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Colonial Court Records: Wilkes County, NC

County court records are boring to very few family historians. The material within these records is captivating and fascinating to study. We have the past in our hands, portraying every action taken by our ancestors at that frozen moment in time. Where else can we get that close? Outside of personal journals, and diaries, court records are at the top of our favorites list. We get caught up in the details about local crimes, suspicious acts, and who is the father of that child? A Piedmont Trails subscriber recently emailed us inquiring for help identifying their 5th-Great Grandfather. We only had to look in the county court records to see the facts. The child was born out of wedlock, and the father’s name appeared in the county court records. Mystery solved. The limitations to county court records are zero. What do I mean? You can find any subject matter in court documents if the party was involved with legal circumstances. What defines legal affairs? That, my friends, will vary from county to county. Know the difference between British rule and the concepts that changed during a colony’s legal system. After becoming individual states, be mindful of local transitions and learn more about the history of our legal system. I promise you will not be bored for one second. Let’s see what is on the docket today.

Piedmont Trails recently explored Wilkes County, North Carolina, court records. We carefully studied 1778 through 1779. The information filled gaps in our road research and added surnames to the area that we didn’t have on hand. Many of these unknown surnames were preparing to leave North Carolina. After residing briefly in the newly established county of Wilkes, we find these same families living in Tennessee and Kentucky just a few years later. TN & KY were the latest migration trend after 1775. Back to the court records. The surnames below may guide you through your journey to colonial Wilkes County. The details are notes taken from court files and other sources. If you have information regarding the names below, share by commenting on the article.

Wilkes County Court Surnames March 1778-December 1779

  • Alexander, August-Death 1778, wife-Winifred Alexander
  • Alexander, William-Trial case-found not guilty
  • Alexander, Winifred-Motion ordered to widow due to death of husband, August Alexander/ Returned inventory estate of August Alexander
  • Allen, Richard-Sheriff/ Motion filed that Sheriff will not be liable for escapes
  • Baker, Andrew
  • Bicknell, Ann-Motion filed to investigate husband, Samuel Bicknell, signing the dower rights to Alexander Gordon
  • Bird, Benjamin-Overseer on road near Yadkin River to Kings Gap
  • Brown, Benjamin-Overseer of road leading from Waryer Creek to Beaver Creek
  • John Brown
  • Burton, John-Oldest son of Richard Burton, deceased with having a will
  • Carrel, William-Overseer of road from Little Bugabo Creek to County line
  • Cartright, Hannah-Daughter of Joseph Cartright, deceased. Orphan bound to James Gray
  • Cartright, Joseph-Bound to Roland Judd
  • Chandler, Bailey-Allowed to move public road where it crosses Fishes Creek
  • Chanler, Purtheany
  • Christy, Jacob-Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • Colvard, William-Allowed to operate Grist Mill on his property
  • Cook, Abraham-Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • Cox, Susanna-Motion filed to examine evidence to her rights with dower/Husband, Ephraim Cox sells 400 acres to Abraham REese
  • Crane, James-In custody for assault and beating/ State versus James Crane-Trespass-Guilty
  • Crenshaw, Charles-Overseer of road from Fishes Creek to Court House
  • Cross, Solomon
  • Dyer, Joel
  • Dyer, John-Overseer of road near Tuckers Ford to Warer Gap/License granted to keep Tavern at current home/ Motion entered for suspicious activity/ Received license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • Elledge, Isaac-Allowed 4£ for his efforts on taking care of effects
  • Elledge, Thomas
  • Fields, Luke-Swore oath of allegiance to the state
  • Fletcher, James-Ordered to take Silas Vickas into his care until following court date
  • Frasher, John
  • Fuller, Mordica-Swore oath of allegiance to the state
  • Gambill, William-Last will & testament filed/Inventory Estate proved
  • Gillium, Mumyard-Swore oath of allegiance to the state
  • Gordon, Alexander-Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • Gordon, Colonel Charles-Allowed to build Grist Mill on Reddies River/ Listed as coroner
  • Gordon, George-Overseer of road from Yadkin River to Lewis Fork Road
  • Greer, Aquila
  • Greer, John-Greer Versus John Laws-verdict Laws guilty
  • Hews, Elizabeth
  • Hill, Francis-Swore oath of allegiance to the state
  • Hopkins, Elizabeth-Motion filed bill of sale for sundry goods & chattles to Samuel Simpson
  • Horton, Joseph-Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • Humphreys, Hugh
  • Humphreys, Spencer-Overseer of road from Court House to Fishes Creek/ Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home near Court House
  • Jacaway, Samuel-Son of Samuel Jacaway, Sr. deceased. Orphan bound to Isaac Low with brother, John Jacaway
  • Johnson, Thomas-Overseer on road from Yadkin River to Johnson’s house and Walkers Branch near Benjamin Bird’s house
  • Jones, Robert-Motion filed for Jones to be exempted from public tax
  • Judd, Rowland-Overseer of new road from Deep Ford on Reddies River to the Blue Ridge
  • Kees, John-Overseer of road near Henry Tilley and Tuckers Ford Crossing/ John Kees versus Samuel Simpson, fined 300£/ Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • Lenoir, William-Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • Lewis, James-Swore oath of allegiance to the state/ Overseer of road at South Fork on New River to Pennington’s Mill
  • Lovin, William-Overseer of road from Grays Creek to County line
  • Malory, William
  • McClain, William-Allowed to build Grist Mill on Bugaboo Creek at the falls/ Receives license to operate Ordinary at his home
  • McGill, William-Allowed 10£ for taking care of 4 head of cattle during winter months for John Dyer
  • Mitchel, Nicholas-Allowed 3£ securing colt through winter belonging to John Dyer
  • Morgan, Benjamin-Overseer on road from Roaring River to Long Bottom
  • Murphey, John-Motion filed for John Murphey to be removed from paying public tax
  • Parks, George-Father of female child by Jane Rainey
  • Parks, Thomas-Overseer of road from Grays Creek to Brushy Mountains
  • Poor, Elisabeth-Son, Maj? Poor ordered to be bound to Moses Poor, Sr.
  • Reynolds, Francis-Overseer of new road from Court House to Francis Reynold’s Ridge Road
  • Reynolds, Martha
  • Roberts, Rosanna-Motion filed for unjustly taxed
  • Roberts, Sarah-Fined 10£ for using insulting language during court, wife of James Roberts
  • Robins, John-State versus John Robins for trespass-verdict not guilty
  • Ross, Laurance-Discharged from working on public roads
  • Rowe, James-Indentured to Edmund Denny for 12 years
  • Rusaw, Hillai-Ordered to pay 1,500£ tax
  • Russel, Phill-Ordered into Sheriff’s custody
  • Sail, Cornelius
  • Sparks, Matthew-Overseer of road at top of Blue Ridge to ford at South Fork on New River
  • Stamper, Jonathan-Receives license to operate ordinary at his home
  • Standley, Harris-Arrested by warrant, suspicion of vagrancy, taken into custody
  • Standley, Jacob-Swore oath of allegiance to the state
  • Stringer, Reubin-Overseer of new road from Blue Ridge Mountains to Old Fields near New River
  • Taylor, Joseph-Swore oath of allegiance to the state
  • Thompson, Closs-Overseer of new road from Reddies River to Blue Ridge
  • Thompkins, Moses-Overseer of new road from Reddies River to Blue Ridge
  • Tilley, Edmund-Overseer on road near Beaver Creek to Burke County
  • Tompkins, James-Overseer of new road from Reddies River to Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Trible, John-Overseer on road from Moravian Creek to Little Waryer Creek
  • Turnbull, John-Overseer of road from Haunce Lycans to the County line/ Records mark and brand
  • Vannoye, Francis-Overseer of road near Francis Reynold’s Ridge Road to Roaring River/ Allowed to build Grist Mill at Big Falls along Rock Creek
  • Watkins, Bevely-Records mark and brand
  • Wells, Zachariah-records mark and brand
  • Weatherspoon, John-Last will & testament, Executors: Thomas Weatherspoon and David Weatherspoon/ Inventory Estate Proved
  • Wheatley, George-Overseer of road from Roaring River to Little Bugabo Creek
  • Whitaker, William-Orphan, court chose William Lenoir as guardian
  • Wilburn, William
  • Wilson, William-Swore oath of allegiance to the state-

