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!

June 17, 2014

Isle of Wight

Just across the river from the first settlement of Jamestown, VA is Isle of Wight (IOW).  It was discovered by James Smith, no less, and became an important jumping off point for many of our early ancestors.

For example, one of my immigrant ancestors, John Stancil, indentured himself to a Virginia planter to pay for his ride from England to America. He landed in the Isle of Wight area and worked off his obligation. Once free of the indenture, his sons and grandchildren find their way into NC.

I've always wanted to visit IOW, and it's perfectly ridiculous that I haven't already done so seeing that it's only a few hours from Raleigh. I'm finally going to do it! This upcoming weekend, I'll snake my way from coastal North Carolina to coastal Virginia and immerse myself in all things Isle of Wight!

I'll start with the Isle of Wight Visitor Center, move on to the museum, and spend some time in the library. I'll visit historic St. Lukes Church and the old courthouse of 1750

What a geeky weekend!  Aren't you glad you're not going with me? Hehe.

I'll post on it next week and let you know how it went!

June 16, 2014

Veterans Remembrance Group, Sanford, NC

I had a wonderful opportunity to meet a group of veterans in Sanford last week. I was asked to speak about my family's military history, but I think they got the short end of the stick. I came away with much more than I gave and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

The group consisted of Korean, WWII, and Vietnam vets. They were engaging, kind, and quite willing to share. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

I came across this group by serendipity.  For a full hour I got to brag on my daddy and talk about my experience as a military dependent.

I loved these guys! 

SO...if you are ever given the opportunity to exchange with a local veterans group...DO IT. It will enrich you in ways you would never imagine!

June 8, 2014

Map of Colonial Families in Granville County

Genealogists tend to clap their hands and stomp their feet with absolute glee when they come across an old map showing family land. It's a truly happy day.

Here's a great example! 

This map shows lands held by Granville families in the Colonial period. Many of my family names show up here:  Pearce, Ray, Allen and others.

It shows landowners, churches, and retail stores in the original Granville County which now includes portions of Franklin, Vance, Warren and Wake Counties in North Carolina. Hot dog!!

The landowners are listed numerically at the bottom of the map along with bits of genealogical information.  

The map was originally compiled by Mr. Worth Ray of Austin, Texas. 

Thanks, Mr. Ray!  You've done us all a tremendous favor!

June 6, 2014

William Stancil and wife Edney Moore

My 4th great grandfather, William STANCIL, was born about 1760 in Cumberland County, NC. He was the first child of William STANCIL and unknown wife. As far as I can tell, he had only one sibling, Peter. 

His wife and my 4th great grandmother, Edney MOORE, was born about 1785 also in Cumberland County, NC. She was the fourth child of Matthew MOORE and wife Prudence. Edney had twelve siblings:  Benjamin, Hardy, Perry, John, Lewis, Britton, Prudence, Matthew, Nancy, Mary, Silas, and Sarah Henrie. 

William STANCIL and Edney MOORE had three children:

  • William Young STANCIL was born on 10 May 1803 in Cumberland County, NC. He died in 1880 in Johnston County, NC. He married Elizabeth Sallie MORGAN before 1835 in Johnston County, NC. These were my 3rd great grandparents. I wrote about them here.
  • John STANCIL was born about 1805 in Cumberland County and died sometime after 1880 in Harnett County, NC.
  • Alexander STANCIL was born about 1807 in Cumberland County and died in 1862 in Granville County, NC. He married Celia BARBER on 20 Jan 1835 in Johnston County, NC.
  • Wealthy Jane STANCIL was born and died in Cumberland County, NC. I wrote about her notorious lifestyle here.

I've yet to find proof of who William's father is, but I speculate it may be William Stancil Jr. because he was in Cumberland during the 1770s. William and his brother Peter appear in Cumberland records starting about 1790. 

William and Edney lived in the part of Cumberland County that bordered with Johnston County (at the time) which is where most of their children settled.

