Lost counties of North Carolina

There are 100 counties in North Carolina, but it naturally was not always that way since North Carolina is a colonial state.  Most people don’t realize that many counties have formed, changed shape, gave birth to new counties, absorbed other counties, disappear only to reappear later and some counties just don’t exist any more.  Some counties that no longer exist are: Albemarle, Bath, Archdale, Pamplecough, Wickham, Burkeley, Shaftesburg, Dobbs, Bute, Glasgow, Fayette, Tryon and Carteret.  Now you may be thinking, “Carteret County does exist.  It is where Morehead City, Atlantic Beach and Beaufort among others are located.  That is true, but Carteret county was not always where it is today.

Prior to 1681, Carteret County (or Precinct as it was known at the time) existed in the Albemarle region of North Carolina.  This was in the Granville District which was a 60 mile wide strip of land in the North Carolina colony adjoining the Virginia border from the ocean on to the west.  This was given to John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville from the Crown.  I think you can start to see where the names started from.  In the 1681, Carteret County (Precinct) was abolished and became Currituck and Pasquotank Precincts.  This is in the northeast coastal region of North Carolina.  These two later spawned Camden, Tyrell, Washington, Dare and parts of Martin county.  Carteret County reappeared later in 1722 in it’s current location, coming out of Craven County.

One example of a county that disappeared completely is Dobbs County.  Dobbs County was formed in 1758 out of Johnston County and it only took until 1779 for Wayne County to be carved out of it.  The final bites came in 1791 when Dobbs County was divided into two counties, Lenoir and Glasgow (later renamed Greene County).

There are many more interesting stories about how counties appeared and disappeared through out time, and I will try to keep this updated as research permits with additional images and links.  If you have any questions about specific counties, please let me know and I will try to help.  If I don’t know the answer, then I can find it out or get you in touch with someone who does know.  There are some people that work for the state that have a vast knowledge of NC land history.  (It is their job to know).  Please check back for future updates.

Lin Byrd

On April 18th, 2012, posted in: Land Surveying News by

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