My Friend line has no ancestors in NC that I know of. My folks travelled from Greenbrier, WV, up to Ontario, CA, then after 20 years moved down to Indiana. From there they travelled to Iowa, then Missouri.
I would recommend you contact the Wilmington Historical Society or Genealogical Society if they have one, or societies in the next bigger town if they don't. They can definitely help you get started tracking down records. Many times there are volunteers who will look up stuff for you for free.
Have you tried Rootsweb online? They can be very helpful.
Also, just do a "shotgun" approach and Google your family names to see what is out there. I have found that other people have written loads of stuff on my family long before I even thought about it. And most of it is online!
Try the Latter Day Saints website, FamilySearch.
Also, if you can, get a subscription to Ancestry.com or find someone who has one and will help you. Then go through all the census records for Wilmington and people of color there. That's how I got started with my research.
I got a 3 month subscription with Ancestry and found all I needed.
BTW, I found entire books about my family and related families online. Amazing what is out there!
Hope this helps,
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