Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - James B. McAvoy

James B. McAvoy, Ex-Aide At Fort, Dies

Services for James B. McAvoy, 61, ____ South Meridian Street, will be held at 10:45 a. m. Tuesday in the Lauck Funeral Home and at 11 a.m. in Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.

Mr. McAvoy died Saturday in University Heights Hospital.

He had worked 16 years as a claims examiner of lost and damaged Army property in the adjustment branch at Fort Benjamin Harrison before retiring in 1968.

A lifelong Indianapolis resident, Mr. McAvoy was a member of the church and its Holy Name Society, a graduate of Cathedral High School and a member of the Southside Democratic League.

Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 20 September 1971, p. 31.

*When I received my great grandfather's obituary, I got a big chunk of the page from the newspaper.  The Indianapolis Star obituaries have not been digitized, so I figured I would go ahead and share with everyone, in case someone was looking.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

SNGF - #1 Songs

Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings has another edition of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!  

What was the #1 song on the day you were born?  Or on your birthday when you were 15?  Or when you married?  Or some other important date in your life.

I went to This Day In Music to find the songs. (These are all hits on the U.S. charts)

Okay, so I'm not gonna lie ... I was born in 1968.  The #1 song on my birthday was Marvin Gaye's I Heard it Through the Grapevine.

Now that I feel really old, I might as well go through the list.

15th birthday (1983) - Say Say Say - Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson
ironically enough, today is the 2nd anniversary of Mr. Jackson's death.

Marriage (Feb 1989) - Straight Up - Paula Abdul
I guess I got the answer to that question ...

My divorce (2001) - Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera, Pink, Li'l Kim, Mya

My daughter's birthday (May 1990) - Vogue - Madonna

Genealogy Success Team - Week Six

This is the start of week six of our Genealogy Success Team and we're still going strong (well, Laura is going a little stronger than me, but there's no "I" in "team" so it's WE!)

I was able to technically* complete all of my goals for the week.  This is what they were:

  1. Mail requests for military records for my GGrandfather and Granduncle.
  2. Finish Inferential Genealogy Case 3.
  3. Call the activity director at my grandmother's assisted living center to discuss the photo project I am sending, and ask for her guidance and suggestions before I send the letter.
  4. Blog more than once.
I mailed my requests to NARA in St. Louis on Monday (June 20) along with all the "proof" requested.  I have no idea how long it takes to get the materials back, so I guess now I just wait.  How long should I give them before I call or write to follow up?  I decided I would keep a "diary" of these records to use as a blog post some time in the future.

I finished up Case 3 of the Inferential Genealogy course on FamilySearch, which I blogged about here.  Our IG study group is going to meet again on Tuesday to compile a summary of the course to present to Dr. Jones, so we have each been asked to put together an individual summary so nothing gets left out.  Hopefully, somewhere between my blog posts and my chicken-scratch notes, there's a summary of all the pros and cons of the three case studies.

*This is where the "technically" part comes in.  I called the activity director and had to leave a message.  I actually called her twice (just call me an overachiever), but haven't received a call back yet.  I will continue to try to reach her this week.

I was able to post 3 times to my blog this week, in addition to my Success Team update.

Not a bad week, considering.  

My goals for this week aren't much more aggressive (thank you, algebra), but it's all about moving forward, right?
  1. Work on summary for Inferential Genealogy study group.  This is due before Tuesday.
  2. I ran across some copies of Casefile Clues that I printed out some time ago, but haven't had time to read, which makes me sad because there is some really good tidbits of information in there.  My goal this week is to read at least 1 issue.  I hope to read more than that, but I'm sticking with 1 and we'll see how it goes.
  3. A couple of weeks ago, Debbie at Mascot Manor wrote about creating a process for her research.  She was kind enough to send me the Excel file for my own use, which I am in the process of tweaking.  Whenever I run across a source that I want to remember to utilize in my searches, I'm writing it on a notepad.  Right now I have about 15 items on that list that need to be added to the appropriate category on the research checklist.
  4. We're always searching for "the one" to whom all of our research will go when we pass.  I only have one daughter, and she has no children so far.  So ... she wins.  Now I just have to hook her and reel her in.  Lorine at the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog gave me a great idea to get my daughter more interested in our family history ... the Ancestor Wall.  I probably won't play games with her (she's 21), but I can still "quiz" her periodically, right?  This week, I'm going to start going through the photos I have of my ancestors and picking 5 of them that I will reprint (to eventually find interesting frames of various sizes and hang on one of the empty walls in my house).
  5. Blog more than once.

