Don’t take “the courthouse burned” to mean that every record before that point in time was destroyed.

It might be that in reality, records from some offices survived, some offices’ records were not completely destroyed, etc. In some cases, records might have been “re-recorded” after the fire. There may also be state or federal records that provide similar information. Ask around.



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  1. People have always loved history. The later the fire, the more probable that the library has copies of ancient vital statistics. (Which is also helpful for those of us who work: libraries keep better hours than town clerks' offices.)

  2. My husband threatened to burn all his side of the genealogy I have collected over 28 years. I wanted to burn him!

    Seriously, I have found people living near the courthouse or workers have salvaged stuff while the building was burning/ or just after. You just need to ask if “anything” survived and who might have it.

  3. Sometimes the courthouse burns, but the records were saved. In one case during the Civil War, the records were removed from the courthouse prior to the town being invaded. That county has nearly all of its early records. The only thing I note as missing is the first marriage book (1823-1845) and it could have been missing before the war. And then, there is the sad tale of the records of Benton/Calhoun County in AL; the records were removed for safe keeping to a box car. The rail road & train cars were destroyed by the Union Army. Moral of the story — always check with local librarians and historians in addition to the clerks in the courthouse. Some times, the old records are stored in attics, basements, or warehouses making them unaccessible.

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