Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 8, Number 14 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 August 5, 2016
Publisher's Notes In this article we discuss whether to create a compendium for your research area or not. These collections provide great information about the families living in an area, but just keep in mind that they may not include everything. Compendiums can take a great amount of time to compile, but they are so worth the effort to preserve the information for future generations. As always, I enjoy hearing from you.
James L. Douthat
To Compendium or Not?? According to the dictionary the word “Compendium” has a number of different meanings, but by and large it means “a collection”. Compendiums for an area are not complete since they do not contain every scrap of evidence of each family, but give a quick overview of those same families. Since the compendium can contain “anything and everything”, you might question whether to compile one for your area of research.
Most researchers will never produce a compendium of one area or even multiple areas, but thankfully there are some that will. I really feel this is a job for local societies and groups to undertake as they are the ones with the most to gain and the most to give others, but let’s look at one of the possible processes to create a compendium for your area of interest.
The first step is to create a basic outline and establish the core alphabetical listing of the families in the area. Choose the limits of your range. This is important as the vast span of time is too much to cover in one volume, unless you are just making a card file. For starters, begin with the span of 1790-1850. This span is one of great confusion as there are few given names for children. If this is your time span, start with the 1850 census. Make an alphabetical listing of the families at that time. This becomes the core of the families for the area. Now you can go back and begin to plug in those surnames from the older census under each of the surnames. You might find that there is a John Higgins age 30 years old in the 1790 census. Note this down in the list. You get to the 1840 census and you find John Higgins age 80 listed as a “veteran” living in the household of Reuben Cantrell. This is possibly a father-in-law situation. In the 1850 census, you also see a John Higgins age 42. It is safe to say there are two different John Higgins in that county, but it could possibly be a father/son or maybe not. Add each of the prior census and you have a great core of surnames to begin with, but there is still more to process.
Once the core list of names is established, the information from societies and groups can really be of benefit. You will want to select records that are not readily available to the average researcher. Anything that adds a different perspective to the family is what most are seeking. The old “hatch/match/dispatch” system is okay, but does not tell of the real lives of those ancestors. Look for land records, court records, road orders, listing of wolf scalps, slave holders, doctors, etc. The list is endless and each little tidbit is important in rounding out the family and their day-to-day activities. Don’t forget the militia/military system for the men and women. Did you know that there were women who are listed in the militia records for the Cherokee Removal listing from Georgia? That is surely worth mentioning.
Some of the more unusual listing are extremely hard to find, but vital for the researcher. These might be ledgers from stores and mills. This information not only places the people in a time and place, but lets us see them as human beings in a real world. You can see where they purchased 50 pounds of flour and sold the store ten pounds of butter and six dozen eggs. Perhaps this was a trade at the local store.
One of the most interesting listings that I have seen through the years is the Postal Records for several Post Offices in our area. These list the names of those who got money orders for seeds, catalogs or other merchandise, but also the records their magazine subscriptions. Talk about insight!! Sorry, no one at this time ordered Playboy since it was not in print.
A compendium is one of the best ways to preserve the history and records of a given area during a particular time frame and is a real boon to the outside researchers. I have written before about my genealogy friend Bettye Broyles who introduced me years ago to the word “compendium”. She had published more than fifty books on her county’s history, but two of these volumes were compendiums. To the researching genealogist, these two books are some of the greatest sources of information for that area.
To compendium or not is your choice, but future generations will definitely appreciate the time and effort.
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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