The spelling is exactly how the names appear in the records. The county-level court records are one of my favorites to research. Church records would be near the top too. If you are looking for details, these are the types of records you want. Local records hold the key to many closed doors in family research. Open the doors and dare to discover. The most important thing is to enjoy your journey to the past.


  • Absher, W.O. The Heritage of Wilkes County published by Hunter Publishing Company, Winston-Salem, NC 1982 pp. 8, 17,56, 59-60, 63, 65, 70-75, and 250.
  • Absher, W.O. Wilkes County, North Carolina Taxables published by Wilkes Genealogical Society Wilkesboro, NC 1975
  • Absher, W.O. Wilkes County, North Carolina Court Minutes 1778-1788 Volumes I & II published by Wilkes Genealogical Society North Wilkesboro, NC 1974 and 1975
  • Corbitt, David Leroy The Formation of the North Carolina Counties 1643-1943 published by The NC Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC 1987
  • Crouch, John Historical Sketches of Wilkes County published by The Chronicle Job Office in Wilkesboro, NC 1902 pp. 2, 11, 27, 36, 40-42, 62, 77, and 78.
  • Hayes, Johnson J. The Land of Wilkes published by Wilkes County Historical Society Wilkesboro, NC 1962 pp. 13-16, 22-36, 46, and 103.

2 replies »

  1. Hi, I enjoy your posts. I don’t know about the other names in the list below but the Burton names are well known to me. Richard Burton, father of John, is the one who died withOUT a will and John administered his estate. This John Burton is commonly known as John Pleasant Burton but he did not have a middle name in life. These men are collaterals to my line of Burtons.

    https://muttsandnuts.com/getperson.php?personID=I3346&tree=tree1 (Richard Burton)

    https://muttsandnuts.com/getperson.php?personID=I3391&tree=tree1 (son John Burton)

    I know you’re not related but the mention of them below was confusing!

    Cheers, Anne Burton Washburn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne for sharing your family history with us. I knew of the Burton family in this area, but I am not related to them. Thanks Again for your kind words and sharing your family’s past.


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