Saturday, February 18, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, Week 7, Historical Documents

Who Killed William Maddox, Sr.?

As well as scrapbooking heritage photos, we can use documents on scrapbook pages. Scanning or photographing them lets us adjust the size, use copies, and also protect the original documents from further damage. The documents on my sample page were collected during an extended research trip.

My cousin's wife, Lorna, and I visited several states together to research the Maddox heritage. You met my great-grandmother, Daisy Myrtle Maddox, last week. The most dramatic family legend said that Daisy's father had killed her grandfather. Lorna and I wanted to prove or disprove the legend. Our research took us to Scott County, Illinois.

Here's the story of our findings as I told it on the scrapbook page:

Day 11 - Friday, September 27, 2002

When asked what the best part of the trip was, Lorna and I were in agreement — this was the day! The courthouse in Winchester welcomed us with friendly people and wonderful records. We collected more cemetery lists, photos of a Civil War memorial plaque, a probate file, a recorded deed to sell the family farm, and a marriage certificate with an attached permission note for a minor to marry. The probate file verified the date of death, but we still had no proof that the legendary murder had actually taken place. Down country back roads we drove, looking for the old farm. The fields were full of grain and the creek ran dark with silt. There was no sign of the old log cabin of legend, though none was expected. We did not attempt to speak with the current residents, since we had not called ahead.

We drove north from the farm, soon crossing into Morgan County, the home of the Lake family. The gravesite of Lindsay Lake turned out to be totally inaccessible, so we instead decided to visit the Jacksonville library. I wanted to view microfilm for the year Lindsay Lake died, but Lorna was most insistent that we should also look for information about the murder. I thought it would be time wasted, but conceded to make the effort. Amazingly, she was right. We found no obituary for old Lindsay, but did find our proof of murder in an article about a Circuit Court session. We wanted to scream and dance! At closing time, we floated to the van and headed to Lorna's home in [Northern Illinois].

Birth of a book: Murder at Mauvaisterre

This single small newspaper clipping from 1869 fired my imagination. Since that day Lorna and I have again visited Scott County and surrounding counties, collecting court files and other documents. We've also visited the family's previous place of residence in Pickaway County, Ohio. I've collected at least 18 inches of files on the Maddox family, from 1800 to the present. I've started a book about the murder, which was committed, not by my ancestor, but by his older brother, Lewis Maddox. His brother William Maddox, Jr., and cousin William Knowles (Knoles) were charged as accessories. I'll no doubt write a lot about the Maddox family in weeks to come.

Sample Scrapbook Page
Day 11 Page Closed

For each day of that research trip, I created a scrapbook page to remember the highlights. This page contains images of several documents we found on that exciting day.

  • the newspaper clipping
  • a landowner map with the farm highlighted
  • a photo of the spine of the deed book with the sale of the dower portion of the farm (the rest was foreclosed)
  • under the book image are photos of the deed (no copies were available that day)
  • miniatures of our ancestors' marriage license with the permission note are tucked in a little clear envelope
  • the miniature outside jacket of the inventory from the victim's probate file is also in the clear envelope
Part of Day 11 Page Expanded

This is an interactive page that requires the viewer to flip and pull to see everything. This is one way to pack a lot of information into a layout.

I'm sure you'll find ways to include your family's historical documents in your scrapbook pages.

No comments:

Post a Comment