Tips for Dealing with Missing Records
When the records don't seem to exist, the following suggestions may help:
- Be aware of when government entities began to require specific records, such as birth certificates.
- A search of other seemingly unrelated records may pay genealogical dividends.
- A number of early county deed books contain wills dating from the late 17th century, whicb may have been in the form of deeds of gift which would take effect after the grantor had died.
- In 1794, the county orphans courts began keeping a separate series of books of indentures, recording the binding of young persons by their parents, grandparents, or justices of the court to a master who was to teach them a trade. Before 1794, these indentures may have been recorded in the orphans court proceedings, and before that date in the county court proceedings.
- It may also help to recognize alternative names for records. For example, county court proceedings do not exist for all years, but check the dockets, the minutes, or judgment records.
Another common problem occurs when the courthouses have been burned and all the records have "gone up in smoke." Researchers may find helpful information in:
- The records of other counties (For example, many people from Calvert and St. Mary's Counties bought and sold land in Talbot and Dorchester Counties).
- It may also help to check records at another level of government. If the county land records have vanished, check the Provincial Court land records.
- Look for private records, including church records, business records, diaries, and newspapers.
Always check for the following:
- Seemingly unrelated records.
- Other records created by the same agency (register of wills, circuit court, county court, etc.).
- Learn to recognize alternative names for records, which may change over time.
- Records of other counties.
- Records at a higher level of government.
- Records created by private agencies (churches, businesses, and newspapers).