Monday, August 29, 2022

Colonial Parish and Vestry Records - VA and Carolinas


Virginia and the Carolina Colonial Map

Parish & Vestry Research Tips
Researchers must be cleaver when researching in colonial Virginia and the Carolinas. Recently the a3Genealogy research team was asked “Where do we start to unearth early Virginia settlers? 

We’ve touched on this topic many times, but to recap be sure to review Researching Colonial Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina: Why Can’t I Find MyRecords. Here we talked about timelines and county formations; but we didn’t share Parish Research tips and hints. I must say Parish Research is vital to your success!

Starting with our project formation map, which we individualize for our clients based on their ancestral settlers, we scour one county at a time.  In the example above we located our Nichols in Halifax in abt 1752 using wills, probates and land deeds.  So, to find the ancestors of this subject, we turn next to Lunenburg County, VA. Sure, these ancestors could have migrated from some other location, but we needed a starting point; and Lunenburg County, VA proved to be a good one that led us back to 1654, New Kent County, VA.

Parish Record Research
Parish / Church Records trump census records for our research team!  We are always “nose-first” in parish and church records.

Begin with The Virginia Parish Maps. This resource alphabetized by counties can be viewed online at Virginia parish maps ( Your biggest clue may not be from the parishes outlined inside the County, but may also be from the quick-glance at the names of surrounding counties,  Be sure to take note of them.

Luckily, has a great selection of parish and vestry books. Vestry book or road maintenance books may be your only notice of early ancestors.Works may also be found with a simple Google Books, Jstor and WorldCat, as well as State Libraries and Historical Societies.

Know that White parishioner records began as early as 1631; African American, as well as Native Americans’ vital statistics were maintained beginning abt. 1672.  
All male persons of the age of sixteen years or upwards, and also negro, mulatto, and indian women of like age ("except tributary Indians to this government," were "tithable" or chargeable for county and parish levies. But the Court or Vestry "for reasons in charity," could excuse indigent persons from payment, and this was frequently done.
Colonial Vestry Book
Lynhnhaven parish, Princess Anne County, VA, 1723 - 1786

The key to this research is to determine the extent of the original parish, timelines, and names of the parish's subdivisions. Below you can see how Cumberland Parish, 1746 was divided up to form many parishes by 1778.

Cumberland Parish, Landon C. Bell

Along with Colonial Parish Records, we also suggest scouring the Anglican Church and Government Records in England. 

Other Resources
The Library of Virginia holds a wealth of documents and material on Colonial Virginia (and a few other colonial settlements.  Be sure to visit their Archival Resources: A Guide to the Colonial Papers, 1630-1778 Colonial Papers 36138 (

Be Historically Correct

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate Accessible Answers

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Oh My! Mississippi Records Are Hiding Ancestors

Image: Library of Congress

Where Are the Wills and Probate Proceedings?
Rarely is it that the obstacle to accessing ancestor's court records is "figuring out" the filing logic of the court recorder. Sure, we often have issues finding the correct collections, or court holdings, but once the records are in hand, we have indices, dates, page numbers from abstracts, or even loose papers that can be perused in order to lead us to our ancestors. Yet, a recent Hinds County research project in Jackson and Raymond Mississippi County Clerks’ Office 1800 court records initially led us down dead-ends. We had in hand the produced 1852 Will which named children, and the desired fate and distribution of slaves. However, the 1875 associated probate obviously made the 1852 slave filled Will mute. Plus, our Moseley acquired additional land up after the writing of his 1852 will. 

Neither Raymond nor Jackson District Court Clerks were successful in locating the probate supporting papers.  The a3Genealogy question was where were the court recording that support the index?  

Probate Proceedings, beginning 8 Mar 1875

What the Probate might tell us?
Supporting documents were needed to uncover Inventories, Appraisals, Receipts needed to assess business dealings and associates. Plus Guardianship records were needed to analyze kinship and familiar relationships as well as land ownership or land bequeathed to children and family. Probates are filled with hints of community associates through witnesses, testimonies and affidavits. Yes, there are abstracts, but they are incomplete and often misleading.  This comprehensive research required access to original records, or at minimum copies of the full records. 

Tips and Hints to Uncovering Court Records

Step 1: Learn the court systems for the era and place of your ancestor. This may require engaging court recorders.  Mississippi utilizes Chancery Courts. Hinds County has two relevant Chancery District Courts: Raymond, MS -District 2 (the historically older) and Jackson MS - District 1, a significantly larger archival collection. 

"Mississippi, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1780-1982," 1902;

Know that there are selected court record images on They too are vital, but lack the full details of the Chancery Court proceedings.

Step 2: Understand the Index to Estates? I'm sure, not unique to Mississippi, but the Index to Estates, initially appeared senseless. 

The a3Genealogy team turned to  digitized records for Hinds County, MS: Index to Estates, Mississippi Probate Records, 1781 - 1930 for Hinds County, Chancery records. Undertaking a page by page search, eighty images in, we found our subject #131.  (See above Index image).

What type of numbering system was this?  Number 71 was followed by 112, followed by 131, followed by #141 on image 80. Although the numbering system appears random, the dates are sequential. 
Forgive us for thinking the #131 was either a page reference or sequential case reference.  Clearly this was neither a sequential numbering system by cases, or page numbers.  

It was discovered that #131 was the key to finding our Moseley subject and the research needed within the Chancery Records. Yes, the person's case file is given a number, and the researcher must for the occurrences of that case number. The key is to 1) find the first occurrence of your subject which will require a page by page search since these earlier pages are not number; and 2) follow their personal case file number by jumping to the next date proffered by the the index.

Step 3: Create an At-A-Glance Timeline. This research is not for the weak at heart. There's no easy way as page numbers are nonexistent and these books are not arranged alphabetically by last name (or otherwise).  By using the index (above with dates) we suggest researchers create an At-A-Glance timeline.  Who wants to decipher or repeatedly reference these scribbles? 

The index for #131 was lengthy, but a timeline will save hours wasted. Here is a sample of ours (nothing fancy) using the dated information provided by the index:

  •   8 May 1875    Will filed and ordered probated 
  •  28 May 1875  Pet. Filed with will 
  •  29 May 1875   Pet for letters filed 
  •  31 May 1875   Letters Granted , [&] warrant of appraisement same day
  •  4 and 8 Nov 1875    Order to sell per. property made 4 and 8 Nov 1875
  • 2 Feb 1876    Order to sell personal property 
  • 4 Oct 1876     Motion for Guardian Ad Litem & Conservator Filed 

Step 4: Follow your subject using the case number and the dates in you case number.

Remember, at this point you are just looking for your case number. For us, that number was #131. This was a case that continued until the early 1900's. So, not surprising when the 3rd Administrator was identified in 1879 on image #489 of 676 in 1878.  

March, 1878, Image 489

Family names, kinships, spouses and maiden names were given as expected.  Of course deaths were noted, and changes in the administrators were provided with details (deceased, ill, etc).  But, for this case one learns a lot about pre-Civil war and the Reconstruction Era of Hinds County, MS. 

Basically, we learned more than we bargained for and the client was slack jawed with surprise and wonder.  As we have client's permission, we will share more of the case in an upcoming blog post. 

For more about researching in Mississippi be sure to review Researching in Mississippi: Mississippi Gulf Coast.

[1] "Mississippi Probate Records, 1781-1930," William O. Moseley, Hinds Estate index 1872-1884, May 1875, Image 80;  FamilySearch, viewed 9 Jul 2021 (click link). 

Kathleen Brandt

Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

Monday, July 25, 2022

Expand Your Norway Genealogy

Our Norwegian Ancestors -
5 Resources & Tips 

1.   Map It Out!
It is impossible to understand the origin of Norwegian ancestors without visualizing the geography and the map of counties, municipalities, and parishes.  For example, the Diocese of Sør-Hålogaland is divided into eight deaneries. These deaneries are subdivided into municipalities. And, municipalities are further divided into parishes. Will talk about the farms later, but what about the defunct villages of our ancestors.  

For this research project we covered the Salten Prosti and the Bodø Domprosti deaneries! We ran into the same issues as we scoured  the municpalities: Dissolved Villages.  In looking for Nordal Lakså because client wanted to visit, (their ancestors being from Skjerstad), we quickly learned that in 1905 Skjerstad was divided with Fauske and by 2005 Skjerstad was dissolved or shall I say "melded" into Bodø municiaplity. Nordal Lakså is defunct. Sometimes, though we just want to walk the land of our ancestors.

2.  Confusion of Family names - Not always patronymic

Figure 2 See full article on

      Years ago we traced a Helen Fauske of Minnesota by way of Norway, so we thought it amusing that now we were researching in the town of Fauske. (Two different clients, no relation). Although it was amusing, it by no means is unusual. 

1900 Norway Census
Dad, Mom and Son with 3 distinct surnames

Family names did not really exist in Norway until the 1900s. The traditional Norwegian naming practice is to use patronyms. In the 1801 and 1865 censuses people were noted by 1) their Christian name followed by 2) the patronymic and 3) the farm name. When a surname law was enacted in 1923 demanding all persons in a (core) family should have the same family name s the father/husband  (head of household) in the family, the surname issue became a genealogists nightmare. Between abt. 1890 -1920 people gradually adopted family names. Some families took a patronymic name from their own patronymic name or that of their father or that of their husband. Others used the farm name. Well at least you would know their origin from the farm name. But all of this most often resulted in adult siblings having different surnames (some from the farm, some from their patronymic name).

       Just know that surnames can be unexpected and not traditional.  
      3.   Farm Names 

The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin, 18 Sep 1938, Page 4,
Read Full Article

Tip:  We use the dokumentasjons-prosjektet website to fish through the plethora of spellings of farm names, and for comprehensive lists. Not to be confused with Os village in Bodø , but did you know there was so many variations for Os Farm in Fauske?  Os. Oos, Ous,  Aas, Ooss  

      4.  Step Away from Ancestry
When it come to Norway research, we peruse, we embrace, and we soak up and ferret the Norwegian online archives and scans. Take a look at the three comparisons below: 1) ancestry 2) myheritage 3) UiT Norges arktiske universitet Names and birthyear; no details

Used link above with subscription

      MyHeritage: The same as  However, myheritage does have a larger Norwegian collection of scanned documents. .

Used link above with subscription

UiT Norges arktiske universitet, The Norwegian Historical Data Centre from the Arctic University of Norway, has a transcribed searchable census. It includes more information and provides more hints that helps manipulate the church records.  Norway has specified numbers for municipalities and farms. (Think US Enumeration District numbering system). So much more can be accomplished with this small hints. Here we also see that the 1900 census does not just note the municipality, but the farm of residence, and profession of our ancestors. With such common names, we want as much unique information as we can gather. A small, but ultimately a large clue for researching Norway records, is the municipality number. 

Often we get abbreviations on occupation rendering a translation engine useless.  Should this happen go to the FamilySearch website for Norway Occupations to decipher the abbreviations.   

5.  Parish Registry
Arkivverket Digitalarkivet The National Archives of Norway Digital Archives has a scanned archives of Paris registry and Census records. With google translate, a list of genealogical Norwegian words and the "English" button on the website, all researchers can wade through the Parish Records and scripted cursive.  

Here we uncovered the 1887 marriage of our subject; Ole Kristensen, and his death records.  However, there is an 80 year rule that prohibited us from retrieving the death record for his wife. 

1887 Death Record 

This family was traced back to early 1700’s.  What fun!  For each generation we 1) mapped and learned the geography 2) followed the family trail of names 3) became familiar with the farms and parishes 4) scoured the Norwegian online scanned archives for occupations/family names 5) used digital archives for church records… Write up and repeat for next generation!

Kathleen Brandt
Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Tracing College & Professional Athletes

The News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington
                    24 Jan 1941, Pg. 22

Resources to Uncover the Noted Athlete
Recently the a3Genealogy Research Team was charged to recreate an ancestor’s lost athletic scrapbook.  Here are some of the few tips uncovered.

Do you have an ancestor who was an athlete? You may know about your relative’s prowess from family lore or may have discovered their talent in the course of your research. The key to successfully ferret information on a competitive athlete lies in their athletic level: amateur, professional, or Olympic level.  The researcher must also understand local, regional, state, and league rankings of the specific sport being researched.

