Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Diversity Updates at Wakecogen and Within Our Local Community

Saundra Cropps has assumed the post of Diversity & Inclusion Officer at WCGS. In this important board-level role, she will play a crucial part in making our society's goal of creating a welcoming and inclusive community for everyone looking to explore and embrace their family histories a reality. As the Diversity Officer, Saundra will work to ensure that WCGS programs and projects effectively cater to the varied requirements of the genealogical community. Please see the announcement at the Wakecogen homepage for more details of her new role and an additional article detailing our extensive list of resources for African American Research.

Thanks to Saundra for keeping diversity topics on our radar. She is actively searching out and sharing content already.  Please consider these two events happening in early September: 

Explore 100 years of History - Raleigh’s Unique African American Neighborhoods Exhibit

September 2, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m

The City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department announces a historic exhibit opening and a day of historical programming at the John P. “Top” Greene Community Center on September 2, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The exhibit, “Centuries in the Making: A Cultural Legacy of South Park and East Raleigh Neighborhoods” is a pilot exhibit developed in conjunction with the South Park East Raleigh Neighborhood Association which explores the people and places that made these unique African American neighborhoods for over 100 years. Historic lectures and programs will be presented throughout the day.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information contact the John P. “Top” Green Community Center at 919-831-6527.  The John P. “Top” Greene Community Center is located at 401 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Raleigh.

See program details at this link  


  Explore Your African American Roots* - Free Community Workshops

Tuesdays - September 5, 12, 19 and 26  or  Saturdays - September 9, 16, 23 and 30

The City of Raleigh and the South Park East Raleigh Neighborhood Association (SPERNA) are offering free workshops to help the community find their African American roots.

The two workshops will be a series of classes held on Tuesdays and Saturdays in September by instructors who will teach residents basic genealogy skills while exploring online resources such as Ancestry and Freedmen's Bureau records. *Our own Saundra Cropps will partner with Wanda Cox Bailey on this series. 

No experience is necessary. Ten residents who complete the four sessions will be awarded a donated refurbished chrome book. Workshop registration is limited, and registration is required. For more information contact the City of Raleigh Museum at 919-996-2220.

Session One - Tuesdays - September 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m.,  Register on RecLink

Session Two - Saturdays - September 9, 16, 23 and 30, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m., Register on RecLink

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Wake Wednesday - Railroads and Rebirth

Piggybacking on the post about the fiery destruction of Raleigh's first Capital building in 1831, I want to point you to this great article from NCpedia on the rebuilding and refocus of Raleigh that that followed. Forward thinking and the latest rail technology saved Raleigh's place in the history, politics and economics of our state and spared our state the former nickname of "the Rip Van Winkle of commonwealths."
"Despite its position as a state capital, in the early 1830s and with a population of barely 2,200, the city of Raleigh was small and underdeveloped and had been struck by a series of fires. One of these took the Capitol building in 1831 and along with it citizens’ collective morale. Without efficient transportation and communication to connect it with the outside world, the capital needed reinvigoration. That reinvigoration came, literally and symbolically, with the arrival of the Tornado, the first steam locomotive to enter Raleigh to inaugurate the state’s newly developing railroad..."

"First locomotive running into Raleigh in 1840."  Sketch of the "Tornado," p. 194 in Hope Summerwell Chamberlain's <i>History of Wake County North Carolina,</i> published 1922 by Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, Raleigh, NC.
The first locomotive running in Raleigh in 1840, The Tornado.

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Monday, August 28, 2023

Wake County Historical Society Fall Events start September 11

See all the details of the upcoming programs from The Wake County Historical Society at this link.

Topics include-

  • A Book Talk and Signing by Carmen Cauthen on the Black Neighborhoods of Raleigh NC - Sept. 11, free admission
  • A Talk on the Historic Turner House by Cheryl Crooms Williams - Oct 10
  • Lessons from the Rosenwald Schools with Claudia Stack, Ed.M. & Richard T. Newkirk, Ed.D. - Nov 14
See all event details at this link.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Wake Genealogy Watch - Fall Edition 2023, v7.1 - Live Now at our website

The Fall 2023 Issue (Vol. 7 Issue 1) 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, Fall2023.

 Features included in this issue include:

  • Several updates including news about our Homepage, Journal, and a new Board Position – Diversity & Inclusion Officer.
  • The Reading Room features a review and link to an amazing family history book written by Brian Griffis. You will want to read The Life and Times of Lucius Griffis (1839 – 1918) to see what Brian accomplished with his strategy of searching way beyond the expected sources for his Wake County ancestor who lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction.
  • Barbara McGeachy shares an important FamilySearch tip for location resources.
  • Instructions to access the Upchurch Enrolled Family files online. These files hold reams of Wake County Genealogy content.
  • A focus on the history and importance of mills in Wake County, including a link to a fascinating five-part thesis exploring what remains of mill culture in our area.
  • Genealogy highlights and links to the Fall 2023 Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI),
  • North Carolina Maps, a collaborative digitization project that offers online content and inspiration for your research.
  • A recent Wakecogen Blog feature on maps that provides a different look at map use and development in our early history.
  • Highlights from our experiences with the NGS SLAM Open House in May.

