Waiting for the Post

Instant gratification. It’s something many genealogists, including myself, often desire when searching for our ancestors. So much can be found online these days, but often online searches only scratch the surface of records available in the national or state archives, libraries and other places storing original or limited copies of historical records. Those you must often request copies of and wait patiently for by mail!

The past several weeks my research has been put on the back burner as I have dealt with a couple of family illnesses and work demands. While my online research has hit a lull, I have been waiting patiently for various documents I have ordered, several of which I have received in the last week!

Warner Brown, 1785-1853

First, I received from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, a copy of the land patent for my 4th great grandfather, Warner Brown, of Union County, Arkansas.  I have been really interested in learning more about land patents and bounty warrants. They can be a great resource for learning about the property an ancestor owned as well as lead to potential other clues about their life.  I first learned about them this Summer at an Oklahoma Genealogical Society meeting where professional genealogist Billie Fogarty, M.Ed., gave a great presentation on Bounty Land Warrants issued for service in the War of 1812. Veterans were offered a total of 6 million acres of bounty land in Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, and later, Missouri. As several of my ancestors served in the War of 1812 and later migrated to Arkansas, I thought I might find one or two recipients of a bounty. Ultimately, I did not locate a bounty for any of my ancestors when searching the Bureau of Land Management site. I did find on a few my lines, and one on my husbands line, a number of cash entry land patents, essentially where they purchased land owned by the federal government.  In addition to Warner Brown’s, I also searched for the Garrison surname for Bradley County, Arkansas. Thinking I might find a land patent for Major Brown Garrison, who settled there in 1870, I was surprised to find a number of records for a Peter Garrison. As his father was named Peter, I am trying to determine if this land warrant is for his father or another Peter Garrison in a collateral family. Peter is a very common name generation after generation in Garrison lineage, and Major Brown had both a brother and cousin named Peter, though they didn’t move to Bradley County until after the dates of purchase on the patent. I can’t wait to solve this mystery!

Land Patent Warner Brown
Warner Brown’s Land Patent
Peter Garrison, 1820-1905

Other documents I received by mail today were the probate records for both Peter Garrison (M.B.’s father) as well as Peter’s father and my 4th great grandfather, Josina Garrison (1779-1845)  These were ordered from the South Carolina Department of Archives & History.  They have a great online database search, and some documents have been digitized and put online, however many documents may be indexed but you have to submit a request for copies of the documentation. While this process may take awhile given the time it takes for the archivists to research your request, confirm that they have your records so you can send payment, it is totally worth the wait!  Today’s envelope was stuffed with extensive probate documentation for Josina and Peter.  The best part of Peter’s documents was the will looks to have been written by his hand! I can’t wait to spend some time combing through these documents to learn more about them.


In addition to Peter and Josina’s documents, the South Carolina archives was also my source for the will of Major Temple Hall and John Hall, the grandfather and great grandfather of Major Brown on his mother’s Hall side. I received those several weeks ago, and need to go through those as well when I have some time to devote to my Hall line.

Finally, I am waiting on the social security application for Ernest L. Wylie, whom I featured in a previous post, The Importance of Finding Ernest.  Recently, Ancestry.com began publishing more details than those included in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).  “It includes information filed with the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process, including valuable details such as birth date, birth place, and parents’ names. While you will not find everybody who is listed in the SSDI in this database, data has been extracted for more than 49 million people.”  This has allowed me to order Ernest’s social security application and hopefully learn a bit more about him and his parents from this document.  I specifically hope that it will include his mother Jessie’s maiden name as it is a requirement to request a birth certificate for him from the Hartford, Connecticut Vital Records office. I am not 100% sure that he was born in Hartford, but I will never know until I send off a request.

Finally! It’s arrived!

While online research is certainly convenient and timely, it is historical archives that may ultimately hold the breakthrough documentation one needs to move to the next steps in their research. If you don’t happen to live in the state or country your ancestors lived, requesting documentation and waiting for it to arrive by mail is worth the wait!

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