Saturday, October 24, 2009

State Archives

Although I have had very little opportunity to visit a lot of state and local archives, I know that they have much to offer researchers. I recently worked on a case where checking the state archives website really paid off. The name I was looking for was pretty common so I didn't do a very thorough search of the Family History Library Catalog for family histories for this family. I figured I would have to weed through a ton of them and it would waste a lot of valuable time for the client. Besides that, so many of them are not documented that it really wouldn't prove anything.

The case I was working on was for a returning client and so I knew from my previous research that there was an item of interest at the Georgia State Archives that looked like it dealt with this family. I found this on an old catalog listing that had been microfilmed and was at the Family History Library. Before preparing a letter to request copies of the desired document, I decided to check their online catalog to see if there were any other items that I should request. While there I found a book that seemed to be written about the family I was researching. I jotted down the name of the author and the title and did a quick check of the Family History Library Catalog and lo and behold it was there.

This family history book was a well-documented family history about the family. It was written by a guy with a Ph.D. and he cited throughout the book the documents he used to prove the lineage. It took the family back three more generations. I know my client will be happy. It was also a great book to read for those struggling to prove lineages during the 1700s. Because he cited his sources and his conclusions and discussed his methodology, I really learned a lot.

It was a good research week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quakers in North Carolina

Tis a gift to be simple. Tis a gift to be true.
Tis a gift to have Quakers as ancestors too!

Sorry for the play on a traditional Shaker song but it seemed to fit. This past week I worked on a project where the maternal half of the family were Quakers. They came from North Carolina into Indiana in the early 1800s. It was such a wonderful thing to find them listed in Quaker records. The records were loaded with information.

The marriage record gave the names of the parents of both the bride and the groom. It also included a list of 12 witnesses who had to vouch for the couple. The names of some of these people looked like they might have been relatives. It reminded me a little of looking at the godparents in christening records and trying to figure out how they were related. Birth records were also included that listed each child and their birth date. It was such a fun find.

The records I looked at were originals on microfilm and they had ink blotches that made them at times unreadable but overall they were pretty good. I found some wonderful resources for the Quaker records in Indiana. Many of them have been extracted or abstracted and published in great volumes. What a quick way to do a radial search for ancestors that were Quakers in Indiana.

Another type of Quaker records that would be useful are dismissal certificates. These were given to members as the moved out of an area to be presented to the congregation in their new area. This helps you to know exactly when the family left one area and arrived into another. Makes a great paper trail!!

One of the keys to locating the records is to figure out what Monthly Meetinghouse might have been close to their home. A good map of the county for the time and a knowledge, through land records, where exactly your ancestors lived would be quite helpful. When in doubt, however, search all the records for the county that are available. =)

Wouldn't it be great if we all had a little Quaker blood?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

North Carolina Archives

This week as part of the learning process I am looking up the major repositories for the mid-South region. I decided to start with North Carolina. One of the cases I am working on is in North Carolina and so it seemed like a logical place to start. It doesn't hurt that some of my ancestors came from there as well. You may have seen some of these in previous blog entries but it doesn't hurt to repeat them. It will help me learning process.

So let's start out with the North Carolina State Archives . If you go to the home page and then click on "State Archives" you will be taken to a page where you can access the "Guide to the Research Materials in the North Carolina State Archives" . Or you can just click on the link I have set up here. There are a lot of good things listed available both on microfilm and in boxes and folders. I think it would be great to visit there someday.

Another good place to visit would be the State Library of North Carolina They have a nice listing of links. One that caught my eye was TN Counties (formerly in NC) . Some of my ancestors went from North Carolina to Tennessee and there is a map showing which areas were formerly North Carolina and the corresponding counties they became when Tennessee became a state.

The Family History Library's Research Outline for the state of North Carolina recommends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library . They seem to have some interesting items for southern history research. A good site to know if you're writing a history about your family from North Carolina and want to get some historical background.

The best repository for searching in North Carolina however, is not in North Carolina. The Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have one of the largest collections of microfilmed records from the state of North Carolina. On the shelves on the third floor you can find a book The Historical Records of North Carolina by Charles Christopher Crittenden. This three volume set gives background on each of the counties and a listing of their inventories.

If you know of any others, please leave me a comment so I can update this list.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It's been a while since I wrote a new blog post. I have been mulling an idea around in my head and have now finally decided to act on it. I am currently working as a self-employed genealogy researcher. I do family history research for several firms in the Salt Lake City area. One of my goals is to become an accredited genealogist. I thought it would be fun to chronicle my progress and my preparations towards submitting my application to become an AG (accredited genealogist). The accreditation basically tells the world that you have highly specialized skills for researching in the geographic area you are accredited in. ICAPGen stands for the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.

I have decided to begin the process by trying to attain accreditation through ICAPGen in the Mid-South region of the United States. So what states does that cover? Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, South Carolina, and West Virginia. To learn more about the accreditation process, please go to the ICAPGen website.

It won't be easy but it will be wonderful to prepare and learn all about the records and resources available for researchers in these states. I am using as my guide the book "Becoming An Accredited Genealogist: Plus 100 Tips to Ensure Your Success" by Karen Clifford. In this book the author outlines the accreditation process and includes practice test questions and activities designed to help you prepare.

I invite you to join me on a genealogical adventure as I prepare to take the AG exams. So where does the blog fit in? I will be recording the activities and preparations that I go through on my to preparing for the exam in my blog.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Links to Census Power Points

Recently I had the opportunity to teach a couple of classes on how to use the US census. My students asked for copies of the slides of my presentations and so here is the link to get to them. My Research Helps Page

You will find two attachments at the bottom of the page. One is for the US Census. The other gives examples of some foreign censuses.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Missouri Vital Records Online

Sorry it's been a while since I wrote. I was out of the country for about six weeks and I am just getting back in the swing of things.

I have had occasion recently to do some research on a family from Missouri. A friend of mine mentioned to me that the state of Missouri is putting all it's birth and death records online so I naturally had to try it out. There are two databases but the one of most interest for genealogists would probably be the pre-1910 births and deaths.

Missouri Birth and Death Records Database, Pre-1910

The other site that might interest genealogists has more recent death certificates.

Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1958

The site is very user-friendly. You can also see what records exist for what counties. Try this link to see what's available for the county you're researching.

Listing of Available Records Search

Wouldn't it be nice if all states put their records online. Thanks Missouri!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Confederate Widows Paper

For those of you who may have been following my posts about Confederate widows of Dallas County, Arkansas I thought I would give you this final post to let you know how things came out. Of the 20 or so widows that I followed almost all had financial difficulties as a result of the loss of their husbands. No surprise there. Only one, Martha Augustine Gee Holmes, managed to continue with some wealth. The reason for this has to be the will her husband left designating her as the recipient of all his property. He was a very wealthy man. This spared her years of anguish as the probate case passed through the court system.

All the husbands of these women had some property before their demise. Unfortunately only Holmes was able to retain any of that in her name. A few women managed to remarry, which means that any property they might have had reverted to their new husbands. One of the most heart-wrenching cases was that of Charlotte Brewer. Here is what I found out about her:

Her husband, Isaac, died sometime after being discharged in October 1861 and before May 1862 when the probate was first began. In May of 1862 an administrator bond of $4,000 was paid by Stephen Johnson for the estate. In July 1862 he was officially granted the rights to administer the estate. In July of 1863 the widow petitioned for her dower “in certain slaves” but her petition was rejected. The case then continued on through the years and in April of 1866 she petitioned the court for the entire estate and was once again was rejected.

The records for this particular session give insight into the plight of this poor widow. The court minutes note that the administrator was asked to provide her with "provisions to live on to a small amount [and] he is hereby authorized to do so." Surely this poor widow was suffering, not only from the loss of her husband and the deprivations of the war, but from the lack of relief that should have been provided by the courts. This case continued on through 1867.

As Mary Chestnut once wrote, “you can never exaggerate the horrors of war on one’s own soil. You understate the agony, strive as you will to speak, the agony of heart--mind—body.” The Civil War was devastating to the wealth and economy of Dallas County and to the lives of the widows of Dallas County Confederate soldiers who gave their all.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Family Search Wiki

Many of us who have been doing genealogical research for a while are very familiar with the various Research Outlines published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These are no longer being published in print form but there is good news. You can turn to the new Family Search wiki to find a lot of that same information and new updated information as well. To get to the wiki click on this link. Family Search Wiki

While much of the information found on the wiki is good and sound, please remember that all information found on the site is user-contributed. That means it is only as good as those people who contributed it. I think you will find a lot of helpful information here to help you in your research. Many of the employees of the Family History Library in Salt Lake contribute articles that will help you in finding sources and knowing where to look.

