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Genealogy Gazette

Volume 4, Number 16
Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369
October 4, 2012


Author's Notes
In this article we discuss the Draper Manuscripts. This collection as a whole is extremely varied and includes letters, miscellaneous legal documents, transcripts of interviews, family and personal records, land deeds, muster rolls, military discharges and business records collected by Draper. It might just have the information you need to break through some of the brick walls in your genealogy quest.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at jimd@mountainpress.com.

Thank you,
James L. Douthat
Mountain Press


Draper Manuscripts


The major problem with everyone’s “brick walls” in genealogy is a lack of resources. One of the least used bits of information is the Draper Manuscripts. This is a collection of information that was collected in the early to mid-nineteenth century by Lyman C. Draper [1815-1891].

Lyman Draper was a lifelong student of the history of America at an early period. He started out collecting information about the early American Revolutionary War heroes, many of whom were still alive at the time he began. His area of search was the “Trans-Allegheny West” or those areas primarily west of the Allegheny Mountains. This included most of Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and the regions that were just being settled. His work included many research trips into this region in the 1840s. When the State Historical Society of Wisconsin was established, he became the secretary which then allowed him time and resources to continue his collections. When he died, these files were bequeathed to the Society where they remain today.

The collection is a massive series of files that took the staff of the Society years to organized and catalogue. When they were finally ready for researchers, some facts became very clear. Only a small portion of the files contained original materials of the American Revolution, but there was a large collection of information of the veterans of the War of 1812. Included in these files are correspondence, interview notes, extracts from newspapers of the time, muster rolls, transcripts of official documents, just to name a few items found here.

The entire collection has been microfilmed twice, once in 1949 and again in 1970. In addition to the microfilm, several volumes of the series within the collection have been published by the Society and reprinted by the McDowell Publishing of Utica, Kentucky. These series are labeled: George Rogers Clark Papers - Frontier War Papers - Kentucky Papers - Tennessee and King’s Mountain Papers - Preston and Virginia Papers - David Shepard Paper - South Carolina Papers - South Carolina in the Revolution Miscellanies and the Thomas Sumter Papers. Each one of these series is a single volume and indexed so that research is possible. There are a number of volumes available just on researching these papers. In addition, some of them are available on interlibrary loan from the Society, or in local libraries. If you have one of the local older libraries that have been in the genealogy business for a number of years, they may have the complete collection on microfilm that is able to be researched.

To give one example from this collection, let us look into the “Kentucky Papers”. “1845 - Sept. [26CC67-69] Graham, Joseph, Lincoln County, N.C. An account of the battle of King’s Mountain, Oct. 7, 1780. Inscription of monument erected to the memory of Maj. William Chronicle, Capt. John Mattocks, William Robb, and John Boyd; anecdotes about the battle. Reprint from the Southern Literary Messenger, 3 pp.” From this sample, you can see the source of where the information came from, a magazine of the day. If you have access to the microfilm of the original material, the “26CC67-69" will give you access to the full article. Of course, I always want to read the ’anecdotes’. This would be where you would find information about your ancestors that would not be available in many other places.

There are several libraries that have the full collection on microfilm so here is just a sampling of those in Virginia and Tennessee. In Virginia, the State Archives in Richmond, Virginia State Library in Richmond, VPI-SU Library, UVA Library, Washington and Lee University and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. For Tennessee, you will find them in the Memphis-Shelby County Library, Memphis State University, Knox County Library, East Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Technological University. Most all states, especially in the south have a number of libraries with the full collection. Other areas of the county would have one or two libraries with the full collection. Start locally with the calendars or index to the full series available in the nine volumes of the series given above. Once you have found a few files you want to see, then try finding the full collection to view the full report.

Hopefully, the Draper Manuscripts will give you more one more area to look to find that missing piece of your family genealogy.

Happy Hunting!



New Tennessee Books



Here are four of our latest Tennessee books. Of particular note is the Roane County, TN Bible Records. Since the original contained over 600 pages with each Bible on a page, we retyped and condensed to the present size. We also added an index that was not in the original.

Carroll County, TN 1836 Civil Districts and Tax Listings

Coffee County, TN Bonds and settlements 1858-1869

Roane County, TN Bible Records

Washington County, TN Court of Pleas and Quarter Session 1798-1799




If you have any questions or suggestions for future editions, please email us at jimd@mountainpress.com.