Friday, August 29, 2014

Looking for the dead

This morning I woke up thinking that it is a good day for another review of publicly available SC vital statistics.  Let's get down to work.

Divorces:  Not legal in South Carolina between 1879-1948.  See individual county probate courts for records.  Current divorces (from about 2000-present) may be listed in local newspapers.

Marriages: Statewide records begin in 1911.  Individuals counties may have earlier records.  See online listings on this page.  Also, check the Richland Library obit index. We have been adding marriages. Currently covers the Columbia Daily Register from 1875 - 1891 and the Palmetto Leader 1925-1952.

Births:  SC statewide birth certificate records begin in 1915. They are not a public document.  There is a 100 year delay before the first birth certificate becomes public. That will be in 2016.

Deaths: SC statewide death certificates began in 1915.  There is a 50 year delay so we currently have 1915-1963 publicly available. Spartanburg and Charleston County have earlier county death indexes. Charleston County is available in Ancestry. Spartanburg's are available on the Spartanburg County Library website (see the link to the right). Searching SC statewide death certificates can be a challenge.  Here are the ins and outs.

1. Ancestry has digitized SC death certificates from 1915-1960.  They are indexed by the name of the deceased.

2. Family Search has digitized SC death certificates from 1915-1943 and an index only for 1944-1955.
They are indexed by name of the deceased and by the parents name. Because the indexing is so much better I often search for a death certificate on Family Search and then go to Ancestry for the digital copy.

3. The SC Department of Health & Environmental Control has a keyword index for 1950-1963 (bottom of the page).  It is the only place that has an index for 1961-1963.  Every January a new year is added.

Death certificates that are not digitized can be accessed at the SC State Archive (SCDAH).  Use the index to find the date of death and the certificate number.  It will save you a step at the SCDAH. Death certificates are also available at the Greenville Library for $5.00.

The obituary indexes may also helpful. See the list on this page!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Dead Librarian speaks.

There are several opportunities coming up to hear the Dead Librarian speak from the grave! 

July 24, 6:00 pm, I will be at the Southeast Library on Garners Ferry Road giving a presentation called Three Interesting WomenThis program encourages family historians to leave the tree behind and focus on researching one or two people in their family tree for a more detailed story.  I use my research as an example of using available SC resources to build a more complete story of someone's life.

August 16, 9:00-4:00, I will be at the Family History Day at the LDS Church 1330 Whipperwill Dr. West Columbia, 29169.  I will speak twice that day but I don't know the times.  The presentation will be: The Local Scene - Learn more about South Carolina’s online and print historic resources and the institutions that collect, preserve and make materials accessible to family researchers. 

September 6, 10:30, Bleckly Inn Anderson SC, the Anderson Chapter of the SC Genealogy Society is hosting the Dead Librarian's Top Ten Free Genealogy Sites presentation. 

September 19, time not yet announced,  Southern Studies Institute Edgefield, SC. Actually I am not sure what I am presenting at  the SSI this year.  It might be researching Historic Newspapers or the Top Ten free sites presentation.  This is always a great workshop. Try to make it.

December 15, 11:00 Eastover Library.  Beginning Genealogy. Look for more Beginning Genealogy classes at the Richland Library branches 2015.

Dec 6 - Don't forget about After the Burning: using reconstruction records at the Main Library with Toni Carrier from Low Country Africana.  More information to the left under programming.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Last night, May 22, I read an article about a nifty app called Scanbot.  The iphone app scans good quality images, easy and fast then uploads them to your cloud. In my case that is Google Drive.  For a limited time it is available for free. It will be so handy when I head up to the National Archive this summer.  Jump on this!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Records search at SC Archives

I use the SC Department of archives and History site a lot but have always struggled to find what resources are available for a particular SC county.  My search would give me (for example) the deeds records for all the counties or the probate records for all the counties.  Then I would scroll through the pages to find the unique county resource I was looking for but, of course, many resources were easily missed.

The staff at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History recently gave me a “finding county records” tutorial.  It has changed my life! Now I can find an easy to read list of individual county resources.  

Here are the steps: 
                1. Select the Research & Genealogy tab
                2. Select Online Research
                3. Select Guide to Collections
                4. Select Summary Guide to Local Record and then Summary Guide to County                              Records

Once you select your county there will be a list of resources. If you want detailed information about a specific resource copy the series number ("L 01001"  "L1001001"  "S 102001"  "B 800101"  “C 700001"  “F 600210"  “P 900001"  "O 800210").  Make sure you keep track of the space it is necessary to include that in the catalog search. 

Next, go back to Online Research and select SCArchcat. Click the advanced search and type in series number with the space and in quotes in the Series number search window.  This will give you a detailed finding aid about the resource.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

More southern revolutionary war stuff...

My friend and colleague, Will Robinson, created a blog for Wilson County, NC research.  He is the local history librarian at their public library.  Coincidentally he just put up a post about Revolutionary War research and he recommended this website for research: Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters. I thought it fit very well with my previous post.

Here is a link to Will's blog if you have interest in that area:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution

Finding proof of Revolutionary War service is a challenge for SC patriot researchers.  As Bobby Gilmer Moss wrote, “through ignorance of the law or because of pride” patriots often did not apply for a pension. Recently I had the opportunity to explore the records in Moss’s abstraction of SC patriot records, “Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution”. 
Moss, in his book, studied the SC records that provide information about service in the Revolutionary War. He provides a list of sources but they include: audited accounts, federal pensions, bounty land warrants, stub indents.

My research was to find proof of service for a James Adams. Moss’s book lists 5 James Adams who served with these units: 3rd regiment, horseman with Capt. Dunlap, Marion’s brigade, St. Tilles expedition, and the Waxhaw expedition. None of the 5 had federal pensions or land warrants (however, one was referenced in another pension).  All of the records came from the Audited Accounts at the SC Department of Archives and History (SCDAH). I visited the SCDAH to look at the original records.  They are not digitized.

I learned from the archivist that 5 listings does not mean 5 different James Adams’ because they may have served with more than one unit.   For example, someone serving in the Waxhaw expedition could also have been with Marion’s brigade.    

First I located the Audited Account series information from the SCDAH database search. Because the common name I limited the search to the Combined index to records, 1675-1929. I found the Audited Account file # (31) that led me to the right microfilm reel.  The microfilm is in good shape.  I was able to find the file right away and could read every image. 

All of the files referenced in the Moss book were in the file (except the reference to the federal pension mentioned above which I found in HeritageQuest).  However, genealogical information was poorly indexed.  For example, only one wife was listed in the Moss book. Her name was Mary and she was identified as the wife of the James Adams who served as a horseman to Capt. Dunlap.   

However, my interpretation of the file was that the wife was Deborah and Mary was either a daughter or sister to James.  There was also another file that listed a wife named Elizabeth.When the wives were mentioned it was because that James Adams was deceased and the pension was part of the estate.   

The Moss book also doesn’t indicate if the file is part of a probate.  It’s important information! If the Audited Account is part of an estate dated 1785 and you are looking for a James Adams who died in 1820 then he can be eliminated.

Out of those five listings I could only identify 2 different James Adams though the genealogical information.  The genealogical information is the only way to distinguish individuals in the Audited Accounts unless you know the unit they served with.

As usual, the lesson is to check the primary document!  Moss’s purpose was to identify SC patriots not to get someone into the DAR or extend a family tree.   I would also recommend taking your iPad. It makes it much easier to copy images.  If you can’t visit the archive you can request a search. The archives will contact you about the cost before they undertake the request.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

SC Freedmen Bureau records-a study

It would be a mistake to label the newly digitized South Carolina Freedmen Bureau as “African American” records.  During the period of reconstruction the army provided humanitarian aid to "poor white citizens, refugees and freedmen".  Undoubtedly the labor contracts are going to move many African American slave ancestors from the 1870 census to the plantation they came from at the end of the war. Labor contracts were made between freedmen and planters.  The first 100 images of the Richland District labor contracts Jan-Dec 1866 (roll 98) provide remarkable new data.  Elm Savannah, Shiver, Deer Pond, Homeplace plantations are represented in the early contract images.  The freedmen are mostly identified by first name but there are some with last names in the record.  My favorite so far is image 10. This is a contract between Edward Arthur and a slew of Tollivers.  The Tollivers are still prominent in the Arthurtown area outside of Columbia. 

There are also recorded expenditures between mostly white property owners and the army for property rentals and crop purchases.  In the series Columbia (acting assistant commissioner–District of Columbia), Roll 70 Reports of Persons and Articles Hired July 1867-Dec 1868 records the rental of property between several Columbia property owners including: Charles Logan, Mrs. E.S. Bailey, W.K. Greenfield, Mrs. Hussing, and Mrs. A.F. Smith.  The Logan School on Elmwood Ave was later named for Logan who rented a home to house teachers during reconstruction. I wonder if his interest in education began with his association with Freedmen Bureau schools.

In the same series, Monthly Report of Lands (roll 69) describes the confiscation of property near the corner of Henderson and Senate St.  The property was owned by Col. Blanton Duncan.  A confederate officer from Kentucky, Duncan came to Columbia in 1862 to run the confederate printing press.  He apparently fled Columbia at some point during the war. His property was used to house Freedmen Bureau officers. 

Anyone with ancestors, black or white, who were property owners needs to check these records.

Next: schools!