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

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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 - 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Online Learning Event Nov. 19 - Use State Court Records

Join Robyn N. Smith, genealogist and blogger at Reclaiming Kin, on Sunday, November 19 at 1pm EST for her webinar and live demo on the topic of , "Researching Your Family in State Court Records." This webinar will illustrate how to navigate state court records effectively. Attendees will learn through extensive examples what information court records hold about our ancestors and the communities where they lived, including the lives of the enslaved. 

At over an hour long, this is more of a workshop. There will be a live demo after the webinar using Familysearch. 

Attendees will receive a link to re-watch this webinar for one month afterwards. All attendees will also receive a free copy of Robyn's PDF, "Beginner's Guide to Using Court Records," a $12 value.

The registration fee is $15. Register Here:

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Wake Wednesday - 1808 NC Survey Map

I hope a rainy day turns up soon. I need one for map perusal. I must share with you this wonderful early North Carolina survey map found at Grand Lodge in Raleigh during our October meetup at the Grand Lodge. This beautiful map from 1808 was displayed well in their facility. I was so fascinated with this one that I grabbed the information from the card beside it so I could hopefully find a version  that was viewable online. 

Fortunately for us, it is also available to view at the Library of Congress. 


To David Stone and Peter Brown, Esq. : this first actual survey of the state of North Carolina taken by the subscribers is respectfully dedicated. Published in 1807 

printed in 1808

It is such an interesting map because you can see our state starting to evolve from a colony of settlements to the collection of county centers of govenment that we know now. Yet, look very closely at the entirety of this map. You will see counties that do not exist today and some counties that do exist now, you will not find here. You will see blurred lines as you look west to the still unsettled borders that will become part of Tennesee. It is interesting to note the all the types of information included on this wonderful map. Therer are state and county boundaries, names of counties, towns, cities, drainage, roads, railroads, churches, mills and other points of interest. What catches your eye?

I think you will find this map a nice transition from the early colonial and Rev War era maps to another of my favorites, the Fendol Bevers Map published in 1871. I need that rainy day to compare these two side by side. 

Meanwhile, enjoy this close up of 1808 Wake County surrounded by its neighbors. Do you see anything missing?

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Thursday, November 2, 2023

Get Tech and Genealogy Help from Raleigh Senior Tech Ed this Fall at several Senior Living Communities

Raleigh Senior Tech Ed is expanding their outreach for technical help (includes help with PCs, laptops, Apple devices, Smartphones, etc.) into several Senior Living communities in our area. The latest additon is the Overture at Crabtree starting with Meet & Greet Open Help  on Nov. 16 at 11am.

**Open Help Sessions at Overture/Crabtree have recently been expanded the  to include genealogy questions. 

The following PR info from comes from Jen Gunther, RSTE:

These Help sessions will focus mainly on tech issues.  ANY question & ANY problem -- e.g., "how do I take pictures with my Smartphone?"  I can't get my printer to work with my laptop,"  "how can I find the file I just saved?", etc.  

The sessions have been set up for the convenience of the residents of Overture, and are currently scheduled for the 1st & 3rd Thursday of the month.  The Overture management has graciously permitted the sessions to be open to the public.   Besides Overture @ Crabtree, we also hold these events at The Cambridge @ Brier Creek, Whispering Pines Adult Community on Lead Mine & Sawmill Rd, A.E. Finley YMCA at Six Forks & Baileywick Rds. (just off of I-540) and St. James UMC on New Hope Church Road near Buffalo Road. 

Visit the RSTE website and go to the Schedule page and see where and when the Open Help sessions are held. You don't have to register in advance, but there is a fee of $5 (with a money back guarantee -- if we can't help, you don't pay).  We have experts in Apple products (iPhone, iPad, Macs, etc.) and Android & Windows PCs.

In addition to the 1st & 3rd Thursday sessions at Overture Crabtree, RSTE has scheduled 12 additional Open Help sessions across their various venues. Thes are all listed at the weblink above.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Map of Wake County - Fendol Bevers 1871

Someone was asking about the specific location of the Wake County Home the other day. I knew I had seen it on a map in the past so I went looking. I spent a few minutes looking through the digital map collection at UNC and found the map I remembered.

In the process of finding that map, I ran across this one which is a gold mine for Wake researchers. The Fendol Bevers map from 1871 includes a wealth of information. The abstract that accompanies the map decribes it this way:
Map drawn from actual surveys of Fendol Bevers, County Surveyor. Inset of City of Raleigh, Table of Population and other information by townships, description of townships reported in margins. Townships designated in color. Map shows townships, landowners, churches, retail stores, schools, mills. Townships shown include Raleigh, New Light, Oak Grove, Barton's Creek, Wake Forest, Little River, Cedar Fork, House's Creek, St. Matthew's, Mark's Creek, White Oak, Swift Creek, St. Mary's, Buckhorn, Middle Creek, and Panther Branch. The Raleigh & Gaston Railroad and the North Carolina Rail Road are shown.
click to view larger

I could spend days with this map, maybe months... researching all the local interest here. Just look at all the names and locations. Locations of homes, churches, farms and millls. Are your ancestors represented here. Can you share stories of some of these old places? If so, please let me know. I know there are folks that would love to here these stories.

In the meantime, enjoy a pleasant afternoon browsing the map and reminiscing about places and days gone by. View the map it its beautiful entirity here.

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