Destitute families leave the farm after the War

Tips for Genealogists by Jeannette Holland Austin

Searching for Ancestors in Winter

Do you feel that your search for the ancestors is lasting a lifetime? For certain, this type of detective work is an exceedingly difficult challenge experienced by a vast population of researchers. As a professional genealogist, I have encountered many rabbit holes. I remember the sad face of a client who “just wanted to find the burial place of my wife’s great-uncle.”

He and his wife spent every vacation and holiday roaming the countryside and after she passed away, he still had a yen to find the old fellow’s grave.

Winter is a good time to go searching for old farms and grave sites. First, get a county map so that you can identify dirt roads, churches, cemeteries and the like. The landscape is more visible this time of the year. Old farming paths, streams, ponds, wells, houses, and even the former imprints of plantings can often be seen while driving through the back woods.

Even though the Internet is helpful, there is still tons of information to be discovered concerning the history of past days, ancestors and antiques! Did I say, antiques? If you are into old farm utensils, like wood stoves and such, the research can easily become an antique “find”. I know of a couple who scouted around the back woods for a hobby and once found the walls of a house covered with movie posters! During the civil war, people runn Ting from the enemy dug holes and buried precious items in their garden. There are a multiplicity of stories of treasures of this type found and not found around Atlanta. Too, around 1900 thousands of destitute people who’d suffered from the ravages of General Sherman’s scouting parties, could no longer pay taxes on their homestead, left the farm and moved to Atlanta in search of work. Hence, the rural population decreased by 85%.*

For more genealogy tips on how to find the ancestors, join “Yesterday” magazine

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