Prof. Robert Scott Davis
Basically, the persons who meticulously work to make records public and convenient for use by hobbyists and researchers are really the “unsung heroes” in history and genealogy, especially on the local or state level. One of the top experts making this a major part of his life is Prof. Robert Scott Davis, director of the Family and Regional History Program, Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, Alabama. Professor Davis has written more than 1,000 books and articles on records and research. He carefully cites his sources and indexes the hundreds of thousands of names occurring in local records. Using one of his books of records is like successfully hunting for nuggets of gold in family history. While more and more records are becoming available on-line, there are still vast quantities not on the Web, and the collections in print are very valuable. Professor Davis doesn’t know me, and I have never met him—but I can sure tell good work and research when I see it. He has been amazingly helpful to thousands of genealogists, history buffs and others.
Clarke County and residents of the surrounding area are lucky Professor Davis has dug out many Clarke County records which otherwise would languish in musty files sometimes very difficult to find. He is a marvelous detective at sniffing out old records and saving them for easy use.
Since this is a blog about Civil War and Reconstruction period history in Clarke County, Georgia, we’ll zero-in on just one of his incredibly useful publications: Records of Clarke County, Georgia, 1801-1892, in the Georgia Department of Archives and History. (Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1993). Not everyone can dash over to the Department of Archives and History in Morrow, Georgia, especially now that its public hours have been slashed by the state budget crunch. For those of you who want to visit, here is the location and Web listing for the Georgia Archives. Note carefully the brief times the facility is open for research: 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA 30260, 678.364.3700 , Open Friday - Saturday 8:30 - 5:00, http://www.GeorgiaArchives.org.
Just one section of the rich records trove Professor Davis has dug out from the state archives concentrates on information about Confederate soldiers and their relatives. In some cases, these records involve returning veterans after the war was over. If you’re interested in tracing your Clarke Confederate ancestors, the chances are good you’ll run across mentions of them in the Clarke County records housed in the State Archives and published in Professor Davis’ Clarke County book.
Of most interest to seekers of Civil War era information about relatives and friends in Clarke County are Record Group 129-2-4 Miscellaneous, Box 2: Civil War Era Files. Professor Davis did detailed searches of this record group at the Georgia State Archives.
Here are some highlights of records he found involving Civil War and later time periods involving those with involvement in the era:
Amnesty Oaths with 358 names of Clarke and a few other area residents who swore allegiance to the federal government after the war ended in 1865. Professor Davis also notes that physical descriptions and signatures of these persons are found in Microfilm Reel 287/40-8 at the Georgia Archives. His list of oath signers contains the names and ages of the signers.
Confederate Veterans Receiving Artificial Limbs in 1867 in Clarke County: 19 names.
Extensive Confederate Records, 1862-1892: Includes: Names of Confederate widows, 27 names.
Guardians or persons having charge of orphan of deceased soldier: 29 names.
Persons dependent upon deceased soldiers for support: 4 names.
Soldiers crippled for life: 1 name.
Aged or infirm white persons: 13 names. I assume these are persons dependent upon Confederate veterans. On the back of this list are 23 names of African-Americans.
A long list of widows, wives and infirm persons and their families whose service in the Confederate Army caused much hardship for the families in Clarke County.
A list of persons entitled to receive salt from the Confederate government. Salt was in tremendously short supply in the Confederate states during the war.
Lists of more aged and infirm persons, persons dependent on soldiers for support, soldiers’ widows, more guardians of orphans of deceased soldiers.
A list of citizens made destitute by the war, as of April 15, 1864. Sixty-six names of whites and 42 names of African-Americans.
A long list of classes of priority for aid to families of Confederate soldiers. These gave the reason for the priority of each case. This list contains hundreds of names, listed by militia district.
Destitute Confederate Soldiers and other destitute citizens, as of June, 1867.
A long list of widows, wives and families with sons in military service.
As you can see, Professor Davis’s book and the records of the Georgia Archives can be of tremendous help in tracing activities of your Civil War and Reconstruction era relatives.
If you would like to obtain this book, call the Southern Historical Press at 1-800-233-0152 to obtain prices (reasonable) and place your order. You can’t order online from this press yet, but it has hundreds of excellent books of interest to genealogists and historians.