Browsing North Carolina and Tennessee

Each visit to SGS, I arrive with some vague research goals and head to the shelves for inspiration. Last week, I was getting familiar with the Seattle Genealogical Society’s Massachusetts section for researching my maternal grandmother’s lines — Whitcomb. This week, the goal was to get familiar with North Carolina and Tennessee collections for my maternal grandfather’s lines — Rhodes.

Our Rhodes are purported to have spent some time in Orange County, North Carolina and afterwards Bedford and Henderson County, Tennessee. These locations are supported by the pedigrees of 5th-8th Rhodes cousins from my DNA matches. However, there is much debate concerning which Rhodes of Bedford-Henderson and Orange counties we belong to.

Some claim William Rhodes (1745) m. Mary Poteet, and others John Rhodes (1743) m. Sarah Standiford (1750). Each hypothesis has compelling merits and problematic challenges, and also fascinating DNA evidence in support! Eventually, a collective of us will come together, present the evidence for the arguments, and perhaps reach a consensus on the likeliest couple. It is for this eventual meeting-of-the-minds that I plan to evaluate the research of all past and present Rhodes family historians. An ambitious project to be certain, but rewarding all the same.

Into the fray!

Shelf directions
Not surprisingly, the North Carolina and Tennessee shelves contain many indexes in book and paper-file form which are discoverable online. I am looking amongst these standards for unique and rare offerings.

North Carolina Genealogy Journal

A serial publication with a cover of bright orange beckons from the shelf. They are the North Carolina Genealogy Journals. I can return at a later time to evaluate the completeness of SGS’s collection. Perhaps there will be some interesting articles about Orange County that I will want to browse at some future time.

Court Minutes of Orange County

I almost missed these. The binding is black and conspicuously unmarked. Pulling them out, I discover that they  contain the transcribed Court Minutes of Orange County from 1752-forward. I believe there were four volumes present. Court minutes can be fascinating, and you’re in luck if ancestors enter into a legal squabble or break the law at some point. Even if your ancestors are not represented in court documents, you may find that neighbors are and from them you can learn all kinds of interesting things about the properties or issues surrounding ancestral lands and businesses.

Now on to Tennessee. Disappointingly, although the Tennessee shelves where 3-long, there were few Bedford and Henderson County centric offerings.

Cemetery Records of Bedford County Tennessee

The Cemetery Records of Bedford County Tennessee seemed promising, although I knew that their time in Bedford was brief, it’s possible that peripheral family could have died and been buried there. Worth a look. This one came off the shelves, and made it into my browsing pile.

And finally, a book with a spine simply stating “Henderson” also went into the browsing pile.

History of Henderson County

At my table, I opened my laptop to begin taking notes. Cemetery Records of Bedford County Tennessee by Marsh, 1976 was up first.

Remember last week I talked about adopting the intention of approaching books with an eye for understanding as opposed to simply fact skimming? Here was a great opportunity to begin.

First question to ask — What kind of book is this? Reading the introduction, I learned that the authors are a married couple who spent 8 years traveling all over Bedford identifying both large and small family cemeteries.

This book represents the culmination of those efforts. In the introduction, they describe that cattle and land improvements are some of the greatest threats to family cemeteries in the area — much more so than the wearing away of the headstones from natural weathering. As a consequence, the family cemeteries were disappearing at an alarming rate and many only exist in the memories of the eldest members of the community.

Now curious about the authors themselves, it was time to finally do a web search. Using discipline, and avoiding looking for an online index or version of the book, I googled the Marshes instead.

The first hit was a 2013 obituary for Timothy Marsh. And far from his passing being a sad affair, Timothy had achieved an enviable age of 92, and I learned that the Marsh couple were well known for over 70 published genealogical works concerning West Tennessee. Timothy and Helen are obviously authorities in the regional areas of my Rhodes ancestors, and it’s likely that their other publications will inform future research.

Now that something had been learned about the book and its authors, the right to check out the index had been earned. On the way to it, there were wonderful maps detailing the exact locations of the cemeteries. In the index though, there was disappointment — just two entries for RHODES. Looking them up, they represented burials in the 1900s, and my interest lay in the early to mid 1800s.

However, just the information in the introduction made pulling this book off the shelf worthwhile. Adopting the new reading guidelines is paying off.

I’m going to break here. I would love to go into what was discovered within Tennessee County History Series: Henderson, G. Tillman Stewart (1979), but dinner time is approaching, and chores must get done.

If you’re curious, you can look through it yourself. Here’s an online transcript of the publication.

From the first pass, I did learn that fossils abound in the area. My second great love, the origins of life on earth! That makes Henderson County an absolute must-go destination for the bucket list.