by Mary Free
Welcome to your Cherokee County roots! What are your questions about Cherokee County family research? Here are some that we frequently hear, especially from those researchers who live in other states:
Why are Militia Districts important? What are Districts and Sections and how do they connect with deeds and Land Lots? What is a Numerical Deed Index? We shall try to explain the use of these research tools, some of which are unique to Georgia or Cherokee County.
Why are Militia Districts important?
On the History page, you will find a map showing the location of each Militia District in Cherokee County. These Militia Districts still exist today but are primarily only used to indicate voting districts. As you find your ancestor in the Cherokee County census records (after 1850), you will notice that, at the top of the sheet, there will be a name and/or a number. This indicates the Militia District in which your ancestor lived.
Example: Conns Creek 1031. By looking at the map, you can locate the area of the county in which your ancestor resided at the time the census was taken. You have a question: “Why was my ancestor in Shake Rag District in 1860 and 1870, then in Clayton District in 1880? He seemed to own the same land.” For some reason, the name of this District was changed some time between 1870 and 1880. Your ancestor probably did not move. We are including here a list of the Militia Districts with number, and with notations for some, to give you another name by which you may have heard this area called in your oral family history.
792 – Canton
817 – Bells
818 – Mullins (Includes Buffington and
890 – Woodstock
960 – Salacoa
971 – Clayton
1000- Cross Roads (Free Home Community)
1008- Harbins (Waleska Area)
1010- Hickory Flat
1019- Wildcat (Holly Springs Area)
1028- Fair Play (Sutallee Community)
1031- Conns Creek
1032- Ball Ground
1174- Little River
What are Districts and Sections that are referred to in deeds?
Now you have located the Militia District in which your ancestor lived, and you have a further question. “My ancestor owned part of Land Lot 386, 15th District, 2nd Section. What does this mean and how can I locate exactly where he lived within the Militia District?”
When the ten Georgia counties were formed from the original 6900 square mile Cherokee County (which existed from December 1831 until December 1832), it was divided into 4 Sections, running north and south, with the First Section being the easternmost and the Fourth Section bordering on Alabama. Land Districts are used in most of Georgia to designate legal boundaries of land. The Land District is then divided into Land Lots. Each of the 4 Sections mentioned above was divided into Land Districts. These Districts were then divided into Land Lots.
All of present day Cherokee County lies within the 2nd Section and contains all of three Land Districts and parts of six others. So if your ancestor owned part of Land Lot 386, 15th District, 2nd Section, you can find exactly where he lived by using the 1895 Cherokee County map or a current Cherokee County map because these land divisions are still used today. You can visit the Cherokee County GIS Department for an online map here. You will need to “Show Layers” and then choose “Land Lot Boundaries” under “Tax Parcels.” The red land lot boundaries are not shown until you zoom in to street level.
What is a Numerical Deed Index?
Cherokee County’s Clerk of the Court Office has a unique record for keeping track of Land Lots as they pass from one owner to another. We have never found this method in any other courthouses we have visited. Besides alphabetical Grantor and Grantee Indexes, a Numerical Index is also kept. When a Land Lot or any portion thereof changes ownership, the book and page number showing the recorded deed is entered in an index for that particular Land Lot. For example: If Land Lot 386, 15th District, 2nd Section is mentioned in a deed, the Deed Book and page number will be recorded beside Land Lot 386 in the portion of the index which shows Land Lots in the 15th District. Using this index, one should be able to find every owner of any part of any Land Lot in Cherokee County.
Other Suggestions and Resources by Cherokee County Historical Society Staff
Linda Woodward Geiger, a Certified Genealogical Records Specialist (CGRS) compiled a list of available Cherokee County genealogy resources. Her list is a great place to begin, and it includes newspapers, books and microfilm. However, since it was compiled in 2001, the list does not include more current resources. To view her list click here.
The Cherokee County Historical Society has numerous resources available and visitors are encouraged to call 770.345.3288 to set an appointment to use the Archives. The office is located in the Historic Courthouse in downtown Canton at 100 North Street, 3rd Floor, Canton, GA 30114. Office hours are generally Monday through Friday 10-4, but because we have a small staff it is always best to call and confirm that staff will be available and in the office.
Some of the books available for research include the Heritage of Cherokee County 1831-1998 (a collection of family histories); Bible Records Volume 1; Cemeteries of Cherokee County (1997); Abstracts of Cherokee County, Georgia Wills and Bonds 1847-1921; Annotated Obituaries from the Cherokee Advance 1880-1938; Bivouac of the Dead, Confederate Soldiers of Cherokee County; Marriage Records 1841-1910. For more information about the resources available, please visit the Collection and Archives page. You can also view a current map that shows the locations of all of the Cherokee County Cemeteries. Some of these are small family cemeteries that have not been used in years and are on private lands, so please be aware that you may need to get permission from the property owners.
The Sequoyah Regional Libraries also have many genealogy resources, especially the R.T. Jones Library in Canton and the Woodstock Library. The Cherokee County Clerk of the Court has some early deed books available online.
Native American Research
Before 1838, the Cherokee (Tsalagi) inhabited the land now known as Cherokee County. Many researchers are finding that their families in the North Georgia area may have had Cherokee blood, and some of those relations may have traveled on the ‘Trail of Tears’ to Arkansas and Oklahoma. There are many very good Internet sites with information about the Cherokee and we recommend these –
Start with Oklahoma GenWeb site, which focuses on State resources. Then the Oklahoma Twin Territories site: Oklahoma Territory/Indian Territory and the Official site of the Cherokee Nation in Talequah, OK. The Culture & History section of this site is especially interesting. This is a listing of Important Dates in Cherokee History, and the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears has an extensive database of information available to members.