Thursday, October 10, 2013

Researching in Tennessee - Exploring Chancery Court Records

Examining Abstracts From Chancery Court Records
(Photo Courtesy of Carla Coleman)

After arriving in Nashville Tennessee yesterday to attend the 34th annual AAHGS conference, one of the first things that I had to do was to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Tennessee State Archives.  Tennessee is one of the states that I research and I was anxious to look at any records that might exist from Giles County Tennessee.  

I was directed to the Reading room on the second floor of the archives, and was excited to finally have the chance to really explore in depth so many resources from the entire state of Tennessee. The room was a vast room with items from every county in the state.

Reading Room at the Tennessee State Archives

I pulled a volume off the shelf that reflected records from the Chancery Court of Giles County that spanned several decades from the 1830s until 1900. What a find! This book revealed records that reflected interactions among the citizens of Giles County. I was surprised that among many of the records were some explaining how some debts were settled with an exchange or sell of slaves. And in many of those records, the slaves were named. 

Chancery Court Abstract reflecting a bill to sell slaves in Giles County Tennessee

There were other simillar records and I took my time, in the event of seeing the names of my own ancestors from the Bass family reflected. I did not find any references in that particular volume pertaining to my own family, although I was looking at only one of four volumes. So I am not sure if I had a feeling of relief that I did not see any reflection of their being sold or bartered, or if I was disappointed not to find anything bearing their names.

I did have one surprise, while searching the volume. I saw an item pertaining to a gentleman who was to receive land. The man's name was Jessie Jones and his wife's name was Mary. She had recently died and there was an interest in the land, for it belonged to the wife and not the husband. I thought I had recognized the name Jessie Jones and realized that he was a man whom I have seen in census records from Giles County. I have used an image from the 1870 census bearing his name, in a genealogy presentation. Jessie Jones was also said to have never been enslaved, which was consistent with information that I had about him. Apparently, there had to be a resolution made in the courts to award the land that was officially that of his late wife, to him, the surviving husband. 

 I shall take advantage of the opportunity to return to the Archives again, while here, as I can see that I have only begun to scratch the surface of the many gems on the shelves at the Tennessee State Archives.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I enjoyed talking to you at the
Archives in Nashville. Also learned from both of the classes you taught at AAGHS in Nashville.