Compiled Records for Mid-South Research
This is a bibliographic essay of compiled records for doing Mid-South Research, which includes Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The research methods used for doing research in the mid-south are much the same as would be used for doing research in any area of America. Of course, there will always be variables. The decision of what records to use will be based on time lines, historical background, and the culture and makeup of the people who settled in the area you are researching. What is important to know, is that no matter where your research begins, it should always begin with compiled records.
The use of compiled records is an essential part of genealogical research. These records contain information that has been gathered and in some cases indexed from other sources. With the use of these records, a researcher can benefit from the work that has already been done. They also help the researcher to be able to focus in on what needs to be done and often provides leads to other sources. It is important as a researcher to use finding aids that can save redoing work that has already been done and reduce the hours needed for a research project. However, it is important to remember that these records are not the final say. It is necessary for us to take this information and use it as a stepping stone to obtaining original records and verifying information.
In the past, when looking for compiled records, a person had only published sources available. Now with the use of computers and the internet, a whole new world has been opened up. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is one of the resources of the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Containing approximately 250 million names, it is an index of people's names that were either submitted to the church, or were extracted from records that the church has microfilmed over the years. You can use the Family Search to locate information about your ancestors. This site can be accessed at familysearch.org.
Another good online site for compiled records is provided by Ancestry.com. It is called Ancestry World Tree and contains nearly 400 million names in family trees submitted by users of this site. A search of this site confirmed that they are many submitted records for those individuals from the mid-southern states. Ancestry World Tree is the largest collection of its kind on the Internet. However, it is important to note that this site states the following: Ancestry World Tree GEDCOM files are voluntarily submitted by Ancestry users like yourself. We take all files "as is" and cannot guarantee the completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information contained in this database.  As was stated above, compiled records are not proven records. It is our responsibility to take this information and verify the accuracy of what we choose to use in our research.
Most of the compiled records come from published sources. Over the years as the amount of these sources has become too numerous, it became essential to index many of them. As a researcher it is often necessary to utilize these indexes early on in ones research project, especially if the exact location of the individual or families being researched is not known. Indexes of biographical sources might be a good place to start.
Also, as you begin to narrow your search down to your specific area you will want to look at an Index to Biographies in Local Histories in the Library of Congress (Baltimore: Magna Carta Book, 1979). This index contains biographical sketches of 170,000 individuals found in 340 local histories. Unfortunately, the including of biographical sketches in the histories of the southern states was not as prevalent as seen in the mid- western states, but there are quite a few and this index would be worth a try.
The Southern States Courier (Natchitoches, Louisiana: Courier Publications, 1984-1986) is a periodical exploring the history and records of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and possibly others. Information is extracted from biographies, cemetery records, census, church records, deeds and land records, maps, marriage records, military records, mortuaries, naturalizations, obituaries, post office records, school records, vital records, wills, and other sources. Some family names and persons are featured. There are interspersed within these publications, family histories. There is no index but PERSI discloses the titles of the articles in each issue, referring to which parish and record-types are included. Time period covered is roughly from the 1700’s-1900.
When doing research, there will come a time when it may become necessary to narrow your search to specific records, such as military, ethnic, religious, or occupational. A couple of examples follow:
A good military publication for the south might be Military Bibliography of the Civil War, compiled by C. E. Dornbusch (New York, New York: New York Public Library; distributed by Readex Books, 1971-c1987). It consists of 3 volumes. Volume 1 does not deal with the south, but Volume 2 and Volume 3, originally published in 1967 under title "Regimental publications and personal narratives : southern, border, and western states and territories ; federal troops”, does contain personal narratives from southern soldiers and Union and Confederate biographies. There is an index.
Then if you are looking for compiled records of a certain ethnic group you could use a publication such as Who was Who among the Southern Indians, a Genealogical Notebook, 1698-1907 by Don Martini (Falkner, Mississippi: The author, c1998). It is in alphabetical order by surname. It is a comprehensive guide to the prominent leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek Indian tribes and the relatives/possible relatives of those leaders. The information for each individual varies from as little as a sentence to half a page. This publication is very interesting reading and has some valuable information.
After a place of residence has been established, compiled records specific to an area of interest, should be the next step in the research process. There are many records available at the state level as well as the county or township level.
