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Early Landowners of Pennsylvania

We ran into Dr. Sharon MacInnes and her husband, Angus, on the recent Caribbean cruise, as they are both are Legacy Family Tree users and took advantage of the opportunity to learn more.  (The 2006 cruise, an Inland Passage to Alaska, is September 6-13; book early as space should go quickly.)

The MacInneses have established a new firm, Ancestor Tracks (www.ancestortracks.com), to publish the land tracts of the earliest landowners of Pennsylvania.  Their first step was to introduce starting two years ago a new series of atlases called Early Landowners of Pennsylvania: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of *** County, PA.  So far, books have been completed for Washington and Fayette Counties and Greene County will be available shortly.  They are compiling data for their next one, which will cover Berks County.  They plan eventually to publish books of all counties in Pennsylvania for which such maps exist.

Starting in 1907, the Pennsylvania Land Office began to research the original surveys, locating them once and for all on the maps of current townships.  These maps show precise metes-and-bounds outlines of each original tract and all surrounding tracts in the township, giving the names of the warrantee and patentee; dates of the warrant, survey, and patent; and the patent book and page of the recorded patent.  Dates of the transactions range from the 1700s into the 1900s. 

Until now, these Township Warrantee Maps, located in the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg, have been underutilized because the thousands and thousands of names have never been indexed and the maps themselves are too large to work with easily.    Ancestor Tracks has solved those problems by compiling all information into 8 ½ X 11” books with everyname indexes. Each County book contains separate chapters for all townships in that county.  These include the Township Warrantee Map reduced to a 8 ½ X 11” and tables detailing all information from each tract, along with the coordinates where the tract may be found (see an example of a page from the Fayette County book at http://ancestortracks.com/Dunbar_pg1.htm).  Numerous footnotes for individual landowners and townships from published county histories have been added.

Armed with this kind of information, researchers now can:

o Pin families down to exact locations prior to the 1790 census
o Verify their ancestors by identifying settler groups who lived and moved near each other. 
o Identify migration trails of their families as they moved through Pennsylvania
o Determine the correct location of family wills, church records, deeds and orphans court records by knowing exactly where their families lived
o Plan a trip to the land of their ancestors so they can walk where they walked and feel their roots

Ancestor Tracks also publishes companion county CDs of scans of the Township Warrantee Maps which show far more detail than the 8 ½ X 11" reduced images in the books. 

The books and CDs can be ordered directly from the Ancestor Tracks website (www.ancestortracks.com