Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Getting From HERE to THERE In Quarantine Time

After seven weeks of self-imposed quarantine and state mandated "shelter-in-place" during the Spring of 2020, I had put a big dent in my pile of research documents that had needed to be filed. I was actually studying, documenting, labeling, and filing almost every other day. But then one day, I came across a land record that had been in my pile for almost three years. I was ready to do a "Genealogy Happy Dance" because that record sparked my curiosity, making me want to learn more about it, and, admittedly, letting me leave filing for a while without feeling any guilt.

The document was a land warrant conveying 236 acres in Green(e) County, Tennessee to Joseph Bogle, my husband's fourth GreatGrandfather. Were my husband still alive, I knew this would have been some research he would have wanted to help me explore. And explore I did.



"Ancestry.com. North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753-1931"


Step 1: The first thing I needed to do was to transcribe that document written over 230 years ago. I had found the record in Ancestry's database of "North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records, 1753-1931", but the transcription made the record so much easier to read. For convenience, I also photocopied my transcription onto the source citation I had downloaded with the record.

Step 2: Although I no longer lived in the area, I still had a real interest in learning more about where the land belonging to Joseph Bogle was actually located. I wanted to see if I could find the 236 acre plot on a topographic map of Greene County, Tennessee (today the name of the county is spelled with that final "e").

Google Maps made it quick to find Little Chucky Creek in Greene County, but locating Delaney Creek took some time. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) now had free map downloads available on their website using the the TNM download. It was relatively easy to follow the course of Little Chuckey Creek on the topographic map of Greene County. After a few minutes of sizing and resizing portions of the sectional maps for Greeneville and Mosheim (towns in Greene County), I found "Little Chuckey at the mouth of Delaney Creek" or Little Chucky Creek and Dulaney Branch as they are labeled on the current topographic map.


The red diamond indicates where Dulaney Branch runs into the Little Chucky Creek


Step 3: The warrant was for 236 acres, but knowing the hills, valleys, creeks, and rivers of this area, I had to wonder what that plat of land might look like. I knew there was platting software available to purchase, but I was hoping to find a free way to plat the land warrant. Online I found two great articles that explained just how to do that. Both articles are now printed and in my "Land Records" research folder.

Mark Hamilton's The Walden Effect blog had a post on "How to Map Property Boundaries From a Deed". (1) I especially appreciated the photos of his platting process. Hamilton also included a diagram of a surveyor's compass, an instrument that turned out to be much easier to use than the old school protractor I found in my desk. I followed his suggestion to photocopy the compass and was finally able to get my final plat line to join back to the starting point of my property drawing. Hurrah!

The second helpful article "Land Platting Made Easy" was written by Kimberly Powell.(2) It featured a step by step process for platting as well as helpful descriptions and examples. Basically I followed Powell's list of steps and referred to Hamilton's post for visuals.

Powell's article called for transcribing the deed or land warrant and creating a call list before ever attempting to plat the deed. Transcribing the land warrant I had found online made it much easier to read and to double check my directions. The call list is simply a list of the directions that were taken in the survey, things like:
  • Beginning at Gamel's at a dogwood  (Starting point of the survey was apparently property belonging to a Mr. Gamel, at the corner where there was a dogwood tree)
  • On a line South 47 East (From the dogwood tree, go on a course of SE 47 degrees)
  • One hundred and ten poles to a hill to a poplar (Go on this SE course for 110 poles or 1815.0 feet as 1 pole equals 16.5 feet to the poplar tree on the hill)
Having the list also made it simple to check off each step as I had marked it on my graph paper which had been a free download from PrintFreeGraphPaper.com.


My transcription and Calls List for the land warrant.


After switching from the school protractor to the surveyor's compass, I finally came up with a plat that was a visual for the information presented in the land warrant.  


My plat drawing, made with the help of a paper surveyor's compass.