It is helpful to know how competitions are organized. For example, what leagues or clubs are there locally in the region? Most understand collegiate sport school divisions, or what was called the interscholastic competitions, but if not, here is a good review of the workings of NCAA founded in 1906. Know that most sports have their own national organization, as well as local groups. Often the accounts of your athletic ancestors' accomplishments may be located in under used university archives and records centers. 

Most competitive professional athletes began in high school or competed at the college level. competitions. A great place to start is with high school or college yearbooks. Ancestry has a digitized collection of high school and college yearbooks. Recently when researching a competitive skier, I was able to follow his success through the University of Washington yearbooks. The yearbook collection spans from 1900 to 1994 are at University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection.

Art Strom was both a football player in the fall, and a skier in the winter. His university yearbook blurb, 1942, also provided the high school he attended.

Researchers may also uncover ancestors who attended defunct universities through yearbooks. Harold Strader, a multi-sports athlete at the College of Emporia was found in the 1954 annals of this now defunct private Presbyterian college in Emporia, Kansas. 

Harold Strader ran on the winning track team for The Fighting Presbies. 

As with any research on a defunct institution, the family historian will want to identify the successor. Looking for the papers, and yearbooks of the Fighting Presbies that closed their door in 1974, researchers would need to contact the successor, the University of Emporia, in Emporia Kansas.

If your ancestor made it to the professional level of their sport, you can expand your research. For example, baseball has a website that lists of over 22,700 major league players and information on minor league affiliates. Like all sports, baseball has tiered affiliates: AAA, AA, Adv A A Rookie; and don’t forget the Foreign Rooke. Visit

Most sports have an associated museum or hall of fame. The International Swimming Hall of Fame, which also has a museum, is at We were able to search by athlete and year.

For other Olympic games, researchers may find participants, medal winners, and more on this comprehensive (cited) U. S. at the Olympics Wikipedia page: For Track and Field we were also able to obtain the Alphabetical Index of All Olympic Trial Competitors. 

Other Resources

  • Sports Museums. Some states have their own  Sports Museums. You can find information about the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at, for example.
  • Local Libraries. Many local libraries are the collectors of regional yearbooks, local libraries, obituaries, etc.
  • State Historical Societies. A State Historical Society may be the repository of ephemera, such as programs or posters. This is a great place to check for magazines or newspapers dedicated to the sport.
  • Newspaper Research. For your Olympic ancestors know that newspaper articles reporting the results of tryouts and events were reported from the beginning of the 1896 modern Olympics. Know that the Olympic games were cancelled in 1916, 1940, and 1944 but, that leaves many potential years in which your ancestor might have competed.

Lead Writer: 
Julie Crain Miguel, Walnut Hill Genealogy
a3Genealogy Freelance Researcher

Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

Friday, July 1, 2022

3 Tips to Researching Early Netherland Born Settlers

                                                     Marriage Banns: VandeWater to Meersman

Tracing from New World 1850 to Netherlands 1620
Did your ancestors come from the Netherlands before arriving in the New World, Plymouth, in 1620's? Where should you start? Of course you might begin your research by tracing Pilgrim migratory paths. It has been confirmed that the Pilgrims had a 12 year stop-over in the Netherlands. But, does this explain why you cannot find your New Netherland ancestors overseas? Maybe they weren't "Pilgrims" at all. 

Let's look at the early Americas Van Waters of Albany, NY and Canada.  How did the a3Genealogy Research Team trace this family from the 1850's to 1600's?  Here are 3 major hints that led us to finding the early family bible (1700's) and the Y-DNA connections. What might you find if you broaden your search?  

 1. Study the Surname
to determine the family origin. 

First, it must be noted that the surnames of van, van de(n), van der, etc are from south Holland[i] which supports the Van Waters being from the Rotterdam / Amsterdam region located in South Holland. This area borders North Holland.

2. Evolution of Names. 

Jakobus van de Water, Engeltje Jeuriaens, 1684, Flatbush, King County, NY

As with American names that may evolve from John being a Jack, this practice was also seen in Dutch names. For example, the name Jeuriaen throughout the Dutch American community evolved from Jeuriaen to many variations, i.e. Jeurian to Uriah.  Other versions of Jeuriaen may be Yurrie, Yerry, Jerry; and, even Jeremiah.

