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13 July 2017

Chris' Genealogy Journey: Discovery at the Tennessee State Library & Archives


by Chris Pattillo

The next chapter of my Genealogy Journey is all about doing research at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. I located several documents and resources that I’d never seen before and learned the difference between land deeds and land grants. I spent time looking at both types of records for my family plus surveyor’s records, marriage records and estate inventories.

Did you know that one of Franklin D Roosevelt’s “put people back to work projects” engaged citizens to transcribe historic documents? This was one of my new discoveries while at the library. If you’ve never been to a state library before you are in for a treat – they offer a virtual treasure trove of genealogical jewels.

The fun begins
I set my alarm for 6:30 this day in hopes of getting to the Tennessee State Library and Archives early enough to get a parking space. I succeeded. On June 7th and 8th I was one of the first five visitors to enter the library.

The day before I looked at their books on Carter County and found several things of interest. My treasures included: 

1) a detailed list of each of the 24 persons buried in the Fitzsimmons Cemetery with details of what information is on every headstone. Four of my ancestors are buried there including William Stover, my third great grandfather. This document was prepared by the Historical Records Survey which was one of President Roosevelt’s WPA programs to put people to work during the depression. I hadn’t known about this before. 

2) A History of the Iron Industry in Carter County to 1860 written by Robert Nave, a local historian and archivist who had generously spent a day with me in 2012 taking me to all the places where my ancestors had lived. This book is of interest because William Stover owned the Speedwell Bloomery Forge in Carter County ca. 1855. 

3) Five years of Tax Lists from 1796 to 1800 for Carter County, and 

4) The book Images of Carter County had several interesting photos including two in particular. One was a picture of Daniel Stover’s home before it was restored. Daniel was my fourth great grandfather. There’s also a good photograph of the Sinking Creek Baptist Church, which is relevant, but I cannot recall why just now.



On the second day I looked mostly at deeds. I started with the Index for 1795-1880 and made a list of 17 deeds for my Drake family line and 65 for my Stovers! My goodness, my ancestors bought and sold a lot of pieces of property. At this rate I’d be here a month, so I decided to only look at the Stovers for the period 1880 – 1895 and found only 28 additional documents. By 1895-1911 the numbers were much reduced and the names less familiar – only 12 more, so I decided to skip 1911-1928. Want to know the rest of the story? Click here.


Photos courtesy of Chris Pattillo


Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

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