Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I Learned Wednesday: 30 March 2011

Last weekend I attended the Fairfax Genealogical Society’s Spring Conference, “Putting the Pieces Together.” I didn’t have much research time this week, so I’ll focus on what I learned at the conference.

The Saturday presentations were divided into four tracks of four presentations each. I chose the “Putting the Pieces Together” track, since it focused on some of the skills I need at this point in my research. This and the “Western European Research” track were shared by Warren Bittner and Leslie Albrecht Huber. The four presentations I attended were “Putting the Pieces Together: An Urban Case Study” by Bittner, “The Journey Takers” by Huber, “Welcome to the Library: Reading to Put Your Ancestors Into Historical Context” by Bittner, and “Understanding and Researching Illegitimacy: The Bittner Bastards of Bavaria” by Bittner. This last one was actually in the Western European Research track, but I found it to be a good illustration of many of the points from “Welcome to the Library.”

“Putting the Pieces Together” centered on research in New York City, so many of the techniques discussed will help in researching my husband’s family. Bittner covered a wide range of resources to check, but singled out city directories as an invaluable resource, particularly when no joy is to be found in the census. He showed how knowing where an ancestor lived and worked from year to year could be used in “reasonably exhaustive research.”

Before attending Leslie’s “The Journey Takers” I bought a copy of her book of the same name, and the lecture definitely whetted my appetite to get started on the book. I loved Leslie’s descriptions of how her obsession with her family’s history led her to immerse herself as completely as possible by spending time in Germany and often doing research under less than favorable circumstances. The historical background she provided in this presentation reinforced Warren’s points in the next lecture about learning everything you can about the time and place in which your ancestors lived.

“Welcome to the Library” was a truly inspirational presentation; during the break I spoke with a lady sitting next to me, and we both agreed that we couldn’t wait to dig into some of the historical and sociological resources pertaining to our ancestors. In addition to giving an extensive list of the types of history books to read, Bittner emphasized that “A good family history should also be a good microhistory.” I love this idea and am becoming a huge fan of microhistory. Bittner also spoke about the lasting effect exerted by certain seminal works of microhistory.

In the “Bitter Bastards” presentation, Bittner pulled all the threads together and illustrated how studies have demonstrated which factors influence legitimacy and which factors (surprisingly) do not. One of his main points was that when we research our ancestors, particularly those from a time and location distant from our own, we must throw out all preconceived notions about how our ancestors lived and how they viewed things, particularly those notions which are based on how we live and how we view things; we usually project too much of ourselves and our own experience.

In theme and content these presentations were beautifully woven together, and I came away with both inspiration and new knowledge and ideas for my research.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Memory Monday: Sweets

I wish I could pretend that I was one of those strong, disciplined, superior people who can take or leave sweets - mostly leave - but I am not. I am a craven, undisciplined, weak slave of sweets. In fact, a humiliating number of my “memory” posts here have centered around or at least prominently featured sweets. Heck, even some of my genealogy foray posts involve “fortuitous” trips to candy establishments (“Knoxville Sights”). Some of the “sweets and candy” posts are:

"Family Food"
“Memory Monday: Sopping the Bowl” (wherein you learn that my family’s taste for sweets was so voracious that we sometimes ate them “raw”)
“Advent Calendar Day 14: Fruitcake”
“Memory Monday: I’ll Have Mine with Sugar”

This last post reveals how truly absolute my family’s addiction to sugar was. I mean, a family where major breakfast selections are cinnamon toast and peanut butter with syrup - that’s ... extreme.

There is even a post dedicate to a sweet drink: “Memory Monday: Iced Tea.” My entry for the GeneaBloggers Cookbook is a supercharged combo of fudge and oatmeal cookies called simply “Snack Bars.” Maybe I should just call this blog “Greta’s Genealogy and Sweets Bog.”

