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Early Kentucky records found

March 16, 2010 at midnight
Updated March 15, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.


Genealogists and family history researchers looking for early Kentucky records take heed: Recently discovered land, census and marriage records from the late 1700s to the early 1900s have surfaced and can provide a treasure trove of information.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, books, which are being indexed to make the information easier to pinpoint, were found in several places.

Land and census records were discovered at the government archives in Frankfort and several years' worth of marriage licenses were in the Fayette County Clerk's storage area.

In addition, 50 years of unindexed marriage licenses from just after Kentucky was granted statehood also were found in the county clerk's vault. The first entry is from 1795 up to 1846. Some have been microfilmed previously, but they weren't in order and are not indexed.

The clerk's office also recovered several books containing Fayette County school census records from 1896 to 1909.

The documents now are being scanned and eventually will be made available for public viewing on microfilm or a computer. The original record books, however, will not be available to the public in most cases.

"The documents are so old and the pages are so fragile that I really would not be willing to put them out there for the public to peruse through," said Deputy Fayette County Clerk Linda Potter.

Meanwhile, the Fayette County Clerk's office has a DVD copy available for on-site viewing of many records in the Doomsday Book. Since the information has not been indexed, researchers will need to read hundreds of pages of handwritten script.

The records were discovered after an article in the Kentucky Explorer magazine stated the Fayette County Clerk's office had a Doomsday Book containing names of the commonwealth's earliest settlers.

Potter said this was news to her. "We got a call from a customer saying they wanted to come down and look at it, but no one here knew anything about it,"

After searching, Potter and her assistants discovered that the Doomsday Book had been moved to the Kentucky Land Office in Frankfort in the early 1970s.

There is some debate now whether the Land Office or Fayette County Clerk's office is the book's rightful owner.

Scans of microfilmed images from the book eventually will be available for viewing at the County Clerk's office and the State Department of Libraries and Archives in Frankfort.

The Doomsday Book contains the names of settlers who applied for land patents from 1779 through 1780 when Kentucky was still part of Virginia. Another record book recovered by Fayette County clerks, the "Land Entry Book," contains similar information from 1783 to 1784. Kentucky became a state in 1792.

The books are important for genealogists who want to document history and traditions of family members. By determining an ancestor received a commissioners' certificate for settlement prior to 1792, individuals may qualify for membership in First Families of Kentucky, a hereditary society established in 2005.

What a significant discovery of early Kentucky records.

Happy researching .

Send e-mail queries to mjones@vicad.com

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