Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Seasons of Genealogy: It’s Okay to Daydream

Last Sunday I wrote a post on “My Top 5 Genealogy Research Books.” Three of them are books I use to find resources and plan research projects and trips.

There is a lot of planning going on right now.

Also known as “daydreaming.”

As in: “It would be so nice to take a trip to South Carolina or Texas or Tennessee or Kentucky or Illinois.” Or: “It would be so nice to be able to take a week off to spend at the National Archives.” Or even: “I wish I had even just a day to spend looking up ancestors on Genealogy Bank.”

I daydream research plans. Moving Moores around a chessboard and connecting them with a spiderweb of lines to various associated families is a game I often play in my head. But my favorite daydreams are research trips: where should we go, how much time should we spend, which repositories, museums, and historical societies should we visit, and what information will I be looking for.

I’m in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer in my research.

During the early season of my research - my “research spring” - I gleefully skipped around from website to website, shot off request letters to various repositories, got in touch with lots of relatives. The results were glorious. Ancestors sprang up all over. I identified where a lot of research had already been done and made some new discoveries of my own. I went from the bare dirt of almost total ignorance of my family history to a lush garden full of ancestors, dates, and places.

But now the season has changed to summer. Hot, sultry summer. A time of big ambitions but slow movement.

I want to do a lot of serious, organized, and sustained research, but things (work, children, house, miscellaneous appointments and obligations) keep me from doing everything I want to do, kind of the same way that the hot weather keeps me from getting my yard in shape.

This is not exactly the same as summer doldrums. My research is moving. And the thing is, besides adding what often seem like minor snippets of information, there have been several significant developments over the past year. To stretch the metaphor a bit (and I love to do that - even to the breaking point), these developments are the fruit of seeds I planted earlier.

I posted information in various places on my Moores, and a distant Moore cousin got in touch with me and provided the impetus I need to take a research trip to Greenville, South Carolina. I’m still working on the filing box full of documents I copied there.

I posted information on my Floyds, and a distant Floyd cousin got in touch with me who provided information on all of my great-great grandfather George Floyd's siblings, as well as copies of letters written to the Vermont branch by my Texas Floyds. This inspired me to get back in touch with my Floyd second cousins in Texas, who dug up lots of interesting court materials on our Texas Floyds from some clues I found in Genealogy Bank.

I kept in touch with some Brinlee cousins, and when our Texas Brinlees got a DNA match with some Tennessee Brinleys, we started working on those Brinleys to try to find a common ancestor and break down our Brinlee brick wall.

I posted information on my Normans, and was contacted by my wonderful cousin Rebecca, who provided me with a goldmine of family information when we met in Orangeburg.

I contacted fellow Fichtelmann researcher Mary Lou, who eventually figured out which Fichtelmann was the father of my husband’s great-grandmother and much, much more - all of which she shared with me. I followed her example to find a lot more information on my husband’s Koehl family.

But despite all of this activity, it feels as though my own efforts are just moving too slowly. I did almost no research at all this past week; I was too busy trying to get some chores out of the way so that I would actually have a free schedule for research.

So in odd moments here and there I daydream about what I am going to do when I have the time. If we get to take a trip to Dallas, where will I go besides the Dallas Public Library? How am I going to go about finding Elisha Berry Lewis’ mystery siblings? What are the next steps I should take to find the parents of my great-grandmother Susan Elizabeth Smith?

I call it planning.

Oh, and for the record: when I daydream of research trips, they are always in the chilly early spring or crisp late fall. Because I have so many ancestors in the South. And the South is hot. And I hate the heat.

Submitted for the 107th Carnival of Genealogy, created by Jasia of Creative Gene and hosted by Bill West of West in New England.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Top 5 Genealogy Research Books

Last week Marian Pierre-Louis of Roots and Rambles listed the top 5 books on her bookshelf. I thought this was a great idea for genealogy bloggers, because even though there will definitely be books that appear on many of our lists, a few could also pop up that might not have occurred to some of us. It has also inspired me to add a page to this blog, “Genealogy Books I Own.”

This weekend I am finally getting down to listing my Top 5, and a couple of interesting things about my list have already become evident. First, the books on my list do not fit as much into the “regional research” mold as Marion’s books do, and second, the books that are regionally focused are actually a set of books.

1. At the top of my list is a set of about 15 books by Dr. A. Bruce Pruitt in two series of books of abstracts of deeds in South Carolina: Pendleton District/Anderson District/County and Greenville County. Since the Moores and Lewises are my first-priority research focus, this area of South Carolina where they lived before my branch went to Texas is my top geographic area of interest along with Texas. Dr. Pruitt’s books have been instrumental in helping me sort out the families; there were other families of the same name (at least one for Lewis and several for Moore) in Greenville and Anderson. They have helped me to identify associated families and to create a list of likely family members (though I still do not know exactly how many of the probable Moore family members are related). I referred to these books and to Greenville Library’s online indices and finding aids to compile a list of documents to look up before my trip to Greenville last year.

I should mention here that there is another set of books that I also use a great deal for South Carolina research but that I do not own: Brent Holcomb’s books of births, deaths, and marriages extracted from South Carolina newspapers. Some of these are online and the others I have used in the library.

2. Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Naming the obvious, of course. I use it for source citations, but not just for that purpose. There are so many different types of sources and information, found in so many forms, in so many places, that it is often difficult know which distinctions to make and how to record how and where I have accessed a particular type of source. I also love the division into categories of sources; this helps me to understand how everything works together and to form a systematic picture of where my research gaps are.

My next three books are all general-purpose guides focusing on American research. At this point my research is at the stage of generation of research plans: where I need to go and what I need to get. These three books are helping me to figure that all out and to make sure that all my bases are covered. Some items I can mail off for and some can be obtained on microfilm from the local FHL, but I also use the results to plan out future research trips (dreaming right now, but I hope a reality later on).

3. Redbook of American State, County and Town Sources, edited by Alice Eichholz. I like the state-by-state organization and the map of each state with divisions into counties, townships, etc. Within each state the records are organized by type or by specialized area of research (“Special Focus Categories” such as particular religious or ethnic groups, immigration, and so forth). This is the first place I go when thinking about research in a particular state. At the end of each state chapter there is a list of current counties (or their equivalents) with the dates they were established and courthouse addresses, as well as a list of previously existing entities (such as the circuit court districts in South Carolina, for example).

4. The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking. The principle for its organization is more or less the opposite of that for #3: by type of records or specialized research subject first, and then when appropriate these are divided into states and localities. This is the book I go to first when thinking in terms of research of a particular subject or specialized area such as immigration or Jewish American research. Genealogical societies and lineage associations are listed in appendices. The notes at the end of each chapter are also extremely useful for finding further information. This book can now be accessed online as part of the Wiki.

5. Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records, edited by Kory L. Meyerink. The organization of this book is closer to #4, or in other words types of documents and then when appropriate geographical location. As the title indicates, it covers published records rather than the full range of original records, so in theory these are records that could be accessed without traveling to the actual location of origin - through purchase, interlibrary loan, online resources such as Google Books, and so forth, although in reality “some travel may be required.” There are a lot of useful reference lists, bibliographies, and “how-tos” interspersed in this book, so even when there is significant overlap with #3 and #4, this is not a resource that I would want to overlook.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Follow Friday Newsletter: 24 June 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

Next best thing to being there

There were many enjoyable posts last week on the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, and this week the experience was beautifully summed up by Donna Pointkouski at What’s Past Is Prologue in “10 Things I Learned at Jamboree.”

I’m going there when I grow up

In a similar vein, there have been several blog posts about the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford. Several excellent posts on this topic were written by Susan Farrell Bankhead at Susan’s Genealogy Blog; her final post, “Samford 2011: Recap,” provides a good summary of this experience.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun provokes interesting debate

Over at Genea-Musings, Randy waxes philosophical in response to a couple of comments left on his most recent Saturday Night Genealogy Fun in “Thoughts on Classical and Scientific Genealogy.” The potential for debates of this types is one of the many things that makes it interesting to be a member of the genealogy blogging community. This has led to further posts on the subject, which are listed in Randy’s second post on the subject, “More Thoughts on ‘Scientific’ and ‘Traditional’ Genealogy.”

From a legal point of view

James Tanner at Genealogy’s Star is starting a series wherein he discusses evidence and proof in genealogical from the viewpoint of their original context, the law; first post: “What is evidence? What is proof?”

I like the happy ending of this story

Jenny Lanctot at Are My Roots Showing? tells the story of how she looked and looked and may finally have found the genealogical society that is right for her in “I Finally Joined a Local Genealogy Society.”

And another happy ending!

Missy Corley at Bayside Blog has great news: “The Friends Album Has Found a Home!” We have been following Missy’s extraordinary work with this album, and this is the happiest of endings to the story.

What say ye?

Heather Kuhn Roelker at Leaves for Trees has suggested that “What we need is a genealogy blogger research database, don’t you see?” Sounds like a good idea, and Thomas Macentee’s idea for the form it would take looks good, too. So what do you all think?

I’ll tell you about mine if you’ll tell me about yours

At Roots and Rambles, Marian Pierre-Louis has posted “The Top 5 Books on My Bookshelf,” which I think would be an interesting topic for a genealogy blogging meme - Saturday Night Fun, anyone (Randy)?

Why hide and seek is our favorite game

Susan Farrell Bankhead has listed some common reasons why you can’t find your ancestors and strategies for finding them anyway in “Census 103: Family Members Missing in Action” at Susan’s Genealogy Blog. Yup, I’ve encountered all of these reasons and used all of these strategies. Things have improved with member-submitted corrections and “updated and improved” indexing of the censuses, but we still need to keep these approaches in mind.

Why didn’t they teach history like this at my high school?

In “Ancestry and Academics,” Kathleen Brandt of a3 Genealogy tells about her experience in using genealogy and family history to get students involved in learning - and not just history! I am fascinated by this classroom approach and think that this is a great idea for use in the classroom.

For more suggested blog reading

Check out “Follow Friday: This Week’s Finds” at Jen’s Climbing My Family Tree, “Best of the Genea-Blogs” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings, “Monday Morning Mentions” at Lynn Palermo’s The Armchair Genealogist, and “Follow Friday Gems” at Deb Ruth’s Adventures in Genealogy.

This Week I Started Following These Blogs:


Family Pilgrimage

Lessons Learned in Genealogy Research

Nuts from the Family Tree

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What I Learned Wednesday: 22 June 2011

Lots more on the Koehls this week! This includes:

1. Finding the full name of the husband of Magdalena M. “Lena” Koehl - Frederick William Tönjes. This was the last of the sons-in-law of Julius and Josephine Koehl that I needed to find. There now remains only the maiden name of Katherine/Katie, wife of Louis Koehl, brother of Henry Julius “Harry” Koehl, my husband’s great-grandfather.

The route to finding Lena Koehl Tönjes’ husbands full name was very indirect. I did a search on the name of the only son, Ernst Tönjes. It brought up an obituary for his sister, Hermine A. Tönjes Booraem, which listed both her parents’ names, her husband’s name (Elmer H. Booraem), her sister Josephine Tönjes’ married name (Thomas), and the names of Hermine’s children and their spouses, among other information. It turns out that brother Ernest Tönjes also married a Booraem (Rowena). It doesn’t hurt that there are some relatively uncommon names involved here.

2. A review of some of my Fichtelmann and Scherer information revealed that I actually do know the name of the father of my husband’s great-great grandmother Katharina/Katy Scherer (a couple of weeks ago I mistakenly stated that I did not know his name) - it is Henry Scherer.

So finally my husband’s family tree is starting to fill out and I am more at home with New York and Brooklyn resources. Now I just need to get into New Jersey resources so that I can find out more about my husband’s maternal grandmother’s line, the D’Arcos and Rossis, who settled in Newark.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Surname Saturday: Benjamin Sims and Mary Jane Thetford

Benjamin Sims
b. 1 Jul 1874, Stony Point, Collin County, Texas
d. 28 Jan 1944, Vineyard, Jack County, Texas
& Mary Jane Thetford
b. 7 Aug 1880, Texas
d. 21 Jan 1949, Jack County, Texas
m. 11 Feb 1906
|--Bessie Lillian Sims
|----b. 6 Dec 1906, Jack County, Texas
|----d. 26 Feb 1998, Chico, Wise County, Texas
|---& Curtis Columbus Sheppard
|----b. 3 Oct 1909
|----d. 16 Feb 1991, Chico, Wise County, Texas
|---m. 4 Sep 1927, Boonsville, Wise County, Texas
|--Joe Bailey Sims*
|----b. 22 May 1908, Texas
|----d. 16 Mar 1974
|---& Frank Thomas Swetnam
|----b. 3 Jan 1905, Jacksboro, Jack County, Texas
|----d. 3 Sep 1956, Tom Green County, Texas
|----m. 17 Dec 1927
|--Joe Bailey Sims*
|----b. 22 May 1908, Texas
|----d. 16 Mar 1974
|---& Newton Lee Garner
|--Junior Roscoe Sims
|----b. 3 Jul 1912, Texas
|---& Harriet Sowers
|--Hazel Inez Sims*
|----b. 11 Sep 1913, Texas
|----d. 18 Mar 1962
|---& Foster Bowen
|--Hazel Inez Sims*
|----b. 11 Sep 1913, Texas
|----d. 18 Mar 1962
|---& Sirus Edgar Dunn
|----m. 15 Feb 1945
|--Carvel Carl “Corky” Sims
|----b. 21 Apr 1915, Texas
|----d. 26 Mar 1997
|---& Marie Payne
|--Oleta Virginia Sims
|----b. 7 May 1917, Texas
|---& Todd Archie Carver
|----b. 7 Jun 1917, Sunset, Montague County, Texas
|----d. 5 Jan 1968, Weatherford, Parker County, Texas
|----m. 31 Aug 1940, Truce, Jack County, Texas
|--Theodore Sims
|----b. 30 Mar 1919, Texas
|----d. 9 Feb 2003, Jacksboro, Jack County, Texas
|--Vader Marie Sims
|----b. 12 May 1921, Wizard Wells, Jack County, Texas
|----d. 11 Jul 1942, Vineyard, Jack County, Texas
|---& Elton Alton Carver
|----b. 4 Jun 1919, Sunset, Montague County, Texas
|----d. 13 Feb 1953, Monterey County, California
|--Willie Adeline Sims
|----b. 24 Jan 1924, Vineyard, Jack County, Texas
|----d. 19 Apr 1926

This is the family of Benjamin Sims, son of Margaret Leek Brinlee (sister of my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr.) and Mary Jane Thetford, daughter of Wiley Martin Thetford and Eliza Laster. Oldest daughter Bessie Sims Sheppard was the author of many of the articles that have served as sources of Brinlee family lore. Some of these articles can be found in Volume I of Collin County, Texas, Families, edited by Alice Ellison Pitts and Minnie Pitts Champ.

I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Follow Friday Newsletter: 17 June 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

This was a great week for posts from the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, and now the posts from IGHR at Samford have started - too many to list here, but keep your eye out!

If only I were this organized...

The New Genealogist shares his/her experience in “Keeping track of [resultless] searches.” Good advice, good methodology.

Bury me there

J. D. Wilson at Stone Gardens has featured an unusual type of graveyard: “Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, Waterbury, Vermont.”

