DeKalb County, Alabama Grantor and Grantee Deed Indices

Dekalb County, Alabama, in the northeastern part of that state, was established in 1836 from the Cherokee Cession of the preceding year. For a number of years, Dorothy Smith Duff has been systematically transcribing or indexing the earliest records of DeKalb County. Her previous efforts have resulted in an index to marriages and collections of probate and will and estate records. These new works at hand index DeKalb County, Alabama, deed records for the period 1835-1895.  Both of these volumes refer to about 15,000 deed transactions. The Grantee Deed Index lists the names of the grantee in alphabetical order, the name of the corresponding grantor, and the volume and page number (on the microfilm) where the transaction was recorded. The Grantor Deed Index is arranged alphabetically by grantor and gives the name of the corresponding grantee followed by the citations. Both new books are essential in any collection of DeKalb County source records.

Image credit: DeKalb County Courthouse, via Wikimedia Commons.


New Release for September – A New Series of Native American Records

CHOCTAW BY BLOOD. Enrollment Cards, 1898-1914. Volume V, by Jeff Bowen. Volume V in a new series of Native American records from Mr. Jeff Bowen enumerates the sometimes contentious enrollment of Choctaw tribesmen by the Dawes Commission. The results of these proceedings are contained in 6100 Choctaw enrollment cards (National Archive Microfilm M-1186, Rolls 39-46), which list householders’ ages, sex, degree of blood, the parties’ relationship to head of household, county,  Dawes Roll Number, and date of enrollment by the Secretary of Interior.  Mr. Bowen’s transcriptions also give the enrollee’s parents’ names as well as miscellaneous notes pertaining to the enrollee’s circumstances, when required. The fifth volume in this series is now available. Together, all five volumes identify more than 17,000 persons.

Image credit: A Choctaw woman, via Wikimedia Commons.


Battle of King’s Mountain & Its Heroes

The Battle of King’s Mountain is today an important part of Revolutionary War history and genealogy. Fought on October 7, 1780, an estimated 500,000 tourists visit the battlefield every year. A number of the battle’s participants would become civilian leaders of the young nation. For example, Colonels John Sevier and Isaac Shelby would go on to become governors of their native Tennessee and Kentucky respectively. Towns and roads in Western North Carolina are today named after other heroes of the conflict such as Charles McDowell (McDowell County) and Morganton, county seat of Burke County, named after Daniel Morgan.

Continue reading…

"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor," by William Halsall, 1882 at Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Resources for Mayflower Research

This article was originally posted by the late Carolyn Barkley. We’re bringing it back with minor edits in honor of the Thanksgiving season. As mentioned, the author’s own roots are tied to the Thanksgiving story, making her knowledge that much more relevant.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. In addition to the turkey and trimmings, the approaching holiday is inextricably linked to the voyage of the Mayflower and its landing at Plymouth on the coast of Massachusetts. My primary purpose is to share information about the wealth of resources available about the voyage and its passengers, but first, as a native of Massachusetts and a thirty-seven year resident of Virginia, I’m obliged to muse momentarily on the origins of the thanksgiving event.

Growing up in Massachusetts, every school child’s attention is focused on the Mayflower passengers and their feast of thanksgiving held in 1621. The New England tradition, of course, flies in the face of Virginia’s claim to the first Thanksgiving, let alone that of St. Augustine, Florida, where a Thanksgiving celebration was held in September 1565! In 1619, a group of settlers left Bristol, England, and landed three months later at the present-day site of Berkeley plantation on the James River in Virginia. The tradition is that immediately after reaching sold ground, they fell to their knees and thanked God for their safe arrival. A rivalry about whether the Virginia event in 1619 or the Massachusetts event in 1621 represents the “real” Thanksgiving continues today. Both are re-enacted annually and I would suggest that they can coexist as different types of Thanksgiving events, although neither of them is the “first” in the New World. The Massachusetts event was a harvest festival in which the settlers gave thanks for the summer’s crops and their survival through the harsh first winter. They were joined by Wampanoag Chief Massasoit and about ninety of his men who brought venison and turkey. The Virginia event was a religious service of thanksgiving at which a meager meal of bacon, peas, cornmeal cakes and cinnamon water was served. (It is interesting to note that at the time of the Mayflower’s arrival, Massachusetts was considered to be a northern part of Virginia.) Thanksgiving proclamations were made by American presidents beginning with George Washington. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln formally designated Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be held on the final Thursday of November.

Who, then, were the individuals feasting and giving thanks in Massachusetts in 1621? Continue reading…


What do We Know About Pocahontas and Her Descendants?

Pocahontas, the legendary Native American princess who saved the life of Captain John Smith, has been the subject of many forms of art and literature – from Colonial paintings to Disney movies. The reality of Pocahontas, and of her descendants, is a more complex topic generally colored by legends more than facts. It’s rare to find information that deals only with known facts without the pull of the colorful stories. The following post discusses the known facts and lineage of Pocahontas, as well as provides literary resources to help you learn more should Pocahontas and her descendants be part of your family history or research.

“She was of a ‘Coulour browne, or rather tawnye,’ and her age was somewhere between twelve and fourteen. She probably was round-faced, with the fore part of her ‘grosse’ and ‘thick’ black hair ‘shaven close,’ and the very long ‘thicker part’ being ‘tied in a pleate hanging down’ to her hips. Her hands almost certainly were ‘pretty.’ Her ‘handsome lymbes,’ breast, ‘slender armes’ and face may well have been cunningly tattooed. And she probably wore a headband or crownlet and copper-decorated beads and earrings, her head and shoulders being covered with red colored powder ‘mixed with the oyle of the walnut, or Beares grease.’ In winter this paint ‘armes (in some measure) against the Cold’ and ‘in Summer doth check the heat’ while helping to defend ‘from the stinging of Muskeetoes which here breed aboundantly, amongst the marish whorts, and fenburies.’

“Her name was Matoaka, but they called her Pocahontas, the appellation possibly being derived from the Algonkian adjective meaning ‘playful, sportive, frolicsome, mischievous, frisky.’

“She was a member of one of a confederacy of some thirty well-organized, thriving agricultural and fishing tribes, who lived in approximately 160 villages widely scattered over much of the lower section of the Chesapeake Bay, and had a total population in the neighborhood of 9,000. And she was one of the many children of Powhatan, the confederacy’s overlord or supreme ‘werowance.'”

Thus begins the late Stuart Brown’s diminutive biography of the legendary Native American princess who saved the life of Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame. Mr. Brown, an attorney and antiquarian bookman by day, devoted much of his spare time to recording everything that could be found out about Pocahontas and her progeny. His biography, entitled Pocahontas, which occupies a focused 36 pages, uses only contemporary or near-contemporary facts pertaining to Pocahontas’s appearance, words, and actions. It is fully documented and features a number of reproductions of engravings made of the princess, her father, and scenes from early 17th-century Virginia. Continue reading…