Genealogists with an affinity for figuring out puzzles fare well. That's because the path from where a genealogist is today to where ancestors were many years ago can be tortuous.

Traveling that path successfully also requires having the patience to see things through.

My own patience for solving genealogical puzzles is about to be tested. And that test probably will continue for some time.

In my Nov. 30 column, I wished for easy access to historic maps of all of my ancestral communities. I wanted maps of those communities to help me envision natural and man-made features that would have influenced the way that my ancestors lived.

I didn't dare wish for anything more detailed. I could always tailor such a map to suit my own research as I uncovered information. But I got much more than I wished to have.

Perhaps there is something similar that would be just as helpful to others.

Recently, I received maps from the National Archives that were produced for the South Carolina Direct Tax Commission as the Civil War was ending. Not only are the features I wished for found on those maps, but so are the names of many African-American heads of families who purchased land in the Beaufort area.

The maps have the names of some of my ancestors and their neighbors written where their property was located. It's a better presentation than names in a column on a census form. Neighbors constitute pools of people who can be searched for undiscovered ancestors.

These maps do not provide details of the family-owned parcels, they tell whose land was where and whose was nearby. They open the door to discovering more ancestors and where they lived and when they lived there. Those questions are at the core of genealogical research.

Finding maps that can be helpful to your family history research takes digging.

Budding genealogists will not find complicated maps useful. But experienced researchers can check these sites and others for maps that may prove helpful:

-- www.cyndislist.com/maps.htm.

-- www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/058.html#58.4.4.

-- lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/gmdhome.html.

We want your bloopers

From time to time, a big mistake I made during my first attempts to research my family's history comes to mind. I have learned a valuable lesson from it. Decades after making the mistake, the lesson sticks.

Most genealogists have stories about mistakes they've made that can be instructive to others.

Please e-mail the details of a mistake you made and what you learned from the experience.

We may use some of the responses, along with my own biggest blooper, in a column.

Please write "blooper" in subject area.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or wminis@postandcourier.com.