Friday, December 28, 2012

Why I’m Creating a Junk Tree on Ancestry

No, it’s not revenge for all of the poorly documented trees I’ve had to wade through on Ancestry.

Nor is it a psychological experiment to see just what kind of ridiculous garbage people will copy into their own trees (grandmothers born after their grandchildren, etc.).

Nor is it a post-modern statement on the futility of associating ourselves with long-dead people.

It’s not even a decision to go over to The Dark Side of Sloppy Research because I’m just too darned busy and tired to bother with the Genealogical Proof Standard.

It has to do with DNA.

Specifically, the sets of DNA matches that I have been able to (tentatively) tie to specific lines.

Because some of my DNA matches appear to be in those “fuzzy” parts of my ancestral lines.

And some of the matches I am getting are interesting - no, make that very interesting.  And some of those tentative matches appear to be supported by other matches, some of which go even farther back along the same lines.    

So, here’s the deal.  I am not including any information that I know to be false.  I am, however, going back a generation or two farther than the documentary evidence with which I am familiar would cover, i.e., some of these are “reputed” parents (or parents of parents) that are commonly encountered in online trees or claimed in a family history, online post, etc., without citation of sufficiently thorough supporting evidence.   

I do not do this with my other, “main” Ancestry trees; additions are only made to these trees when I can document the connection.  However, for several reasons, these trees have not been useful to me with Ancestry DNA connections.  For one thing, I have three personal trees, divided up into my father’s ancestors, my maternal grandmother’s ancestors, and my maternal grandfather’s ancestors. So if I connected any single tree, it would leave out large chunks of my ancestors. If I elected not to choose a particular tree to connect, Ancestry would give a person viewing my DNA connection the option to choose among my trees - but I am fairly certain when some people saw my name in the list with “No family tree” indicated, they would think that I had no tree to connect and would not even click on my name.  Or, they might click on my trees and see my husband’s trees listed as well, which might be confusing.  Better to have something which covers all of my lines, if not necessarily in extensive, documented detail.

So, I created a pedigree tree.  During my first couple of years of research, I looked into what kind of research had been done previously on various lines, took notes, and could reconstruct a pedigree based on this research and some original discoveries of my own.  There were roughly four different categories of research in terms of quality of the material that was online:

  1. Some connections were obviously bogus and I rejected them outright.  
  2. In other cases, there was well documented research online, sometimes including extensive databases that were regularly updated and even discussions among different researchers who hammered out various arguments for and against making specific connections. Many of the supporting documents had been put online. I did not deem it necessary to duplicate these efforts and instead focused on family lines that had not really been researched to a significant extent. 
  3. For other lines, the material that was online was not comprehensive or conclusive, but did seem to point in a particular direction.  
  4. And in the last category, the connections were plausible enough, but I could not find compelling arguments or evidence to nail down the connection.

So now it is true confession time:  my pedigree tree on Ancestry includes some connections from these last two categories.  Before I connected this tree to my DNA results, for the most part I had to search out connections on my own, trying to remember in my head established and tentative family connections.  

[Side note on why I am focusing on Ancestry DNA:  right now it is the major source of my DNA “matches”; I also participate in Family Tree DNA, but so far only have three matches (out of a total of 437 so far) where I can definitely identify a connection, though I hope this will increase as I contact more people. I just received my kit from 23 and Me, but from what I have heard it also has a low rate of responses to inquiries.  From Ancestry, however, I already have a list of 43 connections of interest (for 39 of which I can directly connect family lines) plus a few additional “maybes,” and of course Ancestry is just getting into the game - so far it appears that new matches are added every week, compared to something like twice a month for Family Tree DNA.  Ancestry itself will show the connection if it can, but it’s often possible to figure it out yourself.]

There is, of course, a major fly in the ointment:  at this point Ancestry is not including the actual genetic information, i.e., the precise chromosomal location of the matches.  And this eliminates the main tool for verifying and correlating matches.  My message to Ancestry:  Ancestry, your autosomal matching would be the most useful in the field if you included this information.

The other people I would send a message to would be Ancestry subscribers who are participating in the DNA testing:  if you do not have a tree on Ancestry, create one.  If your tree is private, either make it public or create a separate pedigree tree as I have for connection to match results. If there is “sketchy” information in your connected tree, by all means make that clear when you correspond with your matches.

Below are some of the findings I have from Ancestry DNA (for readers not related to me, you can skip straight to the end past these specifics, but just a glance will tell you that there is some substantial evidence here).  What is interesting (and persuasive) are the consistency of many of the matches:  I can already see trends - multiple matches along certain lines - which confirms the fact that we do not inherit genetic material equally from all ancestors, and may not share genetic material, or at least significant genetic material, with many of our distant ancestors.  Obviously, it is easier to make connections for well-researched lines than for those that are not as well researched, and this makes me wonder about the family lines where I have significant brick walls:  if I could correlate the family lines of my matches, would I turn up some major, multiple overlaps that would give me a hint as to where some of my connections actually are?  (Another idea for Ancestry:  Could you make such a tool available for Ancestry DNA participants?  Just a thought.)

