SOME GENEALOGICAL PROBLEMS
do you know and what do you need to know?
> In what type of record can you find the information that
will unlock your problem?.
> How can you get to that record?
> If that record is not available, what record can be substituted?
Rules to Remember:
1. A man
who receives by a will cannot be a witness to it.
2. A nun-cupative
will can dispose only of personal property.
3. A married
woman could not make a will without her husband's consent and
even so, could dispose only of personal property unless there
had been a pre-nuptial agreement.
to land could be conveyed either by inheritance or deed or marriage.
5. If a
man sells land and there is no record in the Deed Book that he
purchased that land, then he inherited it or his wife inherited
the land and a record of that is in the probate files. Knowing
this will help to discover the identity of the wives.
6. A man
did not have to be 21 to buy land, but he did have to be 21 to
sell it. He did not have to own property to vote, but he did have
to be a free man. He had to be 21 to serve on a jury, but he did
not have to own property or to be naturalized.
7. A woman
was never a taxable or tithe. If her name appears on a tax list,
it is because she is a widow; she has a male of taxable age in
her household or a slave of taxable age.
used numerical dating and did not take oaths and were not married
in a civil service. A Quaker's last will does not begin with:
"In the name of God, Amen," and there are no marriage
bonds for Quakers.
are excellent indexed records for Moravians and Quakers; many
records of both Lutheran and Reformed churches and ministers that
have been translated.
males and females enumerated in the census records prior to 1850
are not necessarily members of the immediate family; they are
merely members of the household and may not even be related.
did not necessarily mean "son of," but was a designation
for a younger man of the same name in the same area. A man could
be a "junior" at one period and "senior" at
a later period.
did not mean a babe in arms but someone under legal age.
"orphan" was someone under 21 who had lost his or her
father; the mother might well be living.
illegitimate child almost invariably took the surname of the mother.
a man died in Rowan County, NC and devised his land in Davidson
County to his son, there will not be a record in Davidson County
to show the transmittal of that property.
intestacy, the Court appointed as administrator(s) the widow &
relict [who may have already remarried and may have a different
name] and/or sons(s) who are of legal age. If they relinquish,
the largest creditor is appointed.
17. A posthumous
child, even if not mentioned in the will, will share equally with
the other children.
just anyone can file a caveat to a will - only a person who stands
to inherit from the estate, and only then if he would receive
more by the laws of intestate succession than from the provisions
of the will.
no executor is named in the will, the Court appoints an administrator
"cum testamento annexo" to carry out the provisions
of the will.
to the laws of intestate succession, the widow receives 1/3rd
of all property, and the remainder goes to the children.
law of primogeniture was legally abolished in 1784 and had to
do only with the estate of an intestate.
the widows of intestates were allotted a year's provision.
1868, a husband had a life estate in all real property owned by
his wife at the time of their marriage; this is known as curtesy.
rights pertained to the belonging of the husband, whether he owned
it before the marriage or acquired it afterward. Husbands did
have identical rights to property owned by their wives, but when
referring to those rights they are called curtsy rather than dower.
or Courtesy, Scotch Law. A life-rent given by law to the surviving
husband, of all his wife's heritage of which she died in feft,
if there was a child of the marriage born alive. The child born
of the marriage must be the mother's heir. If she had a child
by a former marriage, who is to succeed to her estate, the husband
has no right to the curtsy while such child is alive; so that
the curtesy is due to the husband rather as father to the heir
than as husband to an heiress, comfortable to the Roman law, which
gives to the father the use of what the child succeeds to by the
an estate was debt-ridden, the personal property was disposed
of first. The widow's 1/3rd was protected and usually 1/3rd for
the children against any claims for debt.
"orphan" over the age of 14 could select his own guardian
[as it is now]; if he were younger, the Court appointed the guardian.
If an orphan were left little estate, he was often apprenticed
by the Court to learn a trade.
for a man disposing of more land than you can find him buying.
Did land come to him by death? Did his wife inherit property that
he is selling?
age for white men during the colonial period was 16; during the
Revolutionary War it varied from county to county; after 1784,
it was 21.
very careful about accepting any information on a death certificate
other than the date of death, as the information was given under
stress by someone who may not have a full knowledge of the facts.
The same holds true for obituary notices.
spelling can be tricky. The clerk wrote down what he HEARD, i.e.,
Anne Eliza or Annie Liza, Synderalugh or Cinderella.
for occupations being Capitalized as identification following
a name, without a coma. Very few people had three names. John
Williams Carpenter in 1785 was probably John Williams, carpenter.
