Friday, March 25, 2011

Having trouble finding a deed in FHL film

This is a repost from 2009. I was really looking for some feedback on this particular situation. Now that there are so many more experts out there, I am hoping to get some help in this area.

Ok, I've been going to my local Family History Library for several years now. I've had very good success in finding records that were pertitent to my genealogy research. I got stumped one year on some deed records that I am trying to locate. Here is my story. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I went to the FHL website's library catalog and in the Search Box I selected "Place-names" and in the "For" box I entered "Illinois, Perry."

A list of results came up. I then clicked on the "Land and Property" link to pull up the Perry County, Illinois records on Land transactions. I then clicked on the "Land Records, 1827-1950, index" link. This brought up a list of all of the microfilm from 1827-1950, including the Grantee and Grantors indexes and the deed volumes themselves.

The first film I ordered was the Grantor's index, 1827-1876, film no. 975892. When I viewed the film I listed the items I wanted to see the actual deeds of. The typical Grantor index allows you to search for the surname alphabetically, then usually the date, names of the parties involved, and book and/or volume and page number of the actual deed records are listed. This particular index included the names of the parties involved, the book and page number. Dates were not included. Here is my list:

Cornelius Godwin to James Huggins, Book 6, p. 14
Sarah Godwin to Wilson Godwin, Book 6, p. 45
Sarah Godwin to Wilson Godwin, Book 6, p. 45
Ezekial Godwin to Patrick M Farlin, Book 6, p. 446
William Godwin and wife to William A Allen, Book J., p. 221
Cornelius Godwin to Frederick Fleck, Book L., p. 273 (Mortgage)
Daniel Dry to John Woodrun, book A, p. 86, deed
Daniel Dry and wife to Jacob House, book B, p. 30
John F Dry to Edmond House, book B, p. 38
John F Dry to John House, book b, p. 39

Some of these entries reference a Book followed by either a number or a letter. Now I want to order the corresponding films in the Family History Library catalog and order them.

The first book I want to order is book no. 6.

The first options of films I have to choose from are Deed Book volumes A-Z and dates 1827-1873, contained in a total of 14 reels of film. Each film contains two letters of the alphabet. As the letters go through the alphabet, the dates associated with the films get more recent. Deed Book Volume A-B corresponds with dates 1827-1842. Book volume C-C1 corresponds with years 1841-1848 (volume C1 covers 1872-1878). And so forth.

The next set of films available are the Deed Book volumes 1-15 covering years 1872-1888. Since I was looking for Deed Book #6, I ordered the Deed Book v. 5-6 film no. 975910. This film covers 1876-1950.

A couple of weeks later the film arrived but it was not as I expected. This film did not contain deed transactions between two parties; It contained land grants that were issued to individuals from the state. And most of these land grants weren't recorded until 100 years later! For example, I found a land grant issued to John Huggins in 1854 that was recorded in 1923. I also found a land grant issued to Daniel Dry in 1838 that wasn't recorded until 1948.

Since I don't know the dates of any of these deed transactions, how do I know which films to order? Are these films only for land grants or deeds or both? Does anyone have any suggestions?

Oh and I didn't find what I was looking for in Deed book 6 either in case you were wondering. I'm afraid to order more deed books in case I'm not doing something right. I don't want to waste the time or the money.

Do you have any suggestions? Have you run into this before?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Carolina Digital Library and Archives

Ok, so I was in the Wilson Library on the UNC campus this week waiting for my class to start and came across this display at the end of the hall and had to take a photograph of it. I thought it look super cool, and wanted to share with everyone.

We are very lucky to have an organization like this on campus. The Carolina Digital Library and Archives (CDLA) is primarily responsible for transferring materials to digital format.  They have completed such projects as North Carolina Maps, Going to the Show, and one project that I had a chance to work on last semester - Driving through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway.

Photograph taken by Ginger R. Smith, 22 March 2011, Wilson Library, UNC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Keep It Coming!

People are finding and reading my blog! I have received several emails already this year on a couple of different families represented on my blog by unrelated, distantly related, and closely related researchers / cousins who have found my blog.

One reader has offered to join our Goodwin-Godwin family surname DNA project in exchange for assistance in researching and placing her Godwin line among our North Carolina Godwin lines.