Step 4: The final step was to compare my drawing with the topographic map I had found. Would my drawing fit? Unfortunately I had not made my land plat on the same scale as the downloaded USGS map so I had to do so thinking here. Going back to the map segment I downloaded in Step 2, I noticed that it was shown with the scale of 2 cm equals 1000 feet. With that basic information I copied the photo of my plat drawing and resized it on a Word document until that long East to West line from a stake to the poplar was 5 1/2 cm / 2 1/8" to more accurately represent the 165 poles / 2722.5 ft indicated in the land warrant.

After cutting out the resized shape, I tried putting it onto the larger 2 cm = 1000 feet map, hoping to find a place where Joseph Bogel's property seemed to fit. No matter where I placed the plat shape, I wasn't able to find a spot near the juncture of Little Church Creek and Delaney Branch that had a hill where the shape indicated one should be. The exact location will need to be determined by someone who actually knows what s/he is doing.


Plat template and the map


Spending this time looking at the deed, drawing the boundary lines for the property, and trying to locate the area was a welcomed break from filing. I also leaned about some new resources that I expect to use in the future.

And, of course, I ended up with more questions. After all, Joseph Bogle was living about 50 miles away in Blount County at the time the land warrant was written, living there up to his death in 1790. Did Joseph Bogle ever set foot on this property? Was the land meant to be payment to him for his service in the Revolutionary War? Did he sell it? Did he not act on the land warrant such that it just went to someone else? More questions for another day. And perhaps I will find another treasure to examine when I return to filing.

.....................

(1) Hamilton, Mark, "How to map property boundaries from a deed". The Walden Effect. accessed 4 Apr 2020. http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/How_to_map_property_boundaries_from_a_deed/.
(2) Powell, Kimberly. "Land Platting Made Easy." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/land-platting-made-easy-1422116.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Who Was Joshua Stevens and What Were He and Solomon Kemp Doing in My Files?


It all started as I was going through things in the attic, doing the "50 Year Purge", trying to get years of files, folders, and contents of forgotten boxes under control. While going through a folder with my father's name on it, I found several things I remembered my mother giving to me years ago, but then I find a surprise. There, in the folder, along with my dad's military papers and a few old newspaper clippings was an envelope marked in my handwriting "An old deed". Inside that envelope I found this brittle, stained sheet of paper, apparently a document to record the sale of land by Solomon Kemp to a Michael G..... in 1842.


Sale Receipt for Solomon Kemp, 1842

I also found a second, smaller envelope, this one labeled in my mother's writing, "Old deed with seal attached". When I carefully opened the envelope, this is what I found.


Deed to Georgia Land Lottery Draw for Joshua Stephens, 1832

With a quick glance, I realized that I was looking at pieces of an original deed or document relating to a draw from the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery. And I knew I needed to learn as much as I could about these documents and the people involved. And I needed to come up with a research plan for gathering information about these documents beyond the obvious reading of the words on those pieces of paper.

In years past, someone had tried to tape together the fragile pieces of the Stevens document. Today, the fragments are almost too brittle to touch, so I tried to handle them with as gently as possible. After photographing the two documents, I felt the next step was to transcribe them. Having the transcriptions gave me sheets of paper that were much easier to read, papers I didn't need to be concerned about getting stains, spills, or anything else to cause further damage to the original documents.

