Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Three R's : Welsh Descent

By now, my suspicion is that most folks who are reading and following this blog share a common interest in the destruction of brick walls.  Having a surname JONES you can imagine the number and frequency of such adventures.  My own tree climbing has provided me many such opportunities which this blog has tried to share.   Over the years, a number of readings, references, and resources have accumulated which have been especially helpful...thus "The Three R's".  I thought it might be useful to present these items to those who share this common Welsh ancestry.  From the Bluegrass of central Kentucky to the Vale of the Dee [ North Wales], my own branches have been connected.  Welsh descent...English filter...Virginia a Bluegrass landing is roughly the chronology.  It is in this order that my collection of "Three R's" will be presented in the next series of posts.

Welsh Descent:

The following text has served me well over the many years of my JONES surname tree climbing.  It presents information organized by the Welsh counties giving a history of each and the surnames connected.  It is in two volumes.

The first printing was in London, 1872.  It was revised and enlarged in 1875, and reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, in 1991. [Where I obtained my copy.]

"Annals and Antiquities of The Counties and County Families of Wales" by Thomas Nicholas.

It has proved to be a reading....a reference...and...a resource since 1991.  A certain find to help with those brick walls of Welsh descent.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Deciding DNA

Starting my tree climbing experience some years ago, a number of brick walls have been encountered. [Started tree climbing at age 9!] You might imagine with a surname JONES that there would be more than a few brick walls along the way.

Beginning with my family's stories, the adventure started in the Bluegrass of Kentucky.  My maternal side kept many pictures, and the stories were readily passed down through the generations and many family reunions.  My paternal side was somewhat different, and the family stories were fewer.  At any rate, Kentucky was the beginning, and the branches led back to Virgina.  A lot of years were spent digging around this area, and it was not always clear which direction one should attempt.  Finally, the branches led to London, then to the county of Kent, then to Rochester, and finally to an area of Wales outlined in the figure which follows:

The drawing is mine, showing a number of locations that were slowly put together.  It was here, along the Vale of the Dee, where my JONES family started, or at least I believed it to be.  This only took about 30 years or so of various brick walls.

It was some five years back, that all this stuff about DNA became available.  Find your roots, and be certain of your origins.  What if I check my DNA and found out I really was from China???  Not sure I wanted to do this, now some 50 years into the family's story.  Did I trust my genealogy, or did I find out some other story.

Struggling some two years to decide to do my DNA, the "bullet" was finally bitten (as we would say in Kentucky) and that jaw swab was taken.  Sweating some two months for the results, they returned that I was haplogroup R, and haplotype R1b1b. [Now labeled R1b1a2] 

It took a few months to try and figure out what all this DNA stuff  meant. [Being a physician helped]  I put together the following table:

Hmm...Wales...lets the top!  R1b1b [Now R1b1a2] it is!  What a deal!  My 50 some years of genealogy before computers and the internet held true...deciding DNA it is.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Records and careful documentation becomes the foundation of genealogical research.  Any historical document written during the life time of the person under research is called a "Primary Document".  Deeds, wills, court orders and records, birth certificates, death certificates, census data, military records, and many other items woven into a coherent thread produces a record of the family tree.  For me, my favorite primary docuement is shown:

It is a Revolutionary War Pension application from my sixth generation grandfather Nicholas Jones.  It contains his actual signiture [shown] and additional family information.  What a deal for me!  A grandfather giving his hand over generations, reaching me thorough the ages.  A family treasure it is. 

What is your own favorite primary document?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cultural Chronology

Times change, and our ancestors lived among these changes.  It is often helpful to try and grasp an understanding of the time period that our ancestors existed.  This understanding will frequently break down a brick wall facing us.  Having Celtic origins, their times were of interest.  The Romans were the first to place on the pages of history the story of these Celts that lived on that island they called "Brittania".

Over the years I have tried to put together a "cultural chronology" that has following my own family along the branches of the old "family tree".  Readings, references, and resources I have called it.  Starting a blog on January 17, 2013, the items found most helpful are presented.  This blog can be found at .   Each items has a brief summary and what topic it connects to my Celtic origins.  For example,
This reference contains some of the story surrounding my own family tree. "Babington's Plot" it has come to be called.   Interesting story it is, and my family was involved. [Edward Jones was his name.]  Many of my brick walls came down as this story unfolded.

From the Celtic world, by Green:

 to...the life of Henry VII...

 I have place these sources in a cultural chronology that has been helpful over the past 54 years of my own tree climbing.  I suspect there are those genealogist out there who face their on cultural chronologies with this same "Celtic" back ground.  Come follow the sources:


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Research Notebooks

Genealogy offers many ways to climb out the old family tree branches.  Now after some 55 years of climbing around my own family's tree branches, I thought it might be helpful to list how all these years of research have been collected and stored.  Very early, I began a single notebook which became my family tree as I knew it. [Started at age 9!]  This gradually expanded as my exploration became wider and more interesting to my mind.  Year after year, the number and quality of the work increased such that a collection of these notebooks began.   By 10 to 15 years into this tree climbing, I needed a way to organize and store the research.  Color coding was the way, by placing various dots on the notebook edges that matched the same subject or historical research.

Finally, by 250 notebooks, it became evident that I needed a way to find this research as the need was presented.  So, believe it or not, a blog was started on July 6, 2012 to code and summarize each notebook by its "number" and "subject matter".  The blog is:

You may check out this blog to identify my tree climbing research.  A way is available to search the blog using the "Search This Blog" line in the upper right of the blog page. Each numbered notebook has a central theme, and the content identified.  At present there are over 260 notebooks!  Feel free to climbing around a little yourself... no telling what you might find.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Blogs From 2010

Today [July 8th] begins my fifth year of blogging.  Who would have guessed that on the 7th July 2010 this blogging adventure has expanded to 15 blogs!  I thought it might be of interest to list these blog in chronological order for those who might find some of them helpful.  The blog "address" is given following the date and title of each blog.

7 July 2010 - The Jones Genealogist :
           This blog tells the story of my beginning to this infection called genealogy. [Started at age 9]

30 July 2010 - The Jones Surname :

            Telling the story of my own surname [shared by so many] is the goal of this blog.  Some 53
             years of research is organized into the posts.

8 August 2010 - GE-NE-AL-O-GY 101 :

              Using my own research methods, this blog describes how one might begin their own tree

22 August 2010 - GE-NE-AL-O-GY 201 :

               Starting with 5 generations (ancestor defined here) the second stage of research.
               [This blog does not included the internet!]  How us old folks use to climb trees in the dark

4 September 2010 - GE-NE-AL-O-GY 301 :

               Time travel of course.

13 December 2010 - Welsh Genealogy :

               Helping those of Welsh descent to get around in the world of genealogy is the purpose of this
               blog.  Welsh history and culture is included.

This is for the year 2010.  I will try and list the remaining blogs chronologically in the next few post.  Happy 5th Year Anniversary.

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


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.