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Huh. You really can’t go home again.

I’m applying for my absentee voting form and it asks for my location when I lived in the States. I don’t remember that question from before.

Even though I had lived in Rhode Island for twenty-five years, when I sold that house to move, the only property I owned was my mother’s farm in Tennessee. So I took a field trip to the farm and registered to vote at the local courthouse in Smithville.

The online voter application tells me if the address I’m giving is a rural route, to give precise directions how to get there. I’ve spent most of my day trying to find the farm on a map. I’m flummoxed.

It’s sixty acres somewhere in that scrubby triangle between Alexandria, Brush Creek and Hearn Hill Cemetery.

I sold it and I suspect the buyer knocked the house down, so that doesn’t help. The road names are different than I remember, so that doesn’t help. We’re talking dirt tracks in a lot of cases, so they may not show up on satellite. There’s a creek and lots of woods and a valley. Maybe a pond, though it dried up some years. I should be able to find the place!

As for giving directions, my mother always told people to turn left on Dead Dog Corner. This was supremely unhelpful to anyone who hadn’t been there before. Though it somehow astonishingly managed to weather the elements for over a year, the dog had vanished by about 1976.

I am delighted to report there is a non-zero chance that I lived off of Opossum Hollow Road.


Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: June 12, 2024, 7:17 pm

I admire your faith in the diligence our government puts into verifying voter eligibility.

I am also touched by your concern for the poor government employee who is going to most of a day driving out into the Tennessee hills looking for the remains of the foundation of your old homestead.

Comment from Carl
Time: June 12, 2024, 8:06 pm

1. Don’t you know the names/addresses of some of the neighbours who you could contact?

2. Can’t the zip code give you an indication of their addresses? (The Royal Mail website will give you a list of the addresses for all the properties for any UK postcode – typically about 20 houses.)

3. You could phone the local police (that works in the UK – I’ve done it) or the nearest Post Office or the local courthouse.

4. Can’t something like Google Maps give you the coordinates for the address?

5. Why not declare it as an urban route? If challenged you could say that you used your personal definition of ‘urban’.

6. Recently, when my brother was in a strange town, he asked a local for directions and was told to “Take the first left after where the Odeon cinema used to be”.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: June 12, 2024, 8:15 pm

The tax appraisal district for the county wherein the farm lies should have a legal address for the property, if you still have the name of the person you sold it to. It should also have lat/long coordinates, which you can use to search US Geological Survey maps online. Look for the nearest community to the farm. That should let you get very close. You want 7 1/2 degree topo maps. Rural topo maps are not updated often and you might get lucky that it still shows the farm buildings as tiny squares.

Comment from steve
Time: June 12, 2024, 8:19 pm

Would that be “Opossum Hollow Road”, or “Possum Holler Road”

Comment from ExpressoBold Pureblood
Time: June 12, 2024, 10:05 pm

Tax records.

Most counties have their real property tax records online now because “public record.”

The records are generally searchable by more than one field (name or address for two).

Comment from Pupster
Time: June 13, 2024, 12:39 am

Google Earth is sometimes more helpful than Google maps.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 13, 2024, 6:57 am

It absolutely, 100% would be pronounced Possum Holler.

Comment from Warren
Time: June 13, 2024, 12:07 pm

Go to familysearch.com (free account login). Search records for your family name, then filter for the 1950 Census. Good luck!

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: June 13, 2024, 1:40 pm

Have them vet you the same way we vet illegals.
The nice government people contact the city hall in Afghanistan or Venezuela and ask for access to their computerized record keeping systems to see if they were upstanding members of the local community.

On a serious note, having property on a dirt county road in East Overshoe, we used memorable geographic features on a satellite terrain map to track down info. Google drills down a long way and dirt tracks are visible. But don’t necessarily on “there was a field on the left”. Our property went from a full mulch in 2019 back to a damn near jungle in 2024. Fields do tend to remain fields for a long time however, generally visible because of the differences in vegetation type and growth.

The old topo maps are also a good idea.

You can also try getting info from the area 911 registry since residence addresses generally have that info for emergency crews…these days.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: June 13, 2024, 3:12 pm

Perhaps I was too subtle in my first post – what I meant is – ain’t nobody gonna check. If you can get with a “country mile” that will be more than fine. I suspect that you could even start your directions with
“Take the subway from the 151st Street station in Alexandria ….” and no one would blink.

Oh, and you DO have poor spelling and TERRIBLE handwriting, right? Even If they do have someone actually checking these things, a long impossible to decipher set of instructions is going to get approved on word six of the first sentence.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: June 13, 2024, 3:35 pm

Stoaty—on closer examination, both Hearne Hill Cemetery and Brush Creek are in a different county, so that greatly reduces your search area to that small, northwestern-most tip of DeKalb County, just outside of Alexandria. (Though Alexandria could have absorbed the farm into the city’s boundary by now.)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 13, 2024, 3:43 pm

Good ideas, all. Thank you.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: June 13, 2024, 4:02 pm

And if you remember the name of the person you sold it to, you can try
There may be a helpful person there who could give you a clue about tracking the property back if you can remember some significant bit of info they can use, and you might be able to look it up yourself on that site.

But SomeVeg has it for true…they might not even be able to get hold of anyone to verify, and they might not have a computerized setup that would allow for quick checking.
So get ur Goggley mapper out and “find” the house that…you know….USED to be yours…know what I mean, know what I mean, Nudge nudge.

If the county folks in Dekalb County TN are anything like the ones I’ve dealt with in Cass County Tx they might or might not even be at their desks on a day to day basis.
Very nice folks, don’t get me wrong, the kind of folks I like. Friendly and laid back.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: June 13, 2024, 7:23 pm

If you can get latitude/longitude, you can input same to GoogleEarth and find it.

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