I remember the early days of my genealogical journey. After reading "Roots' by Alex Haley in 1976 I was ready to get started on documenting my family. Now it's May 2012, 36 years later, and I'm still stuck on one of the major Brick wall in my research – William A. Purvis.
I remember it was quite easy to get back to William A. Purvis. There was my great grandfather William James Purvis Death certificate and it stated that his parents were William Purvis, Sr. and Sarah Graves.
Next, it was off to the census where I found William and Sarah enumerated in the 1860-1880  census for Anson County, North Carolina. The only child listed for this couple was found in the 1870 census where my Great Grandfather William James Purvis is listed as a 6 year old child. In the 1880 Census, William James is married to my Great Grandmother Mary Hulda Previtte Purvis and living next door to his parents.
Further research in the 1900 Census along with research in the local cemetery resulted in no record of William A. Purvis and Sarah Jane Graves Purvis after 1880. The 1890 Census were destroyed by fire, this 20 year gap put a big stumbling block in the research process. No grave or tombstone has been found for either William or Sarah.
At this time, approximately 3 years into my research, I turned to land deeds in an effort to find additional information on my 3rd great grandparents.
The land deeds provided a gold mine of documents and some pertinent genealogical information.
There are 9 land deeds on file in Anson County, NC for the buying and selling of land to which William A. or William J. Purvis were a party in the transaction.
In additional to these 9 land deeds found in North & South Carolina; there were 27 Trust Deeds found that William A. Purvis, Sarah Jane Purvis, William James Purvis and Mary Hulda Purvis were the Trustor for the deed.
The really big surprise out of all of these deeds was Betsy Purvis selling the land that William A. Purvis and Sarah Jane Purvis once owned. There is no evidence in the Deeds Books that Betsy Purvis ever purchase land in Anson County, NC. The fact that she is selling land that was previously owned by William A. Purvis points to a "right of survivorship" such as spousal inheritances.
Much later, a local genealogist found what is believed to be a death notice for Sarah Purvis.
Messenger-Intelligencer issue of January 4, 1894, page 3, McFarlan News - The funeral of the wife of Mr. Wm. PERVIS was preached by this writer in the M. E. Church of this place last Sunday [31 Dec. 1893]. She was a good old woman. She had suffered intensely for fifteen months from cancer. She was a member of the M. E. church about 20 years. [Source: Steve Bailey]
No one in our family was aware of a second marriage for great grandfather William A. Purvis but circumstantial evidence surely points to a second wife.
There is a Land Deed recorded to Deed Book 33, page370 between William A. Purvis and wife Betsy to J. D. Rhyne, deed dated 23 September 1899. This is the last document found, as of today, for William A. Purvis. He is not listed in the 1900 Census which was enumerated on 28 June 1900.
It is presumed that William a. Purvis died between 23 September 1899 (DB33:370) and 28 June 1900 (1900 Census). Elizabeth Purvis is enumerated in the 1900 Census.
In 2004, I was contacted to assist in getting a DAR Application approved for a descendant of Frederick Rivers. I was able to use the following Land Deeds to prove this lineage. The deeds are summarized here to save space.
William Rivers & Others to B. F. White.
The DAR wanted proof of the children of her ancestor. We used a Land Deed (DB 20, pages 263-265, Chesterfield, SC) which listed the children names. The deed listed the following children: William, David, Sarah, Eliza and Calvin Rivers selling land formerly owned by F. F. Rivers (deceased). The parents of these children were Frederick F. Rivers & Siddie Boatwright Rivers.
Another instance I used a Land Deed to correct a name. Harry Alexander Davis published a book in 1927 entitled "The Davis Family in Wales & America".
On page 55 he lists the children of my 4th Great Grandfather Thomas Davis. The 7th child of Thomas and Nancy Davis was a daughter named Elizabeth Rebecca Davis. Mr. Davis in his book has her listed as Margaret Elizabeth Davis.
A land deed was used to prove her name was documented as Elizabeth Rebecca Davis.
Deed Book 1: 47-48
Lewis Boatwright to Samuel Boatwright dated 15 April 1854 states that he Lewis Boatwright "do grant bargain sell and release unto my Son Samuel". Transfer of 250 acres for the sum of $250.00. States that Elizabeth R. Boatwright the wife of the within named Lewis Boatwright did appears this 10 day January 1866. Elizabeth Rebecca [Davis] Boatwright relinquishes her rights of dower. Harry Alexander Davis in his book "The Davis of Wales and America", page 55 has her name recorded as Margaret Elizabeth Davis. Yet, in this land deed she states that her name is Elizabeth Rebecca Boatwright. [Chesterfield County, SC, Register of Deeds, Book #1, Page 47-48].
Another important land deed in this area is those dealing with land division upon death of the Owner. A good reference is a land deed at this Website:
In this deed the dower land of Abrilla Hailey,Decd; widow of John Hailey is
being divided among the heirs. A total of 9 lots of land are being divided
among the heirs including the married names of a daughter - Lot 4 - Laid off to Rebecca Clark.
If you are stalled in your research and at this point haven't considered looking at land deeds I would encourage you to consider this resource.
 1860 U. S. Census, Anson County, North Carolina, Population Schedule, Morven, Anson County, North Carolina, ED No ED, page 300, line 34, Dwelling 1238, Family 1188, Household of William A. Purvis.
 1870 U S Census, Anson County, North Carolina, Population Schedule, Morven, Anson County, North Carolina, ED No ED, page 403A, line 38, Dwelling 178; Family 178, Household of William A. Purvis.
 1880 U. S. Census, Anson County, North Carolina, population schedule, Anson County, North Carolina, ED # 2, Page 350B, Line 36, Dwelling 233, Family 251, Household of William A. Purvis.
 security for your loan
 Sarah Jane Graves Purvis obituary, Messenger-Intelligencer, Wadesboro, North Carolina, 4 January 1894, page 3, McFarlan News.
 Anson County, North Carolina, Deed Book 33: page 370, W. A. Purvis and wife Elizabeth Purvis to J. D. Rhyne; 23 September 1899, Register of Deeds, Wadesboro, Anson County, North Carolina.
 1900 U. S. Census, Anson County, North Carolina, population schedule, Morven, Anson County, North Carolina, ED #7, page 145, line 20, dwelling 337, family 338, Household of Elizabeth Purvis.
 Land Deed - ; ; Deed Book #20; Page(s) 263-265; Register of Deeds; Chesterfield, Chesterfield County, South Carolina; 2000
 Harry Alexander Davis, The Davis Family (Davies and David) in Wales and America: genealogy of Morgan David of Pennsylvania (Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1927), Page 55.
 Land Deed - Lewis Boatwright to Samuel Boatwright; 15 April 1854; Deed Book # 1; page(s)47-48.