Some addictions are good!

Geniaus tells us why she is “Addicted to the Tablet.” She has provided so many reasons and illustrations for her addiction that I may move that iPad up a notch (= forward a year) on my Christmas list.

Got any good suggestions for Patti?

That would be Patti Browning at Consanguinity, who offers to give “My Kingdom for a Good Genealogy Flowchart Program.” There are some good suggestions in the comments, too.

Which is best for you?

At Family Search’s TechTips, Denise Barrett Olson discusses the most common web browsers and which features set them apart from one another in "The Web Browser" - very useful information for the genealogist who wants to maximize effectiveness in web use.

Randy has quite a long list....

and that’s not a good thing in this case, because it is a list of “Some Sparsely Indexed Census Databases on” I have suspected this of some of Ancestry’s card catalog databases I have used. Another gripe I have is about mis-indexing, particularly in the case of the World War I Draft Registration Cards. Several times I have clicked on a link for an ancestor’s card, only to pull up someone else’s card. I realized right away that I just had to keep clicking on the forward or backward arrow to find my ancestors’ cards, but still, it’s irritating.

Carol also has a list - a little list - and she’s making it work for her

At Reflections from the Fence, Carol has figured out how to get the most out of the To Do lists and events list function in her Roots Magic program - check it out in “The Small To Do List - How to Stretch It.”

A question and an answer

Tonia Kendrick at Tonia’s Genealogy asks and answers the question “What can you learn from a DAR application?” She provides an excellent overview of what you most likely will and will not find and gives examples from her own ancestor’s application.

Interesting question and comments

At Marian’s Roots and Rambles, Marian Pierre-Louis’ question “Do You Prefer Books or Microfilm?” elicits some thoughtful answers, and she has an interesting take on how she plans to combine the two to best effect.

For more suggested blog reading,

check out “Follow Friday Gems” at Deb Ruth’s Adventures in Genealogy, “Follow Friday: This Week’s Favorite Finds” at Jen’s Climbing My Family Tree, and “Monday Morning Mentions” at Lynn Palermo’s The Armchair Genealogist.

This Week I Started Following This Blog:

Leaves of Heritage Genealogy

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I Learned Wednesday: 15 June 2011

This week’s lesson: When doing large newspaper search projects:

1. Never. Ever. Stop. In. The. Middle.
2. Find a REALLY good system for recording how you searched (search terms, by dates, etc.), how you labeled your images, and WHERE THEY ARE.
3. Never. Ever. Stop. In. The. Middle. Ever.

I had a document listing all of the downloads I had already done, but could not locate the last batch, so I had to figure out what search criteria I had used and do it over.

Right after my getting own IT guy, I need a research assistant who is really, really organized.

I also decided to take advantage of my six months’ free subscription to, but so far have not found much that is useful, although I did find some newspaper articles on Brinlees. I’ll keep trying.

Koehl Research

This has been a great week for Koehl research. The death certificates that I received for my husband’s great-great grandparents Julius and Josephine Koehl pulled me back to digging around for Koehls in the off chance that Julius’ parents had also emigrated to America. I ended up at Family Search, where I found Julius’ probate file.


It listed all eight surviving children of Julius and Josephine Koehl, including all the daughters with their married names. And I’m pretty sure I know who the other two are from the list of people buried in the Koehl family plot in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

How do I know there were 10? Well, an odd thing occurred. I pulled up my information on the Julius and Josephine Koehl family and noted that I had no 1900 census information for Julius. Since he died in 1907, he should have been there. I tried “Julius” without the last name but with his birth year plus or minus two years for Kings County, New York and found him. He was a widower by this time, and the census taker had done something strange. In the “Mother of how many children”/”Number of children living” columns were the numbers “10” and “8” - crossed out. The census taker must have asked the questions of Julius, and then realized that they were supposed to be asked only of women.

Two of the married names of the daughters were new information, and the record confirmed a third one I had recently guessed. One of the daughters I found with her husband and family in the census (including New York state censuses); the other I found only as a widow, so learning the identity of her husband is a new piece of information to pursue. (The surname is Tönjes, in case anyone out there is familiar with it.)

So this week I guess you could say that I’m hitting myself in the head with one hand and patting myself on the back with the other.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Surname Saturday: Thomas Holmes Stephens and Laura Jane Sims

