Why Tracking the Old Home Place is Essential to Finding the Past
An old farm in Virginia
|Jeannette Austin||May 20|
It is essential for the genealogist to locate the exact spot of the old home place, if possible. Generally speaking, the early settlers tended to locate along river beds, such as the Nottoway River in Virginia. This may sound difficult, but not if one focuses upon the adjoining farms and the names of the neighbors, then does what is called a "title search" in the deed records at the court house. That is to say, trace a certain property back to its first owner (or land grant), and then track it forward to subseqent.
What this does is “identify” the original tract of land which started off listing vague descriptions (and later), more detailed data, such as local streams, ponds, types of forest land and names of adjoining neighbors. It also locates some interesting situations, such as deeds of gift when the owner transfers title to his children or other kin.
How you tried reading the parish records? There are a number of published books for early Virginia Counties. The “processioning” of land is important. Although it does not listed the acreage and other details, it does provide the names of others in the neighborhood. If you have ever observed a surveyor in your area, what he is doing is measuring certain tracts of land. From this, we learn that the first surveyers (such as Georgie Washington), surveyed entire areas. Now that you have the names of the neighbors of your ancestor, you will notice some of these names serving as witnesses on old wills and testaments, marriages, deeds, etc. Another place where you will find the “old neighborhood” is in old cemeteries. All of these people lived during the lifetime of your ancestors, playing a vital role in growing the community. The old marriage records will bear out how they were related to your families and help locate missing relatives.
Also, a visit to the site is quite beneficial and rewarding in locating old churches, communities and cemeteries, especially if one takes a county map along which contains a legend. It is somewhat satisfying to find the old homeplace and appreciate the struggles of the era.