Kinsearching November 5, 2006




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

      Are you having trouble tracing ancestors in the Volunteer State? If you are, perhaps you will find clues unearthed by Alan N. Miller in his latest work, WEST TENNESSEE'S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN: APPRENTICES FROM 1821 TO 1889. This is the third and final volume in his interesting series on apprenticed children in that state.

     Just as he did for the volumes on East and Middle Tennessee, Miller sorted through the court minutes of several counties to extract apprenticeship data about a particular area's "forgotten children" (as the author calls them). The approximately 4,000 West Tennessee apprenticeship records, generally in the form of bonds and indentures, span the years 1821 to 1889 and cover the counties of Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Shelby, Tipton, and Weakley.

     The compiler arranges the information in tabular form, first by county and then by date. Naturally, the completeness of details about individuals may vary from record to record. Each listing usually provides the name of the apprentice, either the date of the original bond or indenture or a subsequent date, the age at apprenticeship, and the name of the master. Additional notes often supply facts ranging from the name of a relative or former owner and the trade to be learned to cause of apprenticeship (orphaned or abandoned by parent) and race. Miscellaneous details may also pertain to an individual's illegitimate birth or the date a guardianship or previous indenture was terminated.

     The term "orphan" means, of course, that both parents were deceased. However, genealogists should know that "orphan" could also mean only the father was dead. If the father abandoned or refused to support a child, the mother could give her consent for the child to be apprenticed.

     Since the institution of apprenticeship was a common method of providing for the maintenance and future self-reliance for many orphaned and abandoned children, these records can be valuable for establishing the existence and trade of young people who may otherwise go undetected in conventional genealogical resources. Because apprenticeship information is ordinarily scattered among many volumes of county court minutes, family researchers will relish the easy accessibility to the tremendous amount material found in Miller's book. WEST TENNESSEE'S FORGOTTEN CHILDREN: APPRENTICES FROM 1821 TO 1889 will be another excellent addition to library genealogical collections on the Volunteer State.

     The 218-page paperback has 218 pages, an introduction, and a full name index. To the book's price of $26.50, buyers should add the charges for postage and handling. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4 for one book and $2.00 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $6 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #9982) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

     Clues for locating relatives who moved in the nineteenth century can come in unusual forms. If you are researching records in the South or Midwest, for example, you may have seen the initials "G. T. T." or "GTT" written across courthouse documents dealing with uncollected debts or unresolved legal actions. Used as a slogan by many pioneers headed west, the letters were also written on such places as fences or abandoned houses. The initials indicate that the family may have "Gone to Texas."

     Bonnie Bright Johannes, 5594 North 10th, Apt. 103, Fresno, CA 93710-6586 (e-mail: would appreciate the names of the parents of Margaret H. PERRY, b. 23 Dec 1831 in Alabama, who married Webb Kidd JENNINGS. There are several PERRY families on the 1830 Alabama census but Johannes does not have any clues to help narrow down which couple may have been her parents. Margaret died on 27 Sept 1884 and is buried in Forest Academy Cemetery in Hopkins Co., TX.