4 Steps to Analyzing Your Ancestor's Grave Site

Finding where an ancestor is buried is high on most genealogy researchers' wish list. We not only want to know where an ancestor is buried, but what information can be discovered on the gravestone.

But I have to ask.....

Are you finding all of the possible clues your ancestor's final resting place is telling you?

Let's take a closer look at how to analyze an ancestor's grave site. 

Gravestone of Harriett Thomas
photo credit: Lisa Lisson

Step 1 - Engraved Information

Get the basics out of the way first. Look for the full name,  birth and death dates and any information on a potential spouse. For example, is your ancestor the "beloved husband of Sarah Smith?" Be sure to check the backside of the tombstone, too! 

Step 2 - Tombstone Symbols

The symbols on a tombstone can provide information and clues about your ancestor's life. For example, a cross can represent that the deceased is of the Christian faith.  The type of cross can be indicative of a specific denomination. 

A sampling of other tombstone symbols includes:

  • Clasped hands - represents God's welcome to heaven or a goodbye to an earthly existence
  • A lamb - indicates a child's grave
  • An olive branch - represents peace
  • A tree trunk - represents a life cut short
  • The square and the compass - represents membership in a Masonic Lodge
  • A tree stump or  a log - represents membership in the Woodmen of the World fraternal organization
  • Military symbols and gravestones- military gravestones will usually have a symbol of belief indicating the deceased's faith. Also the shape or design of a military tombstone can indicate  which war the deceased participated in.

This is just a small sampling of the types of symbols or design and what they represent. If you are unsure what a symbol on your ancestor's gravestone represents, a quick Google search of "cemetery symbolism" will yield many helpful sites. A great reference book on cemetery symbols is Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister.

Step 3 - Take a close look around 

Who is buried close to your ancestor? Is this a family plot? Could those buried beside or close by your ancestor be parents, children or siblings? Just as you research all individuals appearing in your ancestors records, research those individuals buried near by and determine if they are potential ancestors.

Cromwell White Gravestone Marker
photo credit: Lisa Lisson

Step 4 - Burial Location

Is your ancestor buried in a church cemetery? They may have been church members. Check that church for records! Is your ancestor buried in a  city or town cemetery? Then check for cemetery records possibly naming other family members or for a potential deed to the family plot. Is your ancestor buried "out in the middle of the woods"? This could potentially be the site of the family home place or family land. Check the deeds for the area.

Tip:  Always ask yourself "Why?" Why this location? Why this symbol(s)? Why in close proximity to these individuals?

For more information check out our Legacy Family Tree Webinars on cemetery research.

Still trying to find out where your ancestors are buried? Find 8 resources to check in How to Find Where Your Ancestors Are Buried.

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Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin? and believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox and the knowledge to use those tools. Lisa can be found online at LisaLisson.com , Facebook and Pinterest


Finding Genealogical Clues in City Directories

Finding Genealogical Clues in City Directories

City directories are  an often underutilized resource in genealogy research.  Initially, researchers may think city directories refer to telephone directories, but telephone directories are  relatively "modern" directories. 

Early directories were created shortly after the Revolutionary War and were created for craftsmen and salesmen to be able to contact potential customers. 

Six (6) Reasons To Use City Directories In Your Genealogy Research

1. City Directories, which were created yearly, provide a way to track an ancestor year by year. When an ancestor appeared in an area and/or when an ancestor left can be tracked by their appearance/disappearance in the directory.

2. Directories are a great alternate resource for areas suffering significant county record loss.

3. An ancestor's wife's name are often included next to the husband's name. (This varies area to area over time.) In the 1917 Rochester, New York directory, a wife's first name was placed in parenthesis next to her husband's name.  

City-directory-wives-first-name
1917 Rochester, New York City Directory (Source: Ancestry.com)

 

4. Clues to an ancestor's death date can be narrowed down by the appearance of his widow. In this 1917 Rochester, New York example, Mary Little is identified as the widow of William Little. William Little died prior to 1917. Research into earlier directories can help narrow down William's death by tracking when he disappears and his widow Mary appears. 

