Saturday, January 5, 2013

South Carolina Equity Court Records

It has been a very interesting research month.  I have had the distinct pleasure of researching and learning about the South Carolina Equity Court records at the South Carolina Archives. What an interesting set of records these turned out to be.

Let me give you a bit of background on SC Court records.  During the antebellum period there were three civil courts: Common Pleas, Probate and Equity.  The Equity court, essentially, covered everything the other two didn't want to deal with.  The Equity records are complicated  Amazingly enough the Equity Court records are indexed on the Digital Library on American Slavery.

Before you jump to the index let me tell you what it can and can not do.  For this research I was looking for information about someone who died intestate around 1814. The will was needed to determine lineage.  A name search in the Digital Library on American Slavery came up with a hit in 1816.  Because he died intestate the family had to go through the Equity Court to settle the estate.  Nice, being intestate was not a dead end!

The indexed American Slavery record does not list all the names in the equity file but it does list all of the slave names.  In this case the son was listed in the will but I had to look at the original document to determine he was there.

There is a microfilm index at the SC State Archive of all the court records.  It is in the original handwriting so can be tough to look through but it does list every name in the file so the son was indexed in the microfilm index but not the American Slavery site.  Slave names are indexed in the American Slavery site but not the microfilm index.

Phew!  The SC State Archive staff can look up the record from the American Slavery citations.  In my case 1 out of every American Slavery records had a poor citation. I was able to locate the miscited records by looking through the microfilm index.  Be prepared to pay a fee for the SC Archive to locate the record.  Don't complain. I spent alot of time researching the citations, probably three hours, and time is money.

So there it is.  This is a great set of records for genealogical research.

1 comment:

Cheri Hudson Passey said...

Thanks for the information. The staff at the Archives are wonderful and so helpful!
I may need to look into the Equity Records next time I go.