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Category Archives: Genealogical Research

Details of 4x Great-grandfather Samuel Payne in Sunderland, Bennington County, Vermont

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Sm Payne cattle mark vol 1 Sunderland blogThis past week I drove six-miles to our local Family History Center. Lucky right? And I live in a rural community. The ease of access amazes me. More amazing? I’d never been there.

I had discovered digital images for Sunderland, Vermont land records on the FamilySearch. Having pinpointed the date Samuel Payne bought land in Addison, Vermont after leaving Bennington County, VT, I was anxious to confirm that he had lived in Sunderland as I suspected. This based on a brief mention I discovered in a history of the township. My double-click gave me this message:

“These images are viewable: When using the site at a family history center.

I went, of course, and the trip introduced me to some wonderful, like-minded genealogists, while my exploration of the land records netted amazing results. What a boon! Besides confirming, on a major historical note, that Ethan Allen and his brother Ira Allen purchased a wealth of land in Sunderland right after the Revolutionary War (Volume 3, pg 23-25), I found out Samuel Payne was one of the early settlers there.

Here is what I discovered in the first unnumbered pages of Volume 3 which began with earmarks and Council minutes then moved on to 1784 land records…odd:

  • On March 29, 1774 Samuel Pane (Payne), Abel Blanchard, and Daniel Comstock were on a committee to sell the Scott lot
  • On April 27, 1777 Samuel Payen (Payne) registered his mark with the clerk: a crop in the left ear and a half-penny in the upper side of the right (more on that below!)
  • On March 8, 1778 Samuel Pane (Payne) was on a committee with John Lee, and Charles Everts to survey for a highway

The first pages of Volume 3 are filled with pages of cattle heads, 5 to a page, some heads were unclaimed and some, like Samuel’s, were claimed and dated. I had never seen this before, but townsmen were required to mark all of their cattle (by this meaning all cows, pigs, and sheep) with a mark registered with the town clerk. A short explanation specific to Connecticut Colony can be found here. My research indicates it was a common practice in the colonies allowing them to distinguish animals both in a free range environment and in circumstances where a cow, pig, or sheepherder tended all the township’s animals.

The early volumes (1-5) are a confusing mixture of Council Meeting minutes, early vital records of individual families, land records, and ear-marks with records from disparate years right next to each other on the pages. Because of the mishmash, I found the index of minimal use. For example, land records for Samuel Payne should appear in Volume 1, pages 63, 67, and 87 but I couldn’t find them there. I must have looked four times! And Ira Allen’s land records in Volume 1 should appear on page 221, but there are not that many pages in the volume. I have more work to do—see you next week!

The Payne Family in Vermont or How to Find Information beyond Name Searches

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Once again the e-mails I receive from other researchers, have spurred me to reevaluate my research, including how I proceed. I’m inspecting the Payne family of Vermont in greater depth, since they (and consequently the Green Mountain Boys and the battle of Bennington) are the inspiration for my next book. I know Samuel Payne lived in Bennington, Vermont because his name is mentioned in histories of Sunderland, Vermont and because of his military record spanning 1777 and 1781(see this post). Afterwards, he appears in the 1790 Federal Census in Panton, Addison County, Vermont.

 

So, the big question is: When exactly did the family make the move from Bennington to Panton? The answer came by doggedly following the trail laid out through FamilySearch Wiki, indexes, and records. Name searches revealed none of this information.

Before I began my search, I knew who (Samuel Payne), where (Panton, VT) and when (between 1781 and 1790). I outline my process below.

  1. FamilySearch Wiki: Go to the wiki for the place you are interested in researching. https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page In my case, Panton, VT had the actual deeds and grants beginning in 1761. Wow![i]
  2. The resource includes an index, but I didn’t know this when I began. The resource looked like this Deeds, town and vital records, v. 2 1784-1793 Deeds, v. 0 1784 Deeds, town and vital records, v. 3 1792-1801 Deeds, town and vital records, v. 4 1801-1825 But when I clicked on it, I went to the very first page and an index was there,[ii] along with Volume I, not mentioned above: Panton Proprietors Record 1761- 1837. It looked like this:
    Index of Panton S Pain

    Look carefully: 4th entry down on left and 6th down on right.

     

  3. Now I have page numbers for my search, but those are not the IMAGE pages. I need to estimate the image page by dividing the page number of the document by 2 (there are two pages for each image) and adding the pages before the NUMBERED pages begin. Hope you are following me. Anyway, I estimated, searched, and found these:deed image 64 p 113 Panton S Payen copy

land record of Samuel Payen copyThe question answered: Samuel Payne bought land in Panton first on May 1, 1788 (21 acres) and again on June 14, 1788 (35 acres). The land was situated along Otter Creek. Using a similar method of discovery I went to v. 4 and found the deed (Pg. 477) in which he sold a single parcel of 75 acres on Otter Creek to Edward Gray on November 3, 1812. This indicates he likely purchased about 20 acres of land to make the full parcel after the summer of 1788.

Of course, now I needed a great map! Check out the one above from, where else, the Library of Congress.

[i] A note: some of these digital images are only available for viewing at a Family History Center. Panton’s were available on-line. Bennington’s require a Family History Center. Luckily one is just down the road from me, so I’ll be visiting soon.

[ii] An aside regarding indexes in Ancestry: often a name search leads to an index, but search the record. Often it is a complete record and the actual document is found on later pages.

 

Finally! Missouri!

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missouri

A close-up shot of northern Missouri counties showing Chariton on the left and Ralls on the right.

The Final Chapter in my Missouri Bound Musings

The ancestors of Gillian Virginia Morris, my grandmother’s maternal grandmother, made it to Missouri! That is, if you have followed my previous posts.

To discover how her parents, Peter Philander and Elizabeth Ely Morris, met, we must dig into Place. I use a capital “P” for Place because I consider it key to all historical research. And to understand Place, you need maps, and I do LOVE maps.

But first, a recap:

  • Part 1 and 2: Thomas H. and Malinda Salling[i] Morris(s) moved from Rockbridge County, Virginia by about 1845 and settled in Chariton County, Missouri with their children. One of those children was Gillian’s father Peter Philander Morris.
  • Part 3 and 4: Isaac Ely and Mary Polly Judy Ely travelled from Clark/Montgomery County, Kentucky to Missouri with their children. One of their children was William Scott Ely. They arrived with Isaac’s father Benjamin Ely in about 1820, and bought land in Ralls County, Missouri in 1824.
  • Part 5: Hankerson Adam Utterback and Catherine Pence Utterback moved from Boone County, Kentucky to Ralls County, Missouri via Clay County, MO by about 1824.[ii] In 1829, his daughter Rebecca Virginia Utterback bought land in Ralls County, as well.
  • Part 1: While not a direct ancestor, an important connection is John Salling brother of Malinda Salling Morris. He moved from Rockbridge County, Kentucky to Ralls County, Missouri by 1833.

William’s father, Isaac, had purchased various sections in Township 55 Range 6 of Ralls County.Ralls tsp 55 R6 Elys

Rebecca’s father, Hankerson owned 160 acres in Township 55 Range 7 Section 33, shown below. Note that, geographically, the map below would be to the left of the map above. The bend in the Salt River left incomplete above is completed below.Ralls 55-7 Page_49.jpg Utterbacks Rall county

Living so near, it is clear how William Scott Ely and Rebecca Utterback met and married.[iii] Rebecca had her land and William bought land nearby.[iv]

But how did their child, Elizabeth Ely (her gravestone says Eliza), meet and marry Peter Philander Morris, of Chariton County? How far apart are Chariton County and Ralls County? The map at the top of this post is a close-up of Missouri from the excellent map resource at the State Historical Society of Missouri.[v]According to the map’s scale for mileage, the two counties are about 60 miles apart (Google Maps confirms this). Sixty miles is a fair distance to travel in the 1800’s.

