Archive for October, 2011

November is National Blog Posting Month

November is upon us once again! Do you know what that means? Its “National Blog Posting Month.”

I first learned of National Blog Posting Month (“NaBloPoMo”) in 2009. At that time, I was only writing my “National African American Genealogy” column on Examiner. I asked other genealogy bloggers to join me in the celebration. That month, though I was unsuccessful at posting every day, I managed to post quite a few articles:

How did I do that first year? There are 30 days in November, and I posted 19 articles. Not bad, but not perfect.

Between November 2009 and November 2010, I started writing a second column for Examiner: the “Baltimore Genealogy & History” column. When NaBloPoMo came around, I decided to try to write an article every day for both columns! Once again, I did not achieve my lofty goal, but I did make (in my opinion) a noble effort:

Two columns, 30 days. Should be 60 articles, right? Well, I managed to write 31. Only about half of them.

So this year I still have both Examiner columns, and now I have this blog as well. Thirty days, three blogs–that’s 90 articles! It’s going to be difficult, but I will try. We’ll see how well I do at the end of the month.

Anyone else want to give it a shot?


The limits of online genealogy research

Rarely do I mention my other columns (though the RSS feeds show up over on the right) on But I wanted to point readers to a series of posts that I wrapped up today.

Since February 2010 I have been working on an online case study concerning the family history of a former slave named Jefferson Clark. I call this an online case study because I specifically chose to use only records available online. My subject was chosen at random from African American families living in Texas in 1870.

I would like to invite you all to read this case study. The techniques that I use throughout the series of posts demonstrate the importance of skillful analysis and correlation of information in your research. When access to records is limited, it is vital to utilize indirect evidence to form conclusions.

Because the subject was chosen at random, the case study also demonstrates how a professional genealogist operates. In beginning this research, I had no family records that had been passed down, no older relatives to interview, and no previous research to consult. I truly had to start from scratch. Many of my client projects begin the same way. In a project I worked on last week, the only information I was provided was a newspaper marriage announcement for the client’s grandparents.

The first post in this series–“The Jefferson Clark family of Leon County, Texas: an online case study (part one)“–appeared on 21 February 2010. Because this was not a client project, and was being conducted strictly for use in my “National African American Genealogy” column, I had to fit research in when I had time.

Today’s article, the final word on this online case study, is entitled “The strengths and limits of online genealogy research.” I may continue this case study, in a more limited capacity, using records not available online.

You can find links to all of the articles in this series under the “Case Studies” section of my webpage. Unfortunately I was unable to edit some of the earlier articles to include links to the later ones, due to a change in Examiner‘s article publishing platform. However, from the “Case Studies” page of my website, you can easily open each article in a new browser tab.

Let me know what you think, either here or on the Examiner pages.

Follow Friday/A Friend of Friends Friday: The Dead Librarian

I normally do not mention genealogy-specific blogs in my “Follow Friday” posts. But when I have the opportunity to combine my two favorite Friday blogging memes–Follow Friday and A Friend of Friends Friday–I will make an exception.

This week I would like to highlight the blog of a librarian in South Carolina that I met at the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in 2010: Debbie Bloom’s Dead Librarian. She was able to attend the Institute that year as awardee of the

The specific reason that I want to bring attention to Debbie’s blog, however, is that she recently discovered how to create blog pages. You can read about this discovery, and the page she has now created, in the post “Dangerous Dead Librarian.”