The purpose of the rest of this paper will be to take a look at some of those compiled records. Under each state are examples of historical, military, ethnic, and religious publications which contain compiled records, as well as, a few examples of periodicals. This is by far, not complete. It was intended to give the reader a glimpse into the many publications available to them which contain compiled records.
It is always exciting to find a biography on an individual that is being researched. Although, the mid-south does not have as wonderful collection as the mid-west, there are still good publications available. A good place to start might be Michael Cook’s Kentucky: Index of Biographical Sketches in State, Regional and County Histories, (Evansville, Indiana: Cook Publications, 1986). This compiled record indexes 65 various state, regional and county histories and there are notes on how to use the volume and where to obtain the histories. A list of the codes and their meanings is at the front of the book. There is an alphabetical index, which is easy to use, but it is important to note that for the biographies, the index only lists the names of those who are the subject of the biographical sketches.
There is also, Kentucky Genealogy and Biography, 9 vols. (Owensboro, Ky.: Genealogical Reference, 1969–) is another publication worth taking a look at. These are reprints of the biographical sections of various editions of Kentucky: a History of the State, by W. H. Perrin, et al., published during the 1880s. The biographies are arranged by county. Another reprint of the biographical sections of Perrin’s work was published by the Southern Historical Press and bears the title of the original work, Kentucky: a History of the State. These volumes are facsimiles of the original biographies, with complete name indexes prepared by various individuals. New material was added in 1979.
Lyman Copeland Draper, Draper's Biographical Sketches, Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 1951. Within this publication are many biographies of eminent early residents of Kentucky and nearby states. The Kentucky Papers consist of thirty-seven volumes. Both a subject index and an index to the interview have been published by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
For a county specific publication there is Echo's of the Past, In the Western part of Scott County, Kentucky (Stamping Ground, Kentucky: Stamping Ground Woman's Club, 1975-). Volume one includes a few biographies and Volume 2 contains family lineages.
A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri -'with Numerous Sketches, Anecdotes, Adventures, Etc., and relating the Early Days in Missouri. Also, the Lives of Daniel Boone and the Celebrated Indian Chief Black Hawk, by William S. Bryan and Robert Rose. (Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 1996) is interesting reading. Most of the sketches are brief, but do contain a lot of genealogical information. Most of the sketches contain wealth of information on their migration pattern.
Missouri: Family Histories and Genealogies, a Bibliography by Donald Hehir (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1996). This book contains a comprehensive listing of all printed Missouri genealogies and family histories that have made their way into major library collections across the U.S. Over 1600 Missouri Surnames are arranged alphabetically.
Pioneer Kentuckians with Missouri Cousins by Frances T. Ingmire 2 vols. (Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Mountain Press, n.d.) The two volumes of Missouri records show over 65,000 persons born in Kentucky but who by 1850 are living in Missouri. Contains the following Missouri counties: Adair, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, McDonald, Macon, Madison, Marion, Mercer, Miller, Pike, Platte, Polk, Gasconade, Pulaske, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, St. Charles, Ray, Reynolds, Ripley, Schuyler, Saline, Scott, Scotland, Shannon, Shelby, Stoddard and Sullivan.
Missouri also has some interesting publications. One such is L. L. Broadfoot’s Pioneers of the Ozarks (Caldwell: The Caxton printers, 1946). The biographical sketches were written by the Ozark pioneers themselves. Their grammar is somewhat back country, but the stories hold some wonderful tidbits of genealogical and historical information.
An example of a publication specific to an ethnic group is The Italians in Missouri, by G., Schiavo (New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1975, c 1929). It is a “scrapbook” biographical publication. The biographies are small and all come with a picture of the individual. Most of the biographies appear to be of professionals and businessmen.
If it is the early years of North Carolina that the researcher is concerned with, then one publication to look at is one that was compiled by Marilu Burch Smallwood; Some Colonial and Revolutionary Families of North Carolina, 3 vols. (Washington, North Carolina: M.B. Smallwood, 1964-). These volumes provide the names of the husband, wife, date of marriage and county.
For research that requires a wider timeframe, Biographical History of North Carolina History from Colonial Times to the Present, Samuel A’Court Ashe, ed., 10 vols. (Greensboro, North Carolina: C.L. Van Noppen, 1905-1917) is great because it covers a large time period in the history of North Carolina, through biographical sketches of those who lived there. New volumes have been added from time to time and volume 10 has an index.
An example of a wonderful publication for research within a specific ethnic group is German Speaking People West of the Catawba River in North Carolina 1750-1800 and Some Émigrés’ Participation in the Early Settlement of Southeast Missouri, Lorena Shell Eaker, compiler and editor (Franklin, North Carolina: Genealogy Publishing Services, 1994). In the introduction of this book it states, “This is a migrational history of more than six hundred immigrants who pioneered the settlement of the present-day North Carolina Counties of Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, and Rutherford.” It is presented in a compiled lineage format and includes an every name index.
For a specific area of research such publications as The Heritage of the Toe River Valley, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties, 5 vols. (Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth Publishing Co., Inc. 1994) may be helpful. Each of these volumes contains lengthy family biographical sketches. Many of these biographical sketches include a very comprehensive genealogy of the family. There is also an index and the family sketches are done in alphabetical order.
History of South Carolina (Chicago [Illinois]: Lewis Pub. Co., 1920) edited by Yates Snowden, comprises five volumes. Like most of history books, the biographies of individuals who paid to be included in the publications are given a page or two to give a brief history of themselves and sometimes their families. Fortunately, there is an index, because the biographies have no certain order to them.
Richard N. Cote, Local and Family History in South Carolina, A Bibliography, (Easley, S. C. Southern Historical Press 1981). At the end there is an alphabetical surname index to many major South Carolina collections. It contains about 7,600 names.
As an example of a more area specific resource, there is Herbert Ravenel Sass’s, The Story of the South Carolina Lowcountry, 3 vols. (West Columbia, S.C.: J.F. Hyer Publishing Co., 1956). The low country included Charleston, and volumes two and three are the biographies of those citizens who played an important part in the growth and development of this particular area. The third volume includes an index, which indexes only those people for whom the biography was written.
There are also many publications of compiled records written for various religious groups. The Brief Baptist Biographies by Robert P Hamby (Greenville, South Carolina: A Press, 1982- ) is one example. This book is divided up into 5 divisions. The third division is title “Brief Historical Sketches of Twenty-one Baptist Associations from 1707 to 1861 Which Have Made Their Contribution to Western North Carolina," which is a compilation of historical sketches, and there are also biographical sketches found within the other divisions.
Compiled records can also be found in periodicals. For this state there is The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research. Along with abstracted records, included in these periodicals which are done on a quarterly basis, are memoirs of individuals, biographies, and histories of families. There is also a book review section and an index of these articles is available in a book under FHL Call #: 975.7, B2sc.
The Carolina Herald and Newsletter, which is an official publication of the South Carolina Genealogical Society and published quarterly, is another periodical worth searching through. Some of the editions do contain individual biographies and family histories, although there appears to be more abstracted and copied records. There is no indexing.
Leaves From the Family Tree (Easley, South Carolina, 1982) compiled by Penelope Johnson Allen for the “Chattanooga Times Sunday Magazine”, is a collection of family histories, primarily from East Tennessee. Although, it is more area specific, it does include about 100 family histories that are full of wonderful information and many of these histories include photographs. It does include an index and if one is fortunate enough to be researching someone in the east Tennessee area, this would be worth reading.
In a book written by Worth S. Ray, called Tennessee Cousins (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1960) the author has done a wonderful job of writing a history of the some of the counties of Tennessee and the people, by using original sources, and evaluating them so that he has written personal histories on many of the individuals who lived there. The use of the index is imperative as the family histories are not in any logical order and are interspersed with abstracted records.
When narrowing your research to specific counties within a state, you will often find compiled records in publications that have been written by genealogical or historical societies. These books were often written for a specific historical event, such as a centennial. A good example of this is, Families and History of Sullivan County, Tennessee Volume One 1779-1992, compiled by the Holston Territory Genealogical Society, 1993. It is a collection of stories submitted by residents, former, residents, and those having roots in Sullivan County. The bios run a quarter to half page in length. There is a surname index, and the bios are in alphabetical order. They are a great tool for finding genealogical information.
A researcher can, also, get very specific. Take for instance Tennessee Convicts: Early Records of the State Penitentiary by Charles A. and Tomye M. Sherrill. This book includes an index of places (vol. 1) and full-name indexes (vols. 1 & 2). Volume 1 covers the years 1831-1850 and volume 2 the years 1850-1870. Volume 1 might be of particular interest since it was transcribed from Volume 45 of the Tennessee State Penitentiary and in this particular volume are detailed descriptions and biographies of 600 inmates from 1831-1842.
