Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chester County PA revisited

YUP! OlMyrt made a mistake. It was a simple, easy-to-make mistake, but one that prevented me from finding all the results I’d like to share with a newbie Chester County, PA researcher. Such short-sightedness on my part also prevented me from learning about a newer book containing info on some of my major family lines in that locality. [sigh].

You’ll probably make the same mistake as well, one of these days, so this blog is about how to avoid it.

[I should mention parenthetically that I know better. Don’t know why I didn’t use my noggin the first time around.]

In the DearMYRTLE blog entry titled "Locating Chester County, PA will indexes" I used the example of searching by typing the text:

“Chester County Will” (without the quote marks)

Sure, I came up with some great book titles and posted them with links in that original blog, but I missed several resources, because the titles weren’t worded in the same manner as my search phrase. After all, a search engine is just a software program on a computer -- and it thinks logically not creatively or intuitively like people do. Hopefully, even Ol' Myrt here will begin thinking more creatively when it comes to using search engines of any type.

OlMyrt inadvertently narrowed her search by specifying a modifier of “Chester County”. I did it by adding the word “will” to my search criteria, i.e. "Chester County will".

Had I searched for the phrase “Chester County” (without the word "will") several overlooked books would have come to my attention to share in my blog with that fellow researcher.

Today, being careful to search using the broader term "Chester County" as the search criteria, I discovered that Heritage Books has indeed another title concerning Chester County wills. Publisher Craig Scott pointed this out in an email reply to my earlier posting.

Sure, one must click the “next” button to get past listings for Chester County in other states, but the benefit is seeing other titles offered by that would likely round out Chester County research, most notably:

  • History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches by J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope. Officially created by William Penn on November 25, 1682, along with Philadelphia and Bucks County, Chester County was one of the first established counties in the Pennsylvania Province. The first section of the book is a general history of the county dealing with such topics as: religion, education, agriculture, masons, mills, banks, judges, county officials, lawyers, doctors, etc. The second section of the book provides over three hundred pages of brief genealogical and biographical sketches of county residents. (1881), 2007, 8½x11, paper, index, 2 vols. plus CD, 1082 pp. $107.00 + shipping. F0206 ISBN: 0788402064. [I recall using an original copy of this book when researching on site in PA. It was quite bulky and heavy; and it contained clues about inter-relationships among several of my family lines, but I digress.]
  • Abstracts of Chester County, Pennsylvania, Land Records: Volume 1, 1681-1730 by Carol Bryant. One of the original three counties of Pennsylvania from which Lancaster (1729) and Delaware (1789) Counties were formed. Thus, these volumes cover a three-county area. Included are deeds, mortgages, bonds, leases/releases, and land patented in 1681 (recorded as deeds in 1688). Recorded dates begin in 1688 with apparent gaps in 1714 (only 2 entries) and 1715 (none). Numerous entries give clues to relationships and British origins. (1997), 2006, 5½x8½, paper, index, 272 pp. $23.50 + shipping. B0442 ISBN: 1585494429 [See also Vol 2-5)
  • First Families of Chester County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1 L0015 by John Pitts Launey. Introductory material includes data on who settled where and when in early Chester County, Pennsylvania; as well as information on early churches and meeting places. A wide variety of sources was used to create this volume of first families. Those families covered in this volume include the following: Allen, Baldwin, Bonsall, Green, Hibberd, Marshall, Mendenhall, Newlin, Palmer, Pyle, Roman, Sharpless, Townsend, Trimble and Vernon. (1999), 2003, 5½x8½, paper, index, 195 pp. $17.50 + shipping. L0015 ISBN: 1585490156
  • First Families of Chester County, Pennsylvania, Volume 2 by John Pitts Launey. This volume continues the series by providing data on who settled where and when in early Chester County, Pennsylvania; as well as information on early churches and meeting places. A wide variety of sources were used to create this volume of first families. Those families covered in this volume include the following: Ashbridge, Bail(e)y, Bennett, Cloud, Garrett, Gilpin, Harvey, Hollingsworth, Hoopes, Meredith, Painter, Peirce, Way, Woodward, and Yarnall. (2000), 2005, 5½x8½, paper, index, maps, 230 pp. $23.00 + shipping L0581 ISBN: 1585495816.

Now that last book I haven't heard about before and yet it contains info on the Hollingsworth, Hoopes, Wood(w)ard, Yarnall and Ashbridge families -- all familiar names in my research. Several were mentioned in my original bog -- but I missed them on the first overly-complicated "Chester County wills" search. Arrrgh!

OK, suppose that Chester County isn’t part of the title of a book. That is no problem, because the search engine at also looks at the description of each item.

But because I was too specific originally searching only for "Chester County wills" I totally missed a CD offering information about my friend’s ancestor, John Alexander. When I searched for "Chester County" this came up. Note the title is italicized.

I have Chester County Pennsylvania Welsh Quakers, and do not know if I would benefit from reading about Scottish or Scots/Irish immigrants to the area 66 years after the most recent arrival of my Welsh Quakers. My ancestors were still in the area when the Scots/Irish arrived. But I do know better than to make the mistake of saying I definitely don’t have any Scottish ancestors! Those are also famous last words for genealogists. Never say never, and all that, eh?

So, DearREADERS, this is a case of let's ALL improve on Ol' Myrt’s search techniques of last week, by typing in a variety of phrases for your search strings when doing any sort of web searches -- at or otherwise. Taking the time to do five or six searches rather than one might just bring a valuable tidbit of information to your computer desktop.

They say if you cannot spell the name Smith 20 different ways, you aren't trying hard enough.

We ARE looking for needles in haystacks, aren’t we?

To learn more about search techniques that work at most websites, see Google's page describing the basics of accomplishing advanced searches. For more indepth concepts see Advanced Search Tips.

And don't fret -- we all make mistakes. Fortunately we all get by with a little help from our friends. My thanks to for pointing out the additional Chester County, PA will book. And let this be a lesson -- that we should be talking about our family history research with others, since a fresh set of eyes can do wonders.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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