1.  Norman-Monk:  One connection through my great-great grandparents Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk.  This is exciting because JMC Norman had three wives, and I am mostly in touch with descendants of his other two wives, so to get an actual connection to one of Rebecca’s descendants is wonderful.  Furthermore, both the Norman and Monk lines get confirmation:

Norman-Read:  This is a 6g-level connection and is significant to me because it goes beyond the 5g-level where, for me at least, the documentary trail seemed a little bit lacking - the will of 5g-grandfather James Norman mentions son Joseph Norman, but I was not sure how he was identified as Joseph Madison Carroll Norman (the older - my 4g-grandfather, the grandfather of my 2g-grandfather with the same name).

Norman-Courtney:  This, at the level of my 7g-grandparents, is a big payoff, and I not only have three connections at this level (plus another possible, but not established connection), I have an independent connection at the next level up for Courtneys (Courtney-Jenkins, the parents of my 7g-grandmother, Frances Courtney).

Monk-unknown:  There are two purely Monk connections, because I do not know or am not sure of the maternal side in each case:  one for my 3g-grandfather Silas Monk, whose wife may have been a Nancy Dunn, and one for my 6g-grandfather Willis Monk, whose wife is not known.  

And from there it gets more interesting and goes into some of those uncharted (for me) waters:

Monk-Hodges:  This one goes to the 7g level.

(Monk-Pool-)Bullock-Hood:  This is an independent connection to my 6g-grandparents, David Bullock and Elizabeth Hood (my Bullock connection comes through a Monk-Pool connection, but the match has no Monk connection), and there is another possible separate Bullock connection.

2.  Brinlee-McKinney:  Two connections at the 2g-level (my great-great-grandparents Hiram Brinlee Senior and Elizabeth Ann McKinney).

McKinney-McClure:  An independent McKinney connection at the 3g level (Daniel McKinney and Margaret McClure) and one at the 4g-level (McKinney-Blatchley) (I also have a McKinney connection at this same level through Family Tree DNA), plus an independent Blatchley connection (at the 8g level - definitely some of that “iffy” territory for me).

3.  Poole-Manning:  one connection at the 4g level (I also have a match at this level on FTDNA).  Next along this line:

(Poole-Manning-)Mabry-Bradley:  One connection (and another possible) at the 6g level. 

4.  Johnson-Moorman and Johnson-Massie:  These would be at the 6g and 7g level.  There are a number of connections here, plus other possibles.  Not surprising that this line, while distant, has a strong showing - these families, plus the Clarks (for whom I have a 7g and possibly an 8g connection) intermarried with incredible (and confusing) frequency.  I always know when I see a man named Moorman Johnson (or Clark Johnson or a family full of Micajahs and Bollings) that there is a family connection.  One of my contacts has a Benjamin Johnson who married a Margery Massie; this Benjamin Johnson was originally posited as a relative of my Johnsons (I think he may be a brother of my 6g-grandfather) and subsequent DNA testing has shown that this is so, plus his Massie wife is almost certain to be related to my Massies.  One of my matches has so many Clarks, Johnsons, Massies, and Clarks in his line that I cannot even figure out all of our connections.

5.  Hamilton line:  One connection at the 6g (Hamilton-Kincaid) level and two at the 7g level (Hamilton-Adams).

6.  The Tarrant line:  I am almost 100% certain that my great-great grandmother Emily Tarrant came from the Tarrants of Greenville, South Carolina, all of whom were descended from a Leonard Tarrant (and one of my matches is descended from this Leonard Tarrant), but I do not know precisely who her parents were.  However, I have been pulling up matches (three so far) with people who have connections to the Dalton families that married into these Tarrants - specifically, Leonard Tarrant’s son Benjamin married a Mary Dalton, and their sons Robert and Wyatt also married a pair of Dalton sisters (apparently cousins).  There is also a Tankersley connection (which may not the actual point of connection with this particular DNA match, as it points to a different son of Leonard Tarrant) and one or two tentative Terry connections (which might point to Emily’s father being one of the two sons of Benjamin Tarrant who married Dalton girls, since their father, Solomon Dalton, married a Terry - yes, I know, this is making my head hurt, too.)   

Obviously, the absence of information on the chromosomal location of my matches, as well as the big gaps in my family lines left by some major brickwalls (two great-grandparents are missing and 16 great-great-great grandparents are missing) means that I may be misidentifying connections.  However, I believe that the information above indicates some real trends, and will be checking all my new connections as well as contacting matches without Ancestry trees (or with private trees) to try to support these findings.

