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Apr 03, 2018

African American Genealogy: Look Carefully for Clues on the Census That Will Help You Trace Back

blog 51 Probate index

We have been looking for George Chappelle ( -1925) in pre-1870 documentation. If you read last week’s post “Can Historical Newspapers Help Me Determine My Freedman Ancestors?” you will remember how Jan Mitchell-McDermott has been helping me find records for the ancestry of Cora Lee Chappelle Vance. She has come up with a lot this week, and I want to make sure you are able to follow along.

We were able uncover New China Baptist Church Cemetery where George Chappelle and Caroline Adams Chappelle were buried. Last week, I included the death record of George Chappelle:

George Chapple Death Certificate
South Carolina Department of Archives and History; Columbia, South Carolina; Year Range: 1925-1949; Death County or Certificate Range: Laurens

Knowing that George Chappelle died in 1925, we decided to take a close look at the 1920 US Census to determine if he might have left any land or property. Many researchers do not even bother to look especially since he was born in the 1870’s.

Blog 51 George Chappel census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Clinton, Laurens, South Carolina; Roll: T625_1699; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 56

Here we see that George Chappelle, 68 has remarried to Mary, 41. His first wife Carol Adams Chappelle died March 29, 1917. An adopted son, Thomas, and two grandchildren are living with them. The oldest grandchild is believed to be Lafayette Vance, child of Andrew and Cora Vance.

In the sixth column, the O stands for home owned. In the seventh column, F stands for owned free. There should either be a will or probate as a result of George’s death.

blog 51 Probate index
“South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964,” images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), Laurens > Probate Court, Index to estate papers > 1800-1931 > No File Description Available > image 35 of 144; county courthouses, South Carolina, and South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia.

Jan discovered the index to a probate record for George Chappelle with Wister Chappelle as executor. The probate record can be seen at the Laurens County Courthouse. I will call and find out the procedures for seeing the probate record. I am looking forward to learning the names of all the living descendants of George Chappelle. Wister Chappelle is at least one child:

Blog 50 Image 19 1880 Census 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Year: 1880; Census Place: Hunter, Laurens, South Carolina; Roll: 1233; Page: 148C; Enumeration District: 102

I look forward to learning more about Thella (sp) and Conway and any other children. Land records could also be available. Probate records and land records are housed in the same place, so I will search for land records also.

Sharpen the Saw

Have you used the census to determine which ancestors may had have land or property at their time of death? If not, go through each census between 1940 and 1900 to determine ownership. Check probate and wills for the area on the Research Wiki. If the records are not available on or, call the county courthouse to order or see the record. Share your favorite finds in our Facebook Group.