south carolina

Early South Carolina History

Editor’s Note: Many of the titles hyperlinked or referenced in this article will be on sale for 24 hours, beginning December 1 and ending at 11:59pm EST, 2015, at, the parent company of this blog. If your ancestors were part of South Carolina’s storied colonial, Revolutionary, or early national period, this is a great opportunity to buy high quality reference materials, written by leading experts in their respective fields. 

In 1663, England’s King Charles II ceded the Carolinas to Anthony Ashley Cooper and seven other proprietors who had supported the Stuarts in ending the Cromwellian Revolution and returning Charles II to the throne. Although the Crown did not divide the Carolinas into two quasi-self-governing regions until 1691, British colonists established the first permanent settlement in what would become South Carolina in 1670.

The border dispute between North and South Carolina was not settled until 1772. Prior to this North Carolina had issued more than 1,000 grants for land in an area that is now South Carolina but which was then thought to be in the North Carolina counties of Bladen, Anson, Mecklenburg, and Tryon. The records of these grants–plats and warrants for the most part–form the basis of North Carolina Land Grants in South Carolina. The data provided includes the name of the grantee, the file, entry or grant number, the relevant book and page of the original record books, the location of the grant, the names of owners of adjoining property, and the dates of the various instruments. Continue reading…

tax lists genealogy

Tax Lists and Genealogy

Are you getting the most out of tax lists for your genealogy research? Do you even know where to start?

As Cornelius Carroll states in the beginning of his book, The Beginner’s Guide to Using Tax Lists, “Tax lists are one of the most valuable, but most neglected sources of genealogical information. They cannot only be used to trace migration and determine the taxable property of ancestors, but they are also important because they can be used to prove parentage when no other records are available. There are also many other uses which many genealogists and historians do not suspect.”

We like having a handy guidebook to lay out the basics of topics that can be overwhelming or take a researcher down a rabbit hole. To this end, we recommend Mr. Carroll’s guide as an excellent starting point for the beginner, or a solid refresher for the more seasoned researcher.

The Beginner’s Guide to Using Tax Lists explains the various kinds of “tax lists,” namely, personal property tax lists, tithables, poll lists, land tax lists, and rent rolls, and it informs the researcher about the genealogical uses of each. For example, tax lists are helpful in determining parentage, birth and death dates, indentured servitude, slavery, manumission, and racial status. They may also indicate the relationship of individuals in a household and their approximate ages. For instance, did you know that, in the absence of other sources, you could establish the approximate ages of the children by following the taxpaying head of household over a sequence of tithables? If not, Mr. Carroll shows you how by using actual Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee tax lists.

If you’re not up to speed on all the genealogical possibilities to be derived from tax lists, or would like to know more than what you’ll glean from a quick Internet search, Mr. Carroll’s diminutive guidebook is well worth the investment.

Image credit: Manumission note, By George Rohm [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The text reads:  “On this 30th day of April 1828 personally appear George Rice before the ?abricut a justice of the peace in and for said County, and made Oath on the Holy Evangely of Almighty God that James Tooley the Negro man now in my presence is the same that manumitted and let free by Phillip Winebrenner. Sworn before George Rohm”


19th century jokes

Six jokes from 19th Century America

While we are absolutely a genealogy blog, we still appreciate a good (historical) laugh. This piece, care of NPR’s History Department, focuses on jokes from the 19th century.

Please visit the original story at, and enjoy the six jokes below, excerpted from the article:

Here are half a dozen from the 1800s, lightly edited, that may still play well to contemporary sensibilities:

1870: While passing a house on the road, two Virginia salesmen spotted a “very peculiar chimney, unfinished, and it attracting their attention, they asked a flaxen-haired urchin standing near the house if it ‘drawed well’ whereupon the aforementioned urchin gave them the stinging retort: ‘Yes, it draws all the attention of all the d——d fools that pass this road.'” Daily Milwaukee News,May 21, 1870

1872: A man said to a preacher, “That was an excellent sermon, but it was not original.” The preacher was taken aback. The man said he had a book at home containing every word the preacher used. The next day the man brought the preacher a dictionary. Daily Phoenix, April 4, 1872

1888: There was a man whose last name was Rose. As a lark, he named his daughter Wild, “with the happy conceit of having her called Wild Rose.” But that sentiment was “knocked out” when the woman grew up to marry a man whose last name was Bull. Weekly Journal-Miner in Prescott, Ariz., May 23, 1888

1890: Whatever troubles Adam had / No man could make him sore / By saying when he told a jest / “I’ve heard that joke before.” Philadelphia Times, Feb. 23, 1890

1896: A fellow tells his ma that there are two holes in his trousers — and then tells her that’s where he puts his feet through. Cincinnati Enquirer, Nov. 1, 1896

1899: A man got up one morning and couldn’t find his alarm clock, so he asked his wife what had become of it. She said “It went off at 6 o’clock.” Salt Lake Herald, April 27, 1899

You can follow the author, Linton Weeks @NPRHistoryDept. You can read more of his work here at NPR’s History Department. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

Full original article link:

Image credit: Comic actor Fanny Rice, sometimes billed as the Funniest Woman in America,€” in 1896, from the Library of Congress.



How to clean a gravestone

How to Clean a Gravestone – Cemetery Preservation

Editor’s Note: This morning I came across a YouTube instructional video on how to clean a gravestone. The method, although appearing very effective from a visual perspective, recommended scraping the stone clear of debris and then using astringent chemicals to clean the stone. This seemed harsh to me, so I went looking through our old posts to see if Carolyn had ever tackled the topic. Luckily for me – and for you  as well – she had! 

The following post on how to clean and care for gravestones is an updated and edited post, originally written by the late Carolyn L. Barkley. If you have tried any of these methods, or have other ideas to add, please tell me about it in the comments:

As I visited cemeteries in both Massachusetts and Virginia in the fall, I was reminded how much I enjoy walking their paths, surveying the gravestones, and gleaning family information where I can. As I walked in a Virginia cemetery with a friend, she related a story of how, some years ago, the women of the church, concerned that many of the stones had become difficult to read or looked dingy, washed and scrubbed each of them with bleach. While the cemetery apparently looked wonderful after its cleaning, it is now noticeable that the polish on the many marble stones has been completely destroyed. (Any gravestone preservationist reading this anecdote has just suffered a metaphorical heart attack!) Continue reading…

library of congress

Utilizing the Library of Congress Genealogy Website

The US Library of Congress (LOC) is the greatest repository of published works in the country including genealogy, local history books and periodicals.  Whether or not you are planning to visit the LOC, located in Washington, DC, in-person soon, it will benefit you to visit its website.

To get on the LOC site, start at its homepage: Allow yourself time to browse the site as a whole. For example, at the American Memory collection you will find a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the U.S. The site offers more than seven million digital items from more than 100 historical collections – from Ancient Greece to Athens, Ohio. Other popular items that can be accessed from the LOC home page include online exhibits, like one on Bob Hope’s vaudeville career (just to break up your family history research), world cultures, congressional legislation, and a link to an explore and discover area of the Library.

After you tear yourself from the aforementioned diversions (thank goodness for the “back” button), return to the Library of Congress home page. Now scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on “Especially . . . for Researchers,” which will take you to the Resources and Reference Services page. Next page down to the link, “Local History and Genealogy,” which will bring you to the home page for the Local History and Genealogy Reference Services. Continue reading…