Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - use Arphax FREE Surname search engine

This week's Tuesday Tip is to:  use the FREE Arphax surname search engine to find early settlers with your selected surname on Federal Land plat maps. 

The Arphax Publishing website description is:

"Welcome to the home of two critically acclaimed book-series: the Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps series. Our books are published county by county, state by state, for original settlers whose purchases are indexed either in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database (www.glorecords.blm.gov/) or the Texas General Land Office database (www.glo.state.tx.us/archives/landgrant.html). These are one-of-a-kind, customized maps and books created by attorney, software engineer, and family historian, Gregory A. Boyd.

"For the first time, you can locate your ancestor's Federal or Texas land purchase by simply finding them in one of our indexes, which direct you to a map of first-land-owners. And now you can learn who your ancestors' neighbors were or the history of settlement in area of interest to you! The Family Maps and Texas Land Survey Maps books are a helpful visual reference tool that make your landowner and parcel-boundary research easier than ever."

These plat maps usually show the first owner of the land bought from or awarded by the Federal governement, or purchased in Texas.  They currently have 23 states covered.  Go to their home page to see if they have the state and county you are interested in.

How do you know that there is a family with your surname in a particular county or state?  You use their FREE surname search page (click on the "Info" button):

The FREE surname search box is in the top right corner of the screen above.  I entered "Seaver" in the search field and clicked on "Surname Search" and it gave me 11 matches:

These matches provide only the County, State and Title of the map book with the name on it.  The red "Go" button takes you to a page where you can buy the book.  Note that it doesn't tell you the name of the person on the map, or the range/township/section to look on the map, but it does provide you with a clue that someone by that surname was a first settler in that county and state.

What can you do with this information?  You have two choices: 

1)  Print it out, or save it to a file on your computer hard drive, and take it with you to a repository that has the Arphax books you need to see on the shelf.

2)  Buy the book, either as an individual or as a part of a local genealogical society.

This method doesn't work well for a common surname - there are over 500 entries for Smith, over 500 for Brown, over 500 for Johnson, etc.  However, for a fairly uncommon name like Seaver (11 matches), Vaux (2 matches), Carringer (0 matches), Auble (2 matches, it works pretty well.  Those are manageable numbers.  You never know what you will find!

My thanks to Barbara Renick for sharing this FREE surname search site at the CGSSD meeting on Saturday.

UPDATE 3/23:  Reader Connie Moretti  suggested:

"Because it is a list of first owners, and you've been led to the county, you can use that information at the Bureau of Land Management site and find all the "good" information.

"I love Arphax books but use http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/  all the time...."
Thank you, Connie!  I should have pointed that out.

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