Thomas Holmes “Tommy Homer” Stephens
b. Jan 1867, Texas
d. Oct 1906, Indianola, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma
& Laura Jane Sims
b. 28 Jul 1865, Stony Point, Collin County, Texas
d. 5 Jun 1944, Anna, Collin County, Texas
m. 22 Aug 1888
|--J. O. Stephens
|----b. 6 Jun 1889
|----d. 27 May 1890
|--R.H. Stephens
|----b. 9 Sep 1890
|----d. 22 Aug 1891
|--William Jess “Bill” Stephens
|----b. 8 Apr 1892, Powell, Marshall County, Oklahoma
|----d. 9 May 1942, Sherman, Grayson County, Texas
|---& Lora Hester Grider
|----b. 25 Aug 1892, Kentucky
|----d. 28 Nov 1955, Sherman, Grayson Co., Texas
|--Nellie Stephens
|----b. 18 Oct 1894, Oklahoma
|----d. 1982
|---& Mose Ike Johnson
|----b. 25 Mar 1894, Melbourne, Arkansas
|----d. 27 Jul 1972, Denison, Grayson County, Texas
|--Allie Stephens
|----b. 18 Oct 1894
|----d. 27 Jun 1895
|--Thomas Elmer Stephens*
|----b. 24 Aug 1896, Oklahoma
|----d. 21 Jun 1968, Sherman, Grayson County, Texas
|---& Willa Faye Hendricks
|----b. Mar 1900, Westminster, Collin County, Texas
|----d. Mar 1944, Westminster, Collin County, Texas
|--Thomas Elmer Stephens*
|----b. 24 Aug 1896, Oklahoma
|----d. 21 Jun 1968, Sherman, Grayson County, Texas
|---& Agnes Hammond
|--N. M. Stephens
|----b. 5 Jan 1898, Texas
|----d. 28 Sep 1898
|--Lorene Elizabeth Stephens
|----b. 11 Apr 1901, Oklahoma
|----d. Dec 1973, Blue Ridge, Collin County, Texas
|---& Paul Turner
|----b. 1901, Texas
|--Lee Ora Stephens
|----b. 19 Feb 1904, Oklahoma
|----d. 1995
|---& Roy Cantrell
|----b. 1 Mar 1886, Texas
|----d. 7 Nov 1969, Van Alstyne, Grayson, Texas
|----m. 1929

This is the family of Laura Jane Sims, daughter of Margaret Leek Brinlee (sister of my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr.) and Thomas Holmes Stephens. I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Follow Friday Newsletter: 10 June 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

The Carnival is in town!

Check out the 106th Carnival of Genealogy at Jasia’s Creative Gene!

Maps are fun

I really need to get back to using Google Maps in my research. And, luckily for me, there is a post at pursuits of a desperate genie to refresh my skills: “how to use google maps to make a custom genealogy map.”

Language geek alert!

Lisa at A Light That Shines Again has reposted a great article on the particularities of the Irish version of English: “Language fun ‘galore’: Working on my Hiberno-English.”

Don’t forget to backup your phone

A lesson learned by The Scrappy Genealogist and described in “Scrappy Gen Gets Organized - Backup Smackdown Meets Lookout.”

Don’t overlook, don’t forget

Marian Pierre-Louis at Marian’s Roots and Rambles asks “Are You Reading the Right Journals?” There is a faithful old resource that we often overlook....

Illinois Prison Camps During the Civil War

Kathleen Brandt at a3 Genealogy has been doing a wonderful series on prisoner-of-war camps in Illinois during the Civil War; this week her post covers Camp Douglas, a camp that has been referred to as the “Andersonville of the North”: “Illinois Civil War POW Camp - Part 3.” William Spencer Moore, my great-great grandfather’s nephew who was named for him, spent the last six months of the war in this camp.

Genealogy + History + Liberia + Virginia = Fascinating

Mel Wolfgang at Mnemosyne’s Magic Mirror has written a fascinating post on delving deeper into the records, finding rich but little-known resources, and learning about a fascinating episode in history in “Researching at the Library of Virginia: A Tale of Slaves & Bacon.”

Another excellent post from Mel is “Book People Take Notice: The Internet Archive Gets ‘Physical,’” wherein he urges actual physical preservation of books and documents as opposed to digitization and describes the efforts taken in this area by Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive.

How many of these do you recognize/are you guilty of?

Daniel Hubbard delves into the “Seven Deadly Genealogical Sins” at Personal Past Meditations. I’m not admitting to any....

Postcards tell the story

If you haven’t been following “The Courtship of Esther” series at Lisa’s blog, Are You My Cousin?, you should be. Vintage postcards tell the story of a young lady with many suitors. The latest installments as I write this are “Part 4” and “Part 5.”

The answer is: family pictures - or grandma’s quilts - or....

Kerry at Clue Wagon tells us, “Your House is on Fire” and asks us what we would take with us. JLog (“Nothing’s On Fire Over Here”), Susan at Nolichucky Roots (“2011.5”), Nick at Nick Gombash’s Genealogy Blog (“What If Your House Was On Fire?”), Elyse at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog (“My House is on Fire”), Deb Ruth at Adventures in Genealogy (“What Would You Grab?”), Daniel at Indiana Dillmans (“What Would You Grab?”), and Missy at Bayside Blog (“Treasure Chest Thursday: My House is on Fire”) have some excellent answers.

Some humor for the week

At Genealogy’s Star, “What if genealogists were like some of the other professionals?” hits rather too close to home....

Stories of the Storm

At Heritage Zen, Cynthia Shenette writes of her mother’s recollections of “The Worcester Tornado, June 9, 1953.” As someone who lived in Tornado Alley, I remember many stories of tornados in our area of Texas, but Cynthia’s story is a chilling reminder that no one is ever completely safe from these monsters.

For more suggested blog reading,

Check out “Follow Friday” at Jen’s Climbing My Family Tree, “Best of the Genea-Blogs” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings, “Best Bytes for the Week” at Elizabeth O’Neal’s Little Bytes of Life, “Monday Morning Mentions” at Lynn Palermo’s The Armchair Genealogist, and “Follow Friday” at Deb Ruth’s Adventures in Genealogy.

