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!

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