Wednesday, June 29, 2011

FGS Luncheon Tickets Still Available

Do you hate to wait in that long line or fight the crowds at the concession stand for lunch each day at the conference?
Do you want a high-quality meal that comes with a salad, entree, and dessert?
Do you want to listen and learn from a long list of great speakers who are experts in the fields of genealogy, family history, writing, etc?
Do you want to network with other genealogists, speakers, and writers?

Then an FGS Conference Luncheon is the place for you!

Each day of the conference offers up to 4 different lunch options to choose from. The luncheons are a great opportunity to take advantage of at least once during the conference. I didn't sign up for any luncheons when I was at NGS in Charleston, however, I did receive the opportunity to attend one. It was so nice to just waltz right in, find a seat at a table, introduce myself and start talking to my neighbors about their research interests, where they were from, how they were enjoying the conference, etc. I didn't have to spend half my lunch hour waiting in line or looking for a place to sit or people to sit with. It was very relaxing and I had a lengthy conversation with my neighbor about whether he really needed to start using Facebook. I shared my experiences and he shared his concerns.

I definitely plan on attending at least one luncheon at FGS this year! Of course the hard part is choosing which ones to attend! And from what I hear, they are filling up fast! You can sign up for luncheons from now until the conference starts by using your pin number you are assigned when you sign up for the conference. But they are filling up fast!

To see a list of speakers and the menus being offered, click through each day's schedule of the program brochure.

Cheesecake anyone???

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I Learned Wednesday - June 29, 2011

I was looking through an Ahnentafel report I made of my LaRue ancestors that I prepared to send to Greta from Greta's Genealogy Bog when I happened upon Generation 5 for Peter LaRue and beneath his name was an Elizabeth Cresson. I have been seeing the name “Cress” pop up over and over again throughout my Family Finder results and was wondering where that name came into play. This is not a line that I have actively researched. In fact, the information in this report is from the family tree file that my Grandfather compiled. I keep it as a separate file for reference only and when I am ready to start researching this side of the family, I will use it as a guide.

Speaking of Family Finder DNA results…

One of my matches emailed me about a Thomas and Saunders/Sanders connection. I took one look at my database and realized I had a grand total of 1 Sanders and 1 Thomas family member listed. Now why on earth would I have these two surnames listed in my surname list in my Family Finder DNA page if I didn’t have any information on them? Because they are the surnames of my 4th and 6th great-grandmothers.

I looked through my sources and notes on my 4th great-grandmother, Millie/Milly Thomas and found reference to a couple of WorldConnect online Family Tree files that other descendants of Milly Thomas and her husband Hollingsworth House had posted. The last time I accessed them was in 2005. I accessed them again to see if any of the information had changed or been updated and sure enough one descendant had updated her file to include the parents and grand-parents of Milly Thomas! She even provided transcripts of the documents she had reviewed and cited them accordingly in such a way as to convince me that the parents she designated for each generation was correct.

So now I have that Milly Thomas’ parents were William Thomas, b. abt 1792 in Franklin Co., VA, and Nancy Huddleston, b. abt 1795 in VA; and that William Thomas’ parents were Ephriam Thomas, b. abt 1775 in VA and Maria Catharina “Caty” Teal/Diehl, b. 25 Aug 1774, Dover, York Co., PA.

Thanks to a Family Finder DNA match contacting me, I learned who the parents and grand-parents of my 4th great-grandmother, Milly Thomas House were!

Unfortunately, my match is in the same situation I started off in: He has one person named Thomas in his tree. It is a female named Olive Thomas, md to Enos Ingraham, Hartford, CT, 1797. So we aren't able to "connect" at this time. But at least I was able to go back two more generations in my tree!

What did you learn today? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

FGS Conference - Free Kids Camp !!!

FamilySearch is hosting a FREE kids camp on Saturday, September 10th from 9 am to noon at the Hilton Hotel in Springfield, Illinois.  This is a great opportunity to introduce your kids (ages 10-14) to the concepts of family history and genealogy: here they will learn how to interview relatives, collect information into a journals and their family tree, and do some hands-on work with computers to find information on their ancestors!

You don't have to be an FGS conference attendee to sign up for this event. It is open to the public and is being held in conjunction with the conference. So if you know anyone in the Springfield area who would like to attend, please encourage them to register.

You can register by sending an email to Provide the names of the kids who would like to attend and your contact information. For more information, visit FamilySearch Kids Camp.

FamilySearch is the leading genealogy organization in the world and is a service provided by the The Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints. For over 100 years FamilySearch has been gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide and providing access to millions of patrons via online at and through their family history centers in 70 countries. Learn more at 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Register For FGS 2011 by July 1st and Save $50.00!!!

Don’t forget to register for the FGS Conference by July 1st, 2011 to take advantage of the $50.00 discount being offered. After July 1st, the registration price goes up by $50.00. However, you can use this extra $$ in the exhibit hall to purchase that book you’ve been looking for, some t-shirts, software, and other goodies; or two conference luncheon tickets; or use it to join us at the FGS 35th Anniversary Celebration where you can maybe win a trip to Salt Lake City for two!

So what are you waiting for! It’s easy! Register here

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First Look at my Family Finder ftDNA Results

Back in April, FamilyTreeDNA had a big sale to celebrate DNA Day so I took advantage of it and ordered me a Family Finder autosomal DNA kit. The Family Finder test looks at your autosomal DNA that is inherited from both your Mother and your Father. You can use this to determine who your 1st through 5th cousins are and start building up your genealogical database or verify kinships. I'm very excited to be a part of this scientific technology. You can learn more about ftDNA's FamilyFinder kit on their home page

I ordered my kit on April 15th and I sent it off before I left for NGS in Charleston on May 10th. This is what I did when I received notice that my Family Finder DNA results were in on 6/13/2011:

I logged into my personal ftDNA page with the kit no. and password I was given by ftDNA when I placed my order.

I navigated to the Family Finder test results on the left hand side of the page. I clicked to view “Matches.”

The list of matches that came up defaulted to the “Close and Immediate” relationship setting. This setting displays a list of your matches who have been “suggested” by ftDNA as either 4th cousins or below.  For my results, I have only 3rd and 4th cousins listed and there are 4 pages of results. I can change this setting to "Show All Matches" for example, just by clicking on the drop down box and selecting it from the list. (Hint: If you want to know exactly how many matches there are with the “Close and Immediate” relationship, click on Chromosome Browser and it will tell you). 

Total number of matches (6/13/2011) – 113
Total number of matches time of this post – 117
Total number of “Close and Immediate” suggested (3rd & 4th cousins) matches – 36
Total number of “4th to Distant” cousin matches – 29
Total number of “5th to Distant” cousin matches – 52

The first thing I did was start scrolling through the surnames listed beside each of my matches. The surnames that are in bold (far right) are names that we supposedly have in common (or variation thereof). My very first match is a good example to use (his name has been whited out for privacy purposes). 

My Surnames: (this list is abbreviated for this example)                                                                                  

Cheek, Davis, Fox, Godwin, HillJohnson, Maynard, O'Neal, PetersPulleyRascoRobertsSmith, Steed, Thomas, WestWilliams

My Match’s Surnames:

ChaudoinDickerson, Edmunds, Johnson, Justice, Justus, Overstreet, Parrish, Penn, Pool, Roach, Sivley, Smith, Snoddy, Williams

It was a little hard to swallow how some of these names might be “variations” of each other. I am still trying to figure out the similarity of “Roach” and “Rasco.” And Snoddy has me stumped.

I have a funny story to tell about the Snoddy name. When I got my results, I called my grandmother and rattled off some of these names to her and she told me that my Great-Grandmother had a crush on a one of the Snoddy boys growing up in Dierks, Arkansas! She was often told as a child that had her mother married this Snoddy boys, then her last name would have been Snoddy instead of Binns!!! Can you imagine “Barbara Snoddy?”

One of my matches has the surname of Bracco in bold indicating a common surname. Here are all of my Surnames that begin with a “B”:
I guess it’s supposed to match to Brooks?

Other Observations:
If you have King in your list of Surnames as I do, then anyone who has United Kingdom listed as a country will light up. They will also light up if King is part of their surname, as in Pilkington.

I was surprised by how many people do NOT have any surnames listed AT ALL. 59 out of a total of 118 matches do not have any surnames listed at all. That’s exactly 50%. Come on people, what’s the point?

Surname Occurrences
 - These are the number of matches that shared my most common surnames:
Smith – 9
Johnson – 8
Williams – 6
Davis – 6

Some people have GEDCOMS posted as well. You can tell if they have a GEDCOM by the little pedigree symbol beside their name. This is a nice feature to have in that you can look through their tree and see a name that looks familiar that you might also have in common but might not have loaded in your surname list. I added a surname that one of my matches and I had in common but it has not yet been changed to “bold type;” so I don’t know how long it takes for ftDNA to update these lists. It’s also fun to comb through these pedigrees while you are waiting to hear back from a match you may have emailed. Unfortunately it does not list the children and siblings like your genealogy software at home would. And most of the kinship determination is through cousins, so these pedigrees can’t take you much farther than a name, approximate date, and place.

This is all I looked at the first few days after I received my data. My initial thoughts were summed up into this one thought:

Hmm…this might not be as fun as I thought it would be. Everyone and their brother is gonna have a Smith, Davis, Johnson, Williams, Thomas, and Moore in their family somewhere. When do I get to the good stuff?

How about you? Have you taken the plunge? Any initial thoughts to share?
Feel free to comment below. Next time I will talk about the data and the chromosome browser.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Looking for Wills at the NC State Archives - Updated

In 2008 I wrote a post, “Looking for Wills at the NC State Archives” in which I talked about how to use the NC State Archives’ online catalog (MARS) to see if your ancestor left a will in North Carolina. Since then the Archives has totally redesigned their online catalog, so my screenshots are obsolete. I have updated them in the post below. Please feel free to leave comments or questions for help in the comment boxes below.

I consider Mitchell's "Will Index" to be my #1 resource material to researching NC families. It is a two volume printed set that sits out on the main counter at the NC State Archives. It can be searched online using the NC State Archive MARS search Engine. This is how I went about finding the last will and testament for Henry Williams in Caswell County, NC:

Go to
NC State Archives webpage

Click on the MARS
Catalog link on the left side and a new window will open. It may take a couple of minutes to completely load. You will see the main search page. I have included a screen shot below:

Because I want to look in a specific resource –the Mitchell’s Will Index – I click on the Browse Button to open the list of collections. The Mitchell’s Will Index is found under the Popular Collections Heading. Click the little plus sign beside “Popular Collections” to expand the sub-headings and then click the box beside “Mitchell Will Index” to select it. Make sure a green check box appears.

Once the Mitchell Will Index is loaded as the collection I want to search, I type in “Williams” in the main search box:

And I get the following 49 pages of results!!! – What???

If you look at the Mars ID, all results have the same first 4 digits – 5200, but different set of 2nd numbers. The first result has a 5200.1 – this is for Alamance County. The next 3 results have 5200.2 – This is for Albemarle County. They are listed alphabetically by county. The Archives uses a set of numbers for county codes. So this is good to know if you are looking for a particular county. I happen to know that Caswell County’s code is “20” and I could scroll through these results until I get to 20, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go back and use the search box again.

I can enter “Williams, Caswell.”

And then I get 5 results, one of which is my Henry Williams. And you see the county code is in fact, 20.

