Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 7, Number 22 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 December 10, 2015
Publisher's Notes In this article we discuss compendiums. I love finding a compendium for an area that I am researching since it is has all kinds of tidbits about the people from there. We have just finished a compendium on Bledsoe County, Tennessee if you happen to be researching that area.
As always, we enjoy hearing your comments after each article!
James L. Douthat
Compendiums The word “compendium” is probably a new word for many in genealogy, since it is not a commonly used term. In my dictionary, the word means “a collection of facts pulled together.” It can also mean a packet of writing paper and envelopes, but this is not our use of the word here. I ran into the word many years ago while working with a dear friend, Miss Bettye Broyles, who was then the county historian for Rhea County, Tennessee. As a retired archaeologist she had worked many years as State Archaeologist for West Virginia, Georgia and for a while in Alabama. One of her pastimes was to take the records of Rhea County and compile them into a single volume.
In working with her, I discovered the real treat of the compendiums. In doing a vast amount of research on a single area, you run into a great deal of information that does not fit into a single volume, but could be very important to other researchers. There are always an array of tiny tidbits of information that just don’t fit into a larger volume. What do you do with all of these? This is the making of a compendium.
The compendium is a gold mine for the beginning genealogist as they are able to tap into a single area for those illusive facts that will make their history worth reading. Many times, these are the only places that you will find the facts that you have been seeking for years.
Bettye’s process was very simple in that she started with one of the regular census. This give the basis and first run of family names to give the book structure. Most of the time, she included multiple census to demonstrate traffic in and out of a county. Then she could add any other type of information that she wanted because she now had an outline of names.
We have just finished a compendium of Bledsoe County, Tennessee, which by the way joins Rhea on the eastern border. In doing a number of other books on the county, I have found that names did not always fit the normal listing of today. This in turn led me to research the Tennessee Land Laws to find the changes in county boundaries. I discovered that the county from the beginning contained many other counties that were not yet formed with three in particular, i.e. Marion, Sequatchie and Cumberland Counties. The entire Sequatchie Valley was in Bledsoe County in 1807 when it was formed. From this fact, researchers find that their ancestors may have come to the valley earlier than suspected. These early settlers were the ones to cause the various counties to be formed in the first place. Nowhere do we find that a county that is formed without people living in the area from the beginning.
In the case of Bledsoe County, Marion County was taken away soon after the formation of Bledsoe, but the early settlers remained here. Sequatchie and Cumberland counties were not taken away until after the scope of the compendium was reached. Both were made into separated counties after 1850. Once the boundaries were established, the area takes on a completely different meaning. By filling in some of the facts, the people are to be found in their various locations. In working on the Survey Books A-B of Bledsoe County [as yet to be released] I found that many of the surveys were outside of the regular boundaries of the county. The surveys were during the 1820s to the 1840s. I found surveys along Chickamauga Creek, now Hamilton County or along the Morgan County line on the north. Understanding the boundaries make all of this reality.
Now back to the tidbits of information. I started my compendium of Bledsoe with the 1850 Census. Once the names are rearranged into alphabetical order with each surname a category, it is easy to have an outline of these families who were the backbone of the county. Next I added the 1830 and the 1840 census in alphabetical order. Each surname is shown under their column. This outline of the names is basic. Now comes the fun part of adding the vast amount of tidbits on hand. Mountain Press has collected a number of petitions written from the county to the state officials over the many years this was done. All of these petitions had from a dozen to several hundred signatures of those living in the area. Each signer was placed in their surname listing. There are tax listings as well as militia records which are very hard to locate. This compendium also includes a listing of the Post Masters for the few Post Offices that were in existence during the time period. A compendium can go anyway the author takes it, just remember that each item has to be documented with sources if possible.
Hopefully, you find a compendium someday for the area[s] that are of interest to you.
Compendium of Bledsoe County, Tennessee
This Compendium covers the time period of 1807 to 1850 and includes familiar records like the Census, but also unusual ones like the Petitions to the Tennessee State Legislature, Militia Records and Post Masters for the Post Offices.
A Compendium of Rhea and Meigs Counties, Tennessee
These records are compiled by family name and include information found in the tax lists, 1830, 1840 and 1850 census, and marriage records. Three different appendices are added, A and B are the complete listing of the heads of household on the 1850 Rhea and Meigs census arranged by page and household number enabling one to find the neighbors. Appendix C is a listing of the statistics from the 1830, 1840 and 1850 census.
Rhea County, TN - Census and Marriages Records from 1851 to 1900
This volume is a unique compilation of data taken from the 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900 census of Rhea County along with the marriage records of the day. A family name is taken in order and all of the data from these sources is massed under that heading to make research extremely easy. For odd names that appear in the listing, there is an index for them.
Rhea and Meigs County Tennessee Records - CD Version
Contains A Compendium of Rhea and Meigs Counites, TN 1808-1850; Rhea County, TN Census, Marriage and Tax Records 1851-1900; and Meigs County, TN 1850-1900 Census, and Marriage Records.
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