So, here I am about 24 hours later, actually starting to learn a little about Joshua Stevens. Here is what I have come across thus far.
  • Step one, check in my Family Tree Maker software for a Joshua Stevens. I did not have that exact name among ancestors or relatives. I have one Stevens male, no given name, who married into my mother's side of the family in the late 1770s according to the Massachusetts Town and Vital Records found on Ancestry.com, but I doubted if he would have been part of the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery. Other Stevens family members were from a marriage into my father's side of the family in 1899, so I am ruling out an established Stevens connection for the present time.
  • I've decided to start a separate tree in Family Tree Maker for Joshua Stevens. This way whenever I come across anything noteworthy, I have a place to record it. 
    • My first entry, beyond his name, was to record the Property fact that he drew Lot 946 in the Fifteenth District of the Second Section of Cherokee County, Georgia. 
    • Next I added that at the time of the draw, he was a resident of Madison County, Georgia.  
  • Both my family and my husband's had members who had been involved in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1832. My first research was to look at James F Smith's fabulous book, The Cherokee Land Lottery, Containing a Numerical List of the Names of the Fortunate Drawers in Said Lottery, With an Engraved Map of Each District. This treasure is available to view through both HathiTrust and The Internet Archive or abstracted on Ancestry.com. 
    • Imagine my surprise when I learned there was NO map for the Fifteenth District, Second Section of the drawing, NO list in number of draw order for the lottery winners! This was due to the fact that this district, along with some others, was considered to be a "Gold District". No gold was promised on the land, just the feeling that there "might" be gold there. Information for lottery winners for Gold Districts turned out to be in another book, one I haven't been able to find available online.
    • Thanks to www.worldcat.org I've found that copies of Alphabetical Index to Georgia's 1832 Gold Lottery were available at several libraries around metro Atlanta, so heading to one of them and finding the book is on my To-Do List on a future trip to Georgia.
  • I located a Joshua Stephens living in Madison County, Georgia, in the 1830 census and also in the 1820 Madison County census. No success, however, in locating a Joshua Stephens anywhere in Georgia in 1840 ... yet
  • The Georgia Virtual Vault presents a number of digitized resources, the originals of which are housed at the Georgia Archives. One resource is their database of "Georgia Colonial and Headright Plan Index, 1735-1866". If Joshua Stephens was in Madison County Georgia in the early 1800s, there was a good chance that he had received land as a settler moving into the area.  Through this database, I learned that Joshua Stephens had received several grants totalling over 700 acres in Madison County so he was already an established land holder at the time of the Cherokee Land Lottery.
  • Next stop was FamilySearch.org where I looked through their collection of "Georgia, Headright and Bounty Documents, 1783-1909". This time I had the actual digitized documents to read including:
    • a survey request to lay off 30 acres for Joshua in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, in 1797 
    • Land Warrant #21 that gave Joshua 300 acres in Madison County, Georgia, in 1813 and
    • Land Warrant #174 that gave Joshua 450 acres in Madison County, Georgia, in 1826
  • My next research steps will be to find out what happened to Joshua Stephens after 1832. This means checking resources such as
    • FindAGrave, BillionGraves, WikiTree to find a possible death date
    • Wills and Probate records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org to perhaps learn what happened to his land after his death
    • Fold3.com to see if Joshua had any military service that might have been the catalyst for acquiring his various land grants
    • Look for website, etc. where I can locate lot 946 on a present day map. This might help me have a clue as to who may have lived there.
Now for my Georgia To-Do List
  • Visit a metro Atlanta library, get a copy of Alphabetical Index to Georgia's 1832 Gold Lottery, and learn more about Joshua's fortunate draw.
  • Check in Cherokee County Georgia to learn who later bought the land from Joshua Stephens and try to trace the land's ownership into the Perkinson family.
  • After I finally figure out why I even have these things, I want to contact county or state archives to see if an Archive or local history center might be a more fitting home for this interesting old document, especially as I am not aware on any Cherokee Lottery Land still owned by our Perkinson family.
As for the 1842 document signed by Solomon Kemp, that will have to wait for another research spurt. Looks like I have enough to keep me busy, out of trouble (and the attic), and even writing a few more blog posts for quite a while.

Monday, June 10, 2019

It Never Hurts to Go Looking : Taking Time to Visit Enon


Enon Cemetery, Woodstock, Georgia, 4 June 2019
personal photograph


It was one of those perfect days for a cemetery visit, not yet Georgia summer hot, cloudy but not rainy, and an uncrowded midweek morning. I had visited several times over the past 20 years to take pictures, but this time I had another purpose. I knew that my relatives were buried in a family plot, but I wanted to record exactly WHO was WHERE and to be certain that I had a picture of each marker in the plot. It was time for me to make a map of the family plot.

Although it had been close to 10 years since my last visit to Enon, it was easy to locate the Perkinson family plot. It is the plot with the tall obelisk near its center.




