[APG Public List] Marking Co-Ordinates with GPS

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 1 13:46:15 MDT 2010

--- On Mon, 11/1/10, linda at fpr.com <linda at fpr.com> wrote:

> Rivers can have many bends and many oak trees. Identifying *the one* isn't always all 
> that straightforward.

     No, it isn't - and in places such as rural Vermont, where there is substantial evidence that banks may have shifted somewhat from the time early deeds were recorded, how do we know the bend is even in the same place? Unless we can show some continuity between that ancient document and a specific modern location, we can't. And, in fact, in New England, even the official state surveys are considered suspect in some areas. Especially in Vermont.
     This is _not_ to say that I object to the use of GPS co-ordinates as a tool. Like any other tool, they can be very useful. But, like any other tool, they are never capable of any better than the best their user can manage - and if we get too caught up in the accuracy of these co-ordinates, and too focused on the precise locations we are now able to record for future generations, we will forget all the other factors which might lead us astray and turn that precise information into something actively misleading instead of something useful.
     GPS will _only_ be a respected tool for genealogists as long as we all keep that in mind. If we allow enthusiasm to overcome our hard-learned caution, all those co-ordinates will soon gain just the kind of reputation an online family tree has. The internet was a useful tool, too - but we allowed it to be misused and now it is heaped with so much genealogical garbage that we only dare take a serious look at the data on most sites if every other avenue has already failed.
                                                      Ray Beere Johnson II

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