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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Court House Books were Lost

Have you ever wondered what happened to the first will book, annual returns, marriages and deeds that are supposed to be in court houses? Generally, they were burned up in court house fires. But some clerks had the habit of taking their work home with them. Today these books are being discovered in attics and antique shops throughout the country. Thank you. Thank you. Had the clerk not done this, the books he was working on would have been forever lost. For this reason, we are diligently searching for old records and out of print books. has a pretty fair collection of such books. Follow this link to discover what books are online To compensate for these vital losses it is necessary to search other county records, such as tax digests. The Georgia State Archives has these on microfilm in a drawer labeled Tax Digests. Each county is different. Some very early tax digests survived in some counties, while other years are missing. They are not alphabetical, but by district. Don't forget to search the back of the book where the "defaulters" are listed. One can assume that something happened in the life of a defaulting taxpayer which caused him not to pay his taxes, like a death, or departure from the county. The important clue is the counties where he owned land. Frequently, there are several counties listed with vague descriptions of the land. What this means is that he probably drew in the land lotteries, so the next step is to examine all of the land lottery books. This type of examination establishes a trail. For example, those who drew in the 1832 land lottery were moving westward and may have ended up in the border counties of Alabama. People who drew lands in Troup and Muscogee Counties are suspect. Eye ball the details.

Jeannette Holland Austin, author of over 100 genealogy books
Georgia Pioneers

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