At the Courthouse – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

You never know what you’re going to find.

I have a confession to make. I have been a genealogist for thirty years. But, I rarely do courthouse research. I travel *a lot* for work. Courthouse research has to be done on-site, in-person, during business hours. Nearly none of my family is from anywhere convenient to where I live. So, my opportunities to go to courthouses are pretty limited.

But…. Over in northeast Alabama, in Limestone County, the courthouse has transferred its records to a county Archive. It used to be in the courthouse, but is now in the old railroad station. And it’s wonderful! The front part of the Limestone County Archives is a library. The whole back part of the building is the collection of the old books – deeds, marriages, probate, wills, court minutes, chain gangs, road commissioners, everything!

The last couple of times that I went to Limestone County, the object of my research was Thomas M. Higgs and his wife Mary J. Sartain. You saw photos of them in my last post on Family Photo. I found their marriage record, but otherwise struck out. My backup plan was to work on other family who had been in Limestone County.

John Favor was born in 1763 in Virginia (probably Culpeper County). His parents were John Favor and Ann Covington. As a young man, a boy really, John served in the Revolutionary War as a private in Virginia. He married his cousin, Henrietta Faver in about 1794 in Culpeper County, Virginia. The two of them had three children: a daughter Elizabeth “Bettie” Faver, and two sons, John and Silas.

Now, the John Faver / Favors have always been a bit of a challenge to track. There was a string of at least four John Favers in my line. There were more that were cousins, but four in my direct line – my 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th great-grandfathers. And all of their sons had pretty much the same names. So, they were pretty hard to track.

Maybe you’ll find a horse.

John Faver moved from Virginia into northern Alabama with his family in the 1820s. I never knew exactly when. I found them in a Limestone County 1830 US Federal Census, so it was no later than that. While scouring the old books in the Limestone Archive, I was able to narrow down a bit more when John and Henrietta came to Limestone. I found an original record in the “Animal Take-Up Records” or “Estray Records” that places John Sr and his son John Jr in Limestone County on 21 Jan 1824.

Here’s where I could use your help to really understand this record. It says

No. 608 – Proved Away
Taken up by John Young of Round Island a dark horse shod all around between twelve and fifteen years old appraised to five dollars January 21st day 1824 by
D.D. Robertson Esq
John Faver Jur.
John Faver Sen.

Is my reading correct? John Young found the horse. D.D. Robertson appraised it. And John Faver Jr & John Faver Sr. proved it away, that is to say proved that it was theirs and reclaimed it? I see other entries that say (after some months) that an animal was “proved away” by someone not listed on the note. Does that mean that they claimed it somehow? How exactly does one read these estray records? No matter what, though, John Faver was at Limestone County Courthouse on 21 Jan 1824.

Or maybe you’ll build a church

The Faver family was active in the Round Island Baptist Church. And by active, I mean you really ought to read the history of the Round Island church. The Favers were accused of all sorts of disruption within the church. But, in 1825, they deeded a piece of land to the church so that it could build a meeting house. Apparently, they had offered the land earlier, but finally made it all official in 1825. This is still the site of the Round Island Baptist Church, a thriving congregation today.

Opening part of the Deed from John and Henrietta Faver to the Round Island Baptist Church

John’s story keeps going, but that’s for another day. Henrietta died in before 1836. John remarried a woman fifty years his junior and had three more children with her. So the gap between his daughter Bettie (my great-great-great-grandmother) and her youngest sibling was forty-seven years! And John, the Revolutionary Soldier, had a daughter who was alive well into the 20th century

So, you can find all sorts of things in the courthouse, or its annex in the archives next door. I hope to be able to eventually spend more time in court houses, when I am not in Courtyards and airplanes. But, for now, I will have to suffice with what I can get.


Author: Scott Dickson

I've been doing family history research since the late 1980s. Almost all of my family came into the southern colonies and worked there way across the South. Lately, I've started to look at my wife's New England, Irish, and French Canadian ancestry. My tree is online at

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