Is It Really A Burned County?

You’ve been told a county or other location is a “burned county.” It can be frustrating and sometimes record have been lost forever. However there are some things to consider:

  • the person who told you “the county records were burned” does not know what they are talking about
  • the  county may only have had a partial records loss
  • some records may have been “recreated” after the incident
  • the records were not really destroyed–sometimes it is easier for a clerk or an office to say they were when they actually were not
  • local researchers living in the area may be familiar with “workarounds” or have knowledge of what records were actually destroyed–they may even know of records whose existence is not “common knowledge”
  • historical or genealogical societies may be able to help
  • local or regional libraries may have supplementary information
  • some items may have been published in local newspapers (marriages, land transactions, information on noteworthy court cases, legal notices, etc.)
  • etc.

The FamilySearch wiki has an entire section on “burned counties.”