Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Wake Wednesday - John Lawson - Did He Pass Through Wake County?

I found this great account of John Lawson's 1700 exploration of the area that would become North and South Carolina, in a book written back in 1922 - History of Wake County, North Carolina, by Hope Summerell Chamberlain. It is a fantastic book, fast paced and pleasant enough that I am frankly captivated. You may see more posts inspired by it pages in the future.

Chamberlain describes Lawson's voyage:
"The first historian of North Carolina, the explorer Lawson, although known to have passed through the central part of this State, cannot actually be proved to have trod the soil of Wake County. One authority on our local history thinks that he did, and indeed it seems more than possible.

Lawson made a journey through western and middle Carolina in the year seventeen hundred or thereabout. His course was a long loop coming out of South Carolina and crossing the Catawba and the ''Realkin" (or Yadkin) and other streams, continuing in a northeasterly direction and then due east, until he finally reached the settlements of the North Carolina seaboard. His descriptive traveller's journal reads as fresh and as crisply Interesting as if penned last year, and we get the impression of a writer alert in every sense and perception. He was a fine optimistic fellow, and though he was hired no doubt to praise the new colony, and so draw In settlers from among the readers of his account, yet no one can close his book without the feeling that he too, like many another coming to North Carolina to live, soon fell in love with the climate, and delighted to bask under the sunny sky.

Hear his account of leaving ''Acconeechy Town" (which must have been near Hillsborough), and marching twenty miles eastward over "stony rough ways" till he reached "a mighty river." This river is as large as the Realkin, the south bank having tracts of good land, the banks high, and stone quarries. We got then to the north shore, which is poor white sandy soil with scrubby oaks. We went ten miles or so, and sat down at the falls of a large creek where lay mighty rocks, the water making a strange noise as of a great many water wheels at once. This I take to be the falls of News Creek, called by the Indians 'We-Quo-Whom.'

For a first trip through an unknown wilderness, guided only by a compass, this suggests the neighborhood, and describes the granite ridges that traverse Wake County, and produce the Falls of Neuse, where the river flows across one of these barriers.

During the next days' travel he comments on the land ''abating of its height" and ''mixed with pines and poor soil." This, too, makes it sound as if he perceived the swift transition which may be seen in the eastern part of Wake County from one zone to the next, from the hard-wood growth to the pine timber, and from a clay to a sandy soil.

Lawson highly praised the midland of North Carolina, between the sandy land and the mountains, and it is pleasant to read his enthusiastic account of this home of ours, and learn the impression it made on a good observer in its pristine state, and before the white man's foot had become familiar with the long trading path, which must have crossed west, near this section, but not certainly in the exact longitude of Wake County. This trail is known to have passed Hillsborough, and to have crossed Haw River at the Haw Fields. It may well have followed the same course, as later did the Granville Tobacco Path, which certainly traversed Wake County near Raleigh."
Lawson's map c. 1709

Chamberlain really wants Lawson's path to have cut through Wake County and his descriptions of portions certainly do sound like our wild surrounds. The "large creek where lay mighty rocks," The granite ridges, the land ''abating of its height" ... ''mixedwith pines and poor soil." I feel I have walked those very spots.

Was he describing "News Creek" (Neuse River)? Others feel it could easily have been the banks of the Little River.

For more insight, see Scott Heuler's blog. Scott planned and executed his own trek in Lawsons footsteps and wrote a book about it. There was an exhibit and presentation at the City of Raleigh Museum in 2019-2020.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Psst.... Backdoor to Wake Records

If I told you there was a back door to see all of the viewable Wake County Records in the FamilySearch Catalog, would you be interested? It is like viewing virtual microfilm from your own comfy chair!

This is a variation on a tip found on a North Carolina regional research group on Facebook. Thanks to Delores Williams of NCGenweb for sharing the tip. 

You will need to log in to FamilySearch for this to be usable. Creating a log in is free.

You will see the following page of Wake specific collections. Click on the text by the red arrow to access the ability to filter by township. 

click image for larger view

Click thru the collections. When you find one that is interesting, click through to that page. Scroll down the page to see if the camera icon exists. If so, click the camera to browse the record. 

Note that books by individuals are not usually available to view. Collections derived from state and county sources usually are viewable.

Want to search other places within North Carolina? Want to check out other states entirely?

You can use this same link to search other places in North Carolina or any other state. Just click on the "Part of United States, North Carolina" portion to get the drop down for other counties. Click it a second time to get back to a drop down for all the states. 

