Thursday, September 5, 2013

Goldmine!

A few weeks ago a relative mentioned a plat book that shows the area where my ancestor lived at the time of the Indian attacks in 1757. It’s available from Masthof, he told me, for only $20. What a bargain! I noted the information and last week finally got around to ordering the book. Well, yesterday Early Amish Land Grants in Berks County, Pennsylvania arrived in the mail.

As soon as I opened the book, I immediately discovered an unexpected problem: There’s no key indicating directions and mileage. Grrrr! Who would neglect to add that essential data?! So I had to compare the maps to others I have to verify that the top of each of these maps is indeed north. Although that’s the usual case, you can run into trouble making those kinds of assumptions. Then I still had to do searches on mapquest to determine distances between various points, which, of course, are as the crow flies, not via the roads of the time. Helpfully, the book does include a few estimated distances between properties.

After clearing up a few details, I couldn’t be more thrilled! Not only does the book offer detailed plats of and information about the properties owned by members of the Northkill Amish congregation in the exact location and at the exact time of my story, but it also records known details about each of the landholders, such as the names of wives and children; dates of births, marriages, and deaths; and dates those of the first generation immigrated. Wow!

This is just a reminder of how a passing comment can lead you to a real goldmine if you’re paying attention. And most amazing is that I didn’t have to do any digging to find this book; it was right there on the Masthof site. Having this wealth of information will allow me to correct names and information about the members of the Northkill Amish congregation in the Northkill manuscript and make my ancestors’ story as accurate as it’s possible to be!

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