Hello readers! I apologize that I have not authored a new blog post in over a year. I have been working on an important, exciting research project with a group of leading scholars of Native American and North Carolina/Virginia genealogy and history. As a result, most of my research time is dedicated to this contract which leaves me with limited time for outside work. I am grateful for the comments that have been left on blog, and please know that I do try to read most comments but just don’t have the time to respond to many queries. In the meantime, I encourage readers to make use of information that has already been published in the blog. The “Search” button is a helpful feature to quickly access information.
Genetic Genealogy Online Resources
I also do want to bring to your attention some excellent online resources. Advances in DNA testing has been pushing the field of genetic genealogy into the forefront and assisting traditional methodologies. Acclaimed genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger’s blog is great way to get credible help and advice about using DNA testing to advance genealogical research. One of my favorite blogposts by Blaine Bettinger, is his article “A Small Segment Round-Up” which warns researchers against lowering thresholds for autosomal cousin matches. Tools available on the popular genetic genealogy website Gedmatch, allow for users to adjust threshold levels when making comparisons between DNA kits. However, Blaine Bettinger warns that matches below 7 centimorgans (cM’s) are not credible.
“Beware any research or conclusion that uses these small segments without specifically addressing the issues that are known – based on all the scientific research and evidence gathered to date – to surround small segments.” – Blaine Bettinger
Genealogical Proof Standard
How do we know when we have successfully proved a genealogical connection? This is an important question to always keep at the forefront as you attempt to draw conclusions from your genealogical research. The Board of Certification of Genealogists does provide a way to assess the credibility of a genealogical claim. The Genealogical Proof Standard is how you can asses the merits of research conclusions:
- Making as wide a search as possible for sources that could help establish the identity, event or relationship under investigation.
- Recording in proper, acceptable format the source citation and/or the provider of the information.
- Analyzing and correlating the collected information—evaluating the quality of sources and the reliability of information within them.
- Resolving any conflicting, contradictory evidence with reasoned argument.
- Stating your conclusion convincingly (more than a “balance of probability”).
Unindexed Records on Family Search
Familysearch.org is a free genealogy website that has a seemingly infinite amount of digitized records online. Some of these records are indexed, meaning that they can be located via keyword searches. And some records are not indexed, meaning that these records are not keyword searchable and instead must be browsed to find relevant information. Just because these records are not indexed does not make them any less valuable. In fact, if you are doing “deep dive” research, it is often the unindexed records that prove to be most valuable. This is time intensive research because you typically will have to browse through hundreds if not thousands of pages of historical records, just to find the one reference you are looking for. There are no short cuts for doing comprehensive genealogical research.
The following weblink will bring you to Unindexed Records for North Carolina:
There is a drop down menu, where you can select the North Carolina county of interest:
The availability of records varies greatly from one county to the next. Not all records have been digitized and if they have not been digitized, there are instructions for how to view those records in person. For records that have been digitized, there is a camera icon next to the accompanying folder.
The folders are generally organized by date, but aside from that, you will need to spend a great deal of time browsing the records page by page, to narrow in on what you’re looking for.
For Granville County, I have a particular interest in viewing the County Court Minutes. Anytime a case was heard before the courts, the minutes were recorded in these books. So life events such as land sales, bastardy bonds, estate sales, wills, civil trials, apprenticeships, guardian cases, etc are documented in these books. Therefore browsing the court minutes provides an excellent snapshot into the happenings in Granville. You can observe which families are repeatedly interacting with one another, the socio-economic status of specific individuals, and the names of the town clerks, judges, and sheriffs. These records have been extremely helpful in my research and allow for me to adhere to the Genealogical Proof Standard, by exhausting all known available sources.
The following are just some of the court minutes I have recently found pertaining to people from the Native/FPOC community in Granville:
In two previous blog posts accessible here and here, I discussed my research about identifying the parentage of brothers Racey Bass and Willis Bass. Milly Bass was a woman who had children out of wedlock by her neighbor, Jesse Chavis. Those two sons: Racey Bass and Willis Bass were subsequently apprenticed out. I had previously located apprenticeship records and bastardy bonds which helped confirm their parentage. And in the unindexed Granville County court minute books, I found several references to Racey Bass and Willis Bass being the sons of Milly Bass. It is great to multiple sources which corroborate the same conclusions. This record is also a great find in that it provides exact birth dates for Racey and Willis.
Drury Pettiford (1755-1838) was a Revolutionary War soldier who filed for a pension on 27 May 1818. Two years later on 25 August 1820, Drury Pettiford provided additional testimony about the names and ages of the family living with him at that time. He testified that Jesse Pettiford, age 18 resided with him. While it may be inferred that Jesse Pettiford was Drury’s son, Jesse’s age made it more likely that he was Drury’s grandson. However it was not known which of Drury’s children, was the parent of Jesse. The Granville County court minutes, identify Jesse Pettiford as the son of Fanny Pettiford. The reason Jesse resided with his grandfather Drury now makes sense, given that Jesse was born out of wedlock.
Sometimes simple road orders such as the one seen above, can be helpful. Brothers Stephen Bass (b. 1758) and Darling Bass (1777-1845) are documented sons of Edward Bass (1728-1800) and wife Tamer Anderson. Darling Bass can be found enumerated in the Granville census records, but for some reason Stephen Bass was not enumerated in the census. With his absence from the census, we need to turn to other records to let us when and where he was still live. He is mentioned in a few tax lists and his land referenced here in this 1802 road order, lets us know he was still alive in 1802.
I still have many more decades of court minutes to browse through. So whenever I have extra time, I try to get through these folders. Whenever I recognize a name of someone from our community, I make note of that record. So when I am finished with these court minutes, I will have identified every time someone from our community made a court appearance.