2014 NCGS Awards Winners

2014 NCGS Awards Winners

NCGS Award Winners Group-2014

Back Row L-R: Barbara McGeachy, Lawrence W. S. Auld, Jetta Knight, Deborah H. Long, Mike Kalt, David M. McCorkle
Front Row L-R: Pam Toms, John McGeachy, Jean Covington-LaCoss, Paula York, Barbi Bailey-Smith, Patsy Bailey Allard

The 2014 NCGS Awards were presented at the NCGS annual meeting during the Fall Workshop on 15 November 2014 at the Comfort Suites Raleigh Durham Airport/RTP in Durham. The following societies and individuals were recognized for outstanding published efforts and personal contributions to the North Carolina genealogical community.


The award for excellence in periodical publishing for a journal published by a local North Carolina genealogical societyThe Genealogical Journal by the Randolph County Genealogical Society. The award was accepted by Jean Covington-LaCoss and Paula York. This journal is rich in abstracts and transcriptions of original Randolph County records, including the long-running series of transcribed estates records. Researchers will also find transcriptions of family Bibles; member-submitted family research articles; and marriages, deaths, and items of interest from local newspapers. Each issue features a full-name and slave index with introductory explanation, member queries, and a Members’ Forum section for society news and genealogy-related announcements of reunions, workshops, and publications.

The award for excellence in web presence for a freely accessible website promoting North Carolina genealogy was presented to two winners.

The first co-winner was David M. McCorkle’s North Carolina Land Grant Images and Data (http://www.nclandgrants.com). This website contains easily searchable data (grantee name, land description, acres, and various dates and numerical identifiers) for the entire land grant collection in the North Carolina State Archives MARS database of 216,000 land grants issued by North Carolina from 1663 to 1960. The website also includes 12,000 grants issued for what is now Tennessee. Researchers who visit this website will find high quality digitized images for the State Land Patent Books, volumes 1-30, with records of land descriptions almost always containing the full metes and bounds. For Mecklenburg County, grants are directly linked to 28,000 images of original warrants, surveys, and receipts. In addition there are images of the State Archives Land Grant Catalog for the “Lord Proprietor Grants,” “Granville Grants,” and “No County Given” collections, which though not yet indexed are not available in the MARS database or anywhere else outside the State Archives. The source for each image is indicated and McCorkle tells the user what is available on the website and what is not. For those images not on website, there is a reference to the State Archives microfilm reel number and county file number. This website is a real treasure for North Carolina researchers and represents a great deal of work.

The second co-winner for the award for excellence in web presence was the Triangle Jewish Genealogical Society’s website http://www.trianglejgs.org. The website’s webmaster is Mike Kalt. Also present to accept the award was Deborah H. Long, the society’s president. This website is an excellent example of a society website and is one that could be used as a model for other societies. Everything is accessible from the main page. Membership information is clearly presented and easily accessed. The Research Resources section is especially valuable and features links to significant online resources along with helpful introductions. These links take the user to resources for beginners, Holocaust research, genealogy software, a variety of webinars, the society newsletter archives, presentation materials from TJGS meetings, and the society’s lending library. The website is beautifully organized and well maintained.

The award for excellence in publishing for a book, or set of books, of abstracts or transcriptions of original North Carolina primary source material was presented to John A. McGeachy for New Hanover County, North Carolina Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, 3 vols: 1814-1825. Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions are one of the most valuable of our North Carolina county record groups, but are difficult to search because the originals do not have indexes. The business of this court included probate of wills and registration of deeds and bills of sale; assignment of licenses and road work crews; and estate settlements, guardianship, apprentice, and bastardy matters. Jack McGeachy’s excellent series of meticulous transcriptions make these records for New Hanover County even more valuable. Detailed full-name and subject, geographic, and business indexes with clear instructions for use refer not only to page and specific paragraph in the text but also to page and paragraph in the original record. His indexes also indicate, where appropriate, reference to a person’s will, executor, widow, heirs, and the like. These three volumes make for a total of seven in this series of transcriptions, and McGeachy plans to continue with later years.

The award for excellence in publishing for a book of secondary source material relevant to North Carolina was presented to C. Rudolph Knight (posthumously) and Lawrence W. S. Auld for African American Heritage Guide: Tarboro, Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County. C. Rudolph Knight died on 29 November 2013, after a courageous battle with cancer, in the week after this book was published. The award was accepted by Mr. Knight’s sister, Jetta Knight, and Lawrence Auld. In this attractive guide, Knight and Auld admirably demonstrate the need for genealogists to learn about the places where their ancestors resided. Published by the Perry-Weston Historical Institute, the book honors the rich heritage of African Americans and their contributions to the history of Edgecombe County. Each place of interest features at least one photograph, postal address and GPS coordinates, historical background, and significance to the community. The guide includes a section of landmarks no longer standing, a full-name and place index, and a select bibliography.

The award for excellence in publishing for a book of family history relevant to North Carolina was presented to Barbara McGeachy for Wiley Thomas Snyder, Nora Bessie McNeil: Their Stories. Building on her teenage interview with her maternal grandmother and the many notes she made as they pored over every picture in the family photograph album, the author  spent two years systematically researching and documenting these stories. Her compilation includes an account of her grandfather Snyder and his brothers’ World War I registrations and service and reveals through documentation and her annotated bibliography much research in military records and military histories. Adding interest to this account are photographs and excerpts from her grandfather’s wartime letters to his fiancée and future wife. The author then shares the full text of these letters through photocopies and her transcriptions. Barbara’s first effort at publishing her Wilkes County family’s story has produced a pleasant family history made better by the inclusion of citations.

