Pensions for the War of 1812 were not authorized until 1871 and were
granted to all of those still living in 1871. However, disabled soldiers
from the War of 1812 received pensions under the Old Wars Act prior to 1871.
The Indian War Pensions are microfilmed and most are indexed. They are
found under; Indian Survivor's Originals; Indian survivor's certificates;
Indian widow's originals and Indian widow's certificates.
The Mexican War Pension files are much the same as other files, except they
required the maiden name of the wife, the names of any former wives, death
or divorce information about previous wives and the names and dates of
birth of all living children.
There cannot possibly be a war that has produced as many books as the Civil
War, especially in the Southern States. Walk into any library in the south
(regular or genealogical) and you will find shelf after shelf of books
about the Civil War. This War touched so many families and wrought such
devastation in so much of the young USA that it has produced an
unbelievable amount of information.
This War produced a multitude of
records that contain valuable genealogical information. The majority of
these records have been indexed and many of the actual compiled service
records have been filmed.
When a record for an ancestor is found in one of
the indexes the actual service record abstract card(s) may be ordered from
Archives. Some of the Compiled Service Records have been
microfilmed and are available to you to search, but some states records
have not been filmed.
Most of the confederate, all Union in Confederate
States and all border states are on film. Smaller states are still in the
process of being filmed.
Check to see what states and areas are available.
Union Army Records: By act of Congress, March 1863, the federal draft
system was created.
Men between the ages of 25 and 40, both white male
citizens and aliens who had declared their intent to naturalize, were
eligible for the draft. Males 20-35 and unmarried males 35-45 had to serve
unless physically disabled.
Males 17-20 could serve with the permission of
a parent or guardian. The draft applied only to men residing in the US
under Union control.
The draft created 3 kinds of records:
(1) Consolidated Lists:
These are the
most important individual records. An entry gives his name, place of
residence, age as of 1 Jul 1863, occupation, marital status, state,
territory, or country of birth, and the military organization (if already a
volunteer) of which he was a member. The records are arranged by state and
thereunder by congressional or enrollment district.
(2) Descriptive Rolls:
These rolls give additional information of men eligible for service.
Although many of the entries are not completely filled out, they may give a
personal description, exact place of birth, and whether accepted or
rejected for service.
These records are also filed by state and thereunder
by congressional district. To the best of my knowledge Neither of these
Lists has been microfilmed yet. They are a part of Record Group 110 and are
available only at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
To use these
records you must know the number of the congressional district for the
county in which a man lived.
This can be determined by using Congressional
Directory for the Second Session of the 38th Congress of the United States
(Washington DC: For the Joint Houses of Congress, 1865) available in many
large genealogical libraries, in many local libraries and most college
libraries and from the Government Printing Office.
Once the Congressional
district has been determined a request for a search can be sent to the
(3) Case Files on Drafted Aliens. These files concern
only aliens who were drafted and released between 1861-64. These files may
include name, district from which drafted, country of citizenship, age,
length of time in the US and a physical description. The records are in
alphabetical order by surname in record group 59 available only at the
Union Army (for non regular army men) records contain enlistment papers,
muster rolls, prisoner-of-war papers, death reports and others.
are indexed by state and by military units for those units organized within
a specific state. You must know the state in which a solider served or the
unit with which he served to obtain his service record.
often contained a description of the soldier and the place where he
enlisted. Typically, a soldier enlisted near his home.
If you cannot find your ancestor's military information and you know he was
eligible (or the right age) for military duty in the Civil War remember,
many men were rejected from Civil War service because of illness or injury.
Medical records of drafted and rejected men are at the National Archives,
Record Group #110. They are arranged by Congressional District as of 1863.
Data may include residence, occupation, age, place of birth, physical
characteristics or reasons for rejection.
Confederate Service Records: When Richmond was evacuated by the Confederate
Government in April 1865 the centralized military personnel records of the
Confederate Army were taken to Charlotte, NC. These records were later
taken to Washington DC along with other Confederate records captured by the
Between 1878-1901 The War Department tried to locate as many
Confederate Records as possible. In 1903 The Secretary of War asked all
governors of the Southern States to lend all of their Confederate Records
to the War Department for copying.
(6)The Union Army kept fairly accurate records of units mustered and furnished
the states with this information. The Confederate States didn't.
rolls and other military paperwork stayed with the commander of the unit
and thus were scattered everywhere.
Some were turned in to the Confederate
Military Personnel Office or Southern State government, some were kept for
years by the commander or his family.
With the decision of the Southern
States to issue pensions to Confederate Servicemen the need for these
records became acute.
The War Department with the help of the Southern
States began to actively seek out these records. The War Department began
to compile service records for those soldiers who were applying for a
The Service Record was compiled from what original records were
available; Confederate muster rolls, returns, descriptive rolls and Union
prison and parole records.
Later the War Department began to compiled
service records for all Confederate Soldiers. This project went on until
1927 when it was finally completed.
All of the War Departments records
(both Union and Confederate) were moved to the National Archives where they
This huge project is referred to as the "Compiled Military Service
Records". The compiled military service record of a Confederate soldier is
kept in a jacket envelope filed with envelopes for other soldiers in the
same regiment or similar unit.
The compiled service records usually provide
the following; age, place of enlistment, places served, place of discharge
or death and often a physical description.
The National Archives has
microfilmed indexes to the service records and most of the compiled service
records themselves. Indexes will provide the rank, unit and name of the
soldier and the pertinent file can then be ordered from the NARA.
The War Department's Compiled Confederate Records are not complete, even
though great efforts were made to assemble all official information. A
soldier may have served in a state militia and never mustered into the
It is wise to check the State Archive, in the state you
believe your ancestor lived in for all of their Confederate Records. Many
of the southern state archives have copies of their state's NARS microfilm
and, many times, records that were never sent to the War Department to be
The LDS is continually releasing new microfilm records. Check the Military
Records Register at your local FHC.
Two other sources should be checked for Confederate ancestors:
Try Biographical Resister, Officers and Graduates of the
US Military Academy, West Point, New York 3rd ed., 9 vols. (Boston:
Many of the officers of the Confederate Army were
graduates of West Point and had to choose sides when the war began.
(2) probably the most overlooked of all sources,
local court records.
Reconstruction brought about many bitter and lengthy court battles.
Pension files for the Civil War are found in 9 categories:
certificates, navy widows' originals, navy
widows' certificates, survivor's originals, survivors' certificates,
widows' originals, widow's certificates, "C" and "XC" files.
These pension files contain such items as; Name of the veteran, the
military or navel unit in which he served, the date and place of his
enlistment, his birth date and place, the date and place of his marriage,
the names and birth dates of his children, the maiden name of his wife,
information about subsequent marriages, the date and place of his
discharge, the physical disabilities connected with his service-related
injuries, and his residences since his discharge.
They will usually contain
affidavits of individuals who could attest to his disabilities, character,
etc. Once again, these pension files have been indexed and the indexes are
found at the NARS, the LDS FHCs and many libraries.
One of the most valuable things found in the pension files is the list of
places the veteran lived. With the westward expansion people moved many
times between census years and this record can be the key to finding them
between the census.
Post Civil War Service Records for soldiers serving in the armed forces
after the Civil War are not as readily available, even though the records
of these later Wars are more detailed.
Using records for soldiers who
served within the last 75 years is restricted to immediate family members
under the provisions of the Right-to-Privacy Acts.
Most of the federal
records are housed at the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page
Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132. A fire in 12 July 1973 destroyed millions
of records and damaged millions more.
According to the Record Center - 80%
of the army records for 1912-50; 60% of the air force records for 1947-63
and 1 % or less of Army records for people discharged after 1973 were
destroyed. Records for active veterans have been reconstructed, there are
no plans to reconstruct the other records.
Documents issued to the veteran at the time of discharge (or to his/her
next of kin in the case of death) usually contain important genealogical
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA as amended in 1974) does
require the release of some information from the National Personnel Records
If the serviceman/woman is deceased be sure to send a copy of the
death certificate with your request for information. The center charges for
searches, copying, etc. contact them for current rates.
(7)Original draft card records for WWI were transferred to the National
Archives Regional Branch in East Point, GA in 1990.
The LDS filmed all
cards and the microfilm is now available at the FHCs. Ancestry has WWI
draft cards on-line at their site, but be forewarned that they are not
In searching for 6 of my male ancestors in their records I did
not find a one, even though I made copies of the original draft cards at
the East Point Archives.
Stick with the LDS film. I was at the Archives
several times while the filming was going on and the volunteers did an
outstanding job of making sure the microfilm was accurate.
The cards are
arranged by state and then draft district. Within the district the cards
are filed alphabetically by last name.
As people were discharged from the Service they were requested to file
their discharge papers at their local courthouse. Most of these records
have not been microfilmed and must still be researched at the local level.
Now I Know About Military Records What Do I Do?
If you have managed to read this far you should have an excellent idea of
what to do to find your ancestor in the existing Military Records. But a
few tips may help.
1. Never assume an ancestor DIDN'T serve in a war. Many young men lied
about their age to get into the service.
2. Never overlook a non-direct ancestor if your direct ancestor's age or
health shows he couldn't have served.
3. Keep on the look-out for mention of military service in local court
records, land records, tax lists, etc. Check all State Militia lists.
4. Always check unit rosters even if you believe you ancestor never served
in the military, watch for names of neighbors and misspellings of family
5. Once an ancestor is found in a military unit, find all information
available about the unit. Use this information to "flesh out" your family
Check printed sources for information about your ancestor.
Remember that if you ancestor disappeared right after a war he may well
have moved to a location where he was stationed during the war which
appealed to him.
He might have taken his Military Bounty Land Warrant and
moved. He may have married while in the war and moved to the area where his
wife had family.
6. Check for Pension or Military Bounty Land files. Check NARA indexes for
7. If an entry is found in the Index - order the pension file (remember the
10 page rule)
8. If your ancestor lived in the South, check local court records for
confiscated land and slaves. Don't overlook the records for the "Freedman
There are many War Sites on the Internet, especially for the Civil War.
Many have searchable records on-line, information submitted by people who
have already found their serviceman and these sites continue to add
information daily. Be sure to visit all of the sites you can find for the
War you are interested in.
The Source ed. Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny has a wonderful chapter on
Military Records with examples of Compiled Service Records, Pension Files
and Bounty Land files. This book is available at most Genealogical
Libraries or can be ordered from Ancestry
The Source ed. Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny; (Ancestry Publishing Company,
Salt Lake City, UT 1984) pgs 255-298
(1) ____ pg 255
(2) ____ pg 272
(4) ____pg 257
(5) ____ pg 261
(7) ____ pg 265
(3) "Mothers of Invention; Women of the Slaveholding South in the American
Civil War" by Drew Gilpin Faust; published by The University of North
Carolina Press, Chapel Hill & London; 1996
(4) Wallace Brown, The Good Americans: The Loyalists in the American
Revolution. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1969
(6) National Archives web site (http://www.nara.gov) May 1998
1. History & Use of Land Records
Please remember one of the best lists for your queries is the ROOTS-L. It's
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Linda Haas Davenport (c)
History & Use of Land Records Part 2
Our ancestors came to America for many reasons. To escape a war or the
aftermath of war, to seek religious freedom they were denied at home, to
follow a personal dream or to try to better themselves in this big new
county. But, nothing enticed them to the shores of the New World more than
Land was the symbol of power, wealth and social status in the Old
Word and immigrants flocked to the new world to acquire the one commodity
the New World had to offer in rich abundance - land.
Land, the most desired commodity, also attracted the crooks, the swindlers
and get rich quick artists.
In reading the history of the US one common theme is found in every colony,
county or state - Land fraud. Land schemes abounded, people were cheated,
swindled and still they moved on too try again to secure land.
And, then there were the ancestors with the "itchy feet' always looking
over the next hill or mountain, sure that if they moved just "one more
time" they would finally fulfill their dream.
Or, some of our ancestors were the "never do wells" who could never be
successful and were always on the move. Failing in one place and moving
to another to start over again.
In all of these instances our ancestors left their footprints - on the
pages of the Deed Books in county after county, state after state.
Land Records and the Genealogist
For each family researcher there comes a time when Land Records must be
searched. The novice researcher often doesn't understand the importance of
Land Records and doesn't bother to wade through volume after volume of Deed
Yet, Deed books are a wealth of information, they can be used to distinguish
one man from another by locating him on a particular piece of property. They
will often show family relationships, in the instance of land being split
Security deeds reflect indebtedness of an ancestor and often list securities
other than land. For example on one security deed for my John Haas I found
he had "a matched team of bay mares, 2 years old, a racing surrey and 4
Transfer of ownership of slaves is also usually found in Deed books as they
were considered property until after the Civil War. Deed books can also
contain such items as "Powerof Attorney", leases, partnership papers and
performance bonds, but the bulk of the records are transfers of real estate.
For someone looking for African American ancestors land records along with
court records must be searched.
And, Court Clerks recorded most anything on a handy blank page; wills,
probate records and in one instance I found the court clerk simply wrote
out a family tree for his own family!
The majority of the men in the early US were farmers. They left few records
in the courts or the newspapers and most didn't become famous. Even the man
who was a lawyer, doctor or local store owner usually owned their own
property, if not their business property they owned their home.
these men left a record in the Deed Books and most of the time this is the
ONLY record that can be found to place an individual in a particular time
After every War men moved. For many - they had never been out of their own
"neighborhood" and during a War these men saw other areas, fertile land,
new sites and got itchy feet. It also helped that the Federal Government
issued Bounty land warrants in lieu of pay.
A Bounty Land Warrant could be sold for cash. A man could sell it and have
cash in hand or find a newly opened area and have the chance to start over
After the Civil War it seemed as if the entire nation was on the move.
The move was westward as men tried to rebuild their lives after the war.
As with any endeavor knowledge and understanding are the keys to success.
For land records to yield their secrets to the genealogist it is necessary
to know the history of land records.
A Look At the History of Land Records
As the original 13 colonies were established land was owned by a group of
Proprietors. These were men who had been granted land from the English
They in turn sold land to individuals and established common areas
within the towns.
These early states used a surveying system call "New England Town Surveys"
or modified "metes & bounds".
After the Revolutionary War the Congress of the Confederation opted for
a policy of land settlement with the adoption of the Land Ordinance of 1785.
This ordinance provided for the survey and auction of public lands. The
Government allowed the original 13 colonies to retain the rights to all
undistributed land within their borders and they were never included in
the Governments distribution of land.
These states along with Texas and Hawaii are called "State Land States".
The land in the states that the Federal Government controlled is
referred to as The public lands (or public domain) and are the part of the
United States acquired by the Federal Government from the States or another
government or by the taking of Indian Land, by treaty and by purchase.
These are the lands that are now the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona,
Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South
Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The first public-domain surveys (1785-88) were in Ohio and all land was
required to be purchased for cash or with bounty land warrants.
The land office was located in the Treasury Department in New York, a long,
long way from Ohio.
In 1800 President John Adams signed a new public land law that moved the
land office to the area where land was being distributed.
In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase added more than 500 million acres of land to
the public-domain. Congress established 14 new land offices and set up for
Legal Descriptions: As I said above there are 3 types of surveys or legal
descriptions for land. The 1st, The New England Township survey laid out
the land in orderly town lots, usually squares or rectangles. Each lot was
assigned a number along with a simplified "metes & bound" survey and the
common area (for grazing of animals, farming etc) were described in the
The metes & bound survey uses descriptions of the local flora, fauna,
physical features of the land such as creeks, roads, mountains, neighbors,
etc., to describe the land. An example: "Beginning on a white oak the north
west corner of Sammuel Vanatres tract of land thence east with the same to
John Haas his east boundry line, thence north with the same to where it
crosses the Publick road leading from James Goodners into Hanyard to
Liberty then with the meandering of said road to the beginning."
A public domain state is laid out in a large grid broken down by Meridian,
Section, Township and Range. Each "square" is continually broken down into
smaller pieces, while still keeping the land in a square.
For example: "... the following tract or parcel of land lying in the county
of Itawamba and State of Mississippi, known and described as the SW 1/4 of
Section 1, Township 10, Range 7 East of the base Meridian of the Chickasaw
Let's gain some understanding of these things called Land Records:
DEEDS: The first purpose of a deed is to transfer ownership of a piece of
property, usually real property, from one person to another. To make this
transfer legal the deed must describe the property in such a manner that it
cannot be confused with another piece of property.
In the case of land in a public domain state the description will list the
amount of land and the section, township and range the property is located
In a State Land States the description will include natural features of the
property, the name of a creek, a road, etc, the names of neighbors or maybe
the former owner. A deed may state that the land was granted by the state or
federal government in exchange for a patent or warrant. Whatever the wording
the land is described.
If the person selling the land is married then his wife must also sign the
deed and must be examined in private, swearing under oath, that she is
agreeing to the sale of her own free will.
In many instances this the ONLY place you will ever find the name of a wife.
And sometimes you will find the name of a wife that you did not know existed.
True you won't find her maiden name, but you will find her first name which
is more than some of us ever find.
There must be subscribing witnesses to the deed. These may be friends,
neighbors or family. Don't ignore these names, often when a family
moved friends and neighbors moved also.
The purchaser brought their deed to the courthouse and the county clerk
copied the deed into the Deed Books, returning the original deed to the
purchaser. The signatures on the deeds are the court clerks handwriting,
not the actual seller's or witnesses' signatures. The original deed stayed
with the buyer just as it does today.
A man who signed his name with an X can help distinguish him from the man
who could write his name. Watch for the change in spelling of a name from
the body of the deed to the signature.
Deeds were not normally written by the buyer or the seller. A
lawyer, a court clerk, a judge, etc. usually prepared a deed and the buyer,
seller, seller's wife and witnesses then signed the document.
The earlier the date of a deed the more likely it was that the person
preparing the deed knew everyone involved and the preparer wrote everyone's
names as they were pronounced. For Example: My family name of HAAS is
pronounced as HASS. Usually in the body of the deed the name is spelled
H-A-S-S, yet the clerk copied the signatures as H-A-A-S.
This change of spelling can often give you a clue as to how the name was
pronounced at the time your ancestor was alive. This is a spelling that
you should always check for.
Deeds also often state relationships, for those that don't, relationships
can be interred from the transactions themselves.
Records of ownership will tell where the land came from-often the estate
of a parent or grandparent; dower rights include the name of the wife who
must assent to the sale before witnesses or the land title is not clear;
quit-claim deeds list married names of daughters and signatures of heirs
to undivided land; deeds of gift include slaves given to grandchildren or
aging parents: settlements describe property divided among heirs.
Deeds are thus indispensable for all pedigrees even for ancestors who
resided in cities. Every piece of property in the US can be traced back
to the federal government, state government, foreign government or
Let'stake a look at the terms that are found in land records and what they
GRANTS & PATENTS: This is the "First Title Deed" to a piece of property.
Usually granted by the government (either federal or state) or in the 13
original colonies a Propertier. All property in the US can be traced back
to the First Title Deed.
LAND CLAIMS: Private Land claims document titles for land originally owned
by France or Spain. If your ancestor lived in an area that changed flags,
you may find up to 6 generations of genealogy in the case files.
BOUNTY LAND: Veterans in many military engagements, not just formal wars,
were eligible for land grants in lieu of pay for services.
And many soldiers claimed but promptly sold their land, so don't conclude
there was a move unless other records support such a hypothesis.
SOUTHERN LAND GRANTS/"TOMAHAWK GRANT": So called because the buckskin clad
squatter cut blazes on trees and then went off to "file his claim". Most of
the early southern states used legal descriptions called "meters" and
"bounds" (named for "measuring" and "naming). Distance was measured by
POLES, RODS or PERCHES (all meaning 16 1/2 feet per) and in CHAINS (meaning
66 feet per).
FOUR STEPS TO ACQUIRING LAND:
1) PETITION. A request to take up land. The petitioner may go before the
appropriate officials, the colony's council or the land office clerk and
present a satisfactory reason for getting land. Such as paying the purchase
price, being promised land for military service, bringing an immigrant into
the colony and thus becoming eligible for the headright land bounty
(especially used in the South), or being able to produce a government order
for a specified amount of land.
2) WARRANT: A Warrant was then issued which certified the right to a
specific acreage and authorized an official surveyor to survey it, assuming
no prior and conflicting claims. Warrants could be used in any county or
state, not just areas opened by the government for settlement. Warrants
were used in the place of cash to purchase land in many settled areas.
3) SURVEY/PLAT: Once a Warrant was received the next step was to get the
land surveyed. A Survey/Plat is the surveyor's drawing of the legal
description so the land is identifiable, his certification that everything
is in order so far as the warrant's approved acreage and legal description
is concerned. The Eastern Division of the BLM has along with surveys for
the states under their jurisdiction the field notes by state in 1,745
4) PATENT/GRANT Once the survey was complete a Patent/Grant was issued.
This is the government's or proprietor's passing of title to the
patentee/grantee. This is the first-title deed and the true beginning of
private ownership of the land. For public domain states these
patents/grants are well documented and found in the appropriate BLM (Bureau
of Land Management) Office. For the original 13 colonies, Texas and Hawaii
their land patents/grants are usually found in their State Archives or
State Land Office. I have listed each state and the location of their
patents/grants. (Patent Locations)
The Government's Disposed of Land
The US Government has sold or given away over one billion acres of land not
including Alaska. In the process it has granted more than 5 million
patents, kept in 8,978 bound volumes in the Bureau of Land Management -
Eastern States Division, Attn: Public Services Section, 7450 Boston
Boulevard, Springfield, VA 22153 (Phone: 703-404-1600) . An even greater
mass of records in the National Archives (Reference Service NNRS, National
Archives and Records Administration, 8th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue,
N.W., Washington, DC 20408 (Phone: 202-501-5400) represents the paperwork
granting those patents.
Hunting for the record of a particular land grant from the Federal
government requires contacting both the BLM and theNational Archives
(During 1997 and continuing into 1998 the BLM is makingavailable all of
their land grants on CD ROMs.
These disks can be ordered
from the Bureau of Land Management (not above address). Also many counties
have these records on-line to search or you can search them at Ancestry.)
