New site features: behind the scenes

I hope you find these new features helpful. I also hope they will help you more quickly spot a person you are interested in.

I have manually created an index for this site.

Click on that link and you will see the letters of the alphabet, then list of surnames for that letter. If for example you wanted to find Theresa India Dortch who was married to Alginon Gray, you would first click on “D”. The “D” page will show available surnames beginning with the letter “D.” Click on “Dortch”. The same for Gray. I have tried to put all the same entries for Teresa under Dortch and Gray index pages. But I don’t always know women’s married names. So because of that and human error on my part, please check women under all surnames you might know they used. If you see that I don’t have someone under their married name, please send me an update. I’m updating this index every Sunday with each new post, picture, cemetery notes and everything I can think to label with a name, -it all goes under this surname index.

I have reformatted my map. There is now a cemetery layer, an early 1800s layer & the rest. (about 1840 to abut 1900). Under the cemetery tab I have just the cemetery layer showing in the map.

I am in the early stages of adding cemeteries. I have several partially formatted cemetery posts. I’m trying to look up old notes I made during previous visits to finish out the posts. I also welcome submissions and hope this can be a collaborative effort. I’m planning to post what I saw or heard about the cemetery, with info from the tombstones in a PDF which can be downloaded.

Walter Jones is my first cemetery example. Much more coming soon.

My goal is to post once a week, Mondays at 10:00AM. I posted 3 times a week during May because I had a lot of submissions. I’ve gotten more veterans post submissions, so I’ll continue to post those. Even though it is past the May spotlights, I still want to post whatever is submitted to the site. I will also do brief posts whenever cemeteries are uploaded. Like “Cole cemetery has just posted, click here”. (That is the next cemetery about to post.) [update, now posted:]

Colors! I have neuro-vision problems, which can prevent me from looking at the computer several days at a time. That is why I’m working hard to write and “schedule posts” several weeks in advance, to try to be more consistent in posting. Two of my grandmothers (and other relatives) have macular degeneration. So I wanted to try a few things to be more visual friendly: I use bold and high contrast where I can, simple letter font, and colors! Note: I noticed when checking a post on an older smart phone, some mobile friendly posts don’t show these colored blocks.

Update to post: I’m updating from the site pre-formatted colors to some custom colors that are more vision friendly. Also re-formatting names and dividers in the index to make it easier to see in between people, charts etc.

About Julie’s mapping project, can you help?

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.

Dower piece of Betsey Rainey, the wife John B Kidd

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.

Miles Hall House, by Hall Cemetery.
Oct 2007: Hall House by Hall Cemetery (tree far right of image)

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.

Website info: This map is kept on this web page under the menu tab “GPS Collaborative map”, permalink: