I’ve been mapping out (pre-1900) deeds and plats that I’ve that been finding over the past 15 years. I’m still seeking plats. Many of the plats I found are from chancery cases, where the parents died intestate and land is being divided between the heirs. I got a few plats from a plat book at the courthouse. Sometimes I go to Library of Virginia just to copy plats from chancery cases, for any people I can find in who lived in the area. The LVA chancery index notates if plats are included. Several of the plats that I found in chancery cases were the same as in the courthouse plat book, but with details that help me find a starting point to anchor the plat. I’ve also searched for plats in deeds but have not had as much success there. Any name I read about in land records gets a blue pin, with an annotation. Example “1862 Zack Jones corner hickory”. I uploaded plats into the map so they will pop up if you click on the outlined property. Annotations pop up as well, with notes I typed such as: acreage amount, date, and neighbors listed on the record. If a house or cemetery are mentioned, a house and cemetery pin are placed and marked as estimated, until we can locate and confirm it with GPS coordinates.
When I get a plat, I study it. I ask people who are related, and are locals if they know where the land described in the plat is. Then, when I can pinpoint something mentioned in the land description (Example: a creek, or a neighboring property listed that I know it’s location), I start drawing the plat onto the map, calculating and checking acreage. For a lot of properties, you can still see old property lines on the satellite base map view. If you are looking at my map (not this screen shot below), and click on this outline, then the above plat will pop up.
I’ve been asked about the colors I use on my maps, so here’s a little about that: I made the Cemetery icon the purplish-maroon upside down T which looks to me like an upright tombstone. Churches usually have cemeteries, so if they do, I mark them the same color with a cross symbol. If the plat marked is about Jones, I add an additional pin that’s orange. Purple for Thomas. Green for Kidd. Red for Walker. Burton gets yellow. Taylor, lime green. If it’s Jones & Walker, I would drop an orange and red pin on the property. The map screen shot image above, shows a parcel with green and purple which tells me a Thomas-Kidd marriage owned that parcel. A cemetery and 2 house are also marked on the screen shot above. The green house symbol next to the Hall Cemetery is a parcel where a house was mentioned that Miles Hall lived. The house marked there (white house below) is approximately 120 years old, so it was not there in 1862.
I knew an old house would have been on that parcel, so I asked around about it at the Hall Reunion in 2018. I was shown another old house, old enough to be there at the time of the 1862 plat, and after adding that house pin by it’s GPS coordinates I saw it was on Bartlette Kidd’s property; which I believe Miles Hall bought after his brother in law Bartlette died. The colors of the pins are really just to help me in the way I visualize things. How I try to track some of the family connections: large families, large land owners, lots of cousin marriages. All the pins are listed on the far left of the map with info. There obviously aren’t hundreds of colors to color code every family name. So if they aren’t these few family surnames I wanted to track, then I mark it with blue pins for now. This week, I just added a yellow envelope (the only color it came in) symbol for Tanner’s Store. The store was a post office in the 1850’s which would also notate areas on the Census.
This will be a long term ongoing project. I have a layer for pre-1830, then a second layer for 1840s to 1900. I also have a cemetery layer. This map is a vital part of my efforts in finding and documenting cemeteries. If you know where I can add any pins, (for any ethnicity or any surname) please let me know.
This project is being done with Google maps, under “My Maps“. If you would like to try to create a map for your research, here is a link with info about these newer mapping abilities, such as plotting, showing acreage and the measuring tool.
I have an Android phone and use the free, excellent app called “GPS Essentials” to get GPS pins for this map.