Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Weekly Genealogy Rewind - August 3, 2010

School Break is Over - 

My summer break is coming to an end and school is about to start back up in approximately 3 weeks. I'm slated to take 3 classes again. I tried this my first semester and I struggled a bit, but I think this time around I will be ok. I've got a great support system at home now, so I'm fairly confident that I will do well again this semester. I hope, however, that my class schedule will not interfere with my work schedule too much. This semester I'm taking two classes on campus, both of which are scheduled on Tuesdays which cut into my work day a bit. I have therefore agreed to work extra on other days.

New Laptop and Digital File Organization - 

Another thing that will help pull me through school this semester (I hope) is the purchase of a new laptop!!! The laptop I've been using is 6 years old and has held up surprisingly well, however it is quite slow. I will be going from a 17 inch screen, but heavy laptop to a 14 inch screen ultra lightweight under 5 pounds laptop. It has a Pentium i5 processor with 4 MB ram and 500 MB hard drive, built in web cam, 5-in-one card reader, CD drive, and a 6.5 hour battery life!!! It seems too good to be true. All of this for under $1000!!! I can't pick it up until Friday when the tax free weekend starts.

One concern I have is transferring my files over to the new laptop. I have almost 400,000 files on my older laptop. This week I spent some time thinking about how to reorganize my files in order to make them more efficient and easier to find and get to. However, I didn't come up with any new ideas. Last year I tried to follow Miriam's suggestions in her post Organizing Your Digital Files by creating a folder for each surname and then creating a "Documents" folder to go in each surname folder. However, I found that awkward because under each surname folder I had additional folders for each person with that surname. When I clicked on the Godwin_Jonathan folder I wanted to see his estate record in that folder. I didn't want to have to go back to the Godwin surname folder then to the Documents folder and then find it that way. If a file belongs to a specific person, it should be in his or her folder. I also don't like the idea of putting a Documents folder in each person's individual folder because that's just way too much work. I have too many individual folders! So this is my dilemma. I would love to hear more about how people organize their digital files. I was hoping to have this settled before I transfer all of these files to the new laptop.

Database - Place Name Consolidation

Last week I took Randy Seaver's advice in his post Will I Ever Finish My Family Tree about taking time in between research and other genealogy driven activities to clean up our Family Tree databases. I started working on resolving place names. I should have done this in Family Tree Maker 2009 prior to transferring to RootsMagic 4 as it was very easy to do so in FTM. However, I didn't do it, so now I'm working on it in RootsMagic 4. One of the things I've had to do is strip the Place name of Cemetery Name and put this in the Details field instead. When I imported my FTM file into RM4 it appended the Cemetery Name to the place name. Although this is really not that big of a deal, I prefer to have it in the details field.

I am standardizing the place names with city, county, state, Country (abbreviated USA) to look like this:
Ash Flat, Sharp, Arkansas, USA. However, I am not comfortable leaving either the city or the county out of the equation. If I left out the city for example, then the place name should look like this: ", Sharp, Arkansas, USA." Having it start with a comma or a space makes it difficult to search on or to auto fill if I do not know there is not already a "Sharp, Arkansas, USA" already in the Place name database. I have therefore spent most of my time finding the cities and counties of each place and adding it to my database in order to avoid this. I use the Naco county locator website for most of this.

Jonathan Godwin Research Puzzle -

I've also been busy writing and scheduling blog posts for various memes in order to get back into the blogging community: Amaneusis Monday, Tombstone Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, and Treasure Chest Thursday.
This week for Amanuensis Monday I featured a document outlining the inventory of the estate of Jonathan Godwin. I also somewhat touched upon a controversial issue about who Jonathan's children were. I got a lot of good support about this issue, so I hope to be able to post more information about this family and maybe go back to the source of the controversial information and see if we can resolve some of these issues. Also, I would like to write more about the progress of the DNA testing. I was supposed to be taking over the DNA surname project, however, I'm not sure where I stand in that endeavor right now.

I have also reconnected with a researcher I worked with back in 2006 who is also interested in this family. Like me, he is either trying to connect or eliminate Jonathan and Rachel Bullard Godwin as his ancestors. I'm very excited to have someone to work with closely on this project.

Winnie Barefoot and Silas West Connection to Enoch Godwin Family of Sampson County, North Carolina - 

I received a comment on a post I wrote last year about Enoch Godwin of Sampson County, North Carolina. The comment originated from a descendant of a young girl who was enumerated in Enoch Godwin's household. She had married a young man by the name of Silas West. She had questions about why I had written that Silas West was a "Negro slave" as that had not been mentioned in any documents she had in her possession or in any of her family's oral history. I was able to pull up and email to her the death certificate of Silas' son that mentioned Silas West was a "Negro slave" next to the place where you fill in the father's birthplace. This was, however, only mentioned on 1 of the 4 death certificates I found for Silas and Winnie's children, so it could have been a mistake. I removed this from my post and my commenter and I have both agreed to keep each other informed if we come across any information linking Winnie Barefoot to this Enoch Godwin family.

I think that sums up the past week for me. I've also been catching up reading the blogs I follow and I've been trying to make time to leave comments on blog posts I find helpful and interesting as well.


  1. You are one busy person! On the topic of organizing digital files, I use a modified folder version. I have a folder for each surname and then let the file itself form subcategories when it sorts by name -- I use a file naming structure that includes pertinent info: lastname-firstname/initial_year_state-county.

    Ex: chamblin-samuel_1870_mo-kscity

    As you can see there are three parts to the filename: name, date, place. The underscore marks separate these parts; the hyphens break each part into subsections (last name, first name).

    It works for me!

  2. I think that's an excellent way to organize files. I have actually tried this method as well and it has worked before too except sometimes I forget how it's done especially when I'm in a hurry. I'm glad you've found something that works for you! And thanks for commenting on my blog!