Tracing our ancestry and family trees can give us an enriched sense of our heritage and a better understanding of our family history. Archives Center staff assist you in this process through review of a locally-produced database along with free online research (ancestry.com).
To make your research easier, volunteers transcribed 75 lists, most of which are not available on ancestry sites. They are specific to Clay County. We combined the lists into a single database we call the Goldmine of Names.
We have also standardized surnames making it easier to use our Goldmine of Names search engine. In the 19th century, many people did not know how to spell their names. Officials guessed if they weren’t sure. Later transcribers couldn’t read the handwriting and made additional guesses. This resulted in some people’s names being spelled many different ways. Volunteers spent years reviewing the records to standardize these names so that you can search once, instead of all possible spelling variations.
As you find interesting entries in our database, we can help you find the original source material that matches, i.e, bound records, court cases, or vertical files which we have at the Archives.
The Archives also has in house access to many of the popular online genealogy sites including ancestry.com. The Archives Specialist is available to guide you through free use of this resource at the Archives Center.
Tracing African-American families earlier than 1900 or so presents some challenges. Cemeteries have disappeared. Not much shows up in official records. Few family histories have been published. And prior to the Civil War, few surnames are used.
To aid your research volunteers have been collecting and indexing black history sources. Please ask us for help to get started. You may also be interested in Jane Lander’s “Black Society in Spanish Florida”, available at the Archives and “The Forresters” by Vishi Garig. The Forrester family was the only free African-American family in Clay County in 1860. Many Clay residents are their descendants including, the Lycurgus, Redmond, Lewis, Miller, Lemon and Stewart families.
The Archives maintains subject files on more than 400 individuals and families. The files contain clippings, photos, family histories, oral interviews and other items. | Catalog of the Subject Files – Genealogy |The catalog is always being added to so if you don’t see a name you’re interested in there, email us and we can check our files for you.
In addition, the Clay County Public Library System’s Genealogy Department is located at their Orange Park location as part of their Reference Section. Please call the Orange Park library location for more information (904-278-4753).