Have you ever looked at something “a million times” and feel like you REALLY know it, but then see something you’ve never considered before when you look at it from a different angle?

I think that John M. Smith is the only ancestor that I have that I know EXACTLY where his land was located.  I don’t just mean which county he was in, but exactly where within the county! Kentucky is a “metes and bounds” state, so when I look at land deeds, I read about hickory trees and stakes with initials carved into them. It’s a real puzzle to put together.

But John M. Smith’s land was partially in Russell County and partially in Wayne County. And there was a creek running through it. And although the land was originally bounded by the Cumberland River (an Ash on the river bank), this river was dammed in 1952 and most of his land is now under Lake Cumberland. But I can still find the location of his land by looking at a map of the county BEFORE the dam was built.

Before the dam:



After the dam:


I can tell exactly where the land was due to the River, Beaver Creek and the county boundary line.

And in the last few weeks, I’ve discovered that John M. Smith can be found in the Wayne County tax records before Russell County was formed. I’m confident it’s the correct man because he is listed in a group with the families of his future sons-in-law during 2 years of taxes that are organized by military district. But he owned no land, so I’m stumped on how to find him before 1826 when the tax lists were alphabetical for the entire county. (Of course, there are multiple John Smiths…)

So last night, I was searching for Wayne County maps for my binder as I build up my Wayne County resources and I found an interesting map from 1914 showing oil deposits.

1914 Wayne County (Munn)

And as I was looking at John M. Smith’s area, for the first time, I noticed how close it was to Clinton County! How had a never noticed that before? Should I be looking in Clinton County as well? I am quite certain that I could find a John Smith in every county of Kentucky, so how would I know if I was looking at the correct man?

Not sure that I’m willing to take that route just yet, but I thought it was interesting to see how seeing a map from a Wayne County point of view instead of a Russell County point of view made me see something I’d never noticed before.

Update: Further research reveals that Clinton County was not formed until 1836 – after John M. had died.