Specifically, she has created a new page on her blog called, simply, “SC Slave Marriages.” She describes the birth of this page:

Brent Holcomb’s SC Marriages book includes slave and FPOC marriages but those names are not indexed.  A very skilled and devoted librarian (not me!) indexed all those missing names.  Brent Holcomb kindly told us about some other resources he published and the next thing I know is we have a nifty new index with almost 400 names for helping African American genealogists.[1]

What the librarian (not Debbie!) indexed appears as a link to a Google Docs spreadsheet from the “SC Slave Marriages” page. The spreadsheet is not as user-friendly as one might hope, unfortunately. The owner’s names are listed in a single column by first name, or more often by “Mr.,” and are not alphabetized. The spreadsheet is alphabetized by the first name of the groom. This is probably the least helpful way to organize the information. Any children born as a result of these marriages (and therefore probably the route through which one would encounter these ancestors) would have, by law, belonged to the owner of the mother. A spreadsheet alphabetized by the first name of the bride would be more helpful to researchers. It would also be far more helpful to remove the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” titles, and list the owners of both groom and bride surname-first. This would make it far more easy to scan the list for the name of a specific slave owner or slave-owning family. The spreadsheet is also locked, making it impossible for researchers to resort the data by the column of their choice.

Another weakness with both the blog page and the spreadsheet are the poor and incomplete source citations. The blog page cites the sources as follows:

1. SC Marriages by Brent Holcomb
2. Fairforest Presbyterian Church Records: SCMAR Vol. 13
3. First Presbyterian Church records: SCMAR Vol 35, 36

As readers of this blog (as well as my “National African American Genealogy” and “Baltimore Genealogy & History” columns on know–I am a stickler for full, accurate, and consistent source citations. Here are reconstructed citations, based on what little information I have to go on. Details for the “SC Marriages” book are from the catalog of the Library of Congress. What few details could be discerned for the journal articles were taken from Brent H. Holcomb’s webpage for the South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research. Of course the specific details, where unknown below, should be added.

  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. South Carolina Marriages, 2 vols. Baltimore : Genealogical Pub. Co., 1980-1981.
  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. [article title unknown, but possibly “Marriages Performed by the Rev. A. A. James, Union County (1851-)”]. South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 13 (1985): [pages unknown].
  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. “[article title unknown].” South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 35 (2007): [pages unknown].
  • Holcomb, Brent H., compiler. “[article title unknown].” South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 36 (2008): [pages unknown].

Despite these few weaknesses, however, we are still provided with free access to a much-needed resource for information on slave marriages!

Thanks Debbie and the librarian who compiled this index (not Deb), for making this information available! I certainly wish that others would do the same.


[1] Debbie Bloom, “Dangerous Dead Librarian,” The Dead Librarian blog, posted 18 October 2011 ( : accessed 22 Oct 2011).

Survey for upcoming genealogy webinars

Many of you may recall my offering several genealogy webinars this past spring and summer. I am currently in the planning stages of a new round of webinar offerings sometime this winter or next spring.

I would like to enlist your help during the planning stages, so that I can best serve your educational needs.

Please take 2 minutes to answer the following anonymous survey. The survey contains only 6 short multiple-choice questions.

To take the survey, go to

Thanks so much for your input!

A Friend of Friends Friday: Maryland’s 1852 Tax Law

This post is written as part of the weekly “A Friend of Friends Friday” genealogy blogging meme. Visit the GeneaBloggers shared Google Reader list for additional entries from this and other blogs.

On 29 May 1852 the General Assembly of Maryland passed “An Act to provide for the General Valuation and Assessment of Property in this State.” This Act included the following clause:

Sec. 9. And be it enacted, That it shall be the duty of the said assessors, or a majority of them, in their several assessment districts, to make diligent inquiry and inform themselves by all lawful means, of all the property in their respective districts, liable to assessment, and to value the same at the full cash value thereof, and all property owned by residents of this State, and not permanently located elsewhere within the State, shall be assessed to the owner in the county or city where he or she may reside; and they shall specify in their returns, to be made as hereinafter provided, as far as may be practicable … Second, the negro slaves, classifying them according to their sex and ages … and it shall be the duty of the said assessors, also, to specify in said returns the name of each slave, and opposite the name, the age and assessed value [emphasis added].[1]

In other words, the 1852 assessment records for the state of Maryland contain the names and ages of every slaves owned in the state!