I will be amending and extending this pedigree tree as I turn up genetic and documentary evidence for and against the various connections that it indicates, and I hope that one day it will rise above the level of a “junk” tree, but in the meantime, I am definitely finding that it is a useful (not to say absolutely reliable) tool.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What’s Been Happening, Part 1 (or: Fun with DNA)

“Regular” life is same-old, same-old = too much work, but in my exhausted stupor in the evenings, I’ve managed to make a little bit of progress over the past year.

There have only been two “active” areas for me this year:  putting my existing genealogy database information in my Ancestry Public Member Trees (I do this in a labor-intensive, ancestor-by-ancestor way, but I think the attention to detail makes up for the amount of time that it consumes) and DNA testing with Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.

To address the last one first:  Interesting experience.  I would say that it is definitely worthwhile to do the DNA testing, although you have to sift through a lot of dross to hit paydirt.  And, of course, new information is always being added, so that can always change the significance of the information that is already there.  I tested with Family Tree DNA first, and now have something like 42 pages of matches.  Of those, I can only positively identify the connection for three matches.  One of these was for a family line that I felt of lot of confidence in, but it was still exciting to see the connection confirmed:  the McKinneys of Texas (think Collin County and the city of McKinney).  Not because this is a “minor celebrity” branch, but because it was one of the earliest genealogical references I ever heard my relatives make (one that I dismissed at the time) and one of the clues that I pursued when I first started family research.

I contacted the person in question, but did not receive a response.  Then how did I know that these were “my” McKinneys?  After all, McKinney is not an uncommon name.  The person did at least have family names listed, and there were two that caught my eye:  Blatchley and Coffey.  That clinched it for me, and even pretty much pinned down where the connection is.

The second connection was through the Pool/Poole (I actually have two lines for this name, one on my father’s side and one on my mother’s side) and Manning families (Adam Poole m. Esther Manning).  This was exciting because it confirmed the connection from the Lewis line; I believe I was the first Lewis researcher to identify Elisha Berry Lewis’ wife as Martha Poole, daughter of Manning Poole (and previous work done by other researchers has established his connection to Adam and Esther).  I have since found a second connection on this line (through a different sibling of Manning) on Ancestry DNA.

The third connection goes to my Hamilton-Calhoun line:  my first Hamilton is my 4g-grandmother Elizabeth Hamilton, wife of Henry Skiles III, and the Calhoun connection is several generations up from that.  I know that due to migration patterns, etc., there are often multiple family connections, so that this might not be the actual shared DNA, but still ... the possibility that this is where the match lies is intriguing, and I will be keeping an eye on future matches through this segment to see if the connection is confirmed.

Ancestry DNA, though it has a shorter list of matches, has more identifiable connections - 11 at last count.  Two Brinlee matches - no surprise, though I am enjoying corresponding with one of these matches, who is a relatively new researcher.  There are two McKinney matches, and one has an interesting McKinney connection:  due to a first cousin marriage, he is descended both from my ggg-grandfather Daniel McKinney and from Daniel’s brother Collin McKinney.  

There are two Norman matches:  one is descended from the full sister of my great-grandfather (he also had many half-siblings), and one is descended from from my Norman-surnamed 6g-grandfather.  This latter connection is also welcome news, as it confirms the connection between my 5g-grandfather (whose affiliation with my line I am confident of) and the alleged progenitor of the family in this country (my 7g-grandfather Isaac Norman).  I knew that some pretty sound research had been done on this line, but had not seen enough documentation for these generations.  To make a nice set with the Norman connections,  there is a match through my Monk line - the sibling of Rebecca Monk, my great-great grandmother and first wife of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman.  

The remaining matches are on my mother’s side:  another Poole confirmation as well as  two other matches that confirmed some of my original research - the Lewis connection to the Dalrymple family and a Tarrant connection, which provides support for the sole documentary evidence I have (so far) that my great-great grandmother Emily Moore, wife of Spencer Moore, was a Tarrant, and specifically one of the Greenville Tarrants.

So why am I able to ascertain the connections for more of my Ancestry matches?  I imagine the answer to that is that most of them have family trees on Ancestry.  There are a number of my matches on FTDNA who post their pedigrees, and many more who post the family names they are researching - but perhaps not enough.  While I was able to figure out one of the matches without a pedigree, for the most part it is the context in the trees that helps me out.

And none of my FTDNA matches has responded to my messages to them.  To be fair, after testing with FTDNA, I was quickly contacted by several matches, but none of us has been able to pinpoint our connection.  I have had more responses on Ancestry, but only a couple of them seem to be actively researching the lines in question.  One contact for whom I provided the maiden name for a female ancestor who was not very far back in his family tree was polite, but did not seem to be interested in finding out more about the new family connection.

So what is behind the indifference of all of the people who went to the trouble and paid their money to get their DNA tested, but have provided little or no family information, do not bother to respond, do not want to pursue the information further?  I am aware that I need to be patient - some of the people may not check their results or e-mail regularly or may have had to put their research on hold - heck, I’ve been in that situation myself for most of the past year.  Even then, even in my most comatose state of tiredness, a contact from a new cousin could always get me going.  

And why do so many people provide little or no family information?  I have heard that there are a number of people who test with Family Tree or 23 and Me who are adopted, so they have no information to post, but other than that situation, how do people expect to get results?  Even I figured out how to post my pedigree on FTDNA - if I can do it, anyone can.  I even submitted it to Gedmatch (though there seem to be a number of glitches/problems/bugs with this site), and I’m going to switch the only one of my Ancestry trees that is private to public so that that information will be accessible as well.  

It occurs to me that the same people who start research but then get discouraged after the first few “finds” when they learn that they are going to have to do some real digging are the ones who take the DNA test and then do not pursue it when they see that it takes some real work to find out what their connections are with various people.  Correlating DNA evidence, like correlating documentary evidence, is not simple or easy.

Here is what I am doing to pursue the DNA evidence:

Writing to all people shown as my DNA matches for whom:  (a) there is a strong match or (b)  I can pinpoint the connection; if they do not have an Ancestry tree, or it is a private tree, or if they are on FTDNA and have not posted either a pedigree or a detailed name list, I am offering to exchange pedigrees.

Continue to fill out my Ancestry trees, and also direct people to my website and blog, so that they can have more complete information to calculate our connections.

Use Gedmatch, Excel/Numbers, and FTDNA’s Chromosome Browser to correlate information:  sort out people by chromosome and then chromosome segment, and then see who lines up with my known connections; keep spreadsheets of some names that pop up with a lot of my matches; and whatever else I can think of.

If anyone reading this has any other suggestions for how to use DNA matches to find more information, I’d love to hear them!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Four Years Old

My fourth blogoversary comes at the end of my “quietest” year in blogging.  Real life, mainly my job, claimed a lot of the time I would have preferred to spend on research and blogging.  I have been gratified to see that my readers and fellow genealogy bloggers are a loyal lot and have not forgotten this blog.  While my schedule does not look as though it will return to a completely normal state, I do hope to have at least a bit of weekend time for my avocations.  

I continue to read genealogy blogs and follow the research, observations, and views discussed in those blogs with interest.  To those of you who live, breathe, read and write genealogy:  You all exemplify one of the least heralded benefits of “networking”:  pure enjoyment.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Meaning of "Finished"

“It is finished.”
The indexing of the 1940 census, that is.
Sort of.
And my laggard state, Texas, is finally fully indexed.  I think of the state as being the slow one, not the indexers.  Texas seems to have had a lot of people with bad handwriting, and I’m sure that was a challenge.  Not to mention some of those loopy Southern nicknames, the type that took root among my ancestors and elbowed out their given names.
When I saw the announcement of the completion of indexing on Ancestry, and to celebrate my semi-freedom (= not working this weekend), I decided to see whom I could find on the 1940 census.  Earlier I had found my mother’s parents and younger siblings in Baylor County, Texas using Morse and Weintraub’s Universal 1940 Census Image Viewer.
Could I find my mother?  Yes.  But I wasn’t so sure that I would be able to at first.  When I clicked on “Search the 1940 Census,”  the only choices that appeared under the state of residence were All, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Nevada, and New York. 
Then I tried going to Search, Census and Voter Lists, 1940 United States Federal Census, and there the choices for state of residence were All, Delaware, and Nevada.
“All” it was, then.  When necessary, I could still use the state of birth to limit the number of results.  And on the third page of results, there she was - Madeline Roberts - living with her first husband, Howard C. Roberts (entered as Harry C. Roberts) and her brother Harrison Moore in Visalia, Tulare, California.  I had not expected them to be living there; I remembered her talking about what an awful place Visalia was, and had mistakenly thought that she, my father (her second husband), and I had lived there when I was too young to remember.  Apparently not.  
I then found my father with his parents and all of his siblings who were living in 1940, including his sister, divorced from her first husband, and her daughter.  Other Brinlees were a little harder to find, because the name proved to be a spelling challenge.  Using Soundex brought up my father’s uncle Austin Brinlee (“Brenlee”), and there was my brickwall great-grandmother, Susan Brinlee.  The column for “Other income” was marked “Yes” - that must have referred to her Confederate Widow’s pension.  And her age was shown as 84.  
How interesting.  Well, her age had been shown as 73 in the 1930 census.  But on the 1920 census it was 50, and on the 1910 census it was 41; moreover, the December 1891 marriage license for her and Hiram Brinlee gave her age as 23.  In a letter appended to her Confederate Widow’s pension application, written on 10 September 1929, she admits “I have lost my age I am some where in 60 I am not 75.”  While most researchers stick to the 1868-1869 time frame, some quote a family Bible for the date of 4 April 1856 for her birthday.  I suspect that date was entered in the Bible some time between 1930 and 1940, and that by 1940 it was taken as an accepted fact.  However, no one bothered to do the mental math that would have made her 52 when her last child, Cecil Odell Brinlee, was born on 23 September 1908 (possible but not likely).
Then there is the problem of my Great Uncle Obadiah “Oby” Norman.  I have found Uncle Oby (born 31 March 1895) on the 1900 census.  That’s it.  I have not been able to find his parents, William Henry “Jack” Norman and Sarah Jane Sisson Norman, on the 1910 or 1920 censuses.  Oby was married to Edith Watson by 1920, but I do not find them on that census.  I find Edith living alone as a boarder on the 1930 census, and Oby was not with her.  I find her on passenger lists going to Honolulu Hawaii on 29 March 1930 and returning to Wilmington, California on 6 April 1930 and still Oby is not with her.  
And the 1940 census is more of the same.  I find an Edith Norman of the right age (40; “my” Edith Watson Norman was born on 2 July 1899), born in Texas, and living alone; she is listed as married, with the “M” lightly crossed out and the 7 added to indicate that no spouse was living with her in the household at the time of the census.  I have tried some variations for Uncle Oby, but with no success so far.
Where was Uncle Oby?  There was a time when I thought that Uncle Oby’s absence in 1930 might have meant that the couple had experienced some strains in their marriage following the death of their only child in 1928 and were separated.  However, my Uncle Bill reported that Uncle Oby was an itinerant preacher (probably Primitive Baptist) and that he was shattered by Aunt Edith’s death in 1956.  So the chances are that Oby was just off somewhere preaching....  But why the heck can’t I find him on any census after 1900?!!!
So, even without being able to fine-tune searches by state of residence, my searches on the 1940 census are turning up some information.  But some mysteries still remain.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Spot a Genealogy Impostor

I am not sure why someone who is not a genealogist would want to pass himself/herself off as one, but here are some surefire signs to help spot any potential impostors:
A genealogy impostor:
Thinks a Flip-Pal is someone who helps a gymnast practice.
Thinks Tom Jones the Rock Star is a singer.
Thinks a “Keep Out” sign at a graveyard means what it says.
Thinks Fold3 is a brand of laundry detergent.
Thinks Samford might be a school in California.
Thinks pedigree collapse is caused by really big storms.
Thinks an online tree is, well, you know, a picture of a tree on the Internet.
Thinks a brickwall ancestor was a mason.
Thinks naturalization is what happens when you stop dying your hair.
Thinks that genealogical research has something to do with shaky leaves.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Got my Invitation for Ancestry DNA

And Gmail put it in the Spam folder.

So I didn't see it until today.  When it's too late.

Still pouting....

Saturday, April 14, 2012

SNGF: Sayings Around the World

Here is Randy Seaver’s (Genea-Musings) latest Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:
1)  Find some of your favorite sayings, aphorisms, jokes, etc. They can be genealogy-related, or not.
2)  Translate them into Latin using Google Translate (
3)  Share them with us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook status line or Google Plus Stream post (impress your non-genealogy friends with your Latin skills!).

I decided to translate a saying that I learned in a Czech class. The teacher was actually Moravian, and said that this was a typical Moravian saying (“You can tell it’s Moravian because it’s super-correct Czech”).  I took the English saying and had Google Translate put it into Latin, Czech (it didn't come out quite the same as the original saying I remember), and Georgian.  None of the translations seems to get the last part right, but here goes:
This is something you would say about a person you do not trust:
Si verba ponte ire nolim eam.
Pokud se jeho slova most, nechtěl bych jít na to.
თუ მის სიტყვებს იყო ხიდი, მე არ მინდა სიარული იგი.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Not Too Tired to Browse

the 1940 census, that is.
So enough whining and pining for my ancestors.  I have at least been able to spend a few hours of quality time with them since the 1940 census was released on 2 April.
My approach is to start with Texas counties where I know my parents’ families lived, especially counties with smaller populations.  Not all of them would be living there in 1940, of course, but I can  probably count on quite a few of them still being there.  
My father, his parents, and many of his siblings should be in Fannin County, though some of his older siblings might be in other Texas counties and even in other states.  Other counties to check will be Collin, Hunt, and Grayson.
Many members of my mother’s family, possibly including her and her first husband, may have started to move to California around this time; I am not really sure when the exodus from Texas started, but I would guess around the late 1930s or early 1940s, and I know that my older half-brother was born in California in 1945.  However, I was pretty sure that there would be any number of relatives still living in Baylor, and on this score I was correct.
Using Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub’s 1940 Census ED Finder page, I started at the beginning of the Enumeration Districts listed for Baylor County, 12-1. I made it through 30 of the 46 pages and did recognize many names of families that I knew when I lived there, but did not find any relatives.  The second night I decided to search on the last ED listed (12-7), since the lower-numbered ones appeared to be for the town of Seymour and I knew that my relatives lived on farms outside of town.
Of the 26 pages for ED 12-7, I downloaded 10.  
The first family I found were actually not direct relatives, but the family of my half-brother’s grandfather, Officer Roberts.  The other people shown in the household were one of Officer’s daughters (my brother’s aunt) and two grandsons whose parents (my brother’s uncle and his wife) had died a few years previously.  Officer was widowed by this time and would die not long after the census, and my mother and her husband would then take the two boys in.
The next family to be found were my mother’s parents and her three youngest surviving siblings (the youngest sibling died in the early 1930s).  I was surprised to see that my grandfather Kirby Moore was listed not as a farmer, but as a laborer for some kind of county project.  It did not surprise me that my grandfather received schooling only through sixth grade, but it did surprise me that my grandmother finished high school (though it was reported that her father was anxious to see that his children received a good education, including music lessons, my grandmother was still a child when he died and the family fortunes may have suffered after his death).

