Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Is Your Favorite Research Resource?

Since tomorrow is the anniversary of 9/11, I’m actually posting my Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver on Saturday!

1) What is your favorite genealogy research resource?  Not a website, but a type of record, like census, cemetery, tax, etc. Why is it your favorite? 

I have a definite favorite type of record, although I need to qualify my answer a bit. When I am researching my husband’s lines, it has to be local tax records. He has many Southern lines that lived in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. Each of those states kept local tax records from very early dates and his ancestors mostly lived in counties where those lists weren’t destroyed in courthouse fires.

Why do I love, love love tax records?

1. They are like a yearly census.
2. They give detailed information about the real and movable estates owned by each person.
3. Widowed women are listed when their husbands have died.
4. Multiple men of the same name can often be sorted out and perhaps even placed in family groups, depending on locations of their land.
5. Dates of arrival in the county and departures can be estimated from appearances and disappearances off the tax rolls.
6. Years of birth and birth order can be estimated based on the first year a male appears.
7. The tax rolls often list the number of males over 16 and those under 16, which can help piece families together.

That’s it! I’ve sometimes had far more luck proving familial links through tax lists than through intestate probate records.

Thanks, Randy, for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.


2 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Is Your Favorite Research Resource?”

  1. Okay, I’ll admit tax records have really helped with my mother’s southern ancestors, especially when they lived in a burned county in Texas. In one county, tax records are the only records before 1891 because copies were sent to the state.

  2. Alas, tax records haven’t been as helpful for researching my family because most of my city-dwelling ancestors never owned land and weren’t taxed on cattle, horses, property. But in my hubby’s family, tax records have given me some good clues!

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