The Maryland State Archives in Annapolis holds several of these 1852 returns:

  • CARROLL COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record) Election Districts 2, 3, 5 through 8, 10; MSA C1634
  • DORCHESTER COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record) Election Districts 1, 2, 4 through 10; MSA C687
  • FREDERICK COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record, Slaves) Election Districts 1, 2, 4, 5; MSA C2138
  • SOMERSET COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record) Election Districts 4 through 8, 10, 11; MSA C1735
  • TALBOT COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record, Slaves) Election Districts 1 through 4; MSA C1836

For those researchers of enslaved families who have identified family groups after 1870, these records–and other tax assessment records that identify slaves by name–can create an important connection into the antebellum world.

The following slaves are assessed to John Barwick’s heirs, living in Chapel District no. 4, in Talbot County, Maryland, in 1852:

  • Males
    • Lewis 3 year[s] old
    • John 7 [years old]
  • Females
    • Alexene 4 year[s]
    • Cornelia 9 year[s]
    • Arramitta 11 [years]
    • Malinda 35 [years] [2]

In Maryland, the Register of Wills and the Orphans’ Court handle matters of probate.  In addition to the commonly used probate records, such as wills, estate inventories, administration accounts, and estate distribution records, the recorded proceedings of the Orphans’ Court often hold details not included in the recorded instruments.  The following records holding possible significance to this case have been located regarding John Barwick’s estate:

  • 2 June 1848, Widow’s renunciation and administration bond:  This initial step in the probate process finds John Barwick’s widow Charlotte refusing her right to administer the estate of her husband, and instead suggesting that one Alexander E. Dudley serve as the administrator.  Dudley proceeds to submit his bond to the Court, holding himself responsible for the administration of John Barwick’s estate.  That Alexander Dudley is designated the administrator  of the estate, rather than the executor of the estate also signifies that John Barwick did not create a last will and testament, dying intestate.[3]
  • 9 August 1848, Estate inventory: The Orphans’ Court appointed Edward H. Nabb and James H. Ridgaway to appraise the value of John Barwick’s estate. The estate inventory that they created lists the following slaves by name, age, and value:
    • 1 Negro Woman Malinda aged 28 yrs & her infant child 400.00
    • 1 Girl Anna Mitten aged 7 yrs old 150.00
    • 1 girl Cornelia 4 yrs old 100.00
    • 1 Boy John 2 yrs old 50.00
    • 1 Boy Bill bound to serve until he is 21 years of age 50.00
  • This list of slaves, four years prior to the 1852 assessment record, contains all of the same slaves, just a few years younger. However, whereas the assessment record named Malinda and Alexene, aged 4 years old, this inventory only names Malinda and her “infant child.” This “infant child” in 1848 can be none other than the four-year-old Alexene in 1852. This serves as confirmation that Malinda is indeed Alexene/Alexina’s mother.[4]
  • 11 August 1848, Orphans’ Court Proceedings: Alexander E. Dudley, as administrator of John Barwick’s estate, applied to the Orphans’ Court for an order to sell all of John Barwick’s personal property, except his slaves. The order was approved and passed. The fact that the slaves were not ordered to be sold with the other property could possibly indicate that these slaves had come into John Barwick’s possession through his marriage to Charlotte.[5]
  • 11 August 1848, Orphans’ Court Proceedings: Alexander E. Dudley, as administrator of John Barwick’s estate, is ordered to publicly give notice to Barwick’s creditors to exhibit their accounts against the estate. Outstanding debts at the time of decease present one of the most common reasons for the sale of slaves and other personal property.[6]
  • 10 February 1852, Estate Distribution: John Barwick’s remaining estate is distributed among his heirs. Under Maryland law, his widow, Charlotte, is entitled to one-third of the estate, called her “dower rights.” The remaining two-thirds are divided equally among John’s children: William T. Barwick, John Barwick, William [sic] Barwick, James Barwick, and Alexander Barwick. The account only notes the distribution of cash amounts, probably the proceeds from the property sales, but does not note distribution of any remaining property such as slaves.[7]
  • 9 July 1852, Orphans’ Court Proceedings: The Orphans’ Court, on application of Charlotte Barwick, as John Barwick’s widow and the guardian of their underage children, appoints Richard Arringdale and Robert H. Jump to value and divide John Barwick’s slaves among his heirs. No record of any valuation or division has yet been located.[8]

