Monday, August 31, 2015

I have a new toy!

One of the things I am doing for my James Simmons brick wall is figuring out who his neighbors were when he first came to Mississippi.  Since I can’t follow James back to South Carolina (too many James Simmons’ there) I am going to try and follow his neighbors back in time to see if I can find where they came from.  Once I do that, I can cross check to see if any of the South Carolina James Simmons’ happened to be neighbors with these other families. People tended to migrate in groups.

Mississippi is a Public Lands state so plotting out land plats is super easy (unlike the evil Metes and Bounds system, don’t get me started on that).  The Public Land records are on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website.

The patents and warrants on this website show you the first/original owners.  They bought or received land directly from the federal government.  If the original owner then sold his piece that would be recorded in the county courthouse as a deed.  When you plot out the owners you find on this website that is an important thing to understand.  It just so happens that James came to the Mississippi Territory soon after it was opened for settlement so he does have several land patents. 

The way I have been plotting these is by using graph paper of sorts. Here is the template I use.


It works well but it is BORING!  My friend Jenny Lanctot (who has now been promoted to my best friend EVER) showed me a nifty little trick that I did not know about.  You can download the original township/range survey and then plot your parcels on that.  For example, you can see that the township/range I am working on is 5N11W.  Here is what it looks like if you download the map of this township/range from the BLM.



Using these maps to plot the parcels makes it look so much cooler.  The other advantage is that you can see the waterways!  This tells you so much more about your ancestor’s land.  It doesn’t have anything at all to do with the dilemma I am working on but it is still information that I want to know. 

To find the map do a search for your ancestor on the BLM website.  Click his Accession number in the search list.  Now go to the Related Documents tab and click Surveys.  You will see an icon that says “Plat Image” click that. If you have the QuickTime plugin you will see it on your screen, if not, click Basic Viewer to see it.  You will also see three ways to download, PDF, JP2 and SID.

I am going to download the township/ranges for James (he had property in four) and I am also going to download the surrounding township/ranges since James’ property was right on the border.  I am going to re-plot the parcels.  I don’t mind, it will be a double check that I didn’t make any mistakes.

You can easily do searches for individual sections as well as complete township/ranges on the BLM website.  I will download the names and land descriptions one section at a time. 

The grid is a little smaller which means I am going to have to write tinier.  Jenny told me to make sure I have a sharp pencil.

Public Land Survey System
Metes and Bounds


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What’s up

1) I finally have my Glaentzer One-Name Study posted online. I still have about 100 more births to enter and then I will have all of the German BMD index information entered.  I am sure I have a few duplicates so as soon as I am done with the births I will be looking for any dups.  The website still needs a lot of work but at least I have it up and running.  I still have a long list of record sets to enter but I wanted to get the German BMDs entered first since they are the most important.  I want to thank my friend Christina who is also a Glaentzer/Gläntzer researcher and her help has been invaluable.

2) Legacy has a new Facebook page that has kept me VERY busy.  If you are a Legacy user I encourage you to join.  We already have over 3600 members.  The list is monitored by some of the Legacy staff but it is set up to be a place where users can interact with other users with occasional input from us.  I have been posting quite a bit just to get the group off to a good start.  The nice thing about a Facebook group page is that you can post screenshots. You can see it here: Legacy User Group Facebook Page.

3) I have scaled down my outside genealogical endeavors quite a bit because I have a grandbaby on the way but I still have a pretty full calendar.  I am still lecturing and have quite a few lined up through next July.

4) I will be mentoring a new GenProof Study group starting on 14 Sep 2015.  I am looking forward to it because I had such a great time with the last group.  If you are interested, you can read about it HERE.  There is a link to sign up on that page.  My groups are 8 weeks long and are pretty fast paced.  If you are just beginning to use the Genealogical Proof Standard you might opt for one of the 16 week groups.

5) I am also working on my nemesis brick wall, James Simmons of South Carolina.  I had put James aside for a long time because I was so frustrated with him. If you follow me on Facebook you will know that I recently posted that South Carolina is my least favorite state to do research in and James Simmons would be why.  I am planning a trip to the South Carolina State Archives, the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Historical Society.  I am in the process of going back over everything I have and getting it organized.  I am updating my Research Log so that I have a clear plan of action before I make the trip to Columbia. I want to thank Janis Walker Gilmore for her NGS Research Guide in the the States Series: South Carolina because there was some very useful information in there that I think will help me on my trip.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, August 3, 2015

Why I have been offline

I thought I would explain why I have been taking some time off.  I am working on my One-Name Study because I will be publishing it online soon.  The Guild of One-Name Studies has a pilot project going on where they are hosting web space for One-Name Studies.  I have approximately 800 more vital events I want to get entered into my file and then do a little cleanup before I upload my gedcom.  It takes me approximately 5 minutes to 15 minutes to enter one vital event depending if the person and his parents/spouse are already in my file.  I am also having to learn TNG so that I get a nice looking website.

I will give you the URL of my study as soon as I get it uploaded and I will probably do a blog on the differences between doing “normal” research and doing a One-Name Study.  There are some different research techniques and priorities.

I will write some blog posts soon but since my brain is pretty occupied at the moment I need y’all to send me a few ideas to get me started.  You can email me at


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis