How to Find Ancestors in South Carolina

By Jeannette Holland Austin

Crawford Evans and Family

Here is a typical scenario. Crawford Evans was a hard-working man employed by the Fulton Cotton Mills on DeKalb Avenue in Atlanta. His education took him to the third grade. Yet, during his generation, no one asked for a college degree before hiring, nor seemed to care too much about any education level. The person was trained on the job. Crawford was reared in Abbeville, South Carolina where his father and grandparents were born. When I visited the court house some years ago, I discovered lots of old books stacked on dusty shelves inside a small office (or vault). Actually, the records in that county seemed to be rather complete. The thing is with South Carolina records is that one must be certain to research all of the equity records (deeds) in addition to probate records, because while the average farmer owned land, the likelihood of a recorded will or estate is not that good. At first, Abbeville was part of the Anderson District, so a search of Anderson County might also be necessary. I was about eight years old when Crawford Evans died. In those days, people did not collect social security or have a retirement plan. (Social Security did not begin until 1935). So the relatives took the old folks in. That was the situation in our family. There was a memorial service for him in St. John’s Catholic Church in Atlanta, and the notice was published in the newspaper. If there was a headstone over the grave, I never found it. Everyone has kin with similar circumstances. And we must realize that the era of the 1930s bore a poorly depressed economy when vital records were coming into being. It was an era when people gathered around the kitchen table and read the family bible and that this bible served as an important family record of births, marriages and deaths, replete with newspaper clippings.

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