I was able to spend significant time on genealogy research this weekend, so I picked up my Stephens file, but couldn’t think of a new path of attack for my line. So I thought I’d spend some time trying to figure out why William Stephens spent many years in Alabama. As I’ve researched William’s father, Welcome, I could see no reason why William would be in Alabama. I thought it must have something to do with William’s wife, Dorothy Wigginton, who I have done zero research on.
I went to Ancestry to see if I could find Wiggintons near William’s family in the Alabama census records. How could I have never noticed that there was a Wigginton family living next door? And another Wigginton further down the page? I think I’ve been so focused on the Stephens surname and trying to find where they were in 1870 that I never took the time to look around. Rookie mistake! As I began to research these Wiggintons, I found that Ancestry has some very nice plat maps for the area. And that was the beginning of HOURS of researching land records! On Ancestry, I was able to get plat maps and land grant certificates. That reminded me to look at the BLM-GLO web site which helped me decipher that writing on the plat maps and helped me find some additional parcels of land that I hadn’t noticed before.
I was trying to find a map of the entire county with plat lines on it when I came across a GREAT site by the Alabama Secretary of State. The Government Records Inquiry System gives access to great scans of the Tract Books showing everyone who received a land grant within a specific township and range. It was a much easier way to see who the neighbors were than trying to read the tiny writing on the plat map! The site also has books of Field Notes, Land Patents, Deeds and Leases and lots of other books that I have not had time to look at.
This week-end (and today because we had a snow storm that cancelled school) was all about information gathering, and the days ahead will be spent analyzing! I’ve had issues in the past with finding records for 2 different men named William Stephens in the area, so I’m hoping that these records will help me to sort these men out!