The institution of apprenticeship was a common means of providing for the maintenance and future self-reliance of orphaned children as well as for any children whose parents had abandoned them or otherwise refused to support them. Apprenticeship records (which ordinarily take the form of bonds and indentures) are often buried among volumes of original county court minute books. They are nonetheless valuable to genealogists because they establish the existence of young people who might otherwise go undetected in the more conventional genealogical sources.
West Tennessee’s Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1821 to 1889 marks the third and concluding volume in Dr. Alan N. Miller’s series of extractions (begun in 2000) of Tennessee apprenticeship records. Just as he did for the 29 counties of East Tennessee and 35 counties of Middle Tennessee, Dr. Miller has sifted through the apprenticeship records of West Tennessee and brought them within the reach of the genealogy researcher. This third volume contains over 4,000 apprenticeship records scattered among the minutes of the county courts for West Tennessee. These records span the period 1821 to 1889 and list in tabular form the apprenticeships created in the following 19 Tennessee counties: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Shelby, Tipton, and Weakley.
Dr. Miller extracted data for this volume from county court minutes on microfilm obtained from the Tennessee State Archives, the Dallas Public Library, and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. He has arranged the records by county and thereunder chronologically. For each record he gives the name of the apprentice, a date (either the date of the original bond or indenture or a subsequent date), age at apprenticeship, name of the master, and miscellaneous information ranging from the name of the mother or a sibling, race, cause of apprenticeship (e.g., orphan), his/her trade, etc.