Tag Archives: internet

NGS Conference Live Stream Details Announced

The National Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference is coming right up! I am honored to be going to present three lectures among a wide variety of very talented speakers. The conference is being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2-5 May 2018. If you are unable to attend in person, NGS just announced their live stream schedule option. You can read the full release with sign-up instructions and fees here.

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National Genealogical Society Conference Banner

The schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, 3 May 2018: Viewers will be able to stream five lectures from 9:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., including:
    • Reasonably Exhaustive Research of African American Ancestors who came out of Slavery—LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG®
    • The Price of Loyalism: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War—Terry Koch-Bostic
    • The Y-DNA Test Should be Your Favorite—Diahan Southard
    • Your Cousins are Your Secret Weapon—Angie Bush
    • Native American DNA: Separating Fact from Fiction—Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD
  • Friday, 4 May 2018: Five BCG Skillbuilding lectures will be live streamed from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., including:
    • History, Records, and Context: Researching the Locations Your Ancestors Lived—Angela Packer McGhie, CG
    • Samuel Witter vs. Samuel Witter: Separating Same-Name Soldiers, War of 1812—Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGLSM, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
    • Using Indirect and Negative Evidence to Prove Unrecorded Events—Thomas Wright Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
    • A Matter of Standards: DNA and the GPS—Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL
    • Deeper Analysis: Techniques for Successful Problem Solving—Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL

Details about the live stream program, plus additional conference recordings, can be found on the PlaybackNGS Website.

If you’d like to attend, but can’t make it in person, this is a wonderful opportunity to attend from home.

Thoughts About Online Trees

IMG_3012In our time as genealogists, we have probably uploaded a GEDCOM file or two (or a dozen). It seems that every month a new site (or an old one) has a system for uploading and managing your family tree on their website. The most popular site today for building a tree is probably Ancestry.com. There are others:

Each of these has their advantages. Ancestry.com probably has the best system for locating hints from their databases as seen by the “shaky” leaves that appear. FamilySearch’s Family Tree is more like a wiki where you don’t actually “own” the individuals in the tree but instead collaborate with other researchers and have the ability to have discussions or post proof arguments.

Family information didn’t trickle down the family tree evenly. My cousins probably know more about my Businger ancestors than I do because they lived nearby whereas my branch of the family moved “out west.” They most likely have more family photographs and papers than I do stored in their attics or basements. I happen to have a lot of information on my Miller ancestors simply due to the relationships formed and the relatively small “competition” pool to get old photos and papers (there’s me, my brother, and our one cousin Andy). However, think about those families not so many generations ago that bore eight, ten, twelve, or more children. There were a lot of children to pass these treasures down to, and it didn’t all flow evenly. If there was a rift in the family, these artifacts may have followed one line only. If there was estrangement, these might have gone to a family friend, or not have been saved at all.

Just like family information, online trees today are not all located on one site. Some people only put their tree up in one location. I happen to have mine in a few, but not “all” of them. Posting your tree online can be an exceptional research tool, especially if you are looking for collaborators; people who may have been on that side of the family tree where the information flowed more fully. By posting your tree online, and in several locations, you can cast a wider net and reach more potential cousins who are researching the same or connected family lines.

I have a few ideas on what I think are some best practices for posting your tree online:

  • Make sure your email address or other contact information is up-to-date. You could even include your social media contacts if you have them, your Facebook profile, Twitter handle, or other social media of your choice.
  • Make sure you keep your tree at least moderately updated. The problem with having many trees online is that there is not an easy way to keep them all updated at the same time, no syncing across sites. If you are not doing any attaching of documents like what happens at Ancestry.com, you could simply delete an old tree and upload a new GEDCOM periodically. However, I don’t recommend this if you do a lot of attaching from the host site. One solution: you can post a “skeleton” tree with basic information in order to “catch” those collaborators, then invite them to your better tree, wherever that is hosted, once you’ve made contact.
  • Attach as many source citations to your trees as possible. If you keep one main tree and then post skeleton trees to a variety of sites, make some mention of this in your profile information. Something like “This tree does not contain many sources, but if there is a name or family group you are interested in, please contact me for more information.” This will at least let them know that there are sources available.
  • There are other more obvious “rules” I like to follow such as not posting personal information of my living relatives, not spreading gossip or rumors about living people, or the recently deceased, and not copying the trees or work of others without their permission (and I mean by asking them directly, not just clicking “add to my tree” because of the “well, if it is out there, they must not mind sharing” attitude to sharing.