Have fun. Bring snacks. You may be browsing for a while.

Long url in case the short one doesn't work -

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Wake Genealogy Watch newletter - Winter 2024 issue is live now!

Hello Wake researchers, 

The Winter 2024 Issue (Vol. 7 Issue 2) of our award-winning newsletter, Wake Genealogy Watch, is now available online for reading or download. You can visit the WCGS website  or access through this link -  Wake Genealogy Watch, Winter 2024

  Features in this issue include:

  • A big change to our Wake Treasures Journal sharing policy that is sure to please members and new visitors alike!

  • An in-depth article about creating a family history in scrapbook style from Christopher Hunt Robertson. Chirstopher has shared several of his engaging ancestor scrapbooks with us in the past.

  • A feature article on the Shiloh Community near Morrisville. Shiloh started as a freedmen’s village in the 1830’s. One of our WCGS members has strong family ties to this community.

  • Focus on a little known and often overlooked resource – Historic and Architectural Resources of Wake County, North Carolina (ca. 1770 – 1941).

  • NCGS award recognition for one of our members.

  • Information on the upcoming Wilson Library Improvement Project and how it will affect researchers.

  • We note the passing of a tireless local history volunteer- Irene Olive Kittinger (1925 – 2023)

  • Raleigh Senior TechEd News.

  • Details of our Winter 2024 Events Calendar.

Photo Note: If you choose to read a printed version of this newsletter, some of the photos will be difficult to view due to size constraints. Please refer to the online edition where you can enlarge the photos to accommodate better viewing. 

Click this newsletter page link to view this and all past newsletter content. 

We welcome your feedback, input, and submissions for inclusion in future editions. Please address all concerns to

Visit the WCGS Blog for more events, late breaking news, tutorials, updates, and other special posts.  


Cyndi Deal
Newsletter Editor, Wake County Genealogical Society


Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Seasons Greetings ca.1928

Here is the holiday greeting card sent out by The Raleigh Times to its customers in the late 1920's. It is just one example of the wonderful old holiday cards in the NC State Archive's Flickr photostream. 

If you have a little more time to spare, check out all the Archive's collections here!

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Crossing Buckhorn - New Book from WCGS Program Chair, George Thomas

I want to call attention to a new family history book  just now hot off the presses from our own program chair, George Thomas. The book, entitled CROSSING BUCKHORN: Untold Matters of Race and Family in the Evolving State of North Carolina is available in paperback at Amazon

Crossing Buckhorn explores George's ancestor, Joseph Thomas, and his close bonds to his community and cohorts that started in early Northeast North Carolina. Those interested in migration paths to and through our state to parts west this is a must read.  Those interested in early race relations and learning how three races, Tuscarora, white and black peacefully coexisted for many generations will also enjoy reading George’s book. Check the preview on Amazon. As well as being a noteworthy family history, you will find it to be a good read.

My copy is on order. I am tracking delivery as we speak!

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - Homepage | WCGS Events | Join WCGS | Publications | Wake Cemetery Survey Images | Society Surnames | Digital Resources | History Resources | More Links and Resources | Contact

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Wake Wednesday - The mother of all Wake Wednesday posts!

Hi Wake Researchers. We have some very exciting news for all of you. Wake County Genealogical Society has recently decided to change the way we share our Wake Treasures Journal content with you at the Wakecogen website. I think you will enjoy this surprise. Here is the announcement from webmaster, Cynthia Gage:

"Wake Treasures Goes Public!

It is well-known how technology has changed the way information is disseminated.  The growth of online platforms are providing new ways of sharing and reaching a broader audience.  WCGS has seen these changes and over the years has expanded its outreach through our WCGS Facebook and WCGS Blog social-media pages.  We also modernized our website several years ago and then converted our newsletter distribution to an on-line digital format where issues can be stored and made available at the click of a mouse!  

In the past hard-copy publications provided the standard format for keeping information available, but these are only useful when they can be conveniently accessed.  Thus, the next step for WCGS involved making changes to our Wake Treasures Journal.  This summer, the Society voted to change our method for disseminating information usually found in the journal to other formats including our social media sites, our newsletter, and our website.  In the spirit of increasing our support to the genealogical community, the Board also voted to make all past issues of Wake Treasures available to both members and non-members alike!
Wake Treasures is the multi-award winning journal of the Wake County Genealogical Society.  Over the years the number of issues per year has varied from two to four.  From the Wake Treasures page you can download in pdf format, any or all of the Wake Treasures issues which have been published starting with the first issue in 1991 ... to 2022. 