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

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Early Social Program Provides Support for Confederate Veterans

After the Civil War and for several years to come, Confederate veterans returned home where readjustments to daily life were many. Many soldiers suffered debilitating injuries, returning home without limbs or losing them later due to complications of old injuries.

Did you know that North Carolina was the first state to provide artificial limbs to its Confederate amputees after the Civil War? This was in response to a similar Federal program. The state provided limbs at no charge and also offered a $70 allowance to those who wanted to choose their own leg or go without one. Arms were priced at $50.

Jewett's Patent Leg Company set up manufacturing at the site of the Raleigh bayonet factory near the R&G railroad on Salisbury Street, between North and Johnson Streets, in 1866-7. A more extensive description of this early social program can be found at the website for the historical marker that was placed near the former bayonet factory/leg company. View here.

See information about Jewett's Patent here.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Turning the Page on Wake Treasures: A Legacy of Genealogical Riches Continues to Shine

By Carla Stancil, WCGS President


Wake Treasures is our multi-award-winning journal first published in 1991. Over the years, Wake Treasures has brought us a mountain of primary source documents with historical or genealogical significance for Wake County. It has also published primary source documents from related counties when there was no other outlet for those records. 

As technology has evolved and record access has improved, the WCGS Board of Directors has made the decision to combine the journal with the WakeCoGen blog and Wake Genealogy Watch, our award-winning newsletter, to better bring our members and researchers the best possible resources.

 To our current editor, Donna Shackle, we can only provide humble thanks for curating a wonderful archive of important Wake records and information. Donna has been editor of Wake Treasures for the past several years and has worked diligently to provide well-sourced and documented data and records that cannot be found online and have not been published elsewhere. Donna plans to return to graduate school to prepare to work in historical archives – a perfect fit and surely a benefit to all researchers. 

Our previous editor, Diane L Richard, massaged the journal into the masterpiece it is today before handing over the reins to Donna and continuing her own genealogical journey that has benefitted Wake and North Carolina researchers as the current editor of the North Carolina Genealogical Society journal. 

To Donna and Diane and all of our past editors and volunteers….THANK YOU for the gift of Wake Treasures. We have been very blessed to have such talented editors and a multitude of dedicated volunteers to assist in creating Wake Treasures. You can be sure your efforts will continue to give back to researchers for many years to come.  

This news doesn’t mean the journal is completely going away, however!  There is still one issue of new content in the pipeline to publish sometime this fall or winter. In addition, the 30+ years of journals that are archived on our website for members to use in their research. All the rich content curated for the past 30+ years is still at your fingertips! There is also a subject matter index that anyone can use for free for volumes 1 – 25.   

As the Society moves forward, look to the WakeCoGen blog and Wake Genealogy Watch newsletter to continue to provide curated Wake centric content in the same tradition as our journal editors. Cyndi Deal has long been the editor of both the blog and newsletter, as well as managing WCGS social media efforts. She intends to keep focus on the Society’s commitment to provide Wake researchers with the records and tools we need to further our research.


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Growing up in Wake Forest c. 1930 - 1940

Grady Patterson grew up as a small-town boy in Wake Forest in the 1930s and '40s. His family was variously connected to Wake Forest College, as it was known at that time. His grandfather, James L. Lake, was a physics professor. His great-grandfather, Rev. Isaac Lake, was selected to be president of the college but passed on the job when his Virginia church congregation just could not let him go. His father, Grady Patterson, was the registrar and director of admissions.

Grady remembered Wake Forest at that time as a "self-help school for the sons of Baptist ministers" who were required to bring two farm implements like shovels or hoes because half of each day was spent in manual labor, raising crops.

You will enjoy reading Grady's article from the Wake Forest Gazette as he reminisces about large block ice deliveries, the hand-cranked "Central" phone system, moving pictures, soda shops, and other small-town joys and pastimes.

Read Grady's article here - Just a little history: Wake Forest in the 1930s and 1940s

If you love Grady's reminiscences and want more, they were turned in to a series by the Wake Forest Gazette. You will find links to the full series here

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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Milling in Wake County

I am fascinated by the interconnectivity of early historic water mills in the thread of survival that runs through the story of Wake County from days of our early settlers up until the not so distant past. Much of this story has been erased in the repeated rounds of growth, development and building frenzies that Wake has experienced from the late 70's until today.  Sadly, in our county, there is only one mill active today and only partial remains of one other.

