Left to right – Cabell County, West Virginia, Cheshire County, New Hampshire and Lawrence County, Ohio
I was fortunate to be able to attend a seminar this past Saturday that featured Judy Russell as the speaker. The seminar was put on by the North San Diego County Genealogical Society, of which I am a member.
Who is Judy Russell? Most of you probably know she is the Legal Genealogist. She has a blog where she keeps us up to date and completely informed about various laws involving our genealogy research. I have followed her blog for a while now and we’ve become Facebook friends. However, I had never had the honor of hearing her speak. What I did know from other genealogy friends, was that I would not be disappointed.
That is an understatement. Judy is not only knowledgeable about many areas of the law, but she’s also an excellent genealogist and a really good speaker. And, she’s funny too.
There were four session to the seminar which went from 9:30 to 3:30. Here are the titles of those sessions:
THAT FIRST TRIP TO THE COURTHOUSE
- What to know before you go
- What to bring
- What to look for when you get there
- When the clerk asks “May I help you?”
- Tips for courthouse research
- Checklist for courthouse research
- Some basic concepts
- Kinds of cases in equity
- Reasons why genealogists should love chancery cases
- What is a bond?
- A discussion of the kinds of bonds: marriage, bastardy, bail, adminstrators, guardianship, appeal, peace and official
- Why do we care about bonds?
- The law of dower
- Records of widows
- The law as to orphaned children
- Records of orphans
What I didn’t know was
- That there are so many different types
- That they can contain copious amounts of information
- That they can connect one family member to another
- And that I should look for them every time I enter a courthouse
Since most of these records can only be obtained at the actual courthouse, it will be a while until I can revisit some of the places I’ve been. However, there was a website that Judy told us about that has many scanned chancery court records. It is the Virginia Memory-Library of Virginia website. Here is a direct link to the Chancery court page http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/
I began looking on this Virginia page yesterday and found a 96 page court record involving my 6th great grandfather, Andrew HAMILTON and other family members. On page 4 was a mention of his daughter Alice Hamilton who married my DAR patriot, Andrew BOWEN. This was my first good piece of evidence as to Alice’s father, other than circumstantial evidence.
Here I have circled references to family members on this page.
(Click on the image to enlarge it)
The images from the Virginia Memory site can only be saved one page at a time. As a result it will take me several days to save all 96 pages of this document. It’s much easier to read them on a monitor or on the iPad when you can enlarge the print. I’m actually very pleased with how readable the document is.
To quote Judy Russell “Is this a record that you would like to have?” My answer is a resounding “YES!”
Now I cannot wait to go to other courthouses and find bond records of all kinds. Those courthouses shown at the beginning of this post are all places I’ve been. I’ve been inside two of the three courthouses and never looked for bonds. Don’t make that same mistake.
Have you looked at these types of court records before? Or, is this your first time hearing how valuable they can be?
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