The key, of course, is Peter’s uncle John Salling. The Morris family of Chariton County likely visited the Salling family in Ralls County. So how close was John Salling to the William Scott Ely’s homestead? The plat maps for Ralls County[vi] found at the Missouri Digital Heritage site gives us a clue. I took the land office records[vii] of the families previously mentioned, a spreadsheet of which can be found hereRalls County, Missouri Land Records, and compared it to the plat maps of 1878. Here is a close-up of Sections 54-7. (You saw 55-6 and 55-7 previously.) I’ve circled the land ownership of William and Rebecca Utterback Ely and put a rectangle around the property of John Adam Salling so you can see how near they lived to one another.[viii]Ralls County Tnp 54 R7 copy

A visit, a soirée, a chance encounter? Who knows, but Elizabeth Ely and Peter Philander Morris met—and they married. I have not found a marriage certificate or the exact date of their marriage, but the death certificate of their first child, Thomas, born on June 25, 1856, names them as his parents.[ix] Place…an important push-pin in family history.

[i] Also Sally and Salley
[ii] George H. Utterback, son of Hankerson, helped sponsor the atlas listed below and indicated 1834 as his year of settlement.
[iii] Some say September 24, 1829, but I have not yet been able to verify this.
[iv] See a spreadsheet of the land purchases of all the Ralls County families here.Ralls County, Missouri Land Records
[v] The full map is available here. http://digital.shsmo.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/Maps/id/92
[vi] AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORICAL ATLAS OF RALLS COUNTY, MISSOURI Compiled, drawn and published from Personal Examinations and Surveys BY EDWARDS BROTHERS, OF MISSOURI. General Office: 209 S. FIFTH STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1878 http://cdm.sos.mo.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/mocoplats/id/2716/rec/1
[vii] Ancestry.com. U.S. General Land Office Records, 1776-2015 [various]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
[viii] Note that John A. Salling died in September 1878 based on Letters of Administration, 1849-1907; Author: Missouri. Probate Court (Ralls County); Probate Place: Ralls, Missouri
His land now appears to belong to his son Samuel I Salling, his daughter Susan, who married Charles H. Phillips, and Stephen Scobee, the father of Ely Scobee, who married John’s daughter Rebecca and died of Typhoid fever six weeks later (based on a find a grave report).
[ix] http://www.sos.mo.gov/images/archives/deathcerts/1928/1928_00021911.PDF

 

Missouri bound Part 3: The Ely Family heads to Kentucky

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Kentucky 1793

This map is from 1793, about the time the Ely Family moved to Kentucky. Want a close up version? You can find it at The Library of Congress Maps Division.

There is safety as well as security in numbers, and before the advent of the railroad and adequate communication systems, most families moved in groups, an important consideration when researching. The Ely, Judy, and Utterback families were no exception. As I continued cleaning up my information (in anticipation of a hiatus from fact finding to focus on fiction) the probing of proximity became my go-to tool.

First, a reminder, my current cleanup centers on the family of my great-great grandmother Gillian Virginia Morris who married Gabriel Ison. They are the parents of my grandmother Mary Elizabeth Ison. The two previous posts (Parts 1 and 2) outlined new and reviewed information on the Morris and Salling (Sally) family who ended up in Chariton and Ralls County, Missouri. Gillian’s parents were Peter Philander Morris and Elizabeth Ely. So what do we know about this Ely family?

Isaac Ely arrived in Hampshire County, (West) Virginia by 1767. He purchased a land grant from Lord Fairfax on either side of the Cacaphon (Cacapon) River at this time, this according to many genealogies providing very accurate detail. Lord Fairfax was “Baron of Cameron in that part of Great Britain called Scotland” so most of his grants were given to those loyal to him, usually of Scottish descent. I have yet to find the document for this land grant. Still, Isaac’s will, which I will discuss later, verifies the information.

