For many genealogists, their first experience with county records involves vital statistics, probates, and deeds – in part because they are easier to exploit and because they are familiar to most researchers. The first step a genealogist needs to take is to identify the record group at the county level with the best prospects for answering the question she or he has posed. When one has found them unsatisfactory, the county court minutes should be consulted.
One researcher explained to me that she had thoroughly searched the probate records, marriage records, and deeds. She had located a deed from the man she believed to be the father of the next generation. No relationship between the grantor and grantee was specified, but the consideration was suggestive of a deed of gift. Later, as I was reading the court minutes of that county, I located the entry in the court minutes where the grantor appeared in court and acknowledged the deed. This time the clerk’s entry recorded that the instrument was from the father to the son. Here was the proof of filiation, whereupon I straightaway telephoned and shared the good news with her. She now reads the court minutes regularly.
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