Prolific local author has passion to find the facts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

CHESAPEAKE — Deed books, map books, land records, early trails and migration patterns our ancestors took to move west and much more are all part of the 54 books of information abstracted and written by Carrie Eldridge of Chesapeake.

Retired schoolteacher and adjunct professor at Marshall University, she has a passion to “find the facts.” There are a series of maps and migration atlases.

She started doing the research in 1985 to find the information she needed for her genealogy research.

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“Actually, my mother-in-law said, ‘We’ve lived here forever but we don’t know anything about the family,’ ” she said. “In about 24 hours I got about six generations of her family on both sides and they had been in Cabell County since the 1820s.”

She also found out that none of the Cabell County, W.Va., records had been abstracted and a lot of them were disappearing.

Much of her research is in Cabell County, W.Va., and she has also worked on projects in Kentucky and Marietta, Ohio.

“The Cabell County Courthouse is only about three miles from here,” Eldridge said. “So, there’s a whole lot more opportunity to do Cabell County than it is to do Ironton which is 25 miles plus most of the Ironton records have been taken to Athens, so they aren’t even down there. That’s what got me started.”

She found out when she was doing her family research that they came from Nicholas County, Ky.

She kept going back to the same census page and figured out quickly that it was just as fast to abstract the records as she went through them as to keep going back to the same records.

“That’s why I abstracted them,” Eldridge said. “It doesn’t take that much longer to get all of the records than it does just to pull yours out.”

She decided to do as many of the records that existed before the civil war as she could.

“I found odd ones, like a fee book that was kept 13 years,” she said. “It’s who paid the fees to the sheriff for being in court.”

Other records include old courthouse records of slavery, execution records, church books, census records, records of extinct towns and diaries.

Her latest endeavor is “Settlement between Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi-Missouri Valleys, 1760-1880.”

“This stuff just fascinates me,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge travels the country as a guest speaker at national conferences. On Saturday, Sept. 29, she will be at Family History Day organized by the Scioto County Chapter of the Genealogy Society of Ohio at the Scioto County Welcome Center, 342 Second St. in Portsmouth. The seminar begins at 9 a.m. and she will be speaking at 11 a.m. on lost cemeteries.

Her books can be purchased at genealogy shows and online at