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McDowell County, North Carolina

McDowell County was created on December 19, 1842 from Rutherford County and Burke County. This county was named for Joseph McDowell (1756–1801), a soldier in the American Revolutionary War who took part in the Battle of Kings Mountain.

The McDowell County Seat is located in Williamston also, the county government website is

Areas bordering to McDowell County are Mitchell County (north), Avery County (northeast), Burke County (east), Rutherford County (south), Buncombe County (west), Yancey County (northwest).

Cities and towns located in McDowell County include Marion, OldFort, WestMarion, LittleSwitzerland, Nebo, Glenwood, Pleasant Gardens.

Townships located in McDowell County include Crooked Creek, Dysartsville, Glenwood, Higgins, Marion, Montford Cove, Nebo, North Cove, and Old Fort.

McDowell County vital records can be found at the North Carolina Department of Health which has copies of birth records after 1913 and death records after 1930, copies of marriage since Jan 1962 and a Divorce records since 1958. There is a fee for each copy requested. Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in North Carolina for current fees and application process.

You can search online for McDowell County Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Records. You can also Order Electronically Online or you can download an application for North Carolina Birth Certificate, Death, Divorce and Marriage Certificate Application to mail.

The North Carolina State Archives has the following vital records: Death Certificates, 1913-1975 (Statewide Index: 1913-1979); microfilmed Indexes to Births and Deaths (except Wake, Durham); Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868 (not required by law); Cohabitation Records, 1866-1867; microfilmed Marriage Registers and Indexes; microfilmed Marriage Licenses for many of the counties

McDowell County census records consists of Federal Census Schedules which can guide in looking into your family tree. Federal Population Schedules can be found for 1790 (incomplete), 1800 (incomplete), 1810 (incomplete), 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (free index), 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.

McDowell Co. Mortality Schedules can be found for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. McDowell Co. Industry and Agriculture can be obtained for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. McDowell Co. Union Veterans Schedules is available for 1890. The Slave Schedules exist for 1850 & 1860. One can find free online and printable census forms to help you with your research.

McDowell County Societies and Family History Resources

A list of McDowell County Historical  and Genealogical Societies, Forums, Message Boards, Libraries, Archives.

McDowell County Courthouse and Government Records

McDowell County Courthouse

Genealogist typically forget about the importance of McDowell County court, probate, and land documents as a resource of genealogy information.

Buried away in North Carolina courthouses and archives everywhere are often the hopes and dreams and frustrations of the many North Carolina men and women.

The possibilities are excellent that your ancestors have left a detailed record of at least some elements of their lives in the McDowell County court records. Even if your ancestors and forefathers is not referred to in a Court case, contemplate all of the other methods which may have lead to her or him showing up in court records.

The below facts shows exactly what death, marriage, birth, property, wills, and court records are typically in McDowell County. The years pointed out listed below are the first noted records with this county.

Please make sure to call the clerk's dept to identify hours, mailing address, fees and other facts just before visiting or asking for information because of many times changing contact details. The Department Offices DO NOT DO RESEARCH. The data files are available to interested parties, barring private issues. A lot of staff will assist individuals in obtaining the materials, however it's up to the individual to undertake the basic research.
  • McDowell County Courthouse (all departments listed below are located here, unless otherwise noted)
    • Address: 21 S Main St, Marion, NC 28752
  • McDowell County Register of Deeds holds land and vital records if they have not been transferred to the state archives in Raleigh. Land records may include deeds, grants, plats, and other miscellaneous items. houses most birth and death records and marriage licenses for McDowell County.
    • Phone: 828-652-4727
    • Birth Records: 1914 
    • Marriage Records: 1842 
    • Death Records: 1914 
    • Land Records: 1813
  • McDowell County Clerk of Court holds probate records and court records if they have not been transferred to the state archives in Raleigh. Probate records include not only wills, but also loose estates records. Court records may include apprentice bonds, bastardy bonds, and officials' or constables' bonds in addition to dockets, fee and account books, and court minutes and orders. They also have Divorce Records.
    • Phone: 828-652-7717
    • Probate Records: 1841
    • Court Records: 1822
    • Divorce Records: call court clerk for details
  • McDowell County Tax Assessor / Collector
  • McDowell Co. North Carolina County Health Department

McDowell County Links

The following are web links to Genealogy, Records and Resources pertaining to McDowell County. A majority of these genealogy links fall into 3 categories: Professional Sites, Personal Sites or Organization Sites. Some have free access some require a payment. This is merely a directory that has been collected or submitted. I do not recommend or promote one genealogy site over another. Feel free to furnish your own most popular McDowell County genealogy or family history affiliated sites.

McDowell Co. NC Books, Newspapers & Publications

McDowell Co. NC Birth, Marriage & Death Records

McDowell Co. NC Court, Probate Land and Tax Records

McDowell Co. NC Census Records

McDowell Co. NC Cemeteries & Graveyards

McDowell Co. NC Church & Bible Records

McDowell Co. NC Family Websites, Pictures & Histories

McDowell Co. NC General and History Websites

McDowell Co. NC Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

McDowell Co. NC Military Records

McDowell Co. NC Schools & Directories

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