Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Simplicity is Relative

Simplicity is relative.

Speaking of "relative". Those of us who live in the world of genealogy research have often dealt with the struggles of explaining to interested parties (albeit a fleeting interest) at family reunions the degrees of relationship between them and some famous relative of yesteryear.

You've seen it. Come on now, be honest. For that brief moment in time your audience - Aunt Milly or cousin Billy or that brother-in-law who tried so hard to fit in - shows a heightened degree of interest in the story you've just imparted. Their eyes are wide open. Their smile extends from ear to ear. Inevitably, your story has once again led someone to ask that infamous question.

"How are we related to him again?"

So naturally you launch into the logical, generation by generation (impossible to miss) lineage that explains how this person - your audience - and the object of your story, cross paths within the same family tree.

The eyes are now glazed over. The smile has fallen ever so slightly into a sloping, sliding look of consternation. There might as well be a neon flashing light over their forehead shouting out loud "I don't get it! What did he just say? I don't want to say something and sound stupid."

And of course, you want to go ahead and say out loud, "I know. I just lost you, didn't I?".

And yet, you just explained that relationship as simply as possible. How else can you explain it?

Simplicity is relative.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share this story with you, just to put into context that genealogy researchers are not the only "industry" in which clarifying certain issues are next to impossible. The following excerpt is from a British Airways 1996 Memorandum. Enjoy.

"It appears some confusion exists over the new pilot role titles. This notice will hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.

"The titles Pilot-in-command, Commander, First Officer, Pilot Flying, Pilot-not-flying, P1, P2 and Co-Pilot will now cease to have any meaning, within the BA operations manuals. They are to be replaced by Handling Pilot, Non-Handling Pilot, Handling Landing Pilot, Non-Handling Landing Pilot, Handling Non-Landing Pilot, and Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot.

"The Landing Pilot is initially the Handling Pilot and will handle the take-off and landing, except in role reversal when he is the Non-Handling Pilot for taxi, until the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the Handling to the Landing Pilot at eighty knots.

"The Non-Landing (Non-Handling, since the Landing Pilot is handling) Pilot reads the checklist to the Handling Pilot until after the Before Descent Checklist completion, when the Handling Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot who then becomes the Handling Non-Landing Pilot.

"The Landing Pilot is the Non-Handling Pilot until the "decision altitude" call, when the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Landing Pilot, unless the latter calls "go-around", in which case the Handling Non-Landing Pilot, continues handling and the Non-Handling Landing Pilot continues non-handling until the next call of "land" or "go-around", as appropriate.

"In view of the recent confusion over these rules, it was deemed necessary to restate them clearly."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Live What You Love

I am currently between jobs so I'll take a moment to post an update. Lately, work has been strenuous at best, so perhaps the ending of one contract job comes as a subtle blessing in disguise. My dad is recovering nicely after succombing to a heart attack two weeks ago. We're grateful that he is still with us and doing well. Our cat (Fluffy) of 15 years just passed away yesterday morning, and it seems we've lost a close family member. She was the only pet my son (age 21) has ever known, so she was truly a mainstay in our home. She was a great pet and we have many wonderful memories.

Fluffy loved to climb on my stomach or chest and knead away.
Of course, it made reading difficult, but who's complaining, right?

Thanksgiving is coming up soon, followed by Christmas and the New Year. Have you told a family member or a friend today that you love them? Life is short. Love is forever.

As I buried our 15 year old cat today in our back yard on top of the hill under the cherry tree, my mind wandered to those ancestors of ours from yesteryear. In past generations, our ancestors buried many a child or spouse on their farms. If the death and burial of a cat can rip your heart out so much, what then must it have been like to dig a grave on your own land and bury a family member - a person - someone you love and cherish?

And yet, that very story repeated itself thousands of times over the generations across this great country of ours. Graves long ago lost to time and erosion. Only memories now. Distant. Muffled. Gray.

From time to time, however, those of us who research our ancestors have the privilege to bring those memories - those personalities of long ago - to life. To front and center. Loud and clear. Colorful.

Have you considered writing a short story about an ancestor of yours? Think about it. It will bring joy and satisfaction to your heart in so doing. Who knows - it might just do the same for someone else, too.

Life is short. Love is forever. Live what you love.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Status of Research Projects

The last four weeks have been a whirlwind as I embarked on another Blog project - one that has absolutely nothing to do with genealogy. It took off like a rocket and has kept me quite busy - some 35 blog posts in 25 days, and right at 4,000 pageviews have resulted during that time frame.

But now that has settled in and "running like clockwork", it's time to make an appearance in the root diggin world. If for no other reason than to let you know I'm still alive, then so be it.

Actually, the month of August is always busy for me anyway, and back to school projects (my wife substitute teaches at the local high school). So we've settled in and the dust is clearing. What's coming up in the world of genealogy?

While you can never say with absolute certainty, the items on my list including visiting north GA again to meet up with a couple of distant cousins and capture some of their old family photographs. I also want to get up to Delaware and visit the site where old Robert Patterson lived in the 1730's - the one who died in York Co SC in 1775, that is. I also hope to get back up to Harrisonburg, VA in the not too distant future and see if I can hone in on where Robert's land was there.

Always plenty to do. Never enough time to do it. Hopefully I'll land somewhere in the middle.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Location of Robert Patterson's Sussex Co DE Land

Robert Patterson of Pemberton’s Branch of Broadkill River, Sussex Co DE

In trying to pinpoint the exact location of Robert Patterson’s 106 acre tract in Sussex Co DE, what details do we know? Let’s take a look at the deeds concerning this tract and see what we can glean from them.

G7-030. 7 November 1732 Matthew Ozbon Jr. of Sussex County, Delaware to Robert Patterson yeoman, of same for 50 pounds, 106 acres on the South side of Pemberton’s Branch, one of the branches that runs into the Broadkill Creek below the county road. Tract was taken up and surveyed for Matthew Ozbon by commissioners warrant granted to Robert Lodge, carpenter of Sussex by proprietors in Philadelphia on 8 December 1718. Robert Lodge sold to Matthew Ozbon dated 2nd day 10th month of 1719. Land was surveyed by Matthew Ozbon and found to contain 212 acres of which half is sold to Robert Patterson. Bounded by Pemberton’s Branch, by a small branch below the county road. Witnesses: Phil. Russel, Robt. Shankland. Acknowledged: 7 February 1733.

G7-032. 7 November 1732 Matthew Ozbon Jr. of Sussex County, Delaware to Thomas Black yeoman, of same for 15 pounds, 106 acres on the South side of Pemberton’s Branch, one of the branches that runs into the Broadkill Creek below the county road. Tract was taken up and surveyed for Matthew Ozbon by commissioners warrant granted to Robert Lodge, carpenter of Sussex by proprietors in Philadelphia on 8 December 1718. Robert Lodge sold to Matthew Ozbon dated 2nd day 10th month of 1719. Land was surveyed by Matthew Ozbon and found to contain 212 acres of which half is sold to Thomas Black. Bounded by Robert Patterson. Witnesses: Phil. Russel, Robt. Shankland. Acknowledged: 7 February 1733.

