|photo from Colorado GenWeb|
Most burned counties can be categorized as Hopeless, Almost Hopeless and Difficult. New Kent is categorized as Hopeless, after several early random fires, and then, the burning of the government buildings in several wars -- including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. As New Kent had been categorized as hopeless, I figured it really meant, well, hopeless. I was shocked to find as much information as I did. The key is not to focus on what's not there, but try to figure out what is available.
When you hit a burned county, just know that you must really learn the history, connect to sources you may not be used to working with and work a little harder.
1. Look for information on your surname in adjacent counties.
2. Go to FamilySearch and check all the existing films available for the county you're searching and review the state-wide information that's available.
3. Look for records and indexes that may have been recorded and published. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.
4. Check the local state library or archive to see if there are unusual state collections available. Virginia, for example, has nearly 150 years worth of patents.
5. Be sure to check GenWeb to see if there is a strong page of information for your county.
6. Join the local genealogical society or at least check it out. The society is likely to know what kind of information is available.
7. Finally, it's worth checking the Chronicling America website or other early newspaper pay-databases to check for random newspaper information.