Tuesday, May 4, 2010

28 April Program Summary - Myrna Goodwin on Land Records

Chula Vista Genealogical Society Member Myrna Goodwin was the speaker at the CVGS Program Meeting on 28 April at the South Chula Vista Library. There were 38 in attendance. Myrna's talk was "Find Your Roots: Dig Up the Dirt!! Researching Land Records." This review was written by CVGS Secretary Ann Stevens and published in the May edition of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter:

Who would have ever thought that hearing about land records could be so interesting?? And who would have ever thought that anyone could get so excited about this topic??

Well, one of our members, Myrna Goodwin, showed us that, while land records often get “no respect”, they can indeed be a valuable resource for us to examine . . . and after hearing Myrna’s presentation, we can all get excited about what we too can find when we “Dig Up the Dirt!”

Myrna began by giving a brief overview of all the information land records can yield: Land records have been around longer than the census has (going back to the early 1600’s); they are more frequently recorded than the census (the census being on a 10-year cycle); and they often provide information about where our ancestors were before they bought the land being recorded. Myrna also explained some of the basic land terms, but she encouraged us not to wait until we understood all the terms before jumping into the dirt to make our discoveries!

Once Myrna gave us the basics, she demonstrated why she is so enthusiastic about using the land records in her research. Similar to the show Who Do You Think You Are? , but without the budgetary constraints, Myrna took us on a virtual trip as she traced her ancestors back multiple generations, taking us to the properties they owned, to the homes in which they lived, and to the cemeteries where they currently reside. She showed us how she started by placing an ancestor in a specific place, and how, through land deeds and local maps, she discovered not only where they moved and who moved with them, but also where they were before and the families in the area. She also noted that frequently family members are listed in the land records, thus giving additional clues about married names, maiden names, and relatives in the area.

By the end of her talk, Myrna had all of us excited whenever she was able to go back another generation, simply by using the available land records often stowed away in those dusty courthouse basements. Needless to say that by the end of the meeting, thanks to Myrna’s enthusiastic presentation, we were all ready to get out there and look up the dirt surrounding our ancestors!

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