In May 1998 the BLM Eastern Division established a web site where records
may be searched on-line for the states who's records they hold).
When the government made the decision to open an area of land there were
certain steps taken to dispose of the land. The first step in opening land
for settlement was to survey the entire area to be disposed of. Once the
land was surveyed and could be legally described, a local land office was
opened and a public auction was held. The Act of April 24, 1820 set the
minimum price for sale of public land at $1.25 an acre and the minimum
amount of land at 80 acres.
If all the land was not sold at Public Auction,it became available at
$1.25 acre on a first come, first serve basis and the 80 acre minimum
was dropped. Bounty Land Warrants could be used in place of cash at
all public auctions.
In the Homestead Entry Act of May 20, 1862, public lands were available to
settlers. The Homestead Act required residence, cultivation and some
improvements on a tract of land of not less an 160 acres.
Any person was eligible who was the head of a family or had reached the age
of 21, who was a citizen or intended to become one, and who did not already
own as much as 160 acres.
After living on the land and farming it for 6 months, he could buy the
homestead for $1.25 an acre. If he lived on the property for 5 continuous
years he could apply for and receive a patent or title to the 160 acres for
a $15.00 filing fee.
When a Land Office was opened it was assigned two officials. One who
received and accounted for the money paid for the land and one who kept
track of all tracts of land, which were sold and which were unsold. As each
tract of land was sold an entry was made on the survey (or township plat as
it was sometimes called) and the tract of land was marked as sold in the
A daily journal was kept of all transactions and summaries of all
transactions were sent to the Treasury Department until 1812 and after that
they were sent to the General Land Office (GLO). The Local Land Office kept
the detailed files.
A file was set up for each purchase of land. These are the "Land Entry Case
Files" that are so valued by genealogists. If the land was purchased for
cash, the only item in the case file is a receipt for the cash received.
This receipt gives the man's name, date, amount of acreage purchased,
legal description and the amount of cash received.
For those who paid for the land with a warrant the Land Entry Case file
contains such items as; Declaration of intent to purchase land; supporting
documents that prove the man is entitled to the land (such things as Bounty
Land Warrants issued in lieu of pay for military service); naturalization
papers and sometimes witness testimonies as to honesty and character of the
For those who were filing for Homestead the files usually includes the
homestead application, certificate of publication of intention to complete
the claim and a final certificate authorizing the patent to be issued.
When a homestead application was completed, either through payment of the
price of the land or having lived on the property for 5 years the file was
updated with such items as; Claimant's name, age and post office address
(if such existed at the time), a legal description of the land, a
description of the house, outbuildings, crops, acres under cultivation; the
number and relationship of persons living on the property and testimony of
witnesses that the man really did occupy the land for the required 5 years.
Once the Land Official was satisfied that the purchaser had met all the
requirements to take title to the land (either through a cash purchase,
homestead application or warrants), the land office official issued a
"Final Certificate for a Patent" and the Land Entry Case file was sent to
the GLO Office in Washington.
The GLO recorded these patents chronologically in a bound volume by state
and then land district. The Land Entry Case files were marked with the
patent number and filed in numeric order by patent number. (This is reason
that you MUST have the patent number to get copies of the Land Entry Case File).
After 30 June 1908, the GLO began to file patents chronologically
regardless of the state. This series of patents is indexed by the
It was normal for the purchaser to take a copy of the patent to the local
courthouse in the county where the property was located and have the patent
recorded. In some newly opened areas the land was exempt from taxes for a
certain period of time and the land office officials notified the local
courthouses of the purchases.
The BLM is divided into Eastern and Western states, Its working records,
the tract books. plats and patents, for all the Eastern states are at the
Eastern States Office, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield VA 22153. The
Eastern states are all public-domain states east of the MS River, plus all
states on the river's west bank (Louisiana to Minnesota).
Each western state usually has its own office with the exception of
Washington. The local land office and the GLO headquarters has made
duplicate tract and plat books, so the researcher has a choice of several
repositories for microfilm or original records.
"THE SOURCE A Guidebook of American Genealogy"; Edited by Arlene Eakle and
Johni Cerny; Published by Ancestry Publishing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah
1984; Chapter 7 "Land and Tax Records" by William Thorndale, Pages 217-253.
Order this book from ANCESTRY
Linda Haas Davenport (c)
Each step of the process from survey to patent has left a record that is
potentially helpful to the genealogist:
SURVEY & SURVEY FIELD NOTES: Prior to the land auction being held, a survey
was necessary. As each tract of land was sold the purchaser's name was
entered on the correct area on the survey. These surveys are usually found
at the GLO and most have been microfilmed. Some are found in the State's
Land Office and some in the National Archives. The use of the survey for a
genealogist is that you can readily see the neighbors who surround an
ancestor's tract of land.
The surveyor not only surveyed the land, he also made notes of any people
already living in the area, sometimes including crude drawings of houses
and outbuildings. Sometimes simple notes giving the owner's name, amount of
property and a legal description of the owned land. If field survey notes
survive they are usually found in the state's land office or sometimes the
TRACT BOOKS: These books were set up by Section, Township and Range. As
each piece of land was sold the purchaser's name was entered on the page
that corresponded to the parcel of land purchased. These tract books are
found at the GLO and many have been microfilmed. Some are at the State's
land office or state archives or local county courthouses.
Local Tract books are still kept at most courthouses. The books contain the
"chain" of ownership, listing the name, book and page number of each owner,
one after the other across a large ledger page. In State Land states tract
books are much harder to find, especially on older deeds. Always ASK the
courthouse if they have Tract Books and be prepared to describe them since
not all courthouses in non-public domain states call them "Tract Books".
Land ownership is an on-going thing and each time a piece of property
changes hands the title attorneys must certify that the title is "free and
clear" and that each section in the chain of ownership is accounted for,
from the seller back to the first deed issued. No attorney wants to
research a title chain from scratch every time a piece of property is sold,
so even in State Land states there are records of this chain of ownership
that can be consulted by title attorneys. This is the book you are looking
In public-domain states each piece of property has an "abstract". This is a
bound set of papers that contains a copy of each deed that transfers the
property, from the first deed issued to the current owner. If a piece of
property is mortgaged, the abstract is found in an abstract office. If the
property is free and clear the abstract is given to the property owner.
Most abstract companies WON'T make the abstract available to a casual
researcher and it's sometimes difficult to locate the correct abstract
office. However, some abstract companies WILL let you come to their office
and review the abstract. The local courthouse can tell you the abstract
companies that are located in their area. It never hurts to ask!
TOWNSHIP PLATS: After many years of being written on and over, the plots
are often rather illegible and the tract books are a better finding tool
for the legal description. The plats have been microfilmed and are usually
deposited at the same locations as the tract books
PATENTS: These are the "first entry of ownership" or the 1st private
ownership of what was public land. From the Colonial Period to the early
20th Century over 5 million federal grants have transferred land to
individuals in various parts of the US. The original 13 colonies, Texas and
Hawaii issued several million more. To secure a patent a person either had
to pay cash for the land or furnish proof of why the land should be granted
If the person was getting a patent for any reason other than paying cash,
an application "Land Entry Case File" was made for all public-domain
states. For state land states there are documents that support the reason
for issuing a grant.
These grants are essential for searching a Colonial ancestor, especially
frontier families. The application files give more genealogical details
than the actual patents. Post-Civil War homestead files are rich in
personal data, often including naturalization papers. (Before Mar 2, 1988,
all original patents were actually signed by the President of the United
States; after that, designated officials signed in his behalf).
The patents for public-domain states are recorded in chronological order by
state and then by land district. A list of where to locate patents /
grants, by state. To order a patent from any of the BLM Offices you MUST
have the patent number, the county (land district) and state. For patents
in the State Land states you must research the state archives or state land
The Patent/Warrant number for public-domain states is found in the indexes
of the BLM's new CDs. The number is also found on the deed recorded in the
local Deed Books. All Patents/Warrants for the Eastern States are now
on-line and can be viewed or downloaded from the BLM site. Remember that
you MUST have the Patent/Warrant number from the BLM to access the
Patent/Warrant information and Land Entry Case Files.
Once you have secured this Patent / Warrant number and received a copy of
the Patent / Warrant (or downloaded it from the BLM Eastern States web
site) you can then order the entire land entry case file. If you find on
the Patent that your ancestor made a "cash purchase" the land entry case
file will contain nothing except a copy of the cash purchase receipt. If
the patent/warrant was issued for military service, homesteading, or any
other type of service you have hit pay dirt!
LAND ENTRY CASE FILE: These are the files that are most sought after by
genealogists. When a man purchased land in any public-domain state for
anything other than cash, an "application file" was prepared. In this file
was placed all of the supporting documentation as to WHY this individual
should receive land without paying cash for it. The files contain all kinds
of information on the man since the local land office official wasn't going
to hand over land to just anyone who said he didn't have to pay for it.
These files contain such items as the purchaser's declaration of intent to
purchase a piece of property, supporting documents from friends, neighbors
and family certifying the man is who he says he is, bounty land warrants
(if a warrant was used in lieu of cash) and sometimes copies of
The Local Land Office sent all of these Land Entry Case files to the GLO
who later transferred them to The National Archives Building, 700
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001. The files are arranged
by acts, state, land district, and thereunder numerically. Which means that
you cannot get a copy of a land entry case file without knowing which "Act"
of Congress the patent was issued under, the patent number, county (land
district) and state. The Patent itself contains this information. Securing
a patent number only is not sufficient to order Land Entry Case files, you
must have the information from the actual patent.
MILITARY BOUNTY LAND: To get a federal bounty land warrant it was necessary
under any act from 1788-1855 for the soldier or heirs to apply. The
government gave no warrants for any military service after 1855, but Union
veterans received special homestead rights. Warrant applications are found
in RECORD GROUP #15, Military Service Records in the National Archives.
Genealogists find bounty-land records especially attractive because they
serve the dual roll of locating persons in time and place and of proving
military service. One thing that each researcher should remember is that
the act of 1788 stipulated that warrants were assignable, meaning the
solider could sell his warrant. This created an instant market in bounty
warrants and allowed land speculators to accumulate large quantities of
warrants and land. Since few soldiers actually used their warrants to
patent land, patents and land-entry case files are much less valuable than
the warrants and the warrant applications in locating a soldier's military
How To Use Land Records
Deed Books and Indexes
Now that we have learned a few things about how land ownership came about
and have some clues as to where we can obtain additional information let's
look at the steps necessary to use land records most successfully.
The one mistake that most beginning genealogist make is to ignore or be
ignorant of the changes of county or state boundary lines. Before embarking
on a search of land records knowledge of the correct county for the time
frame being searched is absolutely necessary.
Everton Publishers publishes a book called The Handybook for Genealogists.
This book contains a map of each state laid out by counties, a list of
counties, a list of courthouses (addresses, the records they hold) and
other general information.
The primary value of this book is the information on the dates the counties
were formed and the counties they were formed from. Your ancestor might be
found on the census as living in xx county, but the deed might well have
been recorded in a different county.
Maybe because the courthouse in another county was closer or because when
he recorded the deed to his property, the property was located in a county
that later got split into different counties.
William Dollarhide has a wonderful set of maps, by state, that show the
location of each county in 10 year increments (to match the census).