Now I just have to get started!  GO TEAM!  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Inferential Genealogy - Case 3

This is my fourth post in the Inferential Genealogy series.  My previous posts can be found below:

Post 1
Post 2

Post 3

The IG study group met on Sunday, June 19 to discuss Case 3.  If Case 2 kicked my butt, then Case 3 was like Mike Tyson.  I have never been so confused, so frustrated, or so intent on solving a case for a class ... it was fantastic!

The case we were given was about Charles D. McLain.  From the introduction, we learn that he married Ida May Tucker in 1871 and divorced in 1879.  He seemingly materialized out of nowhere in 1871 to wed Ida and disappeared afterward.  There was speculation that he had died, changed his name, or moved to Canada.  Finding him and his origin required comparing his records with those of another woman's husband and a man with another name.  Our focused goal was to identify the parents of Charles D. McLain who married Ida May Tucker.  We were told nothing of where they lived, married, or anything.  No sweat.

We were given a series of 10 documents to identify and analyze ... this time without the guiding commentary of Tom Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS.  The documents ranged from marriage records to divorce records to probate records and census records.  There was even a Pedigree Resource File record and an Ancestral File record from FamilySearch.  More on those later.

The identification part (you know, where you just write down all the "pertinent" information in a document) went far smoother than with Case 2.  Maybe I just thought it did because I didn't have Dr. Jones urging me to find something I just wasn't seeing ... maybe it was because we were looking at digital scans of the actual documents ... who knows?  Regardless, I felt a lot better about this case.

Then I started analyzing.  Then I got really confused. 

First of all, the names Charles, David, and James should be outlawed.  Today.

I started a Word document with a list of the documents and wrote out everything I found in each one.  Then I put them in chronological order (no, they weren't given to us that way).  I only got more confused.  So I went through each document and tried to sketch some sort of relationship tree on paper ... 
No, that wasn't it either.  This case was like a Rubik's cube ... just when you think you're solving it, you look from another direction and you've only made it worse!

Maybe the problem wasn't so much the names as it the dates.  I took a hint from Case 2 and (Excel goddess that I am) made a spreadsheet.  It was strictly so I could try to match the men in the case to the appropriate age at the time each document was created.
This was actually quite helpful.  So I figured the evidence showed that we were talking about two different people.

Then I listened to Dr. Jones' conclusion.  Well, let's just say ... not even close.

Ultimately, when we met on Sunday to discuss the case, everyone was just as flummoxed as I was.  I mentioned that I had done a spreadsheet to help figure it out, and another group member spoke up and said that he had done one as well.  So that (and the fact that we determined we had an awful lot of contradictory evidence) led to our next assignment.  Create a more extensive spreadsheet to analyze each document and get to the bottom of this case.  (Again, sorry guys!).  We would meet again on Tuesday (yesterday) and discuss our findings.  I was very impressed with the spreadsheets that everyone put together.  For the most part, they were pretty similar, but each and every one put a slightly different spin on the information and the way it was analyzed.  That was awesome to see, and it helped me see that sometimes you have to look at the evidence from different angles to see the whole picture.

We came to the conclusion that based upon the information contained in the documents we were given (and completely discounting the unsourced, undocumented PRF and Ancestral File information) was inconclusive.  It was basically unanimous.

There were some issues with this one -- maybe not as many as with Case 2 -- but still, some.  For one, the citations for two of the documents we were given were swapped.  That was confusing as heck.  (Only) one of the documents was, we determined, a recreation.  During our Sunday chat, we went and found the actual document - one on and the other on  I know ... how bad can it be, right?  Well, the "recreated" document listed the head of household as "Joe" McLane, where the scanned original listed him as "J." McLane.  When you're looking for someone named "James," it kinda matters.  There were some other issues in the conclusion with assumptions that were made based on evidence we didn't have and not being able to see entire documents.  There was a whole list of stuff we wanted to research further.

There were also a lot of positives from this case.  Here is what I took away from this case:

  1. I learned about how valuable a spreadsheet could be in evaluating evidence in the context of ALL the evidence.  
  2. I learned that in documents there is sometimes information that you can't see.
  3. I learned that even though you may have enough evidence, it may not be the right evidence.
  4. I am proud to be a member of this group with all of these incredible people.  You guys made all the hard work enjoyable!

So now that we're done, we are going to write up our findings about the entire course, compile everyone's thoughts and recommendations, and present them to Dr. Jones.  We meet again next Tuesday at the Just Genealogy Fire Pit to wrap things up.

