Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Search: Land

The photo above is the barn on the original homestead for the Teaford family on Kerr's Creek, Virginia.  
Land is an important part of family history. It gives us the connection to previous generations, decades, centuries, and sometimes millennia after the lives of our ancestors. Knowing where we come from and finding those roots has always been something that has been of particular interest to me. This is part of what has driven me in recent years to find that land of our own where my wife and I can raise our family… and actual place, a piece of this earth, that we own. This was also important to the first generation of my family in the late 18th century.

From Nellie Teaford Wood’s book which is included on the family website:

In 1780 Jacob Düfford bought his first farm in Augusta County at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain, a small round hill on property now part of Silverbrook Farms. With his wife Christenah and six children he came from Shenandoah County, where he had resided since 1774 on land in the Fairfax Grant.

Düfford had arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Hero on 27 October 1764, but his origin has eluded researchers. That he spoke and read and wrote German is established by his signatures in Philadelphia and in October 1792 in Virginia. He joined 193 residents in petitioning the Virginia General Assembly, citing their unacquaintance with the English "language" to publish laws in German so that "they may more cheerfully comply" because they have "always contributed their part of the support of government."

Virginia State claims show that he, along with other "Augusta Germans," did his part by furnishing flour for the Revolutionary army in 1780. 

The immigrant Jacob died intestate in 1801, owning three farms. The papers settling the estate in Augusta County Courthouse offer a wealth of genealogical and historical information. 

We didn’t have much when came to this country, colony actually, but we worked and slowly accumulated land. This was particularly important during this time in history as only landowners could vote and have any say in such petitions as the one to which he affixed his name in 1792. In the end, over the course of his life, Jacob had acquired over 200 acres in Augusta County. Makes my nearly 3 acres, purchased 235 years after Jacob bought his first farm, seem almost inconsequential in comparison.

In the years since that first generation, the family has seen land come and go in the family but those original farms, while not in the family, still exist. They still remain as a connection to our past regardless of who currently holds the deed. Being able to go down to Virginia, gather with those who have this same connection, and enjoy the area where we know our family has been for hundreds of years is something that we were able to enjoy over the summer and an experience I look forward to revisiting many times over in the future.