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.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Keep Smiling Until Then

School pictures were a part of growing up. You were always given a few days warning...parents wanted you to look just right, hair combed and all. For the most part, teachers seemed to enjoy it, having us line up in the hallway, all smiles showing, and march us to the picture place. A big production it was at Hickman Street School.

The picture to the right shows that of my first grade, school year 1957-1958. Curly black hair was pretty well combed. White shirt was buttoned right to the top. A smile from ear to ear which is saying a lot since my ears stuck out a ways from the face that showed such excitement. My first grade school picture and my first permanent tooth!

Teeth eruption seemed to show up at the unluckiest times. The first molars appear on the average around 6-7 years of age. The central incisors appear on average around 7 -8 years of age. The lateral incisors show up around 8-9 years of age...the cuspids 11-12...the first bicuspids 10-11... second bicuspid 10-12 years. The second molars arrive 12-13 years of age. Finally, the third molars (called Wisdom Teeth!) arrive 17-21 years of age. Often these third molars arrive by special delivery in a dentist office.

Yes indeed, baby teeth to permanent teeth were often caught on school pictures, starting right from the first grade until that final grade in the sky I guess. As Roy Rogers would say, "Keep smiling until then".

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Rainbow Gene

As part of my most recent birthday celebrations, my oldest, five year old grandson gave me a picture that he had drawn. It is shown at the right. A rainbow, glowing sun, and a tree make the picture a happy picture. He had wanted to give me a present that he had made himself. How precious it is, full of his love and imagination.

I was impressed that many years ago his Mom also drew a picture of our family. It shows us under a rainbow with a glowing sun. [See post titled "Daughter's Drawings", Friday, January 28, 2011.] When questioned about Sam's drawing, she reported no direction or guidance to Sam's creativity. It was all on his own. Ah...I thought...we must have a rainbow gene in our family.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Brothers are special. They share a part of life with you that no other person on earth will ever share. Older brothers especially will take a special place in your life. They show you how to throw a ball, which shirt to wear or not, when to run, and when to fight...all sorts of things that have to do with life and growing up, going ahead and leading the way.

The picture to the right shows Edward Turner Jones (E.T.) with his older brother Benjamin Thomas Jones. Legs crossed in tandem, hands on lap, a serious look about both, bothers sharing something together...a picture it is. E.T., with pipe in mouth, has a vest in place. [I guess he wanted to record in history that he had takin up smoking, while his older brother had not.] Brothers together in time and space. What memories they share.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Blue Baby

Some sixty years ago today I was brought into this world by Dr. Averitt. Even now, I do not know his first name, for he was always called Dr. Averitt. He literally brought me into this world for I was born by C-section. In the early 1950s, this was not a common surgery. Only about 5 % of the deliveries were done by C-section as compared to roughly 30 % today. The reasons for this surgery was that my older brother had been born by C-section, and the medical standard of the day was "once a C-section, always a C-section". My Mom and Dad have always told me that I was a "blue baby"...all 5 pounds 2 ounces of me. This would generally mean that I was most likely premature, and at birth had underdeveloped lungs. Poor lungs, poor oxygen exchange, and cyanosis, thus a "blue baby" I would become. It would have been much harder to tell the exact gestational age [how long you have been in the oven since the ultrasound was some 30 years away. Only recently has my Dad shared that on this morning some sixty years ago, he prayed for me to live. He tells me that it was not real clear that I was going to make into this world. He had gone outside the hospital, sat under a tree, and started to bargain with God to let me live. I am not all sure what the bargain included, but I seem to have made it these sixty years. How many times has this happened? A Dad, or Mom, or both, asking God to save their child. The asking is part of the struggle. Often the answer is more of a struggle. Well Dad, thanks for the prayers. I believe that I was the one to get the most from this bargain. An Old Testament prophet from around 700 B.C. says: "He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" [Micah chapter 6 verse 8.] That morning sixty years ago, Dad, thanks for your prayers. Hopefully, I will have some more walking to do.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nose to the Ground

Griffin Jones, Sr. was left dangling from the court records of Caroline Co., VA starting 1736. On one side of these records, there were Thorntons, Taliaferros, Youngs, Wares, McPhersons, Buckners, Smiths, and all sorts of other folks. Early on, there seemed to be a concentration of Taliaferros, and Griffin was connected to land of the Thorntons. Using "Ping Pong" genealogy, taking the Taliaferros and Thontons to the other side of the net, would open a whole, new set of adventures. [see post "Ping Pong Genealogy" Friday, 17 December, 2010.]

Early on, the prime land lay below the falls of the Rappahannock River. One of the largest grants was made 1666, to Robert Taliaferro and Lawrence Smith along what became called Snow Creek. An adjoining tract was issued to a John Bucker. A Francis and Anthony Thornton took up land at the head waters of Mattipony River just west of the Smith-Taliaferro land. All belonging to the cluster of names which were connected in some way to Griffin Jones, Sr., and ultimate to Griffin Jones, Jr. The problem of course was how to put these folks together, and where to look.

Caroline Co. was formed 1728 out of Essex Co...but, Spotsylvania Co., was also formed out of Essex Co., 1721. Essex and Richmond Cos. were both formed out of Rappahannock Co. in 1692. Thus any early land grants could be in Rappahannock (before 1692), Essex or Richmond Cos.(before 1721-1728), Spotsyvania and Caroline Cos. after 1728! What a mess!

