Kinsearching January 20, 2008




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     As this column has stressed through the years, genealogy and history are intricately linked. Knowledge of important national events (for example, wars like the War of 1812 and the Civil War in the nineteenth century or depressions such as the Panic of 1837 and the Great Depression in the twentieth century) helps family researchers understand the actions of their forebears during particular eras. Significant state and local circumstances, as well as influential people, also profoundly affected their forefathers. For instance, the establishment of a church or school may have transformed the spirituality or education of a family. Individuals who seek a glimpse into the happenings, persons, and conditions that touched the lives of their Tar Heel ancestors will enjoy browsing through the GUIDE TO NORTH CAROLINA HIGHWAY HISTORICAL MARKERS edited by Michael Hill. This new tenth edition contains inscriptions from all 1,513 markers erected through the spring of 2007.

     Hill's preface furnishes an overview of the state's historic places by its three regions: eastern Coastal Plain, central Piedmont, and western mountain. Beginning with colorful definitions of historical markers, such as "history on a stick" and "tombstones on posts," his introduction details the history of the state marker program and explains its operation. After the background material, the guide provides the location, title, and inscription of each roadside marker. The markers are grouped by county, with the counties arranged alphabetically. Each county section has a map which shows its major towns and highways so travelers can easily find the markers.

     Many people know that the site of the first English colony in North America in the 1580s and the birthplace of Virginia DARE, the first child of English descent born in North America, were in North Carolina. Perhaps most people, however, may not be aware of other "firsts" that occurred in the state. Babe Ruth, for instance, hit his first home run in professional baseball in Cumberland County. America's first soil conservation district--Brown Creek--was in Anson County. In 1913, "Tiny" BROADWICK was the first woman to parachute from an airplane.

     Scattered throughout the text are 107 drawings and photographs of the people, places, and events commemorated on the state's highway markers. Examples of the illustrations are the Nikwasi Mound, former site of a Cherokee town in Macon County; the plaque which tells about the hanging of six Regulators after the Battle of Alamance in 1771; Elizabeth KECKLY, former slave who became Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker; the marker for Rocky River Church, a Missionary Baptist church founded before 1772 in Anson County; the Palmer-Marsh house in Bertie County; rice farming at Orton Plantation in Brunswick County; dredging the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal in 1905; and the wreck of the Huron in 1877.

     Written in a succinct manner, highway historical markers furnish a quick introduction to the background of meaningful subjects in the state's history. The book's continuing popularity since its first publication more than 75 years ago demonstrates its usefulness. Travellers and researchers interested in Tar Heel genealogy and history will relish the GUIDE TO NORTH CAROLINA HIGHWAY HISTORICAL MARKERS.

     The 245-page paperback has an attractive cover and is thoroughly indexed. Priced at $24.00 postpaid, it may be purchased from Historical Publications Section (N), Office of Archives and History, 4622 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-4622. For credit card orders, call 919-733-7442, extension 0, or use the secure online shop at The Historical Publications Section's catalog of more than 190 North Carolina books, maps, and document facsimiles is also available online.

     Bonnie Bright Johannes, 5594 North 10th, Apt. 103, Fresno, CA 93710-6586 (e-mail: wants to know the names of the parents of James R. PERRY, born about 1813 in Tennessee. He married Eliza Ann ELLIOTT and they resided in Shelby Co., AL.

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