Census Comparison Worksheet

It has been some time since I posted about the Charles and Caroline Carson family of New Jersey. I needed to remind myself where I left off with respect to the census information I had collected thus far. I needed a form to see my census data at a glance. With only a bit of searching on Pinterest, I found a promising census comparison worksheet, posted by Jenny Lanctot who writes the “Are My Roots Showing?” genealogy blog.

census comparison worksheet from Jenny Lanctot, found on Pinterest

Jenny has graciously made her census comparison worksheet available for download at this link. Thank you, Jenny. I like this form, in that there is room to record information from up to five different census enumerations for one couple and up to fourteen of their children. It is similar to the way I have previously laid out census extractions in a table in Microsoft Word, but with more columns. More columns equals more data points for correlation, which is a very good thing when you are writing up your research with accepted genealogical standards in mind.

I downloaded her form and began doing the data entry in short order. It did not take me long to realize that I actually wanted to see a bit more detail than the form allowed for, so I began tweaking it just a bit. In the column on the left where the couple’s marriage information is recorded, I added a row to record the marriage officiant by name and role. I added an additional row below Twp. (for Township) to note a smaller jurisdiction, abbreviated as P.O. (for Post Office), since that level of detail is included on some census enumerations. Finally, on the main tab, I also added a row for the street address when known, as this is important for tracking our urban ancestors.

completed census comparison worksheet for the Carson family, 1850-1900The main table in my census comparison worksheet allows me to visualize 50 years of census data at a glance for one nuclear family (in this case, Charles and Caroline Carson of New Jersey). I have hidden the ribbon (using CTRL+F1 in Excel 2010) and the rows near the bottom for more siblings to make the completed worksheet easier to see in this screenshot.

In my example, I chose to only include United States Federal census information, but you could just as easily create a table that includes state census enumerations or non-population schedules such as agriculture or manufacturing. I also chose to input ages, birthplaces and occupations to improve the ability to compare across census years.

The biggest change I made was to include additional tabs in my workbook, one for each census year extracted on the main page of the form. I renamed each tab to correspond with the year, then I attached an image of the actual census page that I had previously downloaded. Lastly, I included a carefully crafted source citation so that I can simply copy and paste it into other documents or blog posts when needed.

census comparison worksheet with census image and citationI added more tabs in my workbook to include an image of the census page and a source citation, one tab for every census year on the main table. This image from the 1870 Federal census shows Caroline Carson living with an unidentified male named Lewis Rainier in Mercer County, New Jersey. We have yet to learn what relationship the two shared.

This is a time-consuming process, and one that I am unlikely to do for every family that I am researching, as I normally would simply extract the relevant census information into a note linked to a census “event” in my RootsMagic database. But, for those families that present brick wall problems, or for those families that I am writing about, it is a useful endeavor. If you have a genealogical problem you have worked on for years without a resolution, then I would recommend compiling your data in a format that allows you to visualize and correlate information differently, such as a census worksheet, a timeline or mind map.

RootsTech 2016 Syllabus Links

This is the second year that I have attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah virtually. Certainly it is not the same as being there in person with the many thousands of other like-minded genealogists. I am thankful nonetheless to have had the opportunity to live-stream several of the sessions today (yes, I took a vacation day to do so). Last year it seems that it was quite easy to find the presenter’s syllabus using the RootsTech app. This year it is a challenge.

The syllabus for each session is available in-app and via the “Roots Tech Class Syllabi” web page for a limited (unspecified) time, located at this link:
https://www.rootstech.org/About/syllabus?lang=eng.

rootstech-app-syllabi-page
The RootsTech 2016 App Class Syllabus screen

The challenge is that you need to know the session number to then find the correct link by drilling down. To learn the session number, you can search and filter on a variety of parameters at this link:

https://rootstech2016.smarteventscloud.com/connect/search.ww

rootstech-2016-search-page
RootsTech 2016 search page. Search by presenter or by keyword

To make this a bit easier for myself, I created a spreadsheet that included the session number, presenters names, session titles and links to the syllabus for about 20 sessions that I was particularly interested in.