City-directory-widow
1917 Rochester, New York City Directory (Source: Ancestry.com)


5. An ancestor's street address can be found.  Mrs. Lucy B. Armstrong of Columbus, OH in 1874 resided at 256 E. Rich. 

City-directory-address
Columbus, Ohio City Directory, 1874 (Source: Ancestry.com)


6. An ancestor's occupation can be found listed. In the example below, the Salem [MA] Directory published in 1850 by Henry Whipple, occupations for individuals are listed. 

City-directory-occupation
The 1850 Salem [MA] Directory (Source: Google Books)

Tip: If you ancestor lived in an area too small to have its own directory, check the nearest town that did have a directory. Smaller towns were sometimes included in a neighboring town's directory.

Don't Stop At The City Directories

City directories are only one type of directory that genealogy researchers can use. A variety of directories have been created over time and are useful in our research. 

Examples include:

  1. State Business Directories
  2. Mercantile and Professional Directories
  3. Church Directories
  4. Telephone Directories
  5. School Directories - These do not typically include students, but rather teachers, janitors and school board members and anyone associated with the running of a school or a school system. The 1883 Directory of Public Schools of the City of Harrisburg, PA is one such example.
  6. Alumni Directories
  7. Society Directories - The Numismatic Directory for 1884 lists names and addresses of coin collectors!

Where To Find City and Other Directories

Directories of all types can be found in a variety of places. The 7 places below are a good place to start.

  1. The Big Genealogy Databases: MyHeritage, FindMyPast, Ancestry.com
  2. WorldCat.org
  3. Local and University Libraries
  4. InternetArchive
  5. Google Books
  6. United States Online Historical Directories
  7. The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Take time to explore the directories for the location and the time period of your ancestors!

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Lisa Sig Photo 200 x 200Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin? and believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox and the knowledge to use those tools. Specializing in southern US research and finding those elusive females, Lisa is passionate about helping others find resources and tools to confidently research their genealogy. Lisa can be found online at LisaLisson.com , Facebook and Pinterest


Beginning the Search for Your English Ancestors

EnglishFlash-1200x628

You've done it!  You have traced your ancestors back to the immigrating ancestor and discovered (or confirmed) your ancestor immigrated from England. 

Now you are ready to begin your genealogy research in the English records.

Do you know what records for your English ancestors exist? What records should you look in first? Where are those records housed?

Let's explore where to start your English genealogy research.

Begin the Search for Your English Ancestors

As with any new-to-you records, take time prior to the start of your research to familiarize yourself with record collections. Know the answers to questions such as 

  • What time periods and locations do the records include?
  • What type of information does the record include?

Knowing answers to these questions ahead of time prevents you from wasting valuable research time searching for information that was not recorded or was lost over time.

English Census Records

Most genealogy researchers are familiar with census records making these a great place to start your research.

English census records began in 1841 and were taken every 10 years.  Census records actually began in 1801, but prior to the 1841 census, the census records did not include the names of the individuals. The 1911 census is the latest census accessible to the public.

Keep in mind as you explore the English census, an individual's age may be rounded down to the nearest "5". This practice of rounding an individual's age will be a new concept for US researchers as they begin the hunt for their English ancestors.  For example, in the 1841 census, a female aged 24 years will be listed as 20 years of age. Children less than 15 years of age are enumerated with their correct age. You'll find English Census records available on all the major subscription sites (see resource list at the bottom).

Civil Registrations

Remember the year 1837!

Civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths (BMD) began in 1837 resulting in a national index. If you find your ancestor in the civil registration index, you can then order a copy of the actual certificate.

England-birth-registration-index
England and Wales Birth Registration Index (Source: FamilySearch.org)

                                                            

The England and Wales Birth, Death, and Marriage Registration Indices can be found on FamilySearch.org.

Parish Registers

If you are researching ancestors prior to 1837, turn to the parish records. Going back to their beginning in 1538, these can be a gold mine for the genealogy researcher.

