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ANCESTOR TRACKS – USING LAND TRACTS TO TRACK YOUR ANCESTORS. Sharon MacInnes, Ph.D. Angus MacInnes Use Your Space Bar or Right Arrow Key to Advance Each Slide If You Click on a Hyperlink, Use Alt-Tab to Return to this Presentation Click on “Escape” to Stop Presentation
Sharon MacInnes, Ph.D.
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Where do you go next after you find your ancestor in a census? Use tax lists, church records, and county histories, but land records are essential. Residents listed in the census can be placed together since census takers usually went door-to-door. So check to see if we have published the Township Warrantee Maps for that county.
For example, William Marsh owned no land, but the 1790 census places him near several relatives in Washington Co., PA, including his mother-in-law Ann (WELLS) LEVINS (census not returned by township).
Although the Washington County Census was not returned by township, the Jefferson Township Warrantee Map in our Early Landowners of PA: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of Washington County pinpoints closely related residents grouped together in the 1790 Census, including…
Ann Levins’ tract “Rag Town” is shown in Jefferson Twp., Washington Co., PA, surrounded by her daughter and son-in-law, brothers, sons, and nephews. State draftsmen used original surveys to create Township Warrantee Maps starting in 1907.
The Washington County Warrant Register, pg. 237 (on our CD Colonial and State Warrant Registers in the Pennsylvania Archives CD) documents Ann LEVINS’ Warrant to Accept her tract and shows the page and volume where her Warrant and Survey are recorded
Ann Levins’ Survey, 1787(Information on the Township Warrantee Map in our Washington County Atlas, as well as our Washington County Warrant Register on CD, led to the original document in the PA Archives, Harrisburg)
Purchase: We purchase Township Warrantee Maps, usually from the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, like this 48” X43” map of Cumru Township, Berks Co. If maps don’t exist for a township, we search for and include alternate sources.
(partial index from our Greene Co. book)
PA State Archives
350 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090
“I remember vividly one trip to what we had identified as a many great grandfather’s acreage. I was standing, looking at the land, much how it must have looked nearly 250 years ago with its ever-expanding stands of trees, valleys and hills, and each little valley having a ‘run’ or ‘lick’ to identify it and the people who lived there. I could smell my ancestry in the handful of dirt I picked up, a clean earthen smell that told of the melding of a people and the land. It told a story of people that moved on, and were better for having known the land, leaving behind a land that was better for having known the people. It told the story of a hard and hostile land, of Indian raids and captured or dying children, spouses, cousins, and families, but also the story of gentle land, of rebirth, joining and continuing the cycle.
“Here in this little valley that still held so many of my ancestors, I was touched by the smallness of it all, the smallness of West Virginia, the smallness of myself, yet a smallness, that when put together with all the other smallnesses creates the vast tapestry we call genealogy. Standing there with the dust flowing from my outstretched palm, and the warm wind at my face, it suddenly dawned on me why my wife and I do genealogy. It’s not to prove that we’re related to some magnificent historical figure or group, and it’s not to have a legacy to pass on to our children or grandchildren, but simply a drive to complete the puzzle, a genealogical jigsaw puzzle with its myriad of shapes and colors. We keep looking for the pieces and trying to fit them together, turning, twisting and examining each piece, until we fit it in with the rest, or set it aside to be looked at later. And we do all this for no other reason than deep inside we know the puzzle needs to be worked.” Dennis Ridenour, NGS