Parish Records Help Locate the Family Seat

By Jeannette Holland Austin

A 1620 tobacco field in Virginia. People planted in the streets and by ways. However, the land was worn out from tobacco before the onset of the American Revolution. That is why families moved on. It is best not to by-pass published county parish records if they are available. Sometimes the only surviving records are church parish records which processioned the lands. That is, they surveyed the lands in the parish system which verified ownership and neighbors. One can compare this processioning with deed records and tax digests to acquire a better description of the home place. It is important to learn more about the earliest lands occupied by the ancestors. Use a topographical map or a good county map (with legends) to gain a better conception of the layout. It is surprising how things come together. A visit to the area is essential. I actually located the farms in Holland, Virginia of my ancestors using this method. The deeds, wills, estates, etc. did not survive. What did survive was an old tax records.As members of the family died, and acreage was divided among the sons, I compared the these names and acreage in the tax records. Since the acreage was odd amounts, it was easy to see to whom the acreage passed, down the line. Also, the digest denoted names like “John” to “John Sr.” and “John Jr.” This helped to separate the generations of families. As I toured the area, it was then easy to determine old planting fields and property lines by the age-old lay of the land surrounded and marked by old oak trees, some with cuts on the bark. The former dirt roads were intact. Finally, I understood. Find your Ancestors on 8 Genealogy Websites