Books for Genealogical Research? Is this of any value?
Books for Research
We are making available digitized copies of books that some have found worthwhile in their research. At this time, we have about 12 books which are in searchable pdf format. By using the “find” search box, a viewer may search for a person, location, or even a word. These books are in the public domain and made available by Google and the Gutenburg Project for non-commercial use. Viewers may download these or read them on-line. THEY MAY NOT BE USED FOR FUNDRAISING OR ANY COMMERCIAL PURPOSE.
At this time we are listing only a few of these here at this time with the hope of finding out if this project is worthwhile and at the same time, asking for suggestions for additional books that are in the public domain that have been digitized. The searchable feature, we will add if it is not already included. Because of the type face of old documents, the search feature is not infallable. For example, the passenger lists do not show up in the searches.
ANOTHER NOTE: Some of these books are quite large, 600 plus pages, and take time to download. Please be patient when accessing them. You will be rewarded if you wait.
This One Was Published in 1705
This book by Robert Berverley whom he describes as “a native and inhabitant of the place” was published in 1705. If the researcher has an interest in the early days of the Virginia Colony or an ancestor who lived there in that era, he/she has probably come across such terms as “quit rent” or “slave” or “servant” or “servitude” or “service.” There are certain things that I am sure you know such as the meaning of these terms. I am sure that you know that a “servant” was a “slave;” and that there was a difference. Robert Beverley, however, does discuss these terms and explains “quit rents” and how much a land owner had to pay as “quit rents.”
That is only the tip of the iceberg. Indians, their life style; products and the economy; history, the early settlers; and government and the improvements to the colony in the first 100 years of its existence; all are discussed in The History and Present State of Virginia by Robert Beverley.
This is one of the First English Books Written in America
The General Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Ifles with the names of the Adventurers, Planters and Governours from their firft beginning Ano: 1514 to this prefent 1526 by Captaine JOHN SMITH, fometymes Governour of the Countryes & Admiral of New England
This volume is a reproduction of Captain John Smith’s history published in 1632. As you can see from the title and author credits above, the print utilizes the old style where the “s” if written and printed as an “f” as in such words as “sometimes” (printed as “fometymes”) and “first” (printed as “firft”).
The book is not indexed and not searchable due to the type utilized. However, if the researcher is dedicated and loves the search, there are rewards. Ships and their masters, immigrants that Captain Smith calls “adventurers,” governors, Indian names, locations are all listed. Remember when searching for your ancestor to recognize the type, the spelling, and the formatting of this volume written in the 1620s. The lists may not be alphabetized; the spelling may be written by the way it sounds, not as we would spell it today. (An example is the word “persuaded” which Captain Smith spells “perswaded,” of course, with the “s” looking like an “f.”) Proper names also change. “John Stokes” is here listed as “John Stokley.” But remember that the reward is in finding your ancestor among the names of those who faced the new wilderness, its dangers, and daily trials to create our present country with all its benefits that is the envy of the world.
Yorkshire England? Anyone?
This is an interesting book published in 1867 by the Surtees Society of Great Britain. It is a copy of the survey taken during the reign of Edward the First who ruled England from 1272 to 1307. The text is in Latin with footnotes and appendices in English. However, one of the most interesting parts of the book is the listing of family names in three columns. The first is the name as it appeared in the Doomsday Book, the second column as that name appears in Kirby’s Inquest and the third column is that name as it appears in modern use. Of course, as a “Stokes,” I was interested in the comparison there.
As an example of the information, here is what I found:
In the Doomsday Book it is listed as “Stoche, Stochetun, Stocthun, Stocheslage.”
In Kirby’s Inquest it is “Stok, Stocton, Stoketon, Stopkesday, Stoketon, Stokeslay, Stokesley.”
In the Modern Ordinance it is “Stock, Stockton-on-the-Forest, Stokesley.”
Once again, for the genealogist who is interested in tracing family from the 1200s from England, this is a source to at least notice.
What about surnames? Interested?
This is another book worth looking at. It is derived from a lecture given by the author in 1865. It is mainly composed of chapter organized by the origin of names. There are chapters on names from color, animals, weapons, business, peculiarities, and the like.
