So it is possible to research from 8 am to 9 pm Tuesday through Friday at the Family History Library. I didn’t manage that any of the days for a variety of reasons (including Red Wings hockey) but I did manage a marathon session from 8 am to 7:30 pm on Day #3 of my Salt Lake City Trip… all focused on my father’s families in Bradley County, Arkansas.
In many ways I’m at a bit of a brick wall with my father’s lines. I have a potential slave owning family (or more accurately, allied families) but no clear cut line to trace. So, my goal was really to look hard at whatever records I could get my hands on in the hopes that along the way a story might emerge. What that translates too is that I went through the majority of the available rolls of microfilm in the FHL from the county—court records, deed books (lots of deed books), tax indexes, tax books. And I have to confess microfilm makes me vaguely motion sick. But it was worth it.
I didn’t come out that day with a new set of names but it did give me solid supporting documents about where my families were, their living situations, and their relationships. For example, the deed books included land transactions, but you could also find contracts ranging from the purchase of “a certain Roan mare colt,” to (in the earliest books) the sale of 8 slaves from son to mother for $1. It’s breath-taking and troubling at the same time.
Finding real documents implying the relative wealth of my 2nd Great Grandfather Sandy York (born in slavery) was fascinating. He was making deals for that roan mare in 1871 and buying land out right by 1885.
And when going through the earliest records whenever I found anything indicating a slave transaction I copied the related documents. I’m still sifting through those and transcribing in the hope that the information will help someone in their research even it if it isn’t me. These include slaves held by the Ganaway, Ederington, Hampton, Newton, McCammon, and Williamson families so far.
But my find of the day has to be the deed of gift for an undescribed tract of land belonging to the Pagan family to Trustees Monroe Wilfong (the 1st father-in-law of Sandy’s son, my Great Grandfather Phillip Henry York), Andy Wilfong (a relative by marriage), and Mars Ingraham to establish an African Methodist Church—given the families’ early involvement and staunch support I would guess this was a tract meant to house Mt. Olive Church.