Archive for March, 2009

March 31, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Major John Beck, 1819 – 1873

Major John Beck, 1819 - 1873

to the Memory of
Maj. John Beck
Decr 23rd 1819
Jany 24th 1873

John Beck was the son of Samuel and Tabitha Beck of Rabun County, Georgia. He is buried at Antioch United Methodist Church Cemetery near Clayton, in a spot not too far from where his parents rest. In Sketches of Rabun County History (pages 88 – 101), Dr. Andrew Jackson Ritchie wrote a lengthy piece on the Becks in this area, for those who are interested in this family.

March 29, 2009

Land Records as Proof of Kinship

Land records are one of the most underutilized document sets available to the modern genealogist. They often provide a wealth of data outside their more commonly known function of describing and detailing transactions of real property.

A case in point is the indenture between Jasper Hopper and the heirs of Samuel Hopper, deceased, made in Rabun County, Georgia, which reads: This indenture […] entered unto this ninth day of April eighteen hundred and fifty-eight between Jasper Hoper of the county & state aforesaid of the one part & Charles Hoper, Henry Hopper, the children of Caroline Himphill formerly Caroline Hopper, Jasper Hopper, Zachariah Hopper, Thomas Hopper, John A. Hopper, Joseph Hopper, Florian Norton formerly Floriann Hoper, & Sarah Adline Gillaspi formerly Sarah Adaline Hopper of the other part […] the above named parties being the heirs and representations of Samuel Hopper late of said county deceased […]

Most wills aren’t that clear cut. In fact, I’ve seen several last wills and testaments which named the daughters by their maiden names, even though said daughters were married at the time the will was written.

Land records such as this are especially helpful when the owner died intestate (without a will), as Samuel Hopper did. While there are probate records associated with the settlement of his estate, none clearly spelled out who his heirs were. I knew to look for this deed because the probate records did include mention of the administrator applying for leave to sell Samuel’s land, as allowed by law.

The bonus in this case is that two of Samuel’s three daughters had married before 1850, and so this indenture provided direct proof that they were related to Samuel Hopper. Further, it provides clues which, when used with other records, would lead to the discovery of these women’s husbands. Caroline Hopper’s marriage to Joseph Hemphill was recorded in the earliest marriage book for Rabun County and was easy to find.

Flora Ann Hopper’s marriage was not recorded, however, in either Rabun County or nearby Macon County, North Carolina; I was left to search through other records for her husband’s name. Fortunately, I didn’t have to search long: a closer examination of the probate records associated with Samuel Hopper’s estate revealed that a Barak Norton bought part of Samuel’s personal property. I later found two US census records (in 1850 and 1860) of a Barak Norton and wife, Flora A. Norton. Given that no person bought property from Samuel Hopper’s estate who wasn’t related to the family in some way, and also given that this Flora A. Norton was the right age to be Samuel’s daughter, I knew I had the right family.

Now, to go off on a tangent, as I am wont to do: notice that the indenture says the heirs of Caroline Hemphill. This is a good indication that she was deceased at the time this record was made and, in fact, I later found this to be true. Caroline died between about 1846, when her youngest son, Albert, was born, and December 27, 1847, when her husband, Joseph Hemphill, remarried to Peggy Thomas.

I have found land records to be helpful in breaking brick walls I’ve hit while researching other families, and so I’m fully convinced of their usefulness to genealogists and family historians. If there’s any indication at all that your ancestor owned land, take the time to search through the pertinent deed books or other places where such transactions might have been recorded.

Keep in mind, however, that if a person was deceased at the time their land was sold, then the land might be recorded under the name of the estate’s administrator instead of the name of the deceased. The administrator’s name should be recorded in the appropriate court minutes for the locale in which your ancestor lived. If you don’t know who the administrator was or can’t find his or her name, check the deed index for records made by the surviving spouse, the eldest sons, or the eldest sons-in-law, or if all else fails, look for each child or suspected child. If you find a record of, for instance, Jasper Hopper et al. (Jasper Hopper and others), then you may have hit pay dirt, but check the other records anyway, just in case.

Have land records helped you make connections? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear your research stories.

March 27, 2009

Abraham Lowe and Margaret [–?–]

This week’s blogging prompt from Genea-Bloggers on Facebook is to write about a brick wall in the hopes that someone else can help break it down.

One of my brick walls is Abraham Lowe, born between 1795 and 1801 in Burke County, North Carolina, and his wife, Margaret [–?–], who was born about 1800 in Virginia. They married about 1822, probably in Haywood Co., NC, and had six children that I know of: Jesse (born about 1823, Haywood Co., NC, married 1853 in Macon Co., NC to Mary A. Butler), Bashuba (born about 1826, Haywood Co., NC), Rachel (born about 1829, Macon Co., NC), Gideon (born about 1831, Macon Co., NC, married 1855 in Jackson Co., NC to Naomi Miller), Nancy Ellen (born about 1835, Macon Co., NC, married about 1854 to Henry Woodfin Miller), and Mary Ann (born about 1844, Macon Co., NC).

Abraham and Margaret were enumerated in the 1830 and 1850 US censuses in Macon Co., NC, in the 1860 US census in Jackson Co., NC, and in the 1880 US census in Transylvania Co., NC. Chances are, they never moved and it was the county boundaries that changed around them.

A Nancy Lowe, aged 75 and born in NC, was enumerated with Abraham and Margaret in the 1850 US census, and again in the 1860 US census, where her age was given as 83. This may have been the Nancy Creaseman, daughter of Abraham Creaseman, who married a Jesse Lowe in 1803 in Lincoln Co., NC. This Jesse was subsequently enumerated in 1810, 1820, and 1830 on the US censuses for Lincoln, Haywood, and Macon Counties, respectively. It’s possible that Nancy was Abraham’s mother or step-mother, but I have yet to prove that. I have not been able, for instance, to locate any probate records for this Jesse Lowe. In fact, I haven’t found a lot on this family, period, outside of census records. It could be that I’m looking in the wrong place, and with pretty much all the “old” counties in Western NC to sort through, it could take me a while to find the right place or places to search.

Even if I can connect Abraham to Jesse Lowe and Nancy Creaseman, I still have to find Margaret’s family. If children Jesse and Nancy were named after Abraham’s parents (assuming that I can somehow reconcile Jesse and Nancy’s marriage date and place with Abraham’s birth date and place), then there’s a good chance either Bashuba, Rachel, or Gideon, or possibly all three, were named after Margaret’s family. It’s a shaky lead, and one that would have to be corroborated fully with other documents, but it’s about the only lead I have at the moment.

March 26, 2009

All Set!

Well, I think I’m all moved in here at I’m still trying to update the URL with all my affiliations (Blog Catalog, etc.), but I hope to begin posting again soon.

March 26, 2009

March 2009 Archived Posts

From my old blog at

March 2, 2009: Narrowing It Down

March 4, 2009: Current Reading List

March 5, 2009: Searching Multiple Locations for Information on a Single Event (Part 1)

March 8, 2009: The Art of the Family Tree

March 9, 2009: Cornerstone Organization: Research Logs

March 10, 2009: Tombstone Tuesday: New Church Building, Old Cemetery

March 17, 2009: Tombstone Tuesday: Obie Hawks, 1871 – 1916

March 23, 2009: Oy!

March 26, 2009

February 2009 Archived Posts

From my old blog at

February 4, 2009: National Genealogical Society Standards

February 5, 2009: Researching Female Ancestry

February 9, 2009: Little Tennessee Valley Origins

February 10, 2009: Abraham Lincoln Born an Enloe?

February 11, 2009: Genealogy Books on the Way

February 12, 2009: Use Your Camera!

February 13, 2009: Free Online Genealogy Webinars

February 15, 2009: Superficial Research

February 16, 2009: Further Notes on Genealogical Journals

February 17, 2009: Tombstone Tuesday: Martin Tombstone Mix-Up

February 18, 2009: (Not Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Maw-Maw

February 22, 2009: Passages Through Time Genealogy Conference

February 23, 2009: *footnote and William Curtis

February 24, 2009: Tombstone Tuesday: Edward Coffee and Elizabeth Neville Coffee

February 25, 2009: Wordful Wednesday: Paw-Paw

February 26, 2009: Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System

February 28, 2009: A Win at State!

March 26, 2009

January 2009 Archived Posts

From my old blog at

January 1, 2009: Primary vs. Secondary Information

January 2, 2009: Race and Genealogy

January 3, 2009: The Value of Local History Books

January 4, 2009: Using WorldCat

January 5, 2009: Voices from the Past

January 6, 2009: Case Study: Finding Isabel

January 7, 2009: Never Give Up: Books to Help Get You Over the Research Hump

January 8, 2009: Lateral Ancestors

January 9, 2009:’s Pilot Record Search Web Site

January 11, 2009: Jury Lists and Tax Records

January 12, 2009: Cornerstone Organizing: Using Family Group Sheets

January 13, 2009: Bring History to Life

January 14, 2009: Finding Family Bibles

January 15, 2009: Source Citation

January 16, 2009: John Martin, Sr.’s Date of Naturalization

January 18, 2009: Handwriting Decipherment Class

January 20, 2009: Genealogical Proof Standard

January 21, 2009: Annals of Genealogical Research

January 23, 2009: Poor School Records

January 24, 2009: Research Plans

January 25, 2009: Upcoming Seminars and Conferences in the Southeast USA

January 29, 2009: A Place for Everything

March 25, 2009

December 2008 Archived Posts

From my old blog located at

December 12, 2008: Welcome!

December 13, 2008: Beginning Your Research

December 14, 2008: Genetic Genealogy Conference, January 24, 2009

December 15, 2008: The Three Cornerstones of Genealogical Research

December 16, 2008: Using–for Free! (Well, Almost…)

December 17, 2008: Cornerstone Collection: Vital Records

December 18, 2008: North Carolina County Records Moved

December 19, 2008: Heritage Quest

December 20, 2008: Genealogy: A Hobby or an Obsession?

December 21, 2008: To Paper or Not To Paper

December 23, 2008: Getting Stuck and Other Mishaps

December 24, 2008: Christmas Eve Gift!

December 25, 2008: Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

December 26, 2008: Persistence: The Fourth Cornerstone

December 28, 2008: Case Study: Grandma Morgan’s Death Notice

December 29, 2008: The Difference Between a Professional Genealogist and a Certified Genealogist

December 30, 2008: Burning Out on Research

December 31, 2008: Original vs. Derivative Records

March 24, 2009

Move In Progress

I am in the process of moving my blog, Genealogical Research: A Hobby or an Obsession?, from to a new hosting service. The old posts will remain up and intact at the old site (as far as I know), but new posts will be made here. Please have patience as I sort through everything. Posting should begin again within a few days. Before that, however, I’m going to try to make posts housing links to archived articles from my old site for reference purposes. This may take a few days; I appreciate your patience for the duration of this move.