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State Archives refers to the State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh NC


What specifically is on this website?

  • Searchable data from all land grant files residing at the State Archives, specifically those cataloged as "Secretary of State Records Group: Land Warrants, Plats of Survey and Related Records". Data includes the name of the person(s) receiving the grant, the county, the number of acres, various dates, and a brief description of the property.
  • Corresponding images from the page in the Land Patent Book where the grant was recorded. Images are available for all existing volumes, 1-198
  • For all of Caswell, Mecklenburg, Orange, Person, Wake, and Wilkes Counties, the data is linked to high quality images of warrants, surveys and other documents in the land grant file.
  • Images from card catalog index cards for around 5,000 miscellaneous grants. These are currently not searchable, but will be added to the searchable records as time permits.

What is not on this website?

  • There are currently no images of loose documents from land grant files other than the counties listed above. The following counties are scheduled to be added by end of 2015 or early 2016: Anson, Lincoln, Rowan, and Tryon.
  • There are other records at the state and county level involving land grants, many of which still exist: county land entry books, deeds, loose papers, caveats, etc., none of which are not on this website. Many of these other records have been indexed and/or abstracted in book form, and lists of these books can be found on the Resources page. Several county Register of Deeds offices have published images of their historical deeds online, also found on the Resources page.
  • There are no records for Granville Grants other than the unindexed card catalog images. These were issued from 1748 to 1763 by the Granville Land Office for counties in that district and not by the state. These will be added in 2016.

Why are there only images for the 6 counties listed?
Obtaining and processing these images takes time and money. Therefore, the initial focus is on the areas where most of the site creator's ancestors lived and thus the subject of most of his current research. Based on the feedback/response to this site, other counties may be added in the future, but assistance in processing the images and linking them to the data will be required from those with interest - it's too big a project for one person! If anyone has obtained digitial images from the State Archives for other counties, it might be possible to put them on this site - please contact me if you are interested.

Where did the images come from?
The State Archives microfilmed all the Land Grant files in 1990s. These images are digital scans of those films.

Where did the data come from?
The data was first obtained by reviewing the original documents and writing summary information on envelopes called "shucks". This process primarily took place from 1909-1917, and continued as additional documents were cataloged and new grants issued. Starting in the late 1980s, information on the shucks was entered into the MARS database maintained by the State Archives. That project was completed in July 2014. The data on this website was obtained directly from the MARS database, with some corrections and additions.

What are retakes, corrections, and misfiles, and how are they handled?
Most of us remember the main drawback of using film cameras - after completing a roll of film you had to wait for the film to be processed before you could see the results. The same applied to microfilm. The operator would complete a reel containing around 1000 images, and then had to wait for processing before it could be reviewed. When mistakes were found, the images with problems were re-filmed, and that film was spliced to the end of the original reel. These images are known as retakes. Typical mistakes were unreadable images (too light, focus, etc.), accidentally skipping a document, a missing shuck that was later found, or forgetting to add the "No Documents in the Shuck" designation when the shuck was empty. These situations happened more often than researchers may realize, and many do not think to wind all the way to the end of a reel to see if any of the images of interest were retaken for whatever reason.

Corrections occurred when the operator realized a mistake was made while still filming. The typical action was to back up and refilm those records, often including a corrections sheet. Sometimes a few subsequent records were filmed before the mistake was realized, and those were retaken as well so the order was preserved.

Misfiles are specific to this website, and reflect cases where documents were filmed with the incorrect shuck, typically because someone accidentally placed them there and the operator did not notice. Please note that each document was not examined to see if this was the case, and the ones found were either because of anomalies like multiple surveys in one shuck or sometimes simply by accident.

For this website, a land grant file will automatically link to the correct set of images no matter where they occurred on the microfilm (even if they were on another reel). In other words, the retakes, corrections or misfiles will be shown as the correct images. In addition, it will be noted if this is the case, and the original frames that were found to be incorrect are also shown for comparison. There are some cases where corrections are not noted because they are obvious. For example, if an empty shuck is filmed without the "No documents in the shuck" message and is refilmed with it on the next frame, both frames are simply shown. In general, if a correction occurred within a shuck, i.e. before a new shuck was started, then both the errors and the corrections are considered part of the shuck. If on the other hand the correction impacted more than one shuck, then it will show as a correction with the correct and original frames noted.

If you find any examples of these situations that were not linked properly on this site, please let us know so we can make sure the correct frames are shown.


What is a shuck?
Land Grants were recorded in Land Patent Books maintained by the NC Secretary of State. In addition, the office kept original documents such as warrants, plats and receipts. In the early 1900s, a project was started to consolidate all the loose documents for a land grant in one place. Using the Land Patent Books as a starting place, a shuck, which is basically an envelope, was created for each grant, and the corresponding documents were located and placed in the shuck. These shucks were numbered with a sequential "file number" within each county. Around the same time, an index card was created for each shuck, and these cards can be found in the card catalog drawers at the State Archives. The images on this website are of the shuck followed by any documents that are contained in that shuck.

Why do I keep seeing "No documents in the shuck" - where are they?
The short answer is there were probably never any documents in that shuck, but you still might be able to find at least some of the detailed information.

When the shucks were created from the Land Patent Books (see above FAQ), sometimes no corresponding documents could be found, either because they were never filed, were lost, or perhaps stolen. In these cases the shuck was still created and simply contained the information found in the Land Patent Book or possibly other sources such as the county Land Entry books. In some cases, there were duplicate entries so the documents might be found in another shuck.

When you find a shuck like this, it should contain a book and page number. You can use that to look up the entry in the Land Patent Book for additional information. The Land Patent Books almost always have the complete metes and bounds, but unfortunately will not have the drawn plat. You should also check any other shucks with similar information to see if they are actually the same grant and therefore might have the documents.

Where can I see the original shucks and documents?
For preservation reasons, the shucks, loose documents, and patent books are no longer available for public examination, however, all have been microfilmed and copies of these films can be found at various libraries and archives.

What does the File Number refer to?
The File Number was assigned when the shucks were created from the Land Patent Books, and is generally a unique sequential number within each county. There are various documents related to land grants that could not be found in any of the patent books, and those were assigned file numbers starting with "0", also sequential within a county starting with 01. Yes, file number 539 is different than 0539!

What does the Book and Page number refer to?
They refer to the Land Patent Books where the grant was recorded by the Secretary of State Land Office.

What does the MARS ID refer to?
A unique MARS ID number was assigned to each shuck when the information was entered into the MARS database. The ID number is of the form 12.14.xxx.nnn where xxx is a county number and nnn is a sequential number within that county. In general, the MARS IDs are in the same order as the File Number on the shuck.

What does the Grant Number refer to?
Unfortunately, it varies depending on who was doing the recording. In most cases it refers to the sequential number within a county assigned to the grant in the Land Patent Books maintained by the Secretary of State. However, there are many duplicates due to copying errors and so forth.

What does the Entry Number refer to?
Unfortunately, it varies depending on who was doing the recording. In most cases it refers to the sequential number assigned to the grant in the Land Entry Books maintained by the county. However, there were multiple books and numbers can repeat.

Content on this website not originating from the State Archives of North Carolina is Copyright 2015 by David M. McCorkle