I've spent the last couple of hours happily digging through a new online database called Footnote. This is a new collaborative effort involving the LDS church, the National Archives, and I'm not sure who else, with a commercial outfit that is digitizing some of their holdings. I've been monitoring the site for awhile, trying to talk myself into buying a year's access to the images and tonight I found something that finally made it a worthwhile investment.
For a couple of years now I've been contemplating a trip to San Saba to obtain a death certificate for my great-great grandfather Frankum. I knew from a cousin that his death certificate was on file in the courthouse there, but for some reason I could not find his name in the state death indexes. Without that magic index reference, I knew I would not be able to get a copy from the State Health Department.
One of the projects in progress at Footnote is the digitization of early Texas birth and death certificates. I was running some idle searches tonight and lo and behold up popped the missing death certificate. I had a subscription to the service in the amount of time it took for me to run upstairs and get my credit card.
I was delighted to find that I now have some official corroboration of James Jefferson Frankum's parents. I knew who they had to be, thanks to extensive census research, but now I have an actual document that gives their names. Yee-haw.
From there, I have spent a couple of hours downloading more early birth and death records for various family members. I've pulled copies of Confederate service records. I've got a nice little stack of paper that has already justified the cost of membership, if you count how much I would have had to pay the State for copies of these records or how much I would have had to pay for gas to go get the records from the pertinent courthouses.
Nothing I like better than a new pile of old records to explore.