Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Question of Dates

Here is an entry from Nugent’s Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia land patents and grants, 1623-1800. Vol. 1, 1623-1666 (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., Inc), p. 471 that I pulled from on January 19, 2012.

Most of these entries are for patents given to people who paid for their own transport to Virginia – called a “personal adventure” - or who paid for the transport of other people into Virginia – called a “headright” (Nugent, Introduction, p. xxiv). In the entry below, Martin Baker must have received a patent for 1750 acres and then sold it: 100 acres was sold to Jno. Gynes (?), 100 acres was sold to Tho. Tilsey, and the remaining 1350 acres was sold to John Stanup on March 18, 1662.

Here is the transcription of the above entry:

JOHN STANUP, 1350 acs. New
Kent Co., 18 Mar. 1662, p. 238, (158).
S. side of Yorke Riv., beg. At corner by
Henry Ashwells path, running S.W. by
S. &c. to corner by John Basbies path,
thence S.Ely. to Thomas Collings cor-
ner &c., including 1750 acs. Granted to
Martin Baker 28 Nov. 1658, 300 acs. of
Which sd. Baker sold to Tho. Tilsey &
100 acs. to Jno. Gynes (?), which is
excepted out of the bounds according to
the bills of sale from Baker; 1350 acs.
assigned sd. Stanup by sd. Baker.

My question is this: From the entry above, do you think that Martin Baker sold the 300 acres of land to Tho. Tilsey and 100 acres to Jno. Gynes (?) on March 18, 1662 as well? Or does this date only apply to when he sold the 1350 acres to John Stanup?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Determining a genealogical connection using online family trees - Part 2

In my last post, I talked about how to find an online family tree using a Google search. So now I have identified my match, I have found her online family tree, where do I go from here?

How do I find a connection between us?

I will start by looking at her online family tree in pedigree view. I will assume that my match is the home person in this tree marked as "private." This view illustrates my match's ancestry from her to all 16 of her 2nd great-grandparents.

I don’t recognize any of the people listed in the first page of this pedigree. So I start by clicking through each of the arrows one by one to expand the tree. I start at the top with Leroy Beauchamp. Clicking on the arrow beside his name brings up the expanded trees for the Beauchamp-Martin family. This view shows her ancestry back to her 6th great-grandparents.

The Family Finder test says it can find matches up to the 5th cousin level. 5th cousins share the same 4th great-grandparents. So I should be able to find a connection to my match without going any further back in her tree. I don't see any familiar surnames in the Beauchamp-Martin family tree, so I’m ready to move down to her 2nd great-grandmother, Nancy Ellen Layman. To return to the original view of her 2nd great-grandparents, I simply click on the minus button beside Leroy Beauchamp's name. This will bring the original pedigree chart back into view. Next I click on the arrow beside Nancy Ellen Layman. Again, I go through the surnames, but I do not see any in common. I click the minus sign beside her name to collapse the tree and do the same for the remaining 14 of her 2nd great-grandparents (except for Thomas W. Dyer who does not have any ancestors listed).

When I expand the ancestors of Thomas Daniel Dendy, I see a familiar surname - TINSLEY. I wrote about them last week in my Follow-up Friday post. My match's 6th great-grandmother is Rachel Tinsley. This is what it looks like in expanded view:

I hover my mouse over the name of Rachel Tinsley and I see that she died in Newberry County, South Carolina. My Tinsleys were from Laurens County, South Carolina. My curiosity piqued, I then expand the tree further to show me the Tinsley family by clicking on the arrow beside Rachel Tinsley's name.

The expanded tree includes Thomas Tinsley I and II as the father and grandfather of Rachel Tinsley. BINGO! That’s it! Thomas Tinsley I was the 9th great-grandfather of my match and the 10th great-grandfather of me, making us 9th cousins 1x removed. Our common ancestor is Thomas Tinsley II and his wife Sarah Jackson.

Just for kicks and giggles, I kept going, looking through my match's pedigree. I got down to the very bottom and expanded the tree for Nancy E. Minter, another one of my  match’s 2nd great-grandmothers. Doing so pulled up two Hill ancestors. Hill is another common name that comes up a lot when doing the Family Finder test. I didn't recognize the Abner Hill or Tibitha Hill that showed up in this view, so I expanded their trees further. As it turns out, both Abner and Tilitha Hill turned out to be children of Robert Hill and Tabitha Green. And as it turns out, their grandchildren intermarried with each other (see Abner Hill Minter and Charity Chapman in the red box).

To my surprise, I am also connected via Robert Hill and Tabitha Green's daughter Ann Hill who married John Steed in Brunswick County, Virginia. Robert Hill was my 9th great-grandfather. He was my match's 7th great-grandfather, making us 8th cousins, 2x removed (in addition to being 9th cousins, 1x removed on the Tinsley line).

Finding a 2nd connection was the "surprise" I mentioned in my last post. I am not really surprised to find a connection so far back as 8th or 9th cousins. The test is validated or guaranteed or whatever terminology Family Tree DNA uses in their FAQs to go back to 5th cousins with a good amount of surety. After that, the DNA gets diluted. In fact, on their FAQs page, they say that the chance of finding a match to a 6th cousin or more distant is “remote or typically less than 2%.” I have 7 confirmed matches so far and of those 7, 2 are 3rd cousins, 1 is a 4th cousin, 1 is a 5th cousin 3x removed, which can be rounded up to a 6th cousin; 1 is an 8th and 1 is a 9th; and 1 I have not figured out yet.

The reason I'm highlighting this methodology as a post is because when I first started trying to connect with my matches there was a lot of family tree exchanging, especially on And the problem I was running into was that I was constantly getting lost in all the profiles of each individual and then losing sight of exactly how my match was connected to the profile I was looking at. In my genealogy software, all of my direct ancestors are color-coded red. So when I look at the index of names, I know immediately who my direct ancestor is. But in's family trees, especially in the profile view, there are no color coded ancestors.

This is what the list of descendants look like in the profile view. From this view, there is no indication of from whom or how my match is related to Robert Hill. 

I finally figured out that the success to finding a connection to a match is to find the COMMON ANCESTOR and he or she WILL show up in the PEDIGREE VIEW of their tree. I do not have to look at all of the children of everyone in their tree to find my ancestor. I only have to look for the common ancestor. At least this is what has finally started working. So give it a try and let me know if this works for you or not.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Follow-up Friday – Jan 20, 2012

I definitely got sidetracked this week and my surname research took an entirely different turn, but for the better! Even though I have committed myself to setting and following certain goals for the new year, I encountered one of the many quagmires involved with genealogy research and we are only in our 3rd week of the year. I set a few goals for particular surnames that I wanted to research, either because I wanted to learn more about them or because they had presented a brick wall. But I also committed to finding connections to the 178 autosomal DNA matches I have acquired in the 6 months since taking the Family Finder test.

I know I haven't written much about the test and all that is involved in working with my matches (that is also on my goals list - to write more about my experience). But anyone who has taken the test knows that 1) your tree has to be pretty well built up 2) that includes your collateral lines and 3) you will inevitably spend more time exchanging more family and historical data once a match is determined which means building up your tree some more, entering more sources, transcribing more records, etc. but the bottom line is that you will get sidetracked into looking at several different surnames at a time, especially if you have any of those annoying common surnames that you will inevitably have in common with 75% of your matches like Jones, Smith, and Johnson!

So long story short, even though last week I was researching my Ward and Joy, Peters, and Dunlap families and still had a bunch of Ward and Joy information to input into my database, this week I was researching my HARDIN and TINSLEY families!

It started off with one little email to a match who had a few surnames in common with me. I'm not even sure why I picked him. I guess I was bored last weekend and just randomly emailed him. (Now you see why I don't write too many posts about this - wouldn't want the method to my madness getting out). Anyways, he sent me his ahnentafel and told me that we connected through my 6th great-grandmother, Clara Hardin who was born 1793 in Kentucky. She married John Carman LaRue in Maury County, Tennessee in 1811. Clara Hardin's great-grandfather, Mark Hardin, born sometime in the late 1600s, was my match's 7th great-grandfather and my 9th great-grandfather, making my match and I 8th cousins, twice removed!

So I spent the first half of the week (Monday was a holiday for me for MLK's Birthday and then I was out sick one day) looking on the internet at all the conflicting information about where and when said Mark Hardin was born and who his possible parents were. I reviewed sources and analysis and research reports. And then I found out that my cousin Kay Haden (you might remember her because she was featured on the FGS blog as the first registrant for the FGS conference in Birmingham!) is also descended from Mark Hardin! She had done a lot of research on him when she lived in AL years earlier and sent me some stuff to look over.

Then my match and I used this not-always-so-handy-tool called the "In common with" filter on our ftDNA homepage to see who else we both matched to and it came up with two names. I emailed them thinking they might be descendants of Mark Hardin as well. One of them wrote me back and although she did not have and Hardins in her ancestry that she knew of, we did find not one, but TWO connections via the TINSLEY and HILL lines!!! How cool is that???

I never really did much research on my Tinsley line because frankly, there was already tons of information out there on the internet and there looked to be two or three very capable researchers who had posted their research on the internet already, so I figured they had it covered and I could use their research as a guide when the (free) time came. But we know it's never that easy, so of course I had to perform my own research. Including starting an annotated bibliography of the secondary sources on the Tinsley family that came into Virginia in the 1600s which included my ancestor, Thomas Tinsley.

It didn't take long to find the connection to her Tinsley line, even though it was several generations back. It turned out we were 9th cousins 1x removed! She had sent me the name of her online family tree and I was able to find the link to it by running a google search on it. Her tree was very easy to navigate in the pedigree view and by going through each of her lines I found a 2nd connection to Robert Hill (1678-1766) and Tabitha Brown Green (1690-1765)! My lines goes through their daughter Ann Hill who married John Steed and my match's line goes through their daughter Tabitha Hill who married David Chapman.

I have to admit, I'm getting pretty good at finding connections using genealogical tools like's online family trees! It does take patience though. Oh and with this connect, we were 8th cousins 2x removed.

So as you can see, I'm a pretty well-rounded genealogist. Or you might say I get bored easily. But I don't think this is a bad thing. Last year I was more focused on one of two things and this year I plan to make more connections and get back to building my tree up some more.

So not bad for a first 3 weeks. Last week I added some new information and worked on breaking down a couple of brick walls. This week I opened two new can of worms and got my brain's juices flowing and started pushing myself to think about how to deal with what I find on the internet, how to resolve conflicts, how to cite my sources, how to deal with not being able to make the report I want to make with my gen software (that's never ending right?), how to find books, and how to start thinking about the historical context of the area that my ancestors lived in. Oh yeah and how cool DNA is! And did you notice that my test seems to be really sensitive? They guarantee to only go back to 5th cousins, but most of my matches have been 8th cousins. I think that's pretty cool!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Determining a genealogical connection using online family trees - Part 1

This is Part 1

The autosomal DNA tests offered by 23andMe and ftDNA are becoming more and more popular for use in genealogy these days. Oftentimes genealogists are overwhelmed by the number of matches they get back with their test results though and are not sure where to go from there. I have 178 matches to date and I took the test 6 months ago! They might have sent out several emails to matches only to be disappointed when no one wrote them back. Or my favorite so far is a match who simply tells me “My tree is online, check it out and when you find a connection, let me know.” Of course, I am only paraphrasing, but you get my point. And if you are lucky enough to find a match who is interested in finding a genealogical connection, he or she might actually ask to see your tree in exchange, so it might be good to have a copy of your online family tree on hand as well. (I recommend keeping your tree private and invite matches as guests with viewing privileges only).

So what happens when you find a match?

