Friday, July 12, 2024

Southern Militia Ancestors Hiding in the Bush


The Militia - A Forgotten Resource to Solving Brickwalls
How can we forget the center? In the Bush Family episode of Hittin' the Bricks with Kathleen we cover with our guest Bonnie the importance of tying land deeds to the Cherokee Removal Act military service in Indiana and Missouri. If you are overlooking these records in researching your ancestors from Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, you may be overlooking exactly what you need. 

I mean really, was there ever a time when the military or militia did not exist in America's history? Wars, conflicts, or "Indian Removal" (1795-1846) records, such as the Cherokee Removal efforts, often undertaken by the military or the state militia, hold the ties needed to break through our brickwall. Remember, even in the midwestern states of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, land grants were issued to those who served in the militia.

We know the state militias joined the federal troops in efforts to remove the Cherokee from their ancestral lands. Militias were not granted land explicitly as payment for their services, but the broader context of land redistribution and economic gain was a significant motivating factor the removal of the Cherokee people. Just know, it’s possible that the state or federal government offered lands as part of a larger strategy to populate and develop the western territories following the removal of the Cherokee and other tribes. This would align with the broader goals of westward expansion and consolidation of U.S. territory during the 19th century.

Brickwall? Where Else to Look?
Keep in mind that early guard units merged with the states' milita. These records can be located at the State level. 
Land Applications
National Archives Catalog: Land Patents, 1789 - 2012
Eastern States Land Patents

Although the land patents 1789 - 2012 Eastern States are not yet avaialable online, they are located in RG 49:Records of the Bureau of Land Management. Here is a great place to start Indian Bounty Land Applications

Land Lotteries and Distribution
In states like Georgia, land that was formerly occupied by the Cherokee was redistributed through land lotteries. These lotteries allowed citizens, including militia members, to acquire parcels of land at little or no cost. This redistribution of land served as an indirect reward for those who supported or participated in the removal process.

New Jersey National Guard records
If all else fails, contact the Adjutant Generals' office. They can guide researchers to the archived records.

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Court Record Hierarchy for Research

By scouring county and state court cases, and court appeals family researchers may have luck with their brickwall project. Using Indiana as an example, here's a basic hierarchy to the court systems. Each state though has it's nuances.  Listen in to the case of Benjamin!

Need an example? Listen in to a brickwall case using court records. 

5 Answers via Court Cases
Here are recent brickwalls annihilated using court records dating from 1797 in Delaware to a more recent 19th century Indiana death:
  1. A wrongful death (often caused by company/railroad neglect), providing a death date and details of the incident.
  2. Names of a family unit that can be used to unscramble common names.
  3. Immigration, settlement and estate details most often come to the forefront when discussing land and property cases.
  4. Unearthing your colonial ancestors.
  5. Slave research holes and slave holder names (and sometimes slave parent names), manumission dates, etc.  The Delaware Reports that reviewed cases decided through appeals proffer answers (and questions) of the fate of a few slaves.
Where are the Court and Legal Records?
Let's take a look at Indiana, but know that every state has the same types of record groups. Just know that some states have court records with other names: Prothonotary, Court of Common Pleas, Chancery, etc. 

3 Tips for Genealogy Travel
1) Remember some state repositories are closed Mondays or Saturdays. 
2) Some repositories require appointments. Set those up in advance
3) Scour online catalogs and digitized materials early. Send your repository archivist/librarian your wish list in advance. They can often have records pulled in advance. 
4) Assign your repositores and sites you wish to visit a Tier Level. Tier 1: must go to, Tier 2, Any recommendation provided while on site, or if Tier 1 was a bust, quality research spots to support your genealogical questions, etc. Tier 3: what can you visit off hours (cemeteries, public libraries that close late, etc. 

For example, if I were to go off to Indiana (which I am this summer), I've organize a few essential repositories to visit. I have three areas within abt 60 minutes fo hotel that I will be visiting: Marion County (Indianpolis); and Delaware County (Muncie), and maybe Hendricks County.

Marion County - Indianapolis

Indiana State Archives and Records Administration. Open Mondays.  Request in advance so docs can already be pulled. If you work with an archivist, get the their name. Networking is great. Most of the information is in boxes, and some documents may be cheaper to pay for them to send to you in advance of your trip. State Archives and Records have state and federal records. Make an appt for the reading room in advance. You'd hate to be on your trip and unable to visit a Tier 1, because you forgot to make an appointment.

Indiana State Library has mostly books, but may have references on Tier 2 or Tier 3 sites that can guide you. They do cover the whole state! They are open Mondays. They also have some special collections, and microfilm collection.  If possible, access microfilms from home. You may have to visit a familysearch library to access many of Indiana court records.

Indiana State Historical SocietyClosed Mondays. They have mostly personal papers and manuscripts. 

Delaware County - Muncie
Muncie Carnegie Public Library. They have the Delaware County court records (circuit, recorder, probate and divorces); not state records.

Genealogical Society of Marion County For full access know that man genealogical societies are supported by paying members. Non-paying visitors can access a limited number of resources.  Just keep in mind, if they can assist you, be sure to support their efforts.  

Delaware County Genealogical Society This collection is located in the Delaware County District Library; Open only Thurs and Sat. with limited hours. They may have county resources that others do not have, like the Delaware Gazette and other Delaware newspapers

Don’t Overlook the Following
Although most court records and cases can be located in the local courts, state archives or state historical societies, you will want to expand your court case search to the following:
·         Google Search. A simple google search may yield answers to your ancestors' (or his heirs') court cases.  We were able to find answers using the Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature of the State of Indiana, for details of a railroad accidental death. This case also provided proof of (sibling) orphans, and grandparents’ names, taking our research back one more generation.  For this search we gathered hints, but not details, from the newspaper: The Indianapolis Journal.
·         National Archives, County Record Group 21 (RG21). Records of District Courts of the United States: If the researcher is looking for a trial court for federal jurisdiction, begin your search with RG21 (Record Group).  Remember these records are housed by regional National Archives. Here is an idea of what can be found at the National Archives at Chicago.

Kathleen Brandt