The sweet tooth was inherited from my father, and his was ferocious. Or, come to think of it, part of it might have come from my mother’s mother (“Grandma Moore, Banana Pudding, and the Telephone: An Evening of Terror”). Even my brother had a weakness for sugar cookies that landed him in the humiliating situation of having to ingratiate himself with his little sister (me - see "I'll Have Mine with Sugar" above).

As I have gotten older, the need for a high sugar content has leveled off somewhat, and my tastes have shifted toward subtle/subdued rather than rich. Even so, there are a few sinful, luscious, and adipose-adding items that are still irresistible: my Aunt Rene’s Candy Balls, my mother’s Easy No-Cook Divinity, and my Ho Ho Cake (adapted from a recipe given to me by a friend at church). Here are the recipes:

Candy Balls

Mix together 1 stick oleo, 1 can Eagle milk, 2 boxes powdered sugar, 2 cans coconut, 4 c. pecans; chill 2 hrs. Take out & roll into balls. Rechill. Melt in double boiler 2 packages chocolate chips, ¼ lb. paraffin. Stick toothpicks into balls & dip them into hot chocolate. Rechill. Dip them over as long as there is any chocolate left. For variety, dip balls into cherry juice before dipping in chocolate.

Easy No-Cook Divinity

In small mixer bowl, combine frosting mix (Fluffy white Betty Crocker dry mix), 1/3 cup corn syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 cup boiling water. Beat on highest speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large mixer bowl; on low speed, blend in 1 lb. confectioner’s sugar gradually. Stir in 1 cup nuts. Drop mixture by teaspoonsful onto waxed paper. When outside of candies seem firm, turn over. Allow to dry 12 hours or overnight. Store candies in airtight container. Makes 5 to 6 dozen candies.

Ho Ho Cake


1 box German Chocolate Cake mix (pudding in the mix)
1 bar Baker’s German Chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
8 oz. sour cream
1/3 C. oil
1 C. water
6 oz. chocolate chips

Mix cake mix, chocolate, sour cream, oil, and water together. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured pan (I use a 13x8 glass pan). Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. (I leave it in the pan.) Cool completely.


5 Talespoons flour
1 8-oz. stick butter, softened
1/2 C. Crisco shortening
1-1/4 C. milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 C. granulated sugar

Cook flour and milk in pan until thick. Let cool. Place in mixer bowl with softened butter, vanilla, Crisco, and sugar. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Spread evenly over cooled cake to about 1/4 inch from edge of pan. Chill.


4-1/2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 sticks (12 ounces) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons light cream
1/8 teaspoon salt

Melt 1-1/2 sticks butter and chocolate. Let cool. Add vanilla and salt to it in mixer bowl. Heat cream slightly, add, and beat. Add powdered sugar gradually. Beat until smooth; don’t let it get lumpy. Spread evenly over filling.

Keep cake refrigerated.

This Memory Monday was written in response to a prompt from Amy Coffin’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:

Week 13: Sweets. What was your favorite childhood candy or dessert? Have your tastes changed since then? What satisfies your sweet tooth today?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Follow Friday Newsletter 25 March 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

A book and some security, all in one

At Family Matters, Kathleen Reed reports on her experience with Blog2Print, not only as a way to make a book from a blog but also a way to back up a blog in “Protecting Your Blog.”

Catch this one:

At Chris Paton’s Scottish Genes: “Flying to Ireland for research? Sage advice!”  Don’t read it while you are drinking anything.

Organization in action....

In “Sorting Saturday - Document and Record log,” Heather Kuhn Roelker at Leaves for Trees provides a great sample of the spreadsheet she uses to track source documents (click on the image to enlarge it).

What’s good and what’s not so good

After recently winning a 3-month “Pro” subscription to on GeneaBloggers Blog Talk Radio, Taneya Koonce at Taneya’s Genealogy Blog gives an excellent overview of the site’s pluses and minuses and how it compares to other sites in "My Foray into"

He gives “wordsmithing” a new dimension

Over at Staats Place, Chris Staats’ response to Randy Seaver’s (Genea-Musings) latest Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge left me in stitches: “SNGF: Common Genealogy Terms Defined.”  I think these are going to enter the Genea-Dictionary.