If you do not know how to make what I call a “skeleton” GEDCOM file, I recommend reading some of the help files and/or video tutorials that came with your genealogical software. But in a nutshell, there is usually a way to mark a line of people you’d like to create a GEDCOM for. For example, if I only want to post a tree for my Kindervater ancestors, I can choose to begin with one particular person and then in Reunion (for Mac) there is a command to mark all ancestors of said person, and I can also choose whether to include all children or not, all spouses or not, etc. What you choose here will create a larger or smaller file to post.

These are just some thoughts I have about online trees. I have been working on a project trying to identify the parents of a female ancestor. I have been combing through many online trees, most of which have no sources and appear to repeat the same information that I am not sure is correct. It is a lot of time-consuming work. Most trees have no sources, they don’t all have working emails, and not everyone responds to emails when they are working. Online trees can offer many useful clues and hints and send you in directions you may not have known to go, and perhaps some of the people posting these trees online were on the side of the family tree where the information flowed down more freely than mine. I will keep investigating.

Some helpful articles or resources I found online:

http://lisalouisecooke.com/tag/online-family-tree/

http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/01/6-tips-to-get-your-family-tree-off-to-a-good-start/

http://enchantedfamily.com/blog/family-tree-tips/

http://www.archives.com/experts/breland-claudia/online-family-trees.html

http://www.cyndislist.com/family-trees/online-family-trees/

*I love the Find My Past site a lot, and it is growing on me more and more with every addition and update. This is the only like of which I am an affiliate. If you click through this link and sign up with Find My Past, I will get a small amount of compensation. This is one of the ways I try to supplement my income and to allow me to provide educational opportunities for low cost. Many of the things I do are pro-bono. So consider using an affiliate link (from me or any other generous genealogists who are in the same boat I am).
**Please know that I am not affiliated with any of the other above links and do not receive any compensation from them when you click on their links.

Moving Part 4: Creating a New FAN Club

a kitchen cutlery drawer full of knives, forks and spoons
a kitchen cutlery drawer full of knives, forks and spoons

[Author’s note: Sorry for the delay between posts! I’ve been exceedingly busy with some projects lately. One of them was preparing for the Northwest Genealogical Conference. I am excited to be presenting three lectures this Friday and Saturday in Arlington, Washington (near Seattle) and took some time to get prepared. I had some other projects in the works as well and so these posts had to wait a little bit. So, without further ado…]

When we relocate everything is different, except for the stuff you brought with you, and even that ends up in different locations. (The spoons are no longer to the left of the sink. They are now in the island drawer.) For the first few months, I had a bit of anxiety when needing to do something simple like go to the grocery store. Traffic patterns are different. Road signage is different. The stop lights are sideways here instead of up and down. It took us a while to locate a decent breakfast restaurant. Not to mention all of the work that went into getting our new driver’s licenses, license plates, health care professionals…I’m still in the process of finding a decent dentist. (I miss you Dr. Simpson in Boulder!)

Moving to a new location forces you to create a new network, a new FAN club. (I described the FAN Club in the previous post.) One of the most common ways to do this is to get to know your neighbors. (Unfortunately, we have found that the neighbors down here are not as friendly and/or talkative as our old neighbors. We miss you Judy and Williams Family!) Our neighbors tend to keep to themselves. In fact most people in our neighborhood keep to themselves. (Except for one child who lives down the block and made friends with my kids… she’s always coming over to visit.) So we are still working on this one.