I want to give special thanks to DearMYRTLE (aka Clarise Beaumont for putting this study group together and being our moderator, instructor, and cheerleader ... and FamilySearch and Dr. Tom Jones for putting these free courses out there for everyone.  All problems with the content of the actual cases aside, I do feel like the inferential genealogy process has helped me learn new ways to think outside the box -- which is a success in my book!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Finally Joined a Local Genealogy Society

I was batting around the idea of joining a local genealogy society for a while, and after seeing a post from Amy Coffin at We Tree Genealogy, I was convinced.  I needed to find one!

I looked on my local library website to see if there was any information.  It listed the Hamilton County Tennessee Genealogy Society, so about 3 months ago I decided to see what they were all about.  When I first found their website, I was confused because the "Membership" link didn't work.  So I went to the "Members" link and found a promising-looking candidate and sent an email to them (none of the members were identified as officers, so I sort of just took my chances).

I received a pleasant email reply informing me that they were a strictly online society (which is a bit of a contradiction-in-terms, if you ask me), but that I was more than welcome to join for a small fee, or I could transcribe and post an historical document of some sort (it had to be from or pertaining to Hamilton County, Tennessee) and join for free.

Since I have no known ancestors from Tennessee, I haven't really done any research here so I don't have any documents to offer up.  Besides, I really wanted a genealogy society where people actually meet face-to-face and talk to each other and learn stuff.

Incidentally, now the link for Membership is working again and this is what it says:
The Hamilton County Tennessee Genealogy Society is an on-line, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the history and genealogical records of Hamilton County Tennessee. The primary purpose is to provide an online format for the documentation and publication of these records for use by anyone with an interest in Hamilton County.
Not exactly my definition of a genealogy society.  Anyway, that was a bust.  A few weeks ago, I decided to give the library a call and see if they knew of any other local societies that actually meet.  The librarian was very helpful and gave me the contact information for two other societies in the area: Signal Mountain Genealogical Society (they have no website) and Delta Genealogical Society.  The Signal Mountain group meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. for light refreshments, with the educational portion of their meeting beginning at 1:30 p.m.  Well, that's all fine and dandy for the rich and retired folks and housewives on Signal Mountain, but us working class folk need a group that meets in the evenings after work!

So I emailed Dale Harrison, who is the membership coordinator - which is plainly displayed on their website along with all the other officers under "Members."  I received a very prompt reply inviting me to attend their next meeting, on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. (woohoo!)  The group meets at the public library in Rossville, Georgia, and the drive (literally) took me about 6 minutes.

Okay, so now I've found a group that meets in the evenings, now I'm just hoping it's an active group.

I arrived at the library a little bit early (I thought it would take a lot longer to get there than it actually did), so I got to meet the President, Rufus Williamson, right off the bat.  He is probably one of the sweetest little old men I've ever met.  He's gotta be about 80 years old and just as spry as you please.  He welcomed me and gave me a complimentary copy of the society's quarterly publication Southern Roots & Shoots.  The folks at the library hadn't set up the room for the meeting beforehand, so I helped him set up the tables and chairs before everyone got there.  Bless his heart, it's a good thing I was early.  There's no way he could have done all that by himself.  Those tables were humongous.  So I asked him ... "how many members do you usually have at your meetings?"  He said, "Oh, sometimes about 20 or so ... but since it's the summer, we may be short a couple of people who are on vacation."  Wow!  To me, that's a pretty big group for this little area.

Then people started coming in, about 14 total.  After some of the horror stories I have heard about newbies at some society meetings feeling like they were on the outside looking in, I braced myself for that "left out" feeling ... that never happened.  It was amazing.  Rufus introduced me by name (and that I was doing Crowe research) to every person as they walked in the door, including the speaker!  Everyone was very welcoming and gracious.  I felt like a rock star!  Almost everyone there was older ... much older ... than me, but it felt like a big family.

Our speaker was Marnie Pehrson, a local author.  She spoke about her book The Patriot Wore Petticoats.  It's a truly fascinating fictional story based on the life of her 4th great grandmother during the Revolutionary War.  I bought a copy.

The meeting lasted a little over an hour, and I was stopped several times on the way out by the members, thanking me for coming and asking me to come back to the next meeting and how happy they were to have a fresh face in the group.  Since it's a month until the next meeting, I have already mailed my membership fee (can't beat $15 a year!), and I'm looking forward to the next meeting and seeing all the wonderful people there!

