Saturday, June 30, 2012

Metes and Bounds Troubles

I finally have most of my metes and bounds deeds platted. I wondered whether the free Deed Platter actually gave a correct representation of my ancestors properties? Some turned out looking quite odd. Many did not close correctly, and some lines ran too long. In these cases I wondered whether they were measuring all the way to the central marker? Another possibility is they weren't taking into account the degree angles and just adding up the pole numbers?
I decided to use Open Office drawing to verify the plats I made from the free site. I found trying to reproduce these plats in drawing a little tricky. It takes a little manipulation to get the numbers exact. The degrees can only be estimated to the nearest degree, since only increments of 5 can be selected. This isn't really a big deal since the differences are fractionally small. I was able to reproduce them, and they looked the same. I entered one of Jacob Roller's deeds at the Deed Platter site last night. It actually closed perfectly! This also verifies that the site does accurate renderings of the deeds. If a deed does not render in a plausible way then the deed likely has errors.
I made a video for Youtube demonstrating some of what I've learned. I plan on ordering more deeds to get a better idea of where Hugh Forgey lived.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Plotting to find your Ancestors

 Plotting or platting your ancestor's land isn't as easy as it may seem. I had previously used Google Earth to locate my ancestors land grants in the Midwest. This does not work with the older metes and bounds surveys. The deed surveys I have for my early ancestors all contain measurements in poles. I found a free online tool to draw these plat maps for me. The site has some basic instructions. I did not realize that some of the coordinate numbers on the surveys were degrees and not poles. I eventually realized some the numbers referred to degrees when some of the deeds did start stating this fact. Here is an example:

 The example above demonstrates that degrees were sometimes not included as a part of the land description. You can infer degrees when see the coordinates phrased like the example above. They seem to always state it when they are referring to poles. So a direction with a number, another direction, and number of poles would mean we are dealing with poles and degrees. So the above would refer to a line running southeast at a forty degree angle 100 poles. You could draw this with a protractor or you could draw it with a drawing program which will calculate the angle for you. The easiest way is to use a program designed to do all this for you, when you enter the coordinates.

I looked all over the internet for answers to questions regarding metes and bounds deeds. I did find some great instructions at Unfortunately, it didn't answer every question such as that above. I looked at some videos at Youtube, and FamilySearch Wiki. I would like see a course at FamilySearch Learning demonstrating every step in the process of platting. I couldn't even find many platted deeds and descriptions posted anywhere. A video showing someone platting a deed on paper would be great too.

My primary purpose in platting these deeds was to find the approximate location of Hugh Forgey's property in Knox County, TN. I have a deed for his property and a couple of neighboring properties. One is a deed for a large 4000 acre tract which Hugh shares a line with. After platting this deed I now think Hugh's property could be a little south of Emory Road near Little Flat Creek. I was thinking it was North of Emory.  I need to examine this deeds further to be certain of this. I've found this project to be very rewarding. Seeing the online of ancestors' land brings you closer to them. It's interesting to reconstruct the area your ancestors lived in using neighboring surveys. The descriptions can be very vivid regarding the landscape too. You really get a better feel and appreciate for their surroundings when you do a project such as this.
Options for platting:

  1. Hand draw it with a protractor and compass
  2. Use a computer drawing software program  
  3. Use the free tool on the internet at  Deed Plat
  4. Buy a more powerful program such as Deed Mapper
You'll find more Metes and bounds articles at FamilySearch Wiki.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two brickwalls exploded today!

The Virginia Memory project and Nan's careful reading of these many page difficult to read documents is responsible! Thanks Nan!
I searched plaintiff and defendant names in the search boxes and forgot to do a general name search yesterday, and walked away thinking there was nothing else here.
This document confirms the inferred brother relationship between Andrew Forgey and Archibald Forgey. I also confirms that Ann (Anna) was the daughter of Jacob Roller. We had inferred that because one of Anna's sons was named Jacob Roller Forgey. I was never able to find a baptismal record to confirm this. Earlier I had posted that I was searching for Lutheran Church records in Rockingham and Shenandoah Counties Virginia. Now I can continue to trace the Jacob Roller and Eva Zirkle line with confidence.
This document also contains a great story about my Andrew and Anna family. According to document Andrew and Anna Forgey migrated to Indiana which is correct. This narrative then takes a wrong turn and describes them as migrating beyond the Rocky Mountains where they are murdered by hostile Indians? I am afraid not. The true story is they settled in Indiana. When Anna dies a decade after migrating to the area. Andrew then migrates to the Davenport, Iowa area where he remarries and dies of a stroke in old age. Andrew lived a very quiet life of farming. The Rollers should have been able to reach Hugh Forgey by letter because he continued to live in Indiana?
This is now definitely one of my most cherished documents!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Alex Forgey Found? A twenty year court battle

