June 20, 2014

Courthouse Research

I've been on a real tear lately when it comes to visiting courthouses to see if I can dig up anything new on the family. I haven't had much luck, but as they say...sometimes what you don't find is just as important as what you do find.

I did finally figure out (I'm not always the brightest light in the house...) that nearly everything in the courthouses has been microfilmed by the NC Archives. That means that what I want is just up the street from where I live (in the Archives) instead of in some far away courthouse. I suppose I might find some little nugget of info, and I must admit it's pretty thrilling to see the originals, but it makes me wonder if courthouse research is even really necessary. 

Tyrrell County, NC

First of all, you have to know how to pronounce it. I've always heard it as TIE-rell. Apparently, I've been mistaken all this time, but the nice lady at the courthouse corrected me. It is correctly pronounced TERR-ill. Alrighty.

The courthouse is in the county seat naturally, Columbia. It was right on my way to the beach to visit my cousin, so I popped in. Except they were headed out to lunch. Only in a rural county does the Register of Deeds close for lunch. Truly.  

It was a 100 degree day. No kidding. So just walking around until they returned from lunch wasn't an option. I popped into Mike's Restaurant across the street, where you could have collards, fresh corn, and just caught flounder for lunch. With sweet tea, of course. Yummy!  

I didn't really find much on my Stancil fellows, but Lordy knows Edward Smithwick and his offspring were quite the real estate magnets. 

I also visited the genealogy room in the county library across the street. Their AC was out, so I stayed about 5 seconds. Maybe next trip.

Chowan County

Next, I headed to Edenton, known as the prettiest town in the state, and indeed the reputation is well-deserved. Very historic and cute place.  

Didn't find a whole lot on the Stancil's, but then I am interested in the very early 1700s. Many records from that time period either didn't survive or weren't ever created in the first place. I have to remind myself that recording a deed was a major ordeal back in the day when a trip to the courthouse was easily a day's ride on horseback. 

I did find a couple of documents for John Stancele. I'll need to transcribe them to really understand them.

Things in Chowan County were beautifully indexed and maintained, more so than in other counties.

Bertie County

I must say that Bertie County courthouse in Windsor was the most interesting. I still didn't find much on the Stancil boys, but I was pretty brazen about poking through drawers and taking OLD books off the shelf to check them out. 

I found a book of minutes of the Bertie County Red Cross from 1917 during World War I. It was an amazing read!

All in all, it's been great fun to visit the various courthouses. I've enjoyed the towns, too. 

Eastern North Carolina is full of some very colorful people!

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