It is usually around this time that even the most motivated genealogist decides to punt. It is here that genealogy often become geography, for it is using maps [often historical maps] that will frequently help identify the important landmarks given in the documents of the time. Making maps will help the genealogist keep their "genealogy nose" to the ground. [Any one who has ever had a Beagle will know what I mean.] More to come.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lightly on His Mother's Shoulder

G.W. Ewen seemed to have one of those faces that did not change with age. He had the same hair, the same mustache, the same eyes, and overall, the same look throughout his picture years. How lucky can one get? The picture to the right shows G.W. and his wife Susan, early in their married life. The first three sons are shown (although one looks like he is in a dress?). Robert (Bob), b. 1881; Asa Brooks, b. 1883, and J.C. (Jake), b. 1887 are the best guess. This picture would be taken around 1888-1890, and G.W. would have been around 30 years old. The oldest has his hands lightly on his mother's shoulder. Mon seems to be sitting upright, but G.W. seems to be relaxed and sitting, leaning backward in his chair. A family picture at the beginning of their story is shown. Eleven children will be born to this couple. A few more are yet to come.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Memories Alive

The stats section of informs me that there has now been more than 10,000 page views. What a deal! I can not believe that so many have shared in my memories. Thanks to those who have joined from more than 35 countries. I hope you will continue to share in the stories. Please say hello, and leave any comments. Let's keep the memories alive.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Touring in 1929

Growing up dreaming of cars is part of the American male psyche. [Not sure about the female psyche, never have figured that out.] My earliest memory is of a 1949, black Plymouth sedan. It had a sail boat on the hood, and on the glove compartment. Not sure if I like the car or the sail boats better! My family would often have a Sunday afternoon ride in the country, where I would hang out the window, slap at passing bushes and trees leaves, and feel the wind blowing carelessly past my head. [My folks would be arrested for allowing this activity today!]

The picture to the right shows my Dad, age 3 years, standing on the running board of the 1929, Ford Model A, Touring Car. The picture is dated 18 August, 1929. " What?... Me have any worries?...Not a chance !"...he seems to be saying. Or it could be, "...the fish that got away was this big!" At any rate, he sure seems happy and proud, standing there. A summer day, trees all full, a big smile across the face, are present. Guys and cars... and a fun summer day...some of what growing up is all about. Little did Dad know that only two months in his future would be the stock market crash of October, 1929. What a ride this would be.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tidewater Virginia

One common denominator that bound the early settlers together was water. Bays, rivers, creeks, streams, swamps, freshes, ponds, points, and landings served as important landmarks. Water was the access point to the land, and served as the access routes to settlement. We have given the name "Tidewater Virginia" to the geographic area that the Virginia colonists occupied. Therefore, an understanding of this aspect of settlement is key to realizing the impact that the rivers, and streams, and their "names" had on the records of this time period.

The five major waterways (rivers) made up the "main streets" and "broadways" of the early Virginia colony. These were the interstate system for settlement. To help understand this network of waterways, allow me to use a hand illustration. The figure to the right is the illustration.

Open your hand "palm up" and spread your fingers as if you are giving the number five. Straighten your wrist and pretend that your forearm is parallel to the ground. Your thumb should be almost straight up from the floor and your fingers opened in a fan like pattern. The palm of your hand represents the "Chesapeake Bay" with your thumb pointing approximately due north. The Chesapeake Bay follows your thumb almost due north to the settlement of Cecilius Calvert (Second Lord Baltimore), who's Charter to Maryland was granted in 1632. The remaining four fingers will represent the four major water ways to colonial settlement. The spaces between each finger represents a section of land, bordered on both sides by water. Your fingers represent the four major rivers, and will point roughly northwest to westward out of your palm. The first finger is the "Potomac River". It points northwest, and will lead ultimately to the future capital of our nation. The middle finger represents the "Rappahannock River". It almost parallels the Potomac River in its northwestern direction, and is the "highway" to my family's first land patent of 1673. The ring finger represents the "Charles River", which had a name change to "Yorke River". It splits into two branches, the "Mattaponi", and the "Pamunkey", some miles inland. The little finger will represent the "James River". It was the major waterway into the settlement, beginning at Jamestown. [No slight is intended by it being represented by the little finger.] The James River branches at the "Appomattox River", with the James River heading northwest and the Appomattox southwest. The tips of the fingers represent "the falls". This was the place were each river would descend from the Blue Ridge Mountains and "fall" into a level that would allow for transportation. This became known as the "fall line", and represented the end of the road for even canoes. The land masses between each finger were settled from the webs (the place were the fingers touch the palm of your hand) to the tips, beginning by the settlements along the James River. This contact point would represent the "mouth" (beginning) of the rivers, and would often be given landmarks called "points". The names of these points would become landmarks [street signs] to the ships arriving to the settlements. "Point Comfort" was the first name given the mouth of the James River! These beginning points were significant because they were often used as the starting locations of surveys for early land grants. A surveyor would begin his survey at a "point" and measure along the river bank in one mile segments. These mile segments would become the "mile markers" for identifying patents that had been given. Thus, when a patent would say "beginning 13 miles up river". It would be counted from these mile markers.

Where the wrist and palm join represents the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay area. The lower wrist and palm would be at the 37 degree parallel. This is important to recognize, since many of the early map makers could determine latitude with some accuracy.

So there you have it. the "Big Picture" of the settlement areas of "Tide Water" Virginia. Each land mass [the areas between each finger], was settled more or less in sequence from James River (little finger), to the Charles River (later Yorke River), to the Rappahannock River roadways. Special circumstances affected the Potomac River area because of conflicts between religious groups and commercial interests.