When Talbot County assessed its citizens’ property in 1852, the slaves had still not been distributed. Therefore, they were still legally owned by the deceased John Barwick’s estate. By the 1860 federal census, the slaves were enumerated (without names provided) in Schedule 2, the enumeration of the enslaved population, or “slave schedule,” owned by the now remarried Charlotte Frampton, John Barwick’s widow.[9]

Slavery was abolished with the passage of a new Maryland state consitution on 1 October 1864. In 1870, the former slave Melinda Newman and her minor children live with her husband John Newman, in Easton, Talbot County.[10] By 1880 the family had moved to Baltimore city.[11]


[1] Laws Made and Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Maryland, At a Session begun and held at Annapolis, on Wednesday, the 7th day of January, 1852, and ended on Monday, the 31st of May, 1852 (Annapolis, Md: B. H. Richardson & Cloud’s, 1852), “An Act to provide for the General Valuation and Assessment of Property in this State,” Chap. 337; digital images, Maryland State Archives, Archives of Maryland Online ( : accessed Jun 2011), Vol. 615, pages 392–408.

[2] Talbot County Board of County Commissioners, Assessment Record, 1852, Chapel District no. 4, page 3; MSA C1836-6, MdHR 12,842; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[3] Talbot County, Maryland, Register of Wills, Administration Bonds JJH 1, pages 170-171, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1821-15, MdHR 11,229-1; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[4] Talbot County Register of Wills, Inventories JHH 1, pages 597-601, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1872-45, MdHR 11,261-1; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[5] Talbot County Register of Wills, Orphans Court Proceedings, 1846-1851, page 198, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1897-14, MdHR 11,328; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[6] Talbot County Register of Wills, Orphans Court Proceedings, 1846-1851, page 225, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1897-14, MdHR 11,328; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[7] Talbot County Register of Wills, Distributions JP E, pages 133-134, Barwick estate (1852); MSA C1860-8, MdHR 11,290-1; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[8] Talbot County Register of Wills, Orphans Court Proceedings, 1852-1855, page 45, Barwick (1852); MSA C1897-15; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[9] 1860 U. S. Census, Talbot County, Maryland, slave schedule, Easton District, pg. 22, column 1, lines 16-25, Charlotte Frompton’s slaves; digital images, ( : accessed 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication  M653, roll not cited, but known to be roll 485. For Charlotte Barwick’s marriage to Thomas Frampton, 30 September 1857, see Talbot County Circuit Court, Marriage Licenses Book 1, Frampton to Barwick (1857); Maryland State Archives microfilm no. CR 10016-1.

[10] 1870 U. S. Census, Talbot Co., Maryland, population schedule, Town of Easton, Easton post office, page 30, dwelling 177, family 210, John Human household; digital images, ( : accessed 2009); NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 595.

[11] 1880 U. S. Census, Baltimore City, Maryland, population schedule, part 3rd Precinct 14th Ward, enumeration district 125, page 25, dwelling 188, family 225, John Newman household; digital images, ( : accessed 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 502.

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “A Friend of Friends Friday: Maryland’s 1852 Tax Law,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 21 Oct 2011 ( : accessed [access date]).

Guest Post: Locating Clent manorial landholdings and SLIG, by Sue Adams

The following is a guest post written by Sue Adams, the winner of my SLIG Blogging Contest Contest! This post originally appeared at her blog, Family Folklore.

Having recently completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies with the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, I have been looking around for further educational opportunities.

As my diploma dissertation was a study of manorial land records between 1712 and 1927, of Clent Manor, Worcestershire, England, the “Advanced Research Tools: Land Records” track presented by Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) 2012 peaked my interest. The course runs from 23-27 January 2012.


