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.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lessons from The Wall (I)

Spending time climbing many different "brick walls" gives one a certain perspective on this thing called genealogy.  "Lessons" they might be called.  I do not know how many of these walls presented themselves to this tree climber over the past 53 years of butting heads, but I do think there have been quite a few.  It might be of help to discuss some of these "lessons" in this blog, since the point has been to help ease the grief to some of my fellow tree here goes.

Lesson (1)

From my earliest days of tree climbing (starting age 9) it had always been assumed that the formal documents were correct.  Especially government records that had found their ways into court houses and such places.  One such record was the 1840 census of Kentucky.

One of my early brick walls was trying to find the JONES family that connected my family tree to Virginia.  I had found that Nicholas Jones (my direct line) had first come into Kentucky from Virginia in 1811.  Thus, any one who had been born in Kentucky before this date would not be directly connected to my family tree.  One such fellow was a Thomas Jones who had been born in 1796.  In this 1840 census, he was listed as being born in Kentucky.  Thus, his parents (at least mother) would have come to Kentucky before 1811.  Therefore, I assumed he could not be a son of my Nicholas (b. 1762) who was not in Kentucky until much later.  So, I spent roughly ten years checking every other JONES family in Clark County, KY convinced this Thomas was correctly eliminated.  It was not until I had eliminated every other JONES family that I checked the 1850 census to find that it listed this Thomas Jones as being born in Virginia!  What! In one census it had listed him being born in KY (1840), and in another census (1850) being born in (VA).  It just so happened that the luck of the draw, I found the 1840 census before the 1850 census.  This error did allow me to work through all the JONES families in Clark County before the 1870 census, but it sure did make me realize that not all "official" records were error free! 

Ten years...can you believe it?  Lesson (I) = don't trust everything you read...especially census records!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Family Trees

Branches to the family tree can certainly get confusing.  How to picture and put together all the branches can be an interesting task.  The following figures give one example of how this can be accomplished using a variety of methods all grouped together.

First is graph paper.  Any old kind will do.  I personally like reinforced filler paper, two sided, which seems to hold up a little better to my doodles and drawings.  Double sided gives a chance to use back and front of a single notebook page which opens the view to the imagination. [ 4/sq/inch on front and 5 sq/inch on back ]

Second is "square and circles".  [The square = males, the circle = female.]  This gives a way to draw a number of generations on the same page and connect the dots.  See my blog GE-NE-AL-O-GY 101 for a discussion of this method.

Third is a chronology.  By know you must recognize that a detailed chronology is paramount in the tree climbing adventure.  The figures show my chronology (in years) placed along the sides of the pages.  This can be done in all sorts of intervals.   This gives a "time line" to the family tree.

Forth is a coding mechanism.   This allows one to give each individual a distinct place in the tree, and hopefully allow one not to get confused along the branches.  My coding method is simple and flexible, using the alphabet and numbers. [The coding methods have been discussed in several of my blogs.]

Finally, I like colors.  A color code will give a visual picture that can be followed page after page of the family tree. Each major branch is given its own color code, so that as the generations increase, they can be followed page by page.   This especially helpful when those folks married 1st cousins!

The drawings shown are done with the graph paper turned side ways.  This will also give more room to place the family branch.

Family trees...the leaves will grow and the branches get broader.

The pink side of the family had to be placed on a page all to itself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Where To Look

Resources that aid genealogical research are everywhere.   Readings, references, and resources are to be part of the hunt, and can provide the tools for those brick walls.   For the surname JONES, the following is a wonderful resource for getting help in times of need.

Started by Mrs. Darla M. Jones, [Pialto, CA], in 1973, it consists of 19 volumes of reprints from this magazine.  Published quarterly, until 1992, it provides all sorts of information for the JONES surname.  Information from all states are contained.  Genealogist from all around provided their contributions to this newsletter.  The volumes are indexed. (Which helps a lot.)  There is no cumulative index, which means you have to examine each volume one by one.

Volume 19 ends 1991-1992.  The genealogical information for the JONES surname is contained within.  Where to look, a place it is.

[Note: All genealogical information needs confirmation and I have found some errors.  A complete set is located at the Joseph Wheeler Jones Memorial Library, Danville, KY.]

