GRIP Day Three

This is a cross post which was originally posted on

Today was the third day of lectures, and (I’m sorry to say) I’m starting to get tired of sitting still for hours on end. I’m hearing the same from others, which makes me feel better; but (and every one I’ve talked to seems to be feeling the same about this too), the stiff knees and achy backs are worth it because the material is so interesting, and there’s so much learning going on.

I’m also starting to see camaraderie developing among students in the various classes (it’s even more pronounced in our small project groups). More and more, we are walking into the cafeteria alone and finding it easy to sit down at an almost full table, feel immediately welcomed, and effortlessly jump right into a friendly conversation. Unless its a conversation about the food 🙂

The grumblings about cafeteria food are getting louder and more frequent. The cereals are pretty safe, and the salad bar is pretty impressive, and the ice cream is EXCELLENT, but the hot entrees leave a lot to be desired. I was bummed this morning to discover that the only hot oatmeal was the instant kind you make from boiling water and a packet, because yesterday’s steel cut oats with brown sugar and raisins was very good. Tonight (Wednesday) is the only evening of the week with nothing scheduled after dinner, and a lot of people took the opportunity to go into the city, to visit a library or archive, or just go out for a decent meal. So, the cafeteria was a little like a morgue. Coincidentally, or maybe  consequently?, the entree was a “pretty awesome” meatloaf.

As for today’s topics in Advanced Land Records ( and that is the point of it all, right??), we covered:

Homestead Records (there are an estimated 93 million descendants of homesteaders (Act of 1862) living today!)

Tract Books (taught by Angela McGhie, who gave an excellent lecture, and is always fun to listen to)

U.S. Military Bounty Lands (my favorite)

Finding and Using Land Ownership Maps (should have been my favorite, but I was getting really tired at that point)

Military bounty lands are particularly interesting to me because a surprisingly high percentage of my recent clients have had ancestors whose migration west had to do with military service. We couldn’t cover a whole lot in 75 minutes, but Rick Sayre recommended Christine Rose’s book Military Bounty Lands, 1776 to 1855. I had looked at the book in Mia’s Books (who’s been set up in the gathering area outside the cafeteria all week) on Monday, and found it really interesting; but when I went back to buy a copy after class today, it was sold out. Fortunately, I was able to find it on, and there’s now a copy on its way to me 🙂

GRIP 2013 Midway through Advanced Land Records

My week at the Institute is going really well. Today’s topics included:

All About Deeds

Private Land Records

Using the BLM General Land Office website

Land Entry Files

Land records are like gold in genealogy research, and it’s exciting to be learning new skills to help locate those records. I’ve used the BLM website and databases before, but in sitting through Rick and Pam Sayre’s lectures on it, I’m discovering that things I’ve looked for there and couldn’t find, are actually quite easy to get to if you know what you’re doing 🙂

Last night I went to Michael Hait’s talk on “What is a reasonably exhaustive search?” The lecture hall was packed and Michael did a fabulous job. If you ever have a chance to hear him, jump at the opportunity because he’s a great teacher. You should check out Michael’s blog: Planting the Seeds

GRIP Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh

I’m at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, held at La Roche College, where I’m about to start a week long course in Advanced Land Research: Locating, Analyzing, Mapping. It’s being taught by Rick and Pam Sayre, who are two genealogy educators I really admire. I’m so excited to be here!

Things will get off to a great start tomorrow with:

Overview of Land Division in the US
State Land States
Federal Land Division
Land Division in Ohio & Other Unique Areas

I’m especially interested in delving deeper into land records because of my interest in house histories. Much of the land in Erie County was granted to pioneers, such as the Nicholsons, McKees, Reeds, and Grubbs, in the 1790s, when most of the land was controlled by the Pennsylvania Population Company. Deeds at the Erie County Courthouse date back to the 1820s, and  even earlier, original deeds, can be found in collections of family papers held at the Erie County Historical Society’s archives. One particular deed comes to mind, that of John Nicholson’s 1808 purchase of land along West Ridge Road, on which he built one of Erie’s first taverns. It is the original, vs a “true courthouse copy,” which makes it even more exciting 🙂

If you’re interested in following me along through the day, you can find updates at my twitter account: @mboxgenealogy