Blog 2022 07 25   Finding Records in the Strangest of Places 

I am currently attending the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) so this week’s blog is short.

One of the tenets of a presentation given by Claire Bettag, CG, FUGA, in a 2012 lecture at the National Genealogical Society forum dealt with assuming that records of the same type are similar in content.  That is not always the case and you might be surprised to find records that otherwise might seem out of place.

I have written about my hooligan ancestor who was medically discharged from the Army during the Civil War, reenlisted, and then deserted.  However, his second wife was not aware of this and filed a widow’s pension in 1907 wanting him declared dead.  One of the documents she had to provide was a copy of their marriage in Toronto, Canada in 1882.  When I received the inch-thick packet from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in it was a copy of a Canadian marriage license.  Not a normal place to look for one.  I already had two copies of it, one I got off a website and the other when I was at the Canadian Archives of Ontario in Toronto.

I knew my great grandfather, General Jackson Thomas, and his third wife, Mrs. Unity Medders Dean had split.  What I was not sure about was whether they divorced, although she is listed as a widow in his obituary of 1926, legally separate, or simply split.  One day while copying all land and deed records that I could find one with his name on them, I came across a unique one.  On 5 February 1924, they agreed to live in a state of separation and he was giving her land and livestock for her care and their daughter.  Who would think to look in a land deed for a Legal Separation Document?

I have also seen a complete copy of a will in the land and deed records of a different county.  Why?  Because the deceased owned property in that county when she died and the property had to be probated.  The judge in that county required a copy (certified transcription) from the original probate court.  That had to be provided.

I have found copies of marriage records in probate records and in land records.  I have heard of all sorts of records being found in military and railroad pension files.

So back to the original false assumptions, do not assume that records filed by type ONLY contain those types.