Blog 2021 11 05 Don’t forget to apply history

As family researchers, we are also historians.  Have you looked closely and the history of the area as it might apply to your person(s) of interest when you cannot find certain documents?

In tracing the ancestry of a particular William Norman from Culpeper County Virginia, it is looking quite clear that he descends from one Isaac Norman.  The question is how?  Isaac and his family originally patented land in Spotsylvania County, he is later found in Orange County and then some of the family is in Culpeper with him and others are still in Orange.  However, there is no record of selling or buying land.  How can this be?

Because he never moved.  By going to’s research wiki, and putting in Virginia, Culpeper, we find that Culpeper was formed in 1748 from Orange County. [i] We then go to Orange County and find it was formed in 1734 from Spotsylvania. [ii] So this would explain how Isaac is in multiple counties without moving.  So, 14 years after carving Orange County from Spotsylvania, they carved Culpeper out of Orange.  What about the family?

By researching each child who procured land, we find who bought where and it might help see who was living in each area.  Now we can apply the fact that William claimed he was born in Culpeper in 1763 to the timeline and look specifically at those Norman’s in Culpeper at the time.  Does that help?

It can, instead of looking specifically for William’s parents, begin rebuilding each of the Norman families living in Culpeper to find all who had sons named William.  Then try to trace each William until you find the one you specifically researching.

But we have a great hint, he was a tobacco farmer.  That would narrow it down, shouldn’t it?

Unfortunately, no.  Isaac was a tobacco farmer and so were many descendants for several generations.

So, here we are, trying to rebuild each of the Norman families living in Culpeper in 1763.  We must also keep in mind that William may NOT have actually been born in Culpeper.  It is possible his family moved there while he was a small child and never realized he was born elsewhere.  But before worrying about that possibility.  Let’s work on all Norman families in the area first.