Kirby and Eula Moore in 1940
Other finds were relatives of my mother’s mother, several families who married into my mother’s family, the family of the father of one of my friends, and the family of the stepfather of another of my friends (these last two were on the same page, which was only three pages from my grandparents - perhaps we were fated to be friends).
Not bad for a start.  My next steps will be to finish browsing Baylor County, check the Lancaster area of Dallas County (where many of my mother’s aunts, uncles, and cousins would probably still be living), and then go on to Fannin and nearby counties.  
(And there has been other genealogy-related activity as well.  A researcher with whom I have corresponded in the past sent me the link to a newspaper article on Chronicling America with a fabulous story about my great-great grandfather Spencer Moore - stay tuned!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Memorable Quotes from Thomas Jones

... at the Fairfax Genealogical Society Conference I attended this weekend:
“My genealogical program of choice is Microsoft Word.”
Mine, too.  Though I copy a lot of what I put down into the notes page on my Reunion program.  He explained that there are just so many things you can do in Word - timelines, tables, etc.
“It would be extremely hypocritical for me to talk about organizing your office” (with just the hint of a beginning of a grin).  You could hear the intake of breath in the audience, followed by chuckles.  Take comfort, fellow slobs - even the great ones struggle with those piles of paper!  
In response to the question “So Ellener married 3 times?’  -- “So far....”

Other awesome things from the Conference:
Great presentations - attended all of Thomas Jones’ presentations (and I think I’ve only seen one of them before), two of Dear Myrtle’s (she’s just amazing - so informative and inspiring and makes genealogy so much fun (and funny!)), Chuck Mason’s “Defining the Problem and Mapping the Research Plan” (I so have to pay serious attention to this and get my act together), and Pam Sayre’s “Effectively Using NARA’s Finding Aids and Website” (brilliance and energy in action - when she explains how to “drill down” in the website and shows two or three different ways to attack a search on the website, it’s awe-inspiring (and would be overwhelming if she didn’t have great notes in the presentation summary)).  
I’m finally getting my autosomal DNA testing done with Family Tree DNA!  Bob McLaren did a mini-presentation on DNA testing for genealogy on Friday night and announced conference sale prices for Family Tree DNA.  So on Saturday I sat down at Bob’s booth, did the swabs, filled out the info, and out it will go.  Plus I’m going to see if my male Moore cousins will do the 67-marker test.
Won a door prize - a subscription to!
It was soooo wonderful to have a genealogy weekend.
I miss my blog.
I miss my fellow genealogy bloggers and commenters and research cousins.
I miss my ancestors.

I will be back.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

SNGF Limerick

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings has issued a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge that has temporarily brought me out of my hole: 

1)  Make up a limerick about genealogy - it should be A-A-B-B-A in rhyme (don't worry about iambic pentameter and all that).  So here goes:

There once was a family named Floyd
Whose descendants are really annoyed
That despite spats and suits
Those irascible coots
Have left us of clues quite devoid.

Thanks, Randy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Transcription Tuesday: Murder Trial of William Carroll Brinlee

I’ve been working through Brinlees and am now researching the George Robert Brinlee family, specifically, George Robert's son William Carroll Brinlee.  William Carroll Brinlee is one of the list - not a short one - of Brinlees who have been brought up on murder charges.  W. C. Brinlee was Marshal of the City of Westminster in Collin County, Texas in the early part of the last century.  Somewhere I believe I have an earlier article mentioning a “Will Brinlee” shooting off a firearm in town; it may be the same person.  
In this case, while (spoiler alert) Brinlee was found guilty, he received a two-year suspended sentence.  Perhaps the principle of “He [the victim] had it comin’” applied.
Below are transcriptions of two articles from the Dallas Morning News, the first dated 29 November 1917 and the second dated 30 November 1917.
“The murder case against W. C. Brinlee, charged with killing Jesse Hughes on Sept. 22, was submitted to the jury in Criminal District Court No. 3 at 3:45 o’clock yesterday afternoon.  Most of the day was consumed in arguments.  At the close of the case Judge C. A. Pippen complimented the attorneys on their uniform courtesy toward the court and each other and on their expedition in trying the case.
“Brinlee relied upon a plea of self-defense, his witnesses testifying that he was attacked by Hughes before he shot and that a companion of Hughes, who was present at the time of the killing, had threatened his life.  Brinlee is City Marshal of Westminster, Collin County, and a number of witnesses from that county testified that his reputation there is good.
“The jury was still out at 12 o’clock last night.”
“A verdict finding the defendant guilty of manslaughter and fixing the penalty at a suspended sentence of two years was returned in the Criminal District Court yesterday morning in the case against W. C. Brinlee, City Marshal of Westminster, charged with the murder of Jesse Hughes of Oklahoma.  Hughes was shot and killed at Central avenue and Main street on the night of Sept. 22.  Brinlee pleaded self-defense.  The jury had been out since Wednesday afternoon.”

