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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Pub Research

When I mention ‘publican’ and you think of St. Matthew in the Bible, you may not have spent enough time in British pubs. There the owner of the license or the keeper is called a publican.

If these beloved British institutions are part of your family story, there are many, many places you can turn to online to learn about the history of public houses. One is the ever-present Wikipedia…I never ban it for my students because it gives them an overview and a bibliography: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pub
Now try these more specific sites:

www.sfowler.force9.co.uk/page_12.htm - a comprehensive page with links to other resources on this website by Simon Fowler. The page has not been updated recently and some of the external links are broken. Nevertheless, he wrote a book in 2009, Researching Brewery and Publican Ancestors (ISBN: 1860061745 / 1-86006-174-5) (Try www.abebooks.com for a good price used.)
I also recommend this site despite the issues I raised because Fowler was an archivist at the Public Record Office for twenty years. After receiving a PhD, he edited the former Family History Monthly, before returning to the National Archives from 2004 -2010 to edit their Ancestors Magazine, now not published either. He is an expert on pubs, breweries, workhouses and the role charities played at the time of WWI. Fowler is a long established writer on family and local history. Check his other publications out on www.amazon.co. From his websites…

www.pubs.com/history.htm - lengthy, comprehensive article. Across the top, you may want to click on the ‘Pub Heritage” tab and choose from its dropdown menu for further information about signs, etiquette or games.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: UK Census Changes Discussed

After a census, every country takes some time to assess how things went and how they can improve. The UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) is exploring options to change the census in England and Wales through a program called ‘Beyond 2011’. I like to think of myself as progressive and a bit of a risk taker, but proposed changes to documents so at the heart of genealogy are unnerving.

ONS research has resulted in the view that there are two possible approaches to census-taking in the future. In late September, a public comment period was started to gauge reactions to these proposals:

·        a census once a decade - similar to the 2011 Census but primarily online; or
·        a census using existing administrative data and compulsory annual surveys.

“Both approaches would provide annual statistics about the size of the population, nationally and for local authorities, as we do currently. A census using existing data and annual surveys would provide statistics about population characteristics every year. An online census would provide more detailed statistics but only once a decade.” (ONS)

Various users will have different views on the approaches, depending on how they use the data, and ONS welcome input from anyone. They will accept comments until 13th December 2013. You can find the consultation documents and a link to the online questionnaire
If you look through the documents, especially supplement C2 –Summary of Uses of Census Information, you will see a nicely written and accurate summary of how genealogists use the censuses already in the public domain. However, I don’t find the sentence that says they will continue releasing the censuses through 2111 all that comforting. ONS seems to think I should not worry about the genealogy community one hundred years from now, but I do.

Please contact ONS at beyond2011@ons.gov.uk if you have any questions, comments or wish to discuss further.
Thanks to FFHS for forwarding the original release from ONS.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Land Description by Map Reference

Of the essential clauses in a deed, the land description is the most unfamiliar to the average genealogist. I explained the metes and bounds system of land measurement in a blog posted 13 Oct 2011, and I described the Government Survey System in two posts, 15 and 22 Aug 2012. The first system is used in the state land states; the thirteen original colonies and Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and Hawaii. The other 30 states are called federal land states.

A third system that is used in both state and federal land states refers to a lot number on a plan for a subdivision. Depending where you live in the U.S., it might be called the recorded plat, recorded map, recorded survey or the lot-block-tract system. Briefly, a map of a large tract of land has been surveyed into smaller lots, the subdivision named and the new lots numbered. Then the resulting map is recorded at a county land records office. From that time, a legal description of one of the small lots can just refer to the number on the recorded map.
You might think this seems like a modern suburban subdivision which it is.  If you think that you would not be able to find an older deed that uses this method to describe land, you would be wrong.  I have found a deed from 1843 in Massachusetts and 1850s Pennsylvania. So be ready.

Here is an example from a turn of the 20th century Montana deed:

Necessary information:
            Name of subdivision: Seymer Park Addition, Block 17, City of Helena
            Lot Number(s): 1,2,3
            Where map recorded: Office of the Clerk and Recorder, Lewis and Clark County

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Essex Pilgrims and Adventurers

The first time I saw the trailer for the new PBS series, Last Tango in Halifax, I was on vacation in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I remarked to my husband that it would be fun to watch because we might see places where we had just been. As most of you now know, the TV series takes place in Halifax, Yorkshire. Um…

Luckily, a recent find at a used book sale was easier to decipher. I quickly realized it was not about pilgrims in Essex County, Massachusetts.
      Smith, J.R. Pilgrims & Adventurers: Essex (England) and the Making of the United States of America. Chelmsford: Essex Records Office, 1992, 64 pp.

John Smith has written at least nine local history books for the Essex Records Office where he was the senior archivist in 1992. In this book, he concentrates on the contributions of Essex men in Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The book is notable because of its illustrations which include maps, drawings and paintings from the ERO collection which are impossible to find on this side of the Atlantic. There are at least a dozen photos or old engravings of parish churches, for example.
Some of the names included are John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, George Washington, and William Pynchon, but lesser known settlers, names abound. It has an extensive index.  This is the type of book that could have a big impact on a small number of researchers and serves as a reminder that each county record office may have a similar publication. (The Norfolk Record Office has an online exhibition titled, “Norfolk’s American Connections” at www.archives.norfolk.gov.uk. )

To see if the book is still available new, contact the Essex Record Office that does not seem to have a shop on their web site.
Essex Record Office
Wharf Road, Chelmsford, UK Cm2 6yt
+44 1245 244644
www.essex.gov.uk (Click on “Libraries and Archives” at left on screen.)
email: ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk