Analysis Charting System
By Heather H. Doherty
all the information concerning the land of a particular surname in one
place can be helpful if you want to analyze that data without shuffling
through pages and pages of deeds, warrants/surveys, wills, Orphans'
Court and/or Chancery Court records. At the bottom of this page
is an example of the system I created for this purpose for the Hastings
surname of Sussex County, Delaware. The charting system is a
useful method of organization that enables you to more clearly see
connections between different sets of land data that may not have been
Description of Chart Headings
Date: date (or closest available date) of when the land
was transferred from one person to another, could be date of a deed, a
probated will or an Orphans' Court record.
the individual(s) who received the land on that date. They may have
purchased it in a deed, received it as part of an Orphans' Court
judgment or had it willed to them.
From: the individual(s)
who owned the land prior to the transfer on the date given.
Land: where the land was
located (e.g. Sussex County, DE) &/or the name of the tract of land
(e.g. "Kings Lott") if provided.
Neighbors: in the
description of the metes and bounds within the deed or Orphans' Court
records (or a description of the land in a will), they will often
mention people who owned land that bordered the land being described. I
refer to these individuals as "Neighbors" on the chart. Note:
Documents don't always list ALL neighbors of a tract of land.
Often, you will only see two or three neighbors in a deed, and
sometimes you won't see any listed at all.
about the land itself (e.g. who owned the land prior to the
grantor/deceased, landmarks such as roads or marked trees, whether land
was part of a larger tract, if information obtained from a warrant or
Acres: number of acres
that were being transferred on date given. Note: acreage is not
always supplied, sometimes there are even blanks on the page where it
was supposed to have been filled in, but wasn't.
Ref[erence]: the source
information (e.g. a deed's book & page, probate record, etc).
individual(s) who witnessed the document (e.g. will, deed, Orphans' Ct.
Notes: Anything else that
might be important that was not covered in any of the other categories
(e.g. amount paid, attorneys, if land was split up in court, if it was
part of a larger tract of land, if land sold was the "widow's third",
can modify these headings or change the order to suit your
preferences. What's important is getting all the information in
one place. In fact, since making this chart, I added another
column for the "Amount" of money the person may have paid for the land
in a deed. Sometimes the amount of money is important. For
example, if land was sold for $1, it was likely the grantor and grantee
If you're using deed abstract books (a reference book with transcribed
data from original deeds, usually published in the last few decades) to
find deeds that mention your ancestor's surname, it's even better than
if you just used the original deed index alone. The deed index
only lists grantors and grantees, but the deed abstract books have an
everyname index, so you can find deeds where your ancestor's surname
was mentioned as something other than the person who bought or sold the
land (e.g. witness, neighbor, previous owner, etc). The more data
you have for your surname the better.
making the chart, you will be better able to see if the land in one
record was the same as that described in another record. Once
making a determination, you can color-code the chart so that all those
parcels of land that were the same are highlighted with the same
color. Looking at the matched up deeds all at once can tell you
far more than each one can individually.
Although it may seem like there is a lot of data, your spreadsheet
software likely has a "find" function, whereas you can type in a word
and it will find all other mentions of that word.]
of Matched Up Deeds
- Deed #1: Date: 12 Feb 1810 - William Williams to Samuel Parker
acres on Rd
leading to Broad Creek, black oak tree marked with 5
Neighbors: John German &
- Deed #2: Date: 23 Jan 1824 - Elijah Parker to
son of Elijah
(no acres given) on Rd
leading to Broad Creek, black oak tree marked with 5
Neighbors: John German, Daniel Pascal &
- Deed #3: Date: 15 Nov 1848 - Jeremiah Parker to Parker Hanson
50 acres named "Williams Delight" on Rd leading to Broad Creek, black oak tree marked with 5
Neighbors: Widow German, Daniel Pascal, Thomas
What Can We Learn From These Deeds:
1) If the land was 50 acres in
1810 & 1848, it was likely 50 acres in 1824.
2) If the land was called "Williams
1824 and later, its possible it had the same name in 1810, but names of
tracts of land were subject to change. If you find a deed prior to 1810
concerning the same land, and it was called "Williams
then, it was likely called that in 1810 as well.
3) The Parkers could've changed
the name of the plot of land, but they didn't. "Williams
Delight" was owned by a Williams prior to the Parkers. The
Williams family was probably the one who named it "Williams Delight". Could
Williams be related to the Parkers? Was Williams a maiden name of
Samuel Parker's wife or mother. It would be a good idea to check
the marriage records for this possibility. Of course, it's also
possible they had no relation at all, but it doesn't hurt to check.
All three deeds described the land as being on the road leading to
Broad Creek, but that alone wouldn't be enough to match up these three
deeds, however, the black oak tree described as having 5 notches is far
more specific. There could've been several people who lived along
the road leading to Broad Creek, but far fewer had a black oak tree
with 5 notches on it that was also on the road leading to Broad Creek.
5) It's likely John German died
between 1824 and 1848 because "Widow German" was a neighbor instead of
John in 1848.
6) Robert Pascal likely either
died or moved away as Daniel Pascal replaced him as a neighbor in
1824. He's possibly a son of Robert.
7) Sarah Crofton and Widow
Crofton could have been the same person. It's possible one deed
provided her first name, while the other referred to her simply as
"widow". Widow Crofton possibly died or moved away prior to 1848
as Thomas Weston was a neighbor then and her name did not appear.
Thomas Weston could've married a daughter of Crofton or he could be
unrelated. Since they didn't always list ALL the neighbors,
Crofton still might have been a neighbor in 1848 while Thomas Weston
could've been a neighbor in 1824. Let's say you're descended from
Elijah Parker (father of Jeremiah), and you already know one of
Jeremiah's daughters married a Weston, but you didn't know which Weston
and there was no marriage record found. The neighbor would be a
good candidate. People
didn't move as far away from home as they do today. I've come
across several instances where a son/daughter married a next door
neighbor or got married and moved in next door. Note: Another reason to look at the
neighbors: they may show up as neighbors or witnesses on some other
document related to the Parker family.
8) Something happened between
1810 and 1824. In 1810, Samuel Parker had the land, and in 1824,
Elijah Parker was selling it. How did Elijah get the land?
First thing I would check is the probate record of Samuel Parker (if he
had one) to see if he had any children named Elijah. Other
records to check would be Orphans' Court & Chancery Court
records. Let's say you are descended from Elijah Parker, but
don't know who his parents were. Samuel would be a good candidate
to look into.
9) Who was "Parker"
Hanson? This land was in the Parker family for almost 40 years,
and people have been known to use surnames as first names for their
children, especially back then. Because his surname was "Hanson"
rather than "Parker", my first guess would be that he was a son of a
woman who was born a Parker. I'd check marriage records for any
female Parkers marrying a Hanson prior to 1827 (Parker Hanson had to
have been 21 yrs old in 1848 to have purchased land, and she likely
married prior to his birth). Perhaps you already know Jeremiah
Parker's daughter married a Hanson, "Parker Hanson" might have been a
child of that union.
of the Land Analysis Charting System