Perhaps the biggest contribution of this project was the creation of a digital interactive map, whereby website users can search for, and access, the data we collected. In creating this map, we first scanned the original paper copies we received from the Lands & Surveys, then georectified them, and finally digitized each grant parcel and the settlement boundaries. We immediately noticed that in the roughly 50 years since the creation of the L&S maps, land has accreted on Long Island—a vast majority of which is on the west/“south” margin of the island. So although the L&S grant map does not match the current satellite view, we used the L&S maps as our base map.
The next task was to georectify and digitize the Tatnall map, which was extremely difficult because this map was not accurate anywhere, based on either the current satellite photo map of the island, or the 50-year-old topographic map that forms the base layer of the L&S map. Nonetheless, we did as careful a job as possible. It must be remembered that not only has the shape of the island likely changed in the 250 years since the map was drawn, but also that it is unlikely Josiah Tatnall was able to have the island mapped by anyone with the type of skills required of today’s professional surveyors.
All of this notwithstanding, both paper maps were digitized as carefully as possible, and data attribute fields were created in a spreadsheet for every grant parcel—for use in a GIS. Attribute fields documented the name of the grantee (where legible), the number of acres granted, the number of acres calculated by the GIS, the deed number on either Tatnall or L&S, or both, the Origin status, information found about that grantee, and the reference for the information we found.
Accurately completing this attribute field was the most time-consuming task of the project, as information was drawn over the course of 12 years from wide-ranging sources, from the principal published Bahamas history reference books, to entries in the Colonial Records Office books, to copies of indentures and wills and deeds more than two centuries old, to obscure books long out of print. Furthermore, because many of the grants were made to people with common British names, it was not unusual to find conflicting information about these grantees, so more work had to be done.
Once the digitization of the maps, and the creation and completion of the spreadsheet were complete, the result was the “Interactive Digital Map,” which allows users to quickly and easily access 230+-year-old information for Long Island, from their computer.
NOTE: We make no warranty of the accuracy of the maps on this website for legal purposes. The boundaries shown on this map represent our best attempt to digitize the boundaries of each parcel, as depicted on the Lands & Survey maps. Not only do we not make any conclusion about the accuracy of the Lands & Surrvey map, differences between the actual geography of the island and the island as drawn on Lands & Survey means that these boundaries are only an approximation of the Lands & Survey parcels. Furthermore, the boundaries of granted parcels of land on this interactive map do not represent current land ownership.