Sunday's Obituary - Martha Nell Thomas

Mrs. Martha Thomas

Services for Mrs. Martha Nell Thomas, 37, 3357 North College Avenue, a parts assembler for Diamond Chain Company, will be held in the Moskal Mortuary of Johnstown, Pa., where arrangements are pending.  Friends may call after 6 p.m. Monday in the King and King Mortuary here.  She died Friday in Marion County General Hospital.  Survivors include two daughters, Misses Gwendolyn and Roshon Thomas, both of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 20 September 1971, p. 31.

*When I received my great grandfather's obituary, I got a big chunk of the page from the newspaper.  The Indianapolis Star obituaries have not been digitized, so I figured I would go ahead and share with everyone, in case someone was looking.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Genealogy Success Team - Week Five

Wow.  I can't believe it's been five weeks.  I told Laura this morning, this partnership has lasted longer than some of my relationships!  But I digress.

This was a pretty busy week for both of us, but I am so proud of Laura for the multitude of blog posts she made this week! A grand total of 5!  A blogging machine, that one.

These were my goals for last week: 

  1. Go to first Delta Genealogical Society meeting.
  2. Select and send a French vital record for translation.
  3. Attend 4 Jamboree webinars.
  4. Work on Case 3 of Inferential Genealogy.
  5. Blog more than once.

Okay, so I went to the society meeting.  I'll be blogging about that separately ... but I can tell you that I absolutely cannot wait until the next one!  Wonderful people down there at the Delta Genealogical Society!

I actually ended up sending three French records for translation - not because I was greedy - but because I wasn't sure which ones would be easier to read.  They were all pretty crappy old copies.  In any case, Laura was able to get a rough draft of the transcriptions and translations to all three of them to me yesterday, which impressed the heck out of me.  She must eat lots of carrots because I don't know how she was able to make some of those words out.  My eyeballs are obviously foreign-language-impaired ... so much for Lasik.  I think I have determined, now that the translations are done enough to make some sense out of them, that two of the records are probably not my people.  Bummer, I know ... but one of them is my GGGrandfather!  So, yippee!

I attended not just 4 ... but all 5 of the Jamboree webcasts!  I posted about that here.

I wasn't able to get to Case 3 before our meeting this morning because my homework got in the way (and took a lot longer than I really wanted), so that's getting pushed onto this week's list.  The IG Group is meeting tomorrow night, so I absolutely have to get that done ASAP.

I was able to make 3 blog posts this week in addition to my weekly update.

This week I'm allowing a little even more wiggle room in my goal list because I'm still getting settled with my homework and how much time it takes (obviously, the hour per night I allotted on my schedule for studying isn't cutting it -- I have been spending a minimum of 3 hours per night just getting through a chapter.  Don't judge - it's algebra).  So ... here is my list for this week:

  1. Mail requests for military records for my GGrandfather and Granduncle (my mom got my grandmother to sign them so I could mail them off for her father's and brother's records).
  2. Finish Inferential Genealogy Case 3.
  3. Call the activity director at my grandmother's assisted living center to discuss the photo project I am sending, and ask for her guidance and suggestions before I send the letter (I keep meaning to do it, but I keep leaving her number on my desk at home and she's only there while I'm at work ...)
  4. Blog more than once.
Yes, it's a relatively light list, but at least it will keep me moving forward on a few things, at least for the next 8 weeks (or until this algebra class kills me).

Incidentally, we also discussed Debbie's "Tuesday's Tips" post over at Mascot Manor about her processes.  I can relate to the buckshot approach to research whenever I find a new person to add to my tree.  Fortunately, our Success Team meetings have helped me rein that in a little bit, and I know that Debbie's tips will help too.  I encourage everyone to take a look at it ... she has one of the best research checklists I've seen (and it's an Excel spreadsheet, which makes it even better!)  She also has a link to the most awesome citations-on-the-go post-it notes.  I ordered mine on Tuesday night and they arrived yesterday ... zoom!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Today is Nature Photography Day

So this has very little ... okay, absolutely nothing ... to do with genealogy.  But since it's Nature Photography Day, I thought I would share some of my "nature" photos.

When I visited my mom in Fredericksburg, Virginia, this past March, she had created a little birdie oasis in her back yard.  I loved it so much, I decided to do the same thing when I got home.  So, 7 birdfeeders and probably a thousand pounds of various bird seed later, I now have a place for the birdies to come and relax, rejuvenate, and fill up their tummies - and boy, can they eat!

Of course, we get the occasional acrobatic squirrel who thinks all the seed is out there for him ...

This little guy has made tunnels under my collection of bird feeders ...

And little Fatty McFatterson here visits almost every day.  I think he lives in the bamboo ...

The neighborhood cat has taken subtlety to a whole new level ...