John Henry Taylor may well have been John Henry, tailor.
times there are no commas separating a list of names of children
in a will and you may have either ten daughters with single names
or five daughters with double names or a mixture.
a man left underage children, you should expect to find a guardian
being appointed and the children being referred to as "orphans"
although their mother may still be living and be appointed their
guardian. If she has remarried, her new husband is often appointed
guardian of the minor children.
can be very confusing, i.e., "hairs purchaced waggins at
checking an index, say the surname and envision every possible
spelling. Jo Linn eventually identified her husband's ancestor
Lewis Redwine as having been Ludwig Rheitweil
names were shortened through usage. Mr. Reed Pickler had
difficulty with his line until he realized the surname of the
immigrant ancestor was Blankenpickler.
examining a Bible record, see if the handwriting is all the same.
If it is, all entries were probably made at the time of the latest
entry; if entries were made at the time the event occurred, they
are more apt to be accurate.
NC, the marriage act of 1741 forbade "the abominable mixture"
between white men and women and Indians, Negroes, Mustees and
Mulattoes or any person of mixed blood.
denoting relationship, such as "in-law" and "step,"
often had different meanings from what they have today. "Nephew"
sometimes meant grandson or grandchild, such as "to my nephew
Rebecca Hayes." "Brother" could be also brother-in-law
or brother in Christ or a minister.
or non-swearers were people who refused or failed to take the
oath of allegiance, i.e., Loyalists or Tories. Many when faced
with the possible confiscation of their property, embraced the
Revolutionary cause, and some became super patriots.
and estate sales reveal much about the occupation and status of
the deceased and often suggest other records that might be searched.
the naming patterns in the generations you have constructed as
a possible clue for a given name of an earlier male or the maiden
name of a wife. For example, the widow Hartwell Drake almost certainly
had a mother whose maiden name was Hartwell.
a later child was given the same name as one who had died earlier.
there is no marriage bond for a 2nd marriage, look for an age-gap
between children to try to determine when the first wife died,
of the term "proven" and "acknowledged" in
land transactions. Ack, or Acknowledged: The usual procedure in
a legal transfer of land was that the seller, after deeding over
the land, go before the county court and, under oath, publicly
acknowledge the transfer. If married, the wife may appear also,
and be examined privately to determine if she agrees with the
transfer of the land and to relinquish her dower rights to the
property. If she does not do this in court, commissioners are
appointed to visit her and examine her as to the transfer. In
deed records, and abstracts of land transfers, there often is
a note entered by the Clerk similar to this: "Ack: 23 May
1750." This means the seller, (grantor of the deed) and his
wife, if any, personally appeared before the court or did so by
proxy. Proved: If the seller cannot appear in court personally,
the deed document was witnessed by several individuals who signed
on behalf of the purchaser. A note by the Court Clerk: "Proved:
20 Oct 1791" means the witnesses appeared before the court
and certified the veracity of the transfer. Use of the term "before
the court" could signify appearance before one of its Justices
and be at a time outside the time of the usual quarter sessions..
The court, finding the transfer of the property to be in proper
order, orders the Clerk to record a copy of the deed in the County
Deed Book. In cases where it is known that the grantor is to appear
before the court and acknowledge the deed, it would not be necessary
and Seizen was a practice between the seller and buyer of a piece
of land. They met on the property and in the presence of witnesses
declare the contents on which livery is to be made. This was a
ceremonial act by which the seller delivers (livery) a clod, or
twig or some other piece of turf or branch from some plant growing
on the property and this transfer is accompanied with words much
like the following: "I deliver these to you in the name of
seizen of all the lands and tenements contained in this deed."
It was a formalized ritual probably called for by the purchaser
who may have had something to gain by having several witnesses
to the event. These matters concern a vocabulary no longer used,
and made manifest that which is now reduced to words on paper.
England and all territories governed by her used the Julian Calendar
until 1751, often referred to as Old Style or O.S. Under that
system, the new year began on 25 March, while all of March was
recognized as the first month. Thus, where numbers were used instead
of month names, one has to calculate the month: i.e., 3-11-1680
meant May 11, 1680. The 7th month meant September. Since the Gregorian
Calendar, or New Style [N.S.] began its year on January 1st, some
writers employed a system of double-dating years for the dates
which fell into January, February, or March such as 1731/2. Double-dating
occurs only for dates within the first three months of the year
and does not exist after 1752 when the Gregorian Calendar wasadopted
by England and her territories. Prior to 1752, it is perfectly
possible to find a will dated October first and probated January
third of the same numerically numbered year. It is possible to
find a woman marrying with a birth date of 3 January 1750. The
problem occurs only prior to 1752 in connection with the first
three months of the year and with the use of numbered months.
One watches for it particularly in dealing with Quaker records
where the months are invariably numbered.
hundred years ago, middle names were more prominent in some families
more so than others. When families continually gave a first name
of John or William or Thomas, etc., a middle name was added to
tell which John came from which family. Nick names such as Jack/Jackson/Jonathan,
etc., were also used to distinguish one John from the other. The
same applies to Mary/Polly; Hannah/Nancy/Anna; Frances/Fanny;