Is this the future? Oddly enough, I hope not...

There is an interesting Weekend Discussion at Susan Petersen’s Long Lost “Open Discussion Weekend - will brick walls become a thing of the past?” Check out the article and the comments. What do you think?


- or stuff that oughta be obvious but apparently ain’t - is discussed by Kerry Scott at Clue Wagon in “Free Stuff on the Internet.”

Another reason to be paranoid

At Marion’s Roots & Rambles, Marion Pierre-Louis advises us to “Print Genealogy Information from Websites - the First Time You See It.”

If you are a noob...

at attending national genealogy conferences and are planning on attending NGS in Charleston, SC this year, you might want to check out the “Tips for First Time Conference Attendees” on the NGS Family History Conference blog. As a matter of fact, even if you are a seasoned conference attendee, you might want to check out the suggestions just the same.

How to do it

Lorine McGinnis Shulze at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog provides an excellent detailed example of the research process in “A Step by Step Analysis of a Genealogy Search”: what is found, what is not, and what questions and inconsistencies still exist.

Some backup basics

Are covered at JLog in “A Simple Backup Plan.” Good information on different backup devices and backup services with some useful “how-to” information.

For more suggested blog reading

Check out "Best of the Genea-Blogs" at Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings, "Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere" at Susan Petersen's Long Lost, and "Follow Friday: This Week's Favs" at Jen's Climbing Your Family Tree.

This week I started following these blogs:

Adventures in Family History

Atlantic Roots - Ancestors by the Sea

Echoes of Elbert County

Foote Paths

Genealogy Diaries

Generations of Poetry

The Modern Genealogist

Sharon’s Family and Other Stuff

Sharing Their Stories

My Week

I’m going to try to post a weekly research report on Wednesdays and started this week. We’ll see.

Well, that’s another couple of widgets I can remove from my blog.

MyBlogLog is closing down. Sheesh. And I’m not trusting Yahoo to stick with anything, either.

I know where I’ll be this weekend

The Fairfax Genealogical Society’s Spring Conference will be held this weekend - Friday from 4:00 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - at the Marriott Fairfax Hotel at Fair Oaks Mall. I’ll be there!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I Learned Wednesday: 23 March 2011

(A new feature - and I hope a regular one - for posting weekly updates on my research.)

This week some of the “slow and steady” transliteration and analysis has paid off.

Last week I started transcribing the probate packet materials for the estate of Bud Mathis Moore (B. M. Moore), the brother of my great-great grandfather William Spencer Moore. The main body of materials date to 1888, but there are some letters to heirs that date to 1896.

Some of the materials consisted of letters from to and from the descendants of Elizabeth Moore Bain, B. M. Moore’s oldest child and his only child by his first wife, Elizabeth Brashier. The descendants in question were James D. Fields and Mary E. Fields, the children of Martha A. “Mattie” Bain, the daughter of Elizabeth Moore and James Bain, and William Fields. Mary is first referred to as “Mollie Fields” and then as Mrs. J. M. Davis.

Mattie Bain Fields did not appear with her family on the 1870 census for Etowah County, Alabama, so I looked for a Martha or Mattie Fields of the right age in 1870. I found her with her husband William and children “Jas. S.” and “Mary E.” in Hunt County Texas; also living with the family was her brother Richard Bain.

By 1880 James and Mary are living with their grandmother - Elizabeth Griffin - and they are all back in Etowah County, Alabama. This Elizabeth Griffin is the right age to be Elizabeth Moore Bain, and in fact, when I flipped ahead in the B. M. Moore probate materials, I saw an “E. F. Griffin” listed as one of the recipients of items from the estate, so one question which would have arisen was already taken care of. Moreover, her marital status was described as “Married - husband gone.” So there appears to be a story here that I may want to look into later. I cannot find this Elizabeth Griffin on the 1900 census.

