Clues from a Processioning List

This week's "Tuesday’s Test" presented a published version of a 1755 vestry minute from Augusta Parish, Virginia. The minute represented a list of lands processioned according to colonial law. That test presented two versions:

  • a 30-word abstract that identified the event, the date, and the fact that James Frame was mentioned.
  • a 237-word version that included the names of everybody whose lands were processioned and (sometimes) their witnesses.

EE asked which version you would create in your own research notes—and asked for the reason why. The point was this: 
• the 30-word version gives us an event "fact" to enter into our database.
• the 237-word version gives us clues and context to assist us in our research.

In this time frame we may find very little information to tell us where, amid a vast county, a person lived. (Did you wonder why I began the "test" by specifying the time and place?) 

Odds are, we’ll find no birth, marriage, or death record for our person. Odds are, on a frontier like this, we’ll find no document that explicitly names his parents or birth family. But documents such as processioning lists give us clues and patterns we can pursue to find additional records and information that will help us build cases for identity and kinship.

In the case at hand, let’s take that 237-word paragraph, with its eyes-glazing recital of sixty-nine names, and create some organization. Note that we’re keeping all names in the same sequence; we’re just formatting the data in a more digestible fashion.

For William Scott, present Ro. Cunningham, Walte[r] Davis
For Walter Davis, present Wm. Scott, Robert Cunningham
For Robert Cunningham
For Thos. Black, present Thos. Rutlidge, Jas. Armstrong
For Wm. Henderson, present Ro. Cunningham, Geo. Caldwell
For Geo. Rutlidge
For John McNutt, present Wm. Marshall
For Wm. Marshall, present Saml. Caldwell
For James Caldwell
For John Coalter
For Wm. Ledgerwood
For Andrew Cowan, present Wm. Carry
For Wm. Carry
For James Moody
For James Wilson
For Robert Wilson
For John Shields
For Thos. Brown
For Rob. Wilson
For Andrew Alexander
For Samuel Blackwood, present Thos. Blackwood
For Thos. Blackwood
For Wm. Karr
For Robert Christian, present
For John Christian
For Wm. Christian
For Jas. Armstrong
For Wm. Armstrong
For Thomas Shields
For Jacob Van Lear
For James Bell
For Gabriel Alexander
For John Black
For Anthony Black
For Wm. Wright
For Jos. Tees (deceased), no one to show lines
For Wm. Long, present Alex. and John Long
For Wm. Long
For John Glass (deceased), no one to show lines
For Samuel Lusk, has no deed
For Samuel McCoule, has no deed
For John Hunter, has no deed
For James Patton (deceased), no one to show lines
For Thomas Stuart
For Edward Hall
For Alex. Thomson

What clues, context, or patterns do you see in this list of names that would help you understand the person and the society you are researching?

What if James Frame had been mentioned as "present" at someone else's processioning, but the word "For" did not precede his name?

What if .... ?


This sequel to "Tuesday's Test" was posted on EE's Facebook page while EE was transitioning to its new website. For the responses generated there, see "Evidence Explained," Facebook ( : posted 29 November 2018).


"Butterick Men's Colonial Costume Pattern #3072 - Sz 38-42 - Coat, Vest, Shirt, Pants and Hat Historical Costume"; posted by LotsaPatternsAndMore, ETSY (…/butterick-mens-colonial-costume-patt… accessed 29 November 2018).


Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Clues from a Processioning List," blog post, QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained  ( : posted 29 November 2018).