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Laws and Provisions Can Lead to Genealogical Records

By Robin Foster

Recently, I went to the Greenwood County, SC Probate Office where I noticed a big red book left out that had not been put back. I am not sure where it was supposed to go, but it made me curious because I had not seen this record in the room before. It was volume one of notices of liens by the South Carolina Mental Health Commission.

I wondered what the process was that caused these liens to be recorded in the courthouse. I found Section 44-23-1140 which is a provision in Title 44 of the South Carolina code of laws on health which provides some explanation:

“SECTION 44-23-1140. Lien for care and treatment; filing statement; limitation of action for enforcement. There is hereby created a general lien upon the real and personal property of any person who is receiving or who has received care or treatment in a State mental health facility, to the extent of the total expense to the State in providing the care, training or treatment. The Department of Mental Health shall send to the clerk of court or the register of deeds in those counties having such officer and the judge of probate of the county of the patient's or trainee's known or last known residence a statement showing the name of the patient or trainee and the date upon which the lien attaches, which shall be filed in the offices of the clerk of court or the register of deeds in those counties having such officer and the judge of probate in each county in which the patient or trainee then owns or thereafter acquires property, real or personal, and no charge shall be made for this filing. From the time of filing in either office, the statement shall constitute due notice of the lien against all property then owned or thereafter acquired by the patient or trainee. No action to enforce the lien may be brought more than one year after the patient's or trainee's death. This lien shall in no way affect the right of homestead. HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 32-1029; 1952 (47) 2042; 1953 (48) 504; 1954 (48) 1732; 1956 (49) 1604; 1997 Act No. 34, Section 1.“ Title 44

I learned that a copy of the lien is filled in the office of clerk of court and in probate. Since one of the surnames I am researching is Johnson, I decided to search for Johnsons in the index to this book:

SC Mental Health Commission Notice of Liens, page 48 in Greenwood County, SC Probate Office - Index

I did not see anyone I knew, but I wanted to share this resource in case you were not aware that it exists. I decided to take a further look at the record for Aggie L. Johnson. According to the index, the lien is on page 48. The patient was in Crafts-Farrow State Hospital and the lien covered the years between 1948 and 1974.

SC Mental Health Commission Notice of Liens, page 48 in Greenwood County, SC Probate Office

I could also check for additional records in the office of clerk of court among the deeds. I want to also find out where the other volumes of these liens are kept. I was really shocked to find a mention of a 2013 lien (it was satified) right online! So much for privacy! It is mentioned here.

This example got me thinking that I could probably research laws in particular areas just to see what records were generated that could be used to identify ancestors. Keep in mind that laws and records are different in each locality. Have you discovered any records this way? Let us know!

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