My interest is in my family names. My grandmother was a “Weems.” Here is what Dr. Anderson had to say about the family name of “Weems” or as the Scots listed it, “Wemyss.”
“The Scottish surname of Wemyss, from the Gaelic word uamh,
a cave, was derived from lands now forming the parish of that
name in Fifeshire, appropriately so called from the number of
caves in the rocks on the seashore there. These lands are said
to have been part of the estate of Macduff, the famous maormor,
or, as Shakspere styles him, “Thane” of Fife, in the reign of
This book dwells on the merchants that invested in the Jamestown Colony during the early years of its existence.
And Still Others
In this multiple volume collection of which this is one, Mr. Hening has collected all the laws of the Colony of Virginia beginning with the first session of the Legislature in the year 1619. This volume covers the years 1743 to the October session in 1755.
Just in passing, I noticed that in 1755, the legislature recognized that many of the sheriffs of the Colony had been keeping the quit-rents due the king for their own purposes. A law was passed that required them to submit payment within ten days of notice or be fined and pay all costs of collecting the money due the Crown.
Also, in August of 1755, Colonel George Washington, et.al., were rewarded for their “gallant” defense of the frontiers at Monongahela. Washington was awarded three hundred pounds.
The most unfortunate thing about this book is the few people in our area for whom it will be of value. This is another excellent genealogical source reprinted on the internet by the Gutenberg Society; however, its value extends only to those interested in the early settlers of eastern Canada who settled the isthmus which connects the Nova Scotia peninsula to the province of New Brunswick.
One of the things researchers should keep in mind before dismissing this book without at least a cursory glance, some of the settlers of Salem and Massachusetts migrated north to Maine and Canada in the 1700s. This area of Canada was first settled by the French and then by the English. The researcher will find that there are numerous Yorkshire names listed in Mr. Trueman’s book. These were settlers who moved to that area after the expulsion of the Arcadians by the English in the 1760s.
It is searchable and filled with the names of the early settlers of that region of Canada. Perhaps there will be someone or two who will find this of value and the Root Seekers Genealogical Society of Mabank, Kaufman County, Texas, wishes to extend its appreciation to Project Gutenberg for making this available to the genealogical community. The book was published in 1902 and is now in the public domain. Its use, as is all of those reprinted on our web site, available for study on line, downloaded, and shared with others, but should not be used for any commercial purpose.
In the early 1800s, James Savage researched the beginnings of English colonization of New England. This book lists page after page of people associated with this early migration. He included lists of immigrants that attended Universities in England as well as ship passenger rosters. There is a wealth of data for genealogists seeking information about early settlers from Great Britain.
This is a digitized copy of the book first published in 1874. Here are documents printed from copies obtained from the Public Record Office of Great Britain. Many of those stored in the capital building in Richmond were destroyed, stolen, or burned by Federal troops and officials after the surrender of the Confederate authorities in 1865. The researcher will find some interesting facts in thses pages, such as a list of the “Living and Dead in Virginia, Feb. 16th, 1623.”
This is the story of Milton Jared Tillery, covering as much as is known of his early childhood, his Civil War Experience, and his genealogical lineage. Most of the Civil War experiences was obtained from a book written by W.W. Heartsill, entitled “Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-One Days in the Confederate Army.” This book was printed by Heartsill himself, in his mercantile and grocery store in Marshall, Texas. He hand-printed only 100 copies of his day by day diary, no doubt, intending to give a copy to each of the original 100 members of his company, “The W.P. Lane Rangers.” Milton Jared Tillery received one of the original unbound copies which he later had bound in Shreveport, La., and it has remained in the family. It is presently in the possession of Judge Claude Williams of Dallas, Texas, a grandson of Milton Jared Tillery. The genealogical data was obtained from his family Bible, census records, county court records, church and parish records, and personal interviews.”
There are lists of Texas Confederate enlistees from Wood, Rusk, Upshur, Harrison, Hunt, Marion, Panola, Jefferson, and Smith Counties.