Using Mary Fields Davis’ age from previous censuses and the information that her husband must have been a J. M. Davis, I found her with her husband John Davis on the 1900 census in Fort Wort, Texas (though the names are common, I knew it was the right couple because both the letters and the census gave Magnolia Street in Fort Worth as the address for the family) with their children Martha, John, Jennie, and James.

The letters addressed to James were sent to Blountsville, Alabama, and I found James D. Fields with wife Ella and children Thomas, Guss, and William on the 1900 and 1910 censuses. I may have found James’ family on the 1920 census in Marion County, Alabama, but I’m not sure. It is the family of William J. Daily and his wife Ellen J. Daily, who is the same age as Ella J. Fields, and her sons Guss Fields (two years older than the Guss Fields on the 1910 census) and Bethell Fields, who is the right age to be the William Fields of the 1910 census.

So here is what the descendant report looks like for Elizabeth Moore and James Bain so far:

James Bain
 b. ca 1818, South Carolina
& Elizabeth W. Moore
 b. 12 Dec 1824
|      Mary Emma Bain
|       b. 1845, South Carolina
|      Martha A. “Mattie” Bain
|        b. 1846, South Carolina
|      & William Fields
|       b. 1848, Alabama
|      |      James D. Fields
|      |        b. Apr 1867, Alabama
|      |      & Ella J.
|      |        b. May 1876, Alabama
|      |      |      Thomas V. Fields
|      |      |        b. Jan 1898, Alabama
|      |      |      Guss Fields
|      |      |       b. 1902, Alabama
|      |      |      William Fields
|      |      |        b. 1909, Alabama
|      |      Mary E. Fields
|      |       b. Oct 1870, Texas
|      |      & John M. Davis
|      |       b. Nov 1866, Kentucky
|      |      |      Martha Davis
|      |      |       b. Nov 1889, Texas
|      |      |      John E. Davis
|      |      |       b. Dec 1894, Texas
|      |      |      Jennie Davis
|      |      |       b. Jan 1898, Texas
|      |      |      James Davis
|      |      |        b. Jan 1900, Texas
|      William Manning Bain
|        b. 1848, South Carolina
|      Richard H. Bain
|       b. 1851, South Carolina
|      George B. Bain
|       b. 1854, South Carolina

I do not know what happened to any of the other children of Elizabeth Moore and James Bain after 1870; none of them or their descendants is mentioned in the B. M. Moore probate materials. Whether this is because they died or because they had lost all contact with the family in Greenville or for other reasons, I do not know. But since this is the branch of the Bud Mathis Moore family that moved away from South Carolina quite early and about which the least is known, I would like to find out what happened to all of these people.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Several of my fellow bloggers have been kind enough to confer some awards on this blog, and I would like to acknowledge their kindness and thoughtfulness:

The Ancestor Approved Award from Nuccia at Growing Up in an Italian Family.

The One Lovely Blog Award from Kay Sturgeon at Gol Gol Girl, Leslie Albrecht Huber at The Journey Takers, and Chris Odom at It’s All Relative.

A big “thank you” to all of you for thinking of me and also for writing informative and interesting blogs. For the Ancestor Approved Award, you can read some previous “surprised, humbled, and enlightened” posts here and here.

By way of “singing for my supper” for these awards, I’d like to list some “pluses and minuses.”

For Nuccia - pluses and minuses of researching Italian ancestors (my husband has some):

Plus: Those beautiful Italian names. Some of them are like music.
Minus: Those beautiful Italian names. No one can spell them correctly. Especially census-takers

For Leslie - pluses and minuses of raising little kids

Plus: Kids say the darnedest things. They keep you laughing.
Minus: Kids say the darnedest things. You never know when they are going to embarrass the heck out of you.