G7-287. 7 March 1738 Robert Patterson, yeoman of Sussex County and his wife, Sarah, spinster to John Isaac and Jonathan Dunton, late of Summerset County, now of Sussex for 40 pounds, 106 acres on the South side of Pembertons Branch below the County Road and was taken up and surveyed for Matthew Ozburn Jr. by commissioners warrant granted to Robert Lodge, carpenter of Sussex by proprietors in Philadelphia on 8 December 1718. Robert Lodge sold to Matthew Ozburn dated 2nd day 10th month of 1719. Land was surveyed by Matthew Ozburn and found to contain 212 acres of which half is sold to Robert Patterson. Land is bounded by Pembertons Branch below the road, and by the dividing line. Signed: Robart Patterson (his "R" mark), Sarah Patterson (her "S" mark). Witnesses: Jeremiah Claypoole, James Smith. Acknowledged: 6 March 1738

JONATHAN LEWIS m. Mary Brice, 9 Apr 1760. Mary was widow of James Brice and dau. of Thomas Black.

On 16 Feb 1763 Orphans' Court recorded the inventory of the estate of James Brice, filed by Jonathan Lewis who m. Mary admx. of James Brice. . . . Petition to sell land in Broad Kill Hundred.

On 31 Jan 1763 Jonathan Lewis and his wife Mary, Elias Mason and his wife Sarah for (pounds) 75 sold to John Clowes, Jr., merchant, 2 tracts on s. side of Pemberton's Branch, one of which was granted by virtue of a warrant to Robert Lodge and he assigned over his right thereof to Matthew Ozburn, Jr., for whom it was conveyed. The southern 1/2 part of the tract on 7 Nov 1732 became the right of Thomas Black and he d. intestate and the land became the right of Mary and Sarah, daus and only surviving heirs of afsd. Thomas Black, 106 a.; the other tract was granted to Agness Black, sister to afsd. Mary and Sarah by virtue of a warrant adj. afsd. tract and the said Agness d. without issue and the land became the right of the afsd. Mary and Sarah.

First of all, we can determine that the southern boundary line of Patterson’s tract was described as the “dividing line”. What did it divide? It doesn’t specifically say. However, we see from the legacy of Thomas Black’s half of the original 212 acre tract, that Black’s land was the “southern half” of the divided tract. This suggests the “dividing line” was the line that divided the 212 acre tract in half, with Patterson to the north and Black to the south.

The following map highlights the town of Milton, DE. We can see that the Broadkill River flows from west to east directly through the town of Milton and dumps into the Delaware River a few miles to the east. This map was captured using Yahoo maps. All of the following maps may be clicked on to see a larger version of it.

The following map was captured using Google maps in Terrain mode. This tool allows us to see the waterways better, as they flow east to the town of Milton. We can see that the larger body of water just to the west of Milton is called Wagamons Pond, fed by streams from the west and south. Pemberton Branch is the main branch coming from the west and is the branch we are most interested in.

The following map is the same but zoomed out further to see the names of the various branches better, such as Brittingham Branch to the west. We now know that’s the one that flows into Pemberton Branch in the previous map. Likewise, we can see that Ingrams Branch flows north into Diamond Pond which in turn feeds into Wagamons Pond from the south.

The following map is captured from Google Maps but in Traffic mode instead of Terrain mode. The benefit of this mode is that at certain zoom levels we can see tract boundaries. Now we know they are modern tract boundaries, but in some cases the boundaries are still similar to that of two or three centuries ago. So occasionally we can get lucky and see meaningful patterns. That’s where the program DeedMapper comes in. If you have previously mapped out the metes and bounds of a tract of land using DeedMapper, you will know the shape of the tract you are looking for. Before we go any further on that subject though, look at the following map and notice the numbered markings.

Patterson’s tract had five corners, three of which involved a branch. #1 denotes the “corner white oak Pemberton’s Branch”. Then going NE (N75E 167P) “down the sd branch on the several courses”. This means that going NE “down” the branch – down stream – in other words EAST. When a line follows the course of the branch it is not a straight line. However, the next corner it goes to if drawn in a straight line would be North 75 degrees East. That means face due north, then rotate to the right or east 75 degrees. The distance was 167 poles (one pole = 16.5 feet) or 2755.5 feet. That would be the right distance to corner #2 in the above map.

#2 denotes a “corner red oak sapling standing on the sd branch on the west side of the mouth of a small branch”. First notice it doesn’t say Pemberton Branch, but rather a small branch. The head of this small branch begins at #3 just below the road and flows north to #2 where its mouth is at Pemberton Branch. So on the west side of the mouth is where corner #2 is located. The next line then follows the small branch “up the sd branch on the several courses”. It goes “up” the branch – in other words, south. It goes to corner #3 which is located S12W 48P (792 feet).

#3 denotes a “corner white oak standing on the SE side of the sd branch below the road”. This corner is on the SE side of the small branch and “below” the road, or south of the road – Sand Hill Road, that is. Take a look at the following image of the tract from DeedMapper.

Remember the blue lines are the waterways and simply denote the straight path from corner #1 to #2 and from #2 to #3, but in fact the boundaries of the tract were not straight on those blue lines, but rather followed the course of the branches.

Notice the following map, same as previous Google map but zoomed closer. The angle of the modern tract below corner #3 runs SW at the same angle as the DeedMapper image. Same goes for the western boundary of the tract that no doubt followed the line that is now Sandhill Rd running SW from corner #1. Also notice the faint white line running SW from corner #3, separating the two darker sections. This signifies a separation of tracts. This matches how Patterson’s tract should have looked. Furthermore, Patterson’s line from corner #3 running SW to corner #4 was 110.5 Poles or 1823.25 feet. Corner #4 would have terminated near Gravel Hill Rd. Corner #5 would have been along the Sandhill Rd about the point where you see “Rd 319” on the following map.

Basically, it appears to me that the modern road (yellow road in previous map) called County Rd 248 or Gravel Hill Rd or Hwy 30 runs south crossing onto the northern line of Patterson’s old tract and leaves his tract at or around the SE corner of it.

So here is a blend of two mapping programs (Yahoo and Google) and multiple modes in each (Traffic and Terrain), plus the DeedMapper program working together to help pinpoint on modern maps the specific location of a tract of land from almost 300 years ago.

Amazing! I love technology.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Productive Diversions

Sometimes I get so deep in research on a particular topic that the end result is I'm so deep I can't see much. It's like the old saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees." Apparently that applies to family trees as well.

I've learned over the years I have to force myself to switch gears and go work on a different tangent, some other avenue of research. It may be about the same person, but a different part of his life or at a different location.

This is precisely what I've done the last couple of days regarding my ancestor Robert Patterson (d. 1775 SC). Much time and effort has been spent of late on his years on Linville Creek in VA. A lot of progress has been made and I'm getting closer to pinpointing exactly where he lived. But it's time for a break.

So I've switched over to his time prior to that - in Sussex Co DE. In 1732 Robert Patterson bought 106 acres on Pemberton's Branch (of Broadkill River). Past research has allowed me to get fairly close to where this was, but like Linville Creek VA of late, the road blocks appeared. So the last couple of days I've picked that up again as a diversion, to clear my mind of VA and focus on something new.


I am in the process of documenting my findings and will publish them in my next post. But I can say with great confidence that I have identified the exact location of Patterson's 106 acre tract in DE. He sold it in 1738 when they were preparing to move to VA. Between his buying and selling deeds, plus future dispositions of the land, coupled with the advancements of modern mapping tools on Yahoo and Google, I have located the spot where it stood. And don't forget the best tool of all - DeedMapper. With the latter program I know the shape of the tract which is critical to finding it on modern maps.