Thanks to John Newmark at TransylvanianDutch for Amanuensis Monday, the inspiration for Transcription Tuesday.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Live from Falls Church, Virginia: It’s the iGene Awards!

As I get into the limousine to go to the iGene Awards on this cold day in January, I reflect on my oeuvre for the previous year and the award-winning posts.
It was a quiet year for me.  I did not write as much as usual and focused my efforts more on getting my house, research, and life organized and on reporting the results of my research, as shown in Great Cleaning Frenzy and “What I Learned Wednesday” posts.
So the iGene Award-winning posts from 2011 are a little on the light side.  To indulge in some compensatory egoboo, I am therefore planning on attending, right after the iGene Awards, the 2011 GeneaBlogJournalism Awards, which were invented by me to avoid viewing a screening of that godawaful reality show, “Greta’s Pity Party.”
So, here I am, in the audience, watching the acceptance speeches.  There’s someone railing about the divide between professionals and amateurs.  Now another is thundering something about bad punctuation in citations.  The next one .... zzzzzzz ..... (snort) - huh? Oh, is it my turn?
This years iGene Awards for Greta’s Genealogy Bog go to:
The iGene Award for Best Picture goes to:
“This Is the Face of Genealogy.”  It was one of those moments when the entire Genealogy Blogging Community pulled together to protest an insulting portrayal of genealogy and of an entire segment of the population.  The careworn face of the subject of this picture - my great-grandmother Angeline Elizabeth Matlock Floyd - epitomizes what I and so many of my fellow genealogists are searching for:  not rich/famous/eminent ancestors to brag about, but plain, ordinary people who in their perseverance and endurance made our lives, our way of life, and our many opportunities possible.
[A few raised fists, peace signs, and thumbs up are seen from sympathetic genealogy researchers in the audience.]
The iGene Award for Best Screenplay goes to:
“Memory Monday: We Were the Brady Bunch of Cat Families.”  This fluffy little musical comedy, and in particular its feline cast, has captured hearts near and far.  Nothing profound here, but the story is universal:  the challenges of blended families - and families are what genealogy is all about, aren’t they?  Cast:  Michael Cera and Ellen Page as the clueless parents, and a talented but anonymous bunch of cats as, well, the cats.
[A critic in the eighth row writes:  “Once again, the award goes to an inconsequential crowd-pleaser.”]
The iGene Award for Best Documentary goes to:
“Julius Koehl Address Study,” which demonstrated lessons learned about locating and mapping your families’ places of residence by showing rather than simply telling.  “Special Effects” of this post included Google Maps and photographs and an eye-popping chart that follows the documentary trail.
[Momentary disruption by a protestor in the back carrying a sign:  “We Want Citations, Not Flashy Effects!”  “Hey, jerk!” I yell out.  “The citations are IN the effects!”]
The iGene Award for Best Biography goes to:
“The Civil War and My Ancestors,” a somber and very loooong overview of my Southern ancestors’ involvement in the Civil War, including Civil War service records and other relevant records I have found, whether or not they were slaveholders, and their views (if known) on slavery and the Union.  A controversial choice since it consists merely of snippets of the individual lives of many different ancestors.
[A critic in the second row writes: “Why, oh why, must they always give this award to the longest and most snooze-worthy entry?”]
The iGene for Best Comedy goes to:
“Things I Don’t Care About in Genealogy,” a facetious rant by a genea-comedienne, riffing on all of the things she finds partially or totally irrelevant to the pursuit of genealogy.  (After considering a whole roster of irritating comedic actresses, I’m gonna flatter myself with a glam and witty casting choice: Ellen de Generes.)
[Some raucous hoots and whoops from the crowd, which is now a little squiffed after imbibing.]
And the most important awards of all - the GeneaBloggers Act of Genealogical Kindness Award - goes to three of my favorite genealogy bloggers:
Becky Jamison of Grace and Glory - for taking and sending me pictures of the graves of some of my relatives through the Brinlee line.

Jasia of Creative Gene - For thinking up and hosting the Carnival of Genealogy and the iGene Awards, events which inspire and unite the genealogy blogging community as well as showcasing their talents.

