As a transplant to the Sandhills from Buffalo, NY, I had never considered the prospect of uncovering North Carolina ancestors while researching my roots. I was firmly under the impression that all of my ancestors had arrived and settled in New York after emigrating from Europe, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover my maternal grandmother’s five-times great-grandfather settled in New Hanover County, NC, in the early 1700s.

Not only did I have NC roots, but one of my ancestors was a captain in the NC militia during the American Revolution and another was a 6th Regiment, North Carolina cavalry sergeant in the Civil War. This ancestral line stayed in the Wilmington, NC area until my great-grandfather assumed an alias and suddenly moved to New York. It wasn’t until he was on his deathbed that he finally told his children his real last name and where he originated. I was able to confirm that the information my great-grandfather provided was accurate through DNA analysis and the use of DNA Circles by Ancestry.com, and as a result I was also able to connect with a fifth cousin who lives locally in Aberdeen, NC!

While it is entertaining to gather family histories and ponder their authenticity, the real magic of genealogy is in substantiating those claims. If you have North Carolina roots and would like to confirm them, I highly recommend starting with a basic DNA analysis from any popular provider such as Ancestry.com, 23andme.com or FamilyTreeDNA.com. Also, complete your family tree to the best of your ability using the same provider you purchased the DNA analysis through and begin researching the validity of any hints or new leads that are automatically matched to your family tree members. For more tips on researching and proving your NC roots, here are my suggestions.

1. If you have already taken a DNA test, begin by reaching out to your DNA matches to learn more about your most recent common ancestor. You may learn interesting facts about your ancestor that can be easily validated, such as my claim to a NC militia captain during the Revolutionary War. One of my DNA matches informed me of the claim and I found the pension application and enlistment records to prove its accuracy. 

2. Consider joining the North Carolina Genealogical Society which will give you access to all past and current issues of the NCGS Journal published quarterly, unlimited viewing of recorded webinars and access to discounted workshops held throughout the state. In particular, The North Carolina Series Webinars that start with “Tarheels in Your Family Tree?” will give you a great starting point to begin your NC family history research. Visit ncgenealogy.org/webinars/ for more information.

3. If you have Moore County roots in particular, consider joining the Moore County Genealogical Society (MCGC) which meets bimonthly at the Moore County Library in Carthage, NC. There are limited documents prior to 1889, when a courthouse fire destroyed almost everything. However, this group can help you get started. Join Moore County NC Genealogy’s Facebook page or email mooreco.genealogy@gmail.com for more information.

4. Since my husband and I are expecting our firstborn this August, I decided to begin researching my husband’s heritage as well. We jokingly tell people that we met in the middle here in North Carolina because I am from New York and he was born in Florida, but as it turns out he has ties to the original settlers of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband’s DNA story on Ancestry.com provided the migration patterns and DNA matches to substantiate the claim. Once we realized we both had North Carolina roots, we decided to delve deeper in our research in hopes that our son would one day pick up where we left off. In doing so, we found the NCGenWeb Project (ncgenweb.us) which is a local resource that is part of the larger USGenWeb Project. The project is comprised of a network of volunteers working to provide genealogical and historical content for each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Check out their NC Genealogy 2.0 (ncgenweb.us/nc-genealogy-2-0/) page which lists the RSS feeds, websites, blogs and Facebook links associated with each county for more information. 

Ashley Eder developed a passion for genealogy while researching her own family tree and is always happy to discuss and help others delve into the process. Email her at ashleye@agingoutreachservices.com or editor@outreachnc.com