Friday, July 23, 2010

Few words about KY research

When I went to Kentucky the week before last for a girls' weekend with some friends from college, I made sure to leave a couple days for some on-site research. I've got KY roots on both my Mom's and my Dad's side, but my main target was Gilkison research in Fleming County and Bath County.

While I had used microfilm of KY records fairly frequently before, ordered through the Family History Center, this was my first time working there in person so I wanted to be sure I knew where I was going and what I was going to find. The one thing that I realized is that where Kentucky is concerned, the county courthouse shouldn't necessarily be your first stop. The Kentucky Archives in Frankfort has tax lists, will books, and marriage information, plus other information sent to them from the courthouses from all of the counties so pretty much, if you hit the Archives first, you'll know whether the courthouse may have more information for you. In my case, it told me right off the bat that I wasn't going to find what I was looking for where I was planning to look.

My target was John Gilkison who married Margaret Manley in 1819 in Fleming County. I was hoping to find more information about him in Fleming County, especially when I discovered the full run of tax lists for the county available at the Archives. As it turned out, he was never taxed there and by 1820 he was enumerated in another county, 1830 yet another, and by 1840 he was in Indiana. And other than his marriage return, there is absolutely no evidence that he was even in Fleming County beyond his marriage and the tax returns helped prove that. What the tax returns did show me were other Gilkerson families there at the same time John was floating around Kentucky providing possible relations to John, including a William Gilkerson who was of the appropriate age to have been a generation older than John (father, uncle, etc.). I was able to track William through about 50 years of tax lists and establish a death range, attach him to a confirmed son and a couple potential others, find him in a deed index, and even find his marriage return from 1799. If I had had more time, I could have searched the tax lists for the surrounding counties to see if and how John was enumerated but that's going to have to wait for another time.

So my biggest tip on Kentucky research is don't jump straight to the courthouses without checking if the KY Archives might have what you need as well. If I had known how complete those tax lists ran, I would just have skipped the courthouse visits on the second day and returned to the Archives to search those surrounding counties for John.

1 comment:

  1. Good tips! I will definitely plan to visit the Archives the next time I'm in the Frankfort area.