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Some research, perhaps!

What are your plans for tomorrow?

You know.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

It’s election day in the United States.

It’s not a federal election day — members of Congress are elected in even numbered years — but many state races will be decided by voters around the country who bother turning up.

It’s that “bother to show up” part that would have amazed our ancestors.

Because they showed up — and today they continue to show up — in records of voting, voter registration and elections of their day.

The Legal Genealogist‘s ancestors, for example, show up in the 1867 voter registrations required after the southern states were readmitted to the Union following the Civil War. This special registration was ordered by Congress to determine who was eligible to vote and who was disenfranchised by active rebellion.1

In Parker County, Texas, on the 31st of July, 1867, my favorite ancestor — my 2nd great grandfather George W. Cottrell — registered to vote, along with his wife’s uncle Charles C. Baker.2 Her brother Josiah Baker didn’t register until 1869.3

George said he was born in Kentucky, had been in Texas 34 years and in Parker County 11 years. Charles said he was born in North Carolina, had been in Texas nine years and in Parker County seven years. And Josiah? He said he was born in North Carolina and had been in the state and county 15 years.

But there are many more records than those of this special 1867 registration — ordinary everyday voter records we should go after as genealogists.

• In Mathews County, Virginia, in 1902, the voter records tell us that Bailey K. Adams was a 44-year-old farmer, born 27 December 1858, and that he’d lived in the county his entire life. By contrast, 40-year-old farmer Laurence C. Anderson, born 11 December 1862, had lived in Virginia his whole life but only in the county three years.4

• In Curry County, Oregon, in 1908, the voter records tell us that William W. Glanville was 70 years old, a physician surgeon born in the U.S., a Republican, and resident of Port Orford. He had to have others sign that they knew him, so we have some FAN club members (Friends, Associates and Neighbors) to research: N.C. Nelson and Alfred Olsen.5

• In 1814, the town voters in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, included John Brown. And John Brown Jr. And John Brown 3d. Who may or may not have been related in any way… Sigh….6

And of course there’s always the Great Register in California — those wonderful lists that began in an effort to control voter fraud after the influx of new residents during the Gold Rush.7 That’s where you’ll find, for example, that Adam Bossung, living in San Diego County, registered on 4 April 1867. He was then 35 years old, a laborer by occupation, and living in Fort Yuma. And he’d been born in Bavaria, so he had to report that he’d been naturalized on 7 October 1856 in San Diego’s First Judicial District Court.8

And, of course, there’s more. People declaring as candidates for office. Election results. Newspaper articles.

All creating records for us to go after.

Maybe that’s a plan for tomorrow, huh?

After, of course, we cast our own votes… and create our own records… here in 2017.


  1. See generally Judy G. Russell, “Recording the vote,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 7 Nov 2016 ( : accessed 6 Nov 2017).
  2. Parker County, Texas, 1867 Voter Registration, p. 84; digital images, “Texas, Voter Registration Lists, 1867-1869,” ( : accessed 6 Nov 2016), citing 1867 Voter Registration Lists, Microfilm, 12 rolls, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas.
  3. Ibid., p. 99.
  4. Mathews County Virginia, roll of voters, 1902-1903; County Courthouse, Mathews; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, microfilm 2047393 Item 3.
  5. Curry County Oregon, Voter File Book 1: 1 (1908); Oregon State Archives, Salem; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, microfilm 2209954.
  6. Hampton Falls (NH) Voter Lists 1814-1922; Town Hall, Hampton Falls; Family History Library, Salt Lake City, microfilm 1753353 Item 1.
  7. See Judy G. Russell, “Really great registers,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 5 Sep 2017 ( : accessed 6 Nov 2017).
  8. San Diego County, Entries in Great Register, San Diego County, California, July 1867, entry for Adam Bossung; “California, Voter Registers, 1866-1898,” database and images, ( : accessed 4 Sep 2017); imaged from Great Registers, 1866–1898, microfilm roll 39; Sacramento, California: California State Library.
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