30 January 2015

Don't Go Over the River, But Do Go Through the Woods

     "If you get to the river you've missed it."  Those were part of the directions sent to me by my cousin, Mitch, as we arranged to meet and track down the grave of my 4th Great-Grandfather, Willis Craft, in Elbert County, Georgia.  I had learned of this grave very early on my genealogy research, almost 10 years ago.  A few years back, I'd found a map with the location of the grave: out in the middle of the woods with no roads labeled.  I honestly never thought I'd be able to find it.

     Earlier this month, my cousin posted a photo of a Craft cemetery to Facebook.  I asked about it and, though it was out in the middle of the woods in Elbert County, Georgia, it was a different cemetery.  However, he was able to ask around and he found a lady who knew where the grave was.  He went out to find it, then took me out to see it today.

     I drove two hours, along with my mom, to reach a rural intersection just a short distance from the Savannah River.  I met Mitch and Diane and followed them down a series of gravel roads, which was part of a subdivision that had been partially developed but currently looks stalled. When we reached a cul de sac we got out and walked a few hundred yards into the woods.  On the top of the rise set a single grave that I'd been hoping to find for almost a decade.

     I had seen a black and white photo of the grave before, in which it was laying down.  This stone had been repositioned and was now upright.  Because of this, the death date is now buried.  Despite this, I would think that the upright position is better for the stone in the long run. And I do have the old photo, which shows the date.

     Willis is buried alone, while his wife and a few of his children (who died within a decade of Willis) are buried not too far away at the Rock Branch Baptist Church.  We speculated about why that was, but could only think it was sentimental.  Did he want to be buried on his own land with a view of the river?

     Standing at the grave, you could see water through the trees on two sides.  We trekked a bit further and found that we were in a bit of an inlet off of the Savannah River.  And boy was it beautiful!  It must have been amazing to live on this land in the 1800s, right along the river.  Hungry?  Go fish!  Mitch told me that the story is that the families used to farm on the islands in the river.  I certainly wouldn't complain to live on this land.


     Mitch also took me over to see the cemetery that he's posted pictures of on Facebook.  It was the burial place of Anderson and Lucy Craft, as well as a few others.  I took pictures of those graves and have updated everything on FindAGrave, including GPS coordiantes.

     Overall, it was a great day.  Who wouldn't drive two hours to meet up with a cousin you've never met before out in the middle of nowhere to go tromping through the woods to find a cemetery?  I'd love to have the chance to do it again soon.

28 January 2015

Check Marks the Source

     When I first started my genealogy research in 2003, I created a family tree in Excel and kept dates and places.  After a bit, I purchased the genealogy software for Mac, called Reunion.  I had quite a tree at this point, which lacked any sort of sources.  I've played catchup ever since, and still come across "facts" in my family tree that lack a good source.

     I've thought before about starting over - but that's just not practical.  Instead, I need a method to verify my research and root out the areas that lack sources.  Learning how the DAR reviews applications has given me the method to do so.  I learned about this process by working with my Registrar on my mom's application, as well as a supplemental application.  So, here's the method:


     So, what all's going on here?  First, I've highlighted the facts that were in the DAR database.  I did this purely for the application process, but would not necessarily do this when verifying my family tree.

     Otherwise, I put check marks on each piece of information.  Each.  Individual.  Piece.  So for a date, there's one check for the day, one for the month, and one for the year.  And I do not put any checks until I can point out exactly where I got the information from.  This method has helped me uncover a few typos and a few places where I have no idea where I got some pieces of information from.  You can see in the image where I've made a few corrections or adjustments.

    This method, regardless of whether or not I'm working on a DAR application, will be very helpful for catching the errors in my database.

26 January 2015

Busy with the DAR

     It has been exactly 6 months since my last blog post, and my mom has challenged me to get back to it.  I have been busy with genealogy, but it's mostly been through the DAR.  I signed my DAR application almost a year ago and became a member last May.  Since then, I became the Lineage
Research Chairman and Historic Preservation Chairman of my chapter, organized projects and trips with both committees, have been working on my mom's application, took the DAR's Genealogy Education Program I and II classes, done indexing for their online BookSync Project, requested records from their library through their Photocopy service, helped do research online for others through the Lineage Research Lookup Board and Facebook pages, worked on supplemental applications using the Ancestor database... and that's just the genealogy side of things I can think of right now.

     The point of all of this though, is that by joining the DAR I have been introduced to a treasure-trove of new genealogical resources.  They have a number of databases, such as the Ancestor and Descendents databases, which are comprised of the applications of members.  Anyone can purchase copies of these applications (aka "record copy") or place a Document Request for the supporting documents that proved the lineage.  The DAR also has a huge library, comprised of both published works, as well as genealogy records compiled by local Chapters.  Anyone can search the Genealogy Records Committee Index for the names of their ancestors, and then place an order through the Photocopy Service for a copy of the record.  There's also the DAR Analytical Card Index, which I honestly haven't even gotten to yet!

     I'm going to try and work on keeping up the blog again and get back into the online genealogical community.  But it's definitely going to have a slight focus on DAR resources to a certain extent.  If anyone has questions about the DAR or their resources, please feel free to ask.

26 July 2014

Origins of a Letter

     A few years ago, I received a copy of an article that transcribed a letter written by Frank E Leaphart, my 3rd Great-Grandfather and a Civil War soldier.  It was unclear where the article was published - a book, a magazine? - or where the original letter was stored - an archive, by an individual? - or if there was any information in the publication aside from the letter.  I've been trying to find the origins of the letter ever since receiving it.

   I recently picked up the July/August issue of Family Tree Magazine which included the article "Better Together."  It explains the collaboration between FindMyPast.com and the Periodical Source Index (PERSI).  Before reading this article, I had heard of both of these, but hadn't used either.  But I was intrigued by the idea of PERSI, which is an index of genealogical magazines and journals, many of which have been digitized.  So I went to search.findmypast.com/search/periodical-source-index and did a surname search for "Leaphart," which turned up five results (I started with Leaphart because it's a local variation of Liebhardt and if I find it, I know it's my family).  To my absolute surprise, one of those results was "F. E. Leaphart Civil War letter to wife Julie, 1863."  My letter!

     When I clicked on the article, I was met with a payment wall.  Do I pay? First off, my article has not been digitized.  Secondly, on the search page, I am given the name of the article, the periodical title and the publication year.  This is enough to find the article, but not enough to do so easily.  I could contact the periodical personally and request back issues or assistance looking up the article - but how often do they publish? Monthly? Quarterly?  That's potentially a lot of issues to purchase.  They might not even be in business anymore.  So I went ahead and purchased a single month subscription to FindMyPast.com in order to access the full results.

     As I said, particular article was not digitized, but that's ok.  Now that I'm past the pay wall, I have information on the exact volume that the article is published in.  I can use his information to fill out a form (pdf) to request up to six articles at a time for a fee of $7.50, plus 20¢ per page.  And I very quickly found six articles to request - this is a treasure trove!  I'll be waiting excited for the articles that I requested and will probably find a more to request in the mean time.

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