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.