Perkinson Monument
personal photo


Armed with pen and paper and my cell phone camera, I arrived at Enon Cemetery midmorning and was pleased to see that paved parking places were now available just next to the family plot. I decided to work left to right, front to back, to document all of those buried in the plot. 



Rough sketch of the Perkinson family plot



My quick sketch of the plot included a number and the name of the one buried there. It was not an architectural or even scaled drawing by any means, but it is enough for me to see who is buried where and to consider some relationships. The numbers on the sketch made it easy to locate the corresponding photo in my phone's camera roll for that day. The arrow pointing right at grave 24 refers to three more graves in that row, graves which I documented on another page. Later I plan to upload any new photos to BillionGraves.com so that all of the burials in the plot will be recorded in their database.




As I walked around the plot and made notes, I came across this section which I do not remember ever noticing before. It took looking at all three relatively recent markers to see the family connection among the unfamiliar surnames. And the box of artificial flowers here and on a few other graves was a touch I had not seen often at Enon. It made me wonder if there had recently been a Decoration Day at Enon. Decoration Day, a long standing tradition in the rural south, is a time for families to gather at the burial place of ancestors, clean the cemetery of weeds, leaves, etc., and perhaps leave flowers in memory of loved ones. DigitalHeritage.org has an interesting article about this observance.

Finally, once home, as I was writing the detailed list of the burials, it was interesting to determine who was the first one to be buried in the plot at Enon Cemetery. The first family member buried in the plot was six month old Willie Perkinson, a younger brother of my grandfather, who was buried at Enon in 1883. In 1894, Walter Dean, a grandson of my second great grandparents, was buried there at the age of four months. Then followed the interments of various Perkinson and Dean family members and relatives up to as recently as 2017. Perhaps I need to start referring to this plot as the Perkinson-Dean Family Plot in recognition of the blending of the two families.

Lessons Learned:
  • Taking the time to look at all the graves and markers made me want to be certain of the family relationship of each person buried there. Now that I'm home, I am listing each person buried in the family plot, their birth and death dates, relationship to anyone buried in the family plot, and a notation for any direct ancestor. Having this information along with a neater version of the plot map will help me. I plan to add the redrawn plot map, the relationship list, and labeled thumbnail photos to my Perkinson Family file folder. Plus, a copy will go to my brother. As the old saying goes, it's hard to know the players without a program.
  • There were a few recent burials in the family plot for whom I need to document their relationships in my genealogy software.
  • It was a time to pause and reflect when I saw the graves of six young children buried among the 34 family graves. I wondered if these young deaths corresponded to pandemics sweeping the area or if they were caused by genetic problems or undiagnosed health issues.
  • The variety of last names - Barnes, Dean, Drinkard, Felton, McAfee, Perkinson - give this plot the feeling of the small town where most of those buried had lived at some point in their life.
  • As I explore some of the relationships, I am reminded once again that there may be something new to learn when we revisit a genealogy resource. Documents, photos, even grave markers can continue to provide additional information when we take another look; they might even lead to new questions to research.
  • My decision to include a visit to Enon came as I was planning to visit the Woodstock Public Library, just across the street. My purpose for going to the library related to my quest to find an elusive marriage verification I needed for my DAR membership application. Still no luck finding any marriage information, even in among obituaries on microfilm of old newspapers, but the trip to Enon was a worthwhile endeavor. Combining research missions helped me have success in one area even if the other task was less fruitful.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Getting This Party Started

This year is going to be a special one in my hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee. Our town, being 150 years old, will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2019, and the party has begun.


So much to see, hear, and do at this party.

On Saturday, Jan. 5, several hundred citizens, along with local politicians, a beauty queen, and a member of Congress all gathered in downtown Johnson City to get our party started. The focus for this event was the display of items previously placed in a time capsule back in 1969. This capsule had been created during the celebration of Johnson City's centennial. Wanting to look at the capsule's contents was enough to get me out of the house to attend the event. I'm so glad I did.