Another reader is the grand-daughter of the brother of my 2nd great-grandfather. Her grandfather was the last of these siblings to survive. We were very disappointed to learn of his death in 2007, however I am excited to gain contact with his granddaughter. Although we are both on the same quest to determine the birth and death information of her great-grandfather, T. J. Benson, and we may not glean anything new between the two of us; at least I will learn of her grandfather's life and maybe of his siblings (including my great great grandfather, as well).

Then there's the occasional request for me to send my entire tree out to someone who is "helping his friend" on a family to which I responded that I did not have a printable family tree to distribute but I would be happy to answer any specific questions he might have.

I am averaging about 4 weeks to respond to these requests, but that's just because I'm still in school. I have 4 more weeks of school and then I'm off for the summer so I will be able to ramp that time up.

Keep them coming!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A look at a real business case study in archives

As some of you may know, I am currently in Library School, with a concentration in Archives and Records Management.  My class schedule is structured in 3 different categories - library classes, IT classes, and Archives classes.

Tonight we had a class in the UNC Wilson Library in the Rare Books Room. The guest speaker was an archivist from the Southern Historical Collection. She gave the class a presentation about the Burlington Industries collection that they accessioned back in 2006 into the library. This collection was an example of how a fairly large collection was processed as it was accessioned.

Processing is the act of collecting, preserving, arranging, and describing the materials (MY understanding of it, at least); There is a lot of debate about whether the archivists should keep the materials in their "original order," ie, as they were received - for example, if the person who created and/or donated the materials organized their files in a certain manner, should that file system be preserved as such in order to give the future users a look into the motivations of the creator? - or should those files be reorganized in such a manner as to better serve future users in locating and reviewing materials, and in preservation as well - for example, do you put them in chronological order, or by important person's name; and for preservation sake, do you remove the staples and paper clips and hanging file folders?

At the end of the presentation, she showed us some of the materials - some that that been left in their original order and some that had been reorganized. I noticed a box of photos. It looked as if the photos had been mounted on a folded cardstock in which one piece of the fold had the photograph and the other fold had a sticker on it with a typed description of the photograph. I thought that sounded like a good idea for organizing photos. I would imagine, though, that it would take up a bit more space.

I really need to get back to reading Sally's archiving tips on photographs. But there just seems like there are so many options. I did manage to get all of the photographs out of the magnetic album. I still have tons of photos that I brought home from my Mom's house that are in manilla envelops organized by category.

Back to the Burlington Industries collection. I emailed my professor and asked if they had in fact mounted them on two folded cardstock and she said they had not done anything to them at all. What I saw was what the original owners had done. I guess it's good enough preservation-wise because they kept them that way!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The One Lovely Blog Award

Tim over at the My Georgia Roots Blog just informed me that he awarded me The One Lovely Blog Award! I'm so grateful to receive this award and excited as well to be introduced to Tim's blog because I also have deep roots in Georgia (but don't live there). Thank you Tim!!! This award is passed between bloggers to show their appreciation for all the hard work they put into their blogs.

Here are the rules for accepting and passing the One Lovely Blog Award to your fellow bloggers:

1.  Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.
2.  Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered.
3.  Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here is my list of 15 newly discovered blogs:
The Journey Takers Blog
Find Your Folks
So That's Where I Get It From
Putting the Family Puzzle Together
Of Trolls and Lemons
Good to Know
More Than Names
Tangled Trees
Family Forest Blog
Relatively Curious About Genealogy
Lucie's Legacy
Terra Del Sole D'Oro
The Turning of Generations
Adventures In Genealogy
Lesley's Journey to Graduate School

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Local Genealogy Society using Technology to reach out to Non-Local Members

The first quarter of 2011 is almost upon us and I wanted to highlight what my local genealogy group has been doing in order to keep up with all of the available advancing technology tools out there today in order to reach our ever growing non-local membership base.

One of our first goals is to reach out to our non-local members more.  In order to do this, we are trying to make our monthly meeting presentations available online for people to view from their homes or local libraries.  We are all pretty new to this, so we thought we would start small.

One of our members used her Kodak PlaySport to video our first presentation of the year done in January – that of Ernie Dollar – on the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. (Feel free to check out the program description here)  I learned some cool stuff about the cemetery that borders my alma mater. Check out my tweets @Smitty327 from Jan 5, 2011.  

The camera itself is quite compact, but it mounted easily to the tripod we had, so it was completely hands off.  The only problem we had was when we accidentally turned the camera off for a few seconds, at which point we were able to realize the mistake and resume recording.

