Kentucky is a Major Genealogical Research Challenge!

Official launch of Kentucky Genealogy Blog–19 June 2009

Kentucky is a major genealogical research challenge:

  1. Vital records you usually search first to complete a family sheet are not kept consistently–birth records begin in the 1840′s with big gaps in coverage.  Marriage records have been lost in the many courthouse fires.  The wills that do survive are scattered–with some original wills filed at the State Archives in alphabetical “family files” instead of in the courthouse where you might expect to find them.  Wills transferring real estate to churches were often given to the church and ended up wherever the church records were deposited.  And cemetery graveyards mark burials with field stones that carry no inscription.
  2. Migration patterns may run north and south instead of east to west to follow rivers, relationships of people, and boundaries of militia and church districts.  During the Indian wars and the Civil War (referred to on the ground as the War Between the States), the settlers moved out of harm’s way depending upon where the fighting occurred.  Settlers were recalled during the Revolutionary War into Southside Virginia or east of the Great Valley of Virginia.  So, identifying counties of residence during these turbulent times takes special indexes and careful study of maps for each specific time period.
  3. Settlers came from New York and New England states as well as the South.  Surnames are not helpful in locating origins since they could come from anywhere.  This requires more research in local sources and family and local histories to ensure you follow the right kinship networks and lineages.
  4. Field research in Kentucky is recommended for tough research problems–so you can study the lay of the land and the local resources in libraries and archives.  These research challenges cannot be resolved from printed books that have been reprinted on internet sites alone.
  5. Special collections along migration paths and interviews with living descendants still living on the family land are quite helpful–Kentucky is still primarily rural and modern development has not eradicated evidence you need.  Budget cuts have shortened public hours in research facilities–so careful planning, in advance, is also necessary.
  6. Local used bookstores often have original records–diaries, court minute books, family Bibles as well as books printed long ago.
  7. Local genealogy societies have published surviving county records for many years–shelves and shelves of them.  Some are little-known and often unsearched by todays genealogists who seek quick answers from the internet.

This Kentucky blog will address all of these research concerns and apply their solutions to actual pedigrees.  This is not a blog for the faint-hearted.  Nor for a quick and easy answer.  This blog will consider hard-core  genealogy research on pedigrees that have been stopped dead for years.

At last, there will be some answers based on actual research experience–not text-book reviews–although there will be many of those for you to look at.

When your email tells you another Kentucky blog has arrived.  Halt what you are doing.  Close the drapes.  Turn off the phone.  Put a warning sign out for “quiet…genealogist at work.”  And read the entry.  I promise your time will be well-spent.

Your Kentucky Research Specialist, Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com

PS  Check out my NEW Home Page–easier to navigate and find stuff.  There will be lots of good research and genealogy stuff to study.  Remember that it is a work in progress for the next several weeks.

    About Arlene Eakle

    I trace your family tree; or, teach you how.
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