Parish records were created and kept locally by the vicar recording baptisms, marriages and burials. Typically, parish records were kept chronological order. The tricky part of researching parish registers is knowing which parish your ancestor lived in and which county that parish was located in. Many parish registers have been indexed, transcribed or digitized. 

Beginning in 1598, copies of the parish register known as the bishop's transcripts were sent annually to the parish bishop. These make good substitutes for damaged or missing parish registers. If you fail to find your ancestor in the traditional parish records, check the bishop's transcripts.

Passenger Lists

Passenger lists are another resource to find your English ancestors. Genealogy researchers are both thrilled and frustrated by the variety of information found in these records. Earlier passenger lists may provide only minimal information on passengers, while later passenger lists can contain quite a bit of information on individual passengers. From example, the 1920's passenger lists out of the UK asked for the last known UK address!

1923 UK Passenger-List
1923 UK Passenger  List for the Aquitania (Source: FindMyPast.org, courtesy of The National Archives, London, England)

                                                     

Resources For English Records

Resources for English records include:

Not sure where your American ancestor immigrated from? Find strategies for researching your immigrant ancestors in Where Did My Immigrant Ancestors Come From? 

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Lisa Sig Photo 200 x 200Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind Are You My Cousin? and believes researching your genealogy does not have to be overwhelming. All you need is a solid plan, a genealogy toolbox and the knowledge to use those tools. Specializing in southern US research and finding those elusive females, Lisa is passionate about helping others find resources and tools to confidently research their genealogy. Lisa can be found online at LisaLisson.com , Facebook and Pinterest


5 Sources to Find Physical Characteristics of Your Ancestor

PhysicalCharact

As we research our ancestors in historical records, we start to get to know them. As researchers, we learn about their wealth (or lack thereof), the type of land they owned, and their military service. We can learn about their religion and possibly even the contents of their household.

But do you ever wonder what your ancestors looked like?

How tall was your great grandfather? Which side of the family did you get your blues eyes from? What color hair did your ancestor have? Did you ancestors have any physical deformities?

Even if you have no photographs of your ancestors, you can find descriptions of their physical characteristics.

Let’s take look at 5 sources for finding a description of an ancestor’s physical characteristics and potentially a photograph. 

1. Draft Cards - A man’s physical characteristics were listed on WWI and WWII draft cards. Height, weight (slight, medium or stout), hair color, and eye color were recorded. Race was also included. If your ancestor had a physical deformity, that was listed as well.  

WWI Draft C Howard
WWI Draft Card for Connie M. Howard of Lee County, NC (Source: Ancestry.com)

This example shows that Connie M. Howard of Lee County, NC was of medium height and medium build with brown eyes and black hair. No physical deformities are noted.

2. Civilian Conservation Corps Records - Part of the New Deal by President Roosevelt, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public relief corps dating from 1933-1942. The CCC program was specifically for unmarried and unemployed men. Roads, parks and improvement to other federal lands and natural resources were built by the CCC.  

A young man’s height, weight, eye color, hair color, complexion, and physical deformities were included on their admission and discharge papers.

3. Jail Records- Was your ancestor on the wrong side of the law? Admission records into a jail or prison likely will include a description of the inmate which can be very descriptive. In addition to the usual height, weight, eye and hair color, and complexion, descriptions of scars and tattoos are frequently included.

Take a look at the detailed physical description of 1866 Sing Sing Prison inmate Charles Miller.  Beyond the basics, we have a clear description of his scars and even how his mouth inclines to the left.

Sing sing prison admission
1866 Sing Sing Prison Admission Record (Source: Ancestry.com)

4. Passport Applications - Your ancestor’s passport application is another potential source to learn about your ancestor’s physical characteristics. Similar to the records above, passport applications asked for height, weight, eye and hair color, complexion and more.

As a bonus, you may find a photograph of your ancestor attached to the application.

Passport Abraham Jacobs 1923
1921 Passport Application of Abraham Jacobs (Source: Ancestry.com)

5. Yearbooks - High school and college yearbooks are another source for finding what your ancestor looked like by actually finding their photograph.  More and more yearbooks are being digitized and made available online. Researchers may be surprised to find how early yearbooks date back. In addition to searching for yearbooks on the large genealogy databases, check state archives and university digital collections.