3. Common practiced naming convention. A common naming practiced was used amongst the early Dutch. Following this common Dutch naming practice, researchers may be able to trace their 1800 ancestors back to the 1650's.  This confirmed that Uriah, in this family, was original Jeuriaen [sp].

·       The first name of the eldest two sons named after their grandfathers; The second name was that of the father[ii]

·        First-born son is named after paternal grandfather

·        First-born daughter is named after maternal grandmother

·        Second son is named after maternal grandfather

·        Second daughter is named after paternal grandmother

·        Subsequent children were often named after uncles and aunts  

Kathleen Brandt

Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

[i] Dutch Surname suffixes:
[ii] Surname Suffix “ ens”  is most common in North Brabant. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

2022-2023 Speaker Series

These are just a few titles offered by Kathleen Brandt as a conference Keynote Speaker or seminar Presenter. All are tailored to your conference theme or celebration. If you don't see what you want here, know I offer custom designed presentations and workshops. Presentations are chocked full of actual historical images and  real life short case studies.

Now scheduling for 4thQ 2022 - 2023.  I can also be called upon as a last minute substitute, because we can never plan for those unplanned "life" events

Be sure to review the Experience/Qualifications page. 

Kathleen BrandtKeynote Speaker/Pres

Presentation Titles for Your Conference or Workshops

  • DNA: Spit or Swab?  (Beginner)
  • Why DNA: Determine KinshipNon-Paternal Event, Adoption (all levels)
  • DNA for Genealogists: Who? What?, When? Where? (Intermediate)
  • From History to Present: DNA Research (Case Studies)
  • DNA All Day Workshop (all levels)
  • Using DNA for your Brickwalls (Intermediate)
  • DNA for Private Investigators (How It's Done)
  • Connecting Biological Families (As Seen On TV)

Revolutionary War
War of 1812
  • War of 1812 Records: 10 Places to Research
  • Researching Your War of 1812 Impressed Seamen
  • Revolutionary War and War of 1812
  • African Americans Served Too – Finding Records
Civil War
  • 10 Best Bets for Civil War Research 
  • 7 Tips to Researching Slaves and Slaveholders
  • Finding Your Elusive Civil War Veteran
  • Claim It!  Southern Claims Commission Records and Slave Claims Commission Records
  • Researching Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and other Association Records
  • Civil War POW Records
Modern Wars (WWI - WWII)
  • Military Records Were Destroyed? What to Do?
  • 7 Easy Tips to WWI and WWII Research
  • Forgotten Records -  WWI and WWII
Other Wars
  • French Indian War
  • Spanish American War
  • Philippine American War
  • Tracing State Militia Records
Research, Brickwalls & Court Records
  • Leaping Over Brickwalls
  • The Changing Surname - How to Trace It?

Regional Research & Settlers

Local Topics and Custom Designed Presentations
Have a unique topic?  Due to our vast client base and experience, presentation just for your local group can be customized. Of course actual images of documents and relevant research tips are shared and often accompanied by a case study.

Immigrants and Migration

  • Researching Germans from Russia Ancestors
  • Pioneer Trail From to California: How to Trace Them?
  • Tracing Huguenots – From There to Here
  • Tops to Tracing Your Irish Ancestor - From Immigration to Emigration
  • When They Came to America Where Did They Go?
  • Did Your Ancestor Become a US Citizen? Where to find Records and Documents
African American Research
  • 7 Tips to Researching Slaves and Slaveholders (with MO. Case Study)
  • Researching the Road to Freedom (Prior to the Civil War)
  • 7 Resources to Researching Missouri Ex-Slaves and Free-Coloreds.
  • Using Ship Manifests for Slave Research
  • African Americans Served Too: Finding Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Records
  • A History of Military Service by African Americans (Learn about these Veterans and the Records)
  • “Delegation of Colored Men” 7 Resources to Researching Western-North Carolina Ex-Slaves and Free-Coloreds

Be Historically Correct

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate Accessible Answers