Friday, February 17, 2017

Platting Land in Pennsylvania, A State Land State

Since Pennsylvania is a state land state, the land was surveyed using metes and bounds rather than townships and ranges. This type of survey starts at a starting point which is a "bound" or some type of physical feature. Then, the survey gives a direction (such as north, south, east, or west) and the number of degrees (between 0 and 90) and then a distance. This is the "metes" part of the survey which includes a direction and a distance. At the end of that direction and distance, another "bound" is given.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book X, page 414 (close up), "Dorothea Kline & Al to Nicholas Kline.

For instance, let's take the 1781 Lancaster County indenture example I used earlier this week. The description of the land begins as follows: "Beginning at a white oak corner of David Beilor's land by the same south seven degrees and a half west ninety seven perches and a half of a perch to a stone..." In this example, the "white oak" where this land touches David Beilor's land is the first bound and it is also the starting point. From there, the surveyor turned 97.5 degrees south west and traveled 7.5 perches. This is the first "mete" and you would draw this line if you were platting the land. At the end of this distance, you would come across a stone.

Here's another example from the same document: " a stone, thence by the same north seventy degrees west one hundred & fifteen perches to a post thence by George Kline's land..." So, continuing from the stone, you would turn northwest 70 degrees and travel 115 perches to a post and you would be bordering George Kline's land.

But, what's a perch? A perch is just one type of measurement that the surveyors used. Here are several and their equivalents in feet and/or inches from the FamilySearch "Metes and Bounds" Wiki:

  • link: 7.92 inches
  • perch or pole: 16.5 feet (or 1/4 of a chain or 25 links)
  • rod: 16.5 feet
  • chain: 66 feet 4 rods (or 100 links)
  • furlong: 664 feet
After learning about how the survey was measured and written, I decided to try platting a survey for the first time. I was going to use the 1781 indenture I've been referencing, but one of the degree is missing! Perhaps I could eventually figure it out, but I decided to start with something easier.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has surveys available online. From the home page (, click on "land records" in the first column. From there, I scrolled down to "Images of all surveys." I chose several random surveys to plat, but I had my first success with "volume A-17" then "page A-17-105." This survey is for 100 acres of land granted to James Miller in Tyrone Township, Adams County, in 1745. The survey was done in 1809.

Deed Platter screenshot of data entered on genealogy tools
Using genealogy tools, I looked at the image (or you could use a description), chose a starting place, and entered the information. For the Miller survey, I started in the upper left corner and went around the image clockwise. So, my first "metes" was "S 33.5 E" and "79.5." I didn't know what units they used, but the shape comes out the same as long as you are consistent. I chose perches. 

Survey as drawn from data entered on genealogy tools

Although it's at a different angle, you can see that my plat is the same shape as the survey! From this site, you can also add title information along with marker such as the stone and white oak in my example from my 1781 indenture. You can also add the neighbors, such as John Stewart in this example. I believe there are other free, online platting tools, but this is the first one I found and tried successfully.

Using this example to plat a survey helped me to understand these descriptions which at first did not make a lot of sense to me.

Have you platted the land of your ancestors or their neighbors? What are some of the benefits? I'd love to hear! If you've written a post about it, please leave a link. Or you can leave a comment or email me at

Thursday, February 16, 2017

(Tip: Look at the front pages of FHL microfilms!) Finding My 3x Great Grandfather's German Baptismal Record

Evidence suggested that my great, great, great grandfather, Gunther Werther, was born in 1819 in Berka in present-day Germany. However, locating his baptism on an FHL film proved quite difficult. The film covered dozens of villages and included baptisms, marriages, and death records.

Yesterday, I returned to search the film for the second time. This time, I decided to start at the beginning. I saw a typed listing of what appeared to be villages. And, on the next few pages, I saw handwritten, numbered lists of what also appeared to be village names. Did one of these lists show the order the church registers appeared on the film?

The librarian suggested the handwritten list probably indicated the order the villages were shown on the film. We were fairly certain that the 11th entry on the second grouping appeared to be Berka. As I scrolled through the pages, each village church's records had a title page, but I was rarely able to read the name of the village. In fact, the first one I recognized was #7 on this list. And then, two churches later, I recognized #9. It looked like this list did, in fact, show the order of the churches on the film!