Last week I emailed one of my matches from my ftDNA Family Finder test. It said we had 28.54 shared cMs of DNA and a prediction of 4th to distant cousin. She was also a match to a gentleman that I had already confirmed a connection to via a paper trail – he and I were 8th cousins, 2x removed on the HARDIN line from VA/KY. So I prefaced my email with an inquiry as to whether or not she had any HARDINS in her paper trail.  Unfortunately, she did not have any surnames uploaded to her profile, so I also requested a list of her surnames with a promise of an exchange of my own (even though *my* surnames *were* posted to my profile – some people don’t know how to access this or use this utility of the ftDNA homepage.) She emailed me back and said she did not have any HARDINs in her family tree, but she had Denham, Coats, Minter, Peugh, and Crew and that her tree was posted online on She told me the name of her online tree – “Beauchamp-Denny” - but did not provide me with a link.

Although I have been using online family trees for several years, both accessing other members’ trees and updating my own, I still do not feel like I have a good handle on how to use it with any measure of expertise. I find myself constantly bungling around the database and waiting for pages to load and hitting the back button so I don’t lose my place.

How to find a member tree without a link:

The name of my match’s tree is “Beauchamp-Denny.” I could not figure out a way to search for a tree name in The only options I could find were in the Research Interests tab which searched by Last Name, Location and Year. Typing in her last name brought up 2800 results.

Next I tried the Basic Information Tab and put in her name as the User Name. I don’t know her actual user name, but I figured it would resolve a user name from whatever real name I put in, right? Well that gave me over 10,000 results!!!

Ok, so simple solution…I noticed a trend lately. One of my goals for 2012 is to do more Google searches and one of the annoying things I’m finding come up in my results are links to entries at (in addition to and, etc), so finally the light bulb went off.

I couldn't resist adding a DNA-themed lightbulb 

What if I do a google search on the “Beauchamp-Denny” tree on “site:”?

I click on the first result which says “Members researching Ambrose Dixon –” I don’t know who Ambrose Dixon is, but since this is my first time using Google search to find an online family tree, I am going to click this link to see where it takes me. This is what comes up when I click the link – a list of members researching Ambrose Dixon.

Even though I am not interested in Ambrose Dixon, has displayed a list of public online family trees, with user names, and the names of the trees for me to peruse. The very first one on the list is the “Beauchamp-Denny upload” tree name. I have put a red box around it. So you see the Google search did a very good job retrieving this online tree for me and I didn’t have to know the user name. It does tell me the user name PDenny9470. It just so happens that my match’s name is P Denny, so this seems to be the right tree, which is good, because as you can see, the box in the upper right hand corner tells me that there are 462 members researching the surname Dixon! I would hate to have to weed through all of those trees!

In Part 2, I discuss how to navigate my match’s Beauchamp-Denny tree and find a connection to my own line. I will also reveal a surprise! 


Photo credits: 
Dog and Cat shaking hands from Free Printable Coloring Pages
DNA Lightbulb copied from Terry Barton's page

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Surname Saturday - Ward Family

I got an email this week from someone on Find-A-Grave who asked me if I could connect my ancestor, Martha Ward Putman to her parents, Castleton Ward and Mary McGrada. I opened the links and found a wealth of information for both Castleton Ward and his wife Mary that I did not previously have. I emailed the contributor and asked her where she learned all of this information from and she has been sending me articles, emails, and information ever since. So from this little request I have learned more information about my Ward family, and learned about two new surnames - MCGRADA and AKE. Here is my Surname Saturday Ward Family Profile:

My 3rd Great-Grandmother was Martha Ann Ward Putman. She was born July 24th, 1850 [1] in Arkansas and died 10 Jan 1924 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas.[2] She married Thomas Adolphus Putman on January 20th, 1869 in Sebastian County, Arkansas.[3] Thomas and Martha Putman lived in a house at 3720 Park Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas until they died in the 1920s. Their daughter Rosalie Putman and her husband James Lasiter lived in the house as well. Rosalie and James Putman's son James Putman Lasiter Sr and his wife, Louise Benson Lasiter (my great-grandmother) lived in the house as well. After Louise's death, the house was sold. Louise's brother Jimmie Putman Lasiter Jr lived next door around the corner until he died a few years ago. His house burned down in a fire.

Martha was the daughter of Castleton WARD and Mary Malinda MCGRADA. I was unaware of Mary's maiden name and Castleton's parents' names until the FAG contributor emailed me. Castleton WARD was born October 1st, 1820 (or 1821)  in Tennessee to William WARD and Letha Leah AKE. He died September 18th, 1899 in Lavaca, Arkansas and is thought to be buried in the Ward Family Cemetery at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Castleton's wife Mary MCGRADA was the daughter of Robert and Sally MCGRADA.

So this is what my pre-Research chart looks like:

Ancestors of Martha Ann Ward (pre-Research) with new Surnames
Here is a list of Castleton and Mary Ward's children I've learned about so far:

  1. Asberry Alexander Ward (1842-1852)
  2. William Franklin Ward (1844-1897)
  3. John Robert Ward (1845-1895)
  4. James Madison Ward (1847-1889)
  5. Martha Ann Ward (1850-1924)
Mary Ward died in 1881 and Castleton Ward remarried to Sallie Hood in 1882.[4] 

From emailing with the FAG contributor I have learned that most of the information about the Ward family came from Martha Ward Presson and a book she wrote on the Ward and allied families. The FAG contributor forwarded a digital pdf copy of the 130 page book to me. Unfortunately it is not searchable, so navigating the information in the book is a bit difficult. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how the author, Martha Ward Presson, was related to this Ward family. And there are no sources (of course). Although I am happy to have more information about this family, I am not 100% comfortable taking it at face value without verifying it first. I can, however, use it as a guide. In fact in my post from yesterday I already found some errors on the information the author wrote about my family (Martha Ann Ward Putman).

Another surname I learned about is JOY. Castleton Ward's brother, Joseph S WARD, married Amanda JOY and his sister Nancy WARD married Amanda JOY'S brother, John William JOY. With regards to autosomal DNA, any children that Castleton's brothers and sisters had, regardless of surname, would be genetically linked to me and could possibly show up as genetic matches to me through ftDNA's Family Finder DNA test. This is why building up my collateral lines has become a priority for 2012.

[1] Headstone for Martha Ward Putman, Forest Park Cemetery, 5001 Midland Blvd, Fort Smith, AR: "Martha Ward-Putman, July 24, 1850, Jan 11, 1924"
[2] See Note 1 above; Fowler, Robyn and Karrant, Wanda, Fowler's Index to Interments in Forest Park Cemetery, 5001 Midland Blvd, Fort Smith, AR: 1910-1988, "Martha H Putman died 10 Jan 1924, Interred by Putman Mortuary."
[3] The Goodspeed Publishing Co., History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas, Chicago : The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889; "Sebastian County," Article on Thomas A. Putnam, p. 1356-7. See also,, "Arkansas, Northwestern Counties History, 1889," Online database, [ : accessed 20 January 2009]. [4] Jim Tipton, Find A Grave, database and images (, accessed 7 January 2012; miscellaneous data and gravestone image for Caselton Lawrence "Cash" Ward (1820-1899), memorial # 82778690, webpage created by S Remmark-Fuhrman, 31 Dec 2011, citing Ward Cemetery, Sebastian County, Arkansas.

Friday, January 13, 2012

To Cite or Not to Cite? That's not really the question!

What if I WANT to cite my sources on my blog posts but I have no idea how?

I somehow missed all the hoopla about whether bloggers should cite their sources in their blog posts that was discussed on some mailing list that seemed to cause some huge divide between “certified” genealogists and non-certified genealogists. I read a few posts discussing the matter, which I won’t link to in an effort to “stop the insanity!” – as a side note, people have often told me that I looked like Susan Powter, who coined the above catchphrase, so I like to use it too and refer to it often.

Anyways, one theme I saw common to the posts that I read about was the issue with exactly how does one insert and format footnotes on a blog? Well, it’s pretty simple. I have done it several times and you are probably already doing it, but just don’t know it.

If you are like me, and you distrust the blogger platform to the point that you write all of your posts in a Word Processor prior to copying and pasting into a new Blogger post, then you can create your footnotes in your Word Processor. In Microsoft Word 2007, you can click on the “References” tab and then click the “Insert Footnote” button at the end of the sentence that you want to cite.

(Click on image to open a larger image. Then click your browser's back button to return to this page). 

Footnotes are usually inserted at the end of the sentence, outside of the period or quotation marks, without a space. When you insert a footnote, Word will then direct you to the bottom of the page where a number is inserted and the cursor is placed. This is where you will write in your citation. Or if you are not comfortable writing out a citation, you can write a note about the information you would like to cite. For example, if I found the will of Samuel Lewis, I might write the following note: “Will of Samuel Lewis, 1823, Randolph County, North Carolina; Found at the North Carolina State Archives.”  

So now you have your text and your footnote and it looks like this:

Now you are ready to copy and paste to a new blog post. Log in to Blogger, click on new post. Give your post a name. Then from your Word doc, press Ctrl + A to select all of your text. Do not worry about the text contained in the bottom of the page within the footnote itself. It will be captured with the Ctrl + A. Then press Ctrl + C to copy and then go to your new blog post window and click Ctrl + V to paste it in. This is what it will look like in your blogger edit window.

Blogger does retain the hyperlink between the footnotes, however, they do not work, so I would recommend that you remove them. If you click on the hyperlink, it will just open a blank page and your reader will get lost. To remove the hyperlinks, left-click your cursor on the [1] then click the “remove” link. Do this for the footnote [1] beneath the line as well.

Your new post will look like this: the [1] is regularly formatted text

Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you want to put sources on your blog post, then this is an adequate and easy way to do it.

As a side note, I did try to create the footnotes and hyperlinks myself in Word, using the bookmark and hyperlink feature; and although the hyperlinks transferred over to blogger, they still did not work properly and opened a blank page when clicked. This would probably work if you created customized html code within your blog post editor, however, I did not see why that was necessary. The footnotes and citations are there for the reader to review if they want. The important part is making the citations available for my readers (or me) to review.

If you would like to share the way that you include footnotes in your blog posts, please feel free to leave a comment below or link to a post your wrote about how you post citations on your blog. And remember genealogy is a collaboration, not a conflagration of our peers~!

Follow-up Friday - Jan 13, 2012

Today is Friday the 13th and there was a Full Moon this week, so it's been a pretty weird week so far. I haven't had much luck posting comments to other people's blogs, nor have I even been able to reply to people's posts on my own blog! So blogger is acting up this week as well. And I saw there is a new feature of blogger - you can now indent your comments and reply to other people's comments individually! This makes for a more personal feel to the interaction between me and my readers. I've used this a lot in my WordPress blogs and I'm happy to see it finally being implemented in our blogger platforms. So even through all of this funk, and starting back to school this week, I managed to get some of my genealogy goals accomplished! whoo hoo! I know you're probably bored with reading all this, but it finally dawned on me that I needed to get my research interests and surnames out there. And if that means that a brief mention of a line I am working on gets the attention of another blogger, genealogist, or cousin who contacts me and we make a connection, then I'm all for the boring or ho hum. So bear with me please :-)

I posted some of my goals for the week last Monday in Genealogy Research Progress for Monday, January 9, 2012 and I copied them below as well and reported on my progress:

