Let’s Talk About…Southern Research

Right off the bat, I’ll bet you’re surprised to see the number of states included under the umbrella of “southern,” as in Southern Genealogy Research. Surprise, indeed!

I attended the 2023 RootsTech and listened to a speaker (whose name I didn’t scribble down) speak about Southern Research and giving some tips for same:

  • Learn as much history on/from your family as you can! 
  • Reason out the facts……… was it indeed a southern state?
  • Brush up on your U.S. history from 1763 to 1775 for starters.
  • Then progress to the Civil War time period. 
  • Know that Georgia was only 1/2 British and was 1/2 Native American.
  • Yes, while many courthouses were burned and records lost, not everything was lost. The documentation of the county’s wealth and income was all important (how to levy taxes if you didn’t know who owned what land?) and were reconstructed.
  • Search the land records and deeds of target states.
  • Attempt a time line for each family in your target location.
  • Plot the family’s migration into and then through the Southern states. 
  • Check newspapers for that time and place.
  • Correlate info from all available records: land, census, probate, court, military
  • Use period maps.
  • Watch for name changes or just misspellings.
  • Southern “speech” often use “brother/cousin” when there was no relationship
  • Each southern state has historical societies and archives as do many of the counties in those states. Many of these societies had many much of their holdings available online. 

Example: My hubby’s great-grandfather, Seaborn Phillips, born 1844 in Georgia and died in 1906 in Texas. Why Texas? He was a Confederate soldier (was at the Battle of Gettysburg, he said) and after the war, Georgia was devastated and had no resources to pay pensions to veterans, so he moved his family west to Texas where pensions were to be had (Texas was not heavily impacted by the war).