Good luck with your research!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crowder Genealogy

I just wanted to let y'all know that I have a new website. It is the history of my Crowder ancestors. They came to Virginia, moved to North Carolina, and then ended up in Arkansas. I have posted their story. I have posted a few pictures of their descendants. There is also a page with links that I have used to help me in my research of this family. I may be adding more actual documents from the research later and so I'll keep you posted here. Just click on this link to get to it. Crowder Genealogy

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I would like to share with you today a couple of my favorite sites for the state of Arkansas. My ancestors came from there and so I have done quite a bit of research there. The first one I would like to mention is the Arkansas History Commission site. While they don't have a lot of documents digitized that are accessible online, they do have their catalog online and you can search through their collections for items of interest. They also have a good collection of state newspapers. The one time I used their services, they were very prompt in sending me a copy of a newspaper article I had requested.

The other site I would like to mention has been of great use to me in my Confederate widows project. The Original Arkansas Genealogy Project, Civil War website is loaded with information about civil war soldiers and their units from the state of Arkansas. The authors of this site have gone through military service and pension records, as well as census records in an attempt to identify every soldier who served from the state of Arkansas. They also include some histories of the units. I am really appreciative of those who put this site together. I think it is great!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Kentuckiana Digital Library is a website of digital collections from all over Kentucky. According to their website there you can "find over 80,000 photographic images, 100,000 newspaper pages, 230,000 book pages, hundreds of oral histories, and maps documenting the history and heritage of Kentucky."

Kentucky Vital Records Indexes This will link you to digital images of vital records online available through the University of Kentucky. The records were acquired from the Kentucky Office of Vital Records. They are for fairly recent years but it might be of use to someone just getting started. You might also want to read their explanatory notes if you have trouble finding who you are looking for. It explains a lot about how well record keeping was done.

Happy hunting!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Confederate Widows Update

I spent another Saturday at the Family History Library in Salt Lake trying to track down details on the lives of Confederate Widows. Now that I have pinned down my twenty or so names I looked at land records and probate records again. It was interesting to trace a case through the probate court. While there was not a lot of information about the family, it was interesting to note how long it took to probate the cases. In some instances they were drawn out more than four years. Can you imagine the lives of these poor widows while they were waiting to see what would actually be left to them? It must have been very difficult. I did find one widow who fared very well but her husband was wealthy to begin with. Another widow petitioned the court for the entire estate of her husband and was denied. The court suggested to the administrator of the estate that he try to provide the widow with provisions from the estate to get by with if he could. Poor woman!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

West Virginia

West Virginia Archives and History is the website for the West Virginia state archives. They have an extensive vertical file collection. You can look for your surname and then write or call them to have research services performed. They give a chronology of the formation of the counties within the state. They have their own research guides on a few topics to help people know where to look for information. There is no charge to use the site. If you click on the tab "Archives and History" on their home page and from there scroll down to the "Genealogy Corner" and click on it, you will find a wealth of links for genealogical purposes.

When researching West Virginia, it is important to remember that it was taken from Virginia and so early records might be found in Virginia. You might also be interested to know that it is one of three southern states that did not secede during the Civil War. In fact, West Virginia received its statehood during that time because it remained loyal to the Union. It became a state in 1863.

If you want to learn more about when other states received statehood, I recommend 50 They have a nice table with a list of all 50 states, when they were made a state, and in some cases what territory it was derived from.

Confederate Widows Update

I spent 8 hours at the Family History Library yesterday. I was able to identify many men who died in the Civil War from Arkansas in probate records. I should have at least 20 families from Dallas county that I can trace through other records to see what happened when wives lost their husbands. One thing that surprised me was to find a few women who never remarried after their husbands died. They petitioned the government for a pension when that option became available to them in the 1890s. I thought that most, if not all, women would remarry because it would be too hard for them to provide for their own support. I am anxious to finish up the research to make some conclusions and begin writing the paper.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

North Carolina

North Carolina State Archives have many state government records as well as manuscripts, books, and other items related to North Carolina and the people who lived there. There is no fee to use the site. They have some probate records available. Especially nice is the Mitchell Will Index. It is a fairly extensive list of wills. It is indexed alphabetically within each county. This just one of the many digitalized records that are very useful for genealogical research.

North Carolina GenWeb Project has access to many records such as census, cemetery, both at the county and state level. There is no fee for this site. You can do a general search for the all of the county sites at one time, or you can go to the specific county and search by county. The census records are a good alternative to expensive subscription sites.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Confederate Widows Update

I'm making some progress in my Confederate widows project. Here's what I've done so far.