  1. Enter the information I received on my collateral SABIN and SMITH lines from folks that contacted me via my blog and Find-A-Grave memorials. This is a tangible and do-able task and counts towards my 2012 goal of building upon my collateral lines. - Done.  I entered the 15 children of George SABIN into my genealogy database. George SABIN was married to Margaret GODWIN, the daughter of Etheldred GODWIN who is believed to be the brother of my presumed ancestor, Nathan GODWIN. My cousin just received 150 pages of George SABIN's Civil War pension file too, so I've been reading all the fun stuff she's been sending me about that as well; I have not heard back from my SMITH cousin, so unfortunately I have no new information there. I sent him some photos of his great-grandmother and requested a scanned copy of a family photo from him. I also shared with him the origin of his Grandfather's name, Avery LaRue SMITH. He was named after his Mother's Grandmother, Phoeba Ann LARUE! I hope to hear from him again, as it is always disappointing when you get that very exciting first email, you write them back and then you never hear from them again. 
  2. Start reviewing the information on my WARD family that the FAG researcher sent to me and ask her about her collateral JOY line, also counting towards my goal of building upon my collateral lines. In addition, I should take advantage of asking her any questions I might have since she is currently available. - In progress. I created my source citation for the Ward and Related Families book by Martha Ward Presson, but I am hesitant to copy any information from it into my genealogy database because she did not provide many sources for her facts. I usually like to start with looking at what was written about my own family, the more recent part, to see how the author treated that information. In my case, my 3rd great-grandmother, Martha Ward Putman was mentioned, along with her 4 or 5 children - on one page only 4 children are mentioned - Vanona V., LaRosa M., Pearl, and Willie O; On another page, there were 5 children mentioned - Varona, Annie, Pearl, Laura (married to Mr. Lasiter) and Willie O. So already there are errors. In fact there were actually 6 children born to this couple. I would not trust this book and unfortunately the author passed away last year. 
  3. Continue writing more blog posts - including a post about the deeds I have found on my DUNLAP family and how I am trying to learn about the family from the transfer of land. I am at a standstill with the DUNLAPS right now, so there is no hurry to break down this "brick wall." I also need to get to the North Carolina State Archives to do more research. - We had planned to go to the Archives this Saturday, however, the Archives will be closed because Monday is Martin Luther King's Birthday and for us in North Carolina, that is a State Holiday (I will be off of work). I still have not written my post on using Deeds to research my DUNLAP family, but I did manage to write my post on Metes and Bounds. That helped me to understand how a 375-Acre land grant was divied up and sold off 50 years later. 

As usual I did manage to get distracted by a couple of other things, but I did get one thing closed and checked off my list as well: 
  1. I finished corresponding with the descendant of the James and Martha PETERS family of Anderson Co., TN and determined that their Martha PETERS was not the same Martha PETERS that I found on the Oregon Co., MO census report in 1880 (her descendants say she remarried to a WILLIAMS). This Martha on the 1880 census is still a good candidate to be the mother of my 2nd great-grandfather, William PETERS though. 
  2. I was looking for an obituary for a friend's grandmother (which I was unable to find) and stumbled upon back issues of The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. I did a quick search for a few of my AR surnames and found a photograph of Ruby BARTON, the sister of my 2nd great-grandmother, Jessie BARTON! The article was a story written by a retired Oklahoma school teacher who graduated from three-year high school at Center Point (Howard County), AR in 1910.  What a cool find!

photo credit: Cheo! via photopin cc

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Determining No. of Acres of a Land Grant in the State Land States

There are two types of land descriptions in the United States:

1) Metes and Bounds
2) Public Land Survey System

The original thirteen colonies were considered State Land States and were described using the metes and bounds survey system which was historically used in England. “Metes” refers to the measurement of the land in terms of distance and direction. “Bounds” refers to the waterways, lands, buildings, etc that “bound” the land being described or are adjacent to it. Most land descriptions have a starting point, or “beginning” and an ending point which reverts back to the “beginning.”

The metes and bounds survey system is measured in chains and poles. A chain is 66 feet and a pole is 16.5 feet.[1]

This is a photo of Gunter’s chains held at the Campus Martius Museum. From (

This contrasts sharply with the rest of the country which uses the Public Land Survey System, or rectangular survey system. This system uses parallel lines, or baselines on which a grid is designed. Further section, township, and range maps are designed and from them land is surveyed off using chains and links. I will cover this survey system in another blog post.

Let’s look at a Land Grant from the State of North Carolina:

In 1756, Patrick Mullen received a land grant from the Earl of Granville for 375 acres in what was then present day Orange County, North Carolina.[2] It was a square piece of land that bordered the north and south sides of the Dan River.

Survey Description:
“This plan represents a tract of land surveyed for Patrick Mullen lying on both sides of Dan River Beginning at a Black Walnut tree on Walnut Island below Snow Creek then running South 63 Chains to a pine then East 60 Chains to a pine; Then N. 63 chains to a Spanish oak. Then West 60 chains to the first station. Surveyed the 30th day of May 1753.”[3]

If we were to map this out from chains to feet to miles then we could determine exactly how many acres were contained in this survey. Because the survey describes 63 chains to the South and 63 chains to the North, and 60 chains to the East and 60 chains to the West, we can assume it is a square plat because the distance in each direction corresponds to the same distance in the opposite direction. Also, because the description says the survey runs South then East, we can assume the starting point or “beginning” is in the upper left hand corner of the plat.

There are 66 ft/chain, so if we go South 63 chains, then that distance is 4158 feet (66x63=4158). Going East 60 chains results in 3960 feet (66x60=3960). Now we have a plat that is 4158 ft by 3960 ft.

So how many MILES is that?

There are 5280 feet / mile.
Therefore, 3960 ft x 1 mile / 5280 ft = 0.75 miles
And 4158 ft x 1 mile / 5280 ft = 0.78 miles

Our plat is now (0.75 mi x 0.78 mi) = 0.59 sq mi big

How many ACRES is that?

There are 640 acres in a square mile of land. Our plat contains 0.59 sq mi of land.
640 acres x 0.59 sq mi = 378 A. This survey contains approximately 378 acres of land.
What did the original survey say? “Containing Three Hundred and Seventy Five Acres.”

This is what the original survey (1756) looks like:[4]

This land passed through several hands and became of interest to me when a couple pieces of it came into the hands of a John Dunlap in Stokes County in 1803. By that time, the land’s named boundaries had changed from Orange to Rowan to Surry and then finally to Stokes County, North Carolina, all in the course of just 50 years. This land is located in the current day town of Walnut Cove, however it actually covers most of the county of Stokes.

If you would like to learn more about the measurement of land with Gunter’s Chains, check out these websites:

Metes, Bounds and Meanders by Kimberly Powell of

If you would like more information on Patrick Mullins, feel free to visit Bill Murray's genealogy page. I have not been able to find any connection to Patrick Mullins (yet). I just used his land grant here as an example. 

[1], Metes and Bounds.
[2] The land grants says Orange County on it, but this land would have been in Rowan County at the time it was entered.
[3] North Carolina Office of Secretary of State, Granville Proprietary Land Office, Granville Land Grants, Box 96-M, File Nos. 160 & 161, Patrick Mullen, 15 March 1756, Orange County; North Carolina State Archives microfilm, Secretary of State, Granville Land Grants, reel no. S.108.252; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
[4] North Carolina Office of Secretary of State, Granville Proprietary Land Office, Granville Land Grants, Box 96-M, File Nos. 160 & 161, Patrick Mullen, 15 March 1756, Orange County.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Season 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? Premieres February 3rd, 2012

NBC Announces The Celebrities Tracing Their Family Trees On Season Three Of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Premiering February 3 
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif.-- January 6, 2012-- Viewers can take an up-close and personal look inside the family history of some of today's most beloved and iconic celebrities when NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" returns for its third season on Friday, February 3 (8-9 p.m. ET).
The celebrities who star in the series are Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen.

I'm really excited to see this season's lineup, although some names are completely new to me. I'm also excited to see which familiar genealogist friends' faces we will get to see on the 'tele this time. Will we see D. Josh Taylor again or Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak again? Also, I will be joining hundreds of other genealogists on our Friday night Twitter chats following and replying to the #WDYTYA Twitter hashtag and playing drinking <GASP> games and laughing at the shaky leaves commercials ;-) You know who you are!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Genealogy Research Progress for Monday, January 9, 2012

Funny Comic

We are already into our 2nd week of the New Year! With that in mind, I wanted to take some time today to review my progress towards the goals I set for myself for 2012. Here are some of the things I worked on last week (usually I would write these as a Follow-up Friday post, but I missed it last week).

  1. Wrote more blog posts - I got more than 1 blog post written during the course of the week which I'm really pleased with because I really love writing to my blog and sharing with others.
  2. I worked on my DUNLAP brick wall some. I reviewed my research log and I organized the North Carolina transfer of deeds into a timeline. The deeds still have not given me any clue about a familial relationship. 
  3. I got sidetracked by an email exchange with a FindAGrave contributor of the WARD family - She asked me to link my ancestor to her parents. The memorials of her parents contained a lot of new information for me. This is new research that can be done! She also sent me a copy of a book written in the 1950s on the Ward family which I need to make time to review. 
  4. I met a new cousin on my SMITH side who found me on my blog. We have been exchanging information and pictures via email. 
  5. I reviewed the Civil War Pension file of a cousin's ancestor (George SABIN) and I received information on the pensioner's children that I need to find time to enter into my genealogy database. This goes towards my goal of working on collateral lines.
  6. I am collecting information on the Davis, Cockerell and GODWIN families who are related by Y-DNA to see if and when a Non-Parental Event (NPE) occurred. 
  7. I emailed a descendant of James and Martha PETERS of Anderson County, Tennessee to see if there could be a connection to my 2nd great-grandfather, William E.  PETERS. So far no one is willing to consider the idea that Martha moved on and had 3 more children after her husband James "disappeared." Martha still seems like a good candidate to be my William's mother though.
I hope to continue working on this research throughout this coming week. One of the difficulties I have with staying on track and keeping up with my goals is what I get in EMAIL! It always distracts me and throws me off course. One little email can send me into weeks of tossing and turning and flipping of pages and before I know it I've thrown all  my other projects to the back burner. But we all know what happens if we don't follow up on our emails. If we wait too long, the person who sent us the important message has already moved on, probably forgotten about us, or what they originally wrote to us about, or deemed us as too high and mighty to write them back and are possibly no longer interested in corresponding with us. So the moral of the story is that we have to be flexible. 

So for this week I aim to do the following: 
  1. Enter the information I received on my collateral SABIN and SMITH lines in #4 & #5 above. This is a tangible and do-able task and counts towards my 2012 goal of building upon my collateral lines.
  2. Start reviewing the information on my WARD family that the FAG researcher sent to me and ask her about her collateral JOY line, also counting towards my goal of building upon my collateral lines. In addition, I should take advantage of asking her any questions I might have since she is currently available.
  3. Continue writing more blog posts - including a post about the deeds I have found on my DUNLAP family and how I am trying to learn about the family from the transfer of land. I am at a standstill with the DUNLAPS right now, so there is no hurry to break down this "brick wall." I also need to get to the North Carolina State Archives to do more research. We had planned to go this Saturday, however, the Archives will be closed because Monday is Martin Luther King's Birthday and for us in North Carolina, that is a State Holiday (I will be off of work). 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Using a Timeline to Visualize Your Data

This weekend I worked on one of my goals for 2012: to find out the parents of Jesse Dunlap. I would consider this to be a brick wall since to date I have been unable to determine who his parents are with traditional genealogy methods.

I have been looking at land grants and deeds in Rowan, Surry, and Stokes County, North Carolina for the past few weeks. Land has a tendency to pass between several sets of hands and over the course of 50 years can also pass through several county boundaries, so it's important to keep very good records in order to not lose track of what you are looking at.

