County Records on Microfilm
The History Room's genealogical holdings are concentrated on the area that comprised "Old Rowan." Rowan County was formed from Anson County in 1753. Anson had been created out of Bladen in 1750.
By 1836, five counties had been carved from the original Rowan County: Surry (1770), Burke (1777), Iredell (1788), Davidson (1822), and Davie (1836).
Twenty-eight counties were later created out of these first six: Guilford (1770), Wilkes (1777), Randolph (1779), Rockingham (1785), Stokes (1789), Buncombe (1791), Ashe (1799), Haywood (1808), Macon (1828), Yancey (1833), Henderson (1838), Cherokee (1839), Caldwell (1841), Cleveland (1841), McDowell (1842), Alexander (1847), Forsyth (1849), Watauga (1849), Jackson (1851), Madison (1851), Polk (1855), Alleghany (1859), Clay (1861), Transylvania (1861), Mitchell (1861), Swain (1871), Graham (1872), and Avery (1911).
The migration path into Rowan (from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey down the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia) is also given some coverage but not to the same extent as the western North Carolina holdings. There are also materials regarding Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia, the areas of the first immigration out of Rowan, and some dealing with eastern North Carolina.
The History Room is currently building its collection of microfilmed records from those counties that sprang from old Rowan. Deeds, marriage bonds, court minutes, cohabitation bonds, bastardy bonds, records of road overseers, tax lists, etc, may be found in the Room's microfilm cabinets. Some counties' holdings are more complete than others. (The closer to present-day Rowan, the more complete the Room's holdings are likely to be.)
Counties represented in the microfilmed county records include: Alexander, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Blade, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caswell, Caldwell, Cumberland, Cleveland, Catawba, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Granville, Iredell, Lincoln, Macon, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Warren, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Yancey.
Mrs. Mamie (Mary Louisa) Gaskill McCubbins spent nearly fifty years compiling research notes for her anticipated, comprehensive book on early Rowan County families. She knew that this book would be the work for which she'd be remembered. The book was never completed, but "Miss Mamie's" research notes are consulted on a regular basis.
Consisting of more than 150,000 abstracts of court records, wills, deeds, and Bible records, and arranged alphabetically by surname, the McCubbins collection is one of the most cited sources in western North Carolina genealogy.
Visitors to the History Room are asked to contribute photocopies of their own research notes, family group sheets, and pedigree charts to the ever-expanding "annex" files stored among Miss Mamie's originals.
Nearly 2,000 individual family histories, ranging from the handwritten and notebook bound to those covered in tooled leather and containing color illustrations, may be found in the History Room. All family histories come to the library by way of gift and many represent the product of research conducted in the History Room's holdings.
General Genealogical Source Materials
Cemetery listings, deed abstracts, indexes to court records, marriage bonds, voter registration lists, Heritage Books, county histories, etc. predominate in the History Room which attempts to be as comprehensive as possible when it comes to western North Carolina published genealogical source material
Civil War Microfilm Records
The National Archives microfilmed the compiled service records of all soldiers who served on both sides during the Civil War. These records show when and where a soldier signed up, how old he was, if he was captured, deserted, or wounded, and when he was sent home.
The History Room has the service records of all soldiers who fought for North Carolina units, both Union and Confederate. It also holds the service records of all Confederate Generals, staff officers, and non-regimental enlisted men along with the entire Confederate Navy and Marine Corps, as well as those of Confederate medical officers.
Also available to researchers are reels listing Confederates who died in Federal prisons and hospitals in the North and those from North Carolina who applied for pardons following the war. Related to these records are the complete Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, as well as the expected 100-volume supplement that is currently being published.
Genealogical Manuscript Collections
The History Room is actively collecting the research notes, correspondence, pedigree charts, family group sheets, etc. of professional genealogists or those researchers who go about collecting their ancestors in a big way. Included among these collections are the papers of Mrs. Jessie Earnhardt whose work concentrated on the German families of the western piedmont, Mrs. Pink Tatum who traced the area Tatums in great detail, Dr. Smith who compiled an assortment of family charts, research notes and correspondence pertaining to those families who migrated from Rowan County westward, and Mr. Robert Canup who is forever adding to his Canup/Kanup family database, a copy of which is maintained in the History Room.
Draper Manuscripts Lyman Copeland Draper (1815-1891) was fascinated by early American history. Between 1843 and 1848, he traveled extensively throughout the southeast and middle states filling notebooks with his adventures and interviews. His one of a kind collection includes personal reminiscences of frontiersmen, soldiers and their descendents. He combined his transcripts with correspondence, maps, genealogies, private papers and many other resources. His entire collection contains over 400 volumes of material.
The History Room has the following collections from the Draper Manuscripts on microfilm: North Carolina Papers, Tennessee Papers, Draper's Life of Boone, Daniel Boone Papers, Rudolph-Ney Papers, King's Mountain Papers, and Mecklenburg Declaration, Papers & Miscellanies.
These materials were donated by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County.