Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 6, Number 6 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 March 12, 2014
Mountain Press will be attending two workshops this spring. If you are in the area of either one, come check us out and say hello. We will have many of our printed materials as well as maps and CDs for sale.
The first one is April 5 in Wytheville, Virginia at the new Wythe Community Center on the campus of the Community College. This is sponsored by the Wythe Co. Historical and Genealogical Society. We have been going to this one for about 15 years and is great for those interested in the area surrounding this beautiful southwestern town. Contact them at www.wythecogha.org.
The second on is May 3 in Huntsville, Alabama sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Genealogical Society to be held at the Public Library with Pam Sayre speaking on the subjects of Military, Mapping and Court Records. Check them out at www.tvgs.org.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we enjoy hearing the comments after each newsletter.
James L. Douthat
BEYOND CENSUS RECORDS IN TENNESSEE
As one begins your search, most of us start with the census records. These are simple and straight forward, even with their many errors. They are easily located on the internet, on microfilm and in printed forms. A simple quick step is to look in a printed source first as they are indexed, normally, and then proceed to the original. Any transcriber will have to admit that many names are hard to read and errors do creep into the work when one is not absolutely positive about the spelling of a name, especially when we know the spelling of the original is in error. Once this is done we ask, “Now what do I have to do?”
For this newsletter, I will focus on Tennessee and hopefully it will give some ideas on areas to research in your state. There are many dozens of whole state summaries of information for the state of Tennessee, i.e. Sistler’s collection of every census of the state from the earliest to the 1880s. Sistler also compiled a number of additional books on early military records, land records and index to the middle Tennessee records. Many libraries around the country have many of these books. Then Virgil D. White published a collection of the military and militia records for Tennessee and many other states. These also are normally available in good genealogical libraries.
One resource seldom consulted for Tennessee is Lyman Chalkley’s “Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlements in Virginia”. If you know your history, you would know that the very early records of Tennessee are found in North Carolina and Virginia. Many early deeds in Sullivan County, Tennessee are registered in Staunton, Virginia which is in Augusta County. Since Virginia considered the lands north of the Holston River as part of their territory when William Preston began surveying the western lands for the Loyal Company’s Grant primarily when this was part of Fincastle County, Virginia.
One set of records much harder to find, but worth the effort is a collection made by the DAR of Tennessee when they invited people from all over the state to bring in family Bibles to be scanned. These were collected onto a CD disc and has an index printed to cover the contents. They present the original Bible records with a transcription of each on the disc. It contains thousands of records of information that often cannot be found anywhere else. You might have to work through your local DAR chapter to find access to these records.
Remember when researching, exhaust all available records. Remember that county boundaries changed and “them ole folks just didn’t stay put”. Check out neighbors that you can identify through the census. What were they doing at the same time? When they moved, they moved in groups more often than not. Above all else, know the history of the area in question. A researched a man in Cocke County, Tennessee that during a twenty year period lived in three states, seven different counties and never left the front porch of his cabin on the hill. Politics changes more than people do at times.
When searching in a local area, the census give information every ten years and we are all familiar with the fact that the man of the house will age ten years each census period while his wife has found the fountain of youth and only ages by five to eight years each period. Look for information on the in-between years via other county court records. I admit that you may have to read the un-indexed county court minutes, but they are well worth the time and effort. In Tennessee, many of the earliest minute books have been transcribed by the W.P.A. workers in the mid to late 1930s. We have published many of these over the years.
There is a wealth of material available for the State of Tennessee, so don’t shy away from the area just because you live in Washington State.
We have several hundred WPA Records for just Tennessee. You can search for the WPA Records by using the Surname Search on our main page at www.mountainpress.com. It might be easier to search by WPA and the county or surname you are researching.
Rutherford County, Tennessee Tax Lists 1809 - 1813
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