The speaker talked from a podium, and showed slides from a projector onto a big screen beside him. Our video focused on the speaker, versus the slides because we knew we could always make the slides available separately. Alternatively I have visions of being able to edit the speaker’s video by incorporating his slides into the presentation at some point. I would like to learn how to edit video and clip stills out of it as well.  Do you have any experience in video editing you could share with us?

The file created is a 720 p .MOV file that ended up being humongous and way too big to upload to the web.  I did a couple of searches on the web and found that 1) you can change the recording settings from 720p to WVGA if you intend to upload the file to the web and 2) a file conversion program you can download here along with an easy to follow tutorial here explaining how to convert a .MOV file to other formats including a .FLV for YouTube!

I have not tried either of these two alternatives out yet because I do not own the camera, but I have forwarded the information on to the camera owner.  We hope to give it a try at least for #1 for our next meeting.

What to do when the speaker does not want to be taped?  By the way, we did video tape our second meeting of the year – Josh Howard’s program on the “Civil War Death Study” (D-OGS program details here)– which is an ongoing research program through the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. He did request that we not release the video to the public at this time as his research is ongoing and going to be published. The video can still be used to take notes from and publish on our website. I don’t know about your genealogy society, but ours always takes “meeting minutes” of our monthly meetings – a volunteer or “Secretary” will take notes about the program and then additional notes on the society “business” that is discussed at the end of the meeting after the program. This is a chance for the board to bring up issues that need to be voted on by the membership or make announcements.  Does your local genealogy society take and publish notes on your speaker presentations?

Our next step will be hopefully to get our presentations online and presented live for our out-of-staters and home-bound members. I am in the process of collecting information from other genealogy societies that are doing this such as the Utah Genealogical Society. You can visit their blog and see their “Virtual Chapter.” 

What does the future hold for my local genealogy society? More blogging, Facebook representation, surname and query exchange via online tools, records management and “cloud computing,” and online membership registration and renewal process.

What technological tools is your local society using?

Photo of PlaySport video camera downloaded from 
Photo of USA Map downloaded from Smabs Sputzer’s Flikr page 

Friday, March 4, 2011

A new Genealogy Friend!

So these past couple of weeks have been kind of frustrating for me. Last weekend I went to the State Archives and had some fun pulling records and copying them, then scanning and (adding the transcription part to my ever growing to-do list). I brought a friend with me (you can read about our trip here) and showed her the ropes around the Archives and watched as she got really excited about learning how to research one’s family history at an archives institution (oh yeah and reading all those really old documents!)
My friend has since then collected some of her family history materials and started her family tree on and already is asking questions about the stuff that “went down” in her family. Her excitement has led to my excitement. My response simply was, “uh oh, you’re gonna be addicted before you know it.”
I am a little green with envy because right now she has more time to spend on researching her family history than I do.  And she has a strong background in courthouse research from her paralegal education training! Who would have thought she’d be applying it to family history research! But the green envy monster aside, I’m so glad to have a new-found genealogy/family history “friend” to putz around with and bounce ideas with back and forth.
I just wish I could turn this into a full time endeavor…you know, be a “genealogist for hire…” specializing in North Carolina records…but could that really pay for the mortgage? And health insurance? Oh yeah and finish putting me through school…ah sigh…we shall see ;-)

Fearless Females - My Grandmother Barb

March is Women's History Month and Lisa Alzo over at the Accidental Genealogist blog is hosting 31 blogging prompts for the month of March in order to honor all of the "Fearless Females" in our family trees. Although I will not be following along day by day, I would like to include some tales of my female ancestors, and maybe even one or two still living relatives who have affected my life.

I'd like to start off talking about my Grandmother, Barbara Jo Binns.  She is still living and she is an inspiration to my genealogy and family history goals every day.  Although I don't get to speak to her very often, the letters that we exchange every few weeks or so, tell the tales of a life led by a woman who wanted everything that life had to offer her.  But who knew the responsibilities of what home, family, and work entailed.

Dec 1956 Wedding Photo
Barbara Jo Binns was the second of three daughters born to John and Blanche Binns in the 1930s in the bustling town of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Her Father John was a meat cutter and her mother stayed at home with the three girls. When they got old enough and started High School, both John and Blanche went back to school and got teaching degrees.

Barbara married her high school sweetheart, Darrel Smith, who swept her away as a United States Air Force wife.

