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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Intensive Research is Indicated to find Ancestors

In my last article, I spoke of the need to read every last will and testament in the ancestor's county of residence. This may seem like a stretch, and it is certainly intensive research, however, people were very active in interacting with their friends and neighbors. Remember, they were building an economy based upon agriculture and shipping. The overflow of any plantation sold its foodstuffs at its own general store which ultimately resulted in communities and townships. Necessities were purchased abroad for a pretty penny, even nails and boards were priced at a premium. Personal notes were exchanged by neighbors. This is why you will see the notes listed in the inventories of estates as well as a wide exchange of commodities. Marriages occurred between neighbors. During the 18th century people were migrating, building, and creating their own homes and communities.They made records, such as deeds when they purchased or transferred land and specified dower rights. Every tidbit of information about their daily lives seems to have gotten posted in the "Minutes" of the local court, when roads were commissioned, officers appointed, militias raised, and so on. Simply reading the Minutes creates an awareness of neighbors playing their roles. Although the local parishes or churches performed marriages, but few of those records survived.  Ceremonies also occurred on the plantations. Until there was a law created to file marriages at the local court house, this was not generally practiced to any large extent. That is why we have to examine all of the county records to search for a mention of it. Georgians did not build huge plantations such as we see in Mississippi and Alabama. Since the plank boards and nails were imported, most of it went on barns and outbuildings necessary to operate a farm. At first, the home itself was rather simple, a two-story wooden structure with narrowly encased stairs and a pitch roof. Later, sometimes twenty or thirty years, another wing was added. Very few brick homes existed and the first to be constructed was for colonial governors. It was a time and place when people worked together, helped their neighbors, and created an economy not possible in the Mother country. The American Dream in action.  This is why an examination of court house records is so essential to genealogists. If those records did not survive, then we have to snoop around like an old detective looking for tidbits of information and absorb it in our bones until we understand it.

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