If you’d like to download a copy of my Excel spreadsheet with selected sessions and links to the syllabus for each, click here. Hyperlinks are to the far right of the worksheet for each session where there is a syllabus available.

Even if you are #NotAtRootsTech, you can still enjoy some of what the conference has to offer from afar. I will be tuning in again tomorrow afternoon. A big Thank You to the sponsors of this wonderful event!

From Deed to Plat Map, Part 2

Creating a Plat Map from a Metes and Bounds Land Description: A New Jersey Example. Part 2 demonstrates the platting of a parcel using a free online tool

In part one of this two-part post, I created a call list, a stripped down extract of the lines in the 1847 deed that includes the compass points and distance. Armed with this information, I can begin drawing my land plat.

Although I own a copy of Deed Mapper by DirectLine Software, it was installed on my old desktop computer in another room in the home. I vaguely recalled that I had not yet installed the newer version, and didn’t know where the media was to install it on my laptop. So I decided to do an online search for other platting options. That is when I discovered Deed Platter. I am not sure how I overlooked this tool previously – it appears that it was released in 2004.

genealogytools-dot-net-website-deed-platterDeed Platter is a free utility available at the GenealogyTools.net website

Here is a portion of the Hammell to Carson deed with the first two line calls indicated.1847-hammell-to-carson-first-two-calls-indicated

Line call 1 reads: “…South twenty degrees East twenty nine chains and eighty three links…”
Line call 2 reads: “…South fifty four degrees and a half west ten chains and ten links…”

This information is highlighted in my line call worksheet, created in Microsoft Excel.

line-calls-hammell-carson-first-two-highlighted

The highlighted information from my call worksheet is shown in the Deed Platter form. The direction column in my worksheet needs to be broken down into three parts in order to be input into the form: direction, degrees and bearing.

deed-platter-data-entry-form-first-2-line-calls

Deed Platter shows the distance in poles by default. By using the drop down arrow, you can choose from a variety of distance measures, including rods, perches, arpents and Spanish varas. Fill in the bottom portion of the form to have that information included in your map (i.e. grantor, grantee, township, county, state and deed citation information).

This is what the first two calls look like platted using the Deed Platter software.

deed-platter-plat-map-of-first-two-line-calls

This plat map is far from complete but I wanted to demonstrate the process and not just the end result. Continuing working through the line calls, I end up with a Deed Platter table that looks like this:

genealogy-tools-deed-platter-9-calls-in-table

When I finished recording all the line calls from my worksheet into the Deed Platter table, I clicked the Plat Deed button to get a final plat map of the 1847 land purchased by Daniel Carson in East Windsor Twp., Mercer Co., New Jersey.

hammell-to-carson-1847-deed-plat-map

There is an additional table of information that can only be seen once the deed is platted that allows you to include markers and neighbors. I was unable to find a way to get that information to then be displayed on my map, though.

deed-platter-markers-neighbors-table

Markers and neighbors input into the table below the map are not displayed on the map itself. Click on image to enlarge.

Deed Platter is a great, free utility to plat a single parcel of land, but it is not without its shortcomings. Output capabilities appear to be limited to Save or Print, but may depend on which browser is used. With the Google Chrome browser, I was finally able to Print to a PDF file.

The real value in land platting is to place that land parcel somewhere on the globe, and to plat the entire neighborhood (some of whom may be kin), neither of which can be done with this software. I did not see any option to export my plat map for use in another mapping program.

Seeing the land platted definitely helps visualize a complex land description that otherwise just seems like an abstract concept. The Deed Platter software will certainly help you do that.

In summary, successful land platting is comprised of four steps, demonstrated in my two-part post.

1. Acquire a copy of the complete deed whenever possible
2. Transcribe the deed, making a full and complete copy
3. Extract the land description into a separate document that can be marked up
4. Plat the deed using platting software or by hand using paper, pencil and a protractor

If you think you’d rather tackle mapping manually, I can recommend several offline resources: Land & Property Research in the United States by E. Wade Hone (chapter 7) or How to Plot Land Surveys by Neal Otto Hively.