This Week I Started Following These Blogs:

The Apprentice Genealogist

Anne’s Genealogy and Family History Blog

How Did I Get Here? My Amazing Genealogy Journey


My family’s tangled roots

Susan’s Genealogy Blog

Garrison Family Roots Blog

My Research Week

was pretty much described in What I Learned Wednesday. Not a bad week.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I Learned Wednesday: 8 June 2011

The past week has been a week of happy dances big and small.

The big happy dance was for the two New York death certificates that arrived in the mail for my husband’s great-great grandparents, Julius Koehl and Josephine Lochner. Josephine’s record did not have much new information except for her cause of death exact age at death, which I can use to calculate her date of birth (correctly, I hope), but Julius’ death certificate was a goldmine: both parents’ names, the town where Julius was born (Meisenheim), cause of death, and exact age at death. The difference in the amount of information on the certificates was due to the different times at which they died, Josephine in 1895 and Julius in 1907; more questions had been added to the form by the time Julius died.

Soon after that I received an e-mail from Betty Lou Benjamin, Fichtelmann Finder Extraordinaire, who had sent off for burial information on a “mystery Fichtelmann” in the Fichtelmann family burial plot. It turns out the person interred in the grave was not a Fichtelmann, but rather Catherine “Sharer,” mostly likely the mother of Katharina/Katy Scherer, John A. Fichtelmann’s second wife and my husband’s great-great grandmother. No maiden name was provided and we do not know who her husband was, but this is still something to go on (her age was also provided). So two of my husband’s family lines have been taken back to the great-great-greats.

I have also come across a few items that have led to me to learn the fates of some of the children in the Brinlee lines. One of the lines is the family of Thomas Belase and Lela Sarah Jones, who lived in Coalgate, Oklahoma. The 1930 census entries for this family are interesting - for the states of birth of Thomas and his parents, the entries indicate Oklahoma, Mixed blood, Choctaw - and the exact same information is listed for his children. The same information is listed for the husband (Clyde Mowdy) and children of Sarah’s daughter Grace by her first husband, Joel Jasper Carlton.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Is the Face of Genealogy: The Comments to Go with the Picture

Today, as usual, after church I was busy around the house and yard and did not look at Facebook until the evening. As I scrolled down my Facebook page, I was shocked to see message after message on the travesty that was the image and caption that had been attached to what was otherwise a decent article in the LA Weekly on the upcoming Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.

When I opened up Google Reader, post after post was entitled “This Is the Face of Genealogy.” I decided not to wait to put up my own post, and posted a picture of my great-grandmother Angeline Elizabeth Floyd. However, I had just written and posted a fairly long article, so I did not write anything to go with the picture.

I am going to do so now.

Sometimes I think people can be kind of thin-skinned, too quick to take offense. But this is not one of those times. As many pointed out, the picture that was posted with the article makes fun of groups that are still considered “safe” to ridicule. The offensive picture has been taken down, but the steam is still coming out my ears.

I avoid “If you believe X, post Y” memes like the plague. But not this time.

I do not believe in the gratuitous use of bad language. But there is no other way I can say it: I was so PO’d when I saw that picture.

I hate the way people with southern or country accents or country ways are ridiculed.

I hate the way some people impose their own prejudices when they venture to describe what kinds of people do genealogy.

I hate the way poverty and lack of adequate health care - and the effect that may have on appearance - are equated with ignorance.

I hate the way the cheapest of cheap jokes is taken to be hip/cool/sophisticated.

I hate the way this kind of irresponsible flippancy is passed off as “cutting-edge journalism.”

I hate the way a wonderful genealogy event, the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, can suffer by association with this travesty.

If you have read this far, I thank you for your patience with my bad language and bad temper.

This Is the Face of Genealogy

My great-grandmother, Angeline Matlock Floyd

For more information, click here.


Thank God For Cousins.

Recently on another blog I saw the expression “TGFI” - Thank God For the Internet. This play on “TGIF” is so appropriate for those of us who are currently engaged in genealogical research. There are many things that we can be grateful for.

From my own recent experience and that of many others (as I can see from reading genealogy blogs and newsletters), the role in our research that is played by contact with our near and distant cousins engaged in family research seems to be greater than ever before. There has been a boom of stories about such contacts in the past few weeks. These contacts have brought breakthroughs, piles of information and pictures, and even just the feeling “glad to know you and know that we are researching the same families.”

From almost the very beginning of my research right up through today, these “research cousins” have played a huge role in my efforts. I think of that phenomenon as TGFC: Thank God For Cousins. Not only have these cousins provided tremendous assistance, they are also real allies and morale boosters for those of us who get little/no/lukewarm reactions and support from our more immediate families for our research. Two of the first cousins that I ever corresponded with, Eunice and Jo Ann, were my first role models in learning how to do research.

We tend to think of this cousin-oriented way of doing genealogy as a phenomenon of the Internet age, but when I look back at the older research done on my family lines as well as at some of the family correspondence that has survived, I realize that this is not so. As a matter of fact, because most of our ancestors did not have the easy, short-term mobility that we have that enables us to travel to repositories throughout the world (not to mention the Internet), they relied more heavily than we do on the good old family interview as well as on correspondence with far-flung branches of the family. I suspect there was a definite uptick in the frequency of this kind of correspondence as the spread of the telegraph system made it possible for major news stories to be quickly disseminated across broad expanses of territory. In the two cases of family correspondence I have wherein the families “reconnect” and provide one another with family information, it appears that the initial impetus for the contacts were newspaper stories. For the Floyd family, it may have been the newspaper coverage of the gruesome murder of Ransom Floyd, my great-grandfather Charles Augustus Floyd’s younger half-brother. For the Lewis family, it may have been coverage of the exploits of my great-great uncle, Sheriff William Henry Lewis of Dallas County, Texas.

Still, there is no denying that e-mail and Internet searches have made such contact even more common, plus the addition of many electronic conveniences such as scanners has made it far easier to exchange documentary information and pictures.

I cannot think of a single family line on which I have done a significant amount of research that has not involved help from cousins, and in at least two cases the connection led to real “cousin ex machina” types of breakthroughs. For several lines my cousins and I maintain informal mailing lists for sharing research and asking questions. I am not the lead researcher for many of these lines, but I am happy to use my blog as a “clearing house” for contacts and dissemination of information.

Just to take my most recent cousin connection as an example: for my Norman family, my cousin Rebecca provided me with reams of information. A few things I already had, and I was able to provide her with a few things she didn’t have, but still, she had done some major document acquisition, as well as providing some personal family reminiscences that are priceless. And now I have been in e-mail contact with her 87-year-old mother, who was able to fill in many gaps and correct mistakes on a descendant report I had done for one of the common ancestors - talk about a walking repository of information! And she is not the only cousin of 80+ years with whom I have corresponded; perhaps there is at least a little bit of compensation here for all of the years I wasted not asking questions of my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

Although many of the nibbles that we get on our “cousin bait” may be just that - nibbles - the fraction that pan out and develop into fruitful cooperation pays many times over for the effort invested.

Cousins live in different places, have access to different repositories, and have different subscriptions, different skills and approaches, and different collections of family documents and memories. We pool the documents and pictures we have. We send each other our information and serve as “data backups” for one another. Think of it - you don’t just hire one genealogist to research your family line, you have hired an entire team. OK, maybe we’re all amateurs to one degree or another, but there are still some pretty serious skills. And that “different approach” thing can be critical to breakthroughs.

So, if there are any cousins out there reading this after finding their families on my blog who have not yet contacted me - please do! Join in the fun! There is no division here based on experience or skills; we are all equal when it comes to the unique nature of the information we have to share. Even if you know little beyond your immediate family, that is something you know more about than I do. To the family researcher, your family pictures are more valuable than the rarest of trading cards.

Just go to the “About Me” Section on the left side of this blog, click on “View my complete profile,” and on that page click on “E-mail.” Come on, you know you want to.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Surname Saturday: Robert Brown Sims, Jr. and Lenora Ella Howser

Robert Brown Sims Jr.
b. 6 Apr 1862, Texas
d. 1 Jan 1948, Cooke County, Texas
& Lenora Ella Howser
b. 6 Mar 1870, Missouri
d. 18 Jan 1971, Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas
m. 15 Nov 1894
|--William Horace Sims
|----b. 20 Oct 1894, Texas
|---& Mary Knolle
|--Robert Milton Sims
|----b. 18 Feb 1897, Texas
|---& Cornelia “Neal” Clements
|----b. 12 May 1901, Texas
|----d. Oct 1981, Whitesboro, Grayson County, Texas
|--John Raymond Sims
|----b. Apr 1900, Texas
|---& Lenora Tipps
|--Abner Austin Sims
|----b. 25 Feb 1905, Texas
|----d. 4 Aug 1969, City Barn, Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas
|---& Essie Jennetta Williams
|--Arthur Paul Sims
|----b. ca 1908, Texas
|----d. 24 Jan 1928
|--Wesley Ralph Sims
|----b. 5 Feb 1914, Texas
|----d. 21 Oct 1995, Cooke County, Texas
|---& Jo Ann Dutton

This is the family of Robert Brown Sims, Jr., son of Margaret Leek Brinlee (sister of my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr.) and Robert Brown Sims, and Lenora Ellen Howser, daughter of Charles William Howser. I would love to share information with anyone related to/researching this family; you can contact me at my e-mail address, which can be found by going to my profile page (there is a link to that page in the About Me section to the left).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Follow Friday Newsletter: 3 June 2011

This Week in Genea-Blogging

I’ve been off my game....

A major omission of last week’s “Follow Friday Newsletter” consisted of two wonderful posts at Shades of the Departed: “Shades and the Overstuffed Baby Make a Connection” and “The Overstuffed Baby Comes Full Circle!”

A pensive post for the Memorial Day weekend....

and one of my favorite posts this week is Susan Clark’s “Our Places - Those Places Thursday” at Nolichucky Roots.

The debate is on!

New Search vs. Old Search! Bill West at West in New England has cast down the gauntlet in “Confessions of a Genealogical Fuddyduddy.” Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings takes up the challenge in “Navigating Old and New Search on - Post 1: New Search, Advanced Form.” Sorry, Randy. I’m with Bill on this one.

