Discovery Your Family History

Tracing Records That Have Been Destroyed

During your LDS family search, you may wonder how to find alternate records that were destroyed in a war, earthquake and fire or by some other means. This article will show you how to find records that were reborn or kept in alternate files as part of other city and county records. The term Burned County originally was applied to records that were burned in the courthouse fires sparked in the civil war. However, this term applies to missing records due to fires, natural disasters, or less than adequate record keeping. Here are a few tips to help you find burned county records for your family tree.

 Go Over What Information You Already Have

 It is recommended that you start by reviewing your own personal and family records, family bibles, photos, Journals, deeds, business records, or any other artefacts you can find to begin your LDS family search. You may also want to review any genealogies, family histories, (written or oral), and pedigree charts that your family may have kept through the years. When searching through family histories and records, it is important to interview your living relatives to obtain information and oral accounts of historical life experiences. If possible, ask your family members to find any property deeds and other records they may have on hand to help you with your LDS family search. After checking your family records check the records in neighbouring cities and counties for more information regarding friends of your family, who may have preserved other artefacts, letters, and oral stories of your family that were passed down through the generations.

 County State Records

 Although some of your family records may have been lost during the fires sparked during the Civil War, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, or any other disaster, these records may have been reborn in family journals, letters, from survivors of the 1906 earthquake, to military files of the Civil war veterans, and/or any other documents and mementos saved by survivors of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes etc. Genealogical web sites have been created in memory of the anniversaries of both the Civil War and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Check your state’s genealogical and historical societies for more information about these and other records. Although the records for the county in which you live may have been burned or destroyed due to fire or natural disaster, check the records from a neighbouring county, because that particular county may have alternate records still intact. Check your states genealogical society or historical society for more records and other resources to help you build your family tree. Your state’s web site, county Chamber of Commerce, and other such resources are also good places to look for alternate records in order to continue your LDS family search. Check your state’s archives for copies of court case records, deeds, and records that were kept in your ancestor’s family bibles. Many of these records may have been digitized, and can be found online through the state archives for the state in which your ancestors lived.

 Other Places To Check

 For information about your ancestors who fought during the civil war, you can check the national archives web site for important military records that show when and where your ancestors served and any other military information that has been made available to the general public. Take a trip to a veteran cemetery to find information about your veteran ancestors, which can be found on their headstones, grave markers, or if they served in the union army, their Grand Army Medallions.

If you check the censuses between 1850 and 1880, and the agricultural, manufacturing, and industry non population records, you will likely find more information about your veteran ancestors, such as places of residents, occupations, number of people living in the households etc. These records can be found in the national archives, at More recent census records may give information about your ancestor’s descendants after the veterans were deceased.

Two more great resources for find alternates of records that have been destroyed during war, fire, or natural disaster are: vital records, which include birth, marriage, and death announcements; and notices or obituaries in local and state-wide newspapers. These records will help you further your LDS family search.

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