Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on September 5, 2014 in Research
Loray Mills, Gastonia, NC
Library of Congress, “Girls running warping machines in Loray mill, Gastonia, N.C…,” color digital file from b&w original print.

North Carolina, known as The Old North State or The Tar Heel State, was 12th of the original colonies.

Five things you may not have known about the Tar Heel State:

  1. North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States. Have you checked the agriculture schedules for your North Carolina ancestors?
  2. North Carolina troops had around 30,000 casualties during the Civil War. Actually that number has been disputed over the years, but the latest estimate is 30,000. Does that explain what might have happened to one of you ancestors between 1860 and 1870?
  3. North Carolina sent 3 regiments to fight in the Spanish American War, although only the First Regiment saw action in Cuba. Have you checked in the Roster of the North Carolina volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898-1899 for your ancestor?
  4. In 1718, the fearsome pirate Blackbeard was killed off the coast of North Carolina. Your ancestor probably wasn’t involved, but he was an interesting guy.
  5. In 1929, workers in the Loray Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina conducted a strike that is credited with elevating the labor movement to a national level. Check the 1920 and 1930 census records and see if your ancestors were working in one of the many mills in that area.
Our new free state guide, “North Carolina Research Guide: Family History Sources in the Tar Heel State,” has an overview and timeline of the state, along with resources to explore when searching for your North Carolina ancestors. Guides for other states are also available in the Learning Center under Free State Research Guides.
Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


  1. Irene Dorsey

    For four months I have been paying $19 a month and cannot use my service. Because when I log on the user name is an old one, and I am paying under another one. And it won’t let me change. You need to make this right or give me my money back- immediately

  2. catherine cline

    I had Hardy, Holeman, Neeley and other ancestors in NC in the 1700’s. I need informaation about the state from back then.

  3. Elizabeth HARPER Hopkins

    Have been searching for Harper, Currie, Hinson, for a number of yrs…Columbus County…John Harper in 1600’s in Va to NC?

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