Haywood County, NC Genealogy Research
There are numerous types of information available for genealogy research here in Haywood County. If you are a beginning researcher you may want to review the HCHGS Publications web page for useful guides and forms.
- Births, Deaths, & Marriages
- US Federal Census Records
- Burial & Cemetery Records
- Property Records
- Wills and Estate Papers
- Newspapers & Periodic Publications
- Books & Reference Materials
Note: A few Haywood County records were destroyed in 1932 during the move to a new courthouse.
Helpful information is available throughout Haywood County. It is always a good idea to call ahead and verify the type of records available, hours of availability, and any fees that may be related to searches and/or copies of records. Contact information for several of these locations can be found through the Research Resources page.
BIRTHS, DEATHS, AND MARRIAGES
Vital records are stored at the Haywood County Register of Deeds office. The Register of Deeds office is located in the Historic Courthouse at 215 North Main Street, Suite 213 in Waynesville, NC. Records may be viewed upon request for genealogical purposes, please contact the Register of Deeds to learn more.
The State of North Carolina began requiring vital records in 1913. Prior to this requirement, very few counties maintained vital records. In recent years, the Haywood County Register of Deeds has undertaken the task of digitizing documents maintained by their office in an effort to preserve these records in an electronic format. The ROD has several computer workstations available to the public for accessing these documents.
Records available at the Haywood County Register of Deeds office include:
- Birth Certificates 1913 – Present (indexed)
- Delayed Birth Certificates recorded 1913 – Present (indexed)
- Death Certificates 1913 – Present (indexed)
- Marriage Bonds/License 1850 – Present (indexed)
- Index of Marriage Bonds (bond images are available on microfilm at the HCPL’s NC Room)
- Marriage License 1936 – Present
Images of Birth Certificates and Death Certificates are accessible only through the ROD computer workstations; these certificate images are not available online through the Register of Deeds office. The original paper copies of these certificates are also available for viewing at the ROD office.
Delayed Birth Certificates were issued beginning in 1913 and include many Haywood County births dating back into the mid 1800s; these certificates are not currently available in digital format. The original paper copies of these certificates are indexed and available at the ROD office for research.
North Carolina marriage bonds were statements of intent for couples who planned to wed and were issued until about 1868. The prospective groom would take out a bond from the clerk of the court in the county where the bride had her usual residence as surety that there was no legal obstacle to the proposed marriage. One or more bondsmen signed the bond with the groom to guarantee the bond fee should the marriage prove illegal. Beginning in 1851, a few Marriage Certificates were also issued after the marriage had taken place. The Haywood County Register of Deeds has an index of Marriages in Haywood County. Bond images are available on microfilm at the Haywood County Public Library, Waynesville Branch in the North Carolina Room.
U.S. FEDERAL CENSUS RECORDS
There was a population census taken in 1790 and every tenth year after that. Individual records from the U. S. Federal population censuses are confidential for 72 years, by law (Title 44, U.S. Code). Microfilm copies of the original population schedules, from 1790 through 1930 (Note: the majority of the 1890 records were destroyed as a result of a 1921 fire), are available at the National Archives in Washington and many libraries in various parts of the United States. The U.S. Federal Census records for Haywood County are available on microfilm in the Haywood County Public Library, North Carolina Room, Waynesville Branch.
BURIAL AND CEMETERY RECORDS
Finding burial records:
Researchers with ancestors known to have died prior to 1985 should check George Augustus Miller’s “Cemeteries and Family Graveyards in Haywood County”, books 1 – 7, at the Haywood County Library in Waynesville. Miller’s books, 1 – 7, are not available for check-out.
Published in 1979, Miller’s first book was compiled from gravestone inscriptions found during his visits to the cemeteries. An index that leads to individuals buried in the cemeteries was updated in February, 2000, by authors Nancy Campbell Bowlin and James Campbell. Book 1 and the index are available on request from the Library’s main desk (Ref. #NCR 929.3M).
Books 2 – 7 are large notebooks (yearbooks, printed, but unpublished) that contain copies of obituaries from newspapers and funeral homes of all who died in the years 1980-1985 and during months in 1979 that were not included in Book 1. The obituaries in each book are arranged in alphabetical order. These books are identified by years on their covers and are shelved in the North Carolina Room (Ref. #NCR 929.3M).
If no Death Certificate is found in the Register of Deeds office, the reason may be that out-of-county deaths are recorded, not in Haywood county, but in the county and state where deaths occurred. If you are searching for a person who may have died from 1986 through 1995 you should check the HCGS book Haywood County Deaths and Burials.
If you need guidance in finding a cemetery, you should review the new HCGS book Directions to the Cemeteries of Haywood County, NC. This book updates directions to the cemeteries Miller visited and adds directions to, and information about, newly identified cemeteries and graves. Both books are available for on-site research at the Haywood County Library in Waynesville, at the Register of Deeds office at the County Courthouse, and in the HCHGS Resource Center.
Property Records for Haywood County can be found in the Register of Deeds office. All records are indexed in books and can be searched by hand. In recent years, the Haywood County Register of Deeds has undertaken the task of digitizing property records maintained by their office in an effort to preserve these records in an electronic format. These records are now available online through the Haywood County Register of Deeds website
- Digital images of the Grantor and Grantee indexes dating back to 1808 are now available online
- The deed books are in the process of being digitized and the majority of documents are now available online. Digitizing is anticipated to be completed in the Spring 2012.
- Deed of trust books are available online from 1978-present
- Current real estate transactions are available online within minutes of filing at the Register of Deeds office
The Register of Deeds office does not have staff available to research property records for individuals; however, they are very helpful and can offer a quick tutorial about locating records.
WILLS AND ESTATE PAPERS
Wills probated in Haywood County can be found in the Clerk of Court’s office. The Clerk of Court is a function of state government rather than the county government. The Clerk’s office is located in the Haywood County Justice Center on Main Street in Waynesville, NC. The Clerk presides over judicial matters such as probate of wills, estates, and guardianship.
“Where there’s a will there’s a bunch of curious relatives.”
Columbus Citizen-Journal, Jan. 26, 1985
NEWSPAPERS & PERIODIC PUBLICATIONS
The current local newspapers are The Mountaineer (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and The Smoky Mountain News (Weekly). These publications frequently include articles of historic events and highlight new publications about the area. The Mountaineer does not have an archive available for research, however the Haywood County Library, North Carolina room has archived issues available on microfilm.
BOOKS & REFERENCE MATERIALS
Various books and reference materials can be found in the Haywood County Library’s North Carolina Room and the Haywood County Historical & Genealogical Society’s Resource Room. These materials are not available for checkout but can be reviewed at these locations. There are several books available about the area and local families.