Metal sign from the actual 1969 time capsule

A portion of the sign from the time capsule was on display. I learned that the capsule had been installed during the construction of the high school which my children later attended. The accompanying list of artifacts showed that items ran the gamut from serious to fun.


There was an impressive variety of items in the 1969 time capsule.

The line to gaze at the items from the capsule moved slowly, but no one seemed to mind as virtually everyone could find something interesting in the display. There were items pertaining to city government such as the former city flag, a 1969 city map, a copy of the 1969 city budget and a key to the city. Also on display were photos and information about the city's hospitals of the day, our public school system, the two local colleges, and the university.

Admittedly, the line slowed as we passed by the displays relating to everyday life, things like a 1969 Sears catalog, newspapers with historical headlines like "Men Walk on Moon", samples of products made in our town, and some popular children's toys. There was a fascinating scrapbook of local newspaper articles covering the variety of events celebrating the 1969 centennial, and there always seemed to be school age students leafing through its pages. I was excited to learn that the time capsule items will remain on display in the downtown area for some time so that others can continue to take a closer look at our city's more recent history.





Another part of the official program included the reading of a letter written by the 1969 mayor of the town to the 2019 Johnson City mayor. Our present mayor, a woman with a distinguished record of public service, didn't seem to mind reading the salutation, "Dear Sir" and graciously accepted the letter's warm wishes for success and prosperity for our city in the year 2019.

My favorite part was seeing the number of children and younger families at the party. They would browse the numerous displays of photos of churches, businesses, and schools from the town's 150 year history. And there would usually be an older person close by who was glad to answer any of their questions about the past. I was one of them as I answered a few questions relating to the picture of my church's building back in the early 1900s.

It was interesting to see photos of city churches throughout the years.

Another fun spot was a craft table, complete with small cardboard boxes, markers, and stickers, whatever a child might want to make and decorate his or her own time capsule box to take home, fill, and then open at some point in the future. Seeing the kids working on their boxes made me wish my grandchildren had been in town and could make a box for themselves.


Making your own time capsule was a great family project.

There was no Photo Booth at this party. Instead, people could record a message to the future to be included in the 2019 time capsule. It turned out to be another great family activity. No one seemed to mind the spectators who gathered to watch and to hear the various individuals and groups contribute a 30 second message, a few even adding a little song and dance to their message. Hopefully, 2069 technology will permit these messages to be played and enjoyed in the future.


Recording a greeting for the 2069 Bicentennial

And the party wasn't just things to look at. We had a sing-along to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", a hit song from 1969. We celebrated as three generations of a family blow out the three giant candles on the birthday cake. And what's a party without cake! Everyone was invited to sample the delicious birthday cake, made by a local baker who just happens to be scheduled to be on a Food Network program in the coming months. It all made for a pretty good party.

I'm already looking forward to attending future sesquicentennial events. The more, the merrier.


Display from the George Carter Railroad Museum at East Tennessee State University


Some Genealogy Musings:
  • The photo displays were well organized and labeled. The hard work of others provided lots of information in an interesting and accessible manner. In a similar vein, when we share old family photos, it might garner more interest from family members if we, too, include a little bit of the Who, What, When, and Where to accompany some of the pictures.
  • It was great to see the time capsule activity available for children. We just might have some new historians on our hands at the bicentennial in 2069, ones whose interest started with a simple craft idea.
  • Our public library had a display of some local history materials from the Tennessee Room, their genealogy collection area. There was also a member of the library staff present to talk with people about the library's genealogy resources as well as to provide information about our local genealogy society. This was a simple, effective marketing tool.
  • Additional photos and resources were provided for viewing at the party by East Tennessee State University and by the Archives of Appalachia which is housed at the university. This was another example of increasing exposure within the community as to the variety of historical (and potentially genealogical) resources available at the local level. It also spoke loudly of the important of providing accessibility to such resources.
  • The party was another reminder that we, too, are part of making history every day.

#JohnsonCity150 #citycelebrations #JCTNsesquicentennial