I received a Facebook comment with regard to my land record spreadsheet. I asked permission and added the comment at the end of the post here on my blog. A Facebook comment is soon lost in the feed of status updates, link posts and other miscellaneous
garbage stuff information, and I prefer that comments and suggestions are kept with the original content if possible.
To paraphrase the comment, it suggested that I add the township and range to my land record spreadsheet index, and that I share the information on the appropriate county’s US GenWeb site. My reply was: Well, watch for the next part of the story. Since I have so many, I don’t have time right now to add the land descriptions to the spreadsheet. I’ll tuck that in the back of my mind for later, though. It is a good suggestion.
I have taken several days to mull this over, trying to figure out how to best share the information. I had given a pretty lengthy disclaimer with my post, something like this is not complete, might not have all index entries for a surname, might have errors, I’m human, and so on. I also said I might or might not have more information with regard to each index entry, but I would share what I had.
The Wexford County Courthouse is 200 miles from my home, and for quite an extended period of time, whenever my husband traveled that 200 miles for work, I hitched a ride and spent the workday at that courthouse.
My intent when I copied the land record index was to look up every land transaction for every member of our ancestral families that occurred in Wexford County. I did not include the township and range numbers on my index, although they are listed in the index books at the courthouse. I planned to record the legal description of the land from the deed record books. In fact, the working area was so cramped, and the office so busy, that my index listings were done on 8 x 5 “legal” pads. Those who know me often see me pull my tiny pads out of my purse, jacket pocket, or backpack. Every source for copies I have was first noted on one of those little pads, and I still have piles of them to reconcile with photographs and scanned documents which reside on my computer.
Between courthouse trips, I typed up an index which was in the form of liber|page|surname of interest, which I sorted by liber and page. On subsequent trips, armed with my form, and my “index”, I scribbled out transactions as quickly as I could. The results look something like this:
Somewhere along the line, my husband’s trips became less frequent, and finally ended when gas prices exceeded $4.00. The company found that phone calls were more economical.
A week or so ago, I found myself in need of material to post on this blog. I considered writing about ancestors, one at a time. I considered posting old family portraits, one by one. I looked around the house for something useful, and I found the land record book on
the floor under the bed hidden in a corner on a shelf behind some other valuable items. As you can see, everything is more or less in a book, and nothing is attached to anything that resembles a gedcom or family tree, or anything, really. Having all these records accumulated, yet not analyzed and entered into my database with the proper family defeats the purpose of having them at all. Or at least I think it does. How can I learn anything if I don’t exercise my brain and fingers?
At the same time, I remembered that few of the family history researchers I have met have used land records. Although land records may be a familiar tool for professionals, many others are intimidated by the process, don’t know what they might learn from it, or haven’t even considered using land records. They may be mired in the quicksand of “hatch, match, and dispatch”. It seemed perfect to me, a chance to show a little about land records, how they can be used, what can be learned, and do it all while accomplishing something valuable and relevant to my research efforts. A great winter project.
From my perspective, the very nicely worded, kind comment came out of left field. The idea of loading all the data to US GenWeb had not occurred to me, nor is the data in a format that would be all that helpful. Changing my index by adding the township and range numbers seemed like busy work, and I wanted to do another kind of busy work.
I did not write 5000+ words to argue the pros and cons of someone’s helpful comment, it was to address how I have decided to handle the issue the comment raised. I revised my spreadsheet to include a column for township and range for each index entry and reposted it, you probably already noticed that if you followed the link. I will add the township and range to each entry as I work my way through the notebook. Although my goal will be to show the usefulness of land records, and give tips on how to get the most out of them, I will continue share the data with anyone who requests it. When I have worked my way through the entire pile, I will have the information in a format more useful to US GenWeb, and I will contribute it.
Deeds in the Family, the plot thickens!