Thursday, March 31, 2011

Making Maps

It often becomes necessary to expand your genealogical skills into areas that you may not have utilized. When genealogy becomes geography it is frequently necessary to make maps of the geographical area that you wish to explore. I am not speaking of just looking at maps, but actually drawing maps to fit the history and time peroid you are seeking. Such was the case for my Griffin Jones, Sr. and the next generations.

Pewmansend Creek [spelled a variety of ways] was the general location of my Jones family beginning around the 1720s. This was a creek which emptied into Rappahannock River way up stream from its mouth, which emptied into the Chesapeake Bay. Present day maps have all sorts of names, towns, and listing which may or may not be the names, towns, or listings dating back to 1720. Also, there were multiple land grants and patents that used landmarks no longer in existence on present day maps. Drawing your own maps with all the present day names, towns, and listings removed, allows a way to utilize historical records from "ground zero" sort of speaking. Here is how one can do this.

Start with a present day map of the geographical area your have an interest. [Where your family tree ends or the brick wall begins.] For me it was the state of Virginia, present day Caroline Co., which had been a number of different counties before. A map I have utilized over the years is called "Virginia: Atlas & Gazetteer, Topographic maps of the entire state, Back roads and outdoor recreation", by Delorme, Mapping Co., Freeport, Maine, 1989. This company publishes multiple state maps and I am sure that they have published more up to date editions. It does not really matter the editions however, since you are going to create a map which only shows the highways of the time, the rivers and streams.

The next step is to take a piece of tracing paper and outline the water and streams that make the foundation of your new map. An example I have done is shown to the right. Trace all the streams as shown on the map, identify which direction is north, and establish the scale of the map as traced. My drawn is done on a piece of graph paper. This allows a way to estimate total acres involved since all early patents are given in total acres. My is scaled to two small squares to a mile, thus making 640 acres within one block of four squares. You may want to start with just a plan piece of copy paper.

Pumensend Creek is identified and its branches shown. All other creeks which surround it are also drawn. [A shadow box is often helpful when paper is thick and more light can be place on the tracing.] Thus you have a working map which contains the highways of the time, and the landmarks used for land patents. More to come.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for explaining this simple but necessary method of mapping our ancestors. I've been avoiding land ownership because of the apparent complexity. I'll be tuned in for your next installment! Thanks