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.
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This site was inspired initially 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, then northern Bladen County. McPherson owned land on Raft Swamp by 1767 residing there with his son and family until his death in 1791. Land records provide a map of his lands south of the Shannon community.

With the McPherson research largely completed, 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. My research focuses 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.

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). Precious few of those lost deeds can be found—most only in citation—within Cumberland County deed books and Robeson County deed books. Hundreds of early deeds did fortunately survive the fires because many citizens had originals recopied into new record books afterward; however, the order of the surviving deeds is a mess. An excellent, abstracted source for surviving Bladen deeds is Brent Holcomb's Bladen County, North Carolina, Abstracts of Early Deeds, 1738-1804. 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.

Bladen County tax records covering several years from 1768-1789 were discovered in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC. Their transcriptions were published in two volumes (purchase Vol. 1 here and/or Vol. 2 here) by William L. Byrd III. These tax lists—particularly the unalphabetized lists—provide insight into late colonial, Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary era neighborhoods in what is today Robeson and Hoke counties, and southernmost Cumberland. That said, in 1784 the new United States Congress enacted a law establishing our first census to be taken that year. However, copies of the law were a year late in reaching the states, and thus late to the counties, so this first census was not taken until 1786 and 1787. Bladen County is missing supposedly from this official 1784 U.S. Census; however, the enumeration categories per household in Bladen's 1786 tax list match those 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 southern Cumberland. Moreover, unlike many of the Bladen tax lists, this apparent census looks to be whole. Additionally, the NC Legislative papers at the NC Department of Archives and History hold another extensive, unalphabetized Bladen tax list from 1784 (Byrd did not include it in his two volumes) showing number of polls, amounts of land owned and the districts in which the land lay. 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 Archives in Raleigh. 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, 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 (a series of pdf's on disk) 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 needed 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, buy 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 29 January 2015).


“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 -2014 S.C. Edgerton