Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 6, Number 14 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 July 2, 2014
I want to thank each of you for your comments from our census series that was a rerun from 2011. I had a heart attack on Mother’s Day and then bypass surgery with complications. I am here in July just getting back to work on a limited basis. During this time, I had to do some soul searching about the future, but have not come to a full understanding of what is ahead so we will all see together. Hope you enjoy this holiday weekend with your family. I will definitely be celebrating my 4th of July birthday with my family!
If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James L. Douthat
WHERE DO WE SEARCH??
Everyone that wants to start their genealogy or continue the search has to ask themselves a few simple questions. The first of these questions is “Where do I look for the information I want??” If this were a simply answered question then research would be easy; however, it is not that simple. Records are scattered at all levels of the government bookkeeping on local, state and Federal levels. Normally, we would assume that the best records were on the local county level, but this is not always true.
If we go the local route, then the local library should be a good starting place. They often have the best source of printed local materials supplied by local societies and historical groups. You will find that these are good sources, but not always complete as they are generally copied. There are other sources that will have to be dug out of records elsewhere such as court houses. When you go there, I hope that you do not run into a clerk that does not like genealogist messing up his records and asking a lot of questions that they have heard a thousand times. My experience with clerks is that most of them want to help you find your records. This always comes in handy at election time if for no other reason.
When you go to the court house always have one or two points in mind that you want to discover. Don’t just go in “trolling” for anything that you can find. This will help you to focus on the area of interest and will help the clerk with the search. However, I know that you might find another ‘rabbit’ to chase in the search. I seem to find ‘rabbits’ every time I go to a court house. This is okay unless you start chasing them in all directions. Attempt to stay focused on the search at hand, there will be another time for all of the various ‘rabbits’.
One word of caution at this point in your selection of materials is to make sure that you are looking in the right place. Know the history of the area well enough to understand that some of the very early records might be in another city and or even county. Boundaries of the various places may change over the years, county boundaries in particular. Example might be that Tennessee and Georgia have just settled portions of their single boundary within the past couple of years. The area between Ducktown, TN and McCaysville, GA was contested for years. Early in the history of most states, the county boundaries have changed frequently. In some of the older states, you may even get different titles for the counties from Shire to County. Early Territories were broken down into smaller units through the years, but you will find records of your families at each level in the place the records are kept for these different bodies. Knowing when your family came into an area will help greatly in defining your search.
The second big question to ask is what materials will be most helpful in your search. You might search tax records, for example, to determine how long your family has been in an area and the depth of their involvement. If they owned several hundred acres of land, they are more likely to be involved in other county records. Reading the county court minutes for the time period may turn up surprises worth the effort. There might be road records that place your family in a particular neighborhood with certain neighbors that figure in the line with intermarriages, etc.
Other records may be of limited use. For example, the police reports will give little information unless you know a certain ancestor had a police record and even then very little information can be gleaned from those records. I would put the auditors’ records in the same listing.
The next real question to ask is “Where are the records located??” Not all libraries have the same records as the state archives or national archives. Each place will have different records and you need to know what type of records each of them have. If you decide to travel to one of these treasure troves you have to know when they are open, restrictions on certain records or limits to copy service. A quick check of their web sites will help with this type of information. Sometimes, however, there are changes on the spur of the moment. I was in an archives to work for two days and found out when I got there they would be closed on the second day due to street races since all of the streets around them were closed.
Remember to know what you seek, where you might find it and how do you get it. This will aid in your research greatly.
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