Friday, February 10, 2012

The Lay of The Land

Brick walls can come at you from all directions. They often sit there and smile while you get more and more discouraged wondering if you will ever get around them. Over the years, I have found that getting a "lay of the land" will often help one understand many of the dimensions of these brick walls. Knowing the historical and geographical factors that interplay with your tree climbing will frequently assist to "wipe that smile off their face"!

The drawing to the right is an example of such an attempt. My brick wall was in the geographic area of North Wales. A bunch of JONES were hidden in these mountains. How was I to sort them? I decided to try and understand the lay of the land. [called topography]

Since the earliest days, water [after oxygen] was the most important resource for survival. Streams, creeks, and rivers were the lifeline and highway to much of the human settlements. How these creeks and streams flowed determined much in the way of survival. Today, it is difficult to find maps that will show just the rivers. [especially in genealogy] Draw your own, I thought!

The most important item is a good starting map. Finding one that has the origin of your family tree is necessary. For me this was Touring Guide To Britain, published by The Reader's Digest Association, NY, 1992. Tracing paper was the next most important item. Removing all names, cites, locations, etc., etc., by just tracing the rivers, streams, and those items which might be of importance. [For me it was the iron age hill forts!] You then make a hard copy of the finished product so that you can write upon the finished product.

The tracing above shows the two main "head waters" of my family tree. The Dee and the Severn are shown, the Dee in blue. It is here that they almost touch giving a geographic location where one can reach both within 5 miles! Here, my JONES family had its roots many generations back. A strategic starting point it is. Dip in the Dee and you come out at Chester. (North) Dip in the Severn and you come out Gloucester. (South) It certainly would be a good location to start your day.


  1. What a great idea! I never would have thought of it. This just might help me "erode" a brick wall or two of my own.