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Kathleen

What Is a Genealogist to Do?

For years, I have had a huge dilemma with my family tree research. It has to do with a family lot we own in a cemetery. What would you do if you went to your family cemetery lot and saw that there were strangers buried there? Not strangers from your past, but strangers from current times who were buried there recently.

I could write a book on the circumstances surrounding how this happened to us. I’ve been struggling with how to document this situation for future generations. There needs to be an explanation documented or there could be some very bad confusion later on. I’ve also been struggling with whether I should be saying anything about this at all. There are still living family members on both sides of this battle. I will try to be as unbiased as I can be about this. It wouldn’t feel right not saying anything though, because I wouldn’t want anyone to have this happen to them. For you to show up at your grandfather’s grave site, that he purchased for his family, and find there are people buried there that you don’t even know.

Stanley Mays Grave

I’m sure as my story progresses, any internet savvy person will be able to figure out where and who I am talking about to some extent. That’s not really my concern right now. My concern is to bring light to something everyone should be aware of if they have family cemetery lots.

Next part coming Monday. I didn’t want to make this post too long.

What’s New in my Genealogy Database

I get a lot of e-mails about what kind of information I have about all the names I talk about here on the blog. My database website is pretty outdated with the information I currently have. So I wanted to show the easiest way to find out what is new on my database website.

whatsnew

If you go to my main moore-mays.org website, there is a Database Additions link in the sidebar. I will be putting some serious time in over the next couple of weeks to try and get that as updated as possible with information and documents.

Marriage Record of John Walter Parkin

My website has migrated to its new server and there should be zero downtime! That is definitely good news. Usually something always goes wrong for me in these things. 🙂

0310-JohnWParkin-MR

To celebrate here is the marriage record for my 2x great grandparents John Walter Parkin and Jennie Featherson. I had hoped to get the maiden names of their mothers with this record. I have to say 50% is much better than 0%!

Lucky for me Find My Past had some sort of promotion going on and I was able to find census records for Ann Maltis’s family. More about that later though. 😉

Marriage of Herbert Redford and Sadie Sutcliffe

Sadie Sutcliffe is no longer my family tree’s biggest mystery! Thanks to the New Jersey State Archives, there are plenty of new names for me to play with!

0288-HerbertRedford-MR

I hope your family trees are treating you kindly! My father’s side is definitely ripe with activity while I am waiting on my website to change servers. There are a couple more records that came with this one and I can’t wait to share them.

lovekathleen

Site downtime and upgrades

codingMy website will have some scheduled downtime within the next two weeks. My webhost is moving to a shiny new data center. They will let me know when the move is done, then I will have to get on my brother’s case within seven days to change a few things on the domain backend. Then everything should be good again. The problem will come if I can’t get him to get on the ball. He is a system engineer at a Florida hospital, so I understand when he can’t jump to do these things for me. 🙂 It’s more important for him to be on the ball for them.

I’ve decided to not update until the move is finished. I am doing this for the main reason that I don’t know when the move will start. My webhost said they will notify me when the move is done, so I will just wait for the move before adding new content. This insures that I won’t lose any new data that I add. After the move, I plan to upgrade my TNG software, version 11 was just released!!, and work on getting my database website up to date. Like all my other electronic devices, my websites have a lot of clutter in their storage, so I will start cleaning up all those and organizing them as well.

I hope to have as little downtime as possible, because I am ready to get things rolling here again! It was always my best way to talk things out as I was working through data confusion. 😉

George Washington Webb and White Burley Tobacco

I’ve talked about the family tree my Grandma showed me when I was in the eighth grade. It was what started this genealogy obsession with me. There was always this little blurb in the beginning of it. It was the only little insight we had to George Washington Webb, his siblings, and his parents. I was always so fascinated with that little blurb. Maybe it was the problem solver in me, I just love to solve mysteries! Whether it be movies, books, or TV shows, I love a good mystery.

It told me that George and his brothers were orphaned at a young age and were three of five children. I found out that wasn’t quite right. There were at least 10 children born to his parents 1and his father, Reuben, was alive until he was at least 86 years old 2.  From what I can tell so far, the surviving children were all married by the time Reuben died. I can only guess that happened between the 1850 and 1860 census. I am still searching out those records!

The other part of the blurb that always stood out for me was that George was credited with discovering white burley tobacco. If you google it, you can find a little blurb about it and it does mention George but I was never quite sure what to go on. Well, before I went on a recent trip to Ohio with my mother, I decided I would look and see if there was anywhere I could go that would give me any idea about this. It turns out there is a Tobacco Museum right in between my two aunts houses.

georgewebb

The museum was closed when we went by, but there was this cool plaque sitting right outside! It’s technically been there since 1964, so it makes me wonder if my Grandma knew about it. She sure didn’t like to give me hints at all. Now I have to make sure I go back when the museum is open to see if there is anything at all about George Webb in there.

  1. Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren and Pulaski Counties, Indiana.  2 volumes.  Chicago, Illinois:  Lewis Publishing Company, 1899.
  2. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Highland County, Ohio. White Oak township, p. 322-A, dwelling 427, family 427, James Webb; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Sep 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 694.

William Mays and Fanny Atkins

I had some amazing progress yesterday on my Mays ancestors. It all started on Tuesday, when I shared a bunch of old photos on my Facebook. I like to do that for my Aunts, Uncle, and other relations because it helps jog their memories of things. It was a wonderful day full of pictures and stories, and none of us were in the same place. Gotta love technology when you are far apart!

When I woke up on Wednesday morning I was refreshed and excited. After running the morning errands, cleaning, relaxing for a bit, and then cooking dinner, I really should have just watched a movie and went to bed. It must have been that boost from the day before though, because I just had to get onto FamilySearch and research more.

Usually when I’m searching FamilySearch, I just plug in various search terms and see what it finds. Don’t worry I smacked my own knuckles for that! I know I should make research plans, but it never turns out that way. However, I learned something new this week. I learned that if you have a specific locality you are wanting to search, you can use the catalog to see if FamilySearch has anything at all for that locality. It could be book, microfilm, or even online records. I know I’m late to the party with this. I knew about the catalog before but there is a newer feature I hadn’t know about previously.

catalogUsually when I use the catalog I use a film number to see what record group the information I am looking at came from. This is the first time I’m reversing the process. Since I was talking with my Mays relatives the previous day, I thought I’d go for broke and see if Montgomery County, Virginia records would show up for me. Montgomery County is where indexes tell me my 4x great grandparents were married in 1798.

vitalrecordsOh boy, this made me excited. To know the records were somewhere in the records was wonderful. That means I just had to get to them. I knew from the indexes they were supposedly married in September of 1798. So I clicked on Register of Marriages, Montgomery County Virginia, 1773-1863.

browseimagesI have no idea when those little icons started showing up but I am officially in love with them.

jackpotThis is when I stopped being able to contain my excitement!

0588-WilliamMays-MRLuckily for me, I knew from the index that I needed the year 1798. I thought at the time I was looking for September 17, but this record clearly says that William Mase and Fanny Atkins were married on September 20th. I checked my dates one more time, and nowhere did I have the 20th as an alternate date. Since this was the first actual record that I saw with my own eyes, I added it as the preferred marriage date, entered all the information in and patted myself on the back. I got curious about those Marriage Bonds on the list of Montgomery County records though. I mean, it can’t hurt to look right? Where did the 17th come from anyway? That was the date given in the index. I usually can tell how a transcription error has happened, but that 20 does not look remotely like 17.

1798 Marriage Bond

Nope, I suppose it can’t hurt at all! I found it pretty quickly in the 1798 section. This is also where the 17th of September came from, everything is so much clearer to me now! The interesting part is that it has Moses Atkins acting on behalf of Fanny. My excitement wanted me to add Moses as her father, but then I realized, it never actually says that. In bonds before and after this one, it will specifically say Father. I will take time right now to thank all the wonderful genealogists I learning from. If this was 5 years ago, I might have gone ahead and added Moses as her father. I would have assumed it was true and never thought twice. It makes me so happy to know that I have built better habits. Now if I can just learn some better ones in other areas of my research!

This is still an awesome find though, and I thought to myself, years I’d been looking for this and finally I’ve seen it. I am going to start planning a weekend trip to Montgomery County, VA. Not just for record searching, but because this is verifiable proof that my ancestors were there. This is the first known record of my Mays line, this is as far back as we go. There are still so many mysteries about them. Who is William’s father? Were they living in Montgomery County long term? Were they just on their way to Kentucky from a further East Virginia settlement? Now I am going to be diving into an uncomfortable place for me. The census records before 1850. I haven’t really used them before because they are hard to use in some of my families. When they are all named William, all about the same age, and all have 8 million children. Okay, I exaggerated the last part.

It doesn’t stop there, maybe because I was afraid to stop looking, I decided to look in another marriage records listing on the catalog page. The one that said Marriage Records, 1785-1861.

1798 Marriage Bond - clearerIt looks like at some point, Montgomery County decided to make a much more legible, indexed copy of the marriage bond records. Once again, Moses Atkins is specifically not mentioned as Fanny’s father. I suppose that means I made the right decision in not putting him down yet. Now I just have to research those three witnesses and the area and see what that brings!

 

My Current Digital Organization

papermonster3-03

Five years ago, I posted the ongoing adventures of trying to get all my paper organized. At the time I thought I was going to do great! Well, five years later, I no longer use those crates, hanging file folders or even that blanket or bed frame. I guess it was a clean sweep!

My paper organization held up for quite awhile. I filed things accordingly, but eventually there was just too much paper! Every time I would go to look for something the sheet protectors would slide all over the place, there was no rhyme or reason to any of it. One day, when I was feeling particularly cranky with it I just took everything out of the crates. I loaded up some empty binders and that’s where everything currently sits.

the drives on my PC

What has been working wonderfully for me, is my digital organization. As you can see from above, I have a whole hard drive dedicated to genealogy. It’s mounted right in my computer and it’s there for me whenever I need it. When I bought my new computer after the previous trauma, it had 4 spots to mount hard drives in. Like any computer nerd, I immediately purchased a nice big one for all the cool stuff I like. Then I formatted another hard drive I had and I dubbed it my Genealogy Drive.

If you followed along on my blog before, you know that I spent about 3 years doing my Family File Cleanup Project. My family file isn’t in such great shape after the emergency computer switch and it’s aftermath, but my organization is still in place. That has turned out to be a huge blessing as I cleanup one more time.

One of the big parts of the project was that I was assigning ID numbers to every ancestor. I was using RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker at the same time and using whatever number was given by RootsMagic. By the time I switched computers, I was exclusively using Family Tree Maker again using the reference number option in that program. Mainly I was probably just tired of switching back and forth. The priority for me was trying to keep my online tree updated at Ancestry for new DNA cousins.

What is my blog without drama though? Family Tree Maker just continued to crash on me and eventually did the unforgivable and corrupted my main family file. Luckily for me, I was already trying out Legacy Family Tree software and loving it for about six months before this final betrayal. Doesn’t everyone use every kind of software just for fun? Or maybe that’s just me? Once the corruption happened, I just shook my head and stopped loading Family Tree Maker. I was officially DONE. The great thing is that I was even able to renumber Legacy’s RIN numbers to match the ones I already had in place as Person/User IDs in Family Tree Maker.

The index page of my Legacy software, showing the matching numbers

All my hard work was for a good reason, you see I use those numbers to organize all my computer files. Every single digital record gets organized by that number. It is easiest to show my folder structure below in screenshots. The only folder that really needed a sub-folder structure was the Media folder.

genealogydrive

mediafolder

birthrecordfolder

I know that looks overwhelming when you first look at it. How do I find anything? When it comes time to need something, I just go to my Genealogy Drive, type in the ID of the person I need and let the computer do the searching.

llewellyn

I started off with 4 digits because honestly… I didn’t think that far ahead. So in my head, I know that I used a 4 number structure for all numbers under 9999. My numbers only go to 3783 right now, so it’s not an issue I want to worry about right now. I also have a set of abbreviations that I use when naming my files. They are pretty self explanatory:

TS = tombstone

DR = death record

BR = birth record

SSC = Social Security card (because yes, I have the original ones for Llewellyn and her husband!)

SS5 = SS-5 application forms

MR = marriage record

MR2 = 2nd marriage record

onenotewoah

Last and certainly not least is my OneNote. When I was previously blogging, I was still trying to make this program work for me. I am still working on what exactly I am using OneNote for but the core of the organization is set. A lot of what I was going to use OneNote for, Legacy and most other genealogy software programs already do. The page you see above is my index page. OneNote also has a search function, so I could use that to find what I need, but I am an overachiever. I made these index pages. This just shows 1 through 100. Of course, I have the most living people in this section so I had to blur out everyone to make this easier to follow. Just look there at number 49, Lllewellyn. That is a link to Llewellyn’s section of OneNote.

timeline

OneNote should probably be it’s own post, but since I’m still developing it I’m not sure. I’ll just go over my favorite parts. I’m working on timelines for every person of my tree, so at the beginning of their section is that. There is also a Family Group sub-page, where I just link to the family members OneNote sections. If I wanted to, I could also add links to their individual pages on my moore-mays.org website. Then there are three section groups: Logs, Sources, To Do. Logs is pretty self explanatory. I use that as my research notebook. I leave little notes for myself. Screenshots of things I want to come back to. Things like that.

sources

The Sources section is a place for me to analyze the variances in each main fact. Llewellyn’s birthdate moved from 1898 all the way up to 1902 depending on which record you looked at. This was a way for me to distinguish which records are closer to the event that is happening, so they are more likely to be accurate. Which records are hearsay (basically census ones and family records), and which are from official sources that are more likely to be backed up with official evidence. Suppose someone joined the military, they would have had to show a birth certificate (I might be wrong the further back it gets), so that would hold up better than a census record.

capture_017_13032016_200057

My absolute, can’t live without it favorite is the To Do section. This was my only must have when consulting with my sister about how to set this whole thing up. I wanted to be able to know at a glance who I needed to look for in what. Hopefully eventually I will be able to. It’s basically a checklist of which records to use to find a piece of information. If I was having a hard time finding a birthdate for someone, I could look at this checklist and see which records I don’t have that might have the information I’m looking for. The list changes depending on which fact but like I said it’s a process! 🙂 To make things easier on myself, I made a blank template copy. When I setup a new folder, I just copy the pages over and customize each page as needed. I’m just starting to get setup though so this will probably grow more as I find out about more types of records.

Oh, one last thing:

censusavailable

Here is what I see at the beginning of my Notebook. A nice, easy to use cheat sheet for Census records. In my dreams I’ll eventually have one for birth, marriage and death records also. I made this list in desperation when I went through a broke  long period of time without an Ancestry.com membership. I wanted to see where I could still find records if I needed to.

excelcensus

In sub-pages I have an attached Excel spreadsheet that easily allows me to add, sort, and edit my list of people Missing in the Census. I only thought to show this as an afterthought because I’m trying to use the genealogy software To Do lists for this now.

So there’s the long of it. My current digital organization. Kevin might be sorry he asked to know now! This is my process and by no means the only one. Everyone should definitely test out what works best for them. This probably won’t work for very large files but maybe it can help give an idea of what all One Note can do. I’m not even using half of the features that I know are available.

How is your digital file system? Is there anything you think I can do to make this more efficient?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the software companies or Ancestry.com. I was not compensated by anyone to write anything on this blog. I just love talking about this stuff. 🙂

The Story of Lillian Redford

Hello world, I am back again. Today I was watching a webinar given by Amy Johnson Crow on FamilyTreeWebinars.com. The webinar was very informative and a great refresher of somethings that I was already doing. While I was watching, it reminded me of something that happened about a year and a half ago. I was talking with my Aunt Lori over Thanksgiving, and it always turns to genealogy with us. My favorite thing to do is hand her records and let her look at them. About 90% of the time she notices something that I didn’t.

This particular Thanksgiving, we were talking about the progress I was making on the Redford/Travis section of the family tree. It had been a long time since I had anything new to report for them, so I was excited to share, even though it was more Travis than Redford.

We were discussing all the different Redfords that migrated to Los Angeles, and when they were there. I had mentioned that there was one Redford girl that had just plain disappeared on me and I couldn’t find information for her anywhere. I assumed that I would eventually find a death record for her in New Jersey from before the bulk of the family left for California.

The totality of my information as of that day.
The totality of my information as of that day.

To prove my point I plugged the surname Redford into a FamilySearch.org search box, and hit enter. Then I went through all the records showing her them, to see if she saw something I didn’t.

Then it happened.

Lillian's Marriage Record
Lillian’s Marriage Record

All of a sudden, Lillian’s timeline exploded with information. I was able to add not just the one marriage but a second one. I was able to add a child, and that child’s marriage. I filled Lillian’s census information in up to 1940, and I thought to myself, man, what a ride that was! I couldn’t even believe that all this information popped up, just by doing a new search.

Here comes the Kathleen twist though. It’s what always seems to happen to me, just when you think you’re done or that you’ve gotten the information, something else happens.

As I was entering Lillian’s information, I thought I might as well check her father’s death certificate to double check how long he had been living in Los Angeles. It was then I realized I needed to be more thorough in my examining of documents.

Herbert Redford's death certificate
Herbert Redford’s death certificate

It was there, right on her father’s death certificate the whole time. Informant: Mrs. Ralph Swiggart. If I had researched the informant’s name way back when I first got this record by mail, Lillian wouldn’t have been lost to me for so long!

Just chalk that one up to another misadventure in my genealogy. Here I am just proving that my personal motto should be Oops! 🙂

659 Days since my last blog

It has been 659 days since my last real blog post. I had no plans to abandon my blog. Life sort of just happened to me. Shortly after my last blog post, one of my Aunts suddenly passed away. I didn’t know it at the time, or even until recently, but I believe I fell into a depression. I wasn’t diagnosed, I didn’t talk to anyone but my family about it, but I completely lost my passion for life for a long time. It’s only now that I’m starting to get back to doing things I love like genealogy, and hopefully soon  quilting.

I have made a lot of changes over the time I’ve been away from the blog, including a switch over from Family Tree Maker to Legacy. This was long before the announcement recently about Family Tree Maker. My reason for switching was mainly because the program kept crashing and corrupting my file. I’d have to “clean” it up all over again after downloading the synced version from Ancestry. I haven’t regretted the change but as with all software changes this has come with a learning curve. Not to mention, again cleaning up the sources after the import process.

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I don’t have plans to regularly post on the blog yet. Only because now that my computer situation is finally stable, I am cleaning up and organizing. I haven’t felt much like devoting that kind of time to that process in a long time but I’m finding it very helpful in getting my motivation back.

I hope everyone who is reading this is doing well and I hope to write again soon!

lovekathleen

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