My favorite way to meet new people, especially like-minded people, is to join a new genealogical society (or three, as I have done). This puts you in contact with others who appreciate family stories, research, sharing tips and tricks for genealogy, and who won’t roll their eyes at you when you start talking about the latest record you located. (Not that my husband does this, but my kids certainly do.) Near me there are two dues-paying societies that I have joined, the Austin Genealogical Society and the Williamson County Genealogical Society. There is also an informal genealogy group that meets at the Pflugerville Public Library. I have also joined the Texas State Genealogical Society. They don’t have monthly meetings but do have many member benefits, one of which I’ve already benefited from: their speaker’s bureau. I’ll have the pleasure of speaking to the Central Texas Genealogical Society meeting in a couple of weeks.

Other ways to meet people and get acquainted with new people includes volunteering for those genealogical societies or other community organizations such as the library, school, or animal shelter, finding a new church or other house of spirituality, attend events in the community such as festivals or neighborhood events, or take a class (art, exercise, dance, cooking, etc). These are just some of the ways to expand your FAN club after you relocate. These can be quite fun and engaging.

As an aside, an interesting thing I’ve realized after relocating: I didn’t have to give up my Colorado friends as much as I did when we moved during my childhood. Back then, keeping in touch involved actual letters sent via the US Postal Service (*gasp*) or long distance phone calls that were expensive, both of which are being eradicated from our modern lives. The internet has allowed me to keep in touch through social media and video chatting and smart phones allow these communications to happen anywhere. Also, it doesn’t hurt that I moved to a town very near where one of my best Colorado pal’s parents live, so I get to see her every time she comes to visit them. The same is true with my kids. They still chat, text and video call their friends from Colorado. Even though we may have spread out physically as a society, the internet has brought us the ability to remain connected in ways our ancestors would probably find magical or mystical. (Heck, I find it to be magical myself.)

Next up… Learning to research in a new community.

What I Don’t Know, Part 11: That’s a lot of stuff I don’t know!

Ok, so this is really just a follow-up. Remember in the post on military records, I said that the information about Franklin Dimick being a Justice of the Peace led to some interesting information. Well, this is that story.

Sometimes I begin with this, sometimes I remember to do it later. But sometimes, I do a straight up Google search with the name I’m researching in quotes. Sanders Scroggins, Jeduthan Dimick and Franklin Dimick are such unique names I did just that. They didn’t turn up much except when I decided to look more into the fact that Franklin was a Justice of the Peace. A Google search for “franklin dimick” “justice of the peace” turned up a county history I hadn’t found before when searching for Hardin County histories.

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The first entry, “Memoirs of the lower Ohio valley: personal and genealogical…” leads to a Google Book. This is a full digitized version of that county history and gives biographical sketches for two of Franklin’s sons and discusses details about Franklin’s origins.

That was quite a long journey through records you can locate on the Internet (and I’m sure I missed many) in a short amount of time. One of my next steps is to begin writing up a biographical sketch of the research subjects. This is one of the quickest ways to highlight any holes in your research and where you might need to do more to strengthen your proof.

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I hope this series helped you learn more about distance research, what can be done online and in a short amount of time, and about Illinois research.

What I Don’t Know, Part 10: Repository Research Plan

Eventually we all have to leave the comforts of home and do some research in a repository whether it be a courthouse, library, archive, or cemetery. There are many things you can and should do from home before you go to be prepared. I will first scour the Family History Library’s catalog to see what can be ordered in to a local family history center for viewing.

For Hardin County, Illinois the catalog looks like this:

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Depending on what is available under each of those topics, I will order in at least the films containing the indexes for such things as deeds, wills, probate and vital records especially if I am planning a research trip to Salt Lake City in the near future.

Also, I will examine online information regarding local libraries, courthouses, archives and cemeteries for information on hours of operation, any costs involved, parking issues, copy fees, restricted items, and so on. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving at a small library only to discover they are closed on Wednesdays, the day you had set aside for a visit. I also visit their online catalogs and know exactly what I want to look at before I arrive.

