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


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.