I wrote in my last post that Alexander Forgey went missing several times in his life. I wondered whether anything else would surface for this elusive man. Wonder no more because a great find has been made! Nan continues to follow the roll-out of new records at Virginia Memory. She found a case referring to Alexander Forgey as defendant in a recently added Augusta County, VA Chancery Court collection. This digitized record contains an 8 page summary of his case. It likely stems from the sale of Alexander Forgey's wife's dowry back to her father Samuel Meek. I guess there was continued haggling over who owned what? In this case Alexander states he was coerced into turning over property which had actually belonged to him. All this led to a twenty year quarrel over property in dispute.
Thankfully, this twenty year feud led to the creation of records for this elusive man. What we've now gleaned is that Alexander Forgey lived at least until the early 1800's. I had lost track of him after 1796. Court records confirm he was in court in 1803, and probably was also in court in 1807. Alexander had sold his property in January 1796. He no longer appears on tax lists after that date. I don't know if he actually continued to live there and was exempt from paying taxes at that point? He may also have migrated to Tennessee where he had family. The 1810 Census for Tennessee is missing; so he could have lived there and not been recorded on any records. Hawkins County suffered serious early record losses, which could be why nothing has surfaced there for him? Another possibility is that the Knox County, Tennessee property purchased by Alexender Forgey was actually purchased by the Senior Alexander?
There are concrete facts in the documents from which inferences can be drawn. Here is a summary:
  1. It seems like a forgone conclusion, after reading through this, that Alexander Forgey lived into at least the early 19th century.
  2. Jacob Anderson is said to have provided security for Alexander. Don't know if he is a relation?
  3. Alexander Forgey was awarded a judgement against Samuel Meek for $66.67 (a lot of money then).
  4. Samuel Forgey planned to appeal the judgement against him to the Staunton District Court in Augusta County, VA.
It looks like the court papers being digitized for Augusta County Chancery Court Staunton District are loose case files. I don't think they are digitizing the order books? So I am thinking that anyone interested in Alexander Forgey and his line might want to order the court order microfilms available for borrowing through the LDS Family History Centers. There are order books for both Augusta District and Staunton District. Here is a very interesting blog post regarding these records
If Alexander Forgey did not live to collect his judgement his heirs may have collected. So the court orders may contain the names of his heirs?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

WANTED!!! A. Forgey between 1775 & 1779

Alexander Forgey is one of the most elusive people I've researched. I have no idea where he was between the time he disappeared from Cumberland County, PA in 1774 and 1779 when he seemed to have settled in Washington County, VA. Also, I lose trace of him after 1796? If we could find his locations in these time periods we might be able to find a brickwall breaking record? We are trying to verify that the above children are his.
I believe he would have been married at least a couple of times based on his age. He seemed to have a short duration marriage in 1786 which is the only marriage I've found for him. Any earlier marriage would seem to have taken place possibly in Ireland or 1760's South Carolina or Pennsylvania? With very few records to go on it is difficult establish whether Alexander Forgey had children or not. 
I've searched all the records available through the Family History Library for the areas I know he lived in. I feel like any breakthrough will come in a different location unknown to us at this time? I would recommend that anyone with possible connections to this line try to locate Alexander's locations in the time periods he is missing.
It will be a major earthshaking breakthrough to find any additional info on him!
Here is a timeline and what we've found already.
  • Lucille Wallace felt that an Alexander Forgie/Forgy who arrived in Charleston South Carolina in 1768 was the same Alexander as above. If true we might infer that Alexander was born sometime before 1746. Tax lists would point to him being at least 21 in 1772.
  • 13 February 1768 he receives a warrant for Land in Granville or Craven County Carolina for 100 acres
  • I don't find him again until 1772 when appears on a Taxlist with Andrew Forgey in Cumberland County PA
  • His last appearance in Cumberland County, PA was on a Tax list in 1774
  • We don't see him on any records again until 1781 when he appears on a tax list in Washington County, Virginia (we know Andrew Forgey was in Washington County, VA in 1779 when he is involved in a court case).
  • He purchases land in Washington County, VA in 11 October 1782
  • He marries Agnes Meek in 1786
  • 1787 there was a white male in his household between 17 and 21 years of age
  • His marriage to Agnes ends in 1788
  • He witnesses a deed in Washington County, VA in 1792
  • In 1794 there are 3 white males over 16  in the household according to taxlist
  • In January 1796 he sells his Washington County, VA property and I lose track of him completely

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lessons From Jamboree 2012

This past weekend's Genealogy Jamboree live stream proved very helpful to me! All of the sessions from the first, dealing with placing your ancestors in historical context; to the last, finding Diaries and Journals were very thought provoking. Being at home in front of the computer already I was able to put some of their suggestions into practice immediately. I went to google books and found some of the books that were recommended plus additional related books.
The NARA Military records talk helped me locate the ship info for my twin Uncles who were in the Navy. Some of which I've posted here.
Curt Witcher addressed the problem we sometimes run into when we don't have focused goals. We then aimlessly search for nothing in particular, and spend fruitless hours searching the internet. I feel like participating in Second Life, and all the educational activities I've participated in the last couple years, has helped me to focus my research and actually find solutions to family mysteries. Blogging helps me focus too, and analyze what I find more accurately.
Here is a link to the Syllabi for these sessions

I picked up interesting tips from all the speakers.

