Kinsearching September 21, 2008




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

     Beginning in 1963, the Historical Publications Section of the Office of Archives and History published a series of fourteen North Carolina county histories, which proved to be popular. The first new title to be issued in more than a decade is RANDOLPH COUNTY: A BRIEF HISTORY by L. Barron Mills, Jr. Located in the center of North Carolina's Piedmont region, the county has played an important role in the area's development.

     After a brief discussion of Randolph's geography, Mills probes into the history of the county, beginning with the indigenous inhabitants and then the first European traders, who arrived in the late 1600s. Germans (many of whom were Moravian), Scots-Irish, and English (many of whom were Quaker) began moving into the area from Pennsylvania and Maryland in the early to mid-eighteenth century. Among these groups of pioneers were many trained potters who laid the basis for Seagrove to become one of the oldest and largest communities of working potters in the United States. Early settlers also laid the foundation for Randolph's having more Quaker congregations in the late 1900s than in other county in the state. One Quaker pioneer who moved into the area was Andreas HUBER (whose name was anglicized to Andrew HOOVER), an ancestor of President Herbert Hoover. Family researchers who have consulted the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN QUAKER GENEALOGY will quickly recognize another early Randolph County surname--HINSHAW.

     Prior to the American Revolution, many citizens in the area participated in the famous Regulator movement. Due to the growing need for local government, the new county of Randolph was created from the southern half of Guilford in 1779. Although no major Revolutionary War battles occurred in the county, the area saw much internal strife, which included atrocities committed against neighbors who supported "the opposite side." The conflict also demonstrated the bravery not only of soldiers in war but of women like Martha McGee BELL, who kept her plantation and gristmill operating, scouted for the militia and army, and tended the wounded.

     In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the county's natural resources--especially its waterways--influenced the area's industrial evolution from gristmills and sawmills to textile and furniture manufacturing plants. After World War I, for example, the county's chair-making industry became important; it gained worldwide renown when President John F. Kennedy purchased a "Carolina Rocker" (later nicknamed the "Kennedy Rocker") from a company in Asheboro. Currently, the largest privately-owned furniture company in the U. S. is located in Randolph County.

     Despite the area's job diversity and population increase, agriculture still maintains its significance in the economy of the county. Although the area remains mostly rural in character, its growing variety of outdoor and indoor attractions--including the Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery, the North Carolina Aviation Museum, and the North Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame--has made Randolph County a destination for tourists in the twenty-first century.

     Well-written and very readable, Mills's volume compacts a wealth of information between its covers by combining relevant information, broad surveys, and sensible explanation of local residents and events. As a result, a wide range of amateur and professional researchers--particularly genealogists with roots in Randolph County and historians with a special interest in North Carolina's Piedmont region--will find RANDOLPH COUNTY: A BRIEF HISTORY is a concise and useful reference tool.

     The 158-page paperback contains a foreword, numerous photographs and illustrations, maps, a bibliography, and a thorough index of names and places. Prices, which include shipping and tax, are $20.81 for individuals or $19.53 for libraries. The volume may be ordered online at or by writing to the 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.

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