Monday, February 16, 2015

Tracing Paper

An inexpensive way to add a little fun to this brick wall demolition is with tracing paper.  The following shows the type available.

Transparent paper for sketches and overlays it states.  For me, tracing maps, and land surveys, and the like, would help get around some of those "geographic" brick walls.  The following are some examples.

The Ohio River Valley played an important role in the story of my family.  Early on [1650s], my family were on tidewaters of Virginia.  In the early period of American history [starting 1776] my family migrated to this valley.  The figure above used tracing paper to roughly outline this "Ohio Valley" and the major geographic obstacles that came into play.  "Go west young man"...but how?

Understanding migration patterns helped break down a couple of my brick walls.  The 1850 census records in Kentucky [where my family has lived since 1776] would give a state of birth such as PA, VA, NC, etc.   How they got here was often a question that had to be answered before that brick wall could be faced.   Lots of color, lots of tracing, came into play.  Tracing paper was the foundation of these adventures.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Our tree climbing experiences will present many brick walls along the way.  These often appear when we face a country of origin which is completely different than our own.   You know, those ancestors liked to travel around.   Language is one of the key factors that involve our attention as we try to sort through the branch we are hanging.  For me, the JONES surname has offered a variety of difficult brick walls since my country of origin (Wales) has a completely different language [its origin and roots] than my English.   The following table gives such examples.

It is titled "Words of Life" and begins with the "English" [American] word such as "birth", "baby", "infant", etc.  These are certainly words of life as we examine them in our tree climbing.  The far right column gives the "Anglo-Saxon" for the same word.   Between these are the "Welsh", "Latin", "French", and "Greek" to explore these words as they have occurred among the documents of the day.  It can be seen that the "Welsh" word is distinctively different than any other of the languages explored.  It is this distinction that becomes involved in the origin of the JONES surname.  You may need to explore the various languages that your own ancestors shared along the way...understanding "words" can be a brick wall breaker.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Networking : A New Blog

The JONES surname comes at you from all angles and many different places.  This new blog is presented to help those who share this surname, or have an interesting in exploring the branches of this vast family tree.  It is organized around many themes [subjects] that play an important role for the genealogist.  These are geography (g.), chronology (ch.), DNA (d.), key variables (k), individual researchers (i.), resources (r.), and coat of arms (a.). The blog can be found at http://    Come join the networking...perhaps it will help with some of those brick walls.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One Squire Mile

Land grants, patents, and surveys can present special problems to the genealogist.   This is especially true when these grants have been recorded years past.  Having spent a great deal of time trying to figure out the language used during certain periods, the following chart is given to try and help.   Terms are often used which become very confusing.   Hopefully, this table might help those who, like me, get a way to convert "rods", "poles", "chains", and "links" into feet and miles.  It is based on Gunter's Chain.

In green highlight, is the number "1".  Each line represents "one" of the terms given.   Thus, "1 Chain" equals  66 feet, or 22 yards, or 4 rods.   Now the term "rod" is not often used today to mean the same that it would in 1623.   Thus, using the table, you can find that "1 rod" equals 16.5 feet or 5.5 yards.  Of course you could have divided "4 rods" into 66 feet to get 16.5 feet, but hey, who does math any more.   Thus, 1 chain, 1 link, 1 rod, 1 pole, 1 acre, and 1 mile can be determined.  Ah yes, remember that 1 squire mile equals 640 acres.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Add Your Thoughts

Brick walls are everywhere.  No matter who you are, where you are, and how long you have been doing this thing called genealogy, you will run into them along the way.  Sharing experiences and what has helped get around, or through, or over, or under these things we call brick walls, is a way to pass on to other genealogist what we have learned.  I thought it might be useful for others who have learned methods or techniques, or tools, to share their thoughts.

The comment section of the blogs allows one to put their thoughts into words.  For those reading this post, please comment any thoughts you might have to share along this tree climbing experience that has help you face those brick walls.  Others can then respond to your thoughts or suggestions which can then expand the ideas expressed.  Let's get going...I know there are lots of folks out there with a few lumps on their genealogical heads from running into those brick walls.  Add your thoughts. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lessons From The Wall (III) Boots on the Ground

There is nothing like learning and doing things for yourself in this tree climbing business.  Boots on the ground I call it.  Using your own eyes, ears, touch, and senses to gather the facts about those who have come before it is.  For me, this was the way around many of my own brick walls.

To visit a cemetery, see an original document, touch the headstone, and rummage though the stacks often gave me an opportunity to recognize additional facts that would open other doors and branches to the tree.  For example, for many years there seemed to be major conflict between the name "Griffin Jones".  He was listed as the father of my Nicholas Jones in the Revolutionary War record S16169.  This Nicholas was born November 14, 1762 in Caroline county Virginia.   What a deal I thought, a father's name and a birth location!

Being in Kentucky at the time of this discovery, I set about learning all I could about Caroline Co., VA.  It soon became evident that there was conflict in the records I uncovered regarding the name Griffin.  In one he was found "tax exempt" from taxes, and the next year placed in charge of road maintenance.  To be exempt from taxes at this time meant your were either "old" or "infirmed".  It did not make sense that he would then be placed in charge keeping the road in the area surrounding his home.  A healthy old man I thought.  The name appeared in many court records, and suits during the same time period.  What the heck? 

It took a trip to the court house of Caroline county VA to help set the record straight. [My boots on the ground.]  On one court record folded in a box was the name "Griffin Jones, Sr." written lightly on the outside of the record!  This was the first time that gave me the evidence that explained why there was such confusion.  No other record made a distinction between "Sr." and "Jr." except this one case.  I would have only seen it by looking in the bushes (boxes) myself.  Even a transcription of each case would not have given the information. 

Seeking things for yourself... in settings that are real... being able to judge the documents yourself... may often make the difference in going around one of those brick walls.  Boots on the ground I call it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lessons From The Wall (II) Sounds to Symbols

Schooling during the late 1950s and early 1960s produced a belief that words were to be spelled correctly.  You were given a list of "spelling words"...told to memorize them...and then, you were given a test to rewrite them exactly as they were given to you.  This lead me to believe that there was only one way to spell a word.

This principle would of course apply to surnames.   A family would spell their surname only one way.  A different spelling of this same surname would mean a different unrelated family.  Thus, early in my tree climbing adventure, there was this understanding that surnames [at least of the same family group] would always be spelled the same way....not!

Lesson (II)

Surnames of the same family can be spelled all sorts of ways.

For example, the surname "Taliaferro".   This family was connected to my Jones family very early in the days of colonial Virginia.  During the records of 1623 - 1666, no such spelling occurred.  It was not until 1666 - 1695 did this name first appear among the pages.  For years this made me believe that the Taliaferro family arrived Virginia after 1666...not!

Sounds to symbols changed my understanding.  A surname was first pronounced, then written down by the one recording the record.  For "Taliaferro" it was first spelled "Tolliver" (1661), then "Talifer", then "Taliafro", then "Tallifro", then "Talifro", the "Tallifer", then "Taliafero", before it was ever spelled "Taliaferro". 

Understanding this aspect of genealogy helped me get around a few brick walls.  Sounds become symbols (words) written down to help locate some of those elusive family members.  You may find your surname is spelled (recorded) all sorts of ways.