The MARS system is only a catalog, it is not a digital repository with digital images. But using this will tell you if your ancestor left a will in the state of North Carolina.
However, there ARE some wills written before 1776 which have been scanned with digital images accessible from this catalog. You can NOT access them from the Mitchell's Will Index though. They are accessed from the Secretary of State Record Group. (More on this later)

Double clicking on Henry Williams brings up the information for this record:

This record depicts information for this Henry Williams. The will was recorded 1786 in Caswell Co., NC. The call number and MARS Id number are not important.

What's Next? - Head to the Archives

Once you find the will date, person's name and county, you can go to the Archives and look through the will boxes. They are organized by COUNTY first, then alphabetized by last name. Before you can look through the records you have to fill out a Call Slip

The call numbers start with a 3-digit prefix assigned to the county of interest. Caswell County's 3-digit prefix is 020. 

Document Type:
Then the next 3-digits are assigned to document type. For wills, that number is always 801. 

Folder Number:
The last number of the call number is the box number that contains your ancestor's file. This last number is left blank on the call slip. 

You will put your surname on the call slip instead. They will bring you the box that contains the surname for the county of interest. For example, I might find the will of Henry Williams, 1786, Caswell County, using the following call number: 020.801.25. Box 25 containing the surname Williams.

The archivist will give you the whole box and you can only take out 1 file folder at a time. You must keep all documents inside the folder in order at all times. You can request copies be made by filling out a copy request form. Copies are $0.10 a page.

Here's some information on Estate Records at the NC State Archives in my post "A Peek into the NC State Archives: Loose Documents of Estate Records"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Local Gen Society Mentioned all the Way out in Burbank!

Last weekend several members of my local genealogical society, Durham-Orange Genealogical Society (D-OGS) met in the small conference room of the Chapel Hill Library to watch live streaming videos of some of the presentations that were broadcast from the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California!

I brought in some sweet tea, lemonade, cheese and crackers and homemade cookies for snacks! I hooked up my laptop to the projector that was provided by the nice library staff and started up the live stream of video and audio projecting on the somewhat smaller than usual, but workable, screen.

Photo of my laptop, projector and projector screen. The audio from the presentation came from my laptop. Had there been more people, I probably would have needed an additional set of speakers hooked up to my laptop. I will remember this for next time. Photo by Ginger R. Smith, 11 June 2011

Photo of Lisa Louise Cooke from the Genealogy Gems Podcast. Photo from the SCGS Jamboree Page

The first live broadcast started promptly at 11:30 am with Lisa Louise Cooke talking about “Google Search Strategies for Genealogists.” If you were watching this video at home, you might have heard Mrs. Cooke give us a shoutout – she mentioned that there was a genealogy society in North Carolina meeting at the local library to watch some live streaming video presentations together! Talk about getting the word out there! All the way from Burbank California! We all waved back to her on the video screen and I was just tickled pink!

I don’t know about all of you, but I thought I knew everything there was to know about performing Google searches. Boy was I wrong! Did you know you could put dates in your searches? Just type in Ginger Smith 1990…2011 and the search results will come up with my name and then it will bold all of the years mentioned in this time frame?

And did you know there was a synonym search using the ~ ?

What about the *? You can use this between two words in your search to catch phrases that might have an additional term between them.

Another feature that I found interesting was the use of the related tool. If you find a website that you like and you want to find other pages just like it, you can type in your search related: to find other pages just like it. This can be useful for finding those family pages.

These are just some of the things I learned in Mrs. Cooke’s class. I wasn’t the only one who took several NEW things away from this class!


Photo of Curt Witcher, Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN. Photo from the SCGS Jamboree Page

The next video we watched was by the Allen County Library Director, Curt Witcher, who was to talk about “Using Ancestral Origins As a Genealogical Research Key.” We had several technical difficulties with this video, as did the several hundred other people who tuned in to watch. Luckily the people at home also had access to a live chat room, so we were able to share in the experiences of the technical difficulties. We used this time to discuss some of the “business” of our society and our website. We have formed a great partnership with a local guy named Allen Dew who has created an outstanding website cataloging the local cemeteries in North Carolina and Virginia. On his website,, he has links to each NC county, with each cemetery listed and transcripts posted along with photos and links to google maps and directions on how to find the cemeteries.