Digital NC is one example where researchers of NC ancestors can find digitized yearbooks online dating back to 1890. The new MyHeritage Yearbook Collection is another.

Finding an actual photograph of an ancestor is not always possible, but researchers can search for descriptions of an individual’s physical characteristics.  Just as an individual’s household contents can be determined from wills and estate sales, an individual’s physical characteristics can be determined by searching the records he/she left behind.

 

Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. In researching her own family history, Lisa discovered a passion for oral history and its role in genealogy research. You can find Lisa online at Lisa Lisson.com.


How to Use Pinterest to Augment Your Genealogy Research

  How to Use Pinterest to Augment Your Genealogy Research

As of 1 January 2018, Pinterest has over 175 million users.  Are you of them? Maybe you use Pinterest to save new recipes or to try DIY projects you want to tackle.

But….

Do you use Pinterest to augment your genealogy research? To collaborate with other researchers? If not, you may be missing out on a valuable asset in your research.

Pinterest users go to Pinterest to:

  1. Be inspired.
  2. Solve a problem (and genealogists have lots of “problems” to solve!).

What is Pinterest?

Initially, Pinterest started out as more of a visual bookmarking site. It still is, but Pinterest now functions very much like a search engine.

Used creatively Pinterest can be one of the best tools in a genealogist’s toolbox.  Virtual bulletin boards can be created on whatever subject the pinner chooses. Genealogy researchers can create themed boards based on their research interests.

Examples include:

  • Location based research boards.  Example: North Carolina Genealogy or Irish Genealogy
  • Genealogy topic boards. Example: DNA & Genealogy or Tracing Female Ancestors
  • Surname Boards. Example: Talbott Genealogy

 Pins can then be pinned to the relevant board on the user’s page.

North-carolina-pinterest-board
Sample North Carolina Pinterest Board

Think about Pinterest in an old school way.  Remember the corkboard bulletin board you had in your bedroom as a teenager?  You used thumbtacks to put up pictures, programs, corsages from a dance.

You pinned things on your bulletin board you wanted to remember for nostalgic reasons or for things you needed to remember coming up.

Pinterest can do the same thing. Only in Pinterest you can have as many bulletin boards as you like organized to fit your needs! Even better, you can share your bulletin boards and pins with others.

Pinterest-genealogy-boards-samples
Sample Pinterest Boards

Pinterest as a Search Engine

Pinterest can be used as a search engine and this is where its power as a genealogy researcher’s tool really is. Just as you perform a search on Google, you can perform a search on Pinterest.

Pinterest-search-bar

Type your search term(s) in the search box.  Pins related to your search term or keywords are displayed.  For example, if you are currently researching Irish ancestors, type “Irish genealogy” into the search bar at the top of the page.

Pinterest-irish-genealogy-search
A small portion of the search results for “Irish Genealogy” on Pinterest.

 

Results for the Irish genealogy are displayed. Click on the pin to get more details.

At this point you want to do one of  two things (or both):

  1. Click on the image (again) to go to be taken to the webpage for that information
  2. Save the pin to your board (ie.to a virtual bulletin board you have created) to review later.

Pinterest users can also search using hashtags such as #genealogy or #familyhistory.

Other Great Ways To Use Pinterest in Your Genealogy Research

As mentioned above, Pinterest can function as a visual bookmarking platform and a search engine. There are other ways Pinterest can benefit you as a genealogy researcher.

  • Collaboration –  Group boards can be created allowing you to collaborate with other genealogy researchers and pinners on a topic of mutual interest.
  • Follow Your Favorite genealogy bloggers and genealogy industry leaders – In Pinterest you have the ability to “Follow” other pinners including your favorite bloggers and industry leaders.
  • Wish Lists – Are you saving up for more genealogy reference books? Create a board centered around your wish list.
  • Research travel plans – Pin links to lodging, research repositories and local historical sites to reference as you plan your genealogy research trip.

Now It’s Your Turn!

 

Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. In researching her own family history, Lisa discovered a passion for oral history and its role in genealogy research. You can find Lisa online at Lisa Lisson.com.

 


Researching Your Georgia Ancestors

A well versed genealogist told me that when you lose an ancestor in south central Virginia in the 1830’s look in Georgia. Losing an ancestor took me from the basement of the Halifax County, Virginia court house to the genealogy records of Georgia.  

Look in Georgia?

The discovery of Georgia gold in 1829 led to the Georgia Gold Rush and an influx of people seeking their fortunes. Almost every surname in Halifax County, Virginia in the 1830’s can be found in Georgia. As it turns out, I was following the ancestor who was following the gold. Without learning the history of the time and the area, looking for my ancestors in Georgia would not have occurred to me. (Tip: Know the historical and economic events that would have impacted your ancestors.)

Now I needed to learn about the Georgia Genealogy resources.

Georgia
Source: Library of Congress


 

Georgia Genealogy Resources

Georgia is made up of 159 counties.  Genealogical records for each county vary as is often found in the Southern states.  Fires, floods and natural disasters account for many of the record losses. Marriage and probate records were recorded by the clerk of the Ordinary Court. Land records were recorded by the Clerk of the Superior Court.  The Superior Court handled most civil cases as well. From 1805-1833, Georgia had a unique land lottery system to distribute lands that had been taken from the Cherokee and Creek Indians.  

Online Resources for Your Georgia Genealogy Research

Georgia Farmer
Georgia Farmer  (Source: Library of Congress)

 

 

African American Genealogy Resources

Are you researching African American ancestors in Georgia?  These resources may be of help.

Genealogical Societies of Georgia

Genealogical societies at the state, regional and local levels provide a variety of helpful resources.

Don't forget to the check out the Legacy QuickGuide: Georgia Genealogy by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman (PDF Edition)

Share your favorite Georgia genealogy resources in the comments below!

[Unfortunately, that gold seeking ancestor did not strike it rich and no family fortune in gold was discovered!]

 

Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. In researching her own family history, Lisa discovered a passion for oral history and its role in genealogy research. You can find Lisa online at Lisa Lisson.com.

 

 

 


Starting Your Tennessee Genealogy Research

If you research North Carolina or Virginia ancestors, you will not find it unusual to track your ancestors to Tennessee.  Do you know the best resources and sites to research your Tennessee ancestors?

Starting Your Tennessee Genealogy Research
Original Photo Source: Library of Congress

 

First Things First

Just as you would with any other new location you are researching, learn about the county and state where your ancestors lived. Research the county and state lines and any boundary changes that may have occurred during the pertinent time period. Refer to this interactive map of Tennessee’s evolving county borders.

TN Map 1826 LOC.gov
Source: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

 

Tennessee State Library and Archives

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a natural place to start your Tennessee genealogy research. You will find a variety of resource guides and online digital collections. Examples include Searching for Your Ancestors at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Early NC/Tennessee Land Grants, and African American Genealogical Resources.  Be sure and check the Family Bible project and the historic Tennessee map collection, too.  Take time to explore the Tennessee State Library and Archive’s website as you begin researching your Tennessee ancestors.

Another great resource for Tennessee residents is the genealogy tab at the  Tennessee Electronic Library.  You will need to provide Tennessee zip code and phone number to gain access.

Tennessee Records in the State Archives of North Carolina

Initially, part of today’s Tennessee’s eastern counties were part of North Carolina.  In 1784, North Carolina ceded part of their western lands to the federal government, but set aside land for land grants to Revolutionary War veterans. Land grants for these counties can be found in the State Archives of North Carolina. 

Once Tennessee became the 16th state, the county records for those previously North Carolina counties stayed with the county seats. A few early records for these counties were retained in North Carolina.  Refer to the Records relating to Tennessee in the North Carolina State Archives document for a listing of these records.

For a more detailed explanation of the formation of modern day Tennessee including the State of Franklin, go to the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Umbrella Rock - Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain, TN Source: Library of Congress

 

Tennessee Genealogy Databases around the Web

Sometimes in genealogy research, the researcher needs to think outside the box. In other words, get creative in the search for records and resources to further your research and break down those brick walls.   Examples of good resources for the Tennessee genealogist include:

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but a starting point for the researcher with Tennessee ancestors.

You can also start your Tennessee research by watching these webinars by J. Mark Lowe in the Legacy Family Tree Webinars library:


What are YOUR  favorite Tennessee genealogy resources? Tell us in the comments!

Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. In researching her own family history, Lisa discovered a passion for oral history and its role in genealogy research. You can find Lisa online at Lisa Lisson.com.

 

 

 


Did My Ancestor's Farm Prosper or Fail?

Most genealogy researchers are familiar with the population schedules of 1790-1940 United States Federal censuses. Many are not as familiar with non-population schedules such as the Agricultural schedule, the Mortality schedule or the Industry/Manufacturers schedules. These schedules are often underutilized, but can provide the researcher with valuable information about your ancestors.

Many of your ancestors were farmers and as such would have been recorded in the agricultural census records. The agricultural schedule was kept from 1850-1910. Unfortunately, not all of these schedules survived.  The 1890 schedule was lost due to the effects of the fire that destroyed the 1890 population census. The agricultural schedule of 1900 and 1910 were destroyed by congressional order.  The surviving Agricultural census records are for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880.  (These can be found on Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com can frequently be accessed for free at your local library or your local Family History Center.)

Why would your ancestor not be included on the agricultural schedule? In 1850 farms that did not produce $100 in products were not included.  In 1870 farms that produced less than $500 or that was less than 3 acres were not included.

1850 Ag Census David Talbott

Agricultural Schedule. Image from Ancestry.com.

Information Found on the Agricultural Schedule

  1. The name of the owner, manager or agent of the farm.
  2. In counties where tax and/or land records are missing, the agricultural schedule can place an ancestor in place and time.
  3. The agricultural schedule can provide a look at an ancestor’s household.  What crops were raised (wheat, rye, Indian corn, oats, sweet potatoes, barley…..)   What livestock (horses, asses and mules, milk cows, working oxen, other cattle, sheep and swine) was owned and the value of this livestock. How many acres the farm contained, including improved and unimproved. 
  4. Just like the population census records, your ancestor’s neighborhood can be seen. This is important since you can learn who was in your ancestor’s FAN club [Friends, Associates and Neighbors]. 
  5. The agricultural census can help in differentiating between two people of the same name.
  6. Another interesting thing the southern researcher can learn is what how the Civil War affected your ancestor’s farm and land values. 

Let’s take a closer look at the 1850 Agricultural Schedule

1850 Ag Census

1850 Agricultural Census for Jesse R Haley of Halifax County, VA. Image from Ancestry.com

Jesse R Haley (~1802-1869) lived in Halifax County, Virginia. In 1850 Jesse owned his own farm consisting of 80 acres of land.  25 acres of land were improved and 55 acres were unimproved.  The land was valued at $240. Farming implements and equipment were valued at $10.  His livestock included 1 horse, 3 milk cows, 1 other cattle, 6 sheep and 22 swine. The livestock is valued at $136.  Jesse Haley grew wheat, indian corn, tobacco, oats, peas, irish potatoes and sweet potatoes.  The farm also produced 30 pounds of butter.

Now let’s take a closer look at Jesse Haley’s farm in 1860 Agricultural Schedule

1860 Ag census Jesse Haley a

Portion of the 1860 Agricultural Schedule for Jesse R Haley (Halifax County, VA). Image from Ancestry.com

Jesse R Haley was still living in Halifax County, Virginia on the same land next door to Nancy Tribble.  He now has 80 acres (40 improved and 40 unimproved) worth $600. His farm equipment and implements are worth $40.  He owns one horse, two milk cows, 2 working oxen, 3 other cattle, 22 sheep and 8 swine. His livestock is valued at $234. He grew indian corn, oats and tobacco valued at $985. He also grew peas, irish potatoes and produced 60 pounds of butter.