I don't have to go far to see nature in action.  All of these photos were taken from my porch.  I've managed to get some really good photos of the birds who come to visit.  The ones I can identify include blue jays, cardinals (one of them is bald), lots of finches, lots of mourning doves, some brown thrashers, starlings, and a couple of downy (I think) woodpeckers.
Bald cardinal
Blue Jay
Female downy woodpecker

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Harold J. Crowe

Harold J. Crowe, Retired Allison Inspector, Dies

Harold J. Crowe, 72, 35 West Pleasant Run Parkway, South Drive, an engine inspector 35 years for Detroit Diesel Allison Division of General Motors Corporation died yesterday in Methodist Hospital.
He was born at Rockport and lived in Indianapolis for 52 years. He retired from Allison in 1964. 

Mrs. [sic] Crowe was a member of St. Catherine Catholic Church, the Speedway American Legion Post and 40 & 8. He was a World War I Army Veteran. 

Services will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the G. H. Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home and at 9:30 a.m. in the church, with burial in Calvary Cemetery.

Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Jeannette Hall of Carmel and Mrs Mary Lucille [sic] Gallagher of Marietta, Ga., and two sons, Charles W. Crowe of Milwaukee and Harold J. Crowe, Jr of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 20 September 1971, p. 31.

*When I received my great grandfather's obituary (above), I got a big chunk of the page from the newspaper.  The Indianapolis Star obituaries have not been digitized, so I will be posting the (legible) obituaries from that page over the next several Sundays.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

SCGS Jamboree 2011 - A Virtual Perspective

The Southern California Genealogical Society's 42nd annual Jamboree is underway.  I would love to be there. I live in Tennessee.  The Jamboree is (obviously) in southern California.  Attendance at Jamboree is cost- and time-prohibitive for me.

Good news!  With the help of RootsMagic, SCGS webcasted five of their sessions today.  I attended them all, as any self-respecting genea-addict would.

First up was Lisa Louise Cook (of Genealogy Gems) with Google Search Strategies for Genealogists.  How amazing is she?!  I could have sat there all day and not gotten tired of learning new search strategies for Google.  I took 2 full pages of notes, in addition to the downloadable handouts that were available.

The next webcast was Fingerprinting Our Families - Using Ancestral Origins as a Genealogical Research Key by Curt Witcher.  Curt is a great speaker, and I was thoroughly enjoying his class.  Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties that caused most of the web attendees to miss 10-15 minutes of the session, and no handouts to use as a reference.  What I did manage to watch was fascinating.  I took lots of notes on this class too, and will definitely be utilizing a lot of the sources that Curt described.  If anyone has a handout or better notes from this class, I would love to borrow them :)

The third webcast was Researching Your Union Civil War Ancestors by David A. Lambert.  I haven't found any Union soldiers in my ancestry yet, but I haven't really looked for them either.  I definitely wanted to be ready if I ever ran across them, so I was glad this was one of the sessions that was available by webcast.  It was slightly frustrating because he talked kind of fast and there was no handout for the class, so sometimes it was hard to keep up.  I took a lot of notes, but I was writing so fast I may not be able to read them later!  

After a lunch break, I attended But it Ain't Really the ORIGINAL Record! with Kory Meyerink.  Very interesting class.  I never knew that most of the records I thought were original are actually copies.  I will be looking at my documentation in a whole different light.

I was really looking forward to the last webcast of the day ... The Many Facets of the National Archives Website with Kerry Bartels.  I knew it was going to be a long one, so I planned ahead and had my drink and a snack, and my comfy socks (admit it ... right now, all you folks who are in person at the Jamboree with your tired feet are envious of my comfy socks).  I'm really glad I sat still for this session.  Whenever I go to the NARA website, I get pretty overwhelmed by the amount of information available, and I don't even know where to begin ... so I just don't even go there.  Scary stuff.  

Kerry has a great sense of humor ... for an archivist (I'm kidding!  He's pretty funny).  He did a very good job of showing us how to navigate the important parts of the NARA website and what all that stuff meant so we weren't so intimidated by it and - more importantly - how to request it if it hasn't been digitized!  So now, not only do I know how to better find what I'm looking for, I also have about a billion times as many records to search because they are ALL potentially genealogically related!  AARRGGHH!

All that being said, I still do wish I had been able to go to the Jamboree in person, but since I couldn't, this was the next best thing.  I really appreciate all the work that went into putting this together for all of the web-attendees.  Thank you SCGS and RootsMagic!

All of these recorded webcasts can be viewed at the SCGS website, if you are a member.