Not all counties are complete at this time, but the counties of Durham and Orange, and the present day counties of Chatham, Caswell, Randolph, and Wake that were originally part of Olde Orange County are already populated with over hundreds of cemetery listings.

Allen also has links and helpful hints about how to inventory, photograph, and upload information about cemeteries you run across and would like to make available on the website.

And because we have a cool little partnership going on with him now, he added this nifty little banner with a link to our society’s website:

Check it out!

OH, and back to the Curt Witcher video, he talked a lot about determining the ethnicity of your ancestors and then learning all you can about that particular ethnic group in that part of the country in which they lived. He recommended that you seek out ethnic-specific newspapers and journals.

He also emphasized that our ancestors stuck together in their tight little ethnic groups: they emmigrated together, they settled together and they migrated together, so if you cannot find your ancestor, look for their neighbors or other members of their close ethnic group. Also, if you are having trouble identifying your ancestor’s ethnic group, look at their religion for clues. They too will have records.


 Photo of D-OGS members Ginger, Holt and Carol watching David Lambert’s video on Finding your Union Civil War Ancestor. Photo by Ginger R. Smith, 11 June 2011

My faithful society members and I stuck around for the 3rd video in the series which was by David Lambert who spoke about “Researching Your Union Civil War Ancestors.”

We talked a LOT during this presentation about the various records David displayed on the screen and exchanged stories about what we had found – or not found - on our own ancestors.

A good time was definitely had by all. I wrote this post to illustrate what you can do even as a little genealogical society. This didn’t take much to prepare – all I had to do was call the library to book the room and request a projector and screen, announce to the society members and cross post to other society newslists, and then wait for them to show up! I probably would have had more people show up if it weren’t summertime and if I had had more advanced notice about this event. I found out about the live streaming of these videos being offered on Monday, waited two days to hear back from the library and announced on Wednesday for this meeting on Saturday.

The free live streaming of these presentations were made available by the Southern California Genealogical Society and RootsMagic. Thank you! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Free Guided Tours of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

The Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Illinois State Genealogical Society have teamed up with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library to offer conference attendees free behind-the-scene tours of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library during the FGS/ISGS Conference in September 2011. Tours include a visit to the following areas of the library:

* Closed Stacks
* Steve Neal Reading Room
* Newspaper/Microfilm Collection
* Manuscripts Collection
* Audio-Visual Collection
* Conservation Lab
* Microfilm Lab

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is “the premier repository for materials relating to the history of the Prairie State.” Originally created in 1889 as The Illinois State Historical Library, it was charged with collecting and preserving "books, pamphlets, manuscripts, monographs, writings, and other materials of historical interest and useful to the historian, bearing upon the political, religious, or social history of the State of Illinois from the earliest known period of time."[1]

The new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is a public, non-circulating research facility that houses this material documenting all aspects of Illinois' history. Its most noteworthy holdings are its published resources, manuscripts, newspapers, audiovisual materials, and Lincolniana.

For genealogy purposes, the published resources include family histories, cemetery inscriptions, birth, death, naturalization and marriage transcriptions (NOT vital records as most of these records are from pre-1900s). Material on most Illinois counties including county histories, atlases and plat books, census schedule indexes and/or census transcripts is also very valuable to genealogists and can be found at the library.

Conference attendees can pick up your FREE tour tickets at the conference Hospitality Table located in the lobby of the Prairie Capital Convention Center beginning at 3:00 on Tuesday, September 6th.  You will need to stop at the registration booth first to pick up your registration packet and nametag. Then show your nametag to the person at the Hospitality Table and they will provide you with a tour ticket. Space is limited and you must have a ticket, so pick up your tickets as soon as you arrive. ALPL Tours are for registered conference attendees only.

