Monday, June 1, 2015

Sphere of Influence

Dynamic factors come into play during the historical periods that our ancestors lived.  These factors will influence the surroundings, and often direct the decisions that our family makes among the various branches of the family tree.  Many branches come to one of those "brick walls" when the twist and curves are a result of these factors.  Trying to get a grasp of these influences will help direct the tree climbing decisions.  One aspect I call "Sphere of Influence".  The following figures help demonstrate  how this concept may be approached.

The basic principle is that each family member comes under the influence of a dominate factor which plays an important role in their life.  A simple drawing [using graph paper] is shown.



 In the center is a square drawn to represent the "dynamic factor" that is central to the time period.  It may be an individual, or any issue that seems to play an important role for the family member.  There are four additional squares draw which are connected to this central issue.

Extending this central issue...


...various additional individuals [factors] extend outward in expanding directions.  Each being more distant from the center, yet still influence by the connection.  A cluster affect it might be called, or a "sphere of influence" surrounding the center.

Continuing the example...


... let's say the central dynamic is political.  For my family history much deals with the complex roll of the monarchy verses individual rights.  "Royal Power" is the center, and an "inter circle" is formed by those connected.  Family records will often list the names of various folks connected to this "sphere of influence", but making these connections become one brick wall after another.  An "outer circle" is formed surrounding these folks, and placing their role in this complex web, will often help connect family members.  Influence and authority extending from a central issue.  Making clusters and branches will focus many decisions among the family tree branches.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Concepts, Principles, Methods

Brick walls offer an opportunity to try all kinds of new things.  Over the years climbing trees [reaching 55 years!]  I have found various concepts and principles that have provided help in brick wall destruction.   This blog is an attempt to put these ideas into some form that may help other genealogist when they face their own brick walls.  Thus, it is called "The Brick Wall Protocol".

I would bet that there are lots of folks who have experience these brick walls, and have found ways to get around them.  It may be a method, or tool that has helped.  It may be a concept or principle.  This post is to ask those who have used [or discovered] these things to place a comment to this post. 

It may also be that there are those who are experiencing their own brick wall.  You might place a brief comment asking help from those who have been there before.

Please add your concepts, principles, or methods that have helped you get around those brick walls.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Location, location, location...

Names can be difficult at times, especially those Welsh names to those of us on this side of the great pond. (USA)  Many times, these names were given as locations to certain family members.  An example is Howel of Ruth, Rys of Leeswood, and Peter of Bersham.  Add names like Llweeni, Hawarden, Selattyn, Hanmer, Ellesmere, Wem, and Llanfair Dyffan Clwyd.  Where and how are these connected?  Brick walls, brick walls, and more brick walls.  Finding the location of each place with the family member, would help answer many questions.  Such is the drawing given below.


Drawn to scale, the various locations that had been thought to be spread all over the globe, were actually all within a very short distance to one another.  All these folks were almost within spiting distance to one another, as my Welsh family proved to be.  As different folks spread about my pages of research, the ones from the same "location" would more likely be related.  Location, location, location as they say in some fields, but it can also help in getting around some of those brick walls.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Drawing to Scale

Identifying the geographic location that our ancestors first arrived to this new land can often separate a number of brick walls.  It is helpful to draw maps that are "to scale".  By this I mean tracing a map out of a recognized source to scale. The following is an example of my own family search, where the name "Jones Point" occurs.


My ancestors arrived to stay in Virginia around 1650. [They were thrown out of England after Charles I lost his head.]  Rappahannock River was the major highway to their settlement.  Where this "Jones Point" was located was one task, as well as, trying to determine if these JONES families were connected to my own family tree.

As outline in the last post, landmarks are an important indicator of the families initial location.    Tracing a map from the "mouth" [opening/starting point] using an identifiable scale [mile markers drawn] can be used to carefully locate positions along the coast line.  Following the pathway along the shore line will give the location of other creeks, points, cliffs, etc., while providing a scale in which to mark the "mile markers" that often expressed in land patents.

It is important to recognize that one "shore line" does not always match the same distance on the opposite shore.  Each square above is draw as "mile markers" from the starting points [Stingray Point (south side) and Mosquito Point (north side) ]  Eight miles up river on the south side is only four miles on the north side.  The bends and curves of the river will also change their course moving "east to west" and then "north to south".  Drawing maps to scale will help sort out these descriptors on land patents.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Using Landmarks

Land surveys have been made since 1621 in the colony of Virginia.  Geographic landmarks were utilized to help locate and describe each survey. [patent]  Rivers, streams, creeks, swamps, points, bays, and many other items were often included.  Understanding the location and utilization of these geographic items can be the help needed to get around some of those brick walls.

A method used for this process is shown below.  Using an index in Volume I, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623 - 66, by Nugent was used to outline the names of rivers, streams, creeks, swamps, etc., as they appear alphabetically in the index.


From left to right, it shows the names of rivers as they are indexed, with the page number that they are recorded falling below.  Dates were then placed along the left hand margin as they appear in the surveys.   This gives a rough chronology of the "rivers" as they become involved with a survey.  For example, the river named "Wiccocomocco" does not appear until 1635. [p.27]  The river "Nansamund" is involved in a survey before 1632. [p.17]  If an ancestor uses these rivers as landmarks for their patent, you can place these ancestors in an appropriate chronology.  Often, two to three years difference may break one of those brick walls.

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

Words

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.