There are many published books that contain abstracts of Deed Records.
Begin your search by checking the LDS indexes to see if such a book has
been published for the county you are searching. You can then order the
microfilm of the book.
If you do not have access to a local LDS FHC (Church of the Latter Day Saints,
Family History Center) then contact the local Historical or Genealogy Society
in the county you are researching.
Ask them if they know of any such books available and their location.
Some of these books can be ordered through inter-library loan although most
If the book(s) cannot be ordered through inter library loan then you can write
to the location where the book is found and ask for copies of the pages
that contain reference to your ancestor.
This is the least best way because of the variants in spelling. And, remember
that deed abstracts usually only contain the name of the buyer and seller and,
for State Land states, the names of any neighbors or creeks, roads, etc.
If you find your ancestor listed in an abstract you can then order a copy
of the deed from the local courthouse. (Be sure to include the book and
page number). However, by ordering only the ONE deed for your ancestor you
will be missing a lot of critical information of neighbors or deeds with
Once you have combed the printed abstracts the next step is to search the
actual microfilmed copies of the deed books. Most beginning genealogists
don't want to hear that the VERY BEST way to locate deeds is to search the
microfilm copies of the actual deed books.
You will recognize your ancestors name, other family members and neighbors
better than anyone else can. Most deed books have been microfilmed and can
be ordered through your local LDS History Center.
As land was sold, traded or passed by inheritance the transfer was recorded
in a county courthouse in large bound books. Deeds were recorded in the
Deed Books in the order they were received at the courthouse. This is still
the way Deeds are recorded today. It can take hours to look at each and
every deed found in the Deed Books.
To facilitate the finding of a deed each Deed Book contains Indexes. These
indexes are usually found at the front of the book and there is a page for
each letter of the alphabet.
There are two indexes maintained, one for the grantor (seller) and one for
the grantee (buyer).
The names on these pages are not in alphabetical order, but rather are entered
when a deed is recorded. If your ancestor's name began with an H then all
entries on the H page must be searched.
The Index is an Index to ONLY that Deed Book. Each Deed Book has its own index.
As we all know indexes are subject to human error so if you feel sure that
your ancestor was in a given area and cannot be found in the index, you
will have to look at each deed (and don't forget to check for boundary
changes - you might be checking the wrong county). Fortunately for us the
LDS Family History Centers can supply us with microfilmed records of the
deed books of most counties.
While we are on the subject of Indexes - remember that the county clerks of
the day were not chosen for their academic skills they were chosen because
of their connection to the local politicians of the day.
The handwriting, spelling and grammar of many county clerks was atrocious.
They wrote the name of your ancestor as it sounded to them. (An example in
my own family is the name AMBROSE. My father-in-law pronounced the name AMBERS.
If I had not heard him mispronounce this name I would never have thought to
check for that spelling and would have had a much harder time finding my
I have found county records where a name was spelled several
different ways within the same document. About the only time you can be
sure the spelling of the name is the person's actual name is the signature
on the deed.
The county clerks did, in most instances, copy the signature exactly as it
was written. Another thing to remember when checking old deeds and indexes
is the vowels (a,e,i,o,u) were used interchangeably.
Make a list of the name you are researching and change the vowels until
you have a list of all possible combinations and then check the indexes
for every conceivable spelling.
Deeds and Tract Books
After locating the book and page number of a deed in the Index a copy of
the actual deed should be made.
You will find yourself reading and re-reading these old deeds as you
discover more information about your family. As I mentioned above the
handwriting of many of the county clerks is more than terrible.
Make yourself a "cheat sheet". Copy / trace words or letters that you KNOW
the meaning of. For example you can use the name of the state (or county)
to determine how the clerk forms the letters found within the name. This
will help you to decipher words in the deed that contain those letters.
(There is a web site that offers a lesson in reading old handwriting. )
As with all legal documents there is a semblance of order to they way they
are worded. Usually they followed this order:
The name of the State and County and date I xx (name of seller) of the
county of ___ and State of _____ have this day bargained and sold to xx
(name of buyer) if the buyer resides in a different county or state their
location is usually stated for the consideration of $___ (if a warrant is
used to pay for the land the type of warrant is noted and the warrant
number) to me in hand paid a certain tract or parcel of land situated in
said county and state bounded as follows: Then the legal description of the
property is stated. In public domain states the description will include
the acreage being sold, the section, township, range and meridian. If a
State Land state the description will contain neighbors names and all kinds
of information. To have and to hold the said land within described and all
Appurtenances (old word for improvement - spelled a hundred different way
in old deeds) belonging thereto, to the said ____ (buyer) and every part of
the same. I do covenant that I am lawfully seized of said land and have a
good right to convey it and that the same is unencumbered. I do further
agree to warrant and defend the title to the same ___ (buyer) his heirs
forever against the lawful claims of all persons whatsoever. Witness my
hand and seal this ___ day of ____ of ____. The signature of the seller and
the witnesses follow. The next section is by the court clerk.
If the seller is married his wife must be examined in private and state that
she agrees to the sale. If the seller is unmarried then the next section will be
information of the court clerk about the recording of the deed.
Even the oldest deeds follow the above outline. If the deed is a security
deed (a deed given as a guarantee of payment of a debt) the debt is
described, if the deed transfers ownership of a slave the information about
the slave will be in the place of the legal description of the land.
Remember that deeds transferred ownership of things other than land.
Once you have located deeds and deciphered the handwriting of the county
clerk to determine the legal description, check the deed description in the
Tract Book, if one is available.
Gather the information of the owners before and after your ancestor. These
deeds may contain information on inheritance, may name family members, show
a division of land between heirs or if the land is sold at a minimal price
it may be a giving of land to a child at their marriage.
In State Land states it is harder to track the "chain" of ownership, but
remember that land and title insurance attorneys must show clear title to
a piece of land for the closings that happen everyday. They have no time to
spend researching each deed back to "first title" every time a piece of land
is resold. Usually each courthouse has some type of record showing the chain
Ask the courthouse employees what type of record this is and where it is
located. Go as far back as possible, you have no way of knowing who may be
related to whom.
Since most old deeds are very hard to read they must be studied and
restudied. You cannot gleam every piece of information by a casual reading
of the deed on the microfilm machine. Collect copies of the deeds for
neighbors so that you can study them at your leisure.
Once again let me remind you that most neighbors were family or friends that
moved together. And spouses were chosen from neighbors or members of the church
You need to compile names of neighbors to help locate your ancestors in a
time and place or to find the elusive name of a female ancestor.
For many years there was no Federal Income Tax, rather people were taxed on
land, property, slaves, etc. Land Tax Lists should always be searched. If a
man was taxed for land, you know he had ownership to the land. If you could
not located a Deed and yet the man is being taxed, it's necessary to start
over and look again for a Deed. Check the surrounding counties if necessary.
Where Were They Really? Where's that Today?
Armed with the legal description of the property and the names of neighbors
we want to know where the place our ancestor lived was or is today. Most of
us who research our family history want to see and walk on the property
where our ancestors lived.
Curious? Nosey? Or maybe we want to see what our ancestors saw everyday.
The more practical need is to locate old churches, cemeteries or old
newspaper offices. Most family researchers feel the need to fill out the
bare bones outline of name and vital statistics.
It helps to be able to establish the physical location of your ancestor's
property and his neighbors, both in the time in which your ancestor lived
This can be done using graph paper, a computer program or simply
rough sketches on a piece of paper. By seeing the layout of the land and
who borders which side of the property it is sometimes possible to tie
together many loose orphans.
The United States Genealogical Service (USGS) sells maps of many different
sizes for each state. The 1:24,000 maps includes all natural features of
the land including churches, cemeteries, etc.
This size map is the right size to locate the physical location of
your ancestor's property. By overlaying these maps with tracing paper you
can plot your ancestor's property and see where that property is today.
For an excellent step by step case study for plotting an ancestor's land see
Richard Allen Pence's great example. Since these maps reflect churches and
cemeteries, many of them old, they provide a lead to other records. Armed
with the information on churches and cemeteries your next step is to begin
searching for those records.
The farther back in time you travel the smaller the communities your
ancestor lived in. His neighbors were many times his family and a person
usually chose a spouse from those people they saw in town or at church.
It is important to look at neighbors and plotting your ancestor's land is an
excellent way to gain a view of his neighbors.
Once your ancestor's property is located on a "today" map most family
researchers itch to visit the site. I know I do.
Look I found A Warrant Number !!!
How lucky you are if your ancestor's deed says the land was paid for with a
warrant. Usually the warrant number and type of warrant is listed on the
deed. If no number is listed check the BLM records and order a copy of the
patent or warrant (which are now on line). With the warrant number in hand
(you have to have the number) you can then order the land entry case files
from the Archives.
Many of the bounty land warrant and homestead files contain a wealth of
family information. One researcher received copies of all of the family
pages that had been torn from a Family Bible used to establish the right
for a heir to receive a bounty land warrant for a deceased relative.
The Archives will send you copies of 20 pages from the land entry files for
a $10.00 fee (this changes so check the price at the National Records Center).
If there are more than 20 pages then the clerk at the archives will decide
what you "probably" need. The best way is to request copies of ALL pages in
the case file.
The Archives will then send you an invoice for the cost of copying all the
pages. It takes a little longer but is usually worth the wait. Another
thing to remember is that if your ancestor purchased the land for CASH
there will be nothing in the case file except one sheet of paper giving
the same information as found on the warrant from the BLM.
The information in deeds provides clues that lead us to other research.
Physical location leads us to church and cemetery records. Deeds of Trust
leads us to court records for loans or securities.
Division of land leads us to search for wills, probate records or court
records for the deceased owner.
Neighbors help us find family and spouses.
Warrants lead us to search for land entry case files or lead to military
Very seldom does a deed leave us with no information on where to go next.
I have only touched lightly on Land Records. I strongly suggest that you
consult The Source: (see footnote below) for an extensive discussion of
Land Records. To date this is the best source of information I have found.
I know this essay is lengthy, but knowledge is never gained in "10 easy
steps". I wish you the best of luck in your research and I will appreciate
any additions, corrections or comments.
Subject: [CARR-L] Virginia County Records
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 17:10:04 -0700
From: "Wilcox" firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of you who research the Virginia Carrs might want to check out
the Library of Virginia Digital Collections at
http://image.vtls.com/. The Court Records is the guide (index) to the
Virginia County Court Records and is filmed from the microfilm Reel
461 that many genealogy libraries have. You can order up to 5 rolls
of microfilm for up to 4 weeks through your local library using
Interlibrary Loan. The Virginia Library does not charge but your
local library might charge for the search (I have to pay $1.00 a reel
here in California). You order by county and reel numbers.
Albemarle County lists 220 reels which covers the will books, marriage
bonds, land deeds, court order books, etc. I have been using this
service for the last 10 years and am still amazed that many
genealogists do not realize they can get these films--they are a
valuable primary source for that never-ending search for ancestors.
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 10:36:09 EST
Subject: [CARR-L] Carr Books and Genealogylibrary.com
We talked about Carr books a few months ago. Genealogylibrary.com, a pay
service on Familytreemaker.com, has Carr Family Records, by Edson Carr, and
The Carr Family of Duplin County (NC), by James O Carr. Maybe other books
Carr, too. It has wills, marriages, all sorts of things. Cost me about $50
for a year's subscription. They also have monthly rates. Copies of the Carr
Family Records book cost about $100, so it might be worthwhile getting a
subscription, even if only for a month. FYI.
The Carr Family of Duplin County
Author: James O. Carr
Call Number: CS71.C37x
Between 1737 and 1749, Joseph Carr, the original ancestor of the Duplin
family, came to Wilmington, North Carolina on a sail vessel and moved fifty
miles north, where he settled on "Maxwell Swamp," a branch of the North East
River. Hundreds of names included.
Bibliographic Information: Carr, James O. The Carr Family of Duplin County.
Wilmington Stamp & Printing Co., Wilmington 1939.
Some of the major epidemics in the United States are listed below.
From: "Diana Davis" email@example.com
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 08:38:42 -0500
In case you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors
disappeared during a certain period in history, this might help.
Epidemics have always had a great influence on people-and thus
influencing, as well, the
genealogists trying to trace them. Many cases of people disappearing
from records can
be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected
1657 Boston: Measles
Finally, these specific instances of cholera were mentioned:
1687 Boston: Measles
1690 New York: Yellow Fever
1713 Boston: Measles
1729 Boston: Measles
1732-33 Worldwide: Influenza
1738 South Carolina: Smallpox
1739-40 Boston: Measles
1747 Conn, NY, PA & SC: Measles
1759 North America (areas inhabited by white people): Measles
1761 North America & West Indies: Influenza
1772 North America (especially hard in New England): Epidemic
1775-76 Worldwide: Influenza (one of worst flu epidemics)
1788 Philadelphia & NY: Measles
1793 Vermont: Influenza and a "putrid fever"
1793 Virginia: Influenza (killed 500 people in 5 counties in 4 weeks
1793 Philadelphia: Yellow Fever (one of worst)
1783* Delaware (Dover) "extremely fatal" bilious disorder
1793 Pennsylvania (Harrisburg & Middletown) many unexplained deaths
1794 Philadelphia: Yellow Fever
1796-97 Philadelphia: Yellow Fever
1798 Philadelphia: Yellow Fever (One of worst)
1803 New York: Yellow Fever
1820-23 Nationwide "fever" (starts on Schuylkill River, PA & spreads)
1831-32 Nationwide: Asiatic Cholera (brought by English emigrants)
1832 New York & other major cities: Cholera
1837 Philadelphia: Typhus
1841 Nationwide: Yellow Fever (especially severe in South)
1847 New Orleans: Yellow Fever
1847-48 Worldwide: Influenza
1848-49 North America: Cholera
1850 Nationwide: Yellow Fever
1850-51 North America: Influenza
1852 Nationwide: Yellow Fever (New Orleans 8,000 die in summer)
1855 Nationwide (many parts) Yellow Fever
1857-59 Worldwide: Influenza (one of disease's greatest epidemics)
1860-61 Pennsylvania: smallpox
1865-73 Philadelphia, NY, Boston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Memphis &
Washington DC: a series of recurring epidemics of Smallpox, Cholera, Typhus,
Typhoid, Scarlet Fever & Yellow Fever
1873-75 North America & Europe: Influenza
1878 New Orleans: Yellow Fever (last great epidemic of disease)
1885 Plymouth, PA: Typhoid
1886 Jacksonville, FL: Yellow Fever
1918 Worldwide: Influenza (High point year) More people hospitalized
in World War I from influenza than wounds. US Army training camps became
death camps - with 80% death rate in some camps.
1833 Columbus, Oh
Some old names for illnesses found in old medical records
1834 New York City
1849 New York
1851 Coles Co. IL
1851 The Great Plains
or listed as
of death on old death certificates or in old family bibles.
Ablepsy - Blindness
Ague - Malarial Fever
American plague - Yellow fever
Anasarca - Generalized massive edema
Aphonia - Laryngitis
Aphtha - The infant disease "thrush"
Apoplexy - Paralysis due to stroke
Asphycsia/Asphicsia - Cyanotic and lack of oxygen
Atrophy - Wasting away or diminishing in size.
Bad Blood - Syphilis
Bilious fever - Typhoid, malaria, hepatitis or elevated temperature and
Biliousness - Jaundice associated with liver disease
Black plague or death - Bubonic plague
Black fever - Acute infection with high temperature and dark red skin
lesions and high mortality rate
Black pox - Black Small pox
Black vomit - Vomiting old black blood due to ulcers or yellow fever
Blackwater fever - Dark urine associated with high temperature
Bladder in throat - Diphtheria (Seen on death certificates)
Blood poisoning - Bacterial infection; septicemia
Bloody flux - Bloody stools
Bloody sweat - Sweating sickness
Bone shave - Sciatica
Brain fever - Meningitis
Breakbone - Dengue fever
Bright's disease - Chronic inflammatory disease of kidneys
Bronze John - Yellow fever
Bule - Boil, tumor or swelling
Cachexy - Malnutrition
Cacogastric - Upset stomach
Cacospysy - Irregular pulse
Caduceus - Subject to falling sickness or epilepsy
Camp fever - Typhus; aka Camp diarrhea
Canine madness - Rabies, hydrophobia
Canker - Ulceration of mouth or lips or herpes simplex
Catalepsy - Seizures / trances
Catarrhal - Nose and throat discharge from cold or allergy
Cerebritis - Inflammation of cerebrum or lead poisoning
Chilblain - Swelling of extremities caused by exposure to cold
Child bed fever - Infection following birth of a child
Chin cough - Whooping cough
Chlorosis - Iron deficiency anemia
Cholera - Acute severe contagious diarrhea with intestinal lining
Cholera morbus - Characterized by nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps,
elevated temperature, etc. Could be appendicitis
Cholecystitus - Inflammation of the gall bladder
Cholelithiasis - Gall stones
Chorea - Disease characterized by convulsions, contortions and dancing
Cold plague - Ague which is characterized by chills
Colic - An abdominal pain and cramping
Congestive chills - Malaria
Consumption - Tuberculosis
Congestion - Any collection of fluid in an organ, like the lungs
Congestive chills - Malaria with diarrhea
Congestive fever - Malaria
Corruption - Infection
Coryza - A cold
Costiveness - Constipation
Cramp colic - Appendicitis
Crop sickness - Overextended stomach
Croup - Laryngitis, diphtheria, or strep throat
Cyanosis - Dark skin color from lack of oxygen in blood
Cynanche - Diseases of throat
Cystitis - Inflammation of the bladder
Day fever - Fever lasting one day; sweating sickness
Debility - Lack of movement or staying in bed
Decrepitude - Feebleness due to old age
Delirium tremens - Hallucinations due to alcoholism
Dengue - Infectious fever endemic to East Africa
Dentition - Cutting of teeth
Deplumation - Tumor of the eyelids which causes hair loss
Diary fever - A fever that lasts one day
Diptheria - Contagious disease of the throat
Distemper - Usually animal disease with malaise, discharge from nose and
Dock fever - Yellow fever
Dropsy - Edema (swelling), often caused by kidney or heart disease
Dropsy of the Brain - Encephalitis
Dry Bellyache - Lead poisoning
Dyscrasy - An abnormal body condition
Dysentery - Inflammation of colon with frequent passage of mucous and
Dysorexy - Reduced appetite
Dyspepsia - Indigestion and heartburn. Heart attack symptoms
Dysury - Difficulty in urination
Eclampsy - Symptoms of epilepsy, convulsions during labor
Ecstasy - A form of catalepsy characterized by loss of reason
Edema - Nephrosis; swelling of tissues
Edema of lungs - Congestive heart failure, a form of dropsy
Eel thing - Erysipelas
Elephantiasis - A form of leprosy
Encephalitis - Swelling of brain; aka sleeping sickness
Enteric fever - Typhoid fever
Enterocolitis - Inflammation of the intestines
Enteritis - Inflations of the bowels
Epitaxis - Nose bleed
Erysipelas - Contagious skin disease, due to Streptococci with vesicular
and bulbous lesions
Extravasted blood - Rupture of a blood vessel
Falling sickness - Epilepsy
Fatty Liver - Cirrhosis of liver
Fits - Sudden attack or seizure of muscle activity
Flux - An excessive flow or discharge of fluid like hemorrhage or
Flux of humour - Circulation
French pox - Syphilis
Gathering - A collection of pus
Glandular fever - Mononucleosis
Great pox - Syphilis
Green fever / sickness - Anemia
Grippe/grip - Influenza like symptoms
Grocer's itch - Skin disease caused by mites in sugar or flour
Heart sickness - Condition caused by loss of salt from body
Heat stroke - Body temperature elevates because of surrounding
environment temperature and body does not perspire to reduce temperature.
Coma and death result if not reversed
Hectical complaint - Recurrent fever
Hematemesis - Vomiting blood
Hematuria - Bloody urine
Hemiplegy - Paralysis of one side of body
Hip gout - Osteomylitis
Horrors - Delirium tremens
Hydrocephalus - Enlarged head, water on the brain
Hydropericardium - Heart dropsy
Hydrophobia - Rabies
Hydrothroax - Dropsy in chest
Hypertrophic - Enlargement of organ, like the heart
Impetigo - Contagious skin disease characterized by pustules
Inanition - Physical condition resulting from lack of food
Infantile paralysis - Polio
Intestinal colic - Abdominal pain due to improper diet
Jail fever - Typhus
Jaundice - Condition caused by blockage of intestines
King's evil - Tuberculosis of neck and lymph glands
Kruchhusten - Whooping cough
Lagrippe - Influenza
Lockjaw - Tetanus or infectious disease affecting the muscles of
the neck and jaw. Untreated, it is fatal in 8 days
Long sickness - Tuberculosis
Lues disease - Syphilis
Lues venera - Venereal disease
Lumbago - Back pain
Lung fever - Pneumonia
Lung sickness - Tuberculosis
Lying in - Time of delivery of infant
Malignant sore throat - Diphtheria
Mania - Insanity
Marasmus - Progressive wasting away of body, like malnutrition
Membranous Croup - Diphtheria
Meningitis - Inflations of brain or spinal cord
Metritis - Inflammation of uterus or purulent vaginal discharge
Miasma - Poisonous vapors thought to infect the air
Milk fever - Disease from drinking contaminated milk, like undulant fever
Milk leg - Post partum thrombophlebitis
Milk sickness - Disease from milk of cattle which had eaten poisonous
Mormal - Gangrene
Morphew - Scurvy blisters on the body
Mortification - Gangrene of necrotic tissue
Myelitis - Inflammation of the spine
Myocarditis - Inflammation of heart muscles
Necrosis - Mortification of bones or tissue
Nephrosis - Kidney degeneration
Nepritis - Inflammation of kidneys
Nervous prostration - Extreme exhaustion from inability to control
physical and mental activities
Neuralgia - Described as discomfort, such as "Headache" was neuralgia in
Nostalgia - Homesickness
Palsy - Paralysis or uncontrolled movement of controlled muscles. It was
listed as "Cause of death"
Paroxysm - Convulsion
Pemphigus - Skin disease of watery blisters
Pericarditis - Inflammation of heart
Peripneumonia - Inflammation of lungs
Peritonotis - Inflammation of abdominal area
Petechial Fever - Fever characterized by skin spotting
Puerperal exhaustion - Death due to child birth
Phthiriasis - Lice infestation
Phthisis - Chronic wasting away or a name for tuberculosis
Plague - An acute febrile highly infectious disease with a high fatality
Pleurisy - Any pain in the chest area with each breath
Podagra - Gout
Poliomyelitis - PolioPotter's asthma - Fibroid pthisis
Pott's disease - Tuberculosis of spine
Puerperal exhaustion - Death due to childbirth
Puerperal fever - Elevated temperature after giving birth to an infant
Puking fever - Milk sickness
Putrid fever - Diphtheria.
Quinsy - Tonsillitis.
Remitting fever - Malaria
Rheumatism - Any disorder associated with pain in joints
Rickets - Disease of skeletal system
Rose cold - Hay fever or nasal symptoms of an allergy
Rotanny fever - (Child's disease) ???
Rubeola - German measles
Sanguineous crust - Scab
Scarlatina - Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever - A disease characterized by red rash
Scarlet rash - Roseola
Sciatica - Rheumatism in the hips
Scirrhus - Cancerous tumors
Scotomy - Dizziness, nausea and dimness of sight
Scrivener's palsy - Writer's cramp
Screws - Rheumatism
Scrofula - Tuberculosis of neck lymph glands. Progresses slowly with
abscesses and pistulas develop. Young person's disease
Scrumpox - Skin disease, impetigo
Scurvy - Lack of vitamin C. Symptoms of weakness, spongy gums
and hemorrhages under skin
Septicemia - Blood poisoning
Shakes - Delirium tremens
Shaking - Chills, ague
Shingles - Viral disease with skin blisters
Ship fever - Typhus
Siriasis - Inflammation of the brain due to sun exposure
Sloes - Milk sickness
Small pox - Contagious disease with fever and blisters
Softening of brain - Result of stroke or hemorrhage in the brain, with
an end result of the tissue softening in that area
Sore throat distemper - Diphtheria or quinsy
Spanish influenza - Epidemic influenza
Spasms - Sudden involuntary contraction of muscle or group of muscles,
like a convulsion
Spina bifida - Deformity of spine
Spotted fever - Either typhus or meningitis
Sprue - Tropical disease characterized by intestinal disorders and sore
St. Anthony's fire - Also erysipelas, but named so because of affected
skin areas are bright red in appearance
St. Vitas dance - Ceaseless occurrence of rapid complex jerking movements
Stomatitis - Inflammation of the mouth
Stranger's fever - Yellow fever
Strangery - Rupture
Sudor anglicus - Sweating sickness
Summer complaint - Diarrhea, usually in infants caused by spoiled milk
Sunstroke - Uncontrolled elevation of body temperature due to
environment heat. Lack of sodium in the body is a predisposing cause
Swamp sickness - Could be malaria, typhoid or encephalitis
Sweating sickness - Infectious and fatal disease common to UK in 15th
Tetanus - Infectious fever characterized by high fever, headache
Thrombosis - Blood clot inside blood vessel
Thrush - Childhood disease characterized by spots on mouth, lips and
Tick fever - Rocky mountain spotted fever
Toxemia of pregnancy - Eclampsia
Trench mouth - Painful ulcers found along gum line, Caused by poor
nutrition and poor hygiene
Tussis convulsiva - Whooping cough
Typhus - Infectious fever characterized high fever, headache, and
Variola - Smallpox
Venesection - Bleeding
Viper's dance - St. Vitus Dance
Water on brain - Enlarged head
White swelling - Tuberculosis of the bone
Winter fever - Pneumonia
Womb fever - Infection of the uterus.
Worm fit - Convulsions associated with teething, worms, elevated
temperature or diarrhea
Yellowjacket - Yellow fever.
Subject: Great new source, CARR, ETC>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 08:37:59 -0500
From: "Jean Stutz" firstname.lastname@example.org
Saw the discussion regarding Caleb Carr, Job Carr, etc. I just received
two new books last Friday that are a great source for early ancestors. I
have been reading these books nonstop since I received them! Both books
contain many references to Carrs as well as many other New England persons.
The books are: Rhode Island General Court of Trials 1671-1704 and
Gleanings from Newport Court Files 1659-1783. The first was transcribed and
the second abstracted by Jane Fletcher Fiske. There is so much information
in these books, not only about Rhode Island people, but MA, CT, NY, the
West Indies and some from several other colonies. The books give
occupations, relationships (sometimes whole families), ages, locations and
many other tidbits. The history of colonial life itself is worth purchasing
the books. I would heartily recommend these books, especially the
Gleanings..to anyone doing New England research! I don't know the price of
each book since I bought both but interested persons can reach Mrs. Fiske
at: email@example.com. Hope this helps someone!
The Kerr Clan of New Jersey ; Beginning with Walter Ker of Freehold and
including Other Related Lines;By William C. Armstrong; The Shawver Publishing
Co., Morrison, IL;1931; Reprint 1980 by The Bookmark; PO Box 74; Knightstown,
Ancestors and Descendents of Amasa Carr, Charles W. Carr, published in 1981.
The book contains the direct line back from Amasa who descends from Robert of
the Caleb and Robert, sons of Benjamin. It goes forward from Amasa and
contains all the descendants that Charles W. Carr could locate.
Bruce, Maupin, Carr and Some Related Families by Paul R. Bostic. Privately
published by Mr. Bostic in 1995.
It has the Benjamin Carr, Martha Hardington familiar to most Carr researchers.
It says that their son, Andrew, had a son, John. The are quite a few
descendents for this John Carr.
Rhode Island General Court of Trials 1671-1704 and Gleanings
from Newport Court Files 1659-1783. The first was transcribed and the second
abstracted by Jane Fletcher Fiske. There is so much information in these
books, not only about Rhode Island people, but MA, CT, NY, the West Indies and
some from several other colonies. The books give occupations, relationships
(sometimes whole families), ages, locations and many other tidbits.
Subject: Books on CARR familiesDate: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 08:24:03 -0500
From: "steve & nancy weston" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 4/29/98 2:57:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: email@example.com (Lonnie S. Weston)
I have the following book on Kerr:
The Kerr Clan of New Jersey ; Beginning with Walter Ker of Freehold and
including Other Related Lines;By William C. Armstrong; The Shawver
Co., Morrison, IL;1931; Reprint 1980 by The Bookmark; PO Box 74;
My lines include the spelling Kerr, Karr, and Carr but I did not find any
connection in this book. It is a hard book to scan because it doesn't have
an index but will be glad to attempt look-ups for anyone interested.
Subject: FREE Genealogy Tips Online!
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 01:07:33 -0800
From: "Shirley" firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for genealogy charts, ancestor charts, Soundex cards, definitions, old
time occupations illnesses, and more? Check out this web site:
How to Figure Birthdates
The New England Historical Genealogical Society listing of
genealogies & histories (index "C") - Carr
CARR, Edson I. The Carr Family Records. Embracing the Record of the First
Families who Settled in America and Their Descendants, with Many Branches who
Came to this Country at a Later date. (1894). CS/71/C312/1894
CARR, Watson, W. L. The House of Carr. A Historical Sketch of the Carr Family
from 1450 to 1926. (1926).
CARR, Arthur A. The Carr book. Sketches of the lives of many of the
descendants of Robert and Caleb Carr, whose arival on this continent in 1635
began the American story of our family.
BENT, RALPH D., "Four Families", 1988
Library of Congress #88-92679
The genealogy of Ralph D. Bent, and immediate ancestors of his parents:
CARR, BENT, MASON & WETHERILL.
From "Compendium of Historical Sources"
by Ronald Bremer
Often tombstones have a notation such as: "Died 15 June 1872, Aged 77
months, 3 days." How do you determine the correct birthdate?
First of all, make the sequence read days, months, years: thus 15-6-1872 minus
Since the 10th month cannot be subtracted from the sixth, borrow 12 months
the year of death, making the year 1871 and the month 18. (If you borrow from
the month to make days, borrow 30 days, even though the month might have 31.)
The equation now looks like: 15-18-1871 minus 3-10-77.
Begin the calculations
on the right hand side. Therefore, 77 years from 1871 means that the person
born in 1794.
Subtracting 10 months from 18 gives you eight months, or August.
So the correct date of birth was 12 August 1794.
True or False? A Census is a Head Count...
Contributed by Donna Potter Phillips
Ready to use the US censuses in your family history research? Do you
what information is contained in these records, and how to find and use them?
Here's a True-or-False quiz to test your knowledge.
1. For genealogy purposes, a census is a population enumeration or counting.
Dating Old Photos
2. The first US census was taken in 1776
3. The census is taken every 10 years because our Constitution says to do so.
4. The first six censuses list only the names of the heads of household.
5. There are no women's names in those first six censuses.
6. The 1850 census was the first to list the entire household by name.
7. It is vital to know how state and county boundaries changed over the years.
8. The Map Guide to US Federal Censuses 1790-1920, addresses the above
9. Packets are available for maps of individual states, as found in the above
10. Census records after 1920 are closed for 72 years due to rights of
11. The 1930 and later censuses, cannot be freely accessed by the public.
12. The 1890 census was destroyed by a fire in Washington, DC
13. All census records from 1790-1920 are available on microfilm.
14. All of these microfilms are available in your local genealogy library.
15. There is a book-form census index for all available censuses.
16. Your local genealogy collection has a complete set of these indexes.
17. Your local Family History Center can order in any census film you need.
18. Census Day, or the day when enumerators could begin their work, is
19. Using the Soundex, when available, is the right thing to do.
20. The Soundex is by sound of surname index.
21. A Soundex Code for any surname is a letter followed by four numbers.
22. A Soundex Index exists for the complete 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920
23. You should try to locate your ancestor on every census taken during his or
24. It is important to note your ancestor's neighbors.
25. You should photocopy the census information you find.
26. US censuses are the most important genealogical tool available.
27. You can use census records in your local genealogy library, Family History
Census, National Archives, or, you can borrow them from commercial companies
delivered to your home.
So, how did you do?
All answers are True except for:
2. The first federal census was taken in 1790 NOT 1776.
5. There are women's names listed IF they were the head of the family.
14. This depends on your local library.
21. A Soundex Code for any surname is a letter followed by THREE numbers.
Several sources to improve your understanding of how to use the US censuses
"The Source," by Szucs and Luebking, 1996
"The Map Guide to the Federal Census, 1790-1920," by William Dollarhide
"Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives" by the Archives.
Ms. Potter writes a column for The Spokesman-Review.
is the past president of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, past
vice president of the Washington State Genealogical Society and she
the local community college.
Her current brick wall is: Phillips in GA,
1780-1860, with affiliated lines: Story, Stout, Veazey, Hunton, Cox,
Contributed by Dave Rozzana
Classy Image Restorations, Portraiture & Imaging
By determining the type of photographic technique used to make your old family
photos, it's possible to date, with reasonable accuracy, the date the original
Following are the most common photographic processes. With this information,
see if you can narrow-down the age of the photograph.
DAGUERREOTYPE (1839 - 1870, approx.)
The case resembled a double frame. Very decorative. The photo image is on a
silver clad copper sheet which is attached to a sheet of glass by a foil-like
brass decorative frame. This sealed packet was then force-fit into a special
wood case and was often padded with velvet or silk. Many times, the silver
image tarnishes with silver sulfide in the same way as silverware. The cost
$5.00 (more than a weeks pay for most people).
CALOTYPE (1845 - 1855, approx.).
The first photographs on paper. A two-step process. The first step was to make
a negative image on a light-sensitive paper. Step two was to make a contact
[print] with a second sheet of sensitized paper to make a positive print.
Calotypes were never widely popular, and most of those surviving are in
museums. Apparently Talbot (the inventor) did not fully realize the importance
of washing his prints long enough to remove all the residual chemicals, or
perhaps his fixing was inadequate. Either fault leads to the same result
image, discoloration, etc. These defects are now noticeable in many calotypes,
some of which are today little more than pale yellow ghosts.
AMBROTYPE (1854 to the end of the Civil War)
The ambrotype is a thin negative image on glass made to appear as a
showing it against a black background. Similar to daguerreotype in assembly of
parts 1- Outer protective case. 2- Backing of black paper, cloth, or metal. 3-
The on-glass-image, emulsion to the front and black varnish on the back. 4-
Brass die cut frame 5- Gilt border of thin brass to edge wrap the frame,
and backing. It was common for the ambrotype to be colored. Suggestions of
rouge cheeks or lips suggested a person of substance. Buttons, watch chains,
pendants, broaches were often tinted with color.
1. A very slow (up to 20 sec.) exposure, compared to 2 sec. for a daguerreotype.
2. The glass was very fragile.
It couldn't withstand travel or being
a locket as a daguerreotype could. Advantage of the Ambrotypes Price. It could
be sold profitably at a low price, approx. 25 cents. The cost of the ambrotype
was less than half of the daguerreotype.
THE TINTYPE (1856 to W.W.II)
"The penny picture that elected a president". Price- sold for a penny or less,
making photography universally available. The cost of an image at the time the
process became obsolete was about 25 cents.
1. Lighter and less
costly to manufacture.
2. Camera was lighter and easier to handle.
shatter as a glass image photo would.
4. Could be colored or tinted.
public sought lower prices, the cases (which cost more than the finished
photographs) were eliminated. In their place, paper folders of the size of the
then popular card photographs were used for protection.
Instead of a glass
cover, the photographer covered the tintype with a quick varnish to protect
tints or colors added to cheeks, lips, jewelry or buttons.
tintype was very popular during the Civil War because every soldier wanted to
send a picture of himself with his rifle and sword home.
They could be mailed
home safely without fear of shattering.
The tintype actually does not contain
any tin, but is made of thin black iron. It is sometimes confused with
ambrotypes and daguerreotypes, but is easily distinguishable from them by the
a tintype attracts a small magnet.
DATING THE TINTYPES
Introduction 1856 - 1860. The earliest tintypes were on heavy metal (0.017
inches thick) that was never again used. They are stamped "Neff's Melainotype
Pat 19 Feb 56" along one edge.
Many are found in gilt frames or in the leather
or plastic (thermomolded) cases of the earliest ambrotypes. Size range from
one-sixth plate to full plate.
Civil War Period 1861 - 1865. Tintypes of this
time are primarily one-sixth and one-fourth plate and are often datable by the
Potter's Patent paper holders, adorned with patriotic stars and emblems, that
were introduced during the period.
After 1863 the paper holders were embossed
rather than printed. Uncased tintypes have been found with canceled tax stamps
adhered to the backs.
The stamps date these photographs to the period of the
Wartime Retail Tax Act, 1 Sept. 1864 to 1 Aug. 1866.
Brown Period 1870 - 1885.
In 1870 the Phoenix Plate Co. began making plates with a chocolate-tinted
They created a sensation among the photographers throughout the
country, and the pictures made on the chocolate-tinted surface soon became the
During this period "rustic" photography also made its debut with its
painted backgrounds, fake stones, wood fences and rural props. Neither the
chocolate tint nor the rustic look are to be found in pre-1870 tintypes.
Period 1863 - 1890. Tiny portraits, 7/8 by 1 inch, or about the size of a
postage stamp, became available with the invention of the Wing multiplying
They were popularized under the trade name Gem and the Gem Galleries
offered the tiny likeness at what proved to be the lowest prices in studio
Gem Galleries flourished until about 1890, at which time the
of roll film and family cameras made possible larger images at modest cost. It
was no longer necessary to visit a studio that specialized in the tiny
Gem portraits were commonly stored in special albums with provision
for a single portrait per page. Slightly larger versions also existed. Some
Gems were cut to fit lockets, cufflinks, tie pins, rings and even garter
Carnival Period 1875 - 1930. Itinerant photographers frequently
the tintype to public gatherings, such as fairs and carnivals. They came
equipped with painted backdrops of Niagara Falls, a beach, a boat, and other
novelty props for comic portraits.
In the nineteenth century it
was common to request a photographer to make a deathbed portrait of a loved
THE CABINET CARD (approx. 1866 - 1906).
A card stock product, nearly four times the size of previous photographs on
card stock. The larger size created new problems of photographic quality.
that were not obvious in the smaller cards now became very visible. This gave
rise to a new skill of photo retoucher.
Success in retouching led to
innovations in the darkroom and at the camera. Diffusion of the image reduced
the need for retouching. This led to verbal skirmishes between photographers
who insisted in "truth in photography". Opponents called retouching
degenerating, demoralizing, and untruthful practices. Cabinet cards can be
further dated by color of stock, borders, corners and size.
QUICK DATING GUIDE TO CABINET CARDS
The earliest American-made cabinet cards have been dated only to the post-
Civil War period, beginning in 1866.
Design and colors of these cards followed
those of the cards of that time. Cabinet cards are rarely found after 1906.
Card Colors 1866 - 1880 White card stock of a light weight.
1880 - 1890 Different colors for face and back of mounts.
1882 - 1888 Face of buff, matte-finished, with a back of creamy-yellow,
glossy.Borders 1866 - 1880 Red or gold rules, single and double lines.
1884 - 1885 Wide gold borders.
1885 - 1892 Gold beveled edges.
1889 - 1896 Rounded corner rule of single line.
1890 - 1892 Metallic green or gold impressed border.
1896 Impressed outer border, without color.Corners 1866 - 1880 Square,
1880 - 1890 Square, heavy board with scalloped sides. -Photographs mounted on
The most popular mount sizes were
Carte-de-visite 4 1/4" x 2 1/2"
A VISIT TO THE CEMETERY
Cabinet card 6 1/2" x 4 1/2"
Victoria 5" x 3 1/4"
Promenade 7" x 4"
Boudoir 8 1/2" x 5 1/4"
Imperial 9 7/8" x 6 7/8"
Panel 8 1/4" x 4"
Stereograph 3" x 7"
contributed by Shirley Hornbeck
OWNER OF Rootsweb Discussion Lists for
BAKER, BERGER, HARDWICK,
HETZEL, HORNBECK, MYERS
Hornbeck and Hardwick - anywhere, anytime
Berger, Benz, Myers, Hauf of Schenectady, NY
Hetzel, Giessle, McClean of Allegheny Co., PA
Here are a few tips to make your visit to that old cemetery a pleasant
You will be lucky if the cemetery is in a well-kept, suburban
and is well documented by a local church, funeral director, or county
Unfortunately this is usually not the case. Be sure to have a good
county map and hopefully it will show locations of cemeteries.
Marriage, Birth, and Death certificates should be consulted first. These will
pinpoint your ancestors in time, as well as provide you with the proper names.
The locations listed on these records may assist you in finding the place that
they lived and possibly where they died.
Church records and obituaries may be
your best bet for finding burial sites for your ancestors. Sometimes funeral
directors may also be able to provide you with burial information.
Deeds and Grants should be checked. The GRANTEE index at the Local County
Courthouse will be invaluable for determining places of residence as well as
You may also find a plat map of the cemetery at the County Courthouse or a
local historical society. These plats are drawings of the cemetery, much
floor lan of a house, that indicates not only who is buried in the cemetery,
but the exact gravesite within the cemetery.
When searching for the cemetery
that contains the remains of your relatives, remember that most people were
buried within 5 miles of their homes.
Prior to 1850, particularly in rural
areas, many people were buried in small, privately maintained cemeteries,
located on the family property or in cemeteries associated with the church of
their particular faith.
If the cemetery is still maintained, you should
the caretaker, church secretary or pastor, or other official before you
any plantings, dig away dirt or grass from around a head or footstone or
attempt to lift fallen stones.
Before you go trekking into the woods, you need to be properly prepared for
excursion. Build yourself a "Cemetery Kit" and consider first protecting
yourself. You need to wear clothing appropriate for the terrain and weather
that you will be facing.
Wear protective clothing (jeans or work pants, and a
flannel shirt are advisable).
It may be hot out, but don't be tempted to
make your way through heavy overgrowth wearing shorts and a "T" shirt. A
wide-brim hat can be a lifesaver on a hot sunny day. Be sure you have good
walking shoes or boots and thick socks. Don't wear thongs, sandals or canvas.
Make sure you have plenty of drinking water and perhaps some snack foods. You
would also be well advised to take enough water to enable you to wash off your
arms, legs and face once you return to your car.
Use plenty of insect
repellant on your shoes, socks, and pants legs and consider treating your skin with
repellant. Be sure to bring a small First Aid Kit and possibly a Snake Bite
Kit. First Aid Kits for campers will be light and compact and probably
available at most department stores or sporting goods stores.
Don't forget the sunscreen blocker cream or lotion. Beware of poison ivy or
poison oak. The other caution is yellow jackets and bees. They are
the sugar in open cans of soda and half eaten fruit. It is especially painful
to take a swallow of soda pop and find that a yellow jacket was drinking in
can and is now in your mouth.
A few tools will also come in handy. In areas that are particularly wild or
overgrown, a machete will just about be a necessity. You will need
break a trail through dense brush.
You also need to take a small set of hand
garden tools including a small garden shovel and hand held hoe. The two tools
will be needed to clear grass and dirt away from headstones and footstones
may have sunk.
And lastly you should take a small pry bar. You will find that
some headstones may have fallen over and if lying face down will have to be
turned. A pry bar will help you do this. Include a pair of heavy canvas
gardening gloves in your kit.
Another good idea for the tool kit is a
rod of reinforcing bar (rebar) used for probing for sunken headstones.
Assuming that no plat map was available to lead you to the exact site, you
have to walk up and down the row of graves, examining each stone.
where woods closely bound the cemetery, be sure to go a bit into the trees in
each direction to be sure that you have found all of the gravesites. Look for
fences, stone walls, or corner stones that may mark the boundaries of the
You may want to bring some graph paper along to diagram the
the area where your ancestors are buried. This will help to remember where the
graves were. Be sure to write down any fixed objects that will help locate the
grave and the drives and also include compass directions (N, S, E, W).
A great way to save your memories of that visit is with a video camera.