Genealogy Success Team - Week Four

You know what I like about these Success Team updates?  I get to give myself a little pat on the back.  More importantly, I hope it will encourage ... heck, even inspire ... others to set some short-term, attainable goals for themselves.  I have actually started using this method for a lot of areas of my life (housework, homework, work-work, etc.), and I'm really starting to see some progress!  I couldn't do it without Laura.  Best. Teammate. Ever.

To recap, last weeks goals were:
  1. Go to the FHL.
  2. Transfer 5 peripheral people from FTM to RM4.
  3. Enter sources for Lucile Stiker's biography on my website.
  4. Blog more than once.
I actually went to the Family History Library on Saturday after our Team meeting.  First, as soon as I walked into the library, it felt like I was walking into someone's family room.  It was very cozy, inviting, and unpretentious.  I think some of the posters they had up were older than me.  The librarian, Deborah, was fantastic.  She was new, so she didn't even pretend to have all the answers, which I applauded.  We went on an exploration of the library together.  They have 4 microfilm readers (unfortunately, none of them are flash drive compatible), and one of those microfilm scanners that's hooked up to the computer.  They also have about 6 computers set up in a little room off the main room.  There are probably a dozen file cabinets full of films and fische, and TONS of notebooks with all sorts of information.  My work is cut out for me now.

Now that all of my (roughly documented) direct line ancestors have been transferred to RM4, which takes me back to my 3rd great grandparents, I am working on transferring all the peripheral relatives.  I'm basically following the same format as before (starting with most recent and working backward) and transferring all documents and other media, sourcing, etc. I'm continuing to make hard files for everyone too.  I managed to get about 14 people transferred this week, mainly because I simply don't have as much documentation on my peripheral line yet (but now that I've been working on this inferential genealogy course, I'm realizing that my peripheral relatives are just as important as my direct line ancestors!).

I already had the biography for my great grandmother, Lucile Francis Stiker, on my website, but I hadn't put her sources on there yet.  I finished that as well.  She can be seen here.

... and I've blogged three times (four, if you count my Faces of Genealogy post, which consisted only of a picture).

After a week of algebra, and realizing how much effort it's going to take to not only pass the class, but do it without annihilating my 3.92 GPA (did I mention I graduated summa cum laude?), I'm having to tone down my goals just a bit.  Here are my goals for this week:
  1. Go to first Delta Genealogical Society meeting.
  2. Select and send a French vital record for translation.
  3. Attend 4 Jamboree webinars.
  4. Work on Case 3 of Inferential Genealogy.
  5. Blog more than once.
See you next week!  GO TEAM!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Genealogy Success Team - Week Three

Editorial note: In preparation of my Team meetings, I usually start a blank post on Friday so I can remember to post my updates.  When I do that, I set it for a date in the future so I don't accidentally have a blank post.  I just realized that I never changed the date on this one from July 4 to June 4.  Problem solved ... and before my next Team meeting ... whew!

I'm totally digging the Success Team right now.  I'm getting more done (as opposed to just started) than I ever thought possible.  Here is an update on last week's goals:

  1. Fully transfer at least 5 people from FTM to RM4 (with corresponding hard file).
  2. Fully update at least 1 WikiTree profile. (See my blog post here for the reason behind this)
  3. Blog at least once this week (I'm going to start saying "other than my Success Team update post").
  4. Now that I know their hours, visit the Family History Library to ask about their process, what collections they have, etc. so I can get organized before I start researching there.
I was able to transfer 8 people from FTM to RM4.  I transferred the 5 I needed to reach my goal, then I realized I only had 3 more to transfer before I could say that my entire direct line had been moved.  So I did it.  Wheee!

I bought a book on HTML ... "Creating Web Pages for Dummies."  Okay, I haven't had time to read it yet, but I updated my great grandmother's wiki anyway and made it all HTML-ified (using the basic codes provided in the help section of WikiTree).  It looks awesome, if I do say so myself.  My cousins have posted photos and updated information on a bunch of the profiles on WikiTree and it's really turning into something special.  I'm very excited.

I did manage to blog more than once.  Three times, actually.

I never made it to the Family History Library before my Team meeting.  They are only open on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings 7-9 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10-2.  I ended up working until 9 p.m. on Tuesday and had a massive sinus attack on Wednesday, which prevented me from going.  That goal is carried over to next week.

