This page contains geographic representations of
county boundaries in the
Piedmont of North Carolina, from their beginnings to the present. These representations are made available in three forms:
Most, but not all, of the Piedmont counties of North Carolina are
included. The Piedmont is one of North Carolina's four (or three,
depending on how you define the eastern part of the state) physiographic
regions. This map shows the Piedmont counties as
defined in The North
Carolina Atlas: portrait for a new century (Orr and Stuart, eds.,
University of North Carolina Press, 2000, p. 3), and the counties I've
included. It's possible that at some point I'll fill in the rest, but it's not a high priority right now.
I created this dataset for my own use in my doctoral dissertation
research, which involves mapping and analysis of 18th century land grants
in the Piedmont. My philosophy is that others who have need of the same
data shouldn't have to re-invent the wheel.
Data sources and limitationsI made these boundary files in ArcView 3.2 by editing TIGER boundary files (2000 edition, and also 1990 edition for Mecklenburg and Iredell counties) for the modern-day counties, available for free from the US Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/) and from ESRI's data download web page (http://www.esri.com/data/download/index.html).
My information source for the historical boundary files was the North Carolina volume (print) of the Newberry Library's excellent historical county atlas series (DenBoer, Gordon. Atlas of Historical County Boundaries: North Carolina. Edited by John H. Long. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.). If you can, support their work so that someday there will be consistent, high quality boundary files for all states, including North Carolina. See the project's website at http://www.newberry.org/ahcbp/ie/index.html.
In addition, where a historical boundary followed a river but the modern one does not, I used shapefiles from the National Hydrography Dataset (USGS, http://nhd.usgs.gov/).
There are several sources of potential error and inaccuracy. No digital dataset is 100% accurate, including those I used to construct my files. Furthermore, when drawing in historical boundaries that did not follow an obvious feature such as a river, I "eyeballed" these line from the print atlas. Therefore, you should not expect to use these files for fine detail work at or near the boundaries. They are intended for use at a multi-county regional scale primarily.
There is one particular area where I could not reconcile the digital base files with the images in the Newberry atlas. This is the area where Yadkin, Forsyth, and Davie counties come together. The result in my files is a "tail" at the southeast corner of Yadkin County that should not be there. I'm open to suggestions as to resolving this problem. In the meantime, if your work focuses on that area, you may need to make adjustments.
Important historical contextThe county boundaries represented here existed in a particular historical context, some of which you need to know about to fully understand and properly use the files.
No thanks--show me other NC historical county boundary resources online
|GIF image files||These individual files are grouped together in .zip files. You will
need WinZip or similar software to unpack them after downloading.
You can download all the images (1734-2004) at once, or the 18th century maps and the 19th-20th century maps separately. The map for 1796-1815 is included in both groups. A legend image is included in all three sets.
Note: dates on these maps are generalized. If you need exact dates, refer to the date table at the bottom of this webpage.
|PDF poster file||You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this file (available
free from Adobe's
The poster is 22" x 34". Printing on a large format printer or plotter is recommended, but if you have software that will allow you to tile for printing on smaller paper, you can print it on 4 sheets of 11" x 17" or 8 sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper.
Note: dates on the poster are generalized. If you need exact dates, refer to the date table at the bottom of this web page.
|right-click and choose "save target as" to download poster (14.84 MB)|
|shapefiles||You need ArcView or some other GIS software to use these files.
There is a shapefile for each different version of each county. All files for a given county are grouped together in a .zip file, then these county .zip files are grouped together into one download file. The file also includes some ArcView legend (.avl) files you can load in the legend editor.
|download zipped shapefiles (1.35 MB)|
|animated PPT file||You will need Powerpoint 2000 or later to open this file.
Once you have the file open, click once to advance from the title slide; after that the animation begins automatically and shows a new map every 3 seconds (the user can change these parameters in Powerpoint--but that means changing all 46 animated objects in slide 2!!)
Note: dates on these images are generalized. For exact dates, refer to the date table below.
|open or download the powerpoint file (1.59 MB)|
|June 28, 1746||Granville
|March 17, 1749/50||Anson||Bladen|
|March 31, 1752||Orange||Bladen|
|March 27, 1753||Rowan||Anson|
|April 10, 1759||-||Johnston|
|April 23, 1761||-||Johnston|
|February 1, 1763||Mecklenburg||Anson|
|June 10, 1764||-||Granville|
|April 10, 1769||-||Mecklenburg|
|January 26, 1771||Guilford||-|
|March 1, 1771||-||Orange|
|March 12, 1771||Wake||Orange|
|April 1, 1771||Chatham||Orange|
|March 6, 1773||-||Rowan|
|June 1, 1777||Caswell||Orange|
|December 24, 1777||-||Anson|
|February 12, 1779||Lincoln
|November 10, 1779||-||Anson|
|May 12, 1782||-||Lincoln|
|June 2, 1784||-||Lincoln|
|December 29, 1785||Rockingham||Guilford|
|January 1, 1787||-||Granville|
|January 6, 1787||-||Wake|
|December 6, 1788||Iredell||Rowan|
|December 22, 1789||Stokes||-|
|February 1, 1792||Person||Caswell|
|December 31, 1792||Cabarrus||Mecklenburg|
|January 11, 1794||-||Iredell|
|December 30, 1794||-||Cabarrus|
|December 25, 1796||-||Stokes|
|December 21, 1815||-||Iredell|
|December 9, 1822||Davidson||Rowan|
|December 22, 1835||-||Davidson|
|December 20, 1836||Davie||Rowan|
|January 11, 1841||Stanly||Lincoln|
|December 19, 1842||-||Anson|
|January 14, 1843||Catawba||Lincoln|
|December 21, 1846||Gaston||Lincoln|
|January 15, 1847||-||Iredell|
|January 16, 1849||Forsyth||Stokes|
|April 19, 1849||Alamance||Orange|
|May 1, 1851||Yadkin||-|
|February 3, 1875||-||Granville|
|April 14, 1881||Durham||Orange|
|May 5, 1881||-||Granville|
|March 11, 1889||-||Davidson|
|May 29, 1895||-||Alamance|
|February 27, 1911||-||Durham|
|March 4, 1911||-||Forsyth|
|December 4, 1916||-||Gaston|
|March 1, 1921||-||Davidson|
|March 7, 1927||-||Forsyth|
|July 1, 1998||-||Iredell|
my home page ~ UNC-CH geog home ~ posted 8/19/04 ~ last update 2/26/05