North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: North Carolina Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970 .
This Collection will include records from 1712 to 1970.
This collection includes a variety of records, including records that sometimes state family relationships, where either adversary proceedings or ex parte proceedings. Civil actions were generally brought to settle questions of land ownership, unpaid debts, unfulfilled contracts, and unperformed agreements. They include divorces, suits concerning dower, breach of contract, slander, slave manumissions, naturalizations and legitimization of bastard children. These records are in chronological order. There are indexes to some of them and there are dockets which can be used as an index to the actual court records..
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, or archive for the original records.
- County Court clerks. North Carolina Civil Action Court Papers. North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Digital images of originals housed at various municipal archives throughout North Carolina.
The records generally contain the following information:
- Names of interested parties
- Date of court proceeding or transaction
- Details of the case
- Amount of monies exchanged or paid
- Names of witnesses
How to Use the Record
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "County" category
⇒ Select the "Record Type, Date Range and Volume" category which takes you to the images.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
To begin your search it is helpful to know:
- The place of residence
- The court date
- The names of interested individuals
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.
For example use the date and locality to search for census and church records.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
- Witnesses in court cases may be close relatives.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local historical and genealogical groups also compile indexes to local records.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
General Information About These Records
Pre-1868 County courts, sometimes called the County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, handled both civil and criminal cases. Minutes contain such matters as estate, land, illegitimacy, apprenticeships, bonds, certificates granting freedom to slaves, and more. Many of the original volumes have been lost or severely damaged. Most surviving volumes are in the state archives. In addition to having microfilms of many county court records, the library also has published abstracts many of the pre-1868 minute books. These publications are indexed.
1806–present: Superior Courts of Law were established in each county in 1806. Though the superior courts acted concurrently with the Court of Common Pleas, they handled more serious or complex civil and criminal cases. In 1868, the Superior Courts of Law merged with the Superior Court of Equity.
1806–1868: Superior Courts of Equity were also created in 1806. Their purpose was to deal with fairness issues. Most cases related to probate and land matters, and records generally listed heirs. In 1868, they merged with the Superior Court of Law.
- North Carolina State Archives
- North Carolina Office of Archives and History
- The North Carolina Court System
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"North Carolina Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-25815-233-31?cc=1930242&wc=MMMS-Z77:n582690382 : accessed 2 Aug 2012), Caldwell > Civil action Papers 1844-1845.C.R.017.325., image 353 of 884; Hugh Simmons, warrant issued 25 June 1844; citing Court Papers, Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Lenoir, North Carolina, United States. FHL digital images. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.