Yesterday, I started writing about how I have been mulling and pondering about what is in my genealogy toolkit. And I came up lacking on tools to help me understand documents as clusters.
I was looking at a petition that some of my ancestors had signed asking the SC General Assembly not to change the SC Constitution. By the way, that petition did not work out, the General Assembly was still all about nullification and states rights and changed the SC Constitution.
Twenty nine men signed this document. So how do I understand who they were? I’m going to start by relating them to one person, in this case Bird Martin, my 3rd great grandfather. Just something simple and just starting with my best guesses based on who I have in my tree:
And my first guesses to who these men are may be wrong. But I can now start to pull more evidence and wrap more thought around it. And it’s a place to start.
Any document with at least two people in it is a cluster. One is too lonely a cluster to consider. 🙂
Let’s take another example, a deed that includes Bird Martin and Jesse Blanton. Neither is a primary person in this deed. Bird is a witness; Jesse has neighboring land. But this document makes them a cluster, and Bird and Jesse are in the petition cluster so it is relevant. In 1846, John Wood sold land to Peter Sepaugh. I’m going to start creating summary pages for deeds and the like on my blog, such as South Carolina, York County – 1846 – John Wood to Peter Sepaugh
Who are all of the people in this deed and how do they relate to Bird?
And neither of these list is verified or something that I would bet my life on. It is a starting place for us to start learning about these people and their place in the community.
Next up, using census records to determine identity.
Sounds like you could use nvivo software to help with this
Interesting idea. I will check it out. Thanks for the tip
Anne, this is a really good example of cluster genealogy. Actually, it’s one of the better ones I’ve seen. I’m going to have to do this with some of my own ancestors, for their names are on petitions, too.
Thanks for a great idea!
Let me know what you come up with. I’m interested in any and every example