I had some amazing progress yesterday on my Mays ancestors. It all started on Tuesday, when I shared a bunch of old photos on my Facebook. I like to do that for my Aunts, Uncle, and other relations because it helps jog their memories of things. It was a wonderful day full of pictures and stories, and none of us were in the same place. Gotta love technology when you are far apart!
When I woke up on Wednesday morning I was refreshed and excited. After running the morning errands, cleaning, relaxing for a bit, and then cooking dinner, I really should have just watched a movie and went to bed. It must have been that boost from the day before though, because I just had to get onto FamilySearch and research more.
Usually when I’m searching FamilySearch, I just plug in various search terms and see what it finds. Don’t worry I smacked my own knuckles for that! I know I should make research plans, but it never turns out that way. However, I learned something new this week. I learned that if you have a specific locality you are wanting to search, you can use the catalog to see if FamilySearch has anything at all for that locality. It could be book, microfilm, or even online records. I know I’m late to the party with this. I knew about the catalog before but there is a newer feature I hadn’t know about previously.
Usually when I use the catalog I use a film number to see what record group the information I am looking at came from. This is the first time I’m reversing the process. Since I was talking with my Mays relatives the previous day, I thought I’d go for broke and see if Montgomery County, Virginia records would show up for me. Montgomery County is where indexes tell me my 4x great grandparents were married in 1798.
Oh boy, this made me excited. To know the records were somewhere in the records was wonderful. That means I just had to get to them. I knew from the indexes they were supposedly married in September of 1798. So I clicked on Register of Marriages, Montgomery County Virginia, 1773-1863.
Luckily for me, I knew from the index that I needed the year 1798. I thought at the time I was looking for September 17, but this record clearly says that William Mase and Fanny Atkins were married on September 20th. I checked my dates one more time, and nowhere did I have the 20th as an alternate date. Since this was the first actual record that I saw with my own eyes, I added it as the preferred marriage date, entered all the information in and patted myself on the back. I got curious about those Marriage Bonds on the list of Montgomery County records though. I mean, it can’t hurt to look right? Where did the 17th come from anyway? That was the date given in the index. I usually can tell how a transcription error has happened, but that 20 does not look remotely like 17.
Nope, I suppose it can’t hurt at all! I found it pretty quickly in the 1798 section. This is also where the 17th of September came from, everything is so much clearer to me now! The interesting part is that it has Moses Atkins acting on behalf of Fanny. My excitement wanted me to add Moses as her father, but then I realized, it never actually says that. In bonds before and after this one, it will specifically say Father. I will take time right now to thank all the wonderful genealogists I learning from. If this was 5 years ago, I might have gone ahead and added Moses as her father. I would have assumed it was true and never thought twice. It makes me so happy to know that I have built better habits. Now if I can just learn some better ones in other areas of my research!
This is still an awesome find though, and I thought to myself, years I’d been looking for this and finally I’ve seen it. I am going to start planning a weekend trip to Montgomery County, VA. Not just for record searching, but because this is verifiable proof that my ancestors were there. This is the first known record of my Mays line, this is as far back as we go. There are still so many mysteries about them. Who is William’s father? Were they living in Montgomery County long term? Were they just on their way to Kentucky from a further East Virginia settlement? Now I am going to be diving into an uncomfortable place for me. The census records before 1850. I haven’t really used them before because they are hard to use in some of my families. When they are all named William, all about the same age, and all have 8 million children. Okay, I exaggerated the last part.
It doesn’t stop there, maybe because I was afraid to stop looking, I decided to look in another marriage records listing on the catalog page. The one that said Marriage Records, 1785-1861.
It looks like at some point, Montgomery County decided to make a much more legible, indexed copy of the marriage bond records. Once again, Moses Atkins is specifically not mentioned as Fanny’s father. I suppose that means I made the right decision in not putting him down yet. Now I just have to research those three witnesses and the area and see what that brings!