Friday, May 23, 2014

Lost Records Help Genealogists Discover more Ancestors

There are more roads to travel
Where there is trouble, there is fire.  Bacon's Rebellion of 1686 caused the discontents to march on Jamestown and burn the town and the local records kept by the burgesses, etc.  During the War of 1812, the British burned several buildings in Washington, D. C.; hence the loss of many census records for 1790 and 1810.  We are a people of record-keepers.  The first thing which occurs in war or times of trouble is that the enemy destroys that treasure.  Afterwards, it is more problematical to manage the affairs of its citizens, like land deeds, marriages, wills, estates ... and everything kept at court houses.  In the case of Jamestown, it was eventually rebuilt, however, we do not have those records.  During the War between the States, Virginia was in the heart of most battles, thus, again, records were burned.  James City County records do not begin until 1865.  The task of the genealogist, then, becomes an extend search into all of the adjoining counties.  You have to read the documents, especially the old wills and inventories, to learn anything.  Your ancestor had transactions in those counties and his name could very well appear as a witness or party to some of those documents.  Should you locate an old last will and testament of a particular ancestor, the thing to do next is write down all of the names involved in that estate.  These names represent relatives and neighbors.  Next, search adjoining counties for the new names.  When records are lost, it is incumbent upon the researcher to dig into everything, get to know the community and the families. It is so exciting when your ancestor's name turns up in a document which helps tie together the loose ends of family members.  But a genealogist learns it all, viz: names of spouses (and their deaths), nieces, nephews, all siblings and prepares a family group sheet to contain it. Now, you have the foundation of all future research.

Need more time to sort things out? A good deal for genealogists needing to read old Virginia Wills and other helpful family data. 6 months subscription to Virginia Pioneers for $54.00. Subscribe to Virginia and view wills and other documents online

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