Historical Plots and Studies
Looking for your family plots of land can be interesting and fun. It is also not too easy to locate the place, and just how, old parcels of acreage were laid out back a century or two . . . or three ago. The first thing you need is, of course, the land description. You can find these at your local county court house or in Historical Society records. Then you'll need some clue to locate where in the county or township the land was. This can take a lot of study and comparisons between old maps and current maps. One technique we have used is to plot the property using LandPrints software, and then adjust it to the same scale as an available map. With a "cutout" of the land, we try to position it on the map so that it is consistent with certain landmarks mentioned in deed descriptions or other old documents, with rivers and their directions of flow, its north-south configuration and so on. This study resulted in finding the location of my great, great, great grandfather's property that he willed to his son William. You can see that Peter and Phillip got part of his land also. Notice that there are some errors in the deed description because the last course misses the "Point of Beginning" by a good distance. Also, the deed description was hand written and measurements were in "Perches" (the same as "rods", or equal to 16.5 feet). So the return error was about 125 feet.
To the right is an example of taking the plot above, scaling it to the map of interest, cutting it, and then trying to find just where it fits. In this case, there were enough marks and comments on the old document to position the property so that a road passed right through it. Also the names of neighbors helped locate its position. Its a little hard to see, but the names of two Arbogasts are mentioned on the map on either side of where we located the property. Comments about the "Chestnut Ridge" to the north of the property in the document shows consistency with the markings on the map.