So why couldn't I find it before? Who knows? But this is an example of a PRODUCTIVE DIVERSION. You'd be surprised at how often this works for me.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Joseph Harrison of Sussex Co DE & Augusta Co VA

In July 2010 Harald Reksten was working the Sussex Co DE Court Records. He abstracted a set of records and emailed them to me with the following message:

While looking at the court records I came across these entries about Joseph Harrison that I copied from the microfilm. These records are not published so no one would know about them unless they looked at the microfilm. Notice the references to Joseph Harrison as early as 1725. Makes me think the Joseph Harrison that died in the 1740s Augusta was not a grandson of Isaiah. Also this Joseph could have had quite a few children since he is involved in court cases as early as 1725. Makes me think he is at least the oldest son of old Isaiah's 2nd marriage.

The Isaiah Harrison in question is the old Isaiah Sr who was first married to Elizabeth Wright and then secondly to Abigail Smith. Joseph Harrison died in 1748 Augusta Co VA. Other members of the Isaiah clan were part of the estate settlement in 1748, but Joseph has never been conclusively placed within the Isaiah family. Harald and I believe Joseph was another son, by the second wife.

The Harrisons and Pattersons migrated from Sussex Co DE to Augusta Co VA in the late 1730's. Other families who migrated from DE to VA that were associated with them were the Blacks, Cravens, Stewarts, Ponders, Hoods and others. My Robert Patterson had a sister named Elizabeth who married Jeremiah Harrison (son of Isaiah) in DE. Additionally, Robert Patterson's son, Thomas Patterson (my 5-greats-grandpa) married a Margaret Harrison.

I used to think she was a daughter of Joseph, and then I thought she was a daughter of Samuel. Samuel and Joseph Harrison were brothers. Both of these theories have proven to not hold water,  however. As of 2018, I believe she was a grand-daughter of Gideon Harrison (son of Isaiah), who died in Sussex Co., DE in 1729.

FEBRUARY 1724(5) (Microfilm)
108. 2 February 1724(5) Preservd Coggshall vs Samuel Black. Continued Withdrawn.
109. 2 February 1724(5) Christ. Tophan agt Joseph Harrison. T.C. Sherd amoried – unto the Deft – appear the first day of next Term.

MAY 1725 (Microfilm)
115. 4 May 1725 Christopher Topham agt Joseph Harrison. The said Tophaim appeared for himself T.C. Sheriff amoried ¾ unless ye Deft. appear the first day this Term with Drawer in Costs.
116. 4 May 1725 Wm. PettyJohn vs Isaiah Harrison. David French for ye plantiff appeared T.C. Isaiah Harrison appeared by his attorney Francis Allen. Continued.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Favorite Genealogy Books and Other Recommended Reads

Ground-breaking. Informative. Essential.

These words come to mind when I considering certain books in my office. Not just any books, mind you. Books that enlarged the world that is genealogy for me. The world I spend many waking hours speculating on my ancestors, imagining their conditions, their ambitions, their experiences. These books helped shape reality in regards to my ancestors. They have closed the gap between imagination and truth.

18th century America - the frontier. Several books reside on my shelf that cover various aspects of frontier migrations of the 1700's, such as:

Settlers by the Long Grey Trail: A Contribution to the History and Genealogy of Colonial Families of Rockingham County, Virginia (by J. Houston Harrison) [Amazon]

Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 (by Robert W. Ramsey) [Amazon]

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Abigail - Daughter of Robert & Sarah Patterson

Not too many researchers know about Abigail Patterson, a child who was baptized in 1740 in Augusta Co VA on the frontier. And those who have seen that record, assume she was the daughter of the wrong Robert Patterson.

However, in March of 2009 it was discovered this young girl was actually the daughter of Robert and Sarah Patterson, of Linville Creek. In fact, this is the only known record of an Abigail Patterson as the daughter of Robert. I would suggest we'd never have caught onto her were it not for the fact that someone else was baptized the same day. Someone we do recognize. Her Uncle Jeremiah Harrison.

Rev. John Craig was the first resident Presbyterian minister in Augusta Co VA. He was there from 1740-1749, and baptized a lot of people both children and adults. He kept meticulous records of these baptisms, for which we are truly grateful.

3 Nov 1740 Abigail Patterson & Jeremiah Herison (sic)

You may click on the image to see a larger version of it. Notice on November 3, 1740 there were two individuals baptized. Robert Patterson brought his child Abigail, and then Jeremiah Herison (Harrison) was also baptized. It also denotes the fact that Harrison was "an adult person."

The first item of importance is that Jeremiah Harrison was married to Elizabeth Patterson, sister of Robert. More importantly, though, is the unusual notation as to the location of the baptisms. It says "near Halfway House."

The Halfway House

Author J. Houston Harrison wrote on pages 128-129 in his book Settlers by the Long Grey Trail the following details regarding Jeremiah Harrison and this "Halfway House":

"Jeremiah Harrison, besides his brothers, owned various tracts of land on Cook's and Linville's Creeks. From his first patent for 370 acres on the drafts of Cook's and Linville's Creek it appears that he settled in the section now traversed by the Raleigh Springs Turnpike; probably near the present juncture of this pike with the road leading to Mt. Clinton. Just to the east of this juncture the pike crosses the northernmost branch of Cook's Creek while a little to the west the Mt. Clinton road crosses the southernmost branch of Linville's Creek. In the old church book of the Rev. John Craig, the first resident Presbyterian minister in Augusta, Jeremiah is spoken of as living at the 'Half Way House'. His name occurs on a petition for a road filed at Augusta court in 1753-54, by the 'Inhabitants of North Mountain, at the head of Muddy Creek'. The above juncture of roads is approximately midway between Harrisonburg and Mt. Clinton, and Jeremiah was probably about half way between Thomas Harrison's and the Muddy Creek community."

Thomas Harrison was Jeremiah's brother. Thomas' land became the town of Harrisonburg, which was named for him. So half way between Thomas Harrison's (the town of Harrisonburg) and the Muddy Creek community (a few miles west). See the following map which shows the town of Harrisonburg, as well as Rawley Pike (Raleigh Springs Turnpike) and Mt Clinton Pike, etc.

Robert Patterson, father of little Abigail, also lived "on the waters of Cook's and Linville's Creeks". Therefore he lived fairly close to his brother-in-law Jeremiah.

The fact that only a handful of baptisms during the 1740's were actually performed "near Halfway House", and two of them were the same day, I'd say there's no doubt this Robert Patterson was of the Linville Creek variety.

While we don't know exactly how old Abigail was, we do know that some infants as young as a few weeks old were baptized by Rev. Craig. Others I'm sure were a few years old, and as we've already seen, he baptized many adults as well. Did she die young? Could be. Did she get married in VA prior to the clan's move to the Carolinas? It's possible. What we do know is that her father Robert did not mention her in his will in 1775 in York Co SC. He did say something about "all my children is single" at one point, but that hardly sheds any light on the matter. However, it could be the one inclusive statement regarding Abigail if she was still living.

There was an Abigail Patterson in York Co SC as late as 1797. It's the only time we see the name there in SC. See the following deed:

E-502. 13 July 1797 Peter Patterson of York County to Malcolm Henry of same for £150 sterling, 150 acres on the waters of Clarks fork of Bullocks Creek being Pattersons branch of Clarks fork and also 80 acres adjoining it near Peter Patterson's lower field, the ridge road above Jacob Peters School House, Robert Love's corner at cross road and -------Ponder; also 62 acres on both sides of Clarks fork adjoining and originally granted to Robert Patterson Senior, deceased. Signed: Peter Patterson (Seal).  Witnesses: Robert Love, William Henry, Abigail Patterson.  Proved: 8 April 1801 by the oath of William Henry before Saml Watson J.P.

Who was this Abigail Patterson? She was not Peter's wife as it says nothing about being examined privately regarding releasing her dower. Was she Peter's daughter? Was she Peter's sister? Keep in mind that Peter was a son of Robert Patterson and therefore a younger brother of the Abigail who was baptized in 1740. Their father Robert had died in 1775. Their mother Sarah died in 1790. It seems that another sister, Sarah Patterson Black, lived on some of the family land during the 1790's also. It could be this was the same Abigail from 1740, and she never married. We may never know for sure, but I have to consider the possibility.

Just how many children DID Robert Patterson have?


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Makin' a List, Checkin' It Twice

No. This is not a Christmas story. But the carole is right, you know.

Did you ever have that teacher who kept insisting you show your work? Did you ever have points counted off your math test because you didn't show how you obtained your answers? Even though you got the correct answer? How many times were you told to check and re-check your work to make sure you didn't make a mistake? Even worse, how many times did you re-check your work and find a mistake you made? Yeah, me too.

I call it "The Discipline of Documentation".

It's not just some dumb thing teachers and parents make kids do as punishment. There's value in showing your work. There are benefits to double checking your conclusions, your plans, your grocery lists, your checkbook register.

It's life. We know it's true. I would suggest it's just as true in the world of genealogy research. But not just for reasons you might assume. Yes, there are mistakes you need to catch. But more importantly, I have found on many occasions that when I go through the discipline of documenting my work, I learn something new that I wouldn't have seen otherwise.

It's like the football player who goes through the discipline of practice. Over and over and over. He begins to see patterns in the way his opponent is defending him. At that moment he is then able to see ways he can beat his opponent. Strategies unfold that would not have been realized without going through the discipline of practice. Repetition. Streamlining. Efficiency.

As I have recently been rebuilding the Timeline of Recorded Events for Robert Patterson (my 6-greats-grandfather), it has taken me through this discipline of documentation once again. It can be very tedious. It can be time-consuming. But it's worth it.

Here are some benefits I have found in taking the time to show your work, document your sources, and double-and-triple-checking your information:
  1. Erroneous Inclusions: I built my initial list on paper. Hand-written. There were 55 events for which I had vague references scribbled in my notebook. As you can imagine, with that many items on the list they can run together. As I began to enter them into a Word document, the repetitive process began to take place. I began to get them in order. I even found one item that was for the wrong Robert Patterson (Jr. instead of Sr.). This process of double checking my work and showing my sources helped me find one record I should not have included.
  2. Duplications: And yes, I did accidentally include one event twice by mistake. Again, not a difficult mistake to make, and certainly one that should be caught before presenting your work.
  3. Omissions: Here's the fun one. I had my list built. I got it transferred from paper to the electronic version. I then went through my source documents to double check my documentation (book number, page number, record type - was it a Land Entry or a Survey or a Land Grant or a Deed, etc.). The process of going through the source files again brought three more records to my attention that I had missed previously. Discipline pays off.
  4. Clarifications: One court case Robert Patterson was involved in was listed as "April and June 1746". Initially I put this down as two events. One for April and one for June. Makes sense, right? It did to me as this case continued on for almost a year. But when I checked the source information, I learned that this particular event was just one event. It was recorded in a block of court minutes that was actually one recording for both sessions - April and June 1746. In other words, there weren't two sets of minutes recorded, one for each session. There was just one set of minutes recorded for both sessions. So this court case was heard one time, in either April or June 1746, but not both.
  5. Presentation Issues: It's important to present your work in a professional manner. If it's worth presenting, do it right. If your work is sloppy no one will read past the first paragraph. Correct spelling is necessary. Good grammar is important. Consistent formatting is pleasing to the eye and will not distract the reader from the message of what's being presented.
You can probably think of other benefits that I have not listed here. If you think of any, please leave a comment below.

Yes, it takes work. Yes, it can be tedious and time-consuming. But it's worth it. You find more nuggets in the process of just doing it right. It makes your work trustworthy. People will share more information with you because they see your professionalism. But more importantly, you'll find great satisfaction in producing a piece of work that will stand the test of time.

Have you made your list? Did you check it twice? Can I look at your work and see how you came to your conclusions?


Monday, August 1, 2011

There Were Five Brothers

"My great-great-grandfather came to Georgia in the 1700's. June's got that he must have been the first Patterson to come to Ga. He came from N.C. That's where my Dad said 5 brothers came from the old country landed in N.C. They went to different places. Dad said they were Scotch Irish."
~ Aunt Nellie Patterson Mason, September 1982

I was fourteen years old when I received this second letter from Aunt Nellie. My grandpa Patterson had died in 1975 when I was seven years old, so I had missed out on any opportunities to discuss my Patterson heritage with him. My parents were missionaries in the SE Asian country of Bangladesh (beginning in 1979), so living 12,000 miles away from any other family members only added to my thirst for knowledge concerning my Patterson heritage.

At my dad's urging, I had written Aunt Nellie, the younger sister of my Grandpa. I had met her in person a few times and have fond memories of her to this day. Where Aunt Nellie said "Dad", she was speaking of Elijah Patterson (b 1871). Where she said "great-great-grandfather", she was speaking of John Patterson (b 1765 and married Margaret Black). It seems impossible that it's been 29 years since I received the above letter. And yet, I now feel as though I've come full circle.

The last 15 years have changed everything. Many brick walls in our on-going family tree search have come tumbling down. We know that old John Patterson that my Aunt Nellie referred to, was born in 1765 in what is now York Co SC. But at the time of his birth, it was considered Mecklenburg Co NC.

We know that John's father was Thomas Patterson, oldest son of Robert and Sarah Patterson. We know that Robert was born in the early 1700's. Some say 1705-10, I like to say circa 1711, but both are possible dates for reasons I won't entertain here. Robert was living in Sussex Co DE in the 1730's where some of his oldest children were born, perhaps. Most of his children were born in the Shenandoah Valley of VA, where all of them were raised.

In the early 1760's it seems that most of this Patterson clan and other relation migrated to the Kings Mountain region of the Carolinas - modern day York Co SC. But again, it was North Carolina at the time, so Aunt Nellie's version of the story is accurate.

They were Scotch-Irish (aka Scots-Irish, aka Ulster Scots), so again, Aunt Nellie's recollection was spot on.

For years now we only knew of four sons of Robert and Sarah Patterson. Recent developments have proven there was at least a fifth, James Patterson, who died in 1774 or 1775 just before Robert Patterson penned his Last Will & Testament in July 1775, leaving James out of the Will for obvious reasons.

So, there were five brothers. Aunt Nellie was right.

My chief goals in life (in regards to genealogy research, that is) when I first began this quest some 30 years ago were to find out 1) how many brothers there were, 2) what their names were, 3) which one I descend from, 4) when they "arrived", and 5) where they went.

Many stories I heard about these brothers listed different states they moved to, but there was always one that was a mystery. They weren't sure what happened to the fifth brother. While Aunt Nellie didn't say anything to that affect, I heard this from more than one relative.

This blog post is a special one for me. It's post #100 for this blog. Nothing earth-shattering, mind you. But still a special one. That's why I'm writing about this 29 year old letter. That's why I'm remembering Aunt Nellie, and the stories I heard as a youngster about my Patterson heritage. I'm returning to my roots - MY roots. My early years growing up in the 1970's and '80's.


1) There were five brothers.

2) Their names were Thomas, James, Robert Jr, Peter and William.

3) I descend from Thomas, the father of old John Patterson who moved to GA.

4) Thomas may have been born in DE or VA, I'm not yet sure which. The rest were born in VA near Harrisonburg on Linville Creek. That is where they and their sisters were raised. There were no less than five sisters, as well.

