For the last few weeks I’ve been doing some heavy-duty research in African American history, and I’ve learned some things I’d like to pass on.
Here’s the thing: I’m researching an African American from early Chattanooga history. Since our history was not always documented, my only tools were the early Chattanooga newspapers, and my book, African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes. It was slow-going for awhile, because I knew when this person showed up in an early volume, but I wasn’t sure whether he remained here after debuting in the volume, when he was born, or where he died, etc.
WHAT I LEARNED: When you’re searching for your ancestors, always check the Register of Deeds in your city. It may be that your ancestor never owned a piece of property in his/her life, but just in case s/he did, the Register of Deeds will be able to trace any purchases, sales, homes, land, etc. In the case of what I am researching, my search of newspapers, books, city directories and early ads was completely unsuccessful. Then I contacted the Register of Deeds, who promptly found the sale of a piece of property that occurred almost one hundred years ago!
So I’m passing this tip to you. Trying to find your folks? Check with the Register of Deeds, just to be sure.
Best wishes and happy researching,