As the colonial settlers of Wake County carved out homes and communities, they had to meet several high priority needs to do so. Highest on this list were shelter, a water source, fields to grow their food and roads to barter, trade and sell the products of their labor. 

Time passed and progress happened.  Mills became as important as these basic needs in order to prosper and flourish. Mills, from early days right up until the very recent past fueled the economy of Wake County at both a micro and macro level.As the county expanded and demand surged, these mills catered to the supply of food products and lumber, meeting needs within the vicinity and beyond. 

The span of the 1800s through the first third of the 1900s found Wake County heavily populated with many mills. In this clip of the Fendol Bevers map of Wake from 1871, you can count no less than eight mills in the House Creek Township (a ninth, if you are sharp and enlarge the map to its full size and look just over the township boundary at the upper right.) Of course, all water mills had to be situated on the rivers and streams that were so important to early settlers, but they also drove the creation of roads for connection and trade. In later years, mill sites also figured heavily in where the railroad lines would run. 

Fendol Bevers Map of Wake County 1871

Yates Mill (source)

If you too, are fascinated with mills and their impact on early settlements and communities, you will want to read this thesis on the History of Milling by Leslie Hawkins Meadows. Her work includes information on the various types of mills, their importance in the community and highlights the last three mills extant in our memories if not our landscape - Yates (the only one still in operation, Lassiter (only the dam remains) and Lake Myra Mill (which fell into disrepair in the 1990's and collapsed).

Meadows' detailed examination of the mills and their history appears in five parts on the Yates Mill website and includes sources and an extensive bibliography. You can access it here. I promise you won't regret the read!

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Monday, August 7, 2023

A Tale of Two Maps - Maps of Henry Mouzon 1775 and 1777

Have fun spending some time comparing and contrasting these two colonial era maps that are held by the Library of Congress. Both made under the direction of Henry Muzon. Both show the early colonies of North and South Carolina. Both are hand colored, although each is excecuted somewhat differently. One created in London, the other in Paris. They even share a title - 

An accurate map of North and South Carolina,
with their Indian frontiers, shewing in a distinct manner all
the mountains, rivers, swamps, marshes, bays, creeks,
harbours, sandbanks, and soundings on the coast
with the roads and Indian paths as well as
The Boundary or Provincial Lines, the several Townships
and other divisions of the Land in both Provinces:
The whole from Actual Surveys by Henry Mouzon and Others.

Click through to see larger images, but more importantly, click the hyperlinked dates to view the original maps at the Library of Congress.



If you have time for nothing else, be sure to open the 1777 version to see Cornwallis's Route from Charleston to the Piedmont area of North Carolina. No doubt this was colored by someone other than the makers after the fact because these troop movements happened in 1780-81 time frame. Note also that Cornwallis is spelled Cournoualis. Interesting. I guess this reflects its French publication.

Another feature not to be missed in both maps is their wonderful hand drawn craftsmanship. You will see this if you do a tight zoom on the hand lettering in the upper left corner of either map.

Are you still up for a challenge? Can you can find the location of the land that became Wake County in 1771, but for some reason, is still designated as being in another county on these maps? I guess folks were a little busy with warring and other things at this point.

I hope you enjoy this deep dive into colonial, Revolution era maps. These are so totally fascinating that this could take several hot afternoons to satisfy your curiosity!

Friday, August 4, 2023

Local Learning Opportunity - Sense-ology Writing Prompts, Thursday, August 17

Jen Gunther who teaches under the auspices of Raleigh Senior Tech Ed, will be teaching a writing prompt class that is open to all skill levels.  Her Sensology class is described below.


Sense-ology – Sensory Prompts for Writing Your Family Story        $10

Genealogists tell us to “write your family history so it isn’t forgotten.” But writing the STORY can be more challenging than just writing facts on paper. We want our story to be creative, to be interesting to others, especially future descendants. So how to start? This discussion will demonstrate using our own five senses to add sensory excitement to our family story, and trigger memories to record and share with future generations so they will know and relate to us, and their ancestors better. This is a SHARED discussion so bring in your own memories based on SIGHT – SMELL — SOUND – TASTE – TOUCH.

The class will be held August 17 at 4pm at the Cambridge Adult Living Community at  7901 TW Alexander Dr, Raleigh, NC

Register through the RSTE link here


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Thursday, August 3, 2023

A Few Items Worth Noting - Aug 3

- Upcoming events, webinars and wikis in the larger genealogy community - something for all interests 

Some of the items highlighted are local. Many are virtual.  I promise you will find a new skill to add to your genealogy toolbox!  You might want to add these to your calendar or to do list.

