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 Genealogy Information at the Fort Myers Regional Library

Genealogy is the field of study that explores the origins and descent of individuals and families.  The focus is identifying individuals and their specific family relationships.  As the body of knowledge expands, researchers are able to place an individual and/or family in their accurate historical setting and fill in the biographical details of the lives of individual family members.  We offer two study guides specifically designed for beginners: 

  1. Beginning Genealogical Research Outline
  2. Family History: A Concise Beginners Overview.


We would be happy to provide electronic copies of these and any other research outlines relevant to genealogical research subjects by contacting Bryan L. Mulcahy at (239) 533-4626 or via e-mail at bmulcahy@leegov.com. We have a total of 120+ study guides available on a variety of genealogical topics.

 

 Announcements

Searchable Lee County Deaths Index 
 9/13/2011 4:29 PM
The Lee County Genealogical Society now has a searchable index of Lee County obituary notices on its website. The index covers the years 1930-1997, and gives the information necessary to find the actual obituary in the Fort Myers News-Press archives.
 
For information about Obituary Requests, please click here.
 

 Upcoming Genealogy Programs

 Genealogical Benefits of Tax Records

 

For genealogists, tax records can help solve a multitude of genealogical problems, especially for tracing ancestors prior to the 1850 census.  Clues may lead to the birth, marriage or death year of your early ancestor when no other record may have survived.  Taxes were collected annually.

Tax records came in many forms. Poll or head taxes which were levied upon a person, real property taxes which were levied upon a person's land, and personal property or income tax. These can be recorded separately but may have been combined into one record with various columns representing each property type. In some early colonial areas, quit-rents were collected. The rents, a remnant of the old feudal system in Europe, were collected by the government or by large land owners annually on small parcels sold to private citizens.

The Federal Government levied taxes upon citizens usually to help defray the cost of a war or pending war. Federal records are usually indexed.  Researchers can usually locate tax lists in print and indexed for the years 1798, 1814-1816, and 1862-1866 for any given county.  The same would also apply to many state and some local jurisdictions.  Local laws governing who was taxable and who was exempt changed from time to time and for various reasons. A poll tax levied to raise money for a new courthouse may include persons over the age of sixteen, and a property assessment the same year may only include citizens age twenty-one and above.

Tax records can be used to determine parentage. When an ancestor has been tracked in the tax records for a series of years and suddenly a male with the same surname appears on the lists next to him, he is more than likely a son who is now of legal or taxable age. The legal age for owning land was 21 years which would explain a male who suddenly appears on the same assessment roll as your ancestor.

Some counties created a separate list for unmarried men often labeled singlemen or single freemen which meant they were not indentured to any individual. A young man coming of legal age would be taxed on his personal property--usually a horse or a cow. Once married, his name would leave the single freeman list and suddenly appear on the regular list with other heads of families.

 

You can determine the year your ancestor arrived and left the jurisdiction by his first and last appearance on a tax record.  If the assessment shows enough detail, a match can be made across county and even state lines. Look for a matching occupation, livestock, or any unusual taxable items that would have been transported. Always use a series of years and always look in every township in the county. Like counties, townships were also divided.


Many tax records list occupation as a category, and those that don't will often include the occupation to avoid confusion between two individuals with the same name.  A father may have passed his trade on to son.  Tax records issued for licenses and permits will be listed under occupations or business and commerce.

Upon his death, a man will disappear from the tax lists, but often the death is confirmed when his estate is still taxed awaiting probate.  If you are lucky enough to find an entry listing the estate of your ancestor you can determine the year of his death. Make sure to look at a number of consecutive years because the deceased may be taxed for several years until his estate is probated.

Always check the end of each tax list as your ancestor may have been late or delinquent in paying or have un-resolved issues. Sometimes there will be two lists for each year: the local list and the list sent to the county. Check both because your ancestor may have been accidentally omitted from one.

Tax records and indexes are become increasingly available online through Family Search and Ancestry thanks to the efforts of the Family History Library.  They can also be accessed at the county courthouse, the county historical society, the state archives, the National Archives, in published county histories, journals and periodicals.

 

BLM 9/29/2014

 Family Search

Changes in FamilySearch Film Ordering Brings New Convenience to Genealogists

 

It’s easier than ever for genealogy researchers to order microform from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Orders for all microform materials now will be placed online, making it possible for researchers to order from the comfort of their home or from any location where there is an Internet connection.


A researcher’s first step is to visit the Family History Library Catalog (available at www.FamilySearch.org) to select the microform they wish to order. Next, a visit to the website https://www.familysearch.org/films  instructs customers to create a personal account and select the preferred Affiliate Library or Family History Center where the microform materials they order will be sent. They must make payment using a credit or debit card or PayPal.


Genealogy researchers are encouraged to download the User’s Guide available at https://www.familysearch.org/films as it provides step-by-step guidelines for placing an order.  For those wishing help in selecting and ordering microform materials, genealogy assistance will continue to be available at the Fort Myers Regional Library by calling 479-4636 for an appointment.

Questions? See the FAQ.

 Getting Started

 Genealogy Resources

Allen County Library-Fort Wayne , Indiana-Genealogy DivisionAllen County Public Library Genealogy Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana
One of the largest digitized genealogical collections available, incorporating records from around the world
Ancestry Library edition (in-library use ONLY)
Census data, vital records, immigration and emigration records, family histories, military records, court documents, directories and photos (from Proquest. )This resource is only available while inside the library.
ArchiveGridArchiveGrid
Nearly a million descriptions of historical documents, personal papers, and family histories held in archives throughout the world
Bonita Springs Genealogy ClubBonita Springs Genealogy Club
Official site of the Bonita Springs Genealogy Club
Charlotte County Genealogical SocietyCharlotte County Genealogical Society
Starting point for Charlotte County genealogical research, including Charlotte County Library’s holdings and indices to county wills and guardianships
Christine's Genealogy WebsiteChristine's Genealogy Website
Portal to online resources for African-American genealogical research
Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the InternetCyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
A collection of more than 81,000 links that have been organized and cross-referenced in over 140 categories.
Dead People ServerDead People Server
A website dedicated to identifying which celebrities have passed away, and refuting rumors about those who have not.
FamilySearchFamilySearch
Created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this site includes a ?Search for Ancestors? database and research guidance.
Federation of Genealogical SocietiesFederation of Genealogical Societies
Blanket organization with over 500 state and local genealogical societies as members.
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