From the Ancestry Daily News
Beyond the Index: Part IIA couple of weeks ago, we discussed the importance of getting to the original record. (To view this article follow this link.)
This week we return to that theme and look at some additional situations where
the original record or the complete record was an integral part of the problem-solving
process. Sometimes not going to the original can create brick walls where none
I remember one family historian who insisted her census work was done when
she could not locate her forebear in the printed version of a certain county's
1850 census. I told her she had not searched the actual census. She insisted
she had, patted the census book on her desk, and shot me a condescending look.
We were discussing genealogy over the lunch hour and as kept her hand on the
book, she continued bemoaning the fact that she could not locate her ancestor
and that she had "done the census." I looked out at the desks of her
staff in the outer office. "The printed census is a transcription,"
I told her. "Do any of the receptionists in the outer office ever make
a mistake when copying something? Maybe it happened with the census, too."
She shot me a dirty look and never discussed genealogy again. But I had made
However, I knew that for the era of Michael's probate there should also be
ledgers (bound volumes) maintained by the court with additional probate information.
These books were referenced in the same Index to Estates which had taken
me to Michael's probate packet. One of the probate ledger references to Michael's
estate delineated the relationship amongst the heirs. Now I had it. Had I only
used the probate packet, I would have missed the wonderful document that tied
the family members together and that was my first break in tracing the family
The Whole Packet of Papers
Other Printed Books
And did you figure out the reference before you sent the book back or put it
away? It can be very tempting to make copies with the thought that "I'll
figure it out when I get home. I just can't waste time her fussing over these
references." Time "wasted" figuring out a reference while the
book is still in your possession is always well spent. We'll look at one quick
The Deeds of Amherst County Virginia, 1761-1807 and Albemarle County, Virginia
1748-1763 (by the Reverend Bailey Fulton Davis, reprinted by Southern Historical,
Easley, S.C.) provides the following reference on page 179.
"Page 88, 7 December 1778. Jno. McDaniel, AC, to Isaac Rucker, AC for
140 pounds, 100 acres. Lines: Anthony Rucker, Hugh Rose, Joshua Tinsley, Edwd.
Tinsley, Ambrose and Susannah Rucker."
I better find out just where page 88 originally was before I return the book.
I need to determine what "AC" stands for as well. Turning few pages
in the book before page 179, I realize that on page 174 of the book, the extract
from Amherst County Deed Book E begins. Page 88 refers to page 88 of Amherst
County Deed Book E. This is an important reference should I wish to refer to
the original deed. I'll have to keep my page references straight, as there are
the page numbers in the compilation and page numbers in the original deed book.
A further analysis indicates that "AC" stands for Amherst County.
These references should all be handled while I still have the book in my possession.
Is There More on the Deed?
If you don't go beyond the index or the transcription, you may never go beyond
the brick wall that sits at the end of your pedigree chart.
Michael John Neill is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry Magazine and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him at: email@example.com or visit his website at: http://www.rootdig.com/, but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.
Copyright 2003, MyFamily.com. All rights reserved.
Used by the author on his website with permission
Other genealogy articles by Michael John Neill