Richland County, South
I suggest the following steps to construct your genealogy:
Interview all the old people in your family, be sure and tape record
them! This is very important, and you will be shocked at what
they said that you simply did not hear and write down! Guaranteed!
You will eventually cherish these. Convert them to MP3 format
and write them all to a CD (be sure and include some MP3 players on the CD,
as there may be another format du jour in ten years)..
Copy all Bible or other family records. Distribute these copies widely.
State birth and death records are available after 1915. These contain
the names of parents.
Go to the U.S. Census, beginning with that currently available, 1930, and
work your way backwards. There, with luck, you can track your family
back to 1850.
From 1880 onward, be sure and go to the original census pages from
the Soundex. The Soundex is only an index, and does not contain
all census information. Write down or copy everything: date,
location, net worth, census taker, etc. The 1880 and onward census
not only tells you where the heads of household were born, it also tells
you where their parents were born, very useful information, if you do
I would recommend that you note the heads of household +/- 10 families either
way from yours, and anyone of a different surname in the family listing,
especially old people, as these are usually "in-laws." Do note
that relationships are not shown prior to 1880, just who was living in the
Prior to 1850, you will have to look for a child of the correct sex in the
correct age range, and then try to prove the conjectured connection with
other documents. Usually (sometimes?) this can be done with probate and deed
records. Probate records include testate (with a will) and intestate
(without a will). Both usually contain useful detail, and often list
heirs. South Carolina has probate packages (sometimes called
"bundles") for each estate, envelopes full of precious original records,
that contain all extant documents associated with that estate.
Please, handle these original documents with utmost care.
Unfold them very carefully, and do not stress the ancient paper.
These are the only original records we have! Never, ever,
desecrate such a document. If you don't want to know what your ancestor
did, don't read it! But never desecrate it! I have seen
sections physically cut out of probate and court records. These records
are all microfilmed and in multiple locations. You cannot hide the
indiscretions of your ancestors in this manner! Instead, be thankful
that you have information on them at all. The times were rough and
tumble. Many of us have bastards, rough types, thieves, and, yes, murderers
and deserters, in our family trees somewhere. And, while I am on the
subject, Loyalists were not necessarily people of no principle. Read
web site up on the Revolutionary War. Things are not always as
they have been portrayed to us. Note carefully that even Earl Cornwallis
himself sympathized with the colonies! He was just loyal to his country.
Now I ask you, would you have had him be otherwise?? I have all of
these someplace in my family, all dutifully documented. As my
wonderful Aunt Cleo put it: "The Truth's the Truth." Don't hide what
you find. Why do you think these people came to settle a new and
wild land? If they were well set at home, they remained there! Our
ancestors were third born unwanted sons of well to do, or, more likely,
vagabonds, peasants, debtors, horse thieves, or worse.
If you are having trouble tracing your family, note every neighbor in the
census, I would suggest plus or minus ten from yours, note every legal witness
on a deed, and then go through superior and inferior court books, to see
who might have appeared in legal proceedings with your ancestor. Then do
a complete genealogy on each of these families. If you are doubtful
just how useful all that might be, check out my John Gill, who died in 1822
in Allendale (Barnwell County then). This is precisely how I proved
which of the five extant John Gills after the revolutionary war was him,
and that he was from Richland County. The proof was surprisingly convincing.
It is all on the web. Read it and draw your own conclusions.
Holler if you disagree (grin). Much to my surprise, this technique
unambiguously demonstrated that John Gill was living in Allendale when he
sold his father's land in Richland County! This approach was suggested to
us by a professional genealogist, Mrs. Theresa Hicks. Time consuming?
Try 30 years! I started working on my Allendale Gills when I
did not have any gray! It was fun, I met a lot of interesting people,
and it eventually worked.
We were directly in Sherman's path, just be grateful that Charleston records
were never burned. Sherman's crew burned deeds and entire court houses,
indeed, whole cities, including Columbia! Ah, now, there is a tale
for the telling! That tale is just beginning to take shape on
the Civil War in South
Carolina web site. What fire in the wooden court houses did not
get, the Yanks did. Sherman attempted to burn South Carolina to the
ground once he managed to cross the Savannah River. Yay verily he probably
would have burned the very ground itself had he been able to do
so! Do you have some oral or documented civil war history
of Richland County? Please send it. Please state documentation.
Oral tradition is fine, just state: who, where, and when. However,
despair not! The Equity Records for Richland County somehow escaped
the Yankee Conflagration.
Prior to 1785, South Carolina records were kept in Charleston. These
are pretty much extant, the originals in Charleston, microfilm copies in
the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (Columbia). You
can order the indices and records by mail from the SCDAH.
If you have suggestions on the wording of this page, or suggestions on other
them. Would you like to write or rewrite one of the
pages? All comments are welcome.
Copyright ©1999, Dr. Frank O. Clark. These documents may be freely used
for private purposes, and included in your own genealogy. However,
this document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who
may attempt to derive profit from same.