Although I have been implementing my research logs and they have helped me tremendously, I have taken one step further to help me visualize my data upon quicker glances using a timeline. I am using an excel-based timeline template that I found a few years ago. This timeline is different from many others in that it's FREE and it allows me to enter all of my information in to the spreadsheet with one column being the year and the other column being the event description. This information is then automatically incorporated into the horizontal timeline. I can then customize the placement of the events according to height. It was very easy to create this simple, yet effective timeline.

Here is what my finished timeline looks like:

You can download a copy of this timeline for your own personal use here

Check out Pam's timeline for Jonathan Seavey on her post 13 Children, 5 Child Graves

Friday, January 6, 2012

Follow Friday - Jan 6 2012

Today is Follow Friday where I post some blogs I've read and found interesting. Some are new to me this week. Check them out!

The Keough Corner - Tessa has started participating in the Motivation Monday meme in which each blogger posts their goals on the first Monday of the month and reports back on their progress for the previous month. She has some inspiring expectations for data entry, organization, and working smarter, not harder!

Cousin Linda - Linda is fairly new to blogging and is starting with stories about the house she bought, the cemetery next door, and the church. She also did a 31 day genealogy challenge for the month of December.

Corn and Cotton - Stephanie has been very active in the genealogy blogging and twitter community and has been rallying up other bloggers to find a genea-buddy and set some goals! If you'd like to join in the fun, check out her Motivation Monday post.

Denise's Genealogy Journal - Denise is very excited about the 1940 census being released and offers her readers a preview of it here.

A Look Over the Mending Wall - join Vincent as he stumbles through the archival process - start to finish - of a single collection involving estates and probate packets (and some financial account records) from the Maine Historical Society Research Center in Portland, Maine.

I have really enjoyed reading everyone's 2012 genealogy goals posts! Some genealogists are even pairing up with genea-buddies to help motivate them along the way and to offer them support. These were some of my favorites posts:

Denise Levenick's The Family Curator
Amy Coffin's The We Tree Blog
Elyse's Genealogy Blog
Stephanie's Corn and Cotton: My Family's Story
Terri O'Connell's Finding Our Ancestors
Laura's The Last Leaf On This Branch
Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Genealogy Goals for 2012

My class load this year will really start to wind down, so I will need to start to focus more and have some goals if I'm going to get any major genealogy research done. So I have set quite a few goals for myself for the upcoming year based on what I've been thinking about these past few weeks and hoping that I could start working on one of these days. I have organized my goals in to categories to hopefully help me keep even more focus. One thing I do not have on this list is a goal towards increasing my genealogy expertise. I think this will occur naturally and can be incorporated once I get a feel for how the ebb and flow of my life will start to take shape. So without further ado, here is my list:

Think outside the box:
  1. Extend my research to University collections, for example, the Thomas Hume papers at UNC (and evaluate Mildred Holladay's papers from UVA which Lori ordered)
  2. Search for brick walls on Google and in Google Books - maybe do one surname per week
  3. Search for brick walls in newspaper archives online
  1. Organize my paper files and file cabinet
  2. Scan, transcribe, abstract, and analyze all of the documents I have retrieved in the past 7 years of research (they are in a pile), file them in respective family folder(s); add the relevant information to my genealogy database and submit transcripts to respective USGenWeb sites
  1. Connect with 5 more Family Finder matches - I connected with 5 from July to Dec of 2011, so this shouldn't be a problem
  2. Sort through my Family Finder matches by maternal and paternal - my mother took the test in Dec so this should help me sort through them
  3. Work more closely with existing Family Finder matches from July-Dec to exchange historical data and recent data; my goal is not just establish a connection then never speak to them again, but to build a relationship with them; ask them for photos, documents, etc...share, share, share!
  4. Try to connect some American Godwins to English or Irish Godwins via Y-DNA
  5. Update my Goodwin-Godwin Y-DNA surname project website with goals, success stories and summaries of existing lines
Brick Wall Research:
  1. Find the parents of Jess Dunlap from Stokes County, North Carolina
  2. Find the parents of William Peters, b. 1873 in Thomasville, Missouri
  3. Find the parents of James Silas Barton from South Carolina
  1. Do research on my O'Neal family from North Carolina - other researchers, including my grandfather, have a pedigree already drafted which I can use as a guide to find the documents
  2. Use more research reports to tract resources searched and analyzed
  3. Use  more matrix reports to better display disparaging or corroborating information
  4. Build on my collateral lines to help me collaborate with my Family Finder matches in order to see where different branches of each family migrated to (ex. the Cox family)
  5. Add the South Carolina wills and probate records on to my Cox, McCoy, Cheek, (my SC) family files
  6. Work on my Steed and Lewis families of North Carolina. I have lots of documents. I need to scan, transcribe, abstract, and analyze them and add to my genealogy database 
  7. Obtain copies of the deeds mentioned in Ann Jobe Brown's genealogy files to validate parentage from Ephraim Thomas and his migration
  8. Start building a genealogy profile for the parents of James Franklin Lasiter: John Riley Laister and Emily Jones (per his death certificate, obtained July 2011)
  1. Write more blog posts
  2. Write about my Family Finder DNA experience
  3. Make my blog look more snazzier
  4. Turn my header into an image so that I can post a blog link to Facebook and Google+ and the "description" will be of the blog post and not of the blog itself
Graduate School:
  1. Graduate in 2012...but in order to do that, I have to complete a few more things...
  2. Take 1 more class this spring
  3. Write a Master's Paper
  4. Take Comprehensive Exams
  5. Test out of 1 class
  6. Do a Field Experience (Internship)
Addition - I would like to add the creation of Annotated Bibliographies for the geographic locations of my Brick Walls to my list. 

Amanuensis Monday - The Will of Samuel Lewis of Randolph Co., NC

Transylvanian Dutch blog author John Newmark started the Monday blog theme called Amanuensis Monday. According to John, “amanuensis” means:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

This week I want to share some records about my LEWIS family from Randolph County, North Carolina that I haven't worked on in several years. I started looking at this family again after connecting with a woman who was a Family Finder autosomal DNA match to one of my matches. Although we were not directly related via ftDNA's Family Finder DNA test, we did find we were related via the STEED family. You will see some STEEDS are mentioned in the will I've presented below. We did not let the lack of shared DNA deter us from exchanging information about our respective Steed family connections. Both of us have yet to find the connection to the other woman that we both match to.

