I have been doing “a lot” of research into NC Baptist Church records recently for several projects.
Though we often talk of how county boundaries have changed, have you considered that the “boundaries” of the people served by a church may have changed? Or that the churches included within an “association” (or similar regional grouping) may have changed? Or that churches are often “splintering” off of other churches?
It’s amazing how complex a church’s history might be! This might greatly affect “where” you will find records of your ancestors in terms of church and association records.
, to provide some assistance in ferreting out church histories online (a great great resource to discover the intricacies of church formation, splintering, and sometimes demise), a Google Map-based tool has been created, Religion in North Carolina Digital Collection. North Carolina
I love this tool for a couple of reasons:
1. It provides links to published resources freely available via Internet Archive – most of which are church histories
2. It provides you a geographical context for “some” of the churches found in
Especially in the early years, when “physical” churches were far apart – individuals either traveled far to attend a “meeting,” worked hard to find a spiritual leader, met casually in place of organized meetings, and much more. In NC, as people moved west, as new counties were created, as new congregations evolved, Baptists would request to be dismissed from one church and assigned to another, often near where they lived. If enough individuals now lived in another location, a new church would come into existence. Similarly, as populations moved on and the need for a church diminished to the point of it not being feasible to continue to exist, it would disband.
Never mind those who belonged to a particular church who eventually became disenfranchised with the tenets practiced by their preacher and then with other like-minded individuals established a new church.
And, in the early years, it was common for
churches to originally fall under a
Virginia-based association. Have you thought to look outside your own state? North
The aforementioned tool helps to get a handle on some of the geography involved and the linked to volumes are rich in history.
Additionally, at least as far as NC Baptist church and association records, there is no single repository for records! I have so far identified Baptist archives located in NC, GA and TN which have records for NC churches. I have found church records at the NC archives, UNC (Chapel Hill) and
. What about the church clerk who kept a copy
of records in his personal papers? Duke University
Never mind those churches which may still have possession of all their records. Unfortunately, as with all kinds of records, some records are just no longer extant.
Is there a similar resource for your state or locale?
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