Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Trip to the County Clerk’s Office

Yesterday, I traveled to my father’s hometown in Greensville County, VA for a day of research and unwinding. The hour and a half drive from my city to the small town of Emporia and the rural area of Skippers located in the county, is always relaxing for me.
My focus was to locate missing dates from my research of the marriages of my paternal grandmother’s (Hattie Moore Pair) siblings. A second goal of the trip was to visit the Robinson Family Cemetery in Skippers to take more pictures and work on a plat to determine the location of graves of my family members. Both goals were accomplished.

It has been a long time since I visited the clerk’s office and I forgot how heavy the record books can be. While there, I met a lady and her niece who were researching their family. I was especially delighted to see a young person engaged in family research.

As you see from this picture, records are contained in large heavy books and it takes a lot of muscle and strength to lift some of these books. Records can be viewed from a counter, and in some clerk’s offices, also from a table. The Greensville County Clerk’s office has both a counter and table and I used both during my research time. The counter was suitable for looking up something quick in a book and the table was suitable for looking through something like an index, which required more time.

Some clerk’s office also have a computer where fairly recent records can be accessed. One of the computers in the Greensville’s Clerk’s office is on the other side of the column in this photo and I used it to locate the marriage date of an Uncle whose second marriage occurred in 1979.

I used one of these deed books to read a 1896 deed of my great-great grandparents Washington and Ellen Moore. Rather than have a copy made of the deed, I dictated the reading of the deed into my digital voice recorder so that I can type it up later.

Sometimes papers are housed in drawers as seen in the top of this photo. I did not look at the papers in these drawers at the Greensville office, however, at other clerk’s offices I’ve visited, marriage licenses are housed in these drawers. The licenses are folded in thirds like a letter in a #10 business envelope.

If you are a family researcher, and have never visited a clerk’s office which is the repository of legal documents such and marriage licenses and property records, then I encourage you to do so. Keep in mind that the name of this office varies from place to place. Hopefully, it is feasible for you to visit the clerk’s office located in the places you are researching, but if not, there’s always your local clerk’s office. This is an experience that Internet research cannot replace and there may be records in this office which are not located online of in any other research repositories.


Sheri Fenley said...

A picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks Dru for posting this great article.

Greta Koehl said...

I hope that when I am able to do "on-site" research that the clerk's office is as accessible and as neatly arranged as this one appears to be.

my Heritage Happens said...

This is a wonderful article! Unbelieveable how organized it all is! Does making a trip to the court house count? Thanks for sharing!