Today was Day 2 of the 6th Annual Genealogy Fair at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. I decided at the last minute to attend yesterday and had such a great time that I decided to return today. One reason was that, between attending topical sessions, I had a chance to confer again with the two archivists most familiar with Record Group 21 – the records of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Last fall and then again in January, I had reviewed some of the probate records for Levin Dukes, Sarah Dukes’ father, who died without a will in Georgetown in 1866. I looked at inventories, vouchers, accounts, advertisements for property sales as I tried to piece together the story of Sarah and her siblings’ guardians, first, their stepmother, and then a neighbor from Georgetown. More on that later.
But I knew there had to be more, especially about the guardian change itself. The three of us brainstormed about other record possibilities, I filled out the pull slips under their supervision, and I knew the records would be waiting for me today. And I did indeed find the court-ordered date of the change in 1867 and got a glimmer of why it happened ($$$$$).But, even better, I found a bit of information that had eluded me to date – the exact birthdates for Sarah, her older brother James, and her three younger half-siblings, one of whom died within just a few months. And it was in a Guardian Bond. Guardian Bonds — sounds dry, right? But seeing Sarah’s birthdate for the first time made me a little misty-eyed. Probably because birthdays are a big deal in our family. I’ve attached a photograph of the bond. And the citation is in the bottom right corner of the image.