Although my study focused on land inheritance, I had originally intended presenting results by mapping land holdings belonging to individuals or families. However, faced with vague property descriptions, I realised this was more difficult than I had anticipated. Of the copyholdings bought, sold or inherited by the Waldron family of the Fieldhouse, I could locate less than half. Below is the map that I did not include in my dissertation because of these difficulties.

The Fieldhouse itself was easy (no 13), it is marked on current maps and the listed building records confirm that the house was built in the 1750s. Some fields that were enclosed and first granted by the Lord in 1788 were described well enough for me to work out their location relative to roads and adjoining property (nos 1-7). Descriptions referring to ancient field names that so not appear on any maps are more difficult, but I managed to find an archaeological report that gave approximate locations for a few names like Kitchen Meadow, Long Meadow and Wallfields. So I could approximate the locations of land (the rest of the nos on the map) with descriptions like the following example:

“three pieces of land called the Halfmoon Hills containing about sixteen acres two pieces of land adjoining called the Wallfields containing about eight acres and Meadow called the Kitchen Meadow containing about six acres and one Meadow called Long Meadow containing about four acres and one close adjoining called Ollerpiece containing about two acres in Upper Clent”

Winden Field is a place name that occurs frequently in the manorial court records, but I do not know where it was. It is thought to be the name of one of the open fields dating back to the medieval farming system.

Occasionally, land descriptions refer to the tithe map. In Clent this dates to 1838 and records the landowners who were liable to pay tithes, a tax collected by the church which supported the clergy. None of the land owned by my study family is directly linked to the tithe map in the court rolls, but it may be still possible to correlate the two.

So what does all this stuff about English land records have to do with and course on American land records? Well the problems are similar and the SLIG course offers some tools applicable to land records anywhere. The Strathclyde program is biased toward Scottish research and records (it is a Scottish university!), which some think a disadvantage for English based researchers. However, I benefited from seeing how English and Scottish records differ and the comparison has deepened my understanding making me a better researcher. American records will be different again, and that is interesting.

As I am based in England the main expense of attending SLIG is the airfare. However, as RootsTech (2-4 February 2012) and APG Professional Management Conference (1 February 2012), follow a few days later, I could attend all three. Now the airfare seems a little less extravagant!

About Sue Adams: My interest in family history was ignited by the death of Raymond Coulson, a cousin of my paternal grand-mother.  Tracking down the beneficiaries of his estate got me hooked and led me on to research the tales passed down the generations.  The story continues …

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Blogging Contest Contest

The 2012 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy will be held from 23-27 January 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Institute is one of the premiere educational programs for genealogists in the country, sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association.

Earlier this week, UGA announced a contest for those wishing to attend the Institute. The prize will be a waiver of tuition fees for the winner. In conjunction with this contest, I would like to also offer my own contest. (Details below.)

The official rules of the UGA Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Blogging Contest are as follows:

Step 1: Write 500 words or more on the topic of why you want to attend SLIG. Include which course you would like to take, and whether you have attended before. Please include the link when referring to SLIG’s website.

Step 2: Post a link to your blog post on the UGA/SLIG Facebook Page ( before midnight (Mountain Time) on Saturday, October 15, 2011. If you are not on Facebook please send an email to and we will post the link on Facebook for you.

Step 3: The winner will be randomly chosen using, and announced via our Facebook page on Sunday, October 16, 2011.

In conjunction with this contest, I would like to offer the following contest:

  1. For those who might be interested in entering this contest, write your contest entry (see the above instructions), and email it to me at by 8pm Eastern on Friday, 14 October 2011.
  2. I will be the sole judge and will choose the entry that I think is the best.
  3. The winning post will be posted as a guest post on this blog (and therefore also read by many new readers) shortly after this contest ends. I will post the link to Facebook for you.
For more information on the SLIG Blogging Contest, see their blog post at
Good luck!
UPDATE: Just to clarify, if you already have a blog of your own, you can enter the SLIG Blogging Contest yourself. I will consider bloggers who have submitted their entries to my contest, but I intended my contest to allow non-bloggers a venue by which they could also enter.
%d bloggers like this: