The last article covered mainly resources for local history. In starting to do genealogical research in any county (or any other place for that matter) it is a good idea to begin with a review of the basic history of the area both local and national. Before getting too involved with doing research in any geographic ares, especially counties and similar jurisdictional entities, it is a good idea to have an idea of a time line of when certain types of records were kept. This is particularly true of vital records. Many researchers assume that birth, marriage and death records have been kept for a very long time when the opposite may be the fact. In Hancock County, Illinois, a quick reference to the FamilySearch Research Wiki will give the beginning dates for many types of records. Here is the summary list:
- Birth 1844
- Marriage 1829
- Death 1877
- Census 1830
- Land 1817
- Probate 1830
There are sources listing, not only the availability of these records, but also where to go and who to contact. To start, you can look at the list on the Research Wiki page for Hancock County. There are books such as the following that also contain contact information:
- Everton, George B. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America. Draper, Utah: Everton Publishers, 2002.
- Eichholz, Alice. Redbook: American State, County & Town Sources. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004.
I could go on listing records and essentially duplicate the Research Wiki, but instead, I will suggest some other extensive collections of references such as the USGenWeb.org project for Illinois and also for Hancock County.
Do not become discouraged. You must be looking in the right place, for the right person at the right time, but there will be records. I can assure you.