Well, I finally did it! I've been researching my HAWKINS, ROUNDTREE, PONTON, MITCHELL family since about 2000 (seriously) and having been reading about others research trips here on Afrigeneas. I had been wanting to visit the Halifax - Weldon, NC area for some time, but it seemed like everyone time I thought I could go--- something came up. So on 30 Nov, I finally took off for a brief trip (left on 30 Nov and returned home the evening of 1 Dec).
I appreciate the tips and reports I read from others because they helped me organize myself and though my time was very short, I felt it was quite productive. As always, things don't go as planned, and the family member who lives in the area that I planned to meet with who could help me get around the area and meet other family wasn't available ( more on that later). I started to cancel once again but perservered and I'm glad i did.
I drove down from VA and arrived at about mid-day. I decided to hit the Halifax County Courthouse first and had a list of 4 marriage documents and 5 death certificates I wanted to search for. (I had called ahead and knew the hours, address and procedures for researching and copying documents). However, I was so excited when I hit the little town, that once I got to the courthouse (and was especially pleased that I didn't have to pay for parking) that i didn't realize until I got into the building and looked around, that I was in the HISTORIC courthouse. Fortunately, it's a very small town and the current courthouse that houses the records and does the county business was a short distance away (parking also free).
The follks at the Courthouse basically let you research among the various volumes and files yourself. You're issued a "copier key" so that each time you make a copy (.25) it automatically adds it to your Key number and you pay when you turn in your copier key and then they return your car keys to you. I tried to pay attention to the basic instructions I was given at the start and to try to figure things out as much as I could but when I needed help and asked, they seemed very nice. Of the nine documents I searched for ..I ended up finding 6 ( hooray!).I went back on the second day and found my great- grandparents in the Marrige Register. I guess it pays to continue to look because I had located their names in the index that gave a marriage date of 1875 but on day 1, but I couldn't locate them in the book. The second day, I asked another staff member because I couldn't figure out where they would have gotten their name and date if some documentation of it didn't exist originally. She pointed me to a diffent register and BINGO!.. there they were. I also found my great- great Uncle and his wife listed for 1879 ( marriage).
After leaving the Courthouse, I decided to go to the nearby Halifax County Library in Halifax. I chose to go on a Tues because I had found the library had evening hours on Tue and Thurs. This would allow me more time in the library if needed. I met with the librarian in the genealoy section which is pretty extensive and she was quite helpful. She has a special interest in collecting all kinds of historical information on those who lived in Halifax so can be a good resource for those with family from that area. One of the helpful items I found was a book entitled A History of the Black People I Have Known in Halifax by Anne N. Stephenson (1978). She included information on my grandfather's family (PONTON) and added a few more pieces to the puzzle! I regret that I didn't copy the table of contents because others might benefit from checking it out and there may be other names that crop up later that I need to check on. The library staff do the copying for you at .25/copy and you keep track of the number of copies you've had made and pay at departure. The staff was very friendly and kind. running of of space so must end here. I'll share day 2 in another post. ALL in all, a worthwhile investment and Halifax is researcher friendly. I shall return! Karen
The book:In the Footsteps of Our Forefathers the Churches Where They