Of all the states in which I do research, Tennessee is the most difficult to prove father-son relationship. As I have been thinking about this challenge, I believe that if we had a consolidated, digital index, with links to images, for the whole state of Tennessee…
Not just piecemeal access in printed books, in items transcribed on Rootsweb and US GenWeb and other internet sites…
Not just pedigrees supposed, concluded from circumstantial entries picked here and there, ancestries wished for…
A massive, fully searchable database (or even a series of linked databases) across all jurisdictional levels would allow us to spot migrations within counties, withing districts, within families, and those that meander over years across the state.
Consider the case of Robert Stephenson, who very early appears in Green County KY from where? Then moves to Knox County TN where he appears to live out his life. There are gaps in the timeline however, which could lead to other records and family ties.
Or consider the case of John Bray, who appears in eastern TN (probably Knox County) before 1800. He has two sons born in Kentucky (per the 1850 census) by 1815 and ends up in Anderson County TN–like a ping-pong ball from state to state. Also with gaps in the timeline which could lead to other records and family ties.
Ancestors move into and out of Tennessee. Leaving almost no track except family traditions and statements in later sources like the census or an obituary filed in some mid-western state like Missouri or Iowa.
Extreme record loss is an essential part of this challenge. Over 90 counties have suffered losses. A consolidated database drawing from all jurisdictional levels could help to ease genealogy stress in Tennessee.
FamilySearch and Ancestry and Fold Three (formerly Footnote) are just a few sites with Tennessee records from several levels–these provide tantalizing tidbits to show what could be accomplished.
Stay tuned to my next post on this blog. I am going to begin an interim bibliography of works that will help you to document Tennessee ancestors on the move. It can serve as a checklist–you can consult this list to see if you have already considered these items in your research.
And for ancestors with less common surnames, like Bray and Childress and Shumate, you will begin to build your own database of where people were when and who they were associated with at the place and time. These entries can be compared and matched with places of origin–Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. And places of later settlement like Alabama, Texas, Illinois, Arkansas, and Missouri.
And if I do research for you as a client, you will be able to see from my report to you, that I have used this checklist to ensure that no obvious ancestor has been overlooked. Your favorite Tennessee genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com
PS Using borrowed and refurbished computers, I plan to port information on my blogs ever 2-3 days. Please stay tuned to benefit from the research I have been doing these past few months while my computer has been down.
[Don’t tell a soul, but my computer skills have improved immensely as I have changed cords from one processor to another, typed data on one computer and transferred it to another, and tried to save files that appeared corrupted. Very pleased with myself. Losing files that are not available in some other place is brutal.]