Ransom B. True, Biographical Dictionary of Early Virginia, 1607-1660. (Richmond Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, 1984). Record is in alphabetical order by surname and then by given name or title. It gives the name, title, event, date and place of event, source code and page number. There is often more than one event for each name and each event is listed with its source code and page number under the name.
This record is a list of names extracted from various sources for "people who were involved in any capacity with the settlement and development of Virginia from 1607 through the end of 1660"
Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. 5 vols. (New York: Lewis Historical Pub., 1915). Includes multi-generation family histories. The first three volumes contain a small paragraph of some of the founders, colonial presidents and governors, colonial councilors of state, and burgesses, those elected to political positions and other prominent persons and their involvement in the political climate of Virginia. There is contained in some these short bios more personal information about the individuals, so they are worth a search. The last two volumes of this series are biographies of prominent people who lived in Virginia at one time or another. An index is included in the volume five, but it is not an every name index.
Since slavery was well established in Virginia pre Civil War, the use of compiled regarding these people may be very useful in doing Virginia research. Weevils in the Wheat; Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves, edited by Charles L. Perdue, Jr., Thomas E. Barden, and Robert K. Phillips, is an interesting book. It is a compilation of interviews of ex-slaves from the state of Virginia.
Earl Gregg Swem, Virginia Historical Index, (Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter Smith, 1965). Lists many genealogies that were published in periodicals. It is a 1930 index to some major Virginia periodicals including: Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine; William and Mary Quarterly; Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.
R. A. Brock Alonzo and Virgil A. Lewis, Virginia and Virginians, Salt Lake City Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah 1972 [Microfilm of original published: Richmond and Toledo: H. H. Hardesty, 1888] Lists five to ten prominent citizens from each county with early governors and generals. It includes genealogical data abstracted from the 6 volume set, History of Virginia. It is an index to the biographical volumes of that history.
A researcher will find that often when researching in West Virginia they will be consulting Virginia sources; however, there are still some very good publications that deal primarily with those individuals living in West Virginia. A couple of these publications are: Thomas Condit Miller and Hu Maxwell, West Virginia and Its People, 3 vols. (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1913). The first volume is devoted to the history of West Virginia and the remaining two volumes are family and personal histories. These histories are usually about one to two pages in length, but the information contained within these personal histories is invaluable. There is an index, but it only names the person for which the personal history was written. Another is James Morton Callahan’s History of West Virginia Old and New and West Virginia Biography, 3 vols. (Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1923). Again the two last volumes are dedicated to a compilation of biographies. This publication was written latter than the previous mention book, so it gives you a few more years of information and does contain biographies on quite a few more people.
The West Virginia Encyclopedia, edited by Paul Conley (Charleston, W.V.: West Virginia Publishing Company, 1929) contains mini biographies, only a paragraph in length, about individuals who have made some contribution to the state of West Virginia. These are interspersed throughout the book in alphabetical order. There is only a topical index.
A publication specific to the Jewish population is West Virginia Jewry: Origins and History 1850-1958 by Abraham I. Shinedling, 2 volumes. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: M. Jacob, 1963). This publication contains brief biographies of individuals who lived in the Jewish Communities of West Virginia. These types of ethnic specific sources can be very informative when doing research.
Although the sources cited in this bibliographic essay do not come close to informing the reader of just how many compiled records are available, it has shown that there are many different avenues to take when deciding which records to utilize. It is also important to note that with the use of the Internet, the amount of compiled records will continue to grow. The use of published sources, however, is a necessary tool in genealogical research. As indexing of these records continues, so will the efficiency of using these sources grow. The use of compiled records in genealogical research is now and always will be a must for any conscientious researcher.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Family and Church History Department, Family Search Research Guidance, Statewide Indexes and Collections (Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1998, 2001) Online <familysearch.org>.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Family and Church History Department, Research Outline (Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1988, 1997)
- Meyerink, K. L. editor, Printed Sources, A Guide to Published Genealogical Records (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Incorporated, 1998)
- Szucs, L. D., & Luebking, S. H. editors, The Source, a Guidebook of American Genealogy (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Incorporated, 1997)
- The Handybook for Genealogists, United States of America, Tenth Edition (Draper: Everton Publishers, 2002)