If I can’t make a research trip in person, I will examine the online information for ordering procedures for courthouses and libraries, local volunteers or genealogists for hire, and local societies who offer look-ups. The Rosiclare Memorial Public Library has a list of genealogical resources available and an email for questions.

2014-03-31 11.06.14 pmCreate your research plan before you leave home. Do as much as possible before you even get dressed and you will have a more successful, productive and efficient research trip!

What I Don’t Know, Part 9: Other Online Sources Searched

After all of the “main” record types I mentioned in previous posts, I also looked at my favorite newspaper websites such as GenealogyBank, Newspapers.com, and Chronicling America. I did not find anything relevant in the time I had allotted to work on this project.

Another favorite online database is FindAGrave.com. This is a collection of tombstone photographs and cemetery listings. I did find several relevant entries for Dimick and Scroggins family members:

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There are several entries, including Sarah Scroggin(s) and Franklin Dimick in “Dimick Cemetery.” However, there are no photographs for either of them. Further research indicates that there are no tombstones or they are quite weathered and that this is a cemetery on private property, at one time being owned by the Dimick family. It is located near the town of Rosiclare, Illinois.

So, EVERYTHING is NOT on the Internet. At some point we have to put on clothes other than jammies and slippers and go to some repositories to further our research. However, there are still things you can do from home before you step outside and blink at the sun, that will be covered in the next post.

What I Don’t Know, Part 8: Military Records

It is always wise when working in the early to mid 1800s to check military records, either for War of 1812 or Civil War soldiers. There are growing collections coming online all the time for these 2 groups of soldiers’ records. The first place I look to determine if a person I’m researching was involved in the Civil War is the National Parks Service’s Soldiers and Sailors Database. This is an index to all who served in the Civil War on either side of the conflict. A quick search for Dimick and Scroggins provided the following 2 results:

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There was a soldier named Sanders Scroggins from Illinois.
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There was no soldier named Franklin Dimick (Sarah’s brother).

This told me that Sanders Scroggins enlisted during the Civil War. Sarah (his wife) had a brother named Franklin Dimick. No entry was found for him. Once I determined Sanders had enlisted, I began searching for more information about his service. One great online repository for military records is Fold3.com. There I found a copy of a Widow’s Pension from his widow (and third wife) Josephine Scroggins.

 

2014-03-31 09.59.49 pmFurther searching (at Internet Archive) revealed a copy of the Adjutant General’s report:

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It appears that Sanders only served for about a month from August to September 1864. The AG report also gives some description of what the company was doing during that time:

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Franklin Dimick was not to be left out, however. Searching at Fold3.com revealed that he performed an important role in his town:

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Franklin Dimick was a Justice of the Peace in Hardin County! (This information leads to an interesting find that I will share in a future post.)

 

What I Don’t Know, Part 7: Dimick’s Land in Hardin County

Similar to what I demonstrated in the last post regarding the Scroggins family land, I did a similar search for the Dimick family in Hardin County. Jeduthan and his wife Mary purchased land from the Federal government and the transaction is recorded at the General Land Office website:

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Jeduthan’s land was purchased in 1834. He died in 1837. Mary’s land was purchased in 1838, a year after his death. If you examine where each parcel of land was located you might notice something interesting. The entries in this database tell you where the land was located with what looks like a secret code. Jeduthan’s land is described as: NE1/4 of the NW1/4 in Township 12 South, Range 8 East in Section 32. Mary’s land is described as: E1/2 of the SW1/4 in Township 29, Range 8 East in Section 29.

Every township is numbered in the same way, beginning from the upper right corner of the township, moving to the left (west), then down and across to the right (east) and so forth. Each township is 1 square mile and consists of 36 sections or 36 square miles. If you examine Jeduthan and Mary’s land purchases on a map, they line up more or less like this:

2014-03-31 06.20.12 pmOk, the above map is not to scale but I know that the land they purchased lined up and gave the family a large farm. How does their land location compare to the Scroggins family? Using the GLO site’s map feature and Photoshop, I layered the two maps to line them up:

2014-03-31 09.39.29 pmSanders Scroggins land is within the green square on the left of the screen and Jeduthan and Mary Dimick’s land is within the square on the right. The families lived fairly close to one another, possibly attended the same church, social gatherings, or perhaps did business in the town of Rosiclare or Elizabethtown.

