Great Things Can Be Found in Court Minute Books

30 Jun

While doing some research last week for one of my clients; I was searching through an old microfilmed Court Minute book from Fentress County, Tennessee.  This was regarding a case in 1875; of heirs of John B. Rodgers; who was deceased.  I copied a couple of pages from this film regarding this, so that I could write about it and point out the value in searching court minute books.

This particular case proves several children and grandchildren of John B. Rodgers.  In part it reads….

Hafford Smith, Ellen Smith & Clarence Smith minors; Josephine Smith, William Smith, Dwight Jarvis & Mary L. Jarvis, James Rodgers, John T. Rodgers, William Rodgers, heirs at law of John B. Rodgers, Dec’d.”.  

If we pay attention, we learn a few things from the above.  First; we know that Hafford Smith, Ellen Smith and Clarence Smith are all minors.  They are almost certainly grandchildren of the deceased.  Because their last name is Smith; they are probably children of a daughter of James B. Rodgers.  That daughter may have died previous to this case; which would make her children a part of the case.

Second….. Josephine Smith may also be a grandchild; and may be a sister of these other 3 Smith’s.  If she is; she is apparently an adult at this time.

Third…..  if we read between the lines a bit; it is reasonable to believe that Mary Jarvis was likely a daughter of James B. Rodgers; and Dwight Jarvis was her husband.  With married daughter’s in a situation like this; it would be normal to name the husband of the daughter.  He is included because he is her husband.  In other words; Dwight Jarvis is included as an heir because he is the husband of Mary L. Jarvis.  So…. we learn that Mary L. Jarvis was probably Mary L. Rodgers; daughter of James B. Rodgers; who had married Dwight Jarvis.

Third…. we learn that James Rodgers, John T. Rodgers and William Rodgers were likely sons of John B. Rodgers.

Back to the 3 minors mentioned.  Although it would take a bit of investigating to be sure; it is reasonable to think that their mother had been a daughter of James Rodgers; and that she had married a Smith.  If I were connected to this family; I would certainly be looking for a marriage of a Rodgers girl to a Smith.

I only copied a couple of pages from the microfilmed court minutes regarding this case; since my sole intention was to point out the value of searching Court Minute books.  However; this case appears to be regarding land that James B. Rodgers had sold to Robert Scroggins on 8 July 1858.

This same sort of information can often be found in deed records as well.  I have often found the father of an ancestor by searching deed records.  Because land would have been inherited by the heirs after a persons death; deed records have often lead me to the parents.  Frequently; within a few years (or less) of a person’s death; the heirs would sell their inherited land.  Because they all own a share of the land; they would “collectively” sell the land.  Those type of deeds would typically refer to the Grantors (those selling the land) as “heirs of _______”.  So…. even without having previously known the name of the father; searching deeds has often lead me to the name of the father.

When you run into a brick wall in your family history; be sure to do an extensive search of the Court Minute books and deeds.  You just might find the father and siblings of your ancestor.

To view the pages copied from the microfilm regarding this case; click the link below.

Smith Heirs – Fentress Co, TN Court Minutes

1 Comment

Posted by on June 30, 2014 in General Genealogy


One response to “Great Things Can Be Found in Court Minute Books

  1. Mike Cross

    July 1, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Interesting as always. So much to learn!


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