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Old 11-20-2011, 02:04 PM
 
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Is there any such thing? Did the fed keep any kind of territorial census back in the day for the near western frontier ~1780-1810? I've been collecting information on one of my g-g-grandmothers lately and I may have hit the end of the paper trail. Nancy Morgan, born in 1805 in Roane county Tennessee in what would now be either Rhea or Bledsoe county. Married a Bowers in 1823. According to census records and family history both of her parents were born in Tennessee. Tennessee didn't exist as a state until 1796 and the southern part of Roane county wasn't considered US territory until 1805. The earliest relevant record I've been able to find is a Roane county tax list from 1805. This branch of my family doesn't have any strong (or in most cases any) ties to religion so church records are no help. They were also illiterate through most of the 1800s so there aren't any family bibles or letters or anything of that sort. All I have is oral history which doesn't include anything about when they came to Tennessee or from where.

Have I hit the Great Wall of Genealogy?
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:41 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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It depends a great deal on the state in question. East coast colonial states have records back quite far. At least in my experience, Massachusetts archives have records going far back. I've heard Virginina likewise does.

State records can predate statehood. Local records can, too because they might be acquired by the state or city years later. Plus, there are many books in genealogy libraries with data collected by various people and organizations over the years, much of which is not on the internet at this time.

The further back in time your research leads you the more difficult it will be to find records, not so much because of statehood, but because of whether records survived, if they were kept at all. After all, in a frontier environment, the family Bible was sometimes the only record of events.
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:08 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
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Some states were considered parts of other states. Kentucky for example was considered a county or counties of Virginia so the original state kept records in accordance with their normal practices which were then transferred to the new state's capital. Tennessee was part of North Carolina so it's possible there could be records created and transferred under a similar scenario to what I described for Kentucky.
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:00 AM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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^
Good point.

New Hampshire was once part of Massachusetts.
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Old 11-23-2011, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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Early Tennessee was a part of North Carolina.

As far as territorial censuses, they were kept by the territory itself, not the federal government. You'll find them, if they exist, in state archives. Problem is, those aren't going to apply to Tennessee. You'll basically find territorial censuses west of the Mississippi.
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Old 11-23-2011, 11:01 AM
 
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Hm. The easternmost part of Tennessee was once part of North Carolina but I don't think that came quite as far west as I need, at least as far as record keeping was concerned. My family was living mostly in the area between the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River which seems to have been out of bounds as far as North Carolina was concerned. I found a map from 1795 in which most of the area that would become Tennessee was divided from North Carolina and mapped as "Southwest Territory" so I was hoping. Eh, guess it's time to work on a different section of the tree for awhile.
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Old 11-24-2011, 12:14 AM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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Tennessee was the southwest? What a difference point of view makes.
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:36 AM
 
Location: near bears but at least no snakes
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churches kept records and towns kept records. That's how it is in New England anyway. I was helping someone from the midwest and there were cemetary burial records kept at a university.
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:44 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
churches kept records and towns kept records. That's how it is in New England anyway. I was helping someone from the midwest and there were cemetary burial records kept at a university.
There weren't any formal towns in the area (within a hundred miles or so) at the time my g-g-g-grandparents were born, well, other than the Cherokee towns, more of a loose regional association of farmers living in groups of two or three extended families at any given site. Going "to town" meant Knoxville which was a very small town at the time, more of a trading post really. I doubt they were paying taxes to anyone before 1805 unless it was federal. This branch of my family also didn't belong to an organized religion as far as I can tell. They buried their dead on family land in sandstone tents. Not sure if that's common anywhere else but that's what the oldest graves around here are. Two slabs of sandstone about six feet by two feet leaned together with smaller blocks covering the ends. Sometimes marked with names and dates sometimes not. The oldest graves are all family plots. I don't think church cemeteries were ever as popular here as in New England, at least not among my family. They went from burying in family plots to non-denominational "town cemeteries".

The main thing that bugs me about this line is that as much oral history as was passed down about their early lives here ab-so-lut-ly nothing was included about where they came from.
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjh View Post
Tennessee was the southwest? What a difference point of view makes.
Have you ever looked at what constitutes the Mid-West? Most of it's not even in the west, much less being the middle of it.
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