Watch the little progress bar

Check out JLog’s post on New Family Search and Legacy integration: “New Family Search: Combining Duplicates.” A good explanation of how the process works.

The title says it all

“Genea-Blogging Works!” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings. Amen on that one, Randy. For some examples of this, just for instance, check out “Alfred and the Experts” at Carol’s Reflections from the Fence (which, of course, was inspired by Bill West’s Civil War Challenge at West in New England). And a second (!) post this week from Randy on this subject: “Geneablogging Works: Bloodgood Family Information.”

Courthousely Etiquette

At Staats Place, Chris Staats posts some thoughts on models for proper researcher behavior in courthouses and the like in “Beep, beep! Researcher Coming Through!!”

What is an RAOVGGK?

Find out at 2338 W. Washington Blvd., where Margel explains it for you in, what else, “RAOVGGK.” Fantastic story!

Some stories, some history, some mysteries

In “Using Cemeteries to Learn Local History,” Kathleen Brandt answers some questions and raises others at a3 Genealogy.

More excellent suggestions on using Findagrave

From Beth at Beth’s Genealogy Blog: “Ways I Use One of My Favorite Sites, Findagrave.”

A quandary

At A Patient Genealogist, D Lee’s Tech Tuesday post asks the question: “How do I protect my family?” When you have the opportunity to meet up with a research cousin and share information - but have to provide some of your own personal information to do so - what do you do?

Interviews, Sanborn Maps, and iTunes

See how Daniel Hubbard uses these together in “Interview with Dad” at Personal Past Meditations.

I’ve always wondered ...

... where you go to find old family Bibles if you are not aware of any that your family has. Jack Butler of Genealogy Jack has some suggestions for how to go about this in “Tuesday’s Tip: Finding All Our Grandmothers - Family Bibles.”

Why the more, the merrier and the better...

... is summed up very nicely by Ian Hadden in “Facebook Genealogy” at Ian Hadden’s Family History.

How to get the young-uns interested:

One very promising approach is described by Lorine McGinnis Schulze at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog in “I Spy With My Genealogy Eye.”

“Who got you started in genealogy?”

Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman at On a flesh and bone foundation gives one of the most beautiful answers to this question that I have ever read in “Thankful Thursday: My start in Family History? Two Conversations.”

Get a life ... whoever: More educational/enjoyable/funny/etc. posts on source citations:

“Inflaming Source Citation Passions” at Genea-Musings

Planting the Seeds: “Source Citations: Getting it ‘Right,’ part one” and “Source Citations: Getting it ‘Right,’ part two”

“The Perfect Citation Storm” at Genealogy’s Star

Some reviews of

Amy’s Genealogy, etc. Blog: “Review of” and “Review of - Part 2.”

Blood and Frogs: “For Memorial Day, BillionGraves App/Site Launches”

Are My Roots Showing?: “ - Competition for Find-A-Grave?”

Find My Ancestor Blog: “Mobile Monday - BillionGraves” and “Billion Graves - Taking High Quality Photos”

Taneya’s Genealogy Blog: “A Glimpse at”

Nutfield Genealogy: “ Review”

And a number of posts at Midge Frazel’s Granite in my Blood.

For more suggested blog reading ...

Check out “Best of the Genea-Blogs” at Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings, “Follow Friday” at Deb Ruth’s Adventures in Genealogy, “Best Bytes of the Week” at Elizabeth O’Neal’s Little Bytes of Life, “Follow Friday” at Jen’s Climbing My Family Tree, and “Monday Morning Mentions” at Lynn Palermo’s The Armchair Genealogist.

This Week I Started Following These Blogs:

Kith and Kin Research

Indiana Dillmans

McManigle Family

My Research Week

Must not assume all digital documents on Ancestry/FamilySearch are single pages - Apple figured out that the reference to Lora Mae Scott on the death certificate for her son Roy Duckworth was on the second page. Thank you, Apple!

Researching the Brinlee family - at least the known branches - should be easy. There is a lot of material out there, particularly some early articles published in county histories, journals, and so forth. But it turns out a lot of this information is incomplete and has mistakes. The Richard Mason Brinlee family is turning out to be a real “bog”! I believe that his first child is incorrectly attributed to his first wife. The Brinlees are sort of halfway in between some of my well-researched, well-documented family lines and the lines for which I am largely breaking new ground - and harder than both, because I am having to prove and disprove so much of what has been written about this family.

More enjoyable interaction and trading information with cousins this week - will write more about this later!

Still catching up with post-conference “busyness.” Last task still to be completed - send digital images of a couple of Brinlee Confederate Pension applications to the gentlemen who publishes Civil War unit histories so that he can link them up to the Fifth Texas Partisan Rangers.

Most aggravating experience of the week: Not being able to get into my blog to make posts, etc. Tried several times, jumped through several hoops. Posted problem on Facebook. Thought "What the heck, let's try Safari instead of Firefox." That worked. Friends on Facebook also suggested Chrome. I'm gonna have all of these browsers with all sorts of different bookmarks - one of a number of reasons why having a Research Toolbox is a good idea.