Land Grant to William Stancil
July 1797 for 150 acres in
Cumberland County, NC
William was quite active in the Cumberland County real estate market at least between 1805 and 1816. Some of the transactions were between him and his brother-in-law, John Moore and others between William and his brother Peter. William also received several land grants in Cumberland County.

William must have died between 1820–1830 in Cumberland County because he does not appear on the 1830 census. It does not appear that a will or estate record survived. Edney Moore Stancil died sometime after 1850.

June 5, 2014

Delayed Birth Certificates: What a boon of information!

Not long into my research I discovered "delayed" birth certificates. Delayed birth certificates are still in play today (for children who are adopted, home births, etc), but back in the day they were often obtained by people born before North Carolina started requiring a formal certificate of birth in 1913. 

An official birth certificate is required to obtain a Social Security number.  President Roosevelt created the Social Security Act in 1935. It's morphed a great deal over the years, but eventually a number became required to get a job, a passport, and naturally to be able to obtain SSA benefits. 

These certificates offer a genealogist information that ordinary birth certificates do not. To obtain a delayed certificate, folks had to present THREE items of identification. Family Bibles were often presented, as were insurance policies and marriage licenses. Personal knowledge affidavits by friends or family members were also accepted.

These items are clues!  Clues that a family Bible exists, that a couple was married (in the event you can't find a marriage bond or license), and even clues to additional family members.

Here's my grandfather's delayed birth certificate:

You can see the awesome vital information offered here. Proof of parents, marriage, place of birth, and a life insurance policy. But the best piece of evidence here is the fact that a family Bible exists! 

Jesse's Aunt Sallie also applied for a delayed birth certificate:

From these two documents, I have proof of three generations of Stancils. I already knew a great deal about these folks, but if I hadn't...I do now!

I obtained these from Ancestry.com, but you can also request them from your local vital statistics office except they usually require you to jump through hoops. In North Carolina, you can more easily get them from the Register of Deeds.  

I like to take the path of least resistance, so I check online first and if I can't find it there I make a little trip over to my local ROD office. Good thing it's just down the road!

June 3, 2014

The Organized Genealogist

I've recently put forth an enormous amount of effort to get my research and documentation organized. For the 50th time. Every time I think I've found a method that suits me, I realize I didn't think about this or that. Or my collection of documents has gotten so large I have to think of better ways to organize it all so I'll know what the heck I actually have. 

As part of my determination to get organized, I've put my handy dandy ScanSnap through it's paces. I love my new scanner!  It's so quick and easy. 

Here's what I did:

  1. Marched through 30 years of research in file folders taking up two file cabinet drawers. 
  2. Tossed the junk and sorted the rest into documentation type:  birth certificate, death certificate, marriage bond, etc. 
  3. Sorted each type of document by surname. 
  4. Scoured each document for missed details and added those to my database. (This look a LONG time!)
  5. Created a binder for each major surname. (Don't ask me what I'm going to do about my minor surnames. Have no idea.)
  6. Created divider tabs for each type document.
  7. Put the document into a sheet protector and in it's appropriate place in the binder.
  8. Made sure each document had been scanned and assigned to the appropriate ancestor in my database.
  9. Proudly placed the binder in my bookcase.
Understand that I've only done steps 4 - 7 so far for my Stancil line. Have about 40 more to go.

As for my backups, I keep all my digital files including FTM on Dropbox in the cloud. And I uploaded and regularly sync my database with Ancestry. About once a year, I make CDs of all my pictures and stash in a safe deposit box. Should probably do this more often. 

It's taken me a lot of late nights with a glass of good Chardonnay at the ready, but I think I've got a solid plan in place. The best thing about my efforts is I can now clearly see where my documentation gaps are. And there are a LOT of them.

One of the things that lit this fire under me is the Facebook page entitled The Organized Genealogist. Offers some great advice and other nerds to discuss it with.

I watched some of the YouTube videos on the topic, but they didn't do much for me. 

I also really appreciate the Genealogy Insider blog. GREAT STUFF!

Now get busy!