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.

Seeking Cemeteries Without Tombstones

Written January 4, 2020. Updated 13 Feb 2021.

Many people today, assume that a cemetery in rural Virginia without tombstones must be a slave cemetery. But this is a misunderstanding. Most people could barely afford to feed their families and pay their mortgages. The cost of a tombstone could not even be a priority. It was not considered a practical use of money, which was scarce. At first glance, it might seem impossible to learn anything about field stones. I have learned much more about the people and the land with newer tools such as mapping on satellite images and adding GPS coordinates of cemeteries to that map. The majority of my ancestors in Mecklenburg County, Virginia did not have tombstones. Burials at churches (or with tombstones) did not happen for most of the people I know about there, before World War I. Tombstones were not very common in this areae until after World War II when the economy started improving. Tombstones were also often put up much later by descendants, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Daughters of the Revolution. I talked to Stephen Lambert Jr & Sr in August 2004 about the cemetery with Nellie Brooks and Frederick Jones. Lambert descendants knew which burial plot was Nellie’s and which was Frederick’s because of a drawing of the cemetery that used to be kept in the Family Bible. The tombstones were placed there about the early 1960’s, approximately 145 years after Frederick died.

Tombstone of Frederick Jones

When I first began visiting Mecklenburg, in January 2003, I printed every tombstone picture I took and put it in a photo album. Of course I was teased about that. But I wanted the few stones I found to be in a book, so that each time I visited, I could show my book to people and ask questions about the person with that tombstone. I wanted to know where they lived, who were they related to etc. Some relatives didn’t know a headstone had existed until they saw my book. When they last saw the cemetery as a young child, it was just field stones. Each visit to Mecklenburg, I asked everyone if they knew about family cemeteries. I also visited whatever cemeteries I could find marked on 1960’s USGS topographical maps. I have discovered many long forgotten cemeteries with a lot of help from people who live there.

The maroon colored upside down letter “T” is the symbol I use on my map for cemeteries. I thought the symbol looked closest to a tombstone. The churches are a marked by a cross, the same color if there’s a cemetery at the church. Most of the cemeteries I’ve visited are not visible from the road. Many cemeteries are in areas that haven’t been farmed for at least 20 years, so there are often many briars, small trees and brush to get through. I visit Mecklenburg more frequently in the winter to look for cemeteries.

This summer (2019), I went to a cemetery relatively close to old Robert Joyce, Kidd and Cannon lands. I took a picture with GPS coordinates (an app on my phone), typed those coordinates into the map, and saw that this cemetery is on land which used to belong to Samuel McKinney and Elizabeth Newman. I have no idea who is actually buried here, and I don’t know anyone who can tell me any old family stories about this land. But I can theorize, that it is highly likely the people who owned the land were buried on heir land at this time. There were fence posts and a fence still visible in some places.

These are 2 GPS pictures I took of this cemetery with what we estimate to be about 45 graves. Some places we could see head and foot markers for 6 burials in a row. I only found this cemetery because someone knew about it, knew I was asking about cemeteries and took me to see it. There were rocks (field stones) marking head and foot areas. Some land depressions. No names or carved information anywhere.

What can a cemetery without tombstones tell us? If there was a family of 12 children, but only 3 burials, I know I haven’t found the whole family yet. If for example, John B. Kidd had 7 parcels on his plat south of Nellie Jones Rd which he gave to his children, but I have only found cemeteries on 3 parcels then I expect to find cemeteries on the 4 other parcels. If I get a GPS coordinate and don’t know who used to live there pre-1900, then I start looking through deeds. If I hear about a cemetery of field stones, I want to see if any descendants possibly added tombstones. I have found mentions of cemeteries, in both deeds and chancery cases. Twice I’ve seen someone buried in the cemetery mentioned by name in the land record. One cemetery I’m currently searching for is mentioned in a deed, with an acre lot. That cemetery is larger than any of the family cemeteries I’ve visited before. I have only heard reference to one slave cemetery, because the man’s mother showed him where it was, to protect it. That’s another cemetery I hope to visit soon. If you know of any cemeteries, whether marked or unmarked, please let me know.

Two field stones

If you are looking for cemeteries in Brunswick County Virginia, check out this site