For Chris - pluses and minuses of research in the South

Plus: High tempers and hissy fits - they are always interesting.
Minus: High tempers and hissy fits - it’s hard to figure out why they acted the way they did, because a good part of the time they were not acting rationally.

For Kay - pluses and minus of interviewing relatives:

Plus: They have so many stories to tell - they are goldmines of information.
Minus: They have so many stories to tell - they are goldmines of misinformation.

I am still behind in a lot of things after being out of town for a few days, but I hope to post the lists of recipients to whom I will pass these awards in a few days.

Thank you Leslie, Nuccia, Chris, and Kay!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Top 10 Scenes I’d Like to See on “Who Do You Think You Are?”

or: “10 Scenes You’ll Probably Never See on ‘Who Do You Think You Are’”

10. Scene showing Celebrity sitting at microfilm reader in library. Microfilm roll suddenly snaps, sending film spinning wildly. “@#$% microfilm reader! And I’m out of quarters, too!”

9. Shot of screen. “Our servers are over capacity at this time. Please try again later.”

8. Scene of Genealogist talking to Celebrity. “Um, we were going to get your great-grandfather’s death certificate, but the producers said $75 for a crummy old death certificate is highway robbery.”

7. Shot of screen with Public Member Tree. Genealogist: “OMG, look at this - this moron has Elmira Q. Winkly as the daughter of Hepzibah Tinkly Winkly - who was only four years old at the time of Elmira’s birth! I can’t believe what junk you can find on these trees!”

6. Scene at courthouse basement door. Celebrity: “Yuck, that place is filthy - I’m not going in there!”

5. Celebrity and Genealogist are purposefully tromping across a field to reach a small, overgrown cemetery.  Suddenly Celebrity stops and looks down at shoe with a look of dismayed recognition slowly creeping over her face.  Chagrined genealogist:  “Um, yeah, I forgot to mention - the cemetery is in the middle of a cow pasture....”

4. Genealogist and Celebrity at front desk of repository. Employee at desk: “Oh, that old stuff? We dumped it ages ago - we had to make room for the new gift store.”

3. Scene in home of Celebrity’s Relative. Celebrity asks Relative about Grandpa Bolter. Relative screams at Celebrity: “Don’t you ever mention that skunk’s name around here again! We don’t talk about that branch of the family!”

2. Shot of screen: “Someone is already logged on to your account. If it is not you, please call xxx-xxx-xxxx between the hours of 9:00 and 5:00 EST to report a problem. If you are logged on on another computer, log off and try again.”

1. Scene of Genealogist reporting to Celebrity: “Sorry, all of your ancestors were farmers and day laborers. They all got married, stayed married, and stayed together. They committed no crimes, never sued one another in court, and were involved in no disasters. To be quite honest with you, your ancestors were boring!” (Oh, wait a minute - this is what happens with celebrities who don’t make it to the final cut. Off camera, of course.)

Friday Newsletter and Follow News: 11 March 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

It was there all the time

Donna Pointkouski tells us about her “Lesson Learned: Track Down Every Clue” at What’s Past Is Prologue, and promises to tell us about “the sister who disappeared.”  (Waiting impatiently here...)

Do you have a “grasshopper brain”?

Find out what a “new genealogist” has to say about this and about why she is not yet a “real genealogist” in an interesting post, “A ‘Real Genealogist,’” written by a “new blogger,” Frustrated Sue, at The Frustrated Genealogist blog (one of my new follows this week).

Some interesting mysteries this week:

“Murder Most Foul?”
at Cheri Daniels’ Journeys Past and
“The Complicated Parentage of Sarah Nodine Milner Steen” at Dorene’s Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay.

Maps, censuses, and personal interviews

Daniel Hubbard at Personal Past Meditations shows how he combined the three to put together an image of the town of his father’s youth in “Taking Walks with the Census Taker and my Dad.”

