AmericaGen Study Group
Chapter 24 Homework
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.