By Jeannette Holland Austin
What is it about tracing families that makes it so difficult? It seems that the further back in time that we push, less information is available. it a translation issue? For example, but a small percentage of the passenger records seem available. If you are back to about 1600 in the American colonies, a digging task of documents written in foreign languages is before you. In fact, the chore of locating which ecclesiastical district or court to research in Great Britain can be daunting. Often it seems that written records do not exist. Yet they do. It is simply a matter of digging into official documents in other countries. You would think that the Federal Archives has all of the passenger lists and immigration records, but they do not. Here is an example. The first Georgia immigrants went before a committee representing the 22 or so investors in the charter where they were questioned as to their worthiness to help settle Georgia. You can acquire those names in Candler's Colonial Records of Georgia (which is correspondence between the Earl of Egmont and other officials in this country). Mr. Candler printed the correspondence which represents a source of names of persons who probably came to Georgia. I made a thorough study of these names and compared it with other documents in the colony to determine who actually made the trip. This study is included in my book (Colonial Georgians) which is online to members of Georgia Pioneers. My idea was to not only determine who actually came to Georgia, but what happened to them afterwards. So I traced the footsteps of those left behind when Oglethorpe returned his regiments to England ca 1744. Sometimes the genealogist has to read boring State documents. That is how I learned that the clan of Flora MacDonald was on a vessel in the sea near North Carolina when they petitioned for land. This historical event went unnoticed, yet helps to complete the history of the Scots who supported bonnie "Prince Charles." Every family has an interesting history! As stated, the reading of foreign documents is more troubling, but worth the effort. Sooner or later old wills and estates show up in county court house records.
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