Rich Genealogy History in Carolina Origins

3 min read

By Joe Garonzik

In 1663, England’s King Charles II ceded the Carolinas to Anthony Ashley Cooper and seven other proprietors who had supported the Stuarts in ending the Cromwellian Revolution and returning Charles II to the throne. Notwithstanding the 16th-century exploits of Sir Walter Raleigh and legendary Virginia Dare, it was a group of Virginians who established North Carolina’s oldest settlement along the Albemarle Sound in 1653–a full decade before the installation of the Lord Proprietors.

The Crown divided the Carolinas in 1691, although North Carolina would not receive its own governor for another 20 years. British, Huguenot, German and Swiss populated the North Carolina tidewater during the first half of the 18th-century. New Bern, established primarily by Germanic immigrants under the impetus of Christopher de Graffenried, would become the largest city in the colony. Large numbers of Scots Highlanders and Scots-Irish, many by way of the Great Wagon Road through Pennsylvania and into the Shenandoah Valley, populated the western part of the colony. Eighteenth-century North Carolina was also noteworthy for its large Quaker population and for Wachovia, a Moravian settlement in Forsyth County.

English colonists established the first permanent settlement in South Carolina in 1670. These same individuals also imported Barbados’ slave code, setting the stage for the cultivation of rice and indigo on plantations throughout the South Carolina Low Country. Small farms, not dependent on slave labor, dotted South Carolina’s Up-Country.  The colony was also an important producer of naval stores (tar, pitch, etc.).

Notwithstanding its ever-growing African-American component, South Carolina’s ethnic composition resembled that of North Carolina.  Charles Town (renamed Charleston in 1783), the first planned community in the British colonies, was established in 1680. It eventually became the colonial capital and represented the interests of the planter class. Over the course of the colonial period, the Up-Country farmers’ political and economic isolation from and resentment of the planters created deep fissures among the South Carolina populace on issues of representation, American Independence, and slavery.

October is National Family History Month! This outline represents the historical backdrop for Carolina genealogy. Are your patrons researching ancestors in North or South Carolina?  Genealogy Connect contains a number of outstanding reference works describing the pioneering families of and the source records for the two Carolinas. 

Within Genealogy Connect, a user can cross-search all titles at once, finding their way to relevant content faster. With the highlights and notes feature, they can download, email and/or print only the information most valuable to them.

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About the Author

Joe Garonzik, Ph.D., MBA, is the Marketing Director for He has worked at the company for 34 years. His work involves book promotion, content acquisition, and new product development. Joe has represented (and its affiliates Genealogical Publishing Company and Clearfield Company) at genealogy conferences and trade shows over the course of his career. He is married with two grown children, and is of Eastern European descent.


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