On or about 1777, Benjamin Ely, Isaac Ely’s only son, married Mary Scott whose father was also a landholder in Hampshire County. William Scott’s will, dated November 22, 1767, divided his estate equally between Mary and his wife Sarey (Sarah).[i] Isaac Ely witnessed the will. On February 9, 1779, Sarey and Mary transferred the rights to 96 acres on both sides of Little Cacapehon, which had been surveyed on May 22, 1755, for Mary’s father William Scott.[ii] Benjamin had also purchased 30 acres on both sides of Little Cacapehon Creek on July 29, 1778,[iii] and 426 acres on the waters of the Old Road Run and Buffaloe Gap Run on December 6, 1778.[iv]

Three important asides regarding research in general:

  1. I discovered Benjamin’s grants at the Library of Virginia website while looking for the 1767 purchase under the NECK… Never underestimate the value of the University of Virginia site for VA research. It is invaluable.
  2. The Ohio Genealogical Society offered a one-year FREE subscription to Find My Past to all members. The more sites to search the better. Have I told you lately how much I love OGS?
  3. The New Newberry Library Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is back on-line. This fabulous interactive resource helped me determine the following Bourbon County/Clark County link.

By 1791, based on the Kentucky Early Census Index, Benjamin Ely move his family to Bourbon County, Kentucky. It is no wonder that his father gave 1/3 of his Hampshire County Estate to his wife Sarah, a sum of 10 pounds to his only son Benjamin, and the rest of his estate to William, IF he stayed on the Hampshire land grant. It was William alone who registered his grandfather Isaac Ely’s will in the county court on February 15, 1796, soon after his death.[v]

The 1800 Kentucky Tax List includes Benjamin Ely on the Clark County rolls as well as Isaac Ely. This Isaac was Benjamin’s oldest son next to William. Isaac was also his grandfather’s namesake and my 3x great grandfather. He had just married a Mary Polly Judy in 1798.

Finding the October 13, 1798, marriage record for Isaac Ely and Mary Judy[vi] was a major accomplishment—well, actually it was pure serendipity. While painstakingly sifting through the Clark County, Kentucky records for 1798 one-by-one, I discovered it, with oddly spelled surnames.Mary Juda and Isaac Raly marriage 1798 copy

On another note of serendipity, my own nearly marriage of nearly 47 years began on October 13th just like Isaac and Mary Polly Judy Ely.

The Ely family and the Judy family lived just miles apart, both in Clark County. As I’ve said many times, place matters.

Next week: the Judy family and the Ely family’s move to Missouri.

Meanwhile, I’ve completed my update to the Morris(s), Ely, Judy, and Utterback family sheets. You can find them here and on the new Convergence on Missouri tab at the top of the page.

[i] William Scott will, 22 November 1767 image 1037-8 Wills; Author: Hampshire County (West Virginia). Clerk of the County Court; Probate Place: Hampshire, West Virginia Ancestry.com. West Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1724-1985 [2017]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
[ii] http://image.lva.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/GetLONN.pl?first=94&last=&g_p=GR&collection=NN Grant
[iii] http://image.lva.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/GetLONN.pl?first=315&last=&g_p=GQ&collection=NN Grant
[iv] http://image.lva.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/GetLONN.pl?first=70&last=&g_p=GR&collection=NN Grant
[v] Isaac Ely will, posted 15 February 1796 image 1037-8 Wills; Author: Hampshire County (West Virginia). Clerk of the County Court; Probate Place: Hampshire, West Virginia Ancestry.com. West Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1724-1985 [2017]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
[vi] Isaac Raly and Mary Juda Marriage 13 October 1798 image 90; Kentucky County Marriages, 1797-1954 FamilySearch database with images; Madison County Courthouse, Richmond.

