HomeLesson PlansNorth Carolina History Lesson Plans from the Southern Appalachian ArchivesNorth Carolina Era 4: Early National – 1789-1836: Family Histories Lesson Plan

North Carolina Era 4: Early National – 1789-1836: Family Histories Lesson Plan

Family Histories

LESSON: Gaining understanding from examining genealogical records
UNIT: Era 4: Early National – 1789-1836


Time needed:



Family Histories:

  1. Immigration from Europe to America. Students can infer the push/pull factors involved in this movement into America and within America.
  2. Large families and movement of extended family groups together.
  3. Limitations of surveying and conveying land (red oak; along creek, etc.).
  4. Land records were carefully recorded, unlike birth and other vital records that we value today.
  5. Movement down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley into the Piedmont of North and South Carolina. Although not specifically stated in either history, this can be inferred from the description of entry to the colonies and subsequent travel south into Virginia and North Carolina/Tennessee. If you haven’t taught this
    migration, this would be a good time to build on this activity with the information about the movement south.
  6. Students should note that a family could be living in one area and the official governmental designation can change around them. For example: North Carolina to Tennessee, Buncombe County to Madison County.
  7. The “Jesse W. Anderson” mentioned at the end of the Anderson family materials is one of the founders of Mars Hill University. He was the owner of Joe Anderson – a slave that has another lesson in the next era.



  1. If time permits, project the wills and discuss these more in detail.
    • Short summary of the Anderson will, for example, lists slaves as well as other real property.
    • McNabb wills show change from shillings to dollars in the 42 years between them.
    • All the wills make provisions for both males and females.
  2. If time is short, you can project items from the family history materials and discuss them in a class setting going over the ideas from the graphic organizer and
    the genealogical and historical insights as a class rather than have the students do the exploration activity.

Davidson Collection, Mars Hill University Archives
Anderson Collection, Mars Hill University Archives

Lesson Materials: