Tag Archives: Research

Shotgun Genealogy

It is amazing how life can change in an instant. I have been a Professional Genealogist for over 12 years now and I thoroughly enjoyed working with and for my various clients. Of course, this did not allow me much time to work on my own genealogy endeavors. Then, about a year and a half ago, a doctors’ negligent actions caused my husband to become disabled. For about the first 7 months I still had time to help clients, but then my husbands condition began to worsen every day, so I gave up working with others as I found myself becoming his full time caregiver.

I suddenly found that I had more time to work on my own trees on a more regular basis. I always had a disciplined method when I worked for others, but I found myself just diving in and following too many rabbit holes. It wasn’t long before I realized, it was more like a shotgun blast. I aimed my focus on one specific ancestor, then metaphorically I pulled the trigger. Next thing I knew, just like a shotgun shell, the pellets from the cartridge exploded and shot pellets everywhere.

So, here I would sit for hours, chasing each pellet, trying to place them back in the casing. I wasted so many hours using this method that I finally decided to just “hire” myself. I knew I had to stop this wasteful behavior quickly before it became ingrained in me. Yes, I should have been more disciplined from the beginning since I had already developed this form of research. It was just harder to maintain because of the times I would have to stop in the middle of something to go take care of my husband.

I finally sat down and wrote out a checklist to help me stay on tract. This method has helped me tremendously. Sometimes I fail to check off something I did, but it makes it so much easier to figure out where I left off. It has helped me be able to stay focused, and I am once again enjoying the search!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

6 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Blogging, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Research, Uncategorized

Freaky Fridays ~ The Royal Treatment

freaky-fridayI have been researching my family history for over 24 years with about 22 years of that using online genealogy sites. When I first began I had a handwritten tree that my paternal Aunt gave me that had 3 generations on it. It was not a complete list of names but it was a start. In the beginning, I took my time, finding information about each of my Dad’s 10 brothers and sisters and then their families and filling in the blanks. Once that was done I started my journey backward.

Before I knew it I became obsessed with all the trees that had my family included in theirs. Being naive I took everything they had in the tree at face value. No questions, no research, I just put it in my tree. Royal CrownOver several months I had traveled back in time to the 900s AD. I think I was related to every royal, conqueror, and historical figure in history. I bragged about my “connections” to all my friends and family, including my husband’s family. I made so many binders and printed out thousands of pages of fact sheets. The only thing I did not have was any documentation for any of these ancestors.

embarrassed1I began taking the courses to become a Certified Genealogist and I saw the grave error of my previous ways. I was embarrassed by all the bragging I had done. I realized how foolish I must have looked talking about my royal blood. So, I confessed to my family and friends and I scraped my tree and started again. This time I only moved forward or backward if I had the proper documentation. Yes, it has taken me 15 years to go back to the early 1600s but I am positive that each person in my trees belongs there. I had learned a valuable lesson. Don’t get me wrong, I do have quite a few “maybe” ancestors in my trees but they are labeled as “Needs further research and documentation” and I do not write about them.

Well, today a freaky thing happened. I decided to research a branch I had completely forgotten about. I gathered all my research for my 10th Great Grandfather Anthony Savage and I began to search for any documents. Everywhere I looked all I saw was the “Royal” lines of Anthony. The majority of them were undocumented, just like what happened before but to my surprise, I found a few that had documentation! They only went back 2 generations but there it was. Is it freaky that I am actually scared to look into the documentation? I don’t want to get caught up in spreading false information again. Yes, I am a professional Genealogist, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t make a mistake. After all, we are all human and that makes us capable of doing just that.

My plan now is to take it slow, verify, verify, verify everything, and see where it leads.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Freaky, Freaky Friday's, Genealogy, Oddities, Research, Royalty, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Down The Rabbit Hole

dilemma pic

One thing I have realized is there is never a shortage of dilemmas when you are working on Genealogy. Sometimes a person doesn’t quite fit into your tree, but you are sure they do. Other times, no matter how hard you search you can’t find a birth or death certificate. I am amazed that I still have hair!

downrabbithole

I believe part of my problem with finding the information I need is I am a shotgun researcher. I decide to work on one Ancestor, then I start searching for the documents I am missing. I do good for a while, going to as many different sites to find or verify documentation. My downfall is when a name comes up from one of my other Ancestors. “Oh look, there may be some information I can use on them too!” Down the rabbit hole, I plunge! The next thing I know is I have strayed far from my original goal and more often than not, I have forgotten what I started researching. It is like I shot the gun and the pellets go in all directions. It gets so frustrating.

helping-parents-keep-their-child-organized_0

Believe it or not, I am a very organized person. I can sit in my recliner and tell someone where anything is in the house. Not just the general area but the cupboard and shelf and which side it is on. My husband is always amazed because he is the disorganized one. So why, why, why, can’t I figure out a doable way of organizing my research approach? I have tried many methods but nothing clicks with me.

So, maybe one of you can help me? What works best for you when it comes to keeping track of your research? How do you organize it so you can go back to the original Ancestor you began with? I am open to all suggestions. Thanks in advance.

 

cropped-blog-pic1.jpg

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

8 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Dilemma, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Organization, Research, Saturday's Dilemma, Uncategorized

Same Name ~ “The Hughes Sister’s” ~  #52Ancestors week #6

Same NameMy paternal Grandparents had a total of 11 children, 2 from my Grandpa’s first marriage and 9 of their own.  I can imagine the hard time they may have had coming up with names for each child. This is evident in that 3 out of their 4 girls have “Belle” as their middle name.  My Grandmothers name was Virginia Belle but everyone called her Jennie. I am sure she loved her middle name so much that she wanted to pass it on.

The oldest girl’s name was Leola Belle. Born in 1907 she passed away from an acute heart Ellie & Nellie babiesproblem at the age of 32. The next in line were the twins, Ellie Belle and Nellie Belle. They were born in 1910.  When they were born they had the genetic defect of a hair lip. They were identical in every way. Growing up they played tricks on others, including their parents and siblings. They pretended to be each other, confusing everyone. When new kids moved into town one of them would make friends with them, then they would trade off playing with the kids. Once they were convinced there was only one girl, Ellie and Nellie would both show up to play! Believe me, no one ever forgot these girls.

Ellie & Nellie & LeonardI was able to attend 2 family reunions when we lived in Missouri for a couple of years. I was fascinated with them as I hadn’t meet twins before. I remember getting in trouble because I was sitting near them laughing and my mother thought I was making fun of them. In reality, I was laughing because I watched as others came to talk with them and had them confused with each other! You couldn’t blame the people, they had the same hairstyle, same clothes,  same voice!

Although they didn’t share the exact first name their names were so close that for years I have had trouble separating some of their information to add to my tree. Back in the late 60’s Nellie just kind of disappeared. She had gotten married in 1929 and within 9 months she was 6 months pregnant and became a widow as her husband had been murdered.  After this she moved around a lot, eventually marrying a man from Michigan and having 2 more kids. Then there were big gaps in her being in touch with the family. At the beginning of 1962, she reemerged without her husband.  By the end of that decade, she disappeared again.

A month ago I finally found her date of death and some other information I had been looking for. One of the problems with researching is the names Ellie and Nellie are so close in the spelling that when I typed in Nellie’s name I would get Ellie’s information.  I don’t feel too bad about the mix-ups though. Ellie’s son passed away last month and they put Nellie listed as his mother!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

2 Comments

Filed under 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Ancestry, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Hughes, Memories, Missouri, Research, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Peter Walt, Where Are You?

magnifying-glass-search

Peter Walt is my Maternal 2x Great Grandfather. I haven’t had much luck finding information or documents on him. Here is what I do know.

 

Peter Walt was born in Nov 1839 in New Germany, New Brunswick, Canada.  He immigrated to America in 1857 at the age of 18. He arrived in St. Clair Co. Illinois

Peter Walt 1850 Census

In 1860 (Census) he was living in Grape Grove Missouri. He is listed as being 20 years old and working as a carpenter. He is living with a friend John Taylor aged 21 also a carpenter. John was born in England.

