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.