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
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
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
The first Craven Taylors
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...
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
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.)
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:
There were certainly others and we will continue to identify them.
- - 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.
- - South of New Bern
- Colemans Creek, Clubfoot Creek, Otter Creek: We think
these are the descendants of John Taylor or Jacob Taylor.
- - 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
- - 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.)
- - 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.
- Y-DNA traces the paternal/filial line. Only men have a Y-chromosome and
it is passed down — almost always without change
— from father to son to
the son's son, etc..
- mtDNA traces the maternal line. Both men & women have mitochondria and
they inherit the DNA solely from their mothers. Only women pass on mtDNA and
it is even more stable (less subject to mutation)
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:
- Flat and at a low elevation. Until drained to facilitate farming, there were many swamps and
- Many waterways, the Neuse and Trent Rivers being the major ones.
There's more information about the area's geography at these links:
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
Go to census page.
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
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
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.
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.
- This page discusses the geography of Craven and its successor counties.
- This page locates some of the geographic
features to be found in the area, or which were
referenced in deeds.
- This page relates the
deeds & parties to the geography.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.