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Everton's The Handy Book

Updated on August 14, 2011

1st editon published in 1947

Original 1st edition published 1947 by Everton Publishers, Inc.,Utah

The Handy Book for Genealogist. Walter M. and Pearl Knowles Everton produced the first edition of this book. The book ended with the 10th edition in 2002, but you might be able to find a copy at a used book store or an estate sale. My 9th edition copy cost $22.95 on sale. You certainly should be able to use your local genealogical library’s copy, regardless of the edition. The information in this book will never go out of date.

The Handy Book is one of at least three books that are a must for all serious and non-serious genealogical researchers. The Source, The Library, and The Handy Book are not books full of family information, but rather full to running over of “where to find” that family information... even if you don’t know what you need or how to find it! All three are teaching tools that teach you where to find the information you need to do your family history.

The Handy Book is divided into sections with an introduction of how to use the book, followed by a section on “General United States.” Then each of the states gets their own section. Several foreign counties are given introduction and then sections on “County Index,” “Migration Trails,” and a Map Section follows.

Turning to the section on South Carolina, it starts with an introduction about the state itself: Both the Spanish and French attempted to settle South Carolina from its discovery in 1521 until 1633, but they failed. In 1663, King Charles II granted the territory between the 31st and 36th parallels from ocean to ocean to eight noblemen. The first permanent settlement, called Charles Town, was situation on the Ashley River. It was settled by a group of English people from England and from Barbados. A group of Dutch from New York...”

The book gives the nine judicial districts established in 1769, explains when birth and death records were required and where they can be obtained, as well as marriage and divorce records. Following are informational sections on Archives, Libraries and Societies, Census, Atlases, Maps, and Gazetteers, Bibliographies, Genealogical Research Guides, Genealogical Sources, and Histories.

Then each county at the time of publication – current and discontinued – gets a listing.

Orangeburg – located D5 on the map – created 1769 – from Colleton, old, Berkeley, old. Orangeburg County, 190 Gibson St., Orangeburg, SC 29115-5463, and phone number. (Created in 1769 from Colleton, old & Berkeley, old as one of 7 original judicial districts; Split in 1798 to form Orangburg & Barnwell Cos) (Clk Ct has div rec from 1949, clt & land rec from 1865; Co Hlth Dep has b, d & bur recr; Pro Judge has m & pro rec; rec prior to 1785 are filed in Charleston)

Translation of above: Created in 1765 from old Colleton Countyand old Berkeley County as one of the original 7 judicial districts.Orangeburg Countywas split in 1798 to form Orangeburg and Barnwell counties. The Clerk of Court has divorce records from 1945 and court and land records from 1865. The county Health Department has birth, death, and burial records. The Probate Judge has marriage and probate records. Records prior to 1785 are filed in Charleston.

Research tip: First figure out the time period your ancestor lived in an area. When was that area created? Has the county lines changed? Has the state lines changed? This book can tell you!

Somewhere in the vicinity of the state pages is a black and white map of the state with the counties outlined. If your ancestor lived in a “border” county, you may want to look in the adjoining state. It also helps to know the “outlay” of the land. Was there a river or a mountain that made it easier for your ancestor to cross state lines than to go to their assigned county courthouse? The map section in the back of the book has rivers and lakes outlined in blue. Also in the map section are maps of migration trails, Rail Roads by 1860, Territorial Growth 1775-1860, and more.

Confession: The copy I use most is tattered and torn and has notes and red lines on many pages. It is the 7th edition published in 1981. To say I use my Handy Book would be an understatement. I guess that is why I needed two copies.

­­Unfortunately The Handy Book is out of print and since the Everton Publishers has also disbanded, there will probably be no more. Of course you can find this information on the internet, but having it where you can lay your hand on it and in paper form is so much easier than having to search all over the internet for each and every note that is found in such as “handy book.” This is one handy little book that is just fascinating reading!

­The books I tell you about are only to make you aware they exist. Many can be found in your nearest local “genealogy” library. Many are out of print or into 3rd or 10th reprint. If they are available for purchase I will try to let you know, but check your local library first to see if it is something that you really want a copy of for your personal use.

My standard warning to all researchers: You would do well to remember thatnot everything is on the internet. Someone had to type and put up any information you find online; so with re-typing comes errors... on top of the original errors. However, there is a lot of information on the internet and you would do well to search for your genealogical information there first. Most of all remember that books, as well as the internet, are to be used as road maps to the “original” records.

Just don’t forget to document your research in case you have to go back to the same record over and over!


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