Library Location:
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is located at 112 N. Sixth Street, Springfield, just a 3.5 block walk from the Convention Center. Directions and further instructions will be available at the Hospitality Table or you can download the Visitor Map here.

Tour Schedule:
Wednesday, September 7
10-11 AM & 2-3 PM

Thursday, September 8
10-11 AM & 2-3 PM

Friday, September 9
10-11 AM & 2-3 PM

Between now and September learn more about the library at This is an exciting opportunity you don’t want to miss!

Questions? Direct tour questions to:

[1] The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, website (http:// : 10 June 2011). 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Inferential Genealogy Course in Second Life - Case Study 2

Tonight I attempted to work through Case Study # 2 in the Inferential Genealogy Course on If you haven’t heard about this Inferential Genealogy Study Group that we are holding in the virtual world of Second Life, you can read about it here. Tonight’s homework was to work through Case Study # 2 in determining who the parents of Obediah Overton were using the 5 steps of Inferential Genealogy that Tom Jones has been showing us:
1.       Define research goal
2.       Do a broad search
3.       Analyze the documents
4.       Correlate the evidence
5.       Write your results down

In this case study we were presented with a man named Obediah Overton who has been traced to Orange County, Virginia. No one document specifically states who the parents of Obediah Overton were.  However, many documents researched have identified several possibilities.

We start off with our Research Question – Tom Jones’ focused research question was to identify the parents of Obediah Overton of Orange Co., VA. I like to take a little bit of a different approach. I asked who were NOT the parents of Obediah Overton? Sometimes it’s easier for me to prove someone is NOT the parents – they might not be old enough or might not have had any children and so forth.

We looked at 8 different documents. I took screenshots of each document and what I wrote in my journal so I could go back and reference them easily and quickly and then compare to what Dr. Jones discerned from each document. Let’s take a look at the documents…

Document # 1: Deed from George Overton and Mary his wife to Benjamin Massey and Thomas Moore. 1795. Dr. Jones said there was no record of George Overton ever paying taxes on this land. This might have to be addressed later on in our conflicting evidence section.

Document # 2: Tax records showing Benjamin Massey and Thomas Morris paying taxes on land bought of George [Harrison]. This part of the video was kind of confusing to me because when I read the record, it looks to me as if it says George “Harrison” which is why I put it in [brackets] above. However, when describing the record, Dr. Jones said it was land purchased from George “Howerton.” For the sake of this exercise, we have to assume it says “Howerton.” Dr. Jones also said that previous tax records listed a George “Howerton” as having paid tax on this land. This document, in combination with the first one, is important in correlating a name change between Overton and Howerton.

Document # 3: Deed in which [James] [Overton] gives land to his son George Overton in Spotsylvania County, VA. Again, this was kind of confusing because Dr. Jones described this as a deed in which “John Howerton” gave land to his son George Howerton, however you can clearly see from the scan that it says “Jas Overton.” This document is important because it establishes a relationship between John (or James) and George Overton.

Document # 4: A petition that was signed taken from the Orange County, Virginia History book listing George Overton, Obediah Overton, and Thomas Morris as signers of the petition, establishing they were in the same location at the same time.

Document # 5: 1842 deed from the heirs of George Overton of land to Willis Overton, signed by Willis Overton, John Overton, William Carmmack, William Davidson, and an attorney for Wish H Overton and George.

Document # 6: A deed that John Howerton witnessed. Here we see the “Howerton” name again. Also, we can use this document to assume that John Howerton was at least 21 years of age when he witnessed this deed. Dr. Jones said this would make him old enough to be Obediah’s father, however we were not given a date of the document, so I personally can’t say for sure. That seems to be a vital piece of missing information.

