Week 8 (Feb 19-25): “Good Deeds”
I find deeds boring. There. I said it. Not deeds, of the doing-of-things variety, but, deeds, of the document variety… BoRRRinggg. So my initial reaction to this week’s theme was a little on the wrinkled nose side?
To give me a kick in the behind motivation-wise, I Googled, What are good deeds for genealogy research?
Well, of course, the answer I got in my Googling was, Oh, ALL OF ‘EM!, but I figured, Well sure — these are things written by deed fans.
But I dutifully sat down with my laptop and, I resignedly logged into Ancestry.com, and I sighed, after which I typed my paternal grandfather’s name into the search box (thank you, auto-fill-from-trees-uploaded 🙂 ), going straight to, “Tax, Criminal, Land & Wills.”
Well doggone. Up pops Grampa Grant’s name, but, it’s what I pulled up that got me smiling. See, I must be related to the majority of 1800s-era residents of Clark & Crawford Counties, Illinois, and what I was looking at was a page in an 1892 Plat Book of Melrose Township, Crawford Co., IL — a community map, essentially, with everybody’s names and the places they lived neatly written in on it!
I confess I was excited.
Why, there’s my 2nd great-grandfather Jesse William BUCKNER’s place! Almost smack dab in the middle like my eyes were meant to land on it. Jesse William died in 1869 but, Grandma Isabel his wife lived until 1902, and I know by an Oct., 1894 “Hardy Pioneers of Clark County” newspaper article that she lived then in Melrose, so…
Hmmm. Wow, look at the huge parcel of land 3rd Great-Granduncle Rev. Nixon EVANS had… Names of WILLARDs, BUCKNERs, BARTLETTs, EVANSes, RALSTONs and more cover the page, and I’m related to a good number of them. It’s very neat to see who lived where/near who, in relation to others.
Okay, I may have to revise my deed views. Moving on…
I find myself less enthralled with the June, 1853, Clark Co., IL, land record deed I find for 2nd Great-Grandpa Christian FASIG, although the trivia-oriented side of me notes with interest that Franklin PIERCE was President of the United States at that time.
This next is a good one, though: an 1886 U.S. Tax Assessment List tells me Grandpop Emanuel H. GREGER raised pigs. This offers a degree of specificity over the occupational note of “farmer” that 1850 through 1900 Censuses provided. Okeydoke. Check.
Comprehensive, effective deed-searches are perhaps not best done from the couch, however, I muse thoughtfully… Ancestry.com’s and, other genealogy website resources go only so far. This is a Get-Out-There activity.
The website, “Do History” has a nice succinct readable one-page guide called “How to Search Deeds” that I would recommend to other heretofore deed-resistant deed-research-novices like myself. I also found RootsWeb’s “Guide No. 29,” “American Land Records,” pretty helpful.
Both of the above are in simple-speak and offer examples, breaking things down well. This is good.
A lot of genealogy research can be done from the comfort of one’s home — just not all, I conclude… 😉
1 “Do History,” “How to Search Deeds,” at http://dohistory.org/on_your_own/toolkit/deeds.html , accessed Feb., 2015.
2 RootsWeb, “Guide No. 29,” “American Land Records,” at http://rwguide.rootsweb.ancestry.com/lesson29.htm , accessed Feb., 2015.