Sunday, July 17, 2011

Abstract thoughts

I've relied for many years on published abstracts of wills, marriages and deeds in my research. I don't live anywhere near the places I've needed to research and it's only in the last few years that original documents have become more available online. As I worked through the thousands of names in the family trees I inherited, validating the information and adding rudimentary sources, the abstracts were heaven sent.

I'm now in Virginia - ground zero for much of my family and my husband's. I'm visiting houses, cousins, graveyards and my personal Mecca, the Library of Virginia. Four days there doesn't seem nearly enough time, but I shall make the most of it. 

Saturday I plowed through Lancaster and Northumberland records, looking for the wills I've been citing, looking for estate settlements, inventories, other deeds and indentures. And I found them. Dozens and dozens of them. I haven't dared count how many pages I'm going to copy to my flash drive on Monday.  

And I saw what I'd known in the abstract - the names that are missing from those lovely, easy abstracts. There are dozens and dozens of them, as well. Names like Sam, 42 year old male. Annie, 16 year old female. Stepto, 27 year old male. (These aren't specific people - just examples.) I looked away several times. I was more exhausted than I've been the entire trip. I can't possible copy them all. But I will copy everyone of "ours" that I can get to. And over the next months I will transcribe every name and publish them all. 

In the meantime, if you're seeking enslaved ancestors from the Northern Neck and believe they might have been owned by the following families please contact me after August 1st. I'll be glad to send you copies of anything I've found. 

Slave Owners naming Slaves in 18th & 19th c. Northern Neck Records


These other families may also have left records naming slaves, but I have not seen them so far. I will, however, be copying records so may have information on them later.

Conway (Northern Virginia)
Dobyns (Northern Virginia)
Doggett (Northern Virginia)
Holt (Amelia and Campbell Counties)
James (Wythe and Smyth Counties)
Mason (Campbell County)
Porter (Fauquier County)
Turner (Northern Virginia)
Williams (Wythe, Grayson, Smyth Counties)


  1. Good Work! This is so wonderful. I commend you.

  2. I'm so glad you are finding tons of great records, seems it will keep you busy for a very long time. Also, from what I've read, your trip was well planned out, maybe you can share how you did it some time. Good luck.

  3. I am green with envy. And I hope you will follow up on Barbara's thought and share some of your preparations for this trip. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Good for you for looking up the information and getting it out there - slowly but surely does the trick.

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