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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Plantation Names

by William S. Powell, 2006

Hope Plantation, Windsor, North Carolina. Image courtesy of Flickr user Todd Martin. Plantation names began to be used in the North Carolina area in the seventeenth century as a means of identifying specific tracts of land. The eight original Lords Proprietors of Carolina spoke of their large grant of land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific through the middle of North America as their "Plantation of Carolina." With an increasing population as well as a growing area of settlement, individual owners of smaller tracts within the expansive Carolina grant also sometimes referred to their personal grants as plantations.

Names were adopted as means of defining places of residence. These names often provide clues to the origin or descent of a family. Sometimes they also offer clues to the political or religious attachment of the owner or some natural feature of the site, or they even offer a bit of humor. In some cases, a name became so familiar or closely associated with a place or family that it was retained for generations and became that of the local community, a post office, or a nearby town.

There was no requirement that a plantation name be registered, nor was a name necessarily considered to be permanently associated with a site-an heir or a new owner, for example, might change the name or use no name at all. Although an owner might ask the county court or other local office to record his choice in county records, such a request carried no advantage. Nevertheless, hundreds of such names were adopted, although only a fraction of these are still known. Orton, Cooleemee, and Hope are among the plantation names still in use.

J. Bryan Grimes, North Carolina secretary of state in the early twentieth century, compiled and published two volumes-Abstract of North Carolina Wills (1910) and North Carolina Wills and Inventories (1912)-that contain information that often includes the names of plantations and farms dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His information was drawn from records then in the office of the secretary of state but more recently in the Office of Archives and History in Raleigh. Grimes's volumes contain names of 329 plantations that can be reasonably identified as well as many not fully cited in the records; plantation names also occur in works on architecture, local history, and genealogy.

Resources:

Grimes, J. Bryan. 1910. Abstract of North Carolina wills compiled from original and recorded wills in the office of the Secretary of State. Raleigh: E.M. Uzzell. archive.org/details/abstractofnorthc01nort

North Carolina, and J. Bryan Grimes. 1912. North Carolina wills and inventories copied near original and recorded wills and inventories in the office of the secretary of state. Raleigh, [N.C.]: Edwards & Broughton Print. Co. archive.org/stream/northcarolinawil01nort#page/582/mode/2up/search/plantation

Image Credit:

Hope Plantation, Windsor, North Carolina. Image courtesy of Flickr user Todd Martin. Available from http://www.flickr.com/photos/tmartin/286463340/ (accessed June 14, 2012).

Comments

Comment: 

Dear Frank,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and for taking time to share this question.  That’s a very good question.

I am not aware, unfortunately, of a single comprehensive listing of the state’s antebellum plantations.  The Grimes volumes have been digitized and they are available online. In the volume Abstract of North Carolina Wills if you do a search for “plantation” and then skip to the index pages, you can see all of the plantations he lists hi-lited.  In the North Carolina Wills and Inventories volume, if you forward to the Index and skip to “Plantations” you can see his list of plantations.  

Here are citations with links to the digitized volumes:
Grimes, J. Bryan. 1910. Abstract of North Carolina wills compiled from original and recorded wills in the office of the Secretary of State. Raleigh: E.M. Uzzell. archive.org/details/abstractofnorthc01nort
North Carolina, and J. Bryan Grimes. 1912. North Carolina wills and inventories copied near original and recorded wills and inventories in the office of the secretary of state. Raleigh, [N.C.]: Edwards & Broughton Print. Co. archive.org/stream/northcarolinawil01nort#page/582/mode/2up/search/plantation
The NCpedia entry was written by North Carolina historian William Powell for his volume Encyclopedia of North Carolina  (published by UNC Press).  My guess is that Mr. Powell made a count of the plantation references in Grimes’s volumes and that is where the reference to 329 comes from.  I cannot find anywhere else where he created or published a distinct list, although he was a prolific chronicler of North Carolina history.  It is a possibility that such a list exists in his papers, which are at Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  But otherwise, I am not aware of 

Please let me know if I can help with anything else or try to help locate resources.  And I appreciate your post because it alerted me to add the digitized Grimes volumes to the NCpedia entry.

Best wishes,
Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library
 

Comment: 

This article states that J. Bryan Grimes books - Abstract of North Carolina Wills (1910) and North Carolina Wills and Inventories (1912) - list 329 names of North Carolina Plantations but only gives the name of Hope Plantation in Windsor, NC in the caption to a photograph. There is no link or reference to a list of those 329 plantations. Does such a list exist? If so, where? It would seem likely that whoever counted them made a list.

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