Discovering the Full Text Search Tool

Guess what happened when I recently dropped into a Society Front Porch Talk—Kentucky Ancestors Pre-1850? I discovered one of the newest and coolest research tools from In February, several of the participants had attended RootsTech where it was introduced and were excited to talk about it. And I soon learned why.

The tool is a Full Search Text of wills and land records, which works like a Boolean Search. It is accessible by clicking on FamilySearch Labs in the lower right corner of the site’s home page. That leads to several options, including “Expand your search with Full Text.” Click on it and let your adventure begin.

My first entry was simple: Hiles and Covington, Kentucky. That quickly gave me my Great-Grandfather William C. Hiles’ last will and a land transaction. Whoa! That was easy. So, I thought, let’s go back a generation so I entered: Randolph Hiles Mason County. Whoa again! Up came another land transaction.

Well, of course, I couldn’t stop. In one sitting, I found the 1770 will of my 5th Great-Grandfather John Rodes, in Albemarle County, Virginia, British Colonial America; the 1778 will of my 4th Great Grandfather Dabney Pettus, in Charlotte County, Virginia; and an 1831 deed in which my 3rd Great Grandfather William H. Gates, in Mason County Kentucky, mentioned his father William Gates and wife Polly who lived at the time in Mercer County, Kentucky. The last find was the most exciting as it provided me with an as-yet unknown 4th Great Grandfather: William Gates!

William C Hiles Last Will; Source:


About the Author

<h3><a href="" target="_self">Susan J Court</a></h3>

Susan J Court

Susan J. Court is a genealogist and a member of the Board of the Kentucky Genealogical Society. She has authored 12 family histories and 15 genealogy articles, and is a frequent speaker on genealogy in Northern Virginia. She is also a member of several genealogical and historical societies in the U.S. and Europe, and a member of the River Raisin Chapter of the U.S.D. 1812. Ms. Court was born in Covington, Kentucky and currently lives in Arlington, Virginia. She is a graduate of Thomas More University (B.A., History), University of Cincinnati (M.A., European History), and Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law (J.D.). In the D.C. area since 1981, she was an attorney with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a partner at Hogan Lovells, LLP, and a federal energy policy consultant.

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