Using land records puts the families in a time and place and in relation to each other. By doing this exercise, you can see how your ancestors may have interacted or maybe determine if you are even working with the correct ancestors. If they lived too far apart, it might be a case of mistaken identity. However with names like Sanders Scroggins and Jeduthan Dimick, I think I’ve got the right men.

In the next several posts I will follow these men in vital, military and other records that are available online.

What I Don’t Know, Part 6: Scroggins’ Land in Hardin County

After reviewing the census and getting at least a beginning framework for the families I’m researching, I like to turn to land records and maps. This allows me to put the people in a physical location, and in relation to each other.

Illinois is a public land state meaning their lands were surveyed using the rectangular system. For my search I used two online databases to help locate the Scroggins and Dimick families:

These two databases seem to index the same information, however, you may find that one site is easier to use than the other. The GLO site has the advantage of having maps and original documents attached to the entries. Regardless of which site you use, always use the information to locate your research subjects on a map.

Beginning with the GLO records I found several Scroggins entries in Hardin County, Illinois.

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Sanders Scroggins bought land with two other men in 1851.
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Many men with the surname “Scroggins” obtained land from the federal government, including Chatten Scroggins in 1825.
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In 1855 Sanders Scroggins obtains more land.

The area in green is where Sanders Scroggins 1855 land is located. (This map can be obtained at the GLO database site.)

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The land is located northwest of Elizabethtown and Rosiclare.

I won’t bore you with all of the maps for all of the land transactions described above, but take a look for yourself if you wish. The GLO database is a rich treasure chest of information. You can find the original land patents and maps showing their locations.

The Illinois State Archives has an index of their Public Domain Land Sales. When searching for “Scroggins” I found the following entries:

2014-03-31 03.01.46 pmOften a capitalized “S” can look like a capitalized “L” so I am willing to bet that all of those “Landers” Scroggins are really Sanders’ land purchases. The Illinois Archive does not have digitized copies of the originals, instead you will get a transcription.

The next post will discuss the Dimick family’s entries and how the two families relate to each other on a map.

What I Don’t Know, Part 4: Understanding Geography

2014-03-30 10.20.28 pmWhen you begin any new project, you need to understand the geography of the area you are researching. It is possible that it’s an entirely new location, an unfamiliar county or state, and understanding where you are researching can have a profound effect on who you are researching.

My first step is usually to Google the county. I look at it on a map, I look at its entry in Wikipedia and I’ll look at the FamilySearch Wiki to see what’s been written about it. I will do a quick scan of the Ancestry.com card catalog and the Family History Library catalog to see in general what holdings and databases they have available. I will also see if there are any local genealogical societies, historical societies, libraries, archives, courthouses, and so forth. In essence, I create my own locality guide.

2014-03-30 10.29.08 pmSanders Scroggins and Sarah Dimick lived in Hardin and Gallatin Counties which are in the southern tip of Illinois along the Ohio river. Hardin County was created out of Gallatin County, so some of the records I might need may be in one or the other of those counties. When you are researching a new area, be sure to learn about county formation and boundary changes. Locate a county history to learn more. These are readily available through Google Books, FamilySearch Books, Internet Archive, Hathi Trust or sometimes through local library, university or historical society websites.

The History of Hardin County, Illinois was very helpful in understanding the migration to and from this county on the Ohio River. The area was largely settled by people moving from Tennessee and Kentucky, mostly Irish. Some English and French settlers arrived early on before moving farther west. The book also contains some information on the first pioneers, agriculture, Ohio River transportation, and much more.

Familiarizing yourself with the geography of a new area can help you understand where records might be located and how the people may have traveled. This is an essential first step when undertaking any research in an unfamiliar area.