Registering land began as soon as settlers arrived and townships were being formed here in North America. The office of Register of Deeds originated in the 1600s with the earliest days being in 1663, when King Charles executed a charter to establish what is now North Carolina. In an effort to attract more people to the region, Lords Proprietors offered individuals grants of land. Written rules were established to offer protection to the new landowners, and in 1665 the “chiefe Reisters or Secretarys,” what are now known as “the registers of deeds,” were appointed to record the land grants, conveyances, leases and public businesses. It wasn’t until 1868 that becoming a Register was left up to the voters and became an elected office which is still in effect today.

The land history of Catawba County has the county being formed from Lincoln County in 1842. The name is from the Catawba tribe of Native Americans who once inhabited the area. German Lutheran colonial immigrants and farmers settled the area in the 1700s. Today the county is 264,320 acres, or a total area of 413 square miles, of which 399 square miles are land and 15 square miles (3.6%) are water.

The Catawba County Register of Deeds is the custodian of documents recorded from 1842 to the present day and is elected by the people now for a four-year term. The Register of Deeds is responsible for providing the proper and safe repository of deeds and other instruments affecting property or personal status (for example, birth certificates); he/she reports to the Board of County Commissioners after his/her election. If a vacancy should occur in the office, the Board of Commissioners appoints a successor for the unexpired term.

Here are some of the individuals who have served as your Register:

2004-PresentMrs. Donna Hicks Spencer
1968-2004Mrs. Ruth M. Mackie
1944-1968Mrs. Marguerite Trott
1936-1944L.H. Phillips
1934-1936Carlos W. Murray
1930-1934R.E. Carpenter
Sept. 1930-Dec. 1930Aaron W. Pendland (appointed)
Dec. 1928-Sept. 1930William S. Robinson (deceased while in office)
1926-1928Ralph E. Smyre
1924-1926J. Carroll Abernethy
1922-1924Mrs. Josephine A. Taylor
1920-1922Klutz B. Clippard
1914-1920H. Eugene Sigmon
1910-1914E.D. Gamble
1906-1910Jacob E. Setzer
1902-1906J.H. McLelland
1898-1902P.M. Dellinger
1896-1898J.F. Herman
1894-1896John F. Harwell
1870-1894J.M. Brown
1868-1870George W. Cochran
1866-1868D.B. Gaither
1851-1866David F. Moose
1851 (4 months)F.L. Herman
1843-1851E.P. Coulter