Vital statistics are the very first records genealogists seek out. When they do not exist, genealogists have to work their way down the ladder of source material. For some genealogists, consulting probate records for clues pertaining to filiation and the reconstitution of pedigrees offers the next best choice. Deeds might be the next logical record group to explore. If these record groups fail to yield the solution to a genealogical problem, genealogists out of desperation resort to searching the court records themselves. Order books, minute books, and loose papers are terribly time consuming to search, but they deserve being put at the apex of original source material.
Court minutes are the entrée to all the other records generated at the county level. If one is using original volumes in a courthouse or archives or a microfilmed or digitized version, the obvious approach is to determine if the book has an index. If there is one, by all means read it in its entirety. If more than one clerk and/or his deputy was responsible for the creation of that index, one cannot be assured that the compiler was consistent in his scheme. He might have used the name of the guardian one time and the name of the ward another time, or placed entries involving such matters under a collective category such as orphans. By no means do such finding aids purport to be definitive.
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