Monday, November 2, 2009

Methodology Monday with Basil Williams

"Perhaps more frequently and firmly than many genealogical sources, land records enable kinship determination." That's Nicki Peak Birch, CG, writing in her article, "Tracking Basil Williams of Maryland and Pennsylvania Through Changing Residences and Multiple Marriages," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 96:23-37, March 2008. Some members of the Great Lakes Chapter of APG discussed it a couple of weeks ago.

One of the article's basic questions is whether the Basil Williams of Frederick County and Anne Arundel counties in Maryland and Washington County in Pennsylvania are the same man. The answer is, yes and no. "Debt books" recording land in Maryland help show that there was only one Basil Williams there, but Revolutionary War pension files show that there were two Basils later. The argument is not simple, and it may get another workout in a discussion session at the spring Ohio Genealogical Society conference in Toledo.

In any case, Birch's message could use some repetition. I find county land offices (by whatever name) some of the easiest places to work -- they're used to people coming in and going about their business -- but rarely are my elbows jostled by fellow genealogists.

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