Missouri Bound: Out of Rockbridge County, Virginia Part I

salling-estate-newspaper-article

I was Just Plain Wrong

In my New Year’s quest to review all my family records for accuracy, I turned to my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Ison’s ancestry. Her parents Gabriel Ison and Gillian (Gillie) Virginia Morris(s) married in Missouri.[i] Gillie was the daughter of Peter Philander Morris and Elizabeth Ely.[ii] I’ll delve into the Ison, Morris, and Ely family history and how they came to Missouri in later posts. This is just Part I of my efforts to rectifying any abuses of the following rules of genealogical research:

  1. Never rely on another researcher’s family tree without looking for documentation.
  2. Always back-up your work with documentation or a triangulated proof.
  3. Use “Find-a-grave” for information on photographed and marked graves only. Otherwise refer to #1.

Gillie’s father Peter Philander Morris was the son of Thomas H. Morris and Malinda Salling.[iii] In previous posts I stated Malinda’s father to be George Salling, right family wrong sibling. This post repairs that error and provides just a smattering of amazing information I’ve discovered as I researched her ancestry.

Malinda Salling was born to Peter Salling and Rebecca Holms[iv] on March 19, 1803 (ca).[v] How do I know this? Because I just finished analyzing 1,126 pages of Chancery documents available at the Library of Virginia website.

An aside: I find Chancery documents in which inheritance issues, often complex, are ironed out, often over extended periods of time to be the genealogical mother lode. If you have any Virginia ancestors, check out this site. http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/?_ga=1.224291475.920046502.1485978183

Let’s Start at the Beginning with the Patriarch: John Peter Salling

John Peter Salling arrived in Pennsylvania in 1733 with wife Anna Maria Vollmar and children Elizabeth and Anna Catharina. [vi] On 14 November 1735, he filed a warrant for 250 acres of land on Conestoga Creek in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[vii]

Then: “In the year 1740, I came from Pennsylvania to the part of Orange County now called Augusta; and settled in a fork of the James River close under the Blue Ridge Mountains of the West side, where I now live.”[viii]

This passage comes from John Peter’s recollections of his capture by Indians, his transfer into the hands of the French, and his eventual recovery by the British Navy and his return to “Charles Town.” (For more on his crazy adventure go to the link cited in endnotes.) An Index of his will names one son besides the daughters who came from Northern Alsace (Germany) with him, that son is George Adam Salling.[ix]

The Family of George Adam Salling

From the Chancery Document of Augusta County, Virginia, we know that George Adam Salling of Orange County, North Carolina bought and transferred a warrant for 200+ acres to George Salling on the first bend of the James River.[x] Biographical information in A History of Rockbridge County says George Adam moved to North Carolina about 1760. He must have returned to Rockbridge or was simply cleaning up old warrants, as his will is recorded in August County (the land in what would be Rockbridge County, VA). It provides for the same 200+ acres for George and is “proved” 1 June 1789, about a year after George Adam Sallings death.

The Chancery records include an incomplete copy of the will of George Adam Salling, 1788. It lists his male offspring: Henry, Peter, and George. He leaves use of the meadow and the house to his wife Hannah along with the use of Henry’s portion of the plantation until he reaches maturity. He declares that the plantation at the fork of the James and North Rivers with three hundred sixty odd acres and meadow be divided equally between sons Henry and Peter (the quality of the division the reason for the dispute). He gives two hundred twenty acres to son George. With wife Hannah to “support that part of my unmarried children who may chuse to continue with her and likewise to give them the necessary schooling.”[xi]

The above statement indicates additional children. Virginia marriage bonds are family affairs, often listing the parentage of both bride and groom. I was able to add Magdalen, Elizabeth, Peggy, and Hannah.[xii] George Salling who married Matilda 19 January 1791 and moved to Gate City, Scott county, Virginia between 1810 and 1820. (This is the George I incorrectly designated as Malinda’s father.)

Thanks to the extraordinary effort of Marilyn Headley and Angela Ruley. They digitalized the Rockbridge County Marriage Bonds, 1778-1801. A great resource, http://www.usgwarchives.net/va/rockbridge/license.html

The Children of Henry and Peter Salling

For this portion, let me introduce you to Peter A. Salling, the son of Peter Salling, and he had a mission: to acquire the whole of the estate of George Salling. He and his wife, Aurelia Paxton had no children aside from Aurelia’s neice whom they adopted. It seems tradition was important to Peter A., so he left his substantial estate to his namesake nephew, Peter A. Salling.

rockbridge-county-detailThe “Mrs Salling” at the Fork of the James and North River is Aurelia, the last owner of the Salling Plantation.

The ins and outs of his complicated acquisitions and the dispersals at his and Aurelia’s death led to four separate Chancery filings over fifty years. From these records we know:

  • Henry Salling (of George) married Lucy and had children: Lucy, Mary Polly, Hannah, Magdalene, George Jackson, Lavinia, Henry, and Benjamin. Henry died in 1834.[xiii]
  • Peter Salling (of George) married Rebecca Holms and had children: John, Rebecca wife of William Harrison, Malinda wife of Thomas H Morris (Happy Dance!), and Mary Ann deceased who had children by a Goodwin (George W., Harriet wife of William Wasky, Peter A (the namesake), Robert B, John, and Rebecca wife of David Ely who died after her Grandfather Peter who died in 1839[xiv]

As you can imagine, the 1, 126 pages of information holds gems galore. One page of interest lists the names of Negros to be distributed to the heirs as exchange for their share of plantation land. Thomas H. Morris, Malinda’s husband, took his share in slaves.[xv] slave-dist-morrisInsights into farming, husbandry, life in Texas, and changes brought by the Civil War comes to life in these pages. I can only say—again—if you have any ancestors in Virginia and know the county of origin, check out the Library of Virginia.

Next week: Thomas H. Morris and who moved to Missouri…

[i] Marriage License of Gabriel Ison and Gillian Morris Ancestry.com. Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.
[ii] Census record of Peter P. Morris Year: 1870; Census Place: Township 55 Range 19, Chariton, Missouri; Roll: M593_768; Page: 362B; Image: 63785; Family History Library Film: 552267 Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
[iii] Peter Philander Morris Death Certificate #9537 (T.H. Morris and Malinda Salling parents)
[iv] Peter Salling/Rebecca Holms marriage bond 9 April 1787, Rockbridge County Marriage Bonds, 1778-1801, digitalized at http://www.usgwarchives.net/va/rockbridge/license.html
[v] Malinda H. Morris Find A Grave Memorial# 37019534, Brunswick City Cemetery, Brunswick Township, Chariton County, Missouri.
[vi] Burgert, Annette K. Eighteenth Century emigrants from the Northern Alsace to America. Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1992. Pg. 416; Ancestry. Com. U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index.
[vii] Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: Warrant Applications, 1733-1952. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania State Archives.
[viii] The Journal of John Peter Salling, transcribed by L.S. Workman from The Annals of an American Family by E. Wadell http://files.usgwarchives.net/va/augusta/misc/m-sal01.txt
[ix] Ancestry.com. Virginia, Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850. Orignial data: Chalkley, Lyman. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1965. Originally published in 1912. NOTE: I did not find this record in the Library of Virginia Chancery Records.
[x] Index # 1818-104, Augusta Co. Henry Salling vs. Peter Salling. Library of Virginia Digital Collection: Chancery Record Index, pg. 68.
[xi] Ibid. pg 27.
[xii] Rockbridge County Marriage Bonds, 1778-1801. All found under “M”
[xiii] Index # 1840-028, Rockbridge Co. Peter A. Salling vs. heirs of Henry Salling. Library of Virginia Digital Collection: Chancery Record Index, pg. 3.
[xiv] Index # 1841-019, Rockbridge Co. John Salling vs. heirs of Peter Salling. Library of Virginia Digital Collection: Chancery Record Index.
[xv] Ibid pg 27

Be Open to What You Don’t Know…in Genealogy, in Writing, in Life.

gear-butterfly-1447330_1280I haven’t posted anything for a while, but not for lack of research or ideas…just busy with it all. Over the past month I have been both working with Huston family researcher, RBryant, and the chair of the First Families of Ohio, Margaret Cheney. Each communication with these two women required many hours in which to analyze and reassess my work. Both women challenged my thinking, heightened my efforts, and became the catalyst to this post and my New Year’s resolution:

Be open to what I don’t know, accept when I don’t know it, and make sure I admit it; what I don’t know opens me to discovery and growth.

