in 1808 from Brunswick and Bladen Counties. Recording of wills began about 1852.

Craven County - Formed in 1705 as Archdale Precinct of Bath County, the name changed to Craven about 1712. Early records destroyed during the Tuscarora Indian War of 1712. Between 1862 and 1865, no wills were recorded in Craven County.

Cumberland County - Formed in 1754 from Bladen County. Regular recording of wills began about 1797. Some original wills are missing.

Currituck County - Originally formed as a precinct of Albemarle County. Recording of wills began in 1772 and the will books have survived.

Dare County - Formed in 1870 from Currituck, Tyrrell and Hyde Counties. Records essentially intact.

Davidson County - Formed in 1822 from Rowan County. Recording of wills began in 1823 in Will Books. Some of original wills missing.

Davie County - Formed in 1836 from Rowan County, recording of wills began then. Wills prior to 1866 in the State Archives. Wills probated after 1866 are in the custody of the county clerk.

Dobbs County - Formed in 1758 from the eastern portion of Johnston County. It was discontinued in 1791 when Glasgow (Green) and Lenoir Counties were formed. Lenoir County received the records of Dobbs County and they were destroyed when the Lenoir County courthouse burned.

Duplin County - Formed in 1750 from New Hanover County. Recording of wills in Will Books began in 1830. Record book containing wills from 1835-1845 is missing.

Durham County - Formed in 1881 from Orange and Wake Counties. Recording of wills began immediately. Records essentially intact and in the custody of the county clerk.

Edgecombe County - Formed in 1741 from Bertie County. Recording of wills began in 1760. Original wills for 1884-1885 are missing, otherwise no significant loss of records.

Forsyth County - Formed in 1849 from Stokes County. Records essentially intact.

Franklin County - Formed in 1779 from Bute County. Recording of wills began immediately in Bill Books until 1868. These will books are in the State Archives. No significant loss of records, but some of the original wills are missing.

Gaston County - Formed in 1846 from Lincoln County. A courthouse fire in 1874 destroyed some records. Will books appear complete but some early original wills missing.

Gates County - Formed in 1779 from Chowan, Hertford and Perquimans Counties. Recording of wills began immediately and there has been no significant loss of records.

Glasgow County - Formed in 1791 from Dobbs County. Name changed to Green County in 1799. No records of Glasgow County are known to have survived.

Graham County - Formed in 1872 from Cherokee County. Recording of wills began about 1886 but virtually none of the original wills survive.

Grandville County - Formed in 1746 from Edgecome County. Surviving Will Record Books date from 1772. After 1772 there has been no significant loss of records. All original wills in custody of county clerk.

Greene County - Originally formed as Glasgow County from Dobbs County in 1791, name changed to Green in 1799. A courthouse fire in 1876 burned many of the records, including pre-1868 will books and all original wills probated prior to 1876. Only one Will Book, which begins with wills probated in 1868, survives.

Guilford County - Formed in 1771 from Rowan and Orange Counties. Recording of wills began in 1816 in Will Books. Records of Guilford were destroyed by the British army at the Battle of Guilford Court House in 1781, but some of the original wills survived.

Halifax County - Formed in 1758 from Edgecombe County. Recording of wills began about 1759 in Will Books are complete, but many of the original wills probated prior to 1850 are missing. Wills Books are in the State Archives.

Harnett County - Formed in 1855 from Cumberland County. The county courthouse burned in 1892, recorded and original wills survive after that. All original wills are in the custody of the county clerk.

Haywood County - Formed in 1808 from Buncombe County. Wills were recorded irregularly until 1868. One Will Book prior to 1885 thought to be missing.

Henderson County - Formed in 1838 from Buncombe County. Recording of wills began 1841. All original wills that were probated in Henderson County are in the custody of the county clerk. Wills not probated are in the State Archives.

Hertford County - Formed in 1759 from Chowan, Bertie and Northampton Counties. The courthouse burned in 1830, destroying most records. In 1862 the Union army burned the courthouse again. Most original wills probated between 1830 and 1862 were destroyed, but two Will Books survived.

Hoke County - Formed in 1911 from Cumberland and Robeson Counties.

Hyde County - Formed about 1705 as Wickham Precinct of Bath County, the name was changed to Hyde about 1712. There are some Hyde County wills and deeds among Beaufort Count Records. About 1756 Hyde County began keeping a record of wills and estate data which it called an Orphan Book. This was discontinued about 1764 and is now in the State Archives. In 1765 the county began keeping Will Books, which are also in the State Archives. Many of the early original wills are missing.

Iredell County - Formed in 1788 from Rowan County. In 1854, a fire in Statesville, the county seat, destroyed some records. Surviving original wills before 1870 are in the State Archives. Original wills after 1870 are in the custody of the county clerk.

Jackson County - Formed in 1851 from Haywood and Macon Counties. The first will was proved in 1853 and until 1868 wills were recorded in an Inventory Docket. Beginning in 1869 wills were recorded in Will Books. None of the original wills survived the transfer of the county seat from Webster to Sylva in 1913.

Johnston County - Formed in 1746 from Craven County. In 1758 Dobbs County was formed from the eastern portion of Johnston County and the county court moved to Hinton's Quarter, but left it's records in Dobbs. Except for an index to deeds, all early records of Johnston County were destroyed in courthouse fires in Lenoir, which succeeded to the records of Dobbs, in 1878 and 1880.

Jones County - Formed in 1779 from Craven County. The first will was recorded in 1781. In 1862 in a battle between Union and Confederate troops, the Jones County courthouse burned. , but almost all record books and wills were saved. No wills were recorded from 1862-1863 or in 1867.

Lee County - Formed in 1907 from Moore and Chatham Counties.

Lenoir County - Formed in 1791 from Dobbs County. The county courthouse burned in 1878 and 1880, destroying most early records. All surviving original wills are in the custody of the county clerk.

Lincoln County - Formed in 1779 from Tryon County, the records of which were turned over to Lincoln. Lincoln County began recording wills in 1824. Many original wills probated by the Tryon court are included with the Lincoln County wills in the State Archives.

Macon County - Formed in 1828 from Haywood County. Recording of wills began in 1830 in Will Books. Will Books are complete but many of the original wills are missing.

Madison County - Formed in 1851 from Buncombe and Yancey Counties. Recording of wills began in 1851 and there has been no significant loss of records.

Martin County - Formed in 1774 from Halifax and Tyrrell Counties. Original wills probated before 1885 were destroyed in a courthouse fire in 1885 but Will Books survive from the formation of the county.

McDowell County - Formed in 1842 from Burke and Rutherford Counties. Recording of wills started immediately and records are essentially intact.

Mecklenburg County - Formed in 1762 from Anson County. Began recording wills about 1850 in Will Books, which are in the State Archives. No significant loss of records.

Mitchell County - Formed in 1861 from Yancey, Watauga, Caldwell, Burke and McDowell Counties. Will Books survive from 1889.

Montgomery County - Formed in 1779 from Anson County. A courthouse fire in 1843 destroyed almost all records. Later, certified copies of wills proved before 1843 were reprobated and recorded, but another fire in 1886 damaged some records.

Moore County - Formed in 1785 from Cumberland County. Recording of wills began in 1794 in Will Books. In 1889 a courthouse fire destroyed almost all loose records, including original wills proved prior to 1868. The Will Books survived. A few wills are in the State Archives and some are in the custody of the county clerk, but virtually none of the original wills probated in Moore County survived.

Nash County - Formed in 1777 from Edgecombe County. Recording of wills began in 1778 in Will Books, which are in the State Archives.

New Hanover County - Formed in 1729 from Craven County. Some wills recorded in deed books as early as 1737. Recording in Will Books began about 1798. The courthouse burned three times, in 1798, 1819 and 1840. Most records survived and are in the State Archives, although some are damaged by fire and water.

Northampton County - Formed in 1741 from Bertie County. Recording of wills began in 1760 in Will Books. Many of the original wills are missing. Other than original wills between 1760 - mid-1770's, there has been no significant loss of records.

Onslow County - Formed in 1734 from New Hanover County. In 1752 a hurricane destroyed the courthouse and most of the records. In 1786 a tornado blew the courthouse away and many records were lost. Surviving early records and Will Books are in the State Archives.

Orange County - Formed in 1752 from Johnston, Bladen and Grandville Counties. Recording of wills began about 1857 in Will Books. The Wills Books appear complete but many of the early original wills are missing. Wills probated before 1855 are in the State Archives. Wills probated after 1855 are in the custody of the county clerk.

Pamlico County - Formed in 1872 from Craven and Beaufort Counties. Recording of wills began in 1872 and records are essentially intact.

Pasquotank County - Originally formed as a precinct of Albemarle County. Recording of wills began about 1761 in Wills Books. There has been no significant loss of records and Will Books are in the State Archives.

Pender County - Formed in 1875 from New Hanover County. Recording of wills began immediately and there has been no significant loss of information.

Perquimans County - Originally formed as a precinct of Arbemarle County. The first recorded will was proved in 1762 and recorded in a Will Book, which is in the State Archives. A copy of the Will books is in the custody of the county clerk.

Person County - Formed in 1792 from Caswell County. Recording of wills began in 1792 in books identified as "Wills, Inventories, Sales of Estates and Taxables". The first 15 of these books are in the State Archives. One record book covering from December, 1843 until December 1847 has been lost. Beginning in 1847, wills were recorded in Will Books. More than half of the wills probated in the county prior to 1901 are missing.

Pitt County - Formed in 1760 from Beaufort County. In 1858 the county courthouse burned, destroying all records, including Will Books and original wills. Some wills were refiled and probated again after that time.

Polk County - Formed in 1855 from Rutherford and Henderson Counties. Wills for 1855-1867 were recorded in a Will Docket, which is now in the State Archives. No significant loss of records.

Randolph County - Formed in 1779 from Guilford County. Recording of wills began in 1784. Some original wills are missing and many that survived are water damaged and almost illegible.

Richmond County - Formed in 1779 from Anson County. Wills began to be recorded regularly about 1830 in Will Books. A fragment of an original Will Book from 1789-1807 survived and is in the State Archives.

Robeson County - Formed in 1787 from Bladen County. Recording of wills began in 1804 and surviving original wills are in the custody of the county clerk.

Rockingham County - Formed in 1785 from Guilford County. Recording of wills began in 1804 and surviving original wills are in the custody of the county clerk. About 1955 a number of unrecorded wills was found in the courthouse and in 1957 copies of these wills were placed in a record book called "Old Wills Discovered in Office Dated Prior to 1804". The originals of these unrecorded wills are in the State Archives.

Rowan County - Formed in 1753 from Anson County. Recording of wills began in 1760 and there has been no significant loss of records. Several of the Rowan County original wills are in German and unless they were translated at the time of probate, the contents were not recorded in the Will Books.

Rutherford County - Formed in 1779 from Tryon County. Surviving Will Books date from 1782. No significant loss of records.wills on a regular basis began about 1820. Some original wills are missing, but no significant loss of records.

Sampson County - Formed 1784 from Duplin, later portions of New Hanover County and Wayne County were annexed.

Scotland County - Formed in 1899 from Richmond County. The first will was probated in 1901.

Stanly County - Formed in 1841 from Montgomery County. First will recorded in 1851. Many original wills missing but no significant loss of records.

Stokes County - Formed in 1789 from Surry County. Began recording wills in 1790 in Will Books. Many of the wills proved in Strokes County prior to 1849 are from the part of the county that subsequently became Forsyth County. No significant loss of records.

Swain County - Formed in 1871 from Jackson and Macon Counties. Recording of wills began about 1876 and the few surviving originals are in the custody of the county clerk.

Surry County - Formed in 1771 from Rowan County. Recording of wills began in 1772 and the Will Books are complete, although many of the original wills are missing.

Transylvania County - Formed in 1861 from Henderson and Jackson Counties. Recording of wills began in 1862 and there has been no significant loss of recorded information or original wills.

Tryon County - Formed in 1767 from Mecklenburg County. It was divided into Lincoln and Rutherford Counties in 1779 and its' records were taken over by Lincoln County. Records are scattered: a few original wills are in the State Archives, filed in miscellaneous records of the county; other surviving original wills probated in Tryon County are in the records of Lincoln County. Tryon County did not record wills other than to indicate probate in the minutes of the county court record.

Tyrell County - Formed in 1729 from Chowan, Bertie, Currituck and Pasquotank Counties. Recording of wills began in 1750 but many wills proved before 1800 were not recorded. Some of the early original wills are missing. The original books are in the custody of the county clerk.

Union County - Formed in 1842 from Anson and Mecklenburg Counties. The first will was recorded in 1843 and there has been no significant loss of records.

Vance County - Formed in 1881 from Granville, Warren and Franklin Counties. Recording of wills began immediately and there has been no significant loss of records. Surviving original wills are in the custody of the county clerk.

Wake County - Formed in 1771 from Johnston, Cumberland and Orange Counties. Recording of wills began immediately in Will Books. No significant loss of records.

Warren County - Formed in 1779 from Bute County. Warren County Will Books 1 and 2 were created by the Bute County clerk and wills recorded in them are cited as records of Bute County. No significant loss of records, although some of the original wills are missing. A few original wills probated in Warren County are in the records of Bute County in the State Archives.

Washington County - Formed in 1799 from Tyrrell County. The county courthouse burned three times: in 1862, 1869 and 1873. Surviving recorded wills begin in 1873. Original wills with surnames beginning with the letters R through Z did not survive.

Watauga County - Formed in 1849 from Ashe, Caldwell, Wilkes and Yancey Counties. County records were burned in 1865 by the Union army. Another courthouse fire in 1873 destroyed all previous records for the county.

Wayne County - Formed in 1779 from Dobbs County. Surviving recorded wills date from 1782. Recorded wills for 1792-1793 are missing. Recorded wills from 1800-1808 have not survived. The fourteen volumes or recording dockets contain wills and copies of all other documents (except deeds) filed with the county court. In 1868 the county began recording wills in Will Books which remain in the custody of the county clerk. Earlier records are in the State Archives.

Wilkes County - Formed in 1777 from Chowan County and the District of Washington. Recording of wills began in 1778 in Will Book 1, identified as "Wills, Bonds, Inventories, Bills of Sale", which is in the State Archives.

Wilson County - Formed in 1855 from Edgecombe, Nash, Johnston and Wayne Counties. No significant loss of records, but some of the original wills are missing.

Yadkin County - Formed in 1850 from Surry County. No significant loss of records but some original wills are missing.

Yancey County - Formed in 1833 from Burke and Buncombe Counties. Recording of wills began in 1834 but none of the original wills have survived.