[NC ]1890 Census is mostly destroyed....
Most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire in 1921, and there are very few locations which were salvageable. Only parts of 2 North Carolina Counties were among those saved, unfortunately, none of the ones you and I are researching. The alternative is like looking for things like deeds and wills, marriage or even old newspaper stories which might help in researching for that time period. Ancestry does have an 1890 Veterans Schedule, for surviving soldiers of the Civil War, which isn't of much help for most of the research for African Americans. Here is a description frm Ancestry about the 1890 census:
These records have been extracted from the remaining population schedules for the 1890 Federal Census, which was destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, DC on 10 January 1921. The surviving fragments consists of 1,233 pages or pieces, including enumerations for Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas. The records of only 6,160 of the 62,979,766 people enumerated survived the fire.
The original 1890 census enumerated people differently than ever before that time. Each family was enumerated on a separate sheet of paper. 1890 was the only year this was done.
The only surviving fragments are as follows:
District of Columbia—Q, S, 13th, 14th, RQ, Corcoran, 15th, SE, and Roggs streets, and Johnson Avenue
Georgia—Muscogee County (Columbus)
Illinois—McDonough County: Mound Township
Minnesota—Wright County: Rockford
New Jersey—Hudson County: Jersey City
New York—Westchester County: Eastchester; Suffok County: Brookhaven Township
North Carolina—Gaston County: South Point Township, Ricer Bend Township; Cleveland County: Township No. 2
Ohio—Hamilton County (Cincinnati); Clinton County: Wayne Township
South Dakota—Union County: Jefferson Township
Texas—Ellis County: S.P. no. 6, Mountain Peak, Ovila Precinct; Hood County: Precinct no. 5; Rusk County: Precinct no. 6 and J.P. no. 7; Trinity County: Trinity Town and Precinct no. 2; Kaufman County: Kaufman.
Fields in this database include: given name, surname, relationship, race, gender, age, birthplace, father's birthplace, and mother's birthplace. If you cannot find your family in this database, it may be useful to look at Ancestry.com's 1890 Census Substitute.
[This information comes from Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, eds. "Research in Census Records." The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, rev. ed. Ancestry, Inc.: Salt Lake City, 1997.]