Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 20 Minutes

The November 20, 2009 meeting of the Genealogy Interest Group – Ancestor Trackers, an Interest Group of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USF, was brought to order by our chair Trevetta Wunderlin.  Announcements were made regarding the next day’s meeting of the Pinellas Genealogy Society and the South Bay Genealogical Society’s meeting in January featuring Hank Jones.  Next February Dick Eastman will present a program to the Pinellas Genealogy Society.  Our guest this month was Judy Yost.
Trev introduced Damon Hostetler of the Pinellas Genealogy Society, who presented the program “Courthouse Records.”  Damon began by emphasizing that we must not trust what we find on the Internet; additional documentation is necessary.  On the Internet few of the records from courthouses are digitized and available.  Therefore, we will have to go to the locations.  Federal courthouses will have little we need; State courthouses may have some birth or death records.  County courthouses have a wealth of information for us.  The book “The County Courthouse Book,” by Elizabeth Petty Bentley, was recommended and passed around.  Damon told us that just the dates of births, marriages and deaths don’t make our ancestors come alive – we must examine their lives and times.  In most States birth and death records were required to be registered about 1917, however, some counties recorded them earlier.  A marriage license does not guaranty that marriage took place; the marriage must be returned to be legal.  Sometimes land records are in Land or Survey Offices.  He suggested that we look outside the counties in which they lived.  Probate records include wills and property lists and you might find an ancestor in tax records.  Death certificates are the least reliable as the informant may be uninformed or an emotionally involved relative.  Damon followed his talk with examples of the records that he had explained.                                   Respectfully submitted,               Rosalyn Davenport Gibbs      

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