Thursday, October 7, 2010

Need Genealogy Help?

Through my genealogy research I've gained a new friend who is a distant relation as well. My Cousin Louise and I share my maternal grandfather's great grandmother.  I've written about this ancestor before. Her name was Elizabeth Jane Petty and she lived in Memphis during the Civil War and following. She died in 1867 in a cholera or typhoid epidemic, as did two of her young daughters. However, two other daughters and one son survived her.  Elizabeth's oldest daughter, Lucy Roxana (Roxie), was my Grandfather Harrison's grandmother. Her youngest daughter, Samuella (Sammie) is my distant cousin Louise's ancestor. Late edit: Ancestry now has a button that you press that tells you the relationship of that person to you. It turns out Elizabeth Jane Petty is my 3rd great grandmother.  Who knew?

Today my cousin Louise and I traveled to Essex County, Virginia to try to find some records for ancestors from the late 1600's.  It is amazing to think that in 1620, the Pilgrims barely carved out an existence in Plymouth Colony, but by 1660 an English settlement was thriving on the Rappahannock River in Virginia.

The area was immediately dedicated to tobacco, but by 1750, the land was exhausted from it. So the relatives we were looking for lived there between 1660 and 1750, when the first great migration out of that area occurred. It is also amazing to contemplate that immediately after arriving in this new land, the English institituted laws that protected land ownership. People recorded deeds to land, settled disputes over boundaries, built churches, and passed land on to their children through wills. It was so cool to walk on land in the little town of Tappahannock and realize that our ancestors from over 300 years ago walked these same paths. We strolled down to the river and saw some men fishing. It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.

We met very nice people at the courthouse -- researchers and clerks, and had a lovely time. The bonus was that we had expert help from a most unexpected source!

Otis, the Courthouse Cat --
he'll help you find the right page, but it's up to you to read around him!

Here Otis inspects Louise's bag to make sure she isn't trying to take any of those big books out of the courthouse!
Well . . .perhaps he was just looking for treats.


Catherine said...

Love doing family history research -- and I love the courthouse cat! How fun!

The Bug said...

The courthouse cat is a GREAT idea - I'm slightly allergic, but as long as I didn't pet him I'd be fine (annoys me no end - the only thing I like about cats is petting them).

You're going to get me hooked on this I'll bet. I wish my mother were still alive...

Mary said...

Genealogy is so interesting. Luckily I have family members who have already done the work on this side of the ocean!