5) Thomas eventually ended up in North Carolina. James died a young man in South Carolina. Robert Jr died in Tennessee. Peter died in South Carolina also. And William? Well, we still don't know what happened to him. Last known record shows he was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, in South Carolina. He may have died during that war. He may have moved away as so many Loyalists did. We just don't know.

So, while the five brothers didn't immigrate from the "old country" per se, they did migrate to the Carolinas (from VA) in the 1760's.

And, while John Patterson didn't actually move to GA in the 1700's, he did move to NC in the 1790's and then moved down into GA "from N.C." in the 1820's.

Aunt Nellie passed away in 1996. It's taken almost 30 years for final confirmation on many pieces of her story, but I'm just grateful to have had her story, in her own writing. Thank you, Aunt Nellie. And, thank you June Walker Brown, another Patterson cousin whom Aunt Nellie was quoting at one point. Sometimes family legends can be right after all!


Friday, July 29, 2011

And I Thought There Wasn't Much To Find On Him!

When I first began researching Robert Patterson of York Co SC (more than a decade ago), I just didn't think there was much on him to be found. I knew he had a Last Will & Testament, which is more than a lot of people had in those days. I knew he owned land, but that's only going to show up in a handful of recorded ledgers.

Let's face it, the man lived in the 18th century. How much could be found on someone who lived on the New World frontier, most of it in antebellum South where records were destroyed a century later, and it being a man who could not write as far as we know. After all, he made a mark - an "R" - instead of signing his name. 

Several years ago I got one of those proverbial burrs in my saddle and decided to build a "Timeline of Recorded Events" for ole Robert. Naturally, the first item on the list was his Last Will & Testament from July of 1775, the same year he died, incidentally.

I added anything I could find to this list, from North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. It just had to be an event that was recorded and dated somewhere along the way - you know, a "primary source". When my list reached 20 events I was amazed and even shocked. I was impressed that Robert Patterson was "visible enough" to have been recorded in some manner that many times AND the records had survived two and half centuries.

Little did I know.

Harald Reksten has continued to review the numerous records along Robert Patterson's migration route and has shared much of this data with me over the years. The problem has been sorting out the various Robert Pattersons along the way. It has taken time for me to research the neighboring families in the various locations Patterson lived, but it has been necessary in order to gain a better understanding of which Robert Patterson was which.

To my utter shock - and pleasure - many more of these "Robert Patterson" sightings have been this Robert than previously thought. These recorded events are too numerous to post in this article. Nor is that the purpose of this article. 

The scope of this article is "one-fold". Is that a word? It is now. 

Don't give up on looking for your ancestor!

There. That's it. That's my point. 

I now carry a notebook with me almost everywhere I go. When I find another confirmed, recorded event for Robert Patterson, I add it to my notebook. I use this notebook for this purpose only, and for many ancestors, not just my 6-greats-grandpa. 

Would it shock you to realize that I have no less than 56 confirmed, recorded events for Robert Patterson from 1732 to 1825? Yes, a dozen or so of these recordings were done so posthumously, but they count. As far as I can tell, he lived in three locations only from 1732 to 1775. In Sussex Co DE he lived off the Broadkill River. In VA he lived on the waters of Linville Creek and Cooks Creek. In NC/SC he lived in one location off Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek.

Here's a quick summary, by decade, of the number of recordings throughout his life, so far:
  • 1730's = 3
  • 1740's = 9 8
  • 1750's = 17 19
  • 1760's = 8 9
  • 1770's = 7
  • 1780's = 4
  • 1790's = 2
  • 1800 and later = 5 4
A total of 55 56 times. This one thing I know - we'll find more [WP: since this article was posted, two duplications have been removed, but three more recordings have been found and added - 2 Aug 2011]. The earliest found was in 1732 in Sussex Co DE. The latest found was in 1825 in Rockingham Co VA. 

And I thought there wasn't much to find on him!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Lesson in Genealogy

So often we take for granted the need to carefully document an event we've researched in our never-ending quest for genealogical omniscience. For example, my 6-greats-grandpa (Robert Patterson) obtained a Virginia Land Patent (grant) in 1764 for 265 acres on Linville Creek near Harrisonburg.

Big deal. Get a copy of the 1764 patent and you're good to go.

Well, not so fast.

You see, there were at least three recorded events pertaining to this tract. In 1740 there was the Land Entry. Patterson recorded the tract as 230 acres in the Orange County VA Land Entry book.

And then there's the survey which was done and recorded in the Augusta Co VA book of surveys. The survey was for 265 acres instead of 230.

Then there was the Land Patent, issued and recorded in 1764, also for 265 acres.

Here's the lesson. If I were doing my research and all I had found was the 1740 Orange Co Land Entry, I would think Patterson owned 230 acres on Linville Creek.

If all I had found was the Augusta Co Survey, I would think Patterson owned 265 acres on Linville Creek. But I would have also been led astray by the survey on a couple other matters. Here's the 1753 survey (15 Dec 1753, Augusta Co VA, 1-070b):

(Image courtesy Harald Reksten)

The survey is not oriented to North, by the way. You need to rotate the tract 60 degrees clockwise (North 60 degrees East) to get an accurate rendering.

The bottom right corner says "Red Oak near Hits Line". Joist Hite was a prominent land holder in the Shenandoah Valley. He received thousands of acres patented to him and some business partners. Many surveys would indicate a "joining to" Hite's line or Hite's corner, etc. Often, it was spelled "Hit" or "Hits". Problem is, all indications have always said this Patterson tract was near Abraham Hill's tract, such as "near Hill" or "near Hils Line". So this is misleading to some degree. Is it Hill or Hite?

Another problem with the survey is that on two of the seven lines, there is an error in the direction recorded in the survey book. Without the 1764 patent, you wouldn't get the correction needed. Two of the directional descriptions in this survey says "W" instead of "E", or vice-versa. All of the "N" and "S" beginning directions are correct, it's the degrees direction that is off two times. In other words, "N60E244" would indicate North 60 degrees East 244 Poles. This means that from this point, face due north, then turn 60 degrees to the east or clockwise, then go 244 poles to the next point. Each "Pole" is 16.5 feet by the way.

Here's the 1764 survey Land Patent (27 June 1764, Augusta Co VA, 35-516):

(Image courtesy Doris Ross Johnston)

There are two pages here. On the first page, on the fifth line from the bottom of that page, in the middle of that line, you can clearly see "Hills Line". All seven directional descriptions for the lines are accurate here as well.

Our lesson in genealogy with this example is that no one record by itself is sufficient to give us a full picture about Robert Patterson's involvment with this land and the scope of this land. The patent gives us the most accurate description of the land - its scope - but by itself, you'd think Patterson just acquired it in 1764. If you found the survey, you might then realize that he had it surveyed in 1753, so perhaps he was already living there by that time.

In reality, he entered the land in the record books in 1740. In fact, he entered it twice, the first time in 1739, and then entered again in 1740. We also know that he sold his DE land in 1738, and that many of his relatives and neighbors from DE had moved to the Linville Creek area in 1737 and 1738.

The point? You need to pull all associated records to get the big picture. You need all associated records to clear up any scribal errors by the county officials, of which there were many.

It's a tough lesson to learn sometimes, but it's a lesson that comes with benefits. Keep that in mind.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Robert Patterson's Linville Creek Land

Last night I was all set to post an article I'm calling "Part 2" regarding the specific location of Robert Patterson's 740 acres on Linville Creek near Harrisonburg, VA.

But as fate would have it, a couple of new issues popped up.

First issue - I found another map that gives a little more detail on the branches and forks of Linville Creek, so that is forcing me to make some changes to my custom maps. It's a wonderful development as it's more precise, but it's a little different so I need to make some changes before I can post it.

Second issue - there may be one or even two more tracts that our Robert Patterson had there in VA, not just the three I've been talking about. Problem is, I'm not convinced either of those are his. One or both "could be", but it will take some time to determine that. One was for 100 acres, and the other for 150 acres.

So for now, I will continue forward with what I have, which is three confirmed tracts for 740 acres. I'll make the changes to my "Part 2" article I'm almost finished with, approximating where this land was (within a mile or so, which is pretty dawg-gone close, if you ask me).

And, we'll (Harald and I) continue to work on the other two tracts to determine if they belonged to our Robert "R" Patterson or the other one.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brothers Named East and West

About 30 years ago I remember my dad taking us to visit my grandpa Patterson's sister, Nellie Patterson Mason in north GA. My grandpa had already died a few years before that in 1975. Aunt Nellie was in her 70's already, but her mind was still sharp.

Being that I was always interested in family stories, and that my name is Wesley, Aunt Nellie was reminded of a pair of brothers she remembered visiting on occasion as a child. They were her 2nd cousins, although at the time she didn't remember exactly how they were related. But what stood out to her, and to me too, was the fact these brothers were called "East" and "West".

I'm sure that conversation was also in the context of her daddy, Elijah Patterson. "Lije" as he was called, had a twin named "Lishe". Lije and Lishe also had four more brothers named Lumpkin, Lewis, Alonzo and Bunyan. Plus, one of their six sisters was called "Jeff".

Over the years many a chuckle escaped my breath when these names were remembered. Being a city boy I was not accustomed to hearing names like this. But as the years went by I became more interested in finding out who these brothers were. East and West. I assumed they were Pattersons, but I couldn't remember. I assumed they were my cousins too, but I wasn't sure. So the fond memory slowly became a mystery that had to be unraveled.

About 8 or 10 years ago, while updating one of my Patterson branches with further details, I tripped across a record that indicated one of my cousins named John E. Patterson, was actually John East Patterson. So I began to dig further. I found another record that indicated his younger brother James, was actually James W. Patterson.

I dug more.

Then I found it. James W. was actually James Wesley Patterson, and he was called "West" Patterson. His older brother John East Patterson was actually called "East". I found them!

East and West Patterson were born in 1861 and 1870 respectively, in Fannin Co GA. They and their other siblings were children of George Washington Patterson and Margaret Ownbey. George was the son of John Patterson Jr and Sallie Hicks.

Aunt Nellie and I descend from John Jr's brother George Patterson, and his son William Harden "Bill" Patterson, and his son Lije Patterson, previously mentioned. So Lije and Lishe were 2nd cousins of East and West. That would make Aunt Nellie 2nd cousins once removed, which in turn would make me 2nd cousins thrice removed.

Mystery solved. But still a chuckle.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

How Many Sons Did Old Robert Patterson Have After All?

Robert Patterson wrote his last Will & Testament in July of 1775 in York Co SC. He died no later than November that same year. Robert was my gggggg-grandfather. For years, all we've known for sure concerning how many sons he had was the four sons named in his Will, viz. Thomas, Robert, Peter and William. But were there other sons?

Naturally, anyone would agree that there could have been other sons that died young, but how could you ever prove it? There just isn't any empirical evidence that other sons existed. Right?

Well, maybe there is enough evidence to suggest there were more sons. At the very least, there appears to have been a son named James that can now be "confirmed". I would also suggest there could have been a son named John, but that cannot be proven or disproven at this time, to my knowledge, so I'll leave that discussion for another time.

James Patterson. We know he existed. We've known for years there was a James Patterson living close by on Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek in what is now York Co SC, but who was he? Why wasn't he named in Robert's 1775 Will?

For years I suggested to Harald Reksten that James could have been a son of Robert. But I didn't see enough of the big picture to be able to prove it one way or the other. Eventually, I stopped suggesting this. Then recently, Harald suggested it to me based on the evidence he was finding in the land records.

Harald's theory? James Patterson died before his father Robert died in 1775. He was also single and therefore no estate was administered for dependents. Hmmm... that theory works. But proving it is another story.

The facts we already had in place were the following:

1. Mecklenburg Co NC, Book 23, Page 163. 26 October 1767 Grant #438 to Robert Cravens 150 acres on Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek adjacent Robert Patterson line. Chain Bearers: James Petterson, Newberry Stockton. Plat: 17 January 1767. File #2251.

2. Tryon Co NC, Book O5, Page 072. 23 February 1774 Robert Cravens of Augusta County, Colony of Virginia and Wife Esther to James Patterson of County of Tryon, North Carolina for £90 Va. currency, 150 acres in the county of Tryon, NC, on both sides of Clarks fork of Bullocks Creek adjacent Robert Patterson's line. Signed: Robt Cravens, Esther Cravens (LS). Witnesses: Robert Patterson, Joseph Dictum , John Quin. Proved by the oath of Robert Patterson 4 June 1774 before Joseph Robinson, J.P. Recorded 15 March 1785.

The Robert Patterson in both records was most likely Robert Jr, the brother of James Patterson. A few years ago I obtained a copy of the 1774 deed and the Robert Patterson did not have the trademark "R" mark that Robert Sr used. So I am convinced it was Robert Jr.

Esther Cravens was born Esther Harrison, daughter of Jeremiah Harrison and Elizabeth Patterson. Therefore she was the 1st cousin of James and Robert Patterson. Joseph Dictum married another first cousin of both Esther Harrison Cravens and James Patterson.

If Harald's theory is true, in that James was a son of Robert Patterson Sr, then James died between February 1774 and July 1775. Robert Sr must have already had a Will in place with as much land as he owned in VA and SC (Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek was deemed to be in York Co SC around 1775). It would stand to reason that Robert would have re-written his Will if one of his sons died unexpectedly. I believe this is why Robert wrote his Will in July 1775 in order to update it.

But still that's no proof. If James were single, his assets would have devolved to his father. So the smoking gun question is this. Is there any evidence that Robert Patterson Sr ever came into possession of James' 150 acres he purchased from Cravens in 1774?

The answer... YES.

Here's your smoking gun:

3) York Co SC, Book H, Page 100. 6 June 1802 Robert Wallace of York District to John Wallace of same for $10, (1) 150 acres on Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek joining Robert Patterson, being originally granted to Robert Cravens and from said Cravens conveyed by deed to Robert Patterson deceased; (2) 40 acres on Hendersons Branch of Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek joining John Patterson, a part of tract granted to Robert Patterson in the year 1794. Signed: Robert Wallace. Witnesses: Samuel Love, Samuel Brown, Andrew Love. Proved: 18 January 1816 by Samuel Brown before Thomas Simpson. Recorded: 4 March 1816.

So this deed proves the same 150 acre tract passed to Robert Patterson. Which Robert Patterson? Robert Sr died in 1775. Robert Jr died in 1828. This deed was in 1802, so clearly "Robert Patterson deceased" is referring to Robert Sr. We know that Cravens did not sell the land to Robert directly, but rather to James, but the chain of title shows it passed to Robert. The only way that could have happened without James selling it to his father, was for it to pass to him through inheritance. James had to die after February 1774. And since his father died in 1775 between July and November, James had to have died prior to that.

This is about as solid a case as one could ever present. My hat is off to Harald Reksten for working through the details on this one. He presented the theory to me a few months ago and then recently found this 1802 deed, which to me is empirical evidence.

The sons of Robert and Sarah Patterson at the very least include Thomas, James, Robert, Peter and William.


Linville Creek VA Early Settlers and Patents

The following resource notes are a collection of notes I've been studying of late. This post is simply a place to house them - together.

1) Linville Creek Timeline

This site gives a rich historical timeline regarding major events along Linville Creek, particularly some of the earliest patents and settlers. The 1739 event is of key interest to me, as my ancestors' patents butted up against this 7009 acre patent, and eventually including deeds containing pieces of this large tract.

7009 acres were granted to Hite, McKay, Duff, and Green at Linville Creek in Rockingham. This was surrounded by Fairfax lands that many tried to stay away from. The core grants, about 11 square miles of the 24 square miles for Rockingham County included lands on Linville Creek and it's main tributaries. This became the neighborhood of the Eymans, Brennemans, Shanks, Lincolns, Boones, Bryans, and related families.

2) Land Records of Robert Mackay Sr

Mackay was one of the patentees of the 7009 acre patent along Linville Creek in 1739. This site contains a great overview of the various patents Mackay and his associates were involved with in those early years in the Shenandoah Valley.

3) Great historical migrations, personal histories of key settlers, and even migration route details. As labeled on this site: English | Scots-Irish | The Great Wagon Road | German

The histories presented on this site reflect the migrations through the Shenandoah Valley and on into the Piedmont of NC (Yadkin River Valley) and in some cases on down to York Co SC around Kings Mountain.

4) William Linville Timeline

William Linville was the namesake for Linville Creek. He was the original owner of what is now Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, NC. He was the namesake for all things "Linville" in western NC, where he and his son John were killed in 1766 by Indians near what is now known as Linville Falls.

5) Thomas Linville Timeline

Brother of William Linville, Thomas owned land on Linville Creek, VA as well, and then later in NC between modern day Winston-Salem and Kernersville. Linville Road is named after him.

6) Joseph Bryan Timeline

Joseph Bryan was married to the sister of William and Thomas Linville. His daughter Rebecca married the famous Daniel Boone.

Again, these notes are simply a collection of related research that shares pertinent details regarding the history of our nation and settlements where my ancestors were. In fact, my ancestors knew these folks personally.


Lost Grave of Elizabeth Patterson Ponder

Elizabeth Patterson was born in the 1750's and was a daughter of Robert and Sarah Patterson. Robert was my gggggg-gf, and I descend from him two ways, through his son Thomas Patterson, and also from his daughter Sarah who married Joseph Black.

Elizabeth married a man named Daniel Ponder (Jr) in the early 1770's in York Co SC. Around the turn of the century they moved to Buncombe Co NC and attended the same church as my John Patterson family, Newfound Baptist Church, about 8 miles NW of Asheville, NC. Daniel and Elizabeth Patterson Ponder were very active in the church. Daniel died in 1817, Elizabeth some years later.

Not knowing the locations where any of the children of Robert and Sarah Patterson are buried, I was hoping to find Elizabeth's grave recently after reviewing some notes I have online. A distant cousin through the Ponder branch of the family is genealogist and author, Patricia Saupe. "Pat" authored both books on the Ponder clan, Kentucky Ponders, and Kentucky Ponders Supplement. In 2003 Pat emailed me the following statement, which recently caught my attention again:

Robert Ponder was in Clay Co. KY with the rest of the boys when Daniel died 1817. He went back to Buncombe to live to care for Elizabeth and I can't tell you off the top of my head which census, but you will see an elderly lady with him at some point. The grandson we talked to said Elizabeth is buried atop that hill with Robert on Robert's old property.
So I emailed Pat this week to get more details about the location of Elizabeth's grave. To my utter disappointment, here was Pat's reply.

The way I understand it, the graves atop Ponder mountain were taken up and the land used for farming in about the 1930's when times were tough.  This came from an old fellow (Ponder) who was born there and lived just up the road.   The property was on Little Ivy and Ponder's Branch and went from mountaintop to mountaintop.  It has been too long to tell you the name of the road but there's a Sprinkle Cemetery somewhere near the crossroads that has Robert Ponders daughter Elizabeth Ramsey in it.   I am talking about 25 years ago though on all of this.   We did not climb up the mountain to see if the graves were gone because he was so certain that they were and we didn't want to insult him.
Such is life when it comes to genealogy research. In the words of Forrest Gump's mother, "Life's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

You win some, you lose some. I guess I struck out on this one.


Family Tree Maker 2011 Locking Up

When you do the kind of genealogy research I do, you have to have a reliable family tree database. For years I have used Family Tree Maker (FTM). About a year ago I bought a new laptop computer which came with Windows Vista. So my old FTM software didn't fully work in Vista, such as converting reports to PDF format. That's a big problem.

So a few months back I broke down and upgraded my FTM to the 2011 version, which is compatible with Vista. Reports? Check. PDF format? Check. Cool new features? Check.

Basic tabbing from one field to another? LOCKS UP. Bummer.

I did some basic googling to find some answers. I downloaded a couple patches and installed them. No difference. This has gone on for months now. I don't even want to update anything anymore because it takes so long. And that's bad as I really need to update a bunch of records.

I've checked for settings that allow this version of FTM 2011 to always be "Offline". In other words, not connected to the Internet automatically. There is no such setting that I can find.

But just the other day, I did find a setting under the "File" menu that says "Go Offline". Once I select that, then (after a couple minutes, anyway) it seems to improve the functionality. What a pain. When I shut the program down and restart, I have to go offline again. But, at least for now, it seems to have resolved the issue.

Perhaps you've had the same problem and are looking for a solution. Perhaps you have a better solution than what I've just described. If so, please let me know by posting a comment here. Thanks.

And happy FTM'ing!


Jerry Patterson and the "Montana Gus"

Are you familiar with the movie Lonesome Dove?

Then you should also be familiar with the character Gus McCrae, played by actor Robert Duvall.

As pop-culture would have it, we Americans have adopted aspects from this movie into our own culture, such as the specific type of cowboy hat worn by McCrae. This particular hat is called a "Montana Gus".

Don't ask me why. It was news to me, too.

Just this week my cousin Jerry returned from his annual pilgrimage to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. You know... the Grand Tetons... spectacular, western landscapes... Lonesome Dove!

It's easy to see why Jerry loves to visit Jackson Hole each year. The following picture gives us a glimpse of the Grand Tetons in the background. But wait a minute! The mountains aren't the focus of this photographic masterpiece.

Behold! I present... Jerry Patterson in a self portrait demonstrating the "Montana Gus".

Jerry Patterson - Jackson Hole, WY - the "Montana Gus"

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lewis Patterson's Cemetery Located

First of all, I want to thank Vickie Moon from Augusta Co VA for finding the burial record of Lewis O. Patterson for me. I knew that Uncle Lewis lived and died in Cleveland, TN, but never knew where he was buried... until now.

Left to right: Jeff, Lump, Lew, Lishe, Em

Lewis Patterson was the older brother of Lije Patterson, my great-grandpa. Lewis was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery, and the "" record says "Plot: 12, Plot 494". I'm assuming this means row 12 and plot 494.

It also says his birth date was May 20, 1869 and his death date was March 22, 1959. I knew the years for both, but did not know the exact dates... until now.

Left to right: Elizabeth Akins Patterson (Lew's mother), Lew, other family members

I now know where 11 of the 12 children of Bill and Elizabeth Patterson are buried. The only one I don't know the final resting place is Mollie, wife of George Kelley. One day...