Before long, she had been to California, Alaska, and Washington, D. C!!! But her heart was back home with her family in Arkansas. Her mother, Blanche, had a stroke in her 50s and Barbara's Dad did the best he could to take care of her while still teaching school.  Barbara returned home with two young children while her husband continued his military career overseas and Stateside.  They divorced but then remarried a few years later. A third child was born and they divorced for good a second time.  

In my last letter, I asked my Grandmother Barb several questions about her two marriages and divorces to my Grandfather.  She said that her family did not judge her; but rather, they supported her decision to remarry. She said she did NOT wear the same wedding gown twice. The second ceremony was in a church but a much smaller affair and much less formal; in fact she did not even wear a wedding gown the second time around and doesn't remember him wearing a tux either. The impression I got was that she had finally settled down into a house with the kids and he wanted to be a part of that, so he asked if he could come home. She believes he just didn't want to move back in with his parents. 

I find it very interesting learning about how people viewed the world and situations back then 50 years ago. It really isn't much different than it is today, I don't think. People fall in and out of love.  They do what they have to do to survive, to take care of their family. I was around when my Grandfather left. I can say that I was pretty heartbroken. But it wasn't until 25 years later that I learned that my Grandparents had been married and divorced not once but TWICE! 

What have you learned from the living recently? 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Godwin Research at the NC State Archives

Last weekend I spent a few hours at the North Carolina State Archives to check out some Godwin family wills, estate files and deeds in Sampson and Johnston Counties. Researching Johnston County is new to me.  This is the first time I have crossed over from Sampson to Johnston County.  Many of our Godwin families are from both Sampson and Johnston Counties. It seems, however, that one family in particular may have jumped over from Sampson to Johnston County - that of James Godwin

In 1801, James Godwin died in Sampson County, North Carolina, leaving a widow, Elizabeth and several heirs. In 1827, the widow, Elizabeth Godwin shows up in Johnston County Court Minutes! Evidently her estate is now being administered by a William Godwin. Even though mention of the estate of Elizabeth Godwin is made in the Johnston County Court Minutes, no record of a will or estate has been found. I searched through the original wills and loose papers of estates of Johnston County at the Archives this time when I went, but did not find anything.

I was able to take a new inventory of what Godwin wills and estate files were on hand in both Johnston and Sampson Counties at the Archives while I was there. As you can tell, there's no will for Elizabeth Godwin in either Johnston or Sampson County, around 1827.

 This particular James Godwin family is not even really a part of my Godwin family as has been determined by DNA testing. I have been working with some descendants of this line of Godwins, however, to help determine ancestry of this line.

Negative evidence can be positive evidence after all in most cases, especially in the case of all of these Godwin families who even to this day dominate these parts of North Carolina. The more Godwins I can identify as belonging to this family, the more I can eliminate as belonging to my own family. This is what I mean by negative evidence.

So five hours later I located and reviewed several Johnston County deeds for William, Elizabeth, and James Godwin in order to determine approximately when they removed from Sampson County to Johnston County in the early 1800s. I brought along a friend with me who was interested in learning how to locate records at the Archives. She caught on super fast and was going through microfilms and printing off deeds like she'd been doing it for years! It's so much more fun to have friends there with you!

I really enjoyed my time at the Archives, but it pretty tiresome. I was happy to hear that they no longer close their doors during lunch. They remain open now instead of uprooting us and kicking all of us out at noon and then letting us back in at 1pm. They also seemed to have more staff on hand than the last time I went (when was that again? like over a year ago? Maybe two years ago?) I even saw a guy named Chris who had talked to my Public History Class last semester about what it was like working in an Archives. I remember him because he was one of the brave souls who had made a career change late in life and had gone to school while working full time.

I'm also enjoying working with my Godwin researchers - they are so full of ideas and smart as whips! There are 5 of us in the ring now. And they are great researchers, so I don't have to worry or fear that their research is flawed or biased. And everyone is chipping in which is great because there is so much work to be done. We are collecting deeds, wills, estate records, scanning them, and transcribing them and sharing all of this info and then trying to make sense of it all via email discussions. I am very thankful and fortunate to have met such a great group of researchers. Even if DNA does divide us in half. Well I never heard of that stopping anyone! 

Photo by Ginger R Smith, taken 28 Feb 2011, Raleigh, NC.
Oh yeah, did you like the little labels I used to put the lists of wills and estate files in? Well I got these graphics from rubyblossom's FLIKR page.