First I looked at women who were heads of households in the 1870 Dallas County, Arkansas census. I only looked at Chester Township where my ancestors are from at first because I wanted to keep the group small. After that I went to a website I know that lists Arkansas Confederate Civil War veterans. The Original Arkansas Genealogy Project, Civil War From this website I pulled down all the men from units who enlisted in Dallas County or who were listed as being from Dallas County. I tried comparing the surnames of the women to this list with not a lot of success and so I tried a different approach.

I went to the Family History Library in Salt Lake on Friday and looked at Probate records from Dallas County, Arkansas. I started in the year 1861 and went through page by page until about 1865 and recorded all the names of men. If widows were listed, I recorded their names. I then took this list and compared it to the names of the enlisted men and hooray, I came up with some matches.

My next steps will be to track down their families in the 1860 census. Try to determine their ages and if they were married when they died and then what happened to their wives. I am hoping that I will be able to find at least a few families I can trace from which to write my paper on.

Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Tennessee State Library and Archives

This is the website for the Tennessee state library and archives. They have an extensive manuscript and microfilm collection which a searchable catalog to locate needed records. They also offer research services. The downside to the website is that most of the electronic databases and indexes you can search require you to be a resident of the state of Tennessee.

TN GenWeb Project

They have many searchable databases on both the state and county level. There is no charge to use the site.

One of the interesting things to remember about Tennessee is its origin. A good portion of it came from territory that was once part of North Carolina. If you're looking for really early land records (before Tennessee became a state in 1796) you might want to try looking in North Carolina. Many Revolutionary war veterans received bounty land in the area now known as Tennessee so you might want to check bounty land warrants.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

South Carolina

Here are some websites for research in South Carolina.

South Carolina Department of Archives and History

This is the website for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. It is similar to the other state archives that I have mentioned previously. They offer research services so that you could have them look at a book or manuscript that you can’t find anywhere else. There is no fee to use the site.

South Carolina GenWeb Project

This is the USGenWeb site for South Carolina. It has many of the same features as other state sites within USGenWeb. The page where you select the county of choice gives a brief background on which district the county was formed from which is very useful when needing to search the earliest records of the state. There is no fee to use the site.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Confederate Widows

I am starting a new project for a class I'm taking on Southern History. I will be looking at the lives of women who lost their husbands during the Civil War. I will be focusing on Dallas County, Arkansas where my ancestors lived. I know that one of my ancestors lost her husband during that time period but I haven't had time yet to find if it was from injuries from the Civil War. I think it will be interesting to see how they managed in life.

The South in general fared rather poorly after their loss in the Civil War. Many men lost their lives and many families were left destitute. Women have always had difficulty maintaining their status in society. The South was especially so because it was a very male dominated society. I think I will find that women had a very rough time of it and there are probably many women there still today who have trouble. I'm not saying that women have trouble today because of the Civil War but because of the nature of the male dominated society.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Here is a website for Virginia that I like to use. It is for the state library of Virginia. They have a lot of good documents digitized and searchable on their website. Sometimes the best clues to finding southern ancestors are found in land records. If you do land research, you will appreciate the land grants database. Virginia is not an easy state to do research in but this website is helpful. There is no fee to use this site.

The Library of Virginia

Friday, January 30, 2009

North Carolina

One of the southern states I have done research in is North Carolina. My mom's ancestors, surnames - CROWDER and RHODES, lived in Wake County. While researching them I found a couple of websites that I like to use for researching them. They are specifically geared towards North Carolina. They are:

North Carolina State Archives

They have many state government records as well as manuscripts, books, and other items related to North Carolina and the people who lived there. There is no fee to use the site.

North Carolina GenWeb Project

There is access to many records such as census, cemetery, both at the county and state level. There is no fee for this site. You can do a general search for the all of the county sites at one time, or you can go to the specific county and search by county.

These are just two that I like. If you have found a great website for North Carolina let me know and I will post it here as well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Paupers' graves in Wake county, North Carolina

I was reading my Google Reader this evening and came across this tidbit about a cemetery in Wake county, North Carolina. My ancestors on my mom's side are from this area so I decided to click on the link to the whole article. The project they mention of trying to catalog those who are buried in this cemetery sounds like a fun. I wonder if they take long distance volunteers?

Here is the link to the article:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Purpose of this blog

This blog will be used to discuss family history research in the southern United States. I will post links to websites that I have found useful as well as tips.