Take extra batteries and extra videotapes with you. Video taping creates a
record of the condition of the tombstones at the time you visited. Some
tombstones may not be readable in five or ten years but the videotape will
always be there. Why not do a test taping at a local cemetery to develop a
technique before you embark on your trip to that distant cemetery.
have a video camera, take along your tape recorder and a couple of cameras
instead. A tip for photographers is to bring a roll of aluminum foil with you
and set it up to reflect the sunlight onto or away from a poorly lit stone
better yet - use a large mirror.
Take along lots of film and have one of the
cameras loaded with black and white film. Take pictures with both cameras in
case one doesn't come out.
Hopefully one of them will have a long cable
or take along a friend to help you. A tripod would be most helpful. Once you
set up your camera and focus as best you can, use the mirror to reflect light
onto the stone and take your pictures from different angles with the mirror
placed in different locations.
You should definitely make a written record of
what is inscribed on the headstone and the footstone if there is one as
photographs will often fail to pickup all of the inscriptions on the stone.
Whether you take photographs, rubbings, or both, you may need to clean the
stone first. You can try a block of Styrofoam to clean off some of the lichen
and soil. If will not damage the stone and it leaves a certain amount in the
grooves making the stone easier to read. You should not scrub away all of the
lichen as lichen will actually help to protect the stone.
When cleaning a
stone, remember that you must not cause any more damage than is already there.
Most accumulated dirt and debris can be removed with a brush. Select a brush
that is soft enough to not damage the stone but strong enough to remove clods
Or use your garden tools to remove grass and dirt from the base of
stone until all of the inscription is revealed. Don't dig farther than
necessary as you don't want to cause the stone to topple over. You may need to
use some water with a solution of GENTLE soap to get dirt out of the
Inverted carvings can be made to stand out better by filling
with shaving cream - although there is some controversy about this method and
some say it may cause damage to the stone.
If you use it, remove excess cream
before you leave.
Another method - place a soaking wet lightweight piece of
white cloth flat on the stone - "ironing" it with the fingers. The words will
show up, especially if incised.
It is also safe to use chalk or mud.
Rubbings are perhaps the most popular way to record headstones. There are many
techniques for making rubbings and many materials that can be used. Make some
trips to a local cemetery and practice making rubbings using different
materials and techniques until you are happy with your results before you make
a potentially expensive trip to a remote cemetery. Take something to sit on,
especially if there are chiggers around, or use a small stool if your knees
Many types of paper can be used to take the rubbing on, including newsprint,
tracing paper, architects paper, shelf paper, or pellon. You can purchase
pellon at just about any fabric or craft shop and other papers will be
available at most art supply stores.
You are going to need some medium to
transfer the rubbing. There are many things you can use; crayon, graphite,
charcoal and boot wax are a few of the choices. Bootwax on the pellon makes an
attractive rubbing, and graphite or charcoal on newsprint is another good
selection. You can get boot wax at most shoe repair shops and sticks of
charcoal and graphite are available at art supply stores. Graphite sticks are
often available in several colors and other drawing sticks are also available.
You will need some tape to hold the paper in place on the stone while you make
the rubbing. Freezer or masking tape doesn't leave a lot of residue when you
remove it from the stone and it will also stick to a damp stone.
your material (paper or pellon, etc.) approximately the same size as the
and secure it tightly across the surface of the stone using the tape. Begin
rubbing at the upper left corner of the stone and work across and down. Rub in
a diagonal direction as rubbing straight up and down or side to side will tend
to stretch the paper and cause it to tear or make a distorted image. Whatever
you have chosen to make the rubbing with, use a broad side or edge (several
inches long) to rub with. You do not need to rub hard but rubbing too gently
will cause you to lose the detail. Be sure that you are happy with your
before you remove the paper and that all lettering is legible.
Once you remove
the paper don't try to replace it in the same location. When you are done with
the rubbing remove it carefully from the stone, and lay it flat. Remove all
tape and residue from the stone.
should now "fix" the rubbing. If you are using charcoal, or graphite the image
can be easily fixed with either hair spray or a commercial fixative available
at the art supply store. Other mediums may need the commercial fixative or
other special treatment. When spraying the fixative do not spray it on the
stone. Use a gentle side to side sweeping motion, and do not apply it too
The fixative will usually cause your rubbing to darken. Follow the
instructions on the bottle or can.
I store my rubbings in tubes such as from
wrapping paper. They are particularly good for this but you can buy mailing
tubes commercially if you like.
Cemetery rubbings are fun to do. They can be
mounted or framed and make an interesting conversation piece. The rubbings can
be stapled to a couple of dowels or matted and framed. They are particularly
interesting if you use more than one color in your rubbing.
The Oldstone Enterprises, 77 Summer Street, Boston, Mass. 01110 sells a kit
with directions for making rubbings of gravestones.
Their materials may
purchased from the Hearthstone Bookshop, 8405-H Richmond Highway, Alexandria,
The paper you want to use is sometimes referred to as "synthetic
rice paper" or "print makers paper". Anything that does not tear easily will
probably do. You may also use the non-woven interfacing or pattern materials
that are sold at dress fabric stores, such as PELLON (non-fusible variety).
Oldstone sells a crayon that is about the size and shape of a bar of hand
Carpenter's crayon or Lumberman's crayon may also be used, or a crayon from
thick box of crayolas would do.
If you find the right kind of paper, no spray
or protective materials need be used.
A "leave-behind" might be several miniature pedigree charts in a small glass
jar with a tight-fitting lid. I use a copy machine that reduces a 4-generation
pedigree chart to index card size. Be sure your name and address are on each
one either with a stamp or a sticker or type it on the back. Put a few of
in a jar and leave it by the headstone.
Be sure to clean up the site before you leave. Once you get back to your car
rinse off your arms and legs using either water or a gentle antiseptic. If you
have ever had chigger bites you will understand why this is advisable. Once
back to the hotel or your home, be sure to wash thoroughly and apply
all over. Be careful of tics that you may pick up in the woods.
From: "Ellen Bisson"
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 00:15:23 -0500
1st son = father's father
2nd. son = mother's father
3rd son = father
4th son = father's 2nd oldest brother or mother's oldest brother
1st daughter = mother's mother
2nd daughter = father's mother
3rd daughter = mother
4th daughter = mother's oldest sister
5th daughter = mother's 2nd oldest sister or father's oldest sister
Glossary of Occupations
by Daniel H. Burrows
Giver of charity to the needy
Secretary or stenographer
A soldier mechanic who does repairs
Keeper of an inn
One who works with brass
One who filled up cracks (in ships or windows) or seems to make them watertight by using tar or oakum-hemp fiber produced by taking old ropes apart
Dealer or trader; one who makes or sells candles; retailer of groceries
The servant of a salesman who stood at the door to invite customers; one who received the matter in the galley from the compositors and arranged it in due form ready for printing; one who makes eyelet holes in boots using a machine which clicked.
Peddler of books
One who makes or repairs vessels made of staves & hoops such as casks barrels tubs etc.
Shoemaker originally any leather worker using leather from Cordova/Cordoba in Spain
Peddler of fruits and vegetables
One who dresses the coat of a horse with a curry
one who tanned leather by incorporating oil or grease
Stevedore dock worker who loads and unloads cargo
One who finds water using a rod or witching stick
A dealer in dry goods
One who drives a long strong cart without fixed sides for carrying heavy loads
A surgeon's assistant in a hospital
One who drives cattle sheep etc. to market; a dealer in cattle
Agent commission merchant; one who acts or transacts business for another; Scottish steward or bailiff of an estate
A blacksmith one who shoes horses
One who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for leather making
One who made bows and arrows
One who fulls cloth; one who shrinks and thickens woolen cloth by moistening heating and pressing; one who cleans and finishes cloth
A keeper of the goal a jailer
Maker of hoes
One who combed out or carded flax
Dealer in hay
Keeper of fences
A farm laborer
A groom who took care of horses often at an inn
One who made hoops for casks and barrels
Sells small wares
A farmer who cultivated the land
One who had served his apprenticeship and mastered his craft not bound to serve a master but hired by the day
A skilled carpenter
Keeper of the cupboard
Maker of horse gear
One who issued local currency
Seller of goods (ale fish)
Innkeeper with fixed prices
A maker of a clog shod with an iron ring. A clog was a wooden pole with a pattern cut into the end
A wig maker
A shyster lawyer
One who applied sheet lead for roofing and set lead frames for plain or stained glass windows.
Wrought iron worker
Hoist tackle worker
Seller of fish
Maker of rope or nets
One who makes repairs or sells saddles or other frnishings for horses
One who saws; carpenter
A minor or worthless author
Professional or public copyist or writer; notary public
Seller of ready-made clothes in a slop shop
One who repaired shoes
A woman who spins or an unmarried woman
Maker of spurs
Country gentleman; farm owner; justice of peace
Officer on merchant ship who is in charge of cargo and the commercial concerns of the ship
One who tans (cures) animal hides into leather
One who puts the tap in an ale cask
One who drives a team for hauling
An itinerant tin pot and pan seller and repairman
Toll bridge collection
Cleaner of cloth goods
A person who turns wood on a lathe into spindles
A tavern keeper or one who provides an army navy or ship with food supplies
Teamster not for hire
Customs officer or tide waiter; one who waited on the tide to collect duty on goods brought in
Boatman who plies for hire
Operator of looms
Owner of a wharf
One who made or repaired wheels; wheeled carriages etc.
Tinsmith; worker of iron who finishes or polishes the work
Bleach of cloth
Workman especially a construction worker
Farmer who owns his own land
By Denise Cross
Milk of Magnesia? -a bit messy and a soak in liquid for that long
could disintegrate an old clipping. (Note: The original posting had a
suggestion about preserving clippings in an MOM soak.)
There are 2
excellent spray products on the market. Bookkeeper and Wei To Sprays.
University Products (800-628-1912) . Just spray on and let dry.
Lamination is ok...but it is actually a mixed bag. Your lamination film
and adhesive MUST be free of anything that will contribute to yellowing.
The item cannot "breathe" in this environment and if the chemicals
present are destructive over time, the item will yellow badly.
crumble because of the support from the laminate, but it can get hard to
read. I've seen some laminated newsprint stay relatively fresh and some
A better option (and the one archives use) is
micro-encapsulation. Using sheets of mylar and acidfree/archival
quality double sided adhesive, you sandwich the item between two sheets
and seal all around the edge (leaving a tiny gap for "breathing").
Backing the document with a buffered sheet of lignin free paper or
treating with a spray above will help arrest the deterioration.
item itself is not adheared in anyway, so the mylar can be cut open to
remove it at a future date. The mylar lends great support to the paper
as well. The mylar sheets come in many sizes, small sheets for cutting
to preserve clippings to big enough to encapsulate broadsides.
Copying onto acid free, lignin free paper is the way to go for long
term preservation of the info.
Ellen's note: I have purchased acid-free album sheets, clear mylar
protectors and archival glue from a catalog company called Exposures in
Oshkosh, WI (1 800 572-5750).
The glue is abt $7.95 per tube and it's a
small tube. The glue is sort of rubbery and you can actually remove a
photo to replace it or move, provided it isn't fragile.
You would not
be able to move a newspaper clipping, however.
On another list, I
believe someone also said acid free album sheets were available a