Between 1850 and 1860, Jesse Haley’s economic situation improved. He acquired more livestock and switched to predominantly sheep in 1860 as compared to swine in 1850. More milk cows led to an increase in butter production.

Unfortunately, Jesse Haley died in 1869, so the value of his land and farm after the Civil War in not known. Like others around him, it is almost certain the value of his farm was less than in 1860.

When searching your farming southern ancestors, be sure to look beyond the population census records.  The Agricultural Schedules of the United States censuses will provide you with valuable information and clues about your ancestor leading to new research possibilities.

 
Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. You can find Lisa online at Lisa Lisson.com.


5 Online Places to Start Your Southern Genealogy Research

Research in the South can be both challenging and rewarding. Historically, the southern states’ culture and economy have been deeply rooted in agriculture. As an agrarian society, many areas were not meticulous in keeping records. When living on farms any significant distance from the courthouse, taking care of business at home took precedence over a lengthy trip to the courthouse. Births and deaths might not be recorded until months or years later. Deed transfers within the family might not be formalized for a generation. As a researcher of the American South, it is imperative to understand the agrarian way of life.

Another challenge for the Southern researcher is burned counties.  Many counties have lost records over the years to fire and/or natural disasters.  Certainly the Civil War played a role in the loss of courthouse records. While research in a burned county can present a brick wall for the researcher, the brick wall is not insurmountable.

Don’t despair! Research of your southern ancestors will still be a rewarding experience.  

Richardson familyDaniel T. Richardson of Pittsylvania County, VA - ~1906 (Source: Personal Collection of Lisa Talbott Lisson)

5 Online Places to Find Your Southern Ancestors

  1. The State Archives – More and more records are becoming available online for the genealogy researcher.  A good place to start is with the state archives where your ancestors lived. Each state will have its own unique holdings. For example, if you have North Carolina ancestors, visit the State Archives of North Carolina website. You will be able to search their holdings and explore their digital collections. Examples of what you will find include family Bibles, Civil War Pension Applications, and War of 1812 Pay Vouchers.  The State Library and Archives of Florida’s Florida Memory Collection is another good example of using a state archives’ available online records. On their site a sample of what you will find includes Spanish land grants, WWI Service Cards and Civil War Pension Applications.

  2. State and Local Genealogical Societies – The amount of information found on state and local genealogical societies will vary quite a bit. The information is usually provided by the society’s volunteers.  Still, be sure to check these societies for where your ancestor lived. Depending on the individual society, variable local records will be available. For example, transcripts of individual will and deeds might be found. Photographs of local residents and landmarks are another example that may be found. Some of the information may only be available to the society’s members while others are available to the general public. These sites are certainly worth a look.

  3. Documenting the American South (DocSouth) – The University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) sponsors this online resource for southern history, cultural and literature. Among its collections are first person narratives of slaves, women, farmers and soldiers. Other collections include personal diaries and papers relating to the Civil War and slave narratives. DocSouth is an invaluable resource for any southern researcher.

  4. The Library of Virginia – While obviously focused on the records of Virginia, many southern families of other states such as Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama can trace families back to Virginia.  The LVA website is also a valuable resource for learning about the southern culture and way of life.

  5. The Digital Library on American Slavery – If you have African American ancestry, this site sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is an excellent place to visit. Many slave deeds, runaway slave advertisements and slavery era insurance records may be found here.

Remember: For all the excellent records available online, there are many more that are not. To be complete in your research, sometimes you need to travel to a repository or use the assistance of a local genealogist.

Now…. Go grab a tall glass of iced tea and start exploring your southern roots!

You can learn more about southern genealogy research in these Legacy webinars:

 
Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and Etsy-prenuer who writes about her never-ending pursuit of ancestors, the “how” of genealogy research and the importance of sharing genealogy research with our families. Specializing in North Carolina and southern Virginia research, she also provides genealogical research services to clients. You can find Lisa online at Lisa Lisson.com.