Steps for systematic searching
1. Circuit Court Records.
Marriage Bonds –
Lists Bride & Groom, permission my guardian/parent if minor, Surety, often
a brother, parent, friend, in-law, date. Before 1848 Banns by the church
were a legal substitute to the bond by announcing three successive Sundays
prior to marriage. Marriages by Banns were recorded only in the church or
Marriage Certificate. Usually in Circuit Court Records submitted by
person who performed the marriage.
Will Books – Wills, appraisals, contests, dispersions, devisee indexes.
The devisee index will often help you find married daughters and
grandchildren with different surnames from the deceased.
Bond/Commissions/Oaths. Apprenticeships, Indentures, bail bonds,
guardian bonds, officials’ bonds, ordinary license bonds.
Fiduciary Records. Administrator’s bonds, estate papers, executor’s
bonds, guardian bonds (also titles orphan’s bonds), orphan’s accounts
(yearly by guardian.
Records – Grantors/Grantees – lists sales and indentures by each
and Fiscal Records. Land and Personal Property Tax (PPT), Tithables.
Miscellaneous Records. May or may not exist. Inquisitions,
Inventories belonging to the Poor House, Overseer of the Poor records,
2. Title Searches – to
find where your ancestor lived.
Land Records, look for the earliest entry
showing the name in the Grantee Index. This will show when they bought
the property. Then go to the grantor indexes and follow when sold to
whom. If you reach a wall, can’t find the name, go to the will book
index, find who inherited the land and follow from there. I put the
metes and bounds into a mapping program to visualize the property. I can
sometimes then locate the location on a modern map. Sometimes I must also
do the neighbors properties until it attaches to a landmark existent
waste time reading and recording info. Go to the indexes and make a list
of all the surnames you are looking, book and page number. Just copy them
all. You can take your time when you get home to organize it all. The
way I organize when I return home is to take a blank family group sheet
and to record all the players on that document. Then I go to MS Word and
transcribe the document. I attach all three together. I then enter the
people into Family Tree Maker. If I do not have that exact person yet I
don’t worry, I just add them as an unrelated person. Then I copy/paste
the transcribed document into notes. I then post under facts that a deed
or whatever exists for date, place, party. This give me a good outline,
without having to reread whole documents and show chronology of events
which may become important later.
4. Hit a Wall?
good place to start is in the Will book index for devisee’s. This is an
index for whom inherited from whom. An excellent place for finding a
maiden name of a wife, a married name of a daughter. It can also tell you
who got the guardianship of orphans, not necessarily parentless but
fatherless. Sometimes it is just as important to prove what isn’t as what
is. Exclusion is just as valid. Forget about the primary lines.
peripheral lines and see what develops.
a few other things you can do. Check the census’s fro the neighboring
counties and see if they are with in-laws. This is especially helpful
after 1850 when all in the household are itemized. A word of caution on
census’s before 1850. Do not assume all minors listed are children. They
may be servants, orphans of relative and neighbors taken in, bonded
servants or apprentices.
USGENEB for the county and post your needs. Also use their archive search
by state or all states by surname or narrow to full name.
Genforum and post there by surname group.
surname group/mail list on Rootsweb and join it and start posting what you
5. More Tricks
Whenever I go to the courthouse, I always
bring with me a printed list of what I think I am looking for. Using my
Family Tree Program I print out a Genealogy Report, Outline Genealogy
Report and Tree for all the lines I am looking for in that county. I
can’t keep it all in my head. By bringing all three, I have a better
picture of where I am at and what I am missing.
Report give me the complete file including sources, notes and facts.
Report give me a quick visual without flipping pages and lots of text to
Tree is a
good picture of the players.
return home I put all the marriages into a table listing all information.
This way I can see not only the bride and groom, but sureties and possible
parent/guardian for all with that surname in the county. (It can also
show me the ministers who married them. If I keep seeing the same
minister, I can find his church and find the baptisms, marriages and
funerals.) These can be arranges either chronologically or
alphabetically. If I keep seeing a surety name that keeps popping up for
a different bride or groom, I will then take a look at that line. There
is a strong connection there somewhere and I just might find my missing
link in their records.
yourself as a detective and go for it. Good luck in your search.