Friday, April 26, 2013

AGS Conference Lesson: Plot those land records for value-added genealogical evidence!

I attended the Alberta Genealogical Society’s 2013 conference last weekend, and am I ever happy I did.  Lyn Meehan’s session entitled Country Cousins: Ancestors on the Land really helped drive home the need to not just print off those pretty Land Patent certificates from the Bureau of Land Management, or Homestead files, or deeds, etc., but to map out the land associated with your ancestor and the folks you want to be able to link to him or her.  This would be in addition to tracking the purchase and sale of each unit of land on a spreadsheet (I can’t remember where I read this, and a non-exhaustive search online did not pull it up, but this is a really good idea, too).  

My sister, Nadine, and I have been working on associating our ancestor, Joseph C Beal (1810-1889)  to Joseph Beal (1782-1877), the man we believe was his father.  Our first evidence of the relationship between Joseph C and Joseph Beal comes from the Joseph Beal and His Wife Elizabeth, a genealogy which Joseph Beal collected and wrote before he died, and which was edited and updated by his grandson, Professor William James Beal, in 1910.  William James Beal, the editor, was the son of William, Joseph Beal's eldest son (page 38).  This document is freely available on

According to Professor Beal, Joseph Beal (1782-1877) and his wife Elizabeth Claghorn (1784-1831) had 9 children, all born in Perinton, NY: William (1806-1872), Martha (1808-1894), Joseph C. (1810-1889), Lucretia (1812-1867), Elizabeth (1815-1899), Leah (1817-1894), Porter (1819-1902), Caroline (1821-1895), and Mary Jane (1824-1876) (Beal, WJ; page 34).  The Professor also indicates that in 1830 Joseph moved with his wife and seven little children to live with his son William in Adrian, Lenawee County, MI (page 7).  I can’t be certain, but the seven youngest in the Beal family were the children: Joseph C. through Mary Jane.    

Let's face it, I have been a naughty family historian, grabbing every document that was, or could be, associated with this 3X Great Grandfather: Joseph C Beal.  Not even taking a break to analyze these documents and the evidence they contain.  The patent above is one of those documents.

After returning from the AGS conference I was really excited to try these techniques out on some of these records I've been collecting.

First, I ran a quick search of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) records at for any land obtained in Michigan by a Joseph Beal.  The results are below:

The blue highlighted parcels were obtained by Joseph Beal (father), and green highlighted parcels were purchased by Joseph C Beal (son).

I know that document #71159 is for Joseph Beal’s land warrant obtained as a result of his service during the war of 1812, as per the copy of his bounty application which is available on Fold3 ($).  The Joseph Beal genealogy indicates that Joseph Beal and his son Porter settled in the SW1/4 of the W1/4 [sic] of Section 10(page 13).  I will need to follow up on that parcel, as they did not obtain the original patent for that piece of land, so it is not listed on the BLM site.

What strikes me as very interesting is the fact that Joseph C Beal and Joseph Beal purchased land in 3 different sections of Township 6S, Range 1E on the same day, October 15, 1835.  I don’t think that can be a coincidence.  And once you compare the land locations on the map, one realizes how closely related they were.

Also of note on this list is patent #1025 because that exact parcel of land was later sold by Joseph C Beal and his wife Gulielma M. Beal to Joseph C's younger brother, Porter Beal, on March 13, 1853.  This was recorded in the Lenawee Co. Deed Book, #36, on page 490.  I made a copy of this from the Family History Library's microfilm #2,208,275 (Deed Records, 1827-1920, 1940-1941; Lenawee County Michigan, Recorder of Deeds).

Next, to be able to compare the location of these parcels I searched for maps of the Townships/Counties listed so that I could map the property obtained by Joseph C Beal.  I found a map for Rollin Township in Lenawee County online in U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 at ($).  

Then, I selected one of the patents listed for Joseph C Beal, #1024 for the East 1/2 of the Northeast ¼ of section 9 in Township 6 South, Range 1 East of the Michigan-Toledo Strip meridian, as seen above.  One more lesson from Lyn – the signature for President Andrew Jackson is not actually his, but was signed on his behalf.  Apparently, the president didn’t just sit around waiting to sign these land patents! 

A final tip from Lyn’s session: click on the “Related Documents” tab, next to the “Patent Image” tab.  Selecting this tab brings up a list of the other land units held within the same section as the unit held by your ancestor.   

Therefore, my next step was to select the “Related Documents” tab for Joseph C Beal’s patent #1024, and as we can see - below - this had some lovely information.  Although not highlighted for our purposes today, even Erastus Aldrich has an association, as his moving in to Section 9 is mentioned in the Joseph Beal Genealogy (page 13), and Hiram Aldrich's marriage in William Beal's home is mentioned on page 14.

Even more interesting – Joseph’s wife, Gulielma, also purchased a parcel of closely related property on exactly the same day as Joseph C and his father, Joseph – October 15, 1835!  The pink highlighted section was Gulielma's purchase, and the red highlighted sections were purchases made by Joseph C Beal's older brother, William.  William bought his parcels a few days earlier than his father, brother and sister-in-law: October 6th and 9th.  Still quite close in time!

Next, I searched the sections around Section 9, Twp 6S, Rge 1E, and came across a few more related folks.  Here is Section 15:

The yellow highlighted individual is Joseph Pennington, and according to the Joseph Beal genealogy he was the father of Gulielma M. Beal  (page 39) and hence Joseph C. Beal’s father-in-law.   Yet more astonishing associations.

I then plotted these ‘related’ land patents on the map.  Here is a spreadsheet version of the map to illustrate how closely related these parcels of land really were:

I am definitely going to have to do this for all my ancestors, all their land, and all their associates!  Such a valuable lesson - thanks to Alberta Genealogical Society and thank you to Lyn Meehan!

Copyright 2013 Denise G Baker, All Rights Reserved
- AGS Conference 2013, Edmonton, AB.
- Beal, William J.  Genealogy of Joseph Beal and Elizabeth (Cleghorn) Beal of Perinton, Monroe County, New York and Rollin, Lenawee County, Michigan with an account of pioneer life.  1910.  Accessed 26 Apr 2013.
- Federal Land Patent for Joseph C Beal. Patent #1024.  Bureau of Land Management.  2013.  Accessed 26 Apr 2013.
- Meehan, Lyn.  Country Cousins: Ancestors on the Land.  AGS Conference 2013.  
- Pension file for Joseph Beal.  War of 1812 Pension Files, online database,  Accessed 26 Apr 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment