Thursday, August 1, 2013

Courthouse Planning - Part 12

It's the last day of planning for the research trip to Macon County, Illinois, and it's the hardest. I have listed repositories and records, family events and national events, land location and maps. In the background I've been probing online web sites, including Ancestry, for new clues. That's all been easy -- it's just putting one foot in front of the other.

Now it's time to state the questions with potential records to answer each one. Then prioritize the record sets and repositories. It is possible that I may not finish in the one day allotted, so I need to see the more important records first.

  1. Where did George come from and when did he immigrate?
    Land purchase, naturalization, declaration of intent
  2. Did the 1870 census correctly state his age?
    Militia roll, draft registration, probate
  3. Who were his family members?
    Probate/will, land sale, bankruptcy, guardianship, chancery
  4. Was George married before 1862 and if so, were there children?
    Probate, guardianship, early births, land sale
  5. Did George own land in 1870, was it his wife's or was he leasing?
    Land purchase, land sale, bankruptcy, probate, tax
  6. When did George die? When did his wives die?
    Probate, land sale, death records, Bible records, school records, tax
  7. What happened to the children? Did they go to George's relatives or Elizabeth's or neither?
    Probate, guardianship, school records
  8. Is there more information underlying the marriage register?
    Marriage records
  9. Is there burial information?
    Probate, death records, cemetery lists

Now that the key record sets are listed, group them by repository and prioritize.

The Clerk of the Court opens earliest, at 8 AM, so that's first. The records to find:
  • Naturalization
  • Chancery
  • Probate/will indexes
  • Guardianship
  • Bankruptcy

Next stop is the County Recorder.
  • Land purchase
  • Land sale

If it is before 10 AM, go to the County Clerk's office. Otherwise go to the Decatur Genealogical Society, which opens at 10 AM. They have lots of indexes and close a bit earlier than the County Clerk. Records to review:
  • Bibles
  • Militia Rolls
  • Probate Packets
  • Birth index
  • Death index
  • Cemetery Books
  • Tax records
  • County History books
  • School records?

Possibly end the day at the County Clerk's office, if there is an outstanding vital record to obtain. Make sure to leave DGS early enough to get there by 4 PM. Records:
  • Marriage
  • Birth
  • Death

I hope this series has given you some ideas about your own research. I really enjoyed doing it because now nearly everything I might need to refer to is in this series of blog posts that I can pull up wherever I am. Bet you didn't think of that!


  1. My road trips were never as serious as yours. More helter skelter and see what shows up. But I can see from your work that the results are great. Will work from your example. Have a road trip to Italy for next year. Records and find family when you can't speak the language - thank God for tech and apps. Cathy

  2. Cathy, It's taken a lot of years to get this organized. Going to a foreign country adds a lot of challenges, for sure. I'm guessing you will have a lot of new organizational ideas after your trip!