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