Assembling the Facts

By Jeannette Holland Austin

Hopewell Mounds in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Genealogists assemble all the factual history of an era in order to better track the ancestors and their engagements.

The long struggle to find information concerning our ancestors continues to reign, even in the face of Internet genealogy, local libraries and archives. It seems that just about everyone has an ancestor or two which they cannot find. The importance of public records, written biographies and genealogies, family bible records, tombstones and monuments is prevalent to every genealogist. The Mayans kept written records on Maya Stelae which are tall, sculptured stone shafts with lower stones referred to as altars. Although an intensive effort was underway in the 1970s, much is still lacking in intrepretation. Monument inscriptions is a useful means of recording history. I once discovered the names of my second great-grandfather's children by reading a monument in front of the Gwinnett County, Georgia Court House. It gave the names of those persons in the local militia who were killed in an Indian fight.

Oh, but we have lost so much! Brigham Young University has worked on intrepreting crumbled up remnants of the Dead Sea Scrolls for many years, while developing a technology which will virtually restore the inscription. I have read many questions on inquiriing about the content and purpose of the census. In 1790, the United States took the first census. Only the name of the head of the family was listed. By 1850, the census included the names, ages, and birthplace of everyone. Subsequent census records included more detail, such as the number of born children who were born. So, it is not strange to me that over the years the additional information was added to the census. It was very nice when I read the 1850 Census and discovered that one of my ancestors was born in Scotland. So, adding whether one is a citizen or not on the 2020 census is but one more step to helping someone in the future find information essential to locating the ancestors. Immigration records are difficult to find. Countless ships sank in the seas. Ship Manifests were delayed for months and often not always delivered at all to the port master. In America, we have records datiing back to the early part of the 17th century, but we need to learn something of colonial handwriting before venturing there. Yet, English records dating to 1500s are even more difficult to read. Especially, with the use of Latin expressions. Generally, the use of a 17th-century handwriting guide helps. If we can train ourselves to read certain surnames, that is a beginning. 17th century handwriting

There is a great deal of conversation today about historical events. Archeologists are uncovering forgotten sites with the use of new technology. The results are edifying. The DNA evidence of old bones and writing on monuments offers data not available when the history books were written. For example, copper swords found in the Great Lakes area dating back 2000 years as well as other artifacts, proves that Indians resided in a rich copper zone and used ores for many practical purposes.* Actually, truth is discovered moreso at the actual time of its occurrance. Not years later. Do you recall the day and year when your grandmother died? Did you remember the first year after she was buried, the second? How about twenty years later? Oh, don't we wish that we remembered the stories shared by our grandmothers. But, despite what grandmother told us, her memory was not too good either.

Genealogists formerly “abstracted” old county records. Even though the abstracts are helpful, the actual document is preferred for real accuracy. Thus, written documents such as old wills, estates and deeds found in the county clerk’s offices which were recorded during the lifetime of our ancestors is the most important resource for discerning truth from error.

*Searching for Indian Tribes ; Creek Indians ; Mayans and Creeks; Hopewell Mounds National Park; Pinson Mounds in Tennessee

New Additions to Georgia Pioneers


Grainger Co. Inventories & Wills 1833-1839; 1839-1847; 1847-1852

Hawkins Co. Wills 1797-1826; 1864-1878;1885-1910

Davidson Co. Wills, Estates, Deeds 1784-1792; 1792-1804; Wills 1805-1809; Wills 1809-1816

Roane Co. Wills & Estates 1802-1824; 1828-1837; 1838-1842 1842-1846

Montgomery County Wills, Estates, Deeds 1796-1821; 1817-1821; Wills & Estates 1810-1818

Blount County Wills 1795-1869; 1896-1922; 1923-1934

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