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Genealogy History

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Reading India Ink on Old Documents

inkwell The process of making India ink traces back to China during 3,000 B. C. The traditional Chinese method of making the ink was to grind a mixture of hide glue, carbon black, lampblack, and bone black pigment with a pestle and mortar, then pour it into a ceramic dish to dry. Then a wet brush would be applied until it reliquified. The ink used in ancient China was in the form of ink sticks made of lampblack and animal glue. Many of the ancient cultures employed a common ingredient in India ink known as "carbon black." The ancient Egyptians and Greeks both had their own recipes for "carbon black." Most all of the old English documents were written in Latin with India Ink. And this tradition was carried forward by American colonists into official records. For many years, India ink was in use by American schools up until about the middle of the 20th century. The genealogist is quite familiar with the beautiful formation of old script in old wills, deeds and marriages. Not only that, but India ink hundreds of years old is sometimes worthy of framing. The genealogist learns to recognize the artistically leggy colonial alphabet and its transitions into modern times. Yet the survival of the ink upon documents depends upon the manner in which the documents were stored. Sunlight, dampness and other exposures has affected some of our most important documents. The result is that pages or portions of pages are faded and difficult to read. I have visited courthouses where the ink was so faded that I gave up on transcribing the records. However, the eye of the camera has gotten so sophistocate that I later returned and it captured the paragraphs which were almost completely faded from the page.


Map of Coffee County


Coffee County Wills and Estates


Douglas, Georgia

Coffee County was created in 1854 from Creek lands and was formed primarily from the region of Telfair County south of the Ocmulgee River, with smaller portions added from Irwin, Clinch, and Ware counties. The county was named for former soldier, state legislator, and congressman General John E. Coffee (1782-1836). Some of the earliest settlers were: Wiley Byrd, Joseph Bailey, William Dent, Joseph Durham, John Gasper, Leon Hargraves, James Isaac, Mark Lott, Elijah Paulk, Alfred Peterson, Matthew Summerlin, Arthur Turner and J. W. Wilcox.

Genealogy Records Available to Members of Georgia Pioneers

Images of Coffee County Wills 1874 to 1898

Testators:Ashley, Caroline; Creech, William ;Curry, Daniel ;Douglas, Robert;Ellis, Thomas ;Friar, Narcissa ;Henson, James ;Hill, J. J.; McGovern, Matthew ;Meeks, Hymrick;Meeks, John ;Pearson, Benajah ;Roberts, Margaret ;Smith, Catherine ;Spivey, Edward ;Vickers, Young ;Wilcox, Daniel ;Wilcox, George ;Wilcox, James M.

Indexes to Probate Records
  • Wills 1899 to 1931
  • Annual Returns, Vol. A 1877 to 1898.
  • Divisions of Estates 1901 to 1941

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Georgia Wills


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