27 April 2012

It's Not Unusual

Genealogists, professionals and hobbyists, are always thankful to find an ancestor with an unusual name. John Jones and Mary Smith may have led interesting lives but distinguishing them from every other John Jones and Mary Smith can take a lot of time. Some of that time will be spent researching people not related to you in any way. Crista has a great video about sorting out people with the same name:

(more after the jump)

24 April 2012

My Mother, The Zombie

Events with just a name are children's births.
Comments after the jump.

1795                  Susannah's birth
1816 Nov 11       Marriage to Leonard Dickerson (b. 1805 - d. 1864)
1818                  Uriah
1819 Sep 12       Absalom
1822 Aug 21       Henry H
1822 Aug 21     Susannah Dies
1826 Mar 16       Susannah's husband marries Susannah Hylton (b. 1805 - d. 1879)*
These children are all born to the Susannah who is deceased.
1828 Apr 12        Archeloas Hylton
1829 Aug 18        Eli
1832 Jul 11         Mahulda
1835 Feb 1          Charlotte
1836 Nov 13        John B
1838 Sep 2          Ira
1840 Jul 18          Micharah
1842 Sep 23        Martha
1844 Aug 31        Bethany
1846 Jul 24          Modilla

All children have the Dickerson surname.

*The second Susannah has one child attached, Uriah.
Details for the second Uriah are the same as the first Uriah.

20 April 2012

Almost Famous

Many people are tempted to start their tree with a celebrity or historical figure they've been told is in their family tree. That can be a fun thing to do if you're interested in the ancestors of said famous person. If, however, you are interested in your ancestors, start with yourself and work backwards.
We all have rumors of a famous ancestor, most of them turn out to either be false or greatly exaggerated, i.e. that President wasn't your direct ancestor but rather his wife's brother married your 7th cousin 4 times removed. Work your way back a step at a time. If the celebrity/historical figure is on your tree you'll find them and have the proof to back it up. Or maybe you'll find something even more interesting! You may find an inventor, a town founder or small town politician. While our society is obsessed with celebrity, our country wouldn't be here without the blood, sweat and tears of farmers, railroad workers, coal miners, slaves,... The list is endless. All of those people deserve to be discovered and honored.
One popular, online tool for finding famous cousins, for example, does an excellent job of leading researchers astray by incorporating entertaining details such as women giving birth at age seventy or an immigrant couple in the 1700s having twelve children in Massachusetts, only to inexplicably return to England to have their thirteenth. That's because these tools, while potentially helpful, still aren't quite sophisticated enough to consistently sift out poor research or wishful thinking from reality.
One factor frequently used in their algorithms is how many genealogists have included a particular connection in their family trees, but this fails to take into account a troublesome echo-chamber effect...If one of them makes a mistake and pops it online, it's often not long before some of the other descendants take a shortcut and unwittingly introduce that same error into their own trees. Before long, it looks true because so many are making the same claim, but it's just an inaccuracy repeated many times.
Megan Smolenyak in her book Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing.

PREVIOUS POST: You've Got It All Wrong
NEXT POST: My Mother, The Zombie

17 April 2012

You've Got It All Wrong

Comments after the jump.

 JAMES BRADY (1831-1880)

 Marriage #1: In 1849 to Margaret Curry
 Marriage #2: In 1853 to Ann Torney
 Marriage #3: In 1859 to Mary Ann Feeney
 Marriage #4: In 1867 to Mary Jane Hagerty


 1818  Honora (Ireland)
 1850  Anna (Pennsylvania)
 1852  Mary (PA), Robert (Scotland)
 1853  Annie (PA)
 1855  John (England)
 1856  Michael (June), Margaret (November), Catherine (Wisconsin)
 1858  Thomas (England), John (PA)
 1859  Owen
 1860  John, James (Scotland)
 1861  Thomas (PA)
 1862  Mary
 1866  James (PA), Bridget
 1868  Teresa (WI)
 1870  Francis (WI)
 1871  Catherine (PA)
 1872  Francis (PA), James (Ireland)
 1873  Margaret (WI)
 1875  Rosanna (WI)
 1876  David Bridge (October in New York), Anne (December)
 1877  Hugh (PA)
 1878  William (PA)
 1879  John (WI)
 1880  Tommie Bridge (NY)
 1882  Louisa (WI)
 1883  Edward (WI)
 No date given: Agnes, JJ, Madame, Terrence

13 April 2012

But I Searched...

You may have searched an online collection for a specific record, tried all sorts of name variations (i.e. Gillespie, Gellaspie, Galespy, etc.) and came up empty. You still have a few more options.

1. Every search engine is different.
Is the collection available on a different website? Or maybe an index of the collection is available on a different site. Even if the transcriptions are the same, try searching the other site. Searching Mexican church records I've noticed that some letters are used interchangeably, i.e. V and B, S and Z. Because Family Search has so many records from Mexico their search engine takes those interchangeable letters into account. Searching Ancestry.com for the "Bernal" family in the 1920 census did not yield a matching result in the first few pages but on FamilySearch.org the "Vernal" family was on the first page of results. I then went back to Ancestry, searched for Vernal and found the correct record to attach to my tree. 

2. The transcription is so far off it wouldn't matter what name variation you tried, no one could possibly come up with the actual transcription that is being used.
Sometimes it just takes persistence. It may seem overwhelming to look through search results that show over 5500 hits but sometimes that's what it takes. I found one set of my mom's cousins pretty easily in a birth index. I sent the list of names to Mom to double check. One cousin was missing. The cousin who died in Vietnam. Of course I couldn't let that one go so I started in on the list of 5536 search results on Ancestry. I found him on the very last page of results. On the left is the indexed record, on the right is the correct information.

Name:     Ysevio Soliz             Eusebio Solis                        
Father:    David Soliz              David Solis
Mother:   Maria Barrnal           Maria Bernal

Another mangled transcription that was found by searching death certificates by date:

Name:       Prufidio Carion Demues          Porfiria Carreon Dimas          
Husband:  Eserido Demues                     Ysidro Dimas                        

Depending on what record you're looking for you may need to search a year of a county's records or a year of state records or pages of a few enumeration districts. Be sure to keep a log of your searches. If you spent hours searching death records in 1929 Ohio page by page you don't want to do it again next year because you can't remember which year you searched.

3. There may have been a problem when the collection was uploaded.
Have you ever uploaded a group of pictures to Ancestry.com or Facebook and then noticed that one or more were missing? Maybe your internet connection went out for a split second. Maybe your electricity flickered in the middle of the upload. Now imagine you're uploading MILLIONS of images. This is another good reason to see if the record collection you're looking at is available on another site. Large websites don't have special, infallible internet connections so it's possible no one caught the upload error.
Maybe you're the first person to notice that you can't find great-great-grandpa not because his record is missing but because an entire county of records is missing. Be sure to report the error to the website. If they don't have direct access to the records a correction may not be possible but if you don't report it a correction definitely won't happen. Reporting the error is especially important with the 1940 census which has just been released. Whether it's NARA, Ancestry, or Family Search, the records, or at least the storage drives, are still easily accessible and it's likely the problem can be remedied.

NEXT POST: You've Got It All Wrong

10 April 2012

A Gast

Comments after the jump.

B. 1852, Germany                                                    B. 1850, Germany
D. 1922, Wisconsin, USA                                           D. 1907, Wisconsin, USA

RECORDS ATTACHED to Wilhelmine (partial list):

1870 US Federal Census 
Living in LaSalle, Illinois, USA
Wilhelmina Gast (age 16)
The Gast household: Gottlieb (45), Mary (45), Emma (12), Riley (10), John (8), Betsy (6), Alte (2)

1880 US Federal Census 
Waupaca, Wisconsin, USA
Wilhelmina Gast (age 29)
With husband and son: August (29) and Charles (6 months)

Baltimore Passenger Lists
Arriving from Germany in 1882
Wilhelmine Gast (32)
With husband and children: Edward (58), Christoph (9), Emma (5), Martha (3), Margarethe (9 months)

NOTES: This tree also has the 1900, 1910, 1920 Federal Censuses and the 1905 Wisconsin State Census listed as sources. All the federal records have the family living in Wisconsin and seem to match the 1880 Wilhelmine. From the 1870 census and the passenger list Wilhelmine is the only person on this tree, so for the purposes of this post I'm going to assume that the Wilhelmine in the 1880 census record is the "correct" person.

06 April 2012

Media de Familia

Most of us have family photos and have scanned in quite a few. It makes them easy to share and add to our online trees. How excited do you get when you find that someone has uploaded a photo of an ancestor you've never seen before? Now imagine someone 50 or 100 years from now finding a video of their ancestor or hearing their voice.
Did your family have a VHS camera or an 8mm camera? Did a past family researcher get excited at the prospect of recording family interviews when cassette recorders were invented? Or maybe family members exchanged cassettes instead of letters. Transfer that media now!

Ysidro Dimas, my great-grandfather
VHS transferred to DVD

Do a search for your city and "8mm to DVD" or "cassette to CD" or whatever your media is. There may be somewhere cheaper that would involve shipping your media but saving a few dollars is not worth the added chance of your items being lost in the mail. Take the items to a store yourself and make sure they don't have to sit in a hot car while you run other errands. They've made it this far, don't let them melt now.
Once your media is transferred you can edit clips and put them on YouTube or vimeo. Both have a variety of privacy options if you aren't comfortable putting them on public display. If your tree is on Ancestry.com you cannot upload a pre-recorded video but you can write a story that includes a link to the video.
Surprise your family with some very personal Christmas presents or combine video and photos for a family reunion event.

William Gillespie, my great-grandfather
8mm film transferred to DVD

PREVIOUS POST: Taking Issue With The Issue

03 April 2012

Taking Issue With the Issue

issue - n., 14th century: the descendants of a person; offspring; progeny
Comments after the jump.

 WILSON FUGATE (1853-1929)

 Children with Polly Clemons
 Alexander Fugate (b. 1881) 
 Alfred Fugate (b. 1882)
 George Fugate (b. 1886)                              
 Caloway Fugate (b. 1888)                             
 Benjamin Fugate (b. 1890)
 Cordelia Fugate (b. 1895)
 Charles Arnold Fugate (b. 1897)
 Robert Fugate (b. 1906)
 Andrew Fugate (b. 1908)

 Children with Unknown Spouse(s)
 Thomas Young (b. 1878)
 Thomas A Robinson (b. 1890)
 John Kelly Robinson (b. 1892)
 John Kelly Robinson (b. 1892)
 Walter Robinson (b. 1894)
 Bradley Young (b. 1895)
 Dora Robinson (b. 1896)
 William Mullins (b. 1897)
 Bradley Robinson (b. 1898)
 Chester Mullins (b. 1899)
 John Sherman New (b. 1900)