Sunday, May 12, 2019

AmericaGen Chapter 24: Church Records and Family History

AmericaGen Study Group
Chapter 24 Homework 
Marceline Beem

Reference: Greenwood, Val D. “Church Records and Family History.” In The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 4th ed., 585-624. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2017.

In this chapter, the author discusses the use of church records in American research. This is an area I have not explored much, as most of my ancestors were members of churches that did not systematically record vital statistics in their records.  Most of the church records I've used in my research have been secondary sources - church histories or biographies of ministers. However, one church record in particular will help me in proving residency to qualify for the Florida Pioneer Descendant Certificate. To qualify at the county level, one must prove descent from someone who lived in a Florida county prior to its creation.

My Baldwin family lived in Duval County, Florida in 1850. The census from that year is the earliest document I've found to date showing them as Florida residents. Knowing that James Baldwin owned land in North Carolina and in Putnam County, Florida, I assumed he owned land in Duval County as well. I did find a listing for him in the deed index, but the deed itself is no longer extant, thanks to a courthouse fire in Jacksonville in 1906. Of course, the index gives only his name and not the precise location of the property, so the index is not helpful for determining residency for the purposes of the Pioneer Certificate.

Beulah Baptist Church was organized in Duval County, Florida in 1850. One of the charter members was Elvy Baldwin, wife of James Baldwin. Clay County was formed from Duval County in 1858 and included the area where Beulah Baptist Church was located. (This census map shows the area of Duval County that later became Clay County). As a charter member, we can be pretty certain that Elvy Baldwin lived close to the church in 1850, providing evidence that she was a resident of Clay County before its creation. 

One other document shows the Baldwins lived in Clay County prior to its formation-- the petition requesting the state allow the creation of Clay County from Duval County. However, that document is signed only by James Baldwin, as Elvy would not have had legal standing to sign that document. The list of charter members is the only document directly naming Elvy as a resident of the section of Duval County that became Clay County, qualifying her for inclusion as a Florida pioneer. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

AmericaGen: Chapter 22 Court Records

AmericaGen Study Group
Chapter 22 Homework 
Marceline Beem

Reference: Greenwood, Val D. “Court Records and Family History.” In The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 4th ed., 547-574. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2017.

This chapter discusses the use of court records in genealogy research. I admit to not being well-versed in using court records (outside of land and probate files), and have only dug into court records in the last several years. Two years ago, I traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee to research and had the opportunity to spend some time at the Knox County Archives. The archives are the repository for Hamilton District Superior Court, which tried cases for East Tennessee counties from 1792-1809. The archives has an online index to these cases, making it easy to find and order records.  

In 1798, Robert King wrote a $500 bond to purchase 200 acres of land for Robert Burk. 


Source: Burk v King, Docket #908/631,638 (1803), Hamilton District Superior Court of Law and Equity.

Know all men by these presents that I Robert King of Hakins [sic] County 
and State of Tennessee am held and firmly bound unto Robert Burk
Late of Jefferson County and State aforesaid in the penal sum of
five hundred dollars to be paid unto the said Robert Burk his Heirs
Execrs Adminirs or assigns - to the which payment will and Truly to
be made and done I bind myself my heirs Execrs Adminrs and assigns 
jointly and severaly firmly by these presents sealed with my seal
and sealed this 18th 
Day of April 179?

The condition of the above obligation is such that if the above
Bonded Robert King shall make or cause to be made a good
and suficient Title in fee simple to Two hundred acres of
Land of the first quallity of valley Land to be situate
on poplar Creek, powels valley or within fifteen miles of 
Southwest Point - to be well timberd and sufficient spring
said Title to be made within six months after [date?]
then the above obligation to be void and of none effect otherwise
to be and remain in full force and value in Law
Signed Sealed this 18th Day of April 1798.

Test- Robert King (seal)
W. L. [Lovely?]
Alexander Brown

In 1801, Robert Burk filed a lawsuit against Robert King in Knox County for not fulfilling the terms of the bond. Robert King countersued, denying Burk's claim. In 1803, the suit was filed in Hamilton District Court. Robert Burk was awarded $500 in damages, but the case continued until 1815 as attempts were made to recover the money King now owed Burk.

This case provided a migration trail for Robert Burk, who lived in Jefferson County when the bond was signed in 1798. By 1801, he had moved to Knox County, and a few years later, he was living in Roane County. Roane County was formed in 1801 from Knox County. I haven't done the research yet to determine if Robert Burk lived in that section of Knox County in 1801 or if he physically moved. Images of Knox County deeds have recently been added to Family Search, so I can now do that research from home.

Robert Burk is an associate of my direct ancestor, Joseph Horton, whom I've blogged about several times. Joseph Horton also lived in Jefferson, Knox and Roane Counties at the same time as Robert Burk. Although the case file never mentions any of the Horton clan, it can (and will be) used as indirect evidence in establishing that Joseph Horton who died in Roane County in 1813 is the same Joseph Horton who lived in Lincoln County, North Carolina in 1790.