To help your search, there is a Subject Index available for the first 25 volumes of the Journal.  We hope you are successful in finding your Wake ancestors in the record transcriptions and abstractions available in these genealogically rich issues."

Yes!! Journal access is now free and open to all, visitors and members alike. 

Please visit our website and check out all the goodness nestled in those pages. Each issue has a name index at the end. Be sure to check for your ancestor surnames there. Access all the content from the WCGS Publications tab on our home page.

It's like Santa came a little early and left a nice prezzy in your genealogy stocking!

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - Homepage | WCGS Events | Join WCGS | Publications | Wake Cemetery Survey Images | Society Surnames | Digital Resources | History Resources | More Links and Resources | Contact 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Olivia Raney Library - Original Location


"...Olivia Raney Library, once known as Raleigh’s 'Taj Mahal.' The beautifully detailed Italian Renaissance building was erected in 1899, but sadly, this Hillsboro St. landmark is now long gone."
It was replaced by the more modern version at 4016 Carya Dr in Raleigh in the mid 60's. The current building under went renovations in 2020 - 2021. Many lovely relics of the original, including the tops of the Italianate columns, exist inside the entryway of current building. I sincerely hope that all these mementos of Raleigh past were preserved in the makeover.

Visit Good Night Raleigh for the back story and some wonderful old photos of the original ORL that stood at the corner of Hillsborough and Salisbury Streets.

Olivia Raney Library, Raleigh, NC  08/17/12

Olivia Raney Library, Raleigh, NC  04/11/2014

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - Homepage | WCGS Events | Join WCGS | Publications | Wake Cemetery Survey Images | Society Surnames | Digital Resources | History Resources | More Links and Resources | Contact

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving 2023 from Wake County Genealogy Society

Wake County Genealogical Society is grateful for our members, volunteers, followers, virtual meeting/presentation participants, and our leaders. Your interest and support keep us going strong! There is alway more to discover. Contact us via if you want to become more involved at Wakecogen. Your discoveries mean so much more when you are sharing them with friends.

Enjoy your family and friends at your gatherings. Safe travels. 

Don't forget to record or otherwise preserve your family history and memories. Grab all you can this holiday season. Stay tuned for a special article on a novel way to write and present your family history in the next Wake Genealogy Watch newsletter that publishes in December. 

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Wilson Library Improvement Project: a three year update

In late October, UNC Chapel Hill Libraries announced that Wilson Library,  will be closed to the public and staff for a few years. A phased closure is expected to begin in August 2024 and  last  approximately three years.  

While this closure affects many records and holdings needed for genealogical research, there will be accommodations made to keep records available. The  DigitalNC blogpost about the project states: 

“During this time, critical updates will be made to the building including extending sprinkler coverage, creating emergency egress stairs, and upgrading the fire alarm system. NCDHC staff and the equipment we use will be relocated during much of this time. 

We wanted to make sure you know that our services will continue, though we may have to make some adjustments regarding capacity. We’ll be back in touch with updates as plans develop. 

If you have questions related to NCDHC operations, feel free to contact us. You can also visit the project’s official Library page for details and updates.”

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Thanksgiving Reader

"Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. "


If you are feeling overwhelmed with the early appearance of "Commercialmas" like I am, enjoy this Thankgiving Reader and push back on the retail encroachment on this season that we all really need to reflect on and respect. No matter whether you see the survivor settlers or the Native Americans who graciously contributed to their survival as the winners, we need to reflect on the solemn nature of this feast day and the reminder that we are all small parts of the village that saves us and we can't be a village if we all work at cross purposes.

Enjoy this look at Thanksgiving through the lens of its history, traditions, and food, because food is the language of our memories that connect us to the past.

Thanksgiving Historical Context and Interest -

Thanksgiving Overview from - this article covers all the basics from history, to food, to ancient origins.

Memories of Thanksgiving Across the Centuries - personal accounts of Thanksgivings past in many parts of the US and abroad

The First Thanksgiving:Native Americans and early settlers gave thanks together with this historic feast - This post from National Geographic Kids presents the history from settlers and natives up to Lincoln's establishment of the national holiday in terms that are easy for younger participants to understand. 