Now ... before I go into this week's goals, keep in mind that school starts back on Monday and I am taking my absolute last class.  I'm only taking one class, but it's college algebra.  So, (compared to prior weeks) my goals may seem a little timid.  Here they are:
  1. Go to the FHL.
  2. Transfer 5 peripheral people from FTM to RM4.
  3. Enter sources for Lucile Stiker's biography on my website.
  4. Blog more than once.
I feel pretty good about these goals.  I think even with my heavier schedule, they are quite attainable.  I will keep you posted!

Inferential Genealogy - Case 2

This is my third post in the Inferential Genealogy series.  My previous posts can be found below:

Post 1
Post 2

The IG study group met on Tuesday, June 7 to discuss Case 2.  All I can say about Case 2 is ... it kicked my butt.  I don't profess to be a genealogy genius or anything, but I've certainly done my fair share of research on- and off-line.  If this course was meant for beginners, they must grow 'em pretty hearty over there at FamilySearch.

At the beginning of the case, we were told of a published family history that gave a grand story about Obediah Overton and something about how he was linked to George Washington, blah blah blah ... which turned out to be complete and utter fiction.  Then we learned that Obediah Overton actually "ended up" in Orange County, Virginia.  That's pretty much it.  No date of birth, no place of birth, nothing.  Our focused goal was to identify the parents of Obediah Overton from Orange Co., VA.  Piece o' cake, right?  Yeah ... 

Anyway, we were given a series of 8 documents ranging from deeds to tax lists to wills and marriage records.  I took copious notes on each document (mainly due to the technical difficulties we were experiencing with the journal portion of the course, but also because I was so stinkin' confused that I had to draw myself a picture).  Of the 8 documents we were given, one ... yes, one ... had the name of Obediah Overton.

Long story short, there were several problems with Case 2 that would not allow my brain to draw a conclusion - even a far-reaching one - about the identity of Obediah's parents.

  1. The documents were "recreations."  I'm still trying to figure out the reasoning behind not using the actual documents.  It can't possibly be a copyright issue.  Whatever the reason, the recreated documents were horrible.  For example, names were either misspelled or a different name altogether (Howerton was written "Harrison," Moore was written "Morris," etc.) or the document clearly said "Overton" but the instructor was saying "Howerton."
  2. We never got to see the entire document.  Granted, we were told what the document was and what it contained, but references were made to information on the document that we were not able to see.  Is that any way to analyze a document?
  3. The instructor had a LOT more information that we did (obviously), and made what appeared to be "giant leaps for genealogy kind."  They may or may not have been assumptions on his part, but we had no evidence to back them up.  It made it very difficult to follow the facts.
  4. Because we weren't given the date of Obediah's birth, it was very hard to place him within a timeline of the documents we were given or relative to the other people named in the documents.
Now, all of that being said ... let me tell you the positive things I got out of Case 2:
  1. I am SO going to search out tax records for everyone in my tree!  Apparently, the tax assessor knew everything.  And everyone.  Fair warning all you people in the tax offices in Indiana, Missouri, and South Dakota ... I'll be calling on you.
  2. You never realize how much information is contained in one document until you can't see the whole thing.  I have gotten so used to skimming a document for a date, a name, and a place that I forget to look at all the other stuff.  Won't be doing that anymore.
  3. Timelines.  I'm pretty sure I mentioned it before ... and I usually keep one for the person I'm researching.  It never occurred to me to do a timeline for the documents too.
So, it wasn't a complete waste of time.  There is definitely room for improvement as far as the information we are given, but it's still a good course.  We'll be reviewing Case 3 at Just Genealogy in SecondLife on Sunday, July 19 at 5:15 p.m. Pacific time.  Our IG study group has outgrown the Family History Centre (I think we had over 45 people at the last meeting), so we are now meeting at the Tabernacle that is caddy-corner to the Centre.

If Case 3 is anything like Case 2, I'm glad we have a little over a week to get it done!  (Especially now that my final algebra class is underway ... I'm really wishing I had a fast-forward button on that).

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Inferential Genealogy - Case 1

As I mentioned in my initial post on Inferential Genealogy, I was given a "homework" assignment to study Case 1.  I did.  It was fascinating.  What I liked most about it was that it forced my brain to go in unfamiliar directions - to think outside the box.  I am discovering that there are record types out there that, while I never thought they would be of much value to my research other than as peripheral information on a particular ancestor, are actually quite valuable and clue-ridden when it comes to applying the process of inferential genealogy.

Case 1 took us through the 5-step process:

  1. State a focused goal;
  2. Search broadly;
  3. Understand the documents;
  4. Correlate the evidence;
  5. Write down your results.

We were provided several images of documents used to "identify the parents of Maxfield Whiting who married Lettice Johnson in 1753."  (that was our focused goal).  Among the documents were marriage records, wills, probate records, a letter written by a father for his daughter, and court records.  By the time all was said and done (and with a few hints from Tom Jones), I had correctly identified Maxfield Whiting's parents.  I was very proud of myself!

... until I started on Case 2.  But that's for another post.

We discussed Case 1 in our Just Genealogy group in SecondLife this past Sunday, which helped the the thought process gel a little more in my head (this is a good thing).  Here are a couple of things I took away from this part of the course and our discussion:

  1. CITE YOUR SOURCES! (ok, I already knew that, but it bears repeating)
  2. When you make assumptions, say so.
  3. The people you seek may not be the main focus of a record.  They could be witnesses, notaries, heirs, informants, etc.
  4. When two people with the same surname are listed on the same record, it is likely that they are related in some way.
Bottom line, I enjoyed this case and it made me feel like I was on the right track.  Now ... on to Case 2.

Monday, June 06, 2011

A New Way to Interview ... Maybe?

My grandmother is 85 years old and has had three ... I don't even know what they are ... we'll call them strokes.  In any case, they have had a bit of an effect on her brain, so she has a hard time with her short-term memory.  Her long-term memory, however, seems to be okay.  

In the past several months, she has deteriorated such that she has had to move from a retirement center to an assisted-living facility, mainly so she can still live on her own, but for safety will have someone checking in on her periodically throughout the day.  I'm in Tennessee and she's in Florida, so it makes it a little difficult to visit her, which makes it even harder to interview her for short periods of time (I don't want it to be too taxing on her).

I tried to come up with a solution that is two-fold: (1) to get her memories down on paper, and (2) to give her something to keep her occupied for short periods of time ... a job, if you will.

What I have decided to do is send her, a couple of times a month, about 5 photos that need identification or clarification.  I have printed the first batch on glossy photo paper so she can keep them when she's done (she graciously gave me the originals of these photos).  I also printed thumbnails of the photos on a separate sheet of regular paper with space for her to write her thoughts and memories and anything else she felt was important.  I am also sending a stamped return envelope ... you know, one less thing.

I hope that this will be a simple way for her to help with my research.  Has anyone else successfully navigated these types of hurdles?  If so, what did you do?  I am open to any suggestions.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

This is the Face of Genealogy

Ida Mae Gray
My 2nd Great Grandmother circa 1920 (maybe?)

This is in response to a post by Thomas MacEntee here.  I encourage you to check it out.

Friday, June 03, 2011

FamilySearch, SecondLife, and Inferential Genealogy walk into a bar ...

Trust me ... it was hilarious!  Seriously though, I am participating in a fascinating new study group in SecondLife - thanks to DearMYRTLE, who (in addition to everything else she has going on) managed to arrange it all!  We will be studying Inferential Genealogy.  It is one of the many courses available at  FamilySearch.  It is hosted by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, UGA, FNGS.  Not only that ... this is where my favorite 4-letter word comes into play ... it's FREE!

Our first meeting was on Tuesday, May 31.  We had so many people in attendance, our little corner of the SecondLife world was closed.  I think we had a total of 35 people (including Mr. Myrt, who sacrificed his place so someone else could attend - such a gentleman!) around the firepit at JustGenealogy.

We discussed the Introduction and the handouts (we were instructed not to work ahead).  One of our assignments was to come up with our own definition of Inferential Genealogy.  Here's mine (in a nutshell):

Inferential Genealogy is the process of taking a lot of different documents from a lot of different places and using them to draw conclusions about relationships and identities when no single record is able to do it.
The introduction explained the difference between kinship acceptance and kinship determination.  I doubt I will be accepting any document at face value anymore.  Additionally, the five-step process was discussed in detail:

1. Start with a focused goal (be specific)
2. Search broadly (time, location, and associates)
3. Understand the records (why and how?)
4. Correlate the evidence (differences, similarities)
5. Write down results

Needless to say, this week has been a little crazy and I haven't had a chance to even decide what my goal is going to be.  I'll work on that a little later.

Our next meeting is Sunday, June 5, at 5:15 p.m. (Pacific) at the Family History Centre in SecondLife.  You can view the full schedule at DearMYRTLE's blog here and in the Genealogists in Second Life group on Facebook here.  We will be discussing Case 1 (which is my "homework" from Tuesday).

The course is really very interesting so far.  I encourage you to check it out!  If you want to know more about SecondLife, I encourage you to check out Myrt's "Get a Second Life" workshop webinar on June 8.  More information can be found here and here.