Okay, it’s much too long for a resolution…so let’s go for four.

  1. Be open to what I don’t know. My writing may not hit the mark; my understanding of a life circumstance may be circumspect, or research information unknown to me before might appear.

For example, RBryant approached her research from a different family line; she used surname analysis and DNA information to build her conclusions. The collision of my research and hers put new light on old assumptions. Please, if you are in any way interested in the Huston line, read her compelling argument here, https://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.houston/2902/mb.ashx. It outlines why the old assumptions regarding Andrew Huston Sr., Bedford, PA may be incorrect. And if you are a male descendant of Alexander, Edward, or Robert Huston please contact her and get that DNA test. It will help in her research. Her argument led to some changes in my family tree, so check it out! (Remember, it is a compelling and well-constructed argument, not fact. Unfortunately the dearth of 18th century and earlier documentation make undisputable proof highly unlikely.)

The very construct of a family tree makes it dangerously susceptible to assumptions. A blank or the word “unknown” screams for closure. We want to put something on the line for parent or birth or death or place. We want to provide the familial connection of all those same surnamed individuals living in one place. It is human nature. We like our world packaged and tied with a bow.

While I worked with RBryant on the Huston family line in Bedford County, and with Margaret Cheney, I came across some familial assumptions in my family tree passed from other researchers. I knew they were assumptions particularly regarding female relationships, but I stuck them there without explanation. In the process I also noticed some casual calculations (ie average rather than range) and calculated dates not marked as such or referenced. This year I will update my family trees to reflect what I know (and DON’T KNOW) more accurately and, as I do, I will post a link to the new pages with an explanation of my corrections. I have also put this disclaimer on each of my family pages:

“This material is constantly under construction and errors may exist. Please, search my postings and always research beyond them to confirm and verify information, PARTICULARLY anything before 1790 because with ever greater distance in time less information of a more tenuous nature exists.”

Why? Because no one is perfect (big surprise)—a segue to the next part of my resolution.

  1. Accept when I don’t know. It’s okay not to know, either what is true, what to do, what is best, how to help, or how to proceed—in life, in writing, in genealogy. Facts are unforgiving; theory is more forgiving; conjecture and assumptions…well…then you just don’t know.

I can happily announce nine Huston/Oswalt/Croy/Pugh ancestors have been approved for First Families of Ohio. They are Alexander Huston (confirmed entry to Ohio 1799 before Ohio became a state), Jacob Croy, Sr (1805), Mary Huston Croy Roberts (1807), Jacob Oswalt (1805), Sarah Huston Oswalt (1805), Andrew Croy (1810), Susannah Oswalt Croy (1810), Jacob Croy, Jr (1810), and Margaret Pugh Croy (1813). This was no small feat. A number of triangulated proofs were required. I was sure my application was perfect…and it was rejected. My hackles went up; I knew my research was right, and my knowing threw up a barrier to my learning.

Oh, what I didn’t know! Luckily, my resolution already glimmered inside me. I stepped back and considered that I might not KNOW everything, got humble, and learned. (Boy, this sounds pretty deplorable in print but…skip to “make sure I admit it…”) I read the instructions incorrectly, and without going into detail, my application was a mess. Thankfully, Margaret Cheney, the chairperson, worked through everything with me, took it upon herself to check this web site, and with some effort on my part, gave her stamp of approval. So, that leads to the next point in my resolution.

  1. Make sure I admit what I don’t know. Have you ever not known something and, rather than admit it, stood back and watched until you got the gist of it? Or did you ever want so much for something to be true that you adjusted your “facts” or “truths” to make it fit your desire? Maybe you are better than all that…but I’ve caught myself a few times! So, I resolve to gift others and myself by admitting my weaknesses right off. As my husband has taught me, it’s the way of a quality apprentice. So, while an argument for or against a proposition may ring true, I will attempt to present the argument to which I lean, but not present it as fact. I will ask for help when I just don’t know. I will listen.
  2. Finally, why is it important? Because what I don’t know opens me to discovery and growth. Every time I take a breath, lower my barriers, and exposed myself to the possibility of NOT knowing, doors of wonder open. I grow as a human being, become more tolerant and understanding— and I learn things.

So, bless you all in this New Year. I don’t know what the year will bring, but I am ready. I will be open to what I don’t know, accept that I don’t know, admit out loud (or in print) that I don’t know, and embrace the knowledge and discovery that comes from doing so. Because a year of grow is in the wind—whether I know it or not.

Using Missouri Plat Maps to Find Your Ancestors

chariton-mo-1876page_46-detailThe Missouri History Museum does great things, has a great website, and offers an excellent newsletter. Check them out here.  But of everything it offers, the map resources are my favorite. So, as promised, below are my step-by-step instructions for finding the land of your ancestors. It isn’t much, because it is SO EASY.

First, organize your research. The plat maps are for 1875-1930. Consequently, you should determine the last name of any relations you think may have lived in Missouri during that time frame. Do you know in what county in Missouri each of them lived? Jot that down beside their name. Knowing the township provides even more information. Your research sheet might look like this. I use my family as an example.

Name County Township Timeframe/Notes
Thomas Morris[s] Chariton Rothville? Died between 1870-1880
Peter P. Morris[s] Chariton Salt Creek b1832-1916
William S. Ely Ralls Salt River? b1805-1877
Harmon Utterback Ralls Perry? b1812-1888 brother to Rebecca wife of above
Schulyer Ison Bates Summit Arrived after 1860-1883
Gabriel Ison Bates Summit Left after 1884

Second, go to the plat map search page found here.  It looks like this.missouri-digital-library

Now you have a choice. You can search by typing in the last name only of your ancestor and find the county of residence. The search box is at the top of the site. (See arrow #1) If the surname is unusual, this option may be best. Let’s try it with Utterback. I put the name into the search and this came up.utterback-search

Right at the top of the list is “an illustrated historical atlas for Ralls County.” If I hover my curser over the title, I am given all citation information for the item. Click on it and it carried me to that record. Now, I had to do a bit of work to find what I wanted. But here are my results in the “text” tab.text-results-of-utterbackNotice the column above the rectangle. It includes a tab for “image,” “text,” and two up down arrows noting the number of Utterback’s found in the document (11). I went to text, arrowed to where I found Harmon Utterback. Now, if you look in the upper right hand corner, you find some cool options: “view image and text,” “download,” and “print”. The last two items are pretty self-explanatory. But when I hit “view image and text,” I got a plat map showing where the brother of my great, great, great grandmother lived. (township 55 north range 7 west of the 5th principal meridian) It took a little adjusting by left clicking to hold down and move the map but…pretty wonderful. Here is that imagemap-of-utterback

Your second option, if you are pretty sure of the county and even the township (perhaps gathered from a census record from the timespan of the records), is to use the county search feature (plat map search page:arrow #2). It then allows you to search the county records over time. I chose Chariton County and got plat map results for 1876 and 1897. With a little searching I found the map for 1876 showing Peter Philander Morriss (P.P. Morris detailed at the top of the post.). Not only did I find where my great, great grandfather lived, I also discovered no Thomas Morriss, a good indication that I can narrow his death to between 1870 when he appeared on the census in Chariton and 1876 when he disappear from land ownership. There may be another explanation, but the clues keep compounding. And with a little detective work—who knows?

Go ahead—explore Missouri from your laptop. It’s easy!