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, 1737-1968 .
Collection Time Period
The collection covers the years 1737 to 1968.
This collection includes digital images of civil court records filed in North Carolina counties between 1737 and 1968. Civil court actions contain a variety of records with information of genealogical and historical value whether in adversary or ex parte proceedings. Civil suits were generally brought to settle questions of land ownership, unpaid debts, unfulfilled contracts, and unperformed agreements. Suits concerning dower, breach of contract, and slander were frequent. Divorces were included. The legitimation of illegitimate children fell within the province of this court. The records also include some records of slave emancipation and of naturalization proceedings.
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 begin your search it is helpful to know:
- The place of residence
- The court date
- The names of interested individuals
Compare the information you find in the probate records to what you already know about your ancestors to determine which record is about your ancestor. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- Use the date and locality to search for census and church records.
- 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.
Keep in mind:
- 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.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- 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.
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.
Why the Record Was Created
The records were created as a permanent copy of the court's proceedings.
The records are very reliable.
- North Carolina State Archives
- North Carolina Office of Archives and History
- The North Carolina Court System
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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.
"North Carolina Civil Action Court Papers, 1737-1968." FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org). From various county court clerks throughout North Carolina. FHL digital images. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help: How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Collections.
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.
Citation Example for Records Found in This Collection
"North Carolina Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970" database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 27 March 2012), Hugh Simmons, warrant issued 25 June 1844; citing Court Papers, Caldwell, Civil action Papers 1844-1845.C.R.017.325., image 353; Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Lenoir, North Carolina, United States.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.