Kirchenbuchduplikat [church book duplicate], 1813-1846, Berka, page 1, item 2, Geboren und Getauft [born and baptized], record for August Gunther Werther; FamilySearch microfilm #1194309. [left side]
When I got to Berka, the first section was the baptisms. And, there on the first page, listed as the second baptism, was my ancestor: August Günther Werther! 

From past research, I was pretty sure the next column was the father's name, but the only word I could read was the second word of the second line: Werther. [If you haven't done German research before, you can probably see how difficult it is to read this old German script!]

A very exciting discovery was the next column which says something about the 8th of February, 1815. Could this possibly be his parent's wedding date? If so, could I find their marriage record!

Kirchenbuchduplikat [church book duplicate], 1813-1846, Berka, page 1, item 2, Geboren und Getauft m Jahre 1819 [born and baptized in the year 1819], record for August Gunther Werther; FamilySearch microfilm #1194309. [right side]

When I got home from the library, I posted the two images to the Genealogy Translations Facebook group. They are incredible! When I woke up this morning, I was thrilled to see two women had transcribed and translated this record. And, not only was the 1815 date his parent's wedding date, but the record also said he was their 3rd child. So, I also will be able to look for at least two siblings for Günther.

Here's the translation with a special thanks to Facebook volunteers Brigitte Eggerstedt and Monica Wuestefeld: 
  • Day and hour of birth: 17th May 1819 at 5 a.m.
  • Day and place of baptism: May 20, at home
  • Name of the baptized: August Gunther Werther
  • The father, whose status and residence: Johann Friedrich August Werther, resident here, [probably] farmer of a full-sized farm or horse groom of an estate
  • Marriage and number of children: 8th February 1815, 3rd child, first marriage
  • Mother, her origin and number of her children: Johanna Wilhelmine Friedericka born Hahn, 3rd child, first marriage
  • Witnesses of baptism: "Anspanner" August Gunther Bohnhardt
Are we related? Do you have any questions, comments, or corrections? I'd love to talk. Please leave a comment or email me at

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Researching the Neighbors Leads to the Discovery of a 1749 Land Warrant Application

After the death of Michael Kline in 1781, his son Nicholas paid 400 pounds to the other heirs—Nicholas' mother, Dorothea, along with his siblings and their spouses—for two tracts of his father's land. Although I've blogged about this 1781 indenture before, today I am looking at the adjoining neighbors who were listed in the description of the first piece of land: David Beilor, George Kline (possibly a brother of Michael's), Thomas Falkner, and John and Jacob Snavely.

[Note: The relevant part of this 1781 indenture is transcribed at the bottom of this post. Also, though I believe the document is about two pieces of land, only only one is described in the document.]

On Ancestry, I searched for David Beilor in Warwick, Pennsylvania. I did not state a county because Warwick Township was in Lancaster County in the 1700s, but is now in Chester County. The only document result was from the database "Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952" which looked promising.

Land Warrant Application, David Beiler & Michael Cline, record number 463, 15 February 1748/9; digital images, "Pennsylvania, Land Warrants & Applications, 1733-1952," ( : accessed 13 February 2017).

I was surprised to see the document, dated 1749, was for both "David Beiler & Michael Cline."   Now, I am now eager to find out more about David Beiler. Were Michael Kline and David Beiler related? Were they friends who moved their families to Warwick Township from someplace else? [Note: I will share more about the other side of this land warrant application soon.]

Similar searches for Thomas Falkner and John and Jacob Snavely did not give any promising results. George Kline, however, had a lot of results in Warwick and I will need to research him further.

Below is both the image and transcription of the relevant sections of this 1781 indenture with words written in bold for emphasis by me.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book X, page 414, "Dorothea Kline & Al to Nicholas Kline."
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book X, page 414, "Dorothea Kline & Al to Nicholas Kline."

...bargain sell alien remiss release confirm relinguish [sic] and forever quit claim unto
all that & those, two several tracts of land situate & being in the township of 
Warwick county of Lancaster & State aforesaid, the first whereof bounded & described 
as follows,  to wit, Beginning at a white oak corner of David Belior's land by the 
same south seven degrees and a half west ninety seven perches and a half of a perch 
to a stone, thence by the same north seventy degrees west one hundred & fifteen 
perches to a post thence by George Kline's land, south nineteen degrees west thir-
teen perches & three quarters of a perch to a post, thence by the same south west 
twenty three perches to a post thence by the same north fifty degrees west twenty 
two perches to a post, thence by the same north twenty two degrees east twenty 
perches & half a perch, thence by the same north seven perches to a post 
thence by the aforesaid David Bailor's land north eighty nine degrees west thirty 
nine perches to a post, thence by Thomas Falkner's land, south seven degrees & 
a half west seventy seven perches to a post, thence by John & Jacob Sneavly's [sic] land 
south eighty two degrees east one hundred & eighty eight perches to a small hickory, 
thence by land that was formerly vacant north seven degrees & a half east two hundred 
and thirty perches & a half of a perch to a white oak, thence north eighty 
two degrees west sixty five perches to a post, thence by George Kline's land south 
seven degrees and a half west seventy two perches & a half of a perch to a post, 
thence by said David Beilors land south seventy degrees and a half east sixty one 
perches to the Place of Beginning containing one hundred & six acres of land & 
the usual allowance of six acres P Ct for roads & highways,
       It being a part of a larger tract of one hundred & thirty seven acres 
& allowance of six P Ct granted to the above named Michael Kline deceased by a 
proprietary patent, bearing date the twenty sixth day of January in the year of 
our Lord one thousand seven hundred & forty nine as in & by the above recited pat-
ent recorded in the rolls office for the city & county of Philadelphia in patent 
Book A vol 17 page 386 bearing date the 14th day of November Anno Dom: 1753 
reference to the same being had may more fully & at large appear as also an 
undivided share of and in another tract of land held by warrant situate in Warwick 
Township aforesaid, adjoining the lands of John Simmon, be his share more or less 
than thirty five acres hereafter to be divided exclusive of any share of the meadow 
ground in thesaid [sic] tract.

Are you related to any of the people mentioned in this document? Do you have any questions or comments? Please leave a comment or email me at

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ordering FHL Microfilms 15-20 Years Ago

This week I started working on converting my (messy) craft room into a genealogy room/office. I have piles and piles of papers, notebooks, and books to sort through. It's kind of overwhelming, but I'm sure I'll make some neat discoveries that I'd forgotten!

Today I came across some old microfilm order slips from when I first started doing genealogy. Back then, we didn't order the microfilm online. We went to our local family history center and filled out an order card. Then we waited for notification that our film had arrived via snail mail.

The oldest card I found was from the year I started doing genealogy in 1998. Today, films cost $7.50, but back then they were only $3.25. It sure is nice to be able to order online!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"God is His Keeper, and It Was God's Will That He Go."

When my husband's grandmother was 16, her 7-year-old brother died from injuries after he was hit by a car. He was hit while crossing a highway on his way home from school. The newspaper account says that an officer had stopped to tell the children to face the traffic to safely cross the highway. Little Obel Jene ran from behind the police car and was hit by a car. His little body was then thrown into traffic coming from the other direction and he was hit a second time. Another motorist picked him up, but Obel Jene died before he reached the hospital.

Obel Jene Payton (1931-1938)
Son of Ben Payton (1887-1985) & Viola (Points) Payton (1888-1942)

On, I clipped an article about this accident several years ago. But, as I looked at the article again recently, I realized there were two other articles about this incident on the same page.

One short article speaks of the great faith Obel's mother had. The article reads: "I can not think of anything as comforting to any one in a time of sorrow as the words uttered by Mrs. Ben Payton; the mother who lost her baby so sudden and tragic, when she said 'God is his keeper, and it was God's will that he go.' How comforting that must be, not only for her, but for those who were responsible. There could not be a more comforting expression and hold so much grief and sorrow back of it. What a wonderful mother she must be."

The third article was an editorial about the safety of children crossing highways on their way to and from school. The author, John A. Woods, explains that some "Western states" have "school lanes" where yellow lines are painted to indicate where children should cross the highway. Signs indicating "Slow... School Crossing" are placed before this lane for approaching traffic to see. He said "if motorists are caught disregarding these crossing signs they are fined and their license revoked." He also explains that other children are appointed Junior Police to assist in the crossing of the highway.

