Family with European Ancestry

European Americans
North Carolina

Explorers from Spain were the first Europeans to come to North Carolina. The first settlers came from England to Roanoke Island, on the North Carolina coast.  Many immigrants from other European countries such as Wales, Scotland,  Ireland and Germany came later to live in North Carolina.    

Early settlers struggled to survive.  They had to learn to live off of the land.  Many people died from disease and starvation.  Everything they used had to be made by hand, except for the few items that came by ship from England. In the early years, pine trees were harvested for pitch and tar that was sold for sailing ships.  Later, trees were harvested for the furniture industry in the North Carolina.  Many European settlers started as farmers.  Agriculture (farming) became an industry as tobacco and cotton were sold as cash crops.  Soon after, products were made from the tobacco and cotton that was grown in the state for cigarette and textile (clothing and thread) manufacturing.    

Later, settlements grew into communities, which eventually became towns as the population of North Carolina increased.  Today European-Americans make up over 70 percent of North Carolina's population.  Their ancestors (family from previous generations) came from many different countries or from other areas of the United States.  

Europeans contributed much to the cultural arts in the state.  They brought symphonic and folk (bluegrass and "old time") music from Europe.  Europeans also brought a variety of art to the state.  Folk art is still celebrated today at many of the festivals that take place across the state to showcase pottery, quilting and other crafts.


NC History

North Carolina History Museum

North Carolina Arts Council - Folk Art


Return to: North Carolina Cultural Diversity