CAJUNS, CREOLES, PIRATES AND PLANTERS
Your New Louisiana Ancestors Format
Volume 2, Number 5
By Damon Veach
STARTING OUT: Genealogy research involves more than just time. There has to be a sincere interest in finding answers. This is one of the reasons that so many older individuals spend more time at this than the younger generations at compiling family histories. Of course, age and the interest to hold on to something before it is forgotten also come into the picture. Things change with time too. In many cases, individuals wait too long to start researching the past history of the family, and without living contacts, the procedure becomes more complicated.
This is the advantage of starting out early. It is why talking to older relatives remains so important, and the generations of today seem less likely to do this than those of the past. A good case in point can be the family Bible. This was a book that at one time contained the names, dates, and even individual notes that could never be found in archives or courthouses. Record keeping techniques are different today than in the past. Recording family data was personal, and like so many other important documents, they were often kept within the family home and not stored or recorded elsewhere.
Writing down all the known data is important in the beginning. This importance comes from those discussions with older relatives about their knowledge of the past. It is so simple to write down this information, but it is seldom done. This makes it so difficult in later years to uncover even the simplest of things relating to the family. It is something that needs to be instilled in children at a young age, but this is often overlooked in the overall picture of family unity.
When there is nothing to build upon, it is left up to individuals to find the right place to begin family research. Today, the internet can bring a lot of archival material directly to you, but you still have to learn where it is located and how to go about retrieving it and connecting it to your own lineage. In the case of larger cities, there is the public library where you can look up material in the many genealogical reference books. In smaller towns, this can be a burden so many individuals turn to the courthouses for their beginning endeavors. Sometimes this proves to be a great asset especially if the family has lived in the area for a long period of time. However, people in modern times have moved around a lot, and it is impossible to go back to the original places to do research.
With this in mind, the internet becomes even more important. However, it isnít as simple as it might seem. Records are being copies at a rapid pace now, but you still have to learn what has been copied and if the material is inclusive of all documents within a given facility. It is important to follow all leads, and this will take you far beyond the internet.
You have to check out those libraries, cemeteries, society publications, recorded lineages, courthouse documents, newspaper files, wills, land records, and all the other places where a record might be hidden away just waiting for discovery. Even if you find material that you think is important to your quest for more knowledge on your family, you still need to check it out for accuracy. Just because it is in print doesnít necessarily mean it is correct. People make mistakes. Recording data correctly can be the most important part of your research.
All of this may not be of interest to young people today, but as age progresses, this aspect of an individualís past will become more important. This is why starting out early can make things so much more simple to understand, and records will reflect the amount of time and energy spent in saving the past for future generations to enjoy. It is an important lesson that requires strong support which comes with maturity and strong family values.
CLEARFIELD BOOKS: More books to aid in family research have been released by Clearfield Company of Maryland. Many have been reviewed in this column format, but they are constantly being revised and updated so it is important to take another look at many of them especially if they are part of a series. Sometimes they are originally printed in hardcover editions and then later released in soft-cover volumes. If it is too expensive to add these to your collections, be sure to check out major library collections to see if these are either among the selections or can be added to the collections for use by researchers.
Chickasaw by Blood is a series of Native American source records compiled by genealogist Jeff Bowen. The purported four-volume undertaking is based on the Chickasaw enrollment cards, sometimes called "census cards," prepared by the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes (the Dawes Commission) between 1898 and 1914. The Commission's purpose was to rule on citizenship applications submitted by members of the Five Civilized Tribes covering some 250,000 persons. The Commission ultimately enrolled 101,000 people according to the following categories: Citizens by Blood, Citizens by Marriage, New Born Citizens by Blood, Minor Citizens by Blood, Freedmen (former black slaves of Indians), New Born Freedmen, and Minor Freedmen, indicating its findings on the enrollment cards.
For the second book in this series, Bowen has transcribed the genealogical contents of the cards from National Archives Microfilm Series M-1186: Roll 67, pp. 1-662; and Roll 68, pp. 663-1424.
This transcription of the Chickasaw enrollment cards provides the following information on each individual whose name appeared in a given application: county of residence, post office (local address), name, relationship to first person named in application, age, sex, Blood Tribal Enrollment (year, town, page), and similar identifying information for the parents of the first person named.
In addition to the foregoing standard information, which Bowen has arranged in a tabular format, researchers will discover valuable data in the "Notes" section at the conclusion of each card's contents. Besides the Dawes Roll No., the Notes contain other name listings, references to different cards, birth dates, death dates, listings on various payrolls with years, mention of a spouse in the "doubtful" category or from another tribe, and more. In all, Volume II of Chickasaw by Blood names 3,500 persons seeking citizenship status at this crucial time in Native American history, bringing the total number of persons acknowledged to be "Chickasaw by blood" to 7,000.
This book can be ordered directly from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Baltimore, MD 21211. The price is $35.00, postage and handling included.
Another book from Clearfield is also part of a series of important recorded documents. The Prerogative Court was the focal point for probate in colonial Maryland. All matters of probate went directly to the Prerogative Court, which was located in Maryland's colonial capital, Annapolis. The Prerogative Court was also the colony's court for equity cases - resolution of disputes over the settlement and distribution of an estate.
With the volume at hand, compiler Vernon Skinner has assembled his twenty-third collection of abstractions based upon this important source for Maryland genealogists, entitled Abstracts of the Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court of Maryland. In compiling the series, Skinner has worked primarily from microfilm copies of the Prerogative Court records. However, when necessary to resolve problems of paleography, he has consulted the original manuscripts, located at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.
The series is arranged, volume by volume, chronologically by court session. Volume XXIII consists of abstracts for the period 1741-1744, as found in the remainder of Liber 31 of the records. In all, the latest book in this remarkable series refers to an additional 7,000 colonial inhabitants of the Province of Maryland. For the most part, the transcriptions state the names of the principals (testators, heirs, guardians, witnesses, administrators, and so forth), as well as details of bequests, names of slaves, appraisers, and more.
This is an invaluable series of books if you ancestors are from Maryland, and Skinner has done a fine job in transcribing the data. This book is also priced at $35.00, postpaid, and it is available at the address listed above.
GENEALOGICAL INQUIRIES: Queries retain their importance for years. That is why taking advantage of a free service is important to genealogical researchers. As long as the address of the researcher remains the same, you never know when someone will find the listing and contact you. If you would like to add your query to this column format, just send it in. There is no limit to the number of words, and you may be able to reach a distant relative researching the same lineage. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal service to Damon Veach, 709 Bungalow Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5337.
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