State Research Guide: North Carolina
Get your Tar Heel State research off on the right foot.

Although North Carolina was one of the original 13 Colonies, its geography, harsh coastline and system of “proprietor” land grants meant it was settled mostly via older Colonies. First, in the 1650s, came Virginians who populated the Albemarle Sound area. Primarily English, these transplants spread throughout the Coastal Plains region by 1730. Small groups of German Palatines, Swiss and French Huguenots did settle directly along the coast in the early 1700s, followed by Scots in the upper Cape Fear Valley from 1729 to 1775. But other Scots and Germans trekked the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and Virginia to fill the Piedmont region.

This peripatetic spirit persisted, so your ancestors may have been just passing through: By 1850, a quarter of all North Carolina natives had gone to live in other states. Whether your Tar Heel kin stuck around or moved on, this advice will help you start your research on solid footing.