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Robert Patterson - 740 acres VA

Robert Patterson of Linville Creek, VA

The makeup of Robert Patterson’s land holdings in Augusta Co VA during the mid 18th century appears to have been sorted out at long last. For years, many researchers have attempted to sift the maize of records concerning the Robert Patterson who lived along Linville Creek, a few miles west or northwest of Harrisonburg, VA. This Robert Patterson migrated from Sussex Co DE to the Shenandoah Valley around 1738 while in his late 20's or early 30's. Eventually, he moved to York Co SC where he died in 1775.

"This Robert Patterson?" you might ask.

The first issue was to sort out the many Robert Pattersons who lived in old Augusta Co VA. There were two older, contemporary Robert Pattersons. It doesn’t help that both Roberts had sons and daughters by the same names (Thomas, Robert, Mary, etc), and even had dealings with neighbors and relatives by the same last names (Stewarts, Browns, Ralstons). Ultimately, it comes down to the specific location, and the individuals who lived THERE. This Robert Patterson was the only one of that name to live at the head of a branch of Linville Creek. In 1764, this Robert obtained a land patent for 265 acres on Linville Creek. This was the only land we knew of for many years... until recently.

Secondly, it has simply taken years to soak in all the records, such as land entries, patents, deeds, court records, etc. And not all deeds were recorded, throwing another monkey wrench into the works. A close friend and distant cousin, Harald Reksten, has worked tirelessly over the last few years scanning microfilm rolls for all these records in all related counties (Orange, Augusta, Rockingham). Without Harald's work, we'd still be stuck for sure.

And yet another issue is the fact that many land entries (first step leading to a land patent – the VA term for land grant) were listed with one number of acres, while the subsequent patent may have been for a different number of acres. Furthermore, the patent was not obtained in many cases for 20 or 30 years after the land entry.

Such were the cases with our 
Robert Patterson. Thankfully, he made his mark with an "R" - as opposed to an "X" - and that certainly has helped identify him in more than one case. It seems old Robert ended up with three separate tracts of land over the years he lived in VA. All were next to each other, and all were located on Linville Creek. There may be another record or two yet to find that can pinpoint specific dates of some of the transactions involving these three tracts, but enough details have been found to identify the tracts and the subsequent disposition of those lands.

The 740 Acre Man

Robert and his wife Sarah sold their Sussex Co DE land (106 acres) in March of 1738 as they prepared to follow their relatives and friends to the Shenandoah Valley of VA. Robert’s first land transaction on the new frontier was a Land Entry for 230 acres on 15 Nov (no year, but believed to be 1739), in Orange Co VA. Augusta Co had already been formed but did not have its own county seat until 1745, so most of the land transactions and court cases involving this region were still facilitated under the old Orange Co. For whatever reason, many of these presumed 1739 land entries were repeated between June of 1740 and June of 1741. Once again, Robert Patterson recorded a Land Entry for 230 acres in Orange Co VA, this time on 12 Nov 1740. I shall refer to this as “Tract 1”.

“Tract 2” was first recorded as a survey for 75 acres adjacent to Robert Patterson’s first tract. This survey was completed on 12 Feb 1755, and was described as being on the south side of his own land. More details on this tract momentarily.

“Tract 3” contained 400 acres originally patented to Robert Rolestone (Ralston). Ralston recorded his land entry in 1755, although his land patent wasn't recorded until 1768. We know from an 1825 deed, that this 400 acre tract was sold by Ralston to Robert Patterson, who in turn sold it to Henry Ewing and Robert Cravens (Jr) in 1774. So Robert Patterson bought the land no earlier than 1768 and then sold it by 1774.

Here's where it gets interesting. In 1781, a man by the name of John Brown recorded a deed for 75 acres (Tract 2 above) and was described as the "assignee of Robert Patterson". In other words, Robert Patterson assigned Tract 2 to John Brown, sometime before 1781. Since Patterson died in 1775, and moved to SC in the 1760's, we can safely assume it was in the 1760's when the assignment took place. More importantly, this 1781 deed described the 75 acres as being on the south side of Robert Patterson's "patent land".

Robert Patterson patented 265 acres on 27 June 1764. It was most likely around this time, or within a year or two, that Patterson assigned Tract 2 to Brown, as Patterson and others moved to what is now York Co SC. We also know that Patterson was living on the 75 acre tract according to the 1764 patent which said "adjacent to land Patterson already lives on."

It's interesting that when Tract 2 was surveyed in 1755 it did describe Robert's other land (Tract 1) being north of the 75 acres, but it wasn't refered to as "patent land", as in the 1781 John Brown deed. But that's because he didn't bother to get a patent for it until 1764. We also can deduce that Tract 1 "grew" from 230 acres to 265 acres in the 25 years that transpired between the Land Entry and the Land Patent. It was not uncommon for patents and grants to differ somewhat from the original Land Entry.

We know that Tract 2 was disposed of in the manner described as "assigned to", in this case, John Brown. We know this is our Robert Patterson since in 1758, he and John Brown, plus another man named Joseph Bryan, were the appraisers for the estate of Benjamin Copeland who had died a few years prior. In their appraisal record, Robert Patterson made his mark "R", while John Brown made his mark "J". Joseph Bryan signed his own name. So we see there was already some history between our Robert Patterson and John Brown. Some will find it interesting that the third appraiser, Joseph Bryan, was the father-in-law of the famous Daniel Boone.

We know that Tract 3 was sold in 1774 to Ewing and Cravens. My theory is that Robert's son, James Patterson, was living on Tract 3 for several years until 1774. In fact, in 1767, James Patterson was a chain carrier for Robert Cravens Jr in SC where the Patterson clan had moved (Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek). Turns out, Robert Cravens never lived in SC, but his brother William Cravens did, most likely on his brother's land. This was very near other relatives such as Thomas Patterson and Nathaniel Harrison. It seems that William Cravens and Thomas Patterson married sisters of said Harrison. It should also be noted that Nathaniel Harrison was one of the witnesses to old Robert Patterson's will in 1775 in York Co SC. Thomas Patterson was Robert's son (and my ancestor). And, Robert Cravens Jr was married to Esther Harrison, the niece of Robert Patterson.

Apparently some wheeling and dealing took place in 1773 and 1774. William Cravens and Thomas Patterson both moved back to Augusta Co VA in 1773 (based on deeds and court records in VA). Robert Cravens sold his SC land to James Patterson early in 1774, which was the same time that Robert Patterson sold his VA land (Tract 3) to Robert Cravens (and Henry Ewing). It appears to me that some sort of land swap occured, most likely. Unfortunately, Robert Patterson's son James died shortly after this 1774 deed, so the SC land sold by Cravens to James Patterson devolved to James' father, Robert Patterson. (kudos to Harald Reksten for finding the deeds reflecting this)

So what happened to Tract 1? The 265 acre patent was still in Patterson's possession at the time of his death in 1775. He left his "Virginia claims" to his sons Robert (Jr) and Peter. In 1787, Robert Jr and Peter Patterson sold Tract 1 to John Ewing Jr, son of Henry Ewing. Therefore the majority of Robert Patterson's land ended up in the Ewing family.

So it seems that 
Robert Patterson possessed a total of 740 acres on Linville Creek. Tract 1 was 265 acres, although entered in 1739/1740 as 230. Tract 2 was 75 acres, and Tract 3 was another 400. It should be noted that Robert Patterson lived on Tract 2 (75 acres) during the latter years of his stay in VA.


It appears that we now have a grasp of all the lands possessed by Robert Patterson of Linville Creek VA, as well as the disposition of those lands in later years. The same can be said for the land he possessed in DE prior to migrating to the Shenandoah. Perhaps one day we'll be so lucky in regards to his SC land.

Wes Patterson (with Harald Reksten)

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