Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays

To all my followers and genealogy friends:

May the season of light bring you happiness and peace.

Until next week,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Land Patents

A land patent is the first deed granting federal land to a private person, company or local government. The federal government received land in 1783 after the Revolution when Britain ceded all lands south of the Great Lakes and east of the Mississippi River to the fledgling country. In 1785, a land ordinance passed authorizing the sale of public lands and establishing the Public Land Survey System to measure and identify the property. (See blog posts from August 15 and 22, 2012 for details of survey system.)

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 almost doubled the size of the country, all of this land owned by the federal government. In 1812, the General Land Office (GLO) was created to oversee the disposition of ceded and acquired land, first as part of the Treasury and since 1849, as part of the Department of the Interior.

You can find details of the land patents at www.glorecords.blm.gov. Four types of documents are described on the home page. The first two are of most interest to genealogists – land patents, and survey plats and field notes. There were about 7,500.000 land patents issued and about 5,000,000 are now searchable at this site. Like all land records, they put people in a specific place at a specific time.
Click the “Search Documents” button on top of the home page. Select a state from the drop down menu. You must add one more criteria.  Most likely a surname or a county name are the two most commonly used ones. Then click the “Search Patents” button. For example, I chose the State of Ohio and the surname, “Starr.” The first page of the results are below:

To see the original document, click on the blue items in column two. The third from the top is a Military Warrant for David Starr, a veteran of the War of 1812, who transfers his rights to the forty acres to James McFarland.
                                                                                                             ©2012, Susan Lewis Well


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Brett Family and Non-Conformity, Part 3

Two of Thomas and Martha HAYLETT BRETT’s daughter were Methodists in this country. Please refer to previous posts for details of other family members.

Hannah BRETT PARSONS, her husband, John PARSONS and three children accompanied her father, Thomas BRETT, to America in 1854. With them were Thomas’ youngest daughter, Eliza, my great grandmother; and his two sons, Thomas and James. They settled in Niagara County, New York, joining family member, Rachel BRETT BARKER at first in the town of Cambria.
Eliza BRETT married William LEWIS on 17 Dec 1856. The ceremony was performed by a Justice of the Peace, witnessed by Joseph and Rachel BRETT BARKER. Eliza and William lived in one more Niagara County town before settling sometime prior to 1870 in the Town of Newfane. The records of the United Methodist Church on Main Street which begin in 1863 show both she and her sister, Hannah PARSONS, were active as early as 1878, while their husbands were ‘probationers’ who never became full members. (See FHL US/CAN Film 1378854)

The first family event recorded was the marriage of Hannah’s son, John B. PARSONS in 1874. In 1878, Hannah, a probationer, and Eliza belonged to the same twelve-member class, led by H.S. Earl that met in the center of town. Hannah was received into full membership on 5 Oct 1884 and remained a member until 1905.
My great grandmother was involved in this church and encouraged other family members, too. Her new daughter-in-law, Addie L. FISK, wife of William N. LEWIS, and her infant son, Clinton B. LEWIS, were baptized on 29 Sep 1897. Addie was on the probationers list for about one year after that; then became a full member in Aug 1898. A German immigrant niece of her husband joined the church and was married in the Lewis’ home by the Methodist minister.

Thomas Brett’s two sons’ religion is harder to track. Like their sisters, they were baptized in the Church of England, according to the registers in Swaffham, NFK. Thomas H. Brett lived most of his life in Michigan. Civil records of his first wife’s death and his remarriage do not include information about clergy. His brother, James Brett, was married by a Justice of the Peace in Ashkum, Iroquois, Illinois before he enlisted in the Civil War and died at Andersonville Prison Camp, Georgia.
Methodism: The Methodists trace their beginnings to a popular movement begun in 1738, when John Wesley and his brother, Charles, later the great hymnist, undertook evangelistic preaching with an emphasis on conversion and holiness. The brothers established a Holy Club at Oxford University devoted to study, prayer and serving the underprivileged. They were labeled "Methodist" by other students because of the way they used "rule" and "method" to perform their religious duties.

Though both Wesley brothers were ordained ministers of the Church of England, they were barred from   most of its pulpits because of their evangelistic methods. They preached in homes, farm houses, barns, and open fields - wherever they found an audience. Neither Wesley set out to create a new church, but instead began several small faith-restoration groups within the Church of England. Soon however, Methodism spread and eventually became its own separate religion in the 1740s.

“George Whitefield (1714-1770) was a minister in the Church of England and also one of the leaders of the Methodist movement. Some believe that he more than John Wesley is the founder of Methodism. He is famous for his part in the Great Awakening movement in America...Whitefield parted ways with Wesley over the doctrine of predestination.”  Source: www.christianity.about.com, Mary Fairchild, Methodist Church History

The website of the Newfane, New York, United Methodist Church states, “Methodists have believed, from the beginning, that each of us is called to participate in the outreaching ministry of Jesus Christ. John Wesley described this work in simple, practical terms: ‘Do all the good you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can.’ Putting our faith into action is at the very heart of our Christian calling.” The LDS filmed records of this congregation start in 1863, and it is noted that the name until 1881 was the Newfane Circuit. After that, it was called the Second Methodist Episcopal Church of Newfane, and still later the United Methodist Church. See FHL US/CAN Film [1378854]

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Brett Family and Non-Conformity, Part 2

After coming to Niagara County, New York, USA, three of Thomas BRETT’s daughters remained there. One was most likely a Universalist and the other two were active members of the Methodist church in the town of Newfane. (Please see last week’s post for details.)

Second daughter, Rachel BRETT, was married to Joseph BARKER in the Swaffham, Norfolk parish church and had her sons baptized there, but then they moved to Cambria, Niagara County, NY.  They were the family “pioneers” coming to the U.S. about five years before Thomas Sr. and the other children. Rachel and her daughter, Martha, are buried next to her father, Thomas BRETT, in the North Ridge community cemetery. I have not been able to confirm that she was  a Universalist like her father.

Universalism: “Universalists are Christians who believe in universal salvation, meaning that all people will eventually be reconciled with God.” The faith did not become a widespread religious movement until English Universalists came to America in the late 1700s to escape religious persecution. Because of its inclusive doctrine, Universalism became popular in America, and the Universalist Church of America was formed in 1793.

Universalists were best known for supporting education and non-sectarian schools, but they also worked on social issues including the separation of church and state, prison reform, capital punishment, the abolition of slavery, and women's rights.

The Universalist faith declined after the Civil War. As the concept of damnation became less central to many American religious groups, the Universalist faith seemed less unique in its teachings, and its membership waned. In 1961, The Universalists merged with the Unitarians to form the Unitarian Universalist Association, whose website, www.uua.org, details the above history.

“The First Universalist of the Town of Cambria [Niagara County, NY] was organized in 1867, consisting of 34 members; at the present time it has 50.” (1878) A brick church was built in 1868 on donated land at a cost of $6000. Two wooden churches nearby housed a catholic and a German Lutheran congregation with a community cemetery dominating the landscape, directly behind the Universalist and the Lutheran Churches. There was a Methodist Church on the same road a short distance away. Source:_______. History of Niagara County, N.Y., New York: Sanford and Co. 1878

©2012, Susan Lewis Well