Below you will find scans of the will of Samuel Lewis. He was born sometime before 1759 either in Virginia or North Carolina. It was written 23 August 1823 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Although Samuel does mention all of his children, including the married names of his daughters, he never does mention his wife's name, though he does will to her two acres of land and the house, so we know she is still living. I have not been able to identify her name to date either. I am descended from Samuel's son, John Lewis.

Here is the transcript of the above will: (formatting added by me for emphasis)

In the name of God Amen, I Samuel Lewis of the County
of Randolph and State of North Carolina being of
a  sound mind and disposing Memory and knowing that it
is appointed for all men once to die do make and
ordain this my last will and testament in the following
manner To wit,
1st  I give to loving wife my dwelling House
with two Acres of Land with one cow and calf one
feather bed & furniture, and one Sow and pigs. One pot
during her Widowhood.
2nd  I give to Son John Twenty five cents in cash.
3rd  I give to Son James Twenty five cents in cash.
4th  I give to Son Clayton Steed twenty five cents.
5th  I give to Daughter Polly Wood twenty five cents.
6th  I give to Daughter Peggy Blaylock twenty five cents.
7th  I give to Son William twenty five cents –
also one half of my Land including the
plantation and Land where he now lives
to the South line of my tract.
8th  I give to Daughter Rachel Smithson
twenty five ets.
9th  I give to Son Jesse Twenty five ets
also one half of my Land including my old
plantation Except my dwelling house & two Acres
of land which is giving to my wife unless
She and son Jesse can otherwise agree ---
As to Negro Georo [George?] my - will is that he be sold
and purchased by some of my children if they
can otherwise to sell him where he wishes.
10th  I give to grand daughter Levicy Steed twenty five ets.
11th I give to Grand son Lewis Steed twenty five ets
then the balance of my property to be sold
and Equally divided between my wife
and my children named with my two Grand
children Levicy Steed and Lewis Steed after paying
all my just debts -------
my two Grand children is only to have the part
of one of my children ----------
Also my wife to keep what property she had
when I married her.
Lastly, I nominate and appoint Thomas Thornleigh [or Thornbough]
and Samuel Hill Executors to this my last
will and Testament in witness whereof I have
hereunto set my hand of seal 23 day of
August 1823.
Jesse Shaw Jurat. Samuel His Mark Lewis
H. Nailor

State of North Carolina )
Randolph County ) August Term 1826
The execution of this will of Samuel Lewis
was duly proven in open court by Jesse Shaw, one of the
subscribing  witness thereto & order to be recorded.
Jesse Harper
According to the will, I was able to glean the following information:

    • He willed twenty five cents to each of his 8 children (named) and two Steed grandchildren.
    • His wife is not mentioned by name. He willed to her 2 acres and the house.
    • He willed half of his land to sons William (lives on it) and Jesse Lewis.
    • Eight children named in his will:
                                                               i.      John Lewis
                                                              ii.      James Lewis
                                                            iii.      Clayton Steed
                                                            iv.      Polly Wood
                                                             v.      Peggy Blaylock
                                                            vi.      William Lewis
                                                          vii.      Rachel Smithson
                                                         viii.      Jesse Lewis

    • Executors:
                                                               i.      Thomas Thornleigh (or Thornbough)
                                                              ii.      Samuel Hill
§  Witnesses:
                                                               i.      Jesse Shaw (Jurat)
                                                              ii.      H. Nailor

One of the children that is missing is Elizabeth Lewis. She died probably around 1802, prior to the signing of this will. She was married to Clayton Steed, who is listed as "son" in this will. Their two children, Lewis and Levicy Steed are listed as grandchildren in Samuel's will. Clayton Steed was my 6th great-granduncle. His wife Elizabeth Lewis was my 6th great-grandaunt. I was related to both of them through the Lewis and Steed families. Their children, Levicy and Lewis were my 1st cousins 7x removed. We shared two sets of ancestors in common - Nathaniel Steed and wife Susannah Franklin, and Samuel Lewis and his unnamed wife.  

I am descended from Samuel Lewis via the following:

  1. Samuel Lewis, d. 1826 Randolph Co., NC
  2. John Lewis, d. 1830 Randolph Co., NC; md Lavinia Steed (daughter of Nathaniel Steed and Susannah Franklin and sister of Clayton Steed mentioned in Samuel Lewis' will)
  3. Nancy Lewis, b. ca 1809, Randolph Co., NC; md. Elijah Godwin 1826, Randolph Co., NC
  4. Agrippa Spinks Godwin, b. 19 Mar 1827, Randolph Co., NC, d. 28 Sept 1864, Ironton, MO in the Civil War; md. Elizabeth Ann Orr (daughter of David Orr and Eliza T. Caldwell)
  5. David Orr Godwin, b. 10 May 1854, South Fork, Fulton Co., AR, d. 24 Oct 1928, Mammoth Springs, Fulton Co., AR; md. Zilphia Ann Elizabeth Pulley (daughter of William Henry Pulley and Emily Casinda M Gooden)
  6. Alvin Theodore Godwin, b. 27 Jan 1879 Mammoth Springs, Fulton Co., AR, d. 17 Nov 1950, Mammoth Springs, Fulton Co., AR; md. Lou Ella Davis (daughter of William Davis and Dora Nix)
  7. Orville Godwin, b. 12 Oct 1905 in Hardy, Sharp Co., AR; d. 10 Sept 1956, Tulsa, Tulsa Co., OK; md. Nova Lee Peters (daughter of William Edward Peters and Dora King)

[1] Will of Samuel Lewis, 1823, Randolph County, North Carolina; Found at the North Carolina State Archives, Series of Original Wills.