Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Family History Mission: More Unusual Archival Finds

No. 52

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them or click back through all the posts.

We are finding some very usual items here at the Maryland State Archives. I recently posted a document signed by George Washington, but some of the other items are just plain strange. The court documents we are digitizing are in large books, some weighing as much as 25 pounds or more.

These books are most transcripts of filed court probate documents. There is one Court Clerk who liked to "illustrate" his transcripts with drawings of the court seals on the original documents. Seals were required for some types of court filings. Here are some examples of his work.

Usually, the clerks would just do a squiggle with the word "Seal" but this clerk went all out.

Here's what they look like on the pages of the books.

So far, we have found two books with these drawings.

We also keep finding interesting people in the records. Here is another example.

This is a probate document for Junius B. Booth, b. 1796, d. 1852. This is the entry in the Family Tree for the family showing that he is the father of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

It helps to know a lot about the history of the United States and Maryland, in particular, to work with these old documents.


  1. James looking at the FamilySearch records I noticed something a bit strange on the marriage date of Junius Booth and Mary Holmes, 1851. Junius is listed to have died in 1852 and their first child Richard was born 1819. Perhaps in all your document digging you may come across the answer for that one. I am thinking that their marriage would have been closser to 1817 or 1818.

    1. Apparently, Mary Holmes was his "mistress" for years. See That is the explanation, apparently. The entries in the Family Tree are pretty well messed up as they usually are with any well known historical figure. People don't bother to look at the well established history before adding spouses and making changes.