Marian asks

“Why do people have favorite ancestors?”
at Roots and Rambles - and she gets some interesting answers!

Check out a great story ...

at Tami Osmer Glatz’s Finding Family Stories - “Death, Deceit, and a Couple of Sea Captains.”

Moving farther back or researching in greater depth?

Kirsty Wilkinson at The Professional Descendant explores this question in “Genealogy versus Family History,” and cites the example of her professional research as evidence of a changing trend.

I’ve Put This How-To on my To-Do List

A Dropbox how-to, “Dropbox Links,” is posted over at JLog. Gotta do this.

Diig deeper in your research

At Moultrie Creek Gazette, Denise Olson lets us in on how “Diigo Offers More Research Goodness.”

Not a blog, but

A good link suggested by several bloggers this week: Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters.

Read a hot and steamy love story

over at GeneaBlogie. It’s called “A Love Story.” You won’t regret it!

Conference attendance

The Ancestry Insider speculates on the effect RootsTech and scheduling of other genealogy conferences will have on the attendance at these events and cites declining attendance at Family History Expos as one casualty in “South Davis Fair in the Aftermath of RootsTech.”

For more suggested blog reading

Check out "Best of the Genea-Blogs" at Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings and "Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere" at Susan Petersen's Long Lost

This week I started following these blogs:

AK’s Genealogy Research

Ancestral Wormhole

Family Tech

Finding Family Stories

Four Generations Genealogy

Genealogy Your Way

Hunting Dead People

It’s a CHURCH Thing

The Door Keepers

What's Up With Google Reader and Blogger?

My apologies to readers of Follow Friday - I'm probably missing a lot of Thursday posts and very likely other posts as well. Neither Google Reader nor the Blogger reader seem to be working as they should. A few days ago, I opened Google Reader to see twice as many posts listed as I usually have; for about 10 blogs, all of their posts for the last couple of weeks were included, and these are blogs I have been following for a while. Then a couple of days later I noticed that far fewer posts were showing up in the reader, and Google Reader indicated that I was not following many blogs that I'm positive I DO follow. So I have been trying to resubscribe and refollow, but I'm sure there are posts that I'm missing (will probably have to resubscribe to all of the new adds you see here every week). Plus the Blogger reader says that I am not following any blogs. It has done this before, but the problem would usually correct itself after a while. This time it has been a couple of days.

Has anyone ever had any of these problems and if you did, how did you fix them?

My deepest thanks

to whoever nominated Greta's Genealogy Blog for Family Tree Magazine's 40 Top Genealogy Blogs, to the hardworking panel members, to those who voted, to the wonderful people who read and comment on this blog and make it so much fun to write, and to all my fellow Genea-Bloggers: you make this one of the most awesome communities, one that I am so proud to be a member of.

My Research Week

This week I did a lot of the "slow work" described in the previous post.  Much of this centered on one of my husband's families, the Fichtelmanns, mainly inputting information on his great-great grandfather Johann (John) August Fichtelmann and great-great grandmother Katharina "Katy" Scherer.

The other main activity was transcribing the estate packet of Bud Mathis Moore.  First clue to show up:  the married name of Ellen Cox, daughter of Mary E. T. Moore and Isaac Cox - it was Bramlett.  I believe I found her and her husband, J.G. Bramlett, as well as their son Eddie on the 1880 census in Austin Township, Greenville County.

The highlight of the week was learning that Terri Kallio is researching the Curtices.  I am sure that Terri is going to enjoy learning about this family.  And Terri, I'm working on those scans!

Another exciting moment was hearing from an old college friend on Facebook - she found me through my genealogy blog and is also into genealogy!

I will be away next week, so there will not be any Follow Friday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fast and Slow

This past week I was reading blogs and saw that Becky Jamison at Grace and Glory had posted Curt Witcher‘s presentation on “The Changing Face of Genealogy” at RootsTech. Since I had not attended RootsTech and had heard so much about this address, I decided to watch it to see what all the excitement was about.