Document # 7: Tax records – there were a couple different scans that rotated through this view and unfortunately my print screen did not capture the correct one that showed two Willis Overtons listed – one was said to be “son of George” and the other was “son of Obediah.” I’m not yet sure of the significance of this document as I have not been able to get any further in the video due to technical issues FamilySearch is having at this time. - Update from my 2nd time around reviewing this case: This document was important because it indicated a similar naming pattern between the two men - George and Obediah who both named one of their sons "Willis." 

Document # 8: The Will of John Howerton, written 1791. Dr. Jones said that it listed several of John’s descendants, however the scan does not show any descendants’ names. It only shows the witnesses’ names which were David, Samuel, and Sam G Partlow Jr. I figured this must be significant somehow, but at this time I have no idea how or why.

Unfortunately, due to technical issues with the video, I was unable to finish the correlation part of the video and to see what Tom said about each of the documents. I did get to the first correlation, however. I have listed it below.

Correlation # 1:
The first two documents – the Deed from George Overton to Benjamin Massey and Thomas Moore and the tax list in which Thomas Morris and Benjamin Massey pay tax on land purchased from George [Harrison]/Howerton shows a correlation between the two names Overton and Howerton and how they might have been used interchangeably.

In order to put things in context, Dr. Jones showed a table of occurrences of both of the Overton and Howerton names. You can see from the table that most men used the Howerton name in the first 10 years and then switched over to the Overton name in the last 10 years of the time period that was studied. What a great visual representation!

Regarding the will of John Howerton, whom is believed to be the most likely candidate to be Obediah's father: We know from Dr. Jones that John Howerton did not name a son, Obediah Howerton in his will. Dr Jones also told us that John Howerton mentioned a granddaughter, without mentioning her parents, therefore we already know that John has left out at least one son or daughter's name from his will. We cannot assume that Obediah is NOT the son of John Howerton simply because he was not named in John's will!

I hope to have access to the video tomorrow before class to hear what Dr. Jones had to say about the documents. If so, I will post my findings as an update to this post. If not, I will wait until we meet in SecondLife at the Genealogy FirePit at 9 pm EST to hear what he had to say and then voice my opinion then. I will post my thoughts as an update following that discussion. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

SNGF - If I Knew Then What I Know Now...

Randy Seaver over a Genea-Musings has given genealogists across the World another evening of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – to describe what I would do differently If I Knew Then What I Know Now…

If I Knew Then What I Know Now…I would have asked my older relatives many more questions.

I had 6 of my 8 great-grandparents alive until I was in my early 20s. I was certainly old enough by then to sit down with them, hook up a video camera or digital recorder, pull out a notebook and pen and start asking questions and writing answers down! Can you imagine how much time I could have saved?

Can you imagine how many brick walls I could probably have avoided had I done this

And the photos…I would have had gobs of photos in my collection by now. Photos that are now probably in some step-2nd-grand-cousin-5x-removed’s ex-wife’s attic molding away!

This should be a lesson to all of you out there with kids. Teach them how to interview at least one elderly relative. Make it a special project for them. Have them do a video interview, write about it in a journal or in a scrapbook. And then save it. (Preferably in an archive safe box.) Oh and make sure they ask for pictures! And don’t forget to label them. (With an archive safe pen.)  

What are your regrets? 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Inferential Genealogy Course in Second Life - Case Study 1

Tonight I reviewed Case Study 1 presented by Tom Jones in the Inferential Genealogy class that we are reviewing in Second Life on Tuesday and Sunday nights. You can read about this study group in my previous post here. On Tuesday night we learned about how we can use 5 basic steps to conduct an inferential genealogical process to answer a research question. In this Case Study, we saw this process put into practice. 

Step # 1:
We start off with a focused goal. In this case study, the question, or focused goal, was to identify the parents of Maxfield Whiting who married Lettice Johnson in 1753.

Step # 2:
Conduct a broad search of time, location, and associates. In this case study, Maxfield and Martha Whiting were witnesses of a will of an associate. According to Tom, two witnesses with the same last name are almost always related; however I’m not sure I agree with that 110%. In this case, it turned out to be a correct assumption.

Step # 3:
Understand the documents and the motivation behind why they were created; follow their creation process through to the finish, especially when dealing with probate, court, and land records; In this case study, we examined 7 distinct documents and wrote our analysis and findings down in our research journals:
  1. 1779 court document of Mr Fitzhugh, Maxfield Whiting’s landlord which included a deposition of Maxfield Whiting himself in which he said he was 50 years of age, putting his date of birth around late 1720s, early 1730s
  2. Church record stating marriage of Maxfield Whiting to Lettice Johnson, Feb 3, 1753 – Tom Jones said that most males in VA at this time married in their early 20s, making Maxfield’s date of birth about 1730
  3. An associate’s will written 1757 which Maxfield Whiting and Martha Whiting both witnessed – Tom Jones says they are probably related
  4. 1731 Petition of Martha Whiting to use property given her by her father, Maxfield Brown; says she has small children and her husband William Whiting left her – Maxfield Whiting could fit in easily as one of these small children
  5. The will of Maxfield Brown listing daughter by the name of Martha Whiting
  6. Marriage record of Martha Whiting to Daniel Fendleston, 1755
  7. Letter from Maxfield Whiting naming his daughter Martha Whiting – indicates similar naming pattern after his mother, Martha Whiting

Step 4:
After all the documents are understood and analyzed, they must then be correlated. The will of Maxfield Brown above correlates the 1731 petition of Martha Whiting to the court in which she said her father was Maxfield Brown.

In the same token, conflicting documents must also be resolved. Can you see what is conflicting in the documents above?

The 1757 will lists Martha Whiting as the witness along with her son Maxfield Whiting. However Martha Whiting had already remarried to Daniel Fendleston in 1755. How do we resolve this?  

Tom Jones suggests that the clerk made an error in the will because he knew both Martha and Maxfield Whiting and probably knew of their relationship and simply wrote both their names as Whiting. Neither of them could probably read or write their own names, so they just placed their marks. It is possible the clerk was not even aware Martha had remarried. I am not sure how I feel about this conclusion, but the rest of the evidence seems to correlate. That leaves us to the next step.

Step #5:
Write it down! As long as you have your conclusion written down in a manner that makes sense to you and to others and such that someone can carry forth your work then you should be confident the case is solved.

I really enjoyed going through this exercise with Tom Jones and the video and I’m looking forward to discussing it in our next Second Life meeting this Sunday at 8:15 pm EST.  I’m not sure I always agree with everything Tom Jones says, but that’s what makes us unique researchers.

This is also really helping me to focus on my sources, learn how to sort through them, look at them one by one, analyze them and think about their meaning instead of just collecting them and filing them away somewhere. I think this is just what I needed!

Here is a snapshot of our meeting from Tuesday night. It was a full house!

For More Information:
To access the Inferential Genealogy course at FamilySearch click here
To learn more about our Inferential Genealogy study group at Second Life, check out DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog post here.
To download SecondLife click here

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Great Illinois Genealogy Scavenger Hunt Contest is Here!

The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) and FamilySearch are teaming up to bring you the Great Illinois Genealogy Scavenger Hunt Contest! 

This event will go on from June 1st – June 30th.
During this time, as a participant, you can submit original articles on Illinois genealogy-related topics OR hyperlinks to specific Illinois genealogy-related resources such as online indexes, databases, and repositories, etc that you have found that were particularly helpful in your research or ones that you believe may benefit others.

Best articles and hyperlinks will be shared in the FamilySearch Research Wiki Illinois Community page. 

You can post submissions via the online form each day for chance to win many prizes. All they ask is that you please check the FamilySearch Wiki pages before you start to see if the articles and hyperlinks are already listed.

What will YOU find?