Surry County, North Carolina Genealogy

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Surry County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Surry County
Location in the state of North Carolina
Map of the U.S. highlighting North Carolina
Location of North Carolina in the U.S.
Founded 1771
County Seat Dobson
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United States  Gotoarrow.png  North Carolina  Gotoarrow.png  Surry County

County Courthouse


Parent County

1771--Surry County was created from Rowan County.
County seat: Dobson [1]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

Brief History

Surry County, North Carolina is said to have been named after Surrey County, England.

Surry County was originally formed from Rowan County in 1771. Rowan had been formed from Anson in 1753, and Anson was formed from Bladen in 1750. The act to form Surry County was proposed to the assembly of North Carolina in December 1770, and was passed the following month, January 1771. This act became effective 1 Apr 1771.

Wilkes County was formed in 1777 from Surry County and, according to some sources, Washington District, also known as the District of Washington. Evidently, however, the District of Washington was created in the same legislative session. Washington District is, today, Washington County, Tennessee. Stokes County was formed ten years later, in 1789, from the eastern section of Surry County.

In 1790, the county seat of Surry County became Rockford.

Yet another division took place in 1851, as Yadkin County was formed from the area south of Yadkin River.  In 1853, the county seat was moved from Rockford to the new town of Dobson, and has remained there to this day. Dobson is named for William Polk Dobson, a prominent citizen. The Registrar of Deeds Office in Dobson welcomes visitors to its very user-friendly collection of vital records.

The 1860 census for Surry County shows about 1,200 slaves in the county.

Settlers from Virginia and Pennsylvania who were of the Quaker religion came from the New Garden and other meetings in Guilford County, North Carolina.  Some of those families include Bond, Burcham, Hill, Hiatt, Horton, Love, Pinson, Jackson, Jessup, Simmons, Stanley and Taylor. Many of them moved on to Indiana but numerous descendants are still in the area.

Those of the German Moravian faith who came from other North Carolina settlements include the Brinkley, Hauser, Kiger, Moser and Shouse lines. Families of French descent include Hardin, Poindexter, Lambert, Laurence, and probably Laffoon.

The Riggs family, said to descend from Edward Riggs III who came to Massachusetts in the 1630s and founded Morristown, New Jersey, came to Surry County with the Henson, Jarvis and Wilmoth families.

Families that came from Albermarle County, North Carolina, were Burrus, Cave, Easley, Fleming, Franklin, Ollesby, Perkins, Snow, Taliaferro and Tucker. Those that came from neighboring Stokes County were East, Hill, King, Pratt, Simpson, Venable and Vernon.

Other prominent familes were Marion, Creed, McKinney, Moore, Dudley and McCraw.

Present-day Surry County is southern living at its best. Because of being somewhat isolated at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia, it has been able to retain the long-held traditions of the families lines that have remained there for over 220 years. Some have clung to the old Elizabethan English and many have strong roots in their Primitive Baptist upbringing. Most of these second-generation Americans were born in Virginia and migrated to North Carolina looking for the fertile land that had been advertised and scouted.

Places / Localities

Populated Places

  • Dobson (county seat)
  • Elkin
  • Mount Airy
  • Pilot Mountain

Neighboring Counties


  • Bryan
  • Dobson
  • Eldora
  • Elkin
  • Franklin
  • Long Hill
  • Marsh
  • Mount Airy
  • Pilot Mountain
  • Rockford
  • Shoals
  • Sloam
  • South Westfield
  • Stewarts Creek
  • Westfield

Major Rivers

  • Ararat River
  • Fisher River
  • Mitchell River
  • Yadkin River






Family Histories

  • [Adamson] Dixon Ben F. and Alice L. Dwelle Dixon. The Adamson Source Book, a Genealogy of the Descendants of Rachel Williams Adamson, 1776-1850 of Surry County, N.C., Jefferson County, Tenn., and Lawrence County, Ind.: with an Addendum of Miscellaneous Historical Material on the Name Adamson. 2 vols. Washington, D.C.: B.F. Dixon, 1942-1961. 
  • Coats, Charlotte, Joshua Richardson, Lazarus Tilley, William Mason: The American Revolution and Before, 2006.
  • Combs &c Families of Surry County, North Carolina (website)
  • Dunagin, Percy E., The Early Dunagins of Surry County, North Carolina, Family Heritage Publishers, 2007.
  • Heinegg, Paul, Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2005.


Local Histories

  • Absher, Mrs. W.O., and Mae R. Hayes, Surry County, North Carolina Deed Book C (1777-1788). Self-published.
  • Books About Surry County (items for sale)
  • Boyles, Carolyn, Wilma Hiatt, and Surry County Genealogical Association, Surry County (Images of America series), Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.
  • Columbine, Mary Felts, Surry County, North Carolina: Early Settlers and Road Builders, 1771-1850, 2005.
  • Heinegg, Paul, Free African Americans of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2005. 
  • Holcomb, Brent, Marriages of Surry County, North Carolina, 1778-1868, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1982.
  • Hollingsworth, Jesse Gentry, History of Surry County, or Annals of Northwest North Carolina, W.H. Fisher Company, 1935. (Google Books link, without preview)
  • Jackson, Hester B., Surry County Soldiers in the Civil War, Dobson, North Carolina: Surry County Historical Society, 1992.
  • Linn, Jo White, Surry County, North Carolina Wills, 1771-1827, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992.
  • Thompson, Evelyn Scales, Around Surry County (Black America Series), Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2005. (Google Books link with preview)





Research Guides

  • Sweeney, Alice J. "Bassett Historical Center," The Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Aug. 2002):1-3. Available at FHL; digital version at Virginia Genealogical Society website.


Tax lists, 1784-1789, are extant.

Vital Records

Brent Holcomb, in his book Marriages of Surry County, North Carolina 1779-1868, points out that no Surry County marriage bonds from prior to 1779 are extant. Most bonds are housed in Raleigh, North Carolina at the State Archives, but Holcomb points out that about 120 Surry County marriage bonds were found to remain in the Surry County Courthouse in Dobson.


  • Surry Community College - various issues between 1969-1995

Societies and Libraries

  • Bassett Historical Center, Bassett, Virginia. Website includes descriptions of collections. Excellent resource for family history research in Henry, Patrick, Floyd, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties in Virginia, the city of Martinsville, Virginia, and Rockingham, Stokes and Surry counties in North Carolina.[2]
  • Elkin Public Library, member of Northwestern Regional Library system, 111 North Front St., Elkin, North Carolina
  • Northwestern Regional Library: Genealogy (links; information regarding the area genealogy holdings at the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library, Danbury Public Library, and Yadkin County Public Library.

Web Sites


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  2. Sweeney, Alice J. "Bassett Historical Center," The Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Aug. 2002):1-3, available online at: