Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Distractions

Why is it I can’t stay on course with a single  line of research?  Ever ask yourself that? A few weeks ago I found a wonderful online index to Bartholomew County, Indiana, public records which had references to my Sherwood surname in several documents from the 1840s.  For the princely sum of six dollars I obtained photocopies of  27 pages of material. [Thank you, archivist Tina Jeffries]
So of course when the envelope came in the mail I dropped everything else and set to work making transcriptions. 
Nancy Jane Sherwood
Fortunately most of the handwriting is easy to read, but I came across a few unfamiliar words. With the help of Barbara Evans’ A to Zax : a Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists and Historians, I discovered that coparceners are “persons who have an inheritance which has come to them jointly and who hold it as an entire estate.”  I wasn’t sure I had remembered what next friend meant in court parlance, and Evans neatly defines the term as “a person, not a guardian, but one who files a suit in behalf of an infant or a person incapable of handling his own affairs. This is usually a relative who assumes the court costs.”  And I was reminded that the term infant simply refers to a minor. 

The interesting thing about transcribing a document word for word is that there are bound to be new discoveries.  Names of witnesses, “next friends,” guardians and their wards, buyers and sellers of land -- all are potential clues, offering more opportunities for research and making connections.

I am dealing with an ancestor, Thomas E. Sherwood, who married twice, died before 1840, and left five children by two wives, Elizabeth Evans and Jane Fisher. There seemed to be a dispute between the children of the first wife and their widowed stepmother, and my mental picture of the situation was pretty vague, so I decided to make a time line.  Not just for one individual -- but for  both his families, his wives, and the establishment of county boundaries at the time. It has been a great help.  

Now, where was I before this bonanza arrived in the mailbox?


PS If you've tried to reach me by email in recent weeks, I apologize.  I changed addresses a while back and neglected to indicate that on my profile page.  The correct address is there now.


Poze said...

Nice post

NoOceanInKansas said...

I do the same thing! Move from line to line.