Peter married Elizabeth Marsh in 1861 in Ray County Missouri. Elizabeth was born December 31, 1841, in Chillicothe, Livingston County, Missouri to Henry Marsh and Elizabeth Chestnutt.

They had their first of 10 children, my Great Grandmother Asenath “Dolly” Walt on February 27, 1863, in Camden, Ray County Missouri. Dolly married John Henry McGowan in 1887.

Peter Walt 1863

He registered for the Civil War Draft in Camden in 1863. He is listed as an Alien born in Canada.

 

From 1863 until 1900 they resided in Camden.  In the 1900 Census, they were living in Richmond, Ray County, Missouri.

This is where Peter’s trail ends. In the 1910 Census, Elizabeth is living with her son John and his wife in Kansas. She is listed as being a widow. So, Peter died sometime between 1900 and 1910. The state of Missouri has a wonderful collection of death certificates available for free online. Unfortunately, they only go from 1910 to 1969 so he died before 1910.

HERE IS MY DILEMMA:

I do not have proof of his birth date nor his death date and location. According to the Civil War Draft Registration Records, he was born “Abt” 1840. I only have his city of birth in Canada because his son, John listed it in one of his Census’s.

SOLUTION:

Just writing this out like this has given me some new ideas of where I can search. Any suggestions you may have as to where I may find more information on Peter would be greatly appreciated. Wish me luck!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Missouri, Smith, Uncategorized

Fresh Start ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks

FreshStart

I decided to participate in the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge this year. I tried it a few years ago and although I enjoyed it I didn’t complete it. Let’s see how far I get this time!

The theme for this week is “Fresh Start”. I have hundreds of Ancestors who had fresh starts. Many came to Colonial America looking for a better life, and many more of my family moved west for the same reason.  Some remarried after the death of a spouse. So, the problem was, which one should I write about? After much thought, I decided to take a different look at a “Fresh Start”.

You see, I have one brick wall in my maternal line that has driven me batty since I first began researching my lineage. I have tried every method that could find and I did make a few minor finds, but I still only have minimal information on him.

confused-smiley

I decided to make a “Fresh Start” in the hunt for my Great Grandfather, Pleasant/Plesent Smith born February 14, 1853, in Hazel Hill. Missouri. My goal is to revisit all the information I currently have and to start thinking outside the box, looking for new ways to obtain what I need.

I have also made the decision to release my quest for trying to verify the family lore concerning him. I believe this may be what is hindering my searching.  The following is the story my mother told us about him when we were young children.

creek indianPleasant Smith was a Creek Indian Chief who left the tribe to marry my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. They had one son John Pleasant Smith. Sometime after this, he was found murdered. His body was discovered dismembered and placed on the railroad tracks to make it look like he had been hit by a train. He was found before the train was to pass through town. The murderers were never found. A few years after his death my Great Grandmother received a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Pleasant Smith, but she never opened it. She sent it back to the addressee.

Let the journey to find the real Pleasant Smith begin!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

4 Comments

Filed under 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Ancestry, Blogging, Brick Walls, Creek Indian, Death, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Memories, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Smith, Uncategorized

Famous or Infamous?

TreeAs I was looking over my paternal and maternal trees, I remember thinking that I must be doing something wrong. It seems that I kept finding more and more “Famous” people and I am sure that couldn’t be correct. There seemed to be too many of them, especially coming from such common people. I realized that I should ask other Genealogists about this. I contacted three of my Ancestry friends and two of them stated they had only found one person that was well known in all of their trees. Another friend hadn’t found any. At this point, I thought maybe I should start all over again. I must have made a mistake of some kind. I decided to sleep on it before I did anything that drastic. When I awoke the next day I was determined to search my trees to see if I could find anything unusual in them.

I spent the next few days carefully tracing each famous person back as far as I could. I wrote down the dates and places and this is where my revelation became clear. Each of these persons was directly descended from an Ancestor who came to the New World between 1607 and 1655. This would make my immigrant ancestors my 8th or 9th Great Grandparents.

I then did some research and verified that in 1607 there was only one established town, Jamestown, in map of the colonieswhat is now Virginia. By 1620 Plymouth Mass. was founded. As more people arrived they began to spread out along the eastern coastline. By 1630 there was a whopping 4,646 people living here. By 1650 there were 26,634 inhabitants. That is equal to the population in Kingman AZ or Spring Valley NY. This meant there weren’t a lot of people to choose from if you wanted to get married. As our country grew more people came and intermarried with those who were already here.

Because of the limited amount of people living here, and taking into consideration all of the Historic events that took place I discovered that yes, it is possible to have more than a couple of “Famous” persons in my trees!

Do you have any “Famous” or “Infamous” Ancestors? Tell me who they are!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Leave a comment

Filed under 8 times Great Grandparents, Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, History, Jamestown Colony, John Page, John Wesley Hardin, Jonathan Brewster, Marriage, Permelia Loving Allen, Peter Rucker, Pilgrims, Plymouth Massachusetts, Robert E. Lee, Salem Witch Trials, U.S. President, Uncategorized

The Importance of Family Interviews

We moved to our new house a little over 3 months ago. I have been slow to get some things unpacked so I thankfulmade the decision a month ago that I would get my stored Genealogy research out of the shed and put it away. Of course, you know how that went. Once I got it all in the house I HAD to take a look at it and I spent hours browsing. Lo and behold, I found something a cousin gave me almost 10 years ago when I visited her on a trip to Missouri.

Rosie and baby

Rosie Hayes

One of our cousins, John Duane Willard had the foresight to interview the last living child of my Great Grandparents Hamilton Hayes and Elvira Register, Rosa “Rosie” Lucille Hayes (1901-1988). The interview took place shortly before her death so she was about 87 years old. She gave information on the family and told some great stories. Because of her age, some of the facts were off a bit but it inspired me to take a closer look.

                                                                                                                         

Elisia Jane White Register pic

Eliza White

Since she provided information on both my Hayes and Register lines I have had fun with the research. Reading through the two paged typed transcript I noticed a few things I didn’t see the first time I read it. One discovery was that Elvira’s mother Eliza Jane White had lived to be 99 years and 9 months old! It also listed her two siblings which I never knew of. Eliza has been one of my brick walls, so because of this interview, I now have vital information to work with. I have found her Grandparents information and I am working on finding more. I was also able to add two more generations to the Hayes side.

Matthew Arvin Register pic THIS ONE

Mathew Register

The stories are insightful as well. From what she said Mathew Register, Elvira’s father was quite a character. He transported horses, cattle, and supplies from St. Joseph Missouri to the Cherokee Strip in eastern Kansas. After years of doing this, he established a career as a vocal music teacher. He was supposed to have had an exceptional singing voice. He grew tobacco and Hemp on his farm. As an old man, he owned an apple orchard near Hodge Missouri. He raised Golden Seal apples and ginseng root. Rosie helped him wash the root so they could be sold to the public.

All this (and the other information given) would have been lost to ours and future generations if John hadn’t taken the time to sit with Rosie and write down her stories. I believe so much of our history is gone forever because we didn’t listen to the stories or information told to us as we grew up or that we have neglected to ask someone what they remember about the family while there was still time. I interviewed my in law’s a few years ago while working on my husbands’ Genealogy. I taped it so I could hear it, again and again, to make sure I got it right. Almost 3years ago my father-in-law was killed in an auto accident and I am thankful that I have his stories recorded for future generations.

I have decided that I am going to be more diligent with my seeking out the older generation that is left in my family to see what they may have been told or what they remember about our Ancestors. As we all know, tomorrow is not guaranteed so we need to do it while there is still time.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

2 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Cousins, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hayes Family, Hughes, Interviewing, Memories, Missouri, Register Family, Story telling, Uncategorized

In My Wildest Dreams

Ok, this title sounds kind of strange coming from a Genealogist. It does make you wonder what kind of dreams do people in this profession have and why would they write a blog about it?

bg-dreamcloudActually, this blog is about a dream that I would love to have come true! A couple of weeks ago I was walking through the cemetery where my grandson is buried. We live close by, so quite often I walk over, and I spend time looking at the headstones and the flowers left by loved ones. I find it peaceful and it gives me a chance to just think. This cemetery was built-in 1883, a youngster compared to other parts of the country. There are many types of headstones of various shapes and sizes. I sometimes contemplate as to why the family chose this particular one. I may be odd, but these things fascinate me.

I came across a headstone and thought “If only I could find one like this in my family!”. IElla McGowan Smith headstone have been cross-country, visiting the cemeteries of my ancestors and taking photos. They usually look like the one I posted here. This is my Grandma Smiths stone. It is very plain and has just the basic information on it. Name, Date of Birth and Death and the word “Mother” on it. Don’t get me wrong I was thrilled to find it in a little graveyard in Buckner Missouri. But it was nothing like the one I just found.

Digital CameraLet me introduce you to Rosalie Nichols Woods. In this one headstone, I was able to garner quite a bit about her and her family. First, her maiden name was Nichols. Second. Her husbands’ name was Murray Edwin. Third, since there is no death date on Murray’s’ side, I assume he is still alive. Fourth, the date they got married, June 6, 1947, is included on the front as well as the normal dates of birth and death. This gave me a small look into their lives.

I walked on by and I happened to look behind me and there it was….my dream. On the Digital Camerabackside of the stone was listed the names of their 6 children and their spouses! 3 boys and 3 girls. What a nice, big family they had. I then started thinking of all my deceased ancestors where I have had problems verifying a family connection because I don’t have some of the children/sibling’s names or marriage date. With this headstone, there would be no doubt of the connection. I wonder if Rosalie loved Genealogy.

What is your “wildest dream” when it comes to Genealogy?

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Blogging, Brick Walls, Cemetery, Death, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Headstones, Smith, Uncategorized

The Broader Technique

My Maternal Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith has always been a mystery. When I first broaderstarted my research over 20 years ago, I only had his name, date of birth and the name of my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I had a few stories that my mother had told me about him when I was younger, but I couldn’t find anything that would validate them. So, I continued to search in hopes of a breakthrough.

I would love to report that the solid cement wall that blocked me from finding any shred of information had fallen down and the life of Pleasant had been revealed. But I can’t. What I can say is I do know a little more about his life thanks to the broader technique.

Sarah Jane Page ML James Newhouse 2It all started when I was trying to break through my Great Grandmothers brick wall a few years back. She was 22 years old when she married Pleasant. Back in the mid-1800s, that was a little late for a woman to get married. I decided to take a second look at the “hints” that came up when I entered her information. I discovered she had gotten married and had a daughter when she was 16.  Her husband died when she was 21 and she then married Pleasant who was 29 years old. Once I had her previous marriage info, I was able to find her parents, her grandparents, etc. I also found her siblings names. As a result, I found that one of her younger sisters had also married a Pleasant Smith! As a matter of fact, after Sarah became a widow she got married again and, on her marriage license, I found that the ceremony had taken place at the home of  Pleasant Smith.

I began to broaden my search into this “new Pleasant Smith”. That is when I found that he was the son of my Great Grandfather and his first wife Charity. I still felt like I did not have sufficient proof that the two Pleasants’ were father and son. I continued my search and found the younger one’s death certificate. His parents were listed, and they matched. However, it was solidly confirmed when I saw that my Uncle was listed as the informant on the certificate.

I am still looking for more records on the elusive Pleasant Sr. I know someday I will find what I am searching for. Because of this experience I have applied this “Broader Technique” to some of my other brick walls with great success. When I find any name that is listed on marriage licenses, wills, deeds etc. I make a note of them along with any dates or where they lived. Then I take the time to research that person. You never know who your ancestor may have crossed paths with. You can also use the U.S. Federal Census as a guide. Research your ancestors’ closest neighbors. Sometimes they have had interactions that have been documented and it may lead you to new discoveries. Sometimes we need to broaden our search field to find the hidden treasures!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Broader Technique, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Missouri, Page Family, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Smith, Uncategorized