Genealogy Keep-doing, not a do-over: Part 4 (final) – John Shadinger

*This series of posts allows me practice in documenting sources and provide the reader some insight to my methodology through a bit of a travelogue of my efforts. I have already solved this particular problem, so while I am happy to provide fodder for my reader’s research passions and while I welcome any corrections to blatant errors, I am not soliciting crowd-sourced answers to any questions posed. These posts should also not be considered final reports, as they tend to ramble around the problem and take the reader on a sometimes circuitous trip! My hope is that you learn a bit about reasonably exhaustive research or new record sets, or at least be mildly entertained. 

The research question remains the same:

Who were the parents of John Shadinger born 06 July 1926 in Fayette County, Georgia?

The hypothesis:

John Shadinger’s mother was Elizabeth (?) Shadinger Jones born before 1810 in South Carolina; married Willis Jones in Troup County, Georgia, 4 October 1832; and who died between 1870 -1873 in Carroll County, Georgia.

Next Steps:

Trace census records for John Shadinger in Georgia ca. 1850 (the earliest census with all household members named)

Search Troup County probate records for Shadinger/Mitchell ca 1830.

Keep fingers cross that Mr. Guffin responds and has his source notes handy!

Search “Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990” at to browse extant Troup County probate records for “Shadinger.” (assuming Elizabeth Shadinger was widowed with minor children, she would have required guardians for their legal and financial interests in accordance with existing laws)

Obtain probate records from Carroll County Courthouse for Elizabeth Jones’ estate which was administered by John Shadinger between 1870-1873.

Mining probate records yields evidence!

John Shadinger was born in 1826 in Fayette County, Georgia[1] and by 1832 his mother was presumably widowed and remarried in Troup County, Georgia. Having at least one minor child it is likely that guardian bonds and probate records exist in either Fayette or Troup County resulting from the death of her husband, ? Shadinger.

Troup and Fayette County probate records are available online at FamilySearch, though they do require some manual image searching since they are not digitally indexed. Using  what we know so far, we can search “Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990” at to browse extant probate records for “Shadinger.” Starting with most recent known information, I selected a variety of records from Troup County to begin with.

Fortunately, Troup County has a “Will and Estate Index” starting with 1828. The first index entry was for Andrew Shadinger and listed Hardy Mitchell as administrator. The second entry was for John, William, and Mary Shadinger and listed Hardy Mitchell as Guardian.[2]The online images are not all-inclusive of all of the probate records and dates relevant to our research. For example, the index indicates an entry in Guardian Bond book A – but that book is not available in FamilySearch’s online image files. However, there is plenty that is available and careful reading of each entry provides us with answer we need:

The probate book titles listed in the index register do not always correspond to the file names found in the image collection on FamilySearch. For example, an annotation in the index (the original record just described) in the “Sales Bills” column for Andrew Shadinger shows he has an entry in “Record Book A” p. 153. However, FamilySearch titles that film file as “Inventories and Appraisements 1828-1836.” Further complicating the search is that the original record page numbers are often at the top edges of the page and image quality sometimes obscures the number. In this example, page no. 153 of the original record was image 88 of 190.

Summary of evidence in probate records:

Andrew Shadinger died intestate before 09 November 1832. At the time of his death, Andrew owned property in Fayette County, Georgia. Hardy Mitchell was probate for Andrew Shadinger’s estate and also guardian for his minor children: John, Mary, and William, all of whom lived in the household of Willis Jones in 1835. On 20 February 1835, the children’s grandfather, Henry Mitchell gave money in trust to guardian Hardy Mitchell for his grandchildren. Mary no longer appears in guardian accounts after 1840 and there is a reference in one account to her allotment being divided among her brother’s. John’s final account was dated January 1847 and William’s in 1850. [3]

Tying the evidence to our question of John’s parentage:
  • From the above evidence in the original records, we see direct evidence of Andrew Shadinger as father to John Shadinger – John is named among “orphans of Andrew Shadinger, deceased.”
  • The information that John was a minor in 1832 and his last guardian account was in January of 1847 for the year 1846 provides indirect evidence of his approximate birth year and correlates with his marriage to Frances in Coweta County, Georgia in December of 1846.[4]
  • That the children are in the Troup County household of Willis Jones in 1835 corroborates that Elizabeth (?) Shadinger (widow of Andrew and presumably mother to John, Mary, and William) married Willis Jones after the death of her husband. (see last post)
  • The reference to the children’s grandfather, Hardy Mitchell, and the fact that their guardian was Henry Mitchell is indirect evidence that Elizabeth’s maiden name was Mitchell. It makes sense that her brother, a trusted male relative, would be appointed guardian of her children’s estate.

All of this aligns with what we know from Mr. Guffin’s notes, but now we have the evidence to support his assertions. What we haven’t uncovered is Andrew’s cause of death. He was young, and died without a will. It makes sense that he may have been in an accident of some kind as Mr. Guffin describes in his narrative – that Andrew was killed by a tree while out cutting wood. A search of available online news sources did not reveal this detail, though Mr. Guffin said he may have gotten it from a news account. It is possible that there are newspapers for surrounding areas which are not available online.