Anonymous - Yes, that’s right - this kind blogger did me a great big favor - unsolicited, I might add - but prefers to remain anonymous.  You know who you are and you rock.
Spoiler Alert:  Here are the results of the GeneaBlogJournalism [GBJ] Awards, which are given for exposes, editorials, and other random rants opinion pieces:

I gotta say, the GBJ Awards will never give the iGene Awards a run for their money - GBJ folks take themselves much too seriously and turn the whole thing into a snoozefest.  And since it is on Public TV, there isn’t even a decent potty commercial break during which you have time to make Tongue-Burnin' Supernachos or Uncle Jed’s Rip-Roarin' Party Mix to snack on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

SNGF: My Maternal Grandfather's Paternal Line

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings has a habit (not deliberate, of course, but oddly on the mark with some regularity) of pinging on my “obsessions” and “NEED TO DOs” in his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.
This week is no exception, and it reminds me once again that I blew my chance this year to take advantage of the sale at Family Tree DNA.
The challenge is:
Find a living male person in your database from your maternal grandfather's patrilineal line who could take a Y-DNA test. Answer these questions:
1) What was your mother's father's name?
2) What is your mother's father's patrilineal line? That is, his father's father's father's ... back to the most distant male ancestor in that line?
3) Can you identify male sibling(s) of your mother's father, and any living male descendants from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of the next generation back, or even further.
The answers:
1 - Kirby Runion Moore.
2 - Kirby Runion Moore’s father was Harlston Perrin Moore (born 4 December 1845 in Anderson County, South Carolina, died 12 December 1921 in Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas).  Harlston Perrin Moore’s father was William Spencer Moore (born ca 1813 in South Carolina, died 31 October 1871 in Anderson County, South Carolina).  William Spencer Moore’s father was Samuel Moore (probably born between 1856 and 1865, died between 29 January 1828 and 2 June 1828 in Greenville County, South Carolina).
3 - I don’t need to identify one of my grandfather’s brothers; I have several Moore-surnamed male first cousins who could take this test.
And that’s the rub.  I was mulling over taking advantage of the Family Tree DNA sale last year (both to get myself tested and to have one of my Moore cousins tested), but I blew it.  
So now I’m feeling bad about it all over again.  Thanks, Randy.

(JK - next time there is a sale, I REALLY mean to do this.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Finds and Fun: 27 January 2012

Thanks to Kathleen at for this one: The Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn. I have been using the Green-Wood Cemetery website for researching my husband’s families, but it didn’t occur to me that The Evergreens would also have a searchable database. I am really beginning to get into Brooklyn research the way I am into Southern research.

This week Marian Pierre-Louis asks “Where Do You Turn for Research Guidance?” and starts the list, which is filled out with lots of good resources suggested in the comments.  From another angle, however, I have been musing this week about how we can learn research techniques from published family narratives. I happen to have three: John Philip Colletta’a Only a Few Bones, which I am currently reading; Steve Luxenberg’s Annie’s Ghosts, which I read recently; and Leslie Albrecht Huber’s The Journey Takers, which I read a while back (and which is currently loaned out, so I do not have it in the picture and have to recall the details - probably imperfectly - from memory).

It is interesting to compare the different approaches the books take in presenting their research and what can be learned from them. All three have end notes and all devote separate sections to distinguish the “dramatis personae.”

The narrative part of Colletta’s book is almost exclusively occupied by the story he uncovered in his research, with both posited and documented details, and only occasional mentions or hints of the sources and evidence behind the story. It is an interesting story, but for anyone researching in the locations where the story is set the goldmine is in the extensive endnotes. The endnotes paint an equally fascinating picture of how wide a researcher actually has to cast his or her net to get the whole story.

Luxenberg incorporates his sources and techniques into his story, though the endnotes elaborate on the sources and provide additional historical background. We genealogists and family historians often think of ourselves as detectives, and Luxenburg’s tale is a variation on this - in this case, we have a researcher who has the skills of/thinks like an investigative reporter. In addition to listing a few rather surprising sources, Luxenburg drives home the other essential quality genealogists/researches must have in addition to analytical skill: persistence - persistence in the face of obstacles, persistence in spite of discouragement, persistence when confronted by evidence that gives the lie to everything you thought you knew, and persistence to the point of chutzpah when necessary.

Leslie Albrecht Huber’s The Journey Takers picks up the themes of persistence and casting our nets wide and moves them into the realm of space and time, i.e., taking the initiative to go as far afield as you need to - to your ancestor’s homeland - and, as the years pass, to stick to following your ancestors’ paths, despite the interruptions of “real life.” She studies the language (German) of some of her ancestors, visits as many ancestral locations as possible, and immerses herself in their lives of long ago, even when the present persists in trying to pull her away.

So in addition to techniques, all three books point to a kind of ultra-commitment to the pursuit of our ancestors, something like the extreme effort put forth by the best athletes: do as much as you can and then do more, find everything you can find and then search some more, immerse yourself completely.