Taylors of Craven County, North Carolina
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About Goal First Counties Abraham Clusters Births & Deaths Marriages Wills DNA Geography Censuses Tax Lists Deeds Military Roads

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About this site

No, we don't mean that Taylor is a more cowardly surname nor that the Taylors discussed here were less brave than any others; in fact some Taylors have displayed conspicuous courage, including these. What we do mean is that this website is about those Taylors who lived in Craven and surrounding counties in east-central North Carolina.

If, however, you are researching families with surnames other than Taylors, you may well find something here to help you, especially in the explanations & general descriptions.

The site is under development and in a somewhat rough state. More will be added over time and refinements will be made; bookmark this page and keep checking back for the new tidbits.

Our Goal

We hope to make researching the Taylor and associated families of Craven and its successor counties easier. We will emphasize interpretation and analysis of the sources, as many others provide excellent  source documentation.

The first Craven Taylors

King Taylor

A chief of one of the local Indian tribes adopted the name "King Taylor" for dealing with the European settlers. Or, perhaps, Europeans were unable to pronounce his Indian name. He is the earliest Taylor recorded in the area, pre-dating our other candidate by three years. A 1711 peace treaty between the Indians and de Graffenried reads in part:

Be it known to all men by these presents, that in the month of October, 1711, has been agreed between the Baron and Landgrave de Graffenriedt, Governor of the German Colony of North Carolina, and the Indians of the Nation of Tuscoruros with their neighbors from Core, Wilkinson's Point, King Taylor, those of Pamptego and others from that country...

Jacob Taylor

A Jacob Taylor was listed in 1714 as a claimant for the Tuscarora War. (Yes, a war happened despite the treaty.) After this event, we have no further records to document his continuance in Craven or descendants if any and he remains an intriguing mystery. Records of any type for this era are exceedingly rare, but he does not appear on the 1719 tax list..

Jacob may have been one of the first settlers of Craven, or at least a very early one. In 1710, a group of Palatines, Swiss & French Huguenots under the direction of Baron Christoph de Graffenried sailed from England to establish the town of New Bern. About 700 started the voyage, about 500 survived it. A war with the native Tuscarora Indians ensued in 1712-1715 and many others died.

There were English settlers in Craven County when the de Graffenried party arrived, as shown by Robert Coleman's 1707 patent of land on a tributary of Slocum Creek to bear his name for at least 100 years. It is referenced here.


The land area of east-central North Carolina has undergone many transformations of political jurisdiction boundaries & names since Archdale Precinct of Bath County was first designated in 1712. In general, as population increased, counties were sub-divided to bring local government closer to the people.

Due to county re-structuring & changes in border alignments, it's possible that a family might have lived in four different counties from 1740 through 1800 without once moving. Even today the US Geological Service notes that some of these county boundaries are "indefinite".

Go to County changes. (This page also maps townships of some counties.)

The Abraham Taylors
and their descendants

Some fifteen years after Jacob's claim, an extended Taylor family migrated from Baltimore County, Maryland to Craven County in 1729. They descended from an Abraham Taylor, who had immigrated to Virginia in 1654 — probably from Cheshire, England. It is from a branch of this family that the website's author descends.

Abraham Taylor extended family.

We have devoted a section of this site to the family's Maryland phase. It starts here.

We believe that many of the Taylors in this area — though not all — descend from this one family.

Lest there be confusion, note that Jacob, son of Abraham Taylor, can not be the same man as the Tuscarora War claimant. Abraham's son would have been one year old in 1714.


Cluster analysis is a technique often used in identifying the origin of ancestors. We have identified some 18th-century clusters of Taylor families in the area, as shown on this map:

Taylor family clusters

There were certainly others and we will continue to identify them.

  1. - New Bern: The best known exemplar of this family is James Taylor, a customs collector for the port of Ocracoke in the late 18th &  early 19th century.
  2. - South of New Bern - Colemans Creek, Clubfoot Creek, Otter Creek: We think these are the descendants of John Taylor or Jacob Taylor.
  3. - Bachelor Creek  The Abraham Taylor mentioned above may have settled here & the man of the same name on Bachelor Creek after 1751 is probably his son.
  4. - Core Creek & Flat Swamp: Robert Taylor, another son of Abraham, settled in this area with his sons, among whom were Moses and another James.  (Moses left the area for Kentucky in 1793 & James left for Tennessee in 1806, but Robert had four other sons.)
  5. - Southwest Creek: The Robert above seems to have moved northward later in life and taken a good share of family with him.

DNA & Genetic Genealogy

DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) is the stuff of life that makes us what we are and is a powerful new tool for genealogy. The field using DNA to identify ancestors is called genetic genealogy. Both Y-chromosome DNA & mitochondrial DNA can be used.

Read more about "genetic genealogy" using DNA — especially as it relates to Taylors — here.


Genealogy and geography are inextricably related. It is important to understand the geography of a place in order to understand the actions of the people living there. Two aspects of Craven's geography:

There's more information about the area's geography at these links:

Censuses and Tax Lists

For the years after 1789, censuses provide good records of people and their locations. For earlier years and years between the decennial census, tax lists may partially substitute.


Here, we try to present "value-added" transcriptions of the censuses for this area. We have included notes as to locations, relationships between those enumerated & other information of possible assistance.

Go to census page.

Tax Lists

Tax, or "tithable", lists provide a partial substitute for the years before or between the decennial censuses. At minimum, they tell you that a person owned property  in a particular district at the time of the list. Because of North Carolina's poll tax, they also list those who didn't own property. Some tax lists contain a richness of detail showing makeup of a person's material wealth.

Deeds, Land Grants & Patents

These records tell you who bought and sold land, when and (with careful reading & analysis) where. Location is a way to distinguish between individuals of the same name. (A common problem with Craven Taylors.)

Deeds also reflect gifts of land, usually between family members and the relationship is sometimes specified. In these cases, the deed is a good as a will for proof.

The "Where": The land descriptions of this area are in "metes and bounds" format, referencing natural features and adjoining owners; they are not the range, township, & section descriptions of public survey lands. Unlike some other metes and bounds descriptions, these do not usually specify line directions (e.g., degrees east of north) and distances (e.g., poles & chains); they tend to reference streams and adjoining owners. They do usually contain an estimated parcel size in acres.

A major difficulty of the land descriptions is that some of the natural features e.g., "a black oak" may no longer exist or have changed names. Notable examples include Core Creek, which has also been known as Cove Creek and Moon Creek, and Coleman's Creek, a name which can't be found in modern reference.

See here for abstracts or extracts from deeds from 1744 to 1789.

Wills & Estate Records


Wills contain much valuable genealogical information; they often list surviving spouses and children. There's more about them here.

Estate Records

Even a person who doesn't leave a will (dies intestate) may have estate records if they have property or debts — or a spouse or minor children to be cared for.  There's more about them here.

Births & Deaths

The North Carolina law requiring civil registration of births and deaths was passed in 1913 and didn't attain full compliance until 1920. Prior to this time, records of these vital events are most likely found in church records of baptisms & burials.


Marriage records are also important. For this area, marriage bonds indicate an intent to marry, though the marriage may have not have occurred on the date of the bond.

Marriages, after 1868, were to be recorded by the country register of deeds. Marriages from 1868 to 1962 are at North Carolina State Archives. After 1962, records are at the Division of Health Services.

Military Records

Militia muster rolls also tell who was living where & when. Militia companies of the 18th century were organized by area, as the militia were the "first responders" to major emergencies of many kinds. Even when there were no emergencies, they mustered at least annually for drills & inspections.

North Carolina colonial law required able-bodied men from age 16 to 60 to serve in the militia, though there were specific exemptions for clergy, ferrymen and some others.

Go to military page.

Road Work

Records of road duty are an often overlooked genealogical resource. Your ancestor's name appearing on a list of men assigned to build or maintain a stretch of road tells you more precisely than many other records where he lived and when.

Road work was seen as a civic duty; if a road served your home or land, you (& your "hands") would be expected to labor on it. The county court would assign overseers & workers to particular stretches of road. This practice promoted travel & commerce while keeping taxes low.

Do you need so many sources?

Yes. Absolutely, yes!

No one source can give you all the information needed to identify and "prove" your ancestors. Particularly, when & where the documentary records are incomplete, it takes a larger volume of circumstantial information to accomplish your family history.

Web Sites

One website which concentrates on the area is "Old Dobbers", whose logo is a mud-dauber wasp. It takes it name from Dobbs County, which existed from 1759 to 1790

The North Carolina GenWeb Project has several sites, all with at least some genealogical resources:

Rootsweb also hosts genealogical & informational sites for these counties:

What's behind this site?

In short, the underlying motive is trying to find the parents of  Michael Taylor, the author's third-great grandfather. Michael was born in 1789 (according to the best available evidence) in North Carolina (according to family legend).

The author (with great difficulty) traced Michael Taylor backward through his  journeys to the Craven County area and is trying to identify Michael's parents. The search required gathering & organizing a great quantity of information about Taylors in this area. We decided not to keep that information private, but to share it in the hope that it would be helpful to others.

Contact Author

Revised 30 Dec 2008      
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