 Here are some of the sites mentioned which I got my attention:
  1. Mentioned by Lisa Louise Cooke for creating photo collages
  2. My Genshare, not available yet, is going to be a very important Genealogy website with links, genealogy ebooks, periodicals, and maps
  3. I don't recall hearing about this genealogy look-up service before. Genlighten sounds like a great resource for long distance research 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Look at My Lulu Family History Book

I received my "Our Forgey Family History" in the mail from Lulu yesterday (it took 4 days from the time they shipped it). I thought it came out AWESOME (video above isn't very clear, but give an idea of how it turned out)! Never having published anything I worried about whether text might get cut off because I didn't lay it out correctly. Everything printed; even some of the text I had previously questioned was not in fact cut off. The charts appear uncut.
The quality of the book is as good as any text book you might find in a college bookstore. The paper very white and silky smooth. All of the colors printed very well, and the text is a good font size. I should have printed chapter headings at the top. Otherwise, it's a more than satisfactory first experience with publishing! I hear the black and white copies, which are much cheaper, are also good quality. I will be ordering black and white to give to relatives.
I do want to continue publishing even more stories, and research results. Looking through it in printed form jogged my memory, and I now have a list of more subjects to research.
No one would believe all the time and spent on this little 102 page book. Not only my time and money, but that of many others too. It represents many years of research. Like Joshua Taylor said in his session, yesterday at Jamboree, Family History is a life long pursuit. It's not something you do in a weekend. Someone contacted me once about putting together a family history as a Christmas present. He thought if he started in August he would have enough time to put one together one for Christmas that same year. When you are just beginning your research that is not enough time; unless, you are luckier than me!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

How Many People does it Take to Write a Family History?

It takes a village It literally does take a village to write a good family history book. I have seen very few good family history books. Even some of the good ones have factual errors. Professionals with the best resources at their finger tips can produce an error ridden product. A family history book, American Tapestry, recently put together for Michelle Obama contains some erroneous connections. I've tried my best to provide the most accurate info in my book. As more records are found I may find that I will have to revise my book at a later time.
The problem which arises most often, writing these family histories, is when an author becomes overly ambitious and tries to include too many lines in one book. A book which attempts to provide info about hundreds or thousands of people makes it virtually impossible for a single average writer to do all the necessary research to verify every piece of info, and generally is just a compilation of family trees found on the internet. The one exception would be the genealogist who has personally documented every detail on every person over a number of years doing research. Most of those who write these books rely on others to provide vital statistics on each person.  Lucille Wallace is an example. When she wrote her Forgey family history in the 1950's she wrote to Forgey families asking them to provide the info they had on their own line. She did do some research on each line, but it was very limited. The book was good by Family History book standards. It did contain many wrong connections, because the research wasn't thorough enough. The author's own line was the most accurate, as usually the case.
I have written a more limited family history for a single immigrant family (instead of everyone with the surname) and their descendants to about the 5th generation. In doing this I have included about 600 names. I have basically done the same thing as Lucille Wallace, and used info provided by others on most collateral lines. I just don't have the time to track down info on 600 people. Unlike Lucille I have been able to use records posted online to verify what I can (I have verified nearly every relationship to the point where I am highly confident, but some exact dates could be wrong?). What I can't verify online I have had to rely on others to provide. I have done extensive research on my own line which should hold up to scrutiny by other researchers. Most of the info I have not been able to personally verify has been provided by skilled researchers- unlike Lucille Wallace who relied heavily on the family traditions of those she wrote to. Some of those who provided her with info transmitted stories which were passed down verbally from generation to generation, which is helpful but needs verification using documents.
The technical formatting of my family history has been a challenging learning experience. I am going with Lulu to self publish my book. I noticed I haven't made my page margins equal on the left and right hand sides in portions of my manuscript. I'll have to see how this looks. As I understand the left and right page margin should be set to 0.8 to give enough space for binding. I've ordered a copy to see if my layout is alright. I'll be reviewing this copy for picture print quality too. I might have to adjust to clarity of some of  pictures?
My advice to those interested in writing a family history is only take on as much as you can handle so you can produce the highest quality book. If you want to produce a more comprehensive family history it does take the active participation of several people helping with research and proof reading. A family history is full of facts which need checking. I have been reading a wonderful family history which would have been perfect with more focus on fact checking. This person did not know when  the Civil War started, which  led them to incorrectly date a family letter. I have noticed some family had been left out of this 300 page book. I think scope of the book was just too wide ranging which made editing extremely difficult.
I think it is extremely important to record yourself reading your manuscript to get a feel for how it reads. Use spell check several times and read it over as many times as possible for grammar errors. Order a black and white copy of your book to check to see if the layout is correct and use that copy to edit further. A black and white copy is only $5 to $10. I have noticed several people have ordered $100 in copies, or even more, of their book only to discover it wasn't laid out correctly or they didn't catch all of their typos. You do need to order a proof copy before making the book available to others (Lulu occasionally offers one free to authors) . I will post images of my book when I get  it in a few days.