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The Shaws Appear in Court Records

Court order books can provide good family information for some lucky researchers. As I have combed the early 19th century books for Shelby County, Kentucky, I have come across a few gems. This week I viewed an affidavit taken from one Fanny Shaw.

I do not have Shaw ancestors, but a Reed daughter, Abigail, married Joseph Shaw on January 1, 1817. Fanny was Joseph’s mother.

The affidavit from the November 1820 court session does not state why she needed to have family information recorded in an official record. She refers to the heirs of her husband John, so perhaps the details were needed to settle his estate or transfer land titles.

This rich record provides much detail about the Shaw family at a time when family members were not listed by name on the U. S. census:

  1. John Shaw was born in England and arrived in America in 1784,
  2. John’s first wife was Jane Jones,
  3. John and Jane had 5 children, but only a son, also named John, survived,
  4. The younger John Shaw resided in Leesburg, Virginia in 1820,
  5. John Shaw and Fanny had four children who were John’s heirs: Joseph Shaw, Benjamin Shaw, Jesse Shaw, and Elizabeth Shaw Kester.

A Shaw descendant would be thrilled to find this document. Even I was excited to see it, and the Shaws were in-laws to my Reeds. Perhaps Abigail Reed Shaw benefited from an inheritance her husband received from John Shaw.

Other families, too, should look at the Shelby County Court Order books. They contain so much more than names of road overseers and tavern keepers. Several Revolutionary War veterans had their statements of service filed therein.

It takes a lot of time to learn the old handwriting scripts and go through the volumes. I think it is worth the effort in case one’s family had a reason to appear in court and provide some good biographical information.

The Shelby County Court Order books are available for viewing on the Family Search website.

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