Reason 5: Original Documents May Have Been Lost or Intentionally Destroyed


General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops did not destroy every courthouse in Georgia during the Civil War, as one genealogist once tried to convince me. Nor did the Union Army destroy all the courthouses in Tennessee, Mississippi, and other Southern states.

Some courthouses have, indeed, lost some or all of their records at different times over the centuries. War, fire, floods, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and other natural disasters have done their worst to obliterate records. Neglect and poor storage conditions, however, have probably caused as many or more records to perish.

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