After getting frustrated with online trees full of misinformation I decided there had to be a better way to track all of the Carter families of Colleton County, South Carolina. As a general rule I use online trees as a springboard to find clues for the families I research but with these Carter families it is just impossible to do that. Oh and let's not forget that I have learned that there was a lot of inter-marrying with some families. I am still trying to figure out to what degree these relationships are and hoping that my family tree will not collapse!
I should point out that Colleton county records before 1865 are almost nonexistent and it is considered a burned county which makes researching more difficult. Many of the Carter families I am tracking settled in an area known as St Bartholomew's Parish, which was considered to be part of the Charleston District up until the 1800 US census.(1)
There were also plenty of boundary changes for Colleton county as well. Another thing I have to consider is that prior to 1785 all records were filed in Charleston (Charles Town). Colleton is surrounded by the following counties: Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Charleston, Dorchester, Hampton and Orangeburg. The last of the boundry changes for Colleton came about in 1897 with the additions of Bamberg and Dorchester counties. Many of these families stayed in Colleton for many generations while others branched out to the surronding counties.(2)
I decided the best way to conduct my research for the Carter family was to use the Friends, Associates & Neighbors (F.A.N) Principle by Elizabeth Shown Mills.(3) I am using the F.A.N Principle to identify each Carter family from census records (1850-1880) who were born, lived in and died in Colleton county. I am following each generation to identify parents, spouses, siblings and children. I am using delayed birth certificates, and death records (including certificates, obituaries and Find-A-Grave) and newspaper announcements to help me with identifying family members.
I began my research with census records from 1790-1880. In order to keep my findings manageable I used Google Spreadsheets. I searched each census year page by page for Carter families. I decided that keeping the census records all in one spreadsheet was more efficient and added a sheet for each census year. For the census information I have included a transcription of all the information.
Figures 2, 3 and 4 are samples of my research logs by record group.