It was inspiring, eloquent, uplifting, and captivating. Curt Witcher is a bundle of focused energy, with years of experience and many insights to share. He made a number of points that could have evoked disagreement and controversy in some corners of the genealogy community, but were delivered in such a beguiling and matter-of-fact manner - “It’s fact!” “Get real!” - as to be doubly persuasive for all their upending of time-honored genealogical wisdom.

Witcher said many things that need to be said. Genealogy is not just the esoteric pursuit of a privileged coterie, but an activity that should and must include the participation of many people at many different levels. The changes that have taken place over the past couple of decades in the means, methods, and resources that can be used to pursue genealogy have made this broader involvement possible. They have also changed the expectations of people who take up genealogical research, and Curt Witcher described and advocated for this tectonic shift very effectively and persuasively.

One of the points made by Witcher was that people have come to expect greater speed and immediacy of results in their research, or, as he characterized it, “fun and success” and “real-time results.” This speed, in fact, is what has attracted people to genealogy in far greater numbers than ever before.

This is how I was lured into genealogy. A simple Google search to demonstrate to a colleague the uniqueness of my maiden name led me to information that confirmed family stories of our connection to a founding family of Texas. It didn’t stop there; during the next year I would find all kinds of information unearthed by other researchers as well as make new discoveries of my own. The pace was very fast. I went from knowing nearly nothing about my ancestors to having so many possible avenues of research that I did not know where to start.

So I can confirm Witcher’s assertion about the lure of speed, the desire to find things quickly, the attraction of fun and [quick] success.

And yet ... and yet ...

That’s not all there is.

I am now at a point where I have tons of tantalizing leads on the Moores, enough material on my great-great-uncle William Henry Lewis to write a book, a slew of Fichtelmanns to figure out, an entire soap opera on the Floyds. And much, much more.

I have done too much “spending 10 minutes finding lots of documents.” I cannot absorb everything or even comprehend it. There is just too much.

It is time to slow down, and to do the evaluating and analyzing that Witcher said would come with the faster pace of discovery. I don’t need any more projects, nor am I interested in looking into gadgets, apps, or doodads, unless they will truly make me more productive - not fast, but productive.

I want to look at everything slowly and carefully. Often this means transcribing materials. My piles of untranscribed materials have been sitting there, staring at me accusingly. So I finally got off my duff and dug into them.

And my method of transcribing is labor-intensive (= slow). For the census, I transcribe the information from the digital image to a blank census form, which is then typed into a Word or Pages document, and then copied and pasted to the Notes section on my Reunion program. (And I haven’t even felt silly about doing it this way after I heard Lou Szucs speak - she does much the same thing.)

Court transcripts, newspaper articles, and the like get transcribed at a similarly slow pace. Every time a new piece of information turns up, I enter it into a document called “Clues from [family name] Materials.” This is then converted into a point to be followed up on my “Weekly To-Do” list. In this way I am still making “finds,” but they tend to be smaller finds, ones that fill in little gaps in my information.

At the same time, I have been spiffing up source citations in my genealogy program and cleaning up my genealogy bookmarks. I am also entering information, one person at a time, into Ancestry Public Member trees (now no longer just “cousin bait), which I use to cross-check with my Reunion database to make sure that both have the full list of sources for each item. Again, I have deliberately chosen the methodical and laborious way of doing something.

The source citations and transcriptions should be deadly dull work, but they are not. They are peaceful and calming, and they seem to clear my mind. Research Zen, if you will.

So researchers are not always in pursuit of speed and fast results. And in my case this is not because I am a prissy source-citer or genealogical snob. I’m not even particularly industrious. It is simply because I need to go slowly and carefully right now, else I am in danger of losing control over all the data I have. I know that this information will lead to discoveries, but it needs to be organized and carefully studied. Too many times I have discovered that the clue I needed for a breakthrough was in my hands all along.

