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A Genealogist In The Archives: Family Records Tucked in Books

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Family Records Tucked in Books

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me a great story about her Grandfather and Grandmother. Unfortunately, her Grandmother passed away just a few weeks ago leaving her Grandfather the task of having to go through his wife's things to pack them up and give away to family members.

While he was going through some drawers, he found an envelope that had a large sum of money in it and a note from his wife letting him know that the money in the envelope was money she had saved for many, many years by collecting and saving all the spare change. In the note, she told him to use it for her funeral. Also in the note, she indicated that there was more money hidden in other places in the house, including inside of books.

This story reminded me of something that I have come to know all too well....

People like to tuck things inside books!

I have found this to be the case in my person genealogy research and from working as a county archivist.

Whether the items are used as books marks, to hide personal documents or another reason, the fact is, people have always tucked things into books.

One book that was used the most often to tuck documents into is the family Bible. I have two family Bibles that I received from both of my Grandmothers and they are full of all kinds of records, photographs, newspaper clippings and other family records. Those items are genealogical treasures for me.

Items found tucked in my Grandmother Ida Kathryn (Drummond) Bartram's Bible

Soon after I started as the archivist for the Houston County, TN. Archives, I was going through the court minute books and I found a interesting and important piece of local history. A folded piece of paper with a note written in pencil and dated April 2, 1873. The note was written by John Hinson or better known in our area as Jack Hinson, Civil War sniper. There was even a book written about him entitled "Jack Hinson's One-Man War" by Col. Tom McKinney.

Handwritten note by John "Jack" Hinson, April 2, 1873, Houston County, TN. Archives

Jack Hinson's One-Man War: A Civil War Sniper


When I found this note tucked in the court minute book, I knew that I had found an important document for our local history in Houston County, Tennessee. That document is now on display in the archives for everyone to enjoy.

When I teach genealogist about searching for family records, I always encourage them to thumb through all the books that belonged to your family members and ancestors. Never get rid of books without going through them thoroughly. You just never know what you might find!



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