Cemetery Cleanup Day at 1461 Purfoy Road in Wake County 
Saturday, August 12⋅9:00am – 12:00pm; 1461 Purfoy Rd. Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Harnett Chapel Cemetery - The Harnett County Cemetery Preservation Group has scheduled a cemetery clean-up day in Fuquay-Varina. (This cemetery is just over the line in Wake County. Please help if you are able.)

This is to work on repairing and cleaning the headstones and maintaining the grass and weeds. No need to commit to the full 3 hours, anytime you can stop by and join us is appreciated!

We will again meet at the cemetery at 1461 Purfoy Road, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. All volunteers welcome and those who helped before are invited back. Tools needed will be: rakes, leaf blowers, and weed eater’s. Approved cleaning supplies will be provided.

Family members are invited and encouraged to come help. This cemetery has these names associated with it, Barbour, Betts, Campbell, Holloway, Revels, Smith, Stuart, Whittington, Wray. Some of these graves date back to the 1890’s.

For info contact Harnett County Cemetery Preservation -

Read this recent article about this hardworking group!  They. Were. Here...

Learn how ChatGPT can help you with your genealogy

Have you tried ChatGPT yet?  I use it for small tedious editing tasks to free up time for more important writing. Follow Blaine Bettinger and Jen Baldwin of Find My Past in a lively discussion on the practical application of ChatGPT in family history. Free to watch anytime. Link to video on Facebook.  (By the way, Chat GPT was not used to create this blog post.)

FamilySearch Colonial Migration Wiki - Old Cherokee Path, the Great Indian Warpath and the Great Valley Road

This FamilySearch Wiki for Colonial Migration is very pertinent to our last virtual presentation in July. Colonial Migration to the interior of the Colonies included the Old Cherokee Path, the Great Indian Warpath and the Great Valley Road. This FSwiki post will send you out along all three if you follow the links. It is an invaluable resource if you are trying to understand how your ancestor traveled from one location to another. Visit this link to start your exploration.

East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference
Oct. 6 - 8, Maritime Center, Baltimore and Online

Presented by the East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference committee and, this 2nd annual event, scheduled to take place October 6-8, 2023, is dedicated to education on the use of Genetic Genealogy. If you are a genealogist or a family history enthusiast interested in using DNA for your research, this conference is for you!
Visit to view the program, speakers and registration details.

Joy Reisinger Lecture Series
October 20, 2023; FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and Online

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) will host five live webinars at this year’s Reisinger Memorial Lecture Series on 20 October 2023. It is also held in-person at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Five leading genealogists spoke on topics related to the Genealogical Proof Standard, solving genealogical problems by discovering and using a wide variety of appropriate sources, and immigration. The series is offered in person at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City,Utah. It is also available to view online with registration at Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Details and link to register for the Legacy webinar series

To get details to attend in person in Salt Lake City visit the FamilySearch Library link.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Wake Wednesday: Raleigh Four Square - Early map of the original lay out of the Capitol City

Enjoy this excerpt of a wonderful map that is available in the North Carolina Collection at UNC. Printed in 1867, the full map shows Raleigh as it appeared in 1837. Here you see Raleigh in all its "four square" glory. That would be Caswell, Burke, Nash and Moore Squares. Only Nash and Moore are extant today.


Notice that the four streets perpendicular to the capitol building are wider than the others. This was planned. A note on the map states that "Newbern, Hillsborough, Halifax and Fayetteville Streets are ninety-nine feet wide; the others sixty-six. Each lot contains one acre of land." The full version of this map also shows businesses, landowners, property lines, and public buildings.

Be sure to view the full version of this map to read the inscriptions in each lot. There are lots of familiar early Raleigh citizens represented. It is also worthwhile to compare the full version to a current Google sattelite map to see how things changed. Get the full verison here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Follow Two Power Players to Improve your Genealogy Skills

Traditional Research 

Elizabeth Shown Mills is the one to follow. A legend in the field, she brings a wealth of ideas and know how to break through those brick walls. Catch her yearlong series at Legacy Webinars. If you are a subscription holder, you can access free. If not, this series alone is well worth the fee. You also want to follow her blog at Evidence

Genetic Genealogy Research

Diahan Southard is the hottest ticket in this field right now. She is everywhere and with good reason. She has a long history in genetic research and an amazing way of distilling a very complex subject into easy to understand small bites. Her blog is full of clear explanations, examples and short videos. Watch for her free webinars offered throughout the year and invest in your skills with her fee based learning including a skills workshop, YDNA course, Endogamy course and one-on-one coaching.

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