Updated Hypothesis:

John’s mother was Elizabeth (Mitchell) Shadinger Jones, born the daughter of Hardy Mitchell in South Carolina around 1810; married to Andrew Mitchell by 1831; married to Willis Jones in Troup County in 1832; and who died between 1870 -1873 in Carroll County, Georgia.

John’s father was Andrew Shadinger, father to John, Mary, and William and husband of Elizabeth Mitchell; property owner in Fayette County, Georgia around 1830; and probably born around 1810 and died around 1831 in Troup County, Georgia.

Andrew’s date of death can be inferred to be within the year prior to the first inventory and appraisal dated 9 November 1832. However, a later inventory states Andrew died on 10 November 1832. This is in direct conflict with the date Elizabeth married Willis in October 1832, but can be attributed to an error in transcription since the appraisers’ sworn testimony is dated 9 November 1832 and would not have occurred before Andrew’s death – likely not until months after. It wasn’t uncommon for the entries in these registers to be made several months or even years after the transaction occurred. A clerk would have been reading from court notes and other records when making entries into this register. The date on the original record could have been mis-written, or the clerk could have mis-read it. Further evidence that a mistake was made is found in two issues of the Columbus Enquirer which has entries announcing Hardy Mitchell’s application for Letters of Administration for Andrew Shadinger’s estate. The petition was dated 4 September 1832.[5]

So, we’re done, right?

Not really – not by my standards. Sure, we have found direct evidence from secondary sources for the names of John’s parents, but we still don’t have enough information to tie John’s parents to the next generation back. Knowing their names isn’t the same as knowing WHO they were. And we still haven’t really found John in the same place as his presumed parents. So we will keep going…

Updated Research Plan

Search Fayette and Troup county census for 1830 Andrew and Elizabeth Shadinger household with at least one son around age four and possibly another son and a daughter. 

Search Fayette County, GA marriage records for Shadinger-Mitchell.

Search Fayette County, GA probate records for Shadinger (he had property there when he died, so maybe there are deed records to lead us to his parents)

Search Georgia and South Carolina 1820 for Hardy Mitchell.

Obtain probate records from Carroll County Courthouse for Elizabeth Jones’ estate which was administered by John Shadinger between 1870-1873. (finding this will help solidify our theory that the Elizabeth Jones who died around 1870 is the same one who married Willis)

Genealogy is never done…

This is where the series will end. But you can be sure that I’ll continue much in the same way for searching for Elizabeth Mitchell’s and Andrew Shadinger’s parents. I won’t leave you hanging though…I did find Andrew’s household on the 1830 census in Fayette County, Georgia. He was enumerated with two males under 5 (John and Andrew), himself age 20-29, a female under 5 (daughter Mary), one female 20-29 (wife Elizabeth), and two slaves: an adult woman 24-35 and a male under 10.[6] So, it appears that Mr. Guffin was mostly right in his narrative about this segment of the Shadinger-Mitchell family – although, he did theorize that at least one of the children were born in Troup County. Maybe he didn’t find the 1830 census…Just sayin…


I hope you have enjoyed, or at least gained something, from this series of posts. Typical research reports will not take you on such a winding journey, and a good report will simply compile the evidence in a way that provides a succinct answer to the question – with citations, of course! We explored a variety of record sets to prove parentage and narrow down dates and places of births, none of which were vital records. When researching Southern US families, this is a necessity prior to around 1930.



[1] Indigent Pension Claim, 20 September 1906, John Shadinger, Company 2, 2nd Georgia State Line Regiment, Georgia Confederate Pension Applications, Georgia Confederate Pension Office, RG 58-1-1, Georgia Archives; images, “Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960,” ( : database accessed 18 January 2018), image 145-153.

[2] “Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990,” images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Troup > Will and estate index 1828-1953 vol 1 > image 485 of 654; Troup County Archives, Georgia.

[3] “Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990,” images, FamilySearch ( : 14 February 2018), Troup > Inventories and appraisements 1828-1836 > image 62(p. 103); 88(p. 153); 152(p. 273); 164(p. 298) of 190; And also > Returns 1849-1851 vol G > image 209(p. 334) of 323; Troup County Archives, Georgia.

[4] Coweta Co., Georgia, “Record of Marriages, Book B, 1832-1855,” p. 327, 17 December 1846, for “John Shadner.”

[5] Columbus enquirer. (Columbus, Ga.) 1828-1861, October 20, 1832, p. 3, col. 5, “LaGrange-Troup Co.”; and also Nov. 3, 1832, p. 4, col. 5; Image online, Georgia Historic Newspapers ( : viewed 15 February 2018)

[6] 1830 US Census, Fayette County, Georgia, p. 198 (penned), entry no. 15, Andrew Shadinger; NARA microfilm publication M19, Roll 17.

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