A Rood

A rood is a unit of land area that usually is equal to 1/4 of an acre.

Do You Know What You Have?

Between Google searches, mindlessly surfing the internet, and websites that serve up results from numerous databases, it is easy to locate an image of a record and have no idea what that record is of.

It’s important that you find out and not assume.

There are several reasons, including:

  • citations can’t be made if you don’t know what the record is
  • you may have a cropped portion of the original image
  • the record may be just one page in a multi-page document
  • there may be other records generated as a part of the process that created the record you did find an image of

Ask your genealogy colleagues, genealogy society members, genealogy Facebook group members, etc. what the record is of if you don’t know. Not asking and assuming could end up creating a brick wall you never should have had in the first place.

Boundary Changes May Not Be Huge

Sometimes we assume that county boundary changes are during the “early” days of settlement in an area and involve large areas. That’s not always true. One of my ancestor’s property “changed counties” when the county boundary was moved from an arbitrary straight line between two points to a creek–which made it easier.

The amount of acreage was relatively small, but it was large enough to move my ancestor’s property to the neighboring county–simply because of the side of the river on which his farm was located.

Was It a Workaround?

In his early 19th century will, a Maryland ancestor appears to disinherit a daughter when he leaves everything to her two children and appoints a guardian for them.

The man writing the will might have not so much been disinheriting the daughter as he was avoiding a son-in-law. In the very early 1800s, when this will was written, a man would be able to exercise control over real property that his wife inherited. By leaving the real estate to his daughter’s children, and appointing a guardian, the testator was providing for the children while circumventing the son-in-law.

And you thought that only people today who had to use creative ways to get around things.

Working Off the Homestead

United States Homestead applications may mention off-farm employment like this one from the 1880s for a homestead in Dawson County, Nebraska does. Applicants were supposed to  be living on the homestead, but some did have off-farm employment.

What Happened to the Family Farm?

Thomas Chaney willed the “remainder” of his real and personal property to his son William in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, in the 1850s. That’s likely why there is no land deed for Thomas selling his property or for William acquiring his–the will served as the “deed.” Deeds for William should be referenced as they may indicate how Thomas acquired the property and provide a little more detail about the property acquisition.

Or they may not.

But I won’t know until I look.

1000 Places Does Not a Fact Guarantee

Just because you see a “fact” written in 1,000 places does not mean that it is true. Genealogical analysis can’t be covered in a short tip and we’re not going to try, but remember:

  • Different records that say the same thing may have had the same original “source” if Grandma Barbara was the one who always gave the information. Just because she repeated it over and over does not make it true.
  • 1,000 online trees that agree does not mean they are correct. It just means that they probably have the same original “source,” right or wrong.
Whether a written reference to a “fact” is “wrong or right,” depends upon our perceived reliability of the record and the informant.
Not how many times it’s been repeated.

Who Witnessed that Inventory?

Records won’t always describe the individuals involved, but sometimes they do. This 1799 inventory of an estate from Maryland indicates who the appraisers are (fairly typical). It also indicates that the inventory has been acknowledged by two men who are “Kindred” and two men who are creditors.

Appraisers can’t be relatives or creditors–so that’s a clue right there. The relationship to the kindred is not stated, but it is reasonable to conclude that they have an inheritance relationship in the estate. The creditors also have an interest in the estate.