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Doodle a Day Keeps the Brick Walls Away

During childhood, doodling was one of those activities that kept my mind involved.  It is defined as an aimless scribble, design, or sketch.  I prefer the design or sketch definition, but to be honest it was probably the aimless scribble most of the time.  As things would have it, the concept of a "kinesthetic" learner  gave me an understanding of this process. [ Gr. kinesis = motion ]  Genealogy has given me the chance to apply these skills to tree climbing.  The following "sketches" show how one doodle can be used again, and again. (Only three of them are shown here.)

Sketch 1:

Well, it is actually a map sketched using tracing paper.  It outline the major water routes flowing into the Ohio River.  My JONES family came to Kentucky from Virginia, and my HENDERSON family came from North Carolina.

Sketch 2:

This takes sketch 1 and adds a little color to the picture. [Always liked to color!]  Additional information was placed in order to give my mind a visual picture of the geographic orientation.  The "New River" seemed to connect those from VA and NC.

Sketch 3:

A little more color, and a few mountain ranges doodled into the picture.  Physical barriers in place not letting those get to the families' land yet to come.  How did they do it?  A wonder indeed...brick walls...well, a doodle a day will help keep those brick walls away.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lumpers and Splitters

Decision making is a process.  It involves taking information, processing it in the recesses of the mind, and producing a course of action.  Having been involved in the "higher educational system" for some 27 years [taught at three Universities], it would seem that there are roughly two methods involved.  There are the "lumpers" and the "splitters".

The "lumpers" were the folks that needed more information.  Give me more facts, more details, more information, etc.,....,etc., I can make the best decision.

The "splitters" were the folks who said, don't confuse me more information.  I need to split away any useless information to get down to the bare facts.  All this excess is just making things worse.

For the genealogist, it takes both!  At times during ones tree climbing, it is necessary to collect as much information, dates, facts, get a clearer picture.  At other times, it is necessary to split away all the excess information and ask what is necessary to help make this decision.  For example, the following table shows my "lumping" process.  It says, give me all the individuals named "JONES" during the early period of Virginia settlement.
This "lumped" all those with the JONES surname between 1609 and 1666.

Then it was necessary to "split" out those who had the name "John Jones".  This would give me a list of those who shared this name.  I could then evaluate the relationship of these individuals to my own family. [This work as been stored in my research notebooks #206 for lumping, and #207 for splitting.]

Lumping and splitting,  processes for decision making they are.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Additional Helps

Additional helps come from all sort of resources.  Books, text, libraries (remember what those are?), court houses, museums, historic landmarks...etc....etc... and etc.  Two additional blogs that I have started are intended to be of help.   The first is:

      (intended to give an outline to my collection of genealogical research over the past 53 years)

and second:

     (intended to give my opinion of those "Readings", "References", and "Resources" which have been the most helpful in my own JONES surname tree climbing.)

The first blog is essentially an index (outline) of the topics/subjects that have been collected over the past 53 years.  They begin with Wales and then move on to other subjects that have been part of my JONES surname tree climbing.   This blog can be searched using the spot identified for searching.  This will give a general idea of the subject matter (thus resource) contained within the notebook identified by "RN #" which stands for "Research Notebook", and the number (#) that it has been given.  As you might imagine, I have quite a few. [Over 300 now and counting!]  There are surname groups, history, chronologies, and many other topics that have been helpful for me doing genealogy.  They also contain my own family research and documentation of this endeavor.

The second blog is intended to give the reader a view of the readings, references, and resources [thus the "3 R's"]  that have been helpful to me.  Not everyone would agree of course, but these are things (mostly books) that have provided much in the way of brick wall destruction. 

Any comments or additions are welcome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Early Landmarks

Time travel has its difficulties.  Names, places, locations, streams, creeks, and all sorts of geography can change.  This often generates a great deal of confusion when reading wills, deeds, surveys, land grants, and historic records from the time period that you are traveling...or wish to travel.  Finding early maps that give this information can be very helpful in breaking down some of those brick walls.

The following is an example of an early map of Kentucky.  It was published 1784 and presents the major landmarks, settlements, roads, and waterways into this "dark and bloody ground".

The picture is focused around my own area of interest. [Written a book on Walker Daniel and the naming of Danville, KY]  Here the path of the "Wilderness Road" is given as it approaches the geographical center.  Kentucky's first Constitution was framed and adopted here.

Col. Shelby's station is clearly shown on the map. [Issac Shelby was the first governor of Kentucky.]
I can go to his cemetery today and see this geographic location.  It is essentially a landmark in time.  I know that standing here, I am located in time upon this map.   I  have a physical location from which to work.  A present landmark found on a map more than 200 years old!  Which way to one of my brick walls?  I have a place to early landmark.