Welcome to Cape Fear Clans —
Cape Fear Clans is dedicated to the memory of my brother, Jay Edgerton, on whose research much of this material is based.
Of the regional histories transcribed in the 'Special Records' link at left, some authors are not given credit; those histories were printed originally without recognizing authorship. If you wish to print a page without the navigation bar at left, right-click on the page, select "open page in new tab", then print.


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This site was inspired by my research into John McPherson of the Argyll Colony. McPherson was an Argyll colonist who left the Cross Creek settlement to live on the north edge of Raft Swamp just east of today's Red Springs in Robeson County, which was at that time northern Bladen County. His copious estate settlement shows McPherson owned land on Raft Swamp by 1767, residing there with his son and family until his death there in 1791. Land records provide a map of his lands south of the Shannon community.

I am working now, like others before me, to further unravel the intricate relationships of the very earliest McNeill families of the Cumberland-Robeson-Hoke counties region, focusing on the 18th and very early 19th century McNeills. My research is not perfect, but it provides insights, discovery and transcriptions of documents and information pertaining to the history and genealogy of the upper Cape Fear region. On Ancestry.com, I have created sixteen highly detailed McNeill family pages under the username 'Blackfork'. If you have an account with Ancestry, they are: Archibald McNeill "Bahn" (aka "Scribbling" or "Scrubbin" Archie); Archibald "Bluff Archie" (aka "Laird Archie" and "Gentleman Archy") McNeill; Daniel "Squire Daniel" McNeill of Taynish; Donald and Janet McNeill of Long Swamp; Godfrey McNeill; Hector McNeill of Drowning Creek; James "Jimmie" McNeill of Rockfish Creek; Neill Dhu (aka "Black Neill" and "Neill of Ardelay") McNeill; Neill McNeill of Jobes Branch; Neill McNeill of Upper Little River, the husband of the widow Mrs. Jane Campbell McNeill; John McNeill of Richland Swamp and second wife Flora McMillan McNeill; John McNeill of Middle Swamp (died 1809) of Robeson County; "Strong John" McNeill of Moore County; and Turquill McNeill of Robeson County.

Bladen County — formed in 1734 and the mother county of Scottish settlement in North Carolina — lost thousands of records to three courthouse fires (one around 1769, one in 1800 and another in 1893). Luckily, a precious few of those lost deeds can be found (mostly by citation) within the records of two neighboring counties: so visit Cumberland County deed books and Robeson County deed books. Certainly, early Bladen citizens had their own originals recopied into new record books after the blazes; however, the order of the surviving deeds became a mess. In addition to the excellent, abstracted source for surviving Bladen deeds, Brent Holcomb's Bladen County, North Carolina, Abstracts of Early Deeds, 1738-1804, recently Bladen County put its deeds online. My site also includes maps, Robeson County estates records, Cumberland County estates records, wills, court minutes, depositions, land warrants, maps, newspaper articles, family histories, letters, and publications about the clans in the Cape Fear region. The site www.nclandgrants.com has been a valuable site for grants and related warrants and plats some of which were never recorded in county records. Deeds, if read carefully and their facts are synthesized with other factual sources, are a genealogical goldmine.

Bladen County tax records covering several years from 1768-1789 were discovered in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC. The transcriptions of these tax records were published in two volumes by William L. Byrd III (purchase Vol. 1 here and/or Vol. 2 here). Of these tax lists — some incomplete, some alphabetized — the unalphabetized lists provide insight into late colonial, Revolutionary, and post-Revolutionary era neighborhoods in what is today Robeson, Hoke, Moore, and southernmost Cumberland counties. Included also in these lists are the names of hundreds of enslaved people with their owners, and a listing of those enslaved is found in its indices. Regarding one particular tax list, the new United States Congress enacted a law establishing our first census to be taken in 1784. However, copies of the law were a year late in reaching the states, and thus late to the counties, so, the government allowed states and counties two years to complete the lists. Alvaretta Register compiled her State Census of North Carolina, 1784-1787 without Bladen's census lists for 1784, as many of that county's early records were missing supposedly due to courthouse fires. However, it appears Bladen's accounting of its citizenry for the 1784 census had been hiding as a tax list in the private collection at UNC mentioned above and were published by Mr. Byrd as a tax list. My comparison of that supposed tax list reveals its enumeration categories per household to match those categories required by the 1784 census, enumerating not just white men and slaves but white women who were never counted in 18th-century tax lists. So, what Byrd labeled as Bladen's 1786 tax list had to have been the first census that, incidentally, not only includes Bladen of that era but what is now Robeson, the southern half of Hoke, and parts of today's southernmost Cumberland. Moreover, unlike many of the Bladen tax lists, this apparent census looks to be whole. The NC Legislative papers at the State Archives of North Carolina (SANC) hold another extensive, unalphabetized Bladen tax list from 1784 (it is not found in Byrd's two volumes) showing number of polls, amounts of land owned and the districts in which the land lay — and no category for women. Dr. Morris Britt put a transcription of that particular list in his "Robeson County Register," another not-to-be-overlooked serial publication found at the State Library at SANC in Raleigh. Additionally, the Archives has been given recently an astonishing collection, a total of fifty-five maps platted over some four decades and donated by their creator, Dan MacMillan of Fayetteville, (deceased), architect and surveyor, showing the early owners, locations, and dates of land tracts throughout Cumberland and Robeson counties. The county libraries at Fayetteville and Lumberton, NC, have fine genealogical collections as well. Mabel McNeill Smith Lovin's history of her McNeill ancestors, alone, is a monumental effort containing detailed research of several other early Scots families of Hoke, Robeson and Cumberland counties. Many of her families are recorded in Peggy Townsend's three volumes of Vanishing Ancestors, the only existing source of the cemeteries of Robeson County in toto. Dorothy Potter's Passports of Southeastern Pioneers 1770-1823 is another book providing details of thousands of pioneers who required passports to traverse Indian territories on their way to the deep South. And for a revealing, non-fictional account of just how people of the colonial and post-Revolutionary periods migrated, settled, and populated the expanding South, grab yourself a copy of Everett Dick's 1948 book, The Dixie Frontier.

I'm researching the following 18th-century families. Many were neighbors in the early Bladen tax lists (information below was updated August 2023).


“For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”

― Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene

©2004 -2024 S.C. Edgerton