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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Never-Ending Research

When I first started looking for my ancestors in 1964, the Georgia State Archives was located in the old A. G. Rhodes home on Peachtree Road. Books were stacked to the ceiling and there were a couple of microfilm readers. Census records were not indexed and few of the published biographies and genealogies were indexed. So it became my task to abstract many of the old documents, particularly wills and estates, simply to keep from reading the same microfilm over and over again. Ultimately, these abstracts were published by me as Abstracts of Georgia Wills, a CD-Rom which is no longer available, rather merged into the vast collection of wills and estates on

In those days it was incumbent to visit county court houses because all of those records were not available. Digging into old county records was another story for it was at the court houses that I discovered records which has not been microfilmed, some original documents and old newspapers sitting around gathering dust. I began the long task of abstracting deaths, births and marriages from the newspapers. The culmination of this work was published as Georgia Obituaries which dated from 1740 to about 1935. I have revisited a number of these court houses recently and discovered some shocking situations. In Savannah, the old county records for Chatham County are not located in the record room. I had to press the employees to learn where they were. No one seemed to know. Finally, I discovered that they were in storage and had to be ordered. It took several days for them to arrive and I was overwhelmed because I had to return again and again in order to film those old wills. If you are a member of Georgia Pioneers, then you are beginning to see that I am adding more wills as I get them filmed. When I visited Franklin County, one of Georgia's oldest counties where Revolutionary War Soldiers drew land grants, the probate office did not know where the earliest deeds, wills and estates were located. I was left to film a late will book 1899 to 1900. That was all that they had. I suspect that the oldest records may have been sent to their local historical society as this is where some counties have sent their oldest records. Also, the Georgia State Archives has possession of some old records for Greene County. But you have to inquire.

Still, my files bulged. It was either ditch them, or publish the information. I chose the latter. So far, I have published over 100 books on family histories and genealogical research. After publishing The Georgia Frontier (3 volumes), I felt that I had pretty well given up the results of 40 years of tracing Georgia families for myself and others. But what about my research notes? Over this period I had documented over 100,000 names (and resources) for Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Finally, I added these names to That left my miscellaneous folders on various families in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. I divided the information according to states and published these folders to the following websites:
Georgia PioneersNorth Carolina Pioneers
South Carolina Pioneers Virginia PioneersKentucky Pioneers Tennessee Pioneers Pioneer FamiliesGa Graduates

Will it every end for us genealogists? I guess I am a true collector because once again, despite the purging, my files are bulging!

Jeannette Holland Austin, Georgia Author
Georgia Pioneers

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