On the recent Salt Lake Christmas Tour, I had the chance to consult a few times with a very knowledgeable woman trying to identify her ancestor’s associates in Augusta County, Virginia prior to 1790. This was no small task. She needed this original cluster of people so she could see who was from Ulster and if her ancestor may have known them there. However, she needed to first move the pack from Augusta County back into some unknown county in Pennsylvania. Remember, this is frontier and very dangerous. Families did not travel alone.
It was in Pennsylvania, she was most likely to identify the original group from Ulster. So we put our heads together and began brainstorming what we could use to reconstruct her ancestor’s neighborhood and associates from Virginia to Pennsylvania.
We came up with land records. Whose land did her ancestor’s land adjoin in Augusta County? That is accomplished by studying the county deeds. Court cases were discovered. With whom was her ancestor involved in court cases? That could help. Then I looked at the published tax lists and realized that the years we needed were divided by district. This in effect divided the county by geographic areas, preserving the theoretical “neighborhood” in which her ancestor lived.
Our solution for her continued efforts was to see where her surname was found in Pennsylvania in the land grant and published tax lists. Then those lists were compared with the residents being taxed in her ancestor’s Augusta County, Virginia tax district. During that time period, was there a common pattern of people coming into Augusta County, Virginia from a particular county in Pennsylvania? That would solve the Virginia to Pennsylvania part of the research.
Once the Pennsylvania county was identified, then she would have townships in which to work. That would automatically help identify her ancestors “neighborhood” and theoretical associates from Ulster geographically within the county. Then she would start the entire process over again. However, this time looking for the original cluster of families who arrived from Ulster along with her ancestor. To identify where some of the group came from would in effect identify from where her ancestor hailed. That’s a good day in frontier American research!
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