NCALHN County Formation Chart

This chart serves multiple purposes.

  1. year the county was formed
  2. which counties it was formed from
  3. any additional notes about the county formation
  4. when there were courthouse fires or records known to be missing

It is good to know about courthouse fires and when they occurred and also about missing records. This information may help explain why you cannot find land or court records. Approximately 1/3 of NC was composed of "burned counties," i.e., counties were courthouse fires occurred. An additional 1/3 of the state has records missing for unknown reasons. In late 2013, the Government & Heritage Library, part of the State Library of North Carolina, featured 2 blog posts on the topic. The first was a short post about the number of counties with burned and missing records. The second post talks about substitute records that can be used when a courthouse fire burned what you are looking for.

List of County Formations in NC
County Date Formed Parent Counties Notes Courthouse Fires, missing records
Albemarle1664Original CountyAbolished 1739 
Alexander1847Caldwell, Iredell, Wilkes 1865
Alleghany1859Ashe 1932
Anson1750Bladen 1868
Ashe1799Wilkes 1865
Avery1911Caldwell, Mitchell, Watauga  
Bath1696Original CountyAbolished 1739 
Beaufort1705BathEstab. 1705 as Pamtecough Precinct in Bath County; name change 1712 
Bertie1722ChowanEstab. 1722 from Chowan Precinct as a Precinct of Albemarle County 
Bladen1734New Hanover 1800, 1893
Brunswick1764Bladen, New Hanover 1865
Buncombe1791Burke, Rutherford 1830, 1865
Burke1777Rowan 1865
Bute1764GranvilleAbolished 1779 
Cabarrus1792Mecklenburg 1876
Caldwell1841Burke, Wilkes 1841
Camden1777Pasquotank many records missing
Carteret1722CravenEstab. 1722 from Craven Precinct as precinct of Bath County 
Caswell1777Orange some records missing during Civil War
Catawba1842Lincoln many records missing, reason unknown
Chatham1771Orange many records missing, reason unknown
Cherokee1839Macon 1865, 1895, 1926
Chowan1668Albemarle Clerk of Court in 1848 detroyed many records
Clarendon1664Original CountyAbolished 1667 
Clay1861Cherokee fire destroyed all records in 1870
Cleveland1841Lincoln, Rutherford  
Columbus1808Bladen, Brunswick  
Craven1705BathEstab. 1705 as Archdale Precinct of Bath County; name change 1712 
Currituck1668AlbemarleEstab. 1670 as Precinct of Albemarle County 
Dare1870Currituck, Hyde, Tyrell  
Davidson1822Rowan 1866
Dobbs1758JohnstonAbolished 1791 
Duplin1750New Hanover many records missing, reason unknown
Durham1881Orange, Wake  
Edgecombe1741BertieLand records dated before 1759 are in Halifax County 
Gaston1846Lincoln 1874
Gates1779Chowan, Hertford, Perquimans  
Glasgow1791DobbsAbolished 1799 
Greene1799GlasgowEstab. 1791 as Glasgow from Dobbs, name change to Greene 17991876
Guilford1771Orange, Rowan 1872
Halifax1758EdgecombeSome land records from Edgecombe Co. & Bertie Precinct are filed heremany records missing, reason unknown
Harnett1855Cumberland 1892, 1894
Hertford1759Chowan 1830, 1862
Hoke1911Cumberland, Robeson  
Hyde1705BathEstab. 1705 as Wickham Precinct of Bath County, name changed 1712 
Iredell1788Rowan 1854
Jackson1851Haywood, Macon many records missing, reason unknown
Johnston1746Craven many records missing, reason unknown
Jones1779Craven 1862
Lee1907Chatham, Moore  
Lenoir1791Dobbs 1878, 1880
Lincoln1779Tryon many records missing, reason unkown
Macon1828Haywood many records missing, reason unknown
Madison1851Buncombe, Yancey  
Martin1774Halifax, Tyrell 1884
McDowell1842Burke, Rutherford  
Mitchell1861Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Watauga, Yancey  
Montgomery1779Anson 1835
Moore1784Cumberland 1889
New Hanover1729Craven some records destroyed by multiple court hourse fires
Northampton1741Bertie few records missing, reason unknown
Onslow1734New Hanover storms detroyed records 1752, 1786; later court records missing, reason unknown
Orange1752Bladen, Granville, Johnstonm many records missing, reason unknown
Pamlico1872Beaufort, Craven  
Pasquotank1668AlbemarleEstab. as a precinct of Albemarle Co. 1670many early records missing, readon unknwon,
Pender1875>New Hanover  
Perquimans1668Albemarle some rearly records missing, reasonunknown
Pitt1760Beaufort 1857
Polk1855Henderson, RutherfordThe Act the created Polk was repealed in 1848 and re-established 1855 
Randolph1779Guilford many records missing, reason unknown
Richmond1779Anson few records missing, reason unknown
Robeson1787Bladen many records missing, reason unknown
Rockingham1785Guilford few records missing, reason unknown
Rowan1753Anson few records destroyed by Federal troops 1865
Rutherford1779Tryon 1907;
Sampson1784Duplin early records missing possibly from federal sympathizers, fire 1921
Stanly1841Montgomery few early records missing, reasons unknown
Stokes1789Surry few records missing, reason unknown
Swain1871Jackson, Macon 1879
Transylvania1860Henderson, Jackson  
Tryon1768MeckelburgAbolished 1779 
Tyrell1729Bertie, Chowan, Currituck, PasquotankEstab. as precinct of Albemarle Countysome early records missing, reason unknown
Union1842Anson,Mecklenburg some records missing, reason unknown
Vance1881Franklin, Granville, Warren  
Wake1771Cumberland, Johnston, Orange 1832; some early records missing, reason unknown
Warren1779Bute some records missing, reason unknown
Washington1799Tyrell 1862, 1869, 1881, ;
Watauga1849Ashe, Caldwell, Wilkes, Yancy 1873 destroyed all prior land records & and most court
Wayne1779Dobbs some early records missing, reason unknown
Wilkes1777Surry, District of Washington some early records missing, reason unknown
Wilson1855Edgecombe, Johnston, Nash, Wayne some early records missing, reason unknown
Yancey1833Buncombe, Burke many early records missing, reason unknown