The True Story Behind Thanksgiving - This "warts and all" look at the holiday from Business Insider, may be a downer for some but history is all of the story, not just the parts we like. Kudos to the article for pointing out that a "Southern" Thanksgiving occured several years earlier than the Pilgrims feast, in 1619 by Settlers in Berkeley Hundred, in what is now Virginia.

Thanksgiving Day - offers the widest scope coverage of our holiday topic. You will find everything from history and controversy to rituals and weather folklore. There is even poetry.

‘We’re still here’: Native Americans share true history of ThanksgivingLocals recount their experiences at Thanksgiving time as they grew up Native American.

Regional Thanksgiving Historical Context and Interest - The Jamestown celebration may have colored early local celebrations and vestiges may remain to this day.

A North Carolina Thanksgiving, Revisited - you will enjoy this survey of  Thanksgivings past around the state.

Tracing the History of Thanksgiving in North Carolina - DigitalNC recounts a timeline of Thanksgiving celebrated in our state.

Did Thanksgiving Tradition Begin Here? - Coastal digs deeper into the stories of an earlier "Southern" origin for Thanksgiving traditions.

First Beaufort County Thanksgiving - Beaufort residents recognize Nov 25, 1712 as the first Day of Thanksgiving for the settlers of that region. 

Thanksgiving history remembered on the USS North Carolina - WWAY of Wilmington recounts one especially chaotic and meager Thanksgiving spent on the battleship in 1943.

Thanksgiving, A Southern Tradition Since 1619 - another telling of the 1619 Thanksgiving at Berkley Plantation on the James River.

Thanksgiving Food Traditions

Try this NC-inspired Thanksgiving menu for a taste of your state - here is an account from the N&O of formerly traditional foods that problably won't appear at your table!

12 Dishes You'll Only Find On A Southern Thanksgiving Table - many of your southern traditonal favorites from Southern Living.

Thanksgiving Feast Johnston County style - If you are looking for collards, watergate salad or pecan pie, you will find them here.

Coastal NC Thanksgiving Favorites - Oyster stuffing, Pig Pickin' cake and sweet potatoe pie right here!

Here's what Thanksgiving dinner looks like in different parts of the country - Who eats manicotti with their turkey? Would you add Frog Eye salad to your menu? How about pumpkin empanadas or sourdough stuffing? These things never even occured to me but if you are game, you will find these and more in this Business Insider post. 

Now, finally-

After your recover from the turkey coma, if you need to move around a little, you might find a pleasing activity here.

Things to do in Wake County on Thanksgiving - you will find plenty to do around the area with this list from I vote for an outing to Hemlock Bluffs or Umstead Park.

Happy Thanksgiving. We appreciate all of our WCGS members and followers!

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Williams Crossroads - Updated!

For years, The Carolina Crossroads post was the only thing I found on Williams Crossroads. My sleuthing must have improved because I have found several other mentions of this all but forgotten speck of rural Wake County. Now I can add a list of cemeteries near there and some great references from some National Register of Historic Places Documentation forms.

Williams X roads - check out the feature at Carolina Crossroads!

In the process of hunting for information on Williams Crossroads, I discovered one of my favorite ever overlooked documents types for researching family history - historical and architectural surveys. I had bumped into a few of these in researching for the Wake Cemetery Survey project and found them very useful so my spidey senses were tingling when I found a reference to Williams Crossroads in a multi-location document that has become a constant fascination as I search for content, context and historically relevant material for the blog. 

I found a reference in a
National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form from the early 1990's.  The file (WA7244) included the surveyed locations for the  Historic and Architectural Resources of Wake County, North Carolina (ca. 1770-1941) report from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This file led me to another survey file where Williams Crossroads and the George Williams Farm  (WA0457) in the area are described and evaluated for historic preservation status for about 26 pages of the report. Take a look and you will find, physical descriptions, photos, maps, historical context and evaluation against historcal register criteria. 

If your Williams ancestors were in this part of Wake County, this is a gold mine for you. The Crossroads and the George Williams farm were not approved for Register status or protection but the survey remains as a lasting document of the Crossroads and its people in their time and place. While Willimas Crossroads is intact for the present, this may be the only glimpse of this community you may get as developement spreads out this way. 

Moving on from the historical surveys, I found another useful link to see the cemeteries that are near Williams Crossroad at View here and scroll a little past half way down the page.

I have been looking for info on this area almost as long as I have been writing this blog. It is very satisfying to connect the Williams researcher with something more than a mere snippet of information about this little corner of Wake County before it gets crowded out and paved over.

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website -