He defends these precautions and says if they should "prevent one such accident as occurred last week on highway 62, would be well worth interrupting traffic for and I would like to believe that the little fellow whose life was snuffed out, did not die in vain for surely will make us all more cautious for children on the streets and highways."

Source: Obel Jene Payton Services Held Monday, Fort Gibson Independent, Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, 31 March 1938, page 1, column 3, digital image, ( accessed 7 February 2017. [The 2nd & 3rd articles are on the same page, but the first column.]

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What's a "Half Wagon?" (Dorothy's Will, Part 2)

Last week I shared about Dorothy/Dorothea Klein/Kline's "interesting will." I also shared about it at my local special interest group genealogy meeting on Friday. We all had some laughs, but a few things were pointed out to me.

What's a "half wagon?"

First of all, I shared how two of Dorothy's sons, Daniel and Nicholas, were each given a "half wagon." When I first read about this, I thought it must be a type of wagon. But, someone suggested to me that it was literally half a wagon. In other words, the two brothers were sharing a wagon. That made sense, so I shared on my blog and at my group about the two brothers sharing a wagon.

However, someone in our group spoke up and said a half wagon was actually a small wagon. Yikes! I needed to do more research. When I got home, I started the research and had a hard time finding anything. But, then I found an explanation on a webpage under "notes for General Marion Hooper." Regarding a half wagon, it explained:

General built several roads in Graham County and Tennessee with a shovel, axe, pick, and whatever tools he had. The roads were just wide enough for the wagon wheels to pass through trees and thickets. Once he had a horse and a half wagon made from pin oak. The half wagon was about half the size of a regular wagon and could go where regular wagons could not go. In 1897 several surveyors were surveying the mountain land and were stuck below the Hooper Bald with their supplies and equipment. General came upon them and used his yoke of oxen and his half wagon to haul their belongings to their camp site. He did the job in three trips.

So, it is likely the two brothers did not each inherit "half a wagon" that they had to share. Instead, they both inherited small half wagons.

P.S. Reader David Samuelsen posted a link which shows a photo of a half wagon—just scroll down to Nineteenth Century traps at this link. (Thanks, David!)

Five Pounds specie

I also discussed how three of the four granddaughters listed were receiving their five pounds "out of the money which their said father" was indebted to Dorothy, their deceased grandmother. However, I left off a word, because I didn't know what it meant. The will actually says each granddaughter will receive "Five Pounds specie." I kept thinking it meant "apiece" or each. But, someone in the meeting pointed out that the word is, in fact, specie, which is a type of money.

I just completed a little research about specie. Wikipedia explains that there were "three general types of money in the colonies of British America: specie (coins), paper money and commodity money." It also states that "cash in the colonies was denominated in pounds, shillings, and pence."

In light of this explanation, I believe the girls were each inheriting an amount of five pounds, and the five pounds was in coin, or specie, form. Do you agree? Am I still not understanding correctly?

No one had a good explanation about the money being out of the money "indebted to" Dorothy by her sons who were the girls' fathers. How were the girls expected to receive their five pounds? I still don't understand.

Dorothy to Her Namesakes

The last part of the will I discussed was about Dorothy primarily giving inheritance to her granddaughters who were named Dorothy or Dorothea. Three of the four girls listed were named Dorothy. I also have another will where a woman named Catharine only gave inheritance to her granddaughters who bore her name. I think this is a very odd practice, and I asked if anyone knew anything about it.

One person spoke up about German naming patterns, and yes, this family was German. But, although I understand she would have granddaughters named Dorothy, why would she primarily leave an inheritance to only them?

Another person suggested that Dorothea was likely the sponsor of these grandchildren named Dorothea/Dorothy, and would act as a godparent. It would make sense that, even in death, Dorothy would continue to take care of her godchildren. However, I have information on the baptism of Nicholaus' daughter, Dorothy, and her sponsors were did no include her grandmother. Instead, she was sponsored by William and Dorthea Gesell. So, it seems likely she was not named after her grandmother, but instead was named for Dorthea Gesell.

Have you had experience with a woman "only" (or mostly) leaving inheritance to her namesake? Do you know any background about this practice? Please leave a comment or email me at


Will of Dorothy Klein of Warwick Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, signed 27 June 1794, proved 14 September 1799, provided by Lititz, Pennsylvania Public Library, 3 pages. [All images on this post are from this will.]