Curt Witcher is right: people want “real-time results” - it’s just the way people are.  However, I believe that people do not necessarily want things to move fast all of the time. Instant information may beget the need for instant gratification, but the latter need not be a permanent condition. It’s sort of like romance versus love and marriage: the former comes with fun and excitement, but the latter brings the real payoff. Oh, and the passion is still there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Genea-Coincidence Alert!

The past couple of days have been great ones for genea-coincidences and genea-connections.  First, Barbara Poole of Life from the Roots notified me via Facebook yesterday that she had found a blog with a Greenville connection and saw that I was not listed among the followers.  It turned out that this was Southwest Arkie's new genealogy blog, which I had not found (I had really been missing SW Arkie's old blog, which I thought had gone dormant).  Barbara is a real Genea-Angel!  And now I know of another Genea-Blogger with a Greenville connection.

Today I got a Facebook note from Terri Kallio of The Ties That Bind, who is researching the Curtice family.  A search brought her to my blog - Bettie Curtice Rosser was a close friend of Julia Mister Lewis, the wife of my great-great uncle, William Henry Lewis.  Bettie Rosser's grandson was the genea-angel who sent me letters and pictures of Henry and Julia Lewis as well as some family pictures of the Curtices and Rossers. Terri and I are now exchanging information on connections and photographs. 

This is why I love being a Genea-Blogger; it's some of the best legal fun you can have!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday News Letter and Follow News: 4 March 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

What do you do?

Susan Petersen at Long Lost asks one of our favorite questions: “What To Do with Skeletons in the Closet” and gets a lot of interesting answers!

Another excellent question

is posed by Lorine McGinnis Shulze at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: “Are Genealogists Desensitized to Horrors and Tragedies?” Many interesting responses to this question, too.

Please find me!

If, like many of us, you want the subjects and ancestral names you write about on your blogs to appear prominently (= near the top) in Google searches, check out Joan Miller’s post “SEO [search engine optimization] for Surnames” at the Luxegen Genealogy Blog.

A cautionary tale

at Travis LeMaster’s TLGenes: Preserving Our Family History, amusing and unnerving at the same time: “Heritage For Sale.”

A couple of articles on “false geography”

Randy Seaver’s “Dear Randy: Why the False Geography in Your Database?” at Genea-Musings
John Newmark’s “Place Name Standardization” at TransylvanianDutch Which way to go?

Check out the rant and the neologisms

at Genea-Musings in Randy Seaver’s “Reader’s Genea-Rant - my cousin’s done genealogy research, and it’s wrong!” A new tradition - genea-rants! (Or is it a new name for an old tradition?)

No easy answer to this one

Elyse at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog has an interesting and difficult dilemma: “To Research Or Not To Research?”

For the fascinating story of a photographer

and of the child laborers he photographed, read Heather Rojo’s post “Genealogy and Lewis Hine” at Nutfield Genealogy, and check out the links.

I can stop writing and die happy ...

because T.K. at Before My Time has expressed my exact thoughts on technology for genealogy and genealogy as an avocation (and why I love it) in “February Ruminations.”

For more suggested blog reading ...

Check out “Follow Friday: Around the Blogosphere” at Susan Petersen’s Long Lost and “Best of the Genea-Blogs” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings.

This week I started following these blogs:

A Tree Full of Parrotts - Untangling the Roots

Buried in a New World

Fantastic Electrisoil

Genealogical Masonry


Keeping the Story Alive

Kentucky & Tennessee Stories

More Than Names

Who We Were, Are & Will Be Our Family

My Research Week

Finally - months after the trip to Greenville - I have confronted the large pile of documents resulting from that trip. I have started working on the documents, transcribing and extracting information. This is a big job, but I am already finding new information on the Moore family. Now if my eyes can just take the strain of trying to read all those pages. Also, distant Norman and Dalrymple cousins have contacted me through the blog.  Hoping to hear more!