I absolutely, positively LOVE court records! OK, I guess I should caveat that: I don’t particularly like court records about myself, but historical court records in search of those ever-elusive ancestors are way, way cool. They are second on my “genealogical excitement” scale only to Civil War pension records. I have an entire brief I do on Court Records because they’re so incredible.
Guess what I found tonight buried in the Hardin County Court Minutes that I ordered and viewed at my local Family History Center? Well, I had been wondering for years how this particular man, Felix Barnes, fit into the community.
I have Barnes ancestors, but had never seen him in the household of any of my Barnes kinfolk. So tonight, I found a record of Felix being apprenticed out. But the good part was this phrase, one that we live for in genealogy:
“…the apprenticeship of Felix Barnes, minor child of Lou[isa] Barnes (now wife of Sam[uel] Holt) said boy being an illegitimate mulatto child.”
WOW. I knew Samuel and Louisa Holt’s family well, but never guessed Felix was Louisa’s child. This record doesn’t name his father, but implies the father was white. What’s written here is the kind of stuff you hardly will ever find written anywhere else, or written period, and that’s why court records are a-rockin’-and- a-shockin’.;)
I don’t usually recommend you dive into court records at the very beginning of your research; they can be complicated and many aren’t indexed. But when you get past your oral history, census records, vital records, land records and probate records…endless possibilities await you in the dusty old record books of your county’s courthouse. I’ll talk alot more about these records in future posts and how I’ve used them to advance my research.
I am an engineer by day, but my true passion lies in genealogy. I have been a researcher, writer, lecturer and teacher for over twenty years. This blog is where I share family history methods, resources, tips and advice, with an emphasis on slave research, slavery and its aftermath. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my family’s past. I’ve taken back– reclaimed– some of that lost memory, especially that of my enslaved ancestors. I hope you’ll sign up to receive my posts—if you do, you’ll get a free PDF with some of my favorite tips! And please do share posts that interest you.
[…] of her father and uncle’s estate. The suit lasted about 5 years. I’ve posted before about the value of court records, and yesterday I gave a well-received lecture at a local genealogy group about using court records […]
[…] 16, 2009 by msualumni I wrote in an earlier post about how much value there is to be found in court records with reference to genealogical research. […]
I am really enjoying the site. Great job! No, I haven’t set up a blog as yet. I just got the program you recommended and I am trying to transfer information and get use to the program. Hopefully soon I will be able to devote more time to getting my information in order. Hope to talk to you soon!
Thanks for checking me out here and your kind comments. I know your blog will be up soon, you are quite a tech-savvy person if I’ve ever seen one. I plan to see Sonja this weekend, I’m only sorry I missed you. That’s good info on Felix Barnes. I’ve seen that Joe Doran you refer to in the records. I really am trying to get down to Hardin to spend a day in the courthouse before the year is out. I just have to find the time.
Aunt told me Lucy’s son was named, Joe Doran. However, I think she may have been thinking about the Dorans that he lived with as a servent when he was 16. The 1880 Hardin County Census shows “Felix Barnes” living in the household of William P. Doran.
She also said he was raised by Samuel Holt and when he be came of age, Sam gave him a horse and some money and he went out on his own.
I just loved this site, especially the links to other documents. This is quite interesting.
On of the pictures that you copied was of the son of Lucy Holt’s son. Aunt didn’t remember his name but she did say that it was her son. I will go through and fine the picture and send you a copy.
You have such a good memory…you mean of a son of Felix Barnes? Or just one of Lucy Holt’s? Did I tell you the exact same picture Nella had and thought was Lucy Barnes is the exact same picture that the other descendants had framed in Inkster Michigan of Sam and Lucy? I think it is so interesting that I have gotten the same pictures through completely different channels. Do you like the blog so far? I’ve very excited about it.