Saturday, December 10, 2016

Some Court Minutes (or court orders) Now Online At FamilySearch

I first discovered court minutes over a dozen years ago. My biggest breakthrough, with them,  was identifying the name of an ancestor's spouse. I didn't know who Francis Owens' husband was until I found the answer in Bracken County Court Minutes. The minutes interesting and colorful information about the family, such as Anderson Wray being arrested for rioting, have been rewarding finds .
Some of these court minutes films are available online at  FamilySearch.

What can you find in Court Minutes?

1. You can find out whether your ancestors were involved in court cases. If the minutes don't provide the information you are looking for you can contact the current courthouse staff and request a copy of the full court file. Sometimes these files no longer exist, or are no longer housed in the Courthouse. Some are now housed with local historical societies.  
James Hicks married a widow. The above involves a case regarding the widow's first husband and children.
2. You can find your ancestors listed as jurors. This can give you clues about the years they lived in an area.
George Adams serves jury duty.
3. You can learn about roads they worked on. Males were required to perform road work for counties. They often worked on roads near their property. Road work orders can provide clues regarding where their property was located.  
James Adams works on road near a schoolhouse.
4. There are often apprentice bonds in court minutes books. You can find out whether a female ancestor was instructed in the mysteries of the spinster, or your male ancestor was trained as a blacksmith. Sadly young children like the 7 year old girl, below, were apprenticed.   
They did specify "one year of schooling & learn her to read" in this bond.
5. Bastardry bonds also appear in court minutes.
6. Probate appointments, and even more detailed probate information such as inventories can appear in court minutes
This is the probate document that named my ancestor Francis (Fanny) Owen's husband as James D. Owens. Bracken County, Kentucky court orders are now online at FamilySearch.
7. Information regarding slaves appear in court minutes
Not sure if this Mulatto man is free or a slave? I don't wonder why he might have lost his mind, as stated in this record.
8. Deeds proven in open court
Laban Hicks deed proven in open court.
9. Appointment of Guardians
Samuel Gorden orphan chose his brother to be his guardian.
10. Appointment to local offices
John Adams was appointed Constable
11. Insanity reports
A difficult life for women in those days. No wonder poor Milley Hopkins lost her mind.
12. Insight into what life was like in your ancestors community. Below you see provisions for one year being provided to a widow. Interesting to see the salted beef, which was salted to keep it from spoiling with no refrigeration.
Here we see a prison being laid out. There was another report that the local jail was insufficient.
I've been paging through Surry County, North Carolina Court minutes, now online at FamilySearch, in order to try to establish relationships between members of the Hicks and Adams families. Sadly Surry Minutes aren't indexed. We suspect the Samuel Hicks, appearing in local records, was to father of my Joshua Hicks. Other possible sons of Samuel were, William, James, Laban, and Benjamin. Relationship inferences are based on Samuel Hicks land transfers. We haven't found any documents stating relationships. Joshua's wife was Diana Adams. There were other Adams families living in the area, and I'm trying to find out which family she is from.
I have found many entries in the Court Minutes for the Hicks and Adams families, but none stating relationships to others. I found men in these families serving Jury duty, and performing road work service.
The most interesting finds were court cases involving Samuel Hicks and Joshua Hicks. I know they lived near a Brown family. Two of these cases involved Browns. Apparently the Browns and Hicks had a feud going. The minutes don't give any specific information other than there were lawsuits. I would like to get case files for these suits if they still exist?

Peter Brown vs Joshua Hicks
George Brown vs Samuel Hicks Libel
State vs Samuel Hicks
Hoping case files can be found? I'm so happy I can go through the couple thousand pages of the Surry Court minutes at home!

Friday, December 2, 2016

An Easy Way To Find FamilySearch Online Digitized Content

When I was first told that much of the online content for FamilySearch wasn't showing up by filtering by state I didn't realize you can filter your search for online content alone. I've been filtering by Family History library recently. I've been looking for films located at the Orange Family History Library, and the Los Angeles Family History Library. When doing this I noticed a filter for online content. (In the past you could search the Catalog on CD's and find out if a local Family History Center had a film you needed in their permanent collection. I miss that.)

To search for only what's available online click on search these family history centers on the FamilySearch catalog page. Click the second choice at the top of the menu, online.

Now that I know how to filter for online content I've searched using various jurisdictions. You can search the following jurisdictions for US:
  1. United States
  2. State
  3. County
  4. Township
  5. Town
  6. City
You can also search records localities for foreign Countries filtering by online records.

I've also searched for tax lists by using the filters listed above the search box. I used the keyword search for tax. This brought up over 5,000 titles online. When you filter further by state you can eliminate a few thousand. You can filter by century and decade also.

I am interested in finding a marriage bond for an ancestor who probably married in Virginia in the 1780's. I don't know which county these ancestors married in? I'm using keyword search to find all marriage bonds available for Virginia online. I would like to find marriage bonds for a John Thurman married to a Sarah. I don't have Sarah's maiden name and hope to find a marriage bond in order to discover it. It looks like their eldest child was born in 1784? Their youngest was born in 1798. I can make a guess as to when they may have married based on this timeframe. I will look at the online marriage bonds for any marriages in this timeframe.

marriage bonds online Virginia

I found filtering doesn't always bring up all titles with online films. Filtering by county seems to bring up the most complete list of online content. I found a Tax list for Washington County, Tennessee that didn't come up when I filtered for Tennessee tax 1700's. You have to search by various filters to find everything online.

This 1779 tax list didn't come up filtering by Tennessee and year

Many of the films that have been digitized have either been indexed, and are searchable at FamilySearch, or the film has an index in the front or back of the book appearing on the film. I knew my ancestor William McPike appeared in a Court Order book, for Washington County, Virginia, when he was ordered to do road work. I didn't have the page number. I found the court order book online with no index. I really wanted a copy of the original entry. I searched for my copy of the transcription, I had, in order to get the page number. I was then able to get the original copy. I found I sometimes need to find an index elsewhere if it's not available through FamilySearch.

I wanted the original copy to verify the name Holloway
also appeared in this road work order. Holloway is supposedly
Obedience, William's wife's maiden name
Everything isn't online or searchable through an index yet. Since many of the films that have been digitized have indexes, or indexes can be found elsewhere, this hasn't been a serious problem. Even though a small fraction of the holdings of the Family History Library are now online it's still enough to keep me busy for a long time.