Using the Educable Children's Lists and Other Resources You May Have Forgotten!
We are in luck that Oktibbeha County's records are available today. Of course, the records are available at the Mississippi Dept of Archives and History (MDAH), and you can get the list for Oktibbeha through your local Family History Center (please see the Research page for more information). Again, if you are unable to get to a Family History Center, you can either pay a researcher to look it up for you (records like this usually cost around $8 per family) or you can ask for a volunteer to do this. Make sure that you pick a researcher who is at the main repository in Salt Lake City, UT.
After the Civil War, in order to determine how much money each county was to receive for education, a census was taken of all the schoolage children. Each year it was taken, more information was added. For example, if you used the 1885 and 1892 educable childrens lists, you would have a good replacement for the 1890 census records that were destroyed by fire! The 1885 schedule is conveniently available through the FHL.
Family History Library Microfilm # 0900519 "The Educable Children's List for Oktibbeha County for 1885"
This wonderful resource is listed alphabetically by child ages 5 to 20 for each of the eleven Election Districts. Each district lists children (white then colored) with the name of child, age, sex, color and parent or guardian. Only one parent/guardian is listed. The districts are: Starkville District 1, Bell's Mill District 1, 16th Section District 2, Cochran's School District 2, Bell's School H District 3, South Springs District 3, Double Springs District 3, Whitefield District 4, Ennis Store District 4, Choctaw Agency District 5, and Sessums District 5.
Another interesting resource is the records of the Southern Claims Commission. This commission was established in 1871 to review claims from alleged Southeron Loyalists who had furnished supplies to the US Army during the Civil War. The three member panel reviewed the claims, looking for proof of property loss and loyalty to the Union. More than 22,000 claims were filed, mostly by poor, Yankee hating Southerners willing to swear they had supported the Union to get some money for the property taken from them. Only 7,092 of the claims were approved, but even for the disproved claims, valuable genealogical information can be found. See the list below for those who filed claims for Oktibbeha County. More information can also be found at the St Louis MO Library site here. Even though you may not see your ancestor listed, many were called forth as witnesses and are mentioned in the records but not necessarily indexed below. It would be worthwile to check ALL the accounts for Oktibbeha. Here is the index:
Wm B Aikin
Wm F Boyls
James L Boyd
Wm H Glenn
John Barnett Lee
Estate of CJ Montgomery
James A Valentine
Checklist of additional resources. Don't forget to include them in your research:
Mortality Schedules (look up microfilm #s at NARA and order through ILL)
State Census Records (same)
Military Records (not just Army, but check Navy records too!)
Baptist and Methodist Organization Records (was your ancestor a preacher or active in the church?)
Secret Societies such as the Oddfellows, Eastern Star and the Masons
Church, Cemetery and Funeral Home Records
Freedman's Bureau Labor Contracts (avail on fiche from MDAH)
Confederate Pension Files (some slaves accompanied their masters)
Deceased Physician's Masterfile (20th century)
Naturalization and Passport Records
....more ideas to come as I dig them up!
More hints and ideas:
1. If you believe your ancestors may have been in the area before 1831, be sure to check the records of Lowndes County. Lowndes County had jurisdiction over this area before it was Oktibbeha. For example, someone living in the Sturgis area before that year, will be found in the tax rolls of Lowndes County.
2. If you cannot find a will or probate documents, don't forget to check out Winston and Choctaw counties. Sometimes our ancestors filed these documents in more than one courthouse!
3. Many early residents of the Sturgis area came from Pickens County Alabama (and other surrounding counties). This was a kind of "holding area" for white settlers as they waited for the Indian lands to open up. If you don't know where your ancestor was before coming here, check the indexes for Alabama as well as Tennessee.
4. Many post-1865 residents of the Sturgis area came from neighboring counties, in particular Winston and Noxubee. Also check Choctaw. This is particularly important for the area's black residents.
5. Consider taking out an ad in the local Starkville or Ackerman newspapers to look for other surviving relatives that may be in the area. Also, post as many queries as you can at every site you visit on the internet pertaining to Sturgis, Oktibbeha, MS and your surnames.
6. Many slaves are mentioned by name in the Oktibbeha County Final Record of Probate Cases 1857-1867 available from your Family History Center, Microfilm #900503. Since the slaves did not have surnames, you will have to compare ages and look for family clusters.
7. Did your ancestor die in under "less than normal" circumstances (ie suicide, murder, accident, etc..)? Contact the county coroner's office and request that they do a search for a coroner's inquest. Not only will you find out the details surrounding you ancestor's death but also read what others had to say about your ancestor (while the coroner was questioning witnesses).