The award for outstanding contribution to North Carolina genealogy for an individual who outstanding genealogical contributions have greatly enhanced the study of family history in North Carolina was presented to two winners.

The first award posthumously honored “Pat” Shaw Bailey, who died of cancer on 8 December 2013. Accepting this award were her daughters Barbi Bailey-Smith and Patsy Bailey Allard. Remembered as a unique individual who was full of energy and drive to get things done, Pat Bailey was tireless in promoting her passion for history and genealogy. A longtime member of the Alamance County Genealogical Society, she served in several official capacities and contributed numerous articles to its journal. She was the compiler of four works of land grant records for Orange, Chatham, Guilford, and Rockingham counties and also wrote Cemetery Survey: Bethel United Methodist Church (on the Snow Camp Road). That Pat relished both a good story and adventure is well illustrated in the introduction to her Chatham County land grant book where she relates the legend that the county line between Alamance and Orange was “to accommodate a ‘moonshine run on the Major Hills.’” She describes being “allowed to study the surviving original documents” (back in the day when the original grants were still housed in the Secretary of State’s office) as an adventure that made her feel “as if I were an explorer, wandering through the lands of Orange County” and had met “those settlers of two centuries ago.” Pat’s devotion to all things historic can be seen through her many accomplishments in Alamance County: co-chairing the county’s 150th anniversary celebration, working for the erection of Revolutionary War markers at three sites, helping in the restoration of the 18th century Brick Church, serving on the county’s historical preservation committee, and zealously supporting and marketing the annual local Uncle Eli’s Quilting Party. Pat Bailey’s legacy will live on in her genealogical publications and in the many projects and events she initiated, organized, and championed.

The second co-winner for the award for outstanding contribution to North Carolina genealogy for an individual whose outstanding genealogical contributions have greatly enhanced the study of family history in North Carolina was Pam Toms. Pam came to work for the State Library of North Carolina in April of 1974 and became a Genealogy Reference Librarian in August 1979. During her career, Pam demonstrated a genuine professional respect for each researcher, encouraging and instructing them with her calm demeanor and encouraging attitude. To her, genealogy was a branch of history, each generation to be proven before being accepted. She helped patrons understand the challenges of researching their families and taught strategies, such as searching the records of neighbors and associates to overcome brick walls. Researchers often came to Pam for advice on how, when, and where to publish. As always, she encouraged them to share their findings and to publish when they were ready.
Pam was a friend and mentor to those with whom she worked. At the library there was a saying, “When Pam speaks everyone stops and listens knowing there is something new to learn.” Pam has remained an active, supportive member of NCGS throughout her professional career. Since retiring in 2010 she has devoted time to the Society serving as a board member and chairperson of the Awards Committee. She has donated large blocks of her well-earned retirement to the society’s indexing project. Pam has continually promoted the study of North Carolina’s history and its families; her influence has been felt throughout North Carolina and the United States.

Award of Special Recognition for extraordinary performance and exceptional commitment to the North Carolina Loose Estates Indexing Project was presented to Betty L. Carrier. This award was accepted on Betty’s behalf by Ed Pattishall, Publications Chair. In terms of time spent and folders completed, Betty Carrier has contributed more than all other participants combined to this project, which will allow anyone on the Internet to search for digitized images of these important records. Project Leader Ed Pattishall shared these statistics: in 2013 Betty completed forty-eight percent of all folders waypointed (indexed); in 2014 she completed sixty-eight percent of all folders waypointed through the end of July. In 2013 she spent an average of almost one hour per day every day of the year waypointing folders; in 2014 she stepped it up and through the end of July averaged 1.65 hours per day on the computer at this task. From the beginning of 2013 through the end of July 2014, she was responsible for waypointing 1,205,902 digital images. The Loose Estates Indexing Project would undoubtedly have taken a great deal longer without Betty’s dedication and hours of work at the computer on waypointing. Her efforts clearly have been above and beyond all other volunteers, and because of them, researchers throughout the world will be able to access these records and learn more about their North Carolina ancestors.

Certificates of Appreciation for Outstanding Performance and Commitment
The NCGS Board also expressed its thanks to four individuals who have served in several capacities and are leaving or have left their positions. Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Carolyn Gibbons for her work as Director and Program Committee Chairperson, to Carolyn McCulley as Secretary, to Marie Jones as Administrator, and to Victor Jones Jr. as Past President.


The Awards Committee wishes to acknowledge other nominees for the 2014 Awards:

  • Alamance County Genealogical Society’s The Alamance Genealogist, editors Harry and Sandra Shoffner, for excellence in journal publishing.
  • Donna Thompson Bonds, Alamance County, for outstanding contribution to North Carolina genealogy.
  • Mark Chilton for The Land Grant Atlas of Old Orange County, Volume II – The Saxapahaw Old Fields, for abstracts or transcriptions of original North Carolina primary source material.
  • Bradley R. Foley for Letters Home: The Civil War Correspondence of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander C. McAlister, 46th North Carolina Regiment, for abstracts or transcriptions of original North Carolina primary source material.
  • Juanita Jackson Kesler for Randolph County, North Carolina Will Book 3, 1804-1812, for abstracts or transcriptions of original North Carolina primary source material.
  • Leslie Dula McKesson for Black and White: The Story of Harriet Harshaw and “Squire” James Alfred Dula, for a family history relevant to North Carolina.
  • Andrew Lawrence Mackie, Yadkin County, for outstanding contribution to North Carolina genealogy.
  • Jean Wood Paschal for Pasquotank County North Carolina Will Abstracts 1720-1880, for abstracts or transcriptions of original North Carolina  primary source material.
  • Southeastern North Carolina Genealogical Society’s Roots and Remembrances, editor Dr. John H. Williamson, for excellence in newsletter publishing.