30 October 2012

Mapping the Genealogy Journey

     Even with my ancestors sticking to a pretty centralized locations in Georgia and South Carolina, it can be difficult to keep track of their locations.  To stay organized, I add locations of homes, cemeteries, and libraries in Google Earth.  It's really easy to do and is saved to my desktop.

     Aside from being a database of their locations, it also becomes a map of my travels. The map below shows only the locations that I've personally been to in my genealogy journey.  It's interesting to me that I've been so many places, but many are still very close to home. By driving only an hour or two I can go back in time 300 years. Thanks for not traveling very far Ancestors! 

25 October 2012

AncestryDNA Tests Now Available For Everyone

     It looks like Ancestry.com has taken their Autosomal DNA test, AncestryDNA, public - and raised the price.

     Subscribers can now purchase an AncestryDNA test for $129 while non-subscribers will pay $199 (US customers only). There does not appear to be a limit on the number of kits you can purchase, though you must purchase them one at a time. Their FAQs have not been updated yet to reflect the new policies.

     This is a tough decision. Right now, Ancestry has the least expensive Autosomal DNA test. They also have the test with the fewest features and least transparency. I doubt that the price will go up in the future, so I won't rush to buy it.  In fact, I can't recommend the AncestryDNA test right now.  Both ftDNA and 23andMe currently offer a superior, though more expensive, product.

19 October 2012

Forgetting the Halfs and Steps

     I've been working on extending a few collateral branches of my family tree. I've been trying to trace the descendants of my Great-ect-Great-Aunts and Uncles (I wrote about why this is important here). While doing this I realized something about how I relate to some of the half and step families in my tree. It's a little odd, so I'll explain it with an example.

     The parents of my Great-Grandfather, Nathan Britt, were not on their first marriages when they had Nathan. His father, William Britt, was on his third marriage. His mother, Amelia Parrish, was on her second marriage. To help find records about his father, I have researched the heck out of his children from all of his marriage. His mother on the other hand... I haven't looked twice at her children from her first marriage. I just realized this and was struck by it.

     The children of Amelia's previous marriage are just as much Nathan's half-siblings as the children of Williams's previous marriages are. Why did I only look at William's kids? Researching Amelia's kids should tell me more about her and my half-aunts and uncles.

     I think it has to do with surnames. William's children shared the Britt surname with Nathan and Amelia's did not. I'm not really sure what other reason there is that I completely disregarded my Great-Grandfather's half siblings. I can think of at least one other family where I've done something similar.

     Well, at least I recognize the holes in my research and can now correct them. Maybe I'll connect with some new cousins when I'm done.

18 October 2012

The Georgia Archives To Stay Open

     A press release issued today brings great news to Georgia and genealogists everywhere: the Georgia Archives will stay open. Governor Deal reportedly worked with the budget office to find $125,000 to keep the Archive open through June 30, 2013. There is no word on the seven employees slated to loose their jobs in just a few days.

     And what happens after June 30th?  Apparently the state wants to transfer management of the Archive to the University System of Georgia. I'm not sure about the legalities of this idea, but at least the Archive would be run by those with a vested interest in education. However, like everyone else, they have budget woes of their own. Time will tell, I guess.

     This is a win for us all and it goes to show that "the people" can make a difference. The many people who stood up and protested the loss of the Archive, and who made sure that our politicians understood the important role it plays, are directly responsible for keeping the Georgia Archives open.

     I'm not sure what the schedule will be. The press release says that the budget allows the Archive to "maintain its current access hours." I'm guessing they will they keep the Friday/Saturday hours and not add Thursday back. I hope they can add the extra day, but am more excited that we will be able to access the archive for two full days each week.

     The issue isn't resolved. An Archive is nothing without its Archivists. Until we know what the plan is, everyone should reach out to Governor Deal and SOS Kemp and make sure that they know how important these seven employees are.

October 18, 2012
Gov. Nathan Deal and Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced today that the state will restore $125,000 to Kemp’s budget to keep the Georgia State Archives open to Georgians for the remainder of the budget year.

“Georgia’s Archives are a showcase of our state’s rich history and a source of great pride,” said Deal. “I worked quickly with my budget office and Secretary Kemp to ensure that Georgians can continue to come to Morrow to study and view the important artifacts kept there. I appreciate Secretary Kemp’s commitment to work with me to find a solution.”

The extra funding provides for Georgia State Archives to be open to the public through June 30 of next year. On July 1, the Georgia Archives will be transferred to University System of Georgia, pending approval of the move by the General Assembly. This transfer will include appropriations required for operation and assets of the Georgia Archives. Additional staff will be provided by USG at that time. Deal and Kemp intend to find efficiencies by consolidating the Archives under the University System of Georgia, just as the state has sought to do with the library system.

“From the beginning of this budget process, I have stated that it was my hope that current access to the Archives could be maintained,” Kemp said. “I greatly appreciate Governor Deal’s leadership and recognize the difficult decisions that had to be made in order to identify this funding. He has proposed a plan that supports Archives not just this year, but for years to come.”

Deal’s budgetary commitment allows Georgia State Archives to maintain its current access hours.

16 October 2012

Do You Have An Appointment?

     Yesterday, Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, announced the appointment schedule for the Georgia Archives. You can see the full schedule in here.  Based on this schedule, it breaks down monthly to 78 appointments in the Original Documents, 120 in Microfilm, and 90 in Open Records. So when you want to visit the archives you will be limited to one area that you must choose in advance.  AND, you will have to fit your research into their schedule. The first week of the month is Original Records only. The second week of the month is Microfilm, Open Records, and 15 Original Records appointments.

     I can just see what fun this is going to be for the poor archivist and volunteers to keep different appointment groups separated. Stay in your area! No books for you - that's not what you signed up for! Just imagine: you are browsing a book and come across a reference to your ancestor. You realize that the record collection mentioned is available in full on microfilm. You can't just walk over 100 feet and look at it, you have to make another appointment and come back another day!

     Let's look at the appointments in more detail. The archive will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with different appointment schedules during the first two weeks of the month. The Archive will be closed the third and fourth weeks of each month.

     Original Documents are the most limited, appointment wise. These records will take the most work by archivists, so it's a bit understandable. There are 7 appointments in an appointment block each day during the first week, with 3 blocks a day. So that means that there will only be 7 visitors in the building at any given time. The second week there is one appointment block with 5 appointments each day. For these appointments, you will be asked to specify your record requests in advance, so that they can be pulled before your arrival. Hope you don't need a second pull....

     Next, Microfilm. There are 10 appointments in an appointment block each day during the second week, with 4 blocks a day. There are 10 electronic microfilm readers (if all are in working order) that have computer and printer connections. There are at least another 10 of the old-fashioned hand cranked kind. I wish they would fill all (or at least most) of the machines and allow for more visitors.

     Finally, Open Records. I assume this area consists of both the book shelves and the computer area.  This area has 10 appointments in an appointment block each day during the second week, with 3 blocks a day.  That's it, 10 at a time? There are more than 10 computers and thousands of books. I think we could at least bump that up to 20 appointments.

* * * * *

     I went ahead and scheduled an appointment for Thursday, Nov 8th. I contacted Christopher Davidson at cdavidson@sos.ga.gov and am now confirmed for a 12:30 - 2:30 pm appointment for Microfilm.  I've asked if I could bring a second person to research with who would share my microfilm reader, but have not yet gotten a response to that. You can also call 678-364-3714 to schedule an appointment, but folks on Facebook report that they were told appointments weren't yet available when they called.

     I'm going to really prepare in advance for my appointment.  I'm going to utilize the online Microfilm Index to look up my microfilm rolls in advance.  I will also arrive at least 15 minutes early, just in case. Considering that I have to travel through Atlanta traffic to get there, I might plan to be there even earlier.  I'd hate to get stuck in traffic for half of my appointment! I might even try and combine my visit with one to the National Archives next door. It's a little awkward with a middle-of-the-day appointment, but maybe.

     So if you want to visit the Georgia Archives any time soon I would make an appointment NOW and prepare as much as possible before your visit. Good Luck!

     UPDATE: It is being reported on Facebook that individuals are restricted to one appointment a month.

Speaking at the Georgia Family History Expo: Mr. Paul Adjei

     I'm excited about the upcoming Georgia Family History Expo this November 9th and 10th. I received the following press release in conjunction with my role as an Official Blogger.  As my parents can attest, I'm always trying to get them to record stories, so I'm excited about the oral history discussion presented by Paul Adjei and Bernie Gracy.  Read more about it below:

Kumasi-Ghana Oral Historian Speaks At Georgia Family History Expo

     DULUTH, Ga. -- Paul Adjei of Kumasi-Ghana, Africa will present at the 2012 Georgia Family History Expo Nov. 9-10 at the Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, Ga. Following is a schedule of his presentations.

     Friday at 6:30 p.m. Adjei will present, “Africa the Root of Our Ancestors.” This class will help family historians understand Oral histories to be key resources on both sides of the ocean. “Oral genealogy is the systematic collection of living people's testimony about their own experiences. Oral history is not folklore, gossip, hearsay, or rumor. It is the passing of information from one generation to another for preserving the root,” Adjei said.

  • Saturday at 10 a.m. Adjei will teach class participants to discover the records available for African research. The class is titled, “Echoes from Africa.” 
  • At 2:30 p.m. Saturday Adjei will team up with Gracy for a panel discussion to highlight the importance of DNA and oral history in genealogical and family history research. 

     An advanced reservation is recommended for this event. Register at www.familyhistoryexpos.com prior to the Expo for significant savings. Individual courses can be ordered for $20 each.

15 October 2012

Old Money

     One of the good things about working in the service industry is the money. Not the pay, that's not all that great, but working with the money that the customers bring in. Somewhat often they end up paying with old coins and bills. I can buy these out of the drawer and collect them.

     Above, you can see some of the pieces that I've bought over the years. The most recent is the $5 bill, which I got a few days ago. It might be worth a little more than $5, but it's not the value that I'm after - it's the age. I love that a bill printed in 1963 is still in circulation.  And a barber dime from 1916, a Peace dollar from 1923, a JFK half-dollar from their first year, 1964, and Eisenhower half dollars from the bicentennial.

13 October 2012

My Longest Unbroken Line of Ancestral Gravestones

     This week, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings challenges us to post about our longest unbroken line of ancestral gravestones.  How far back can we go and do we have photos.

     I have to think about this for a second. I know it's not my direct maternal line or it's offshoots: my Great-Grandmother Ruby Waters Huyler does not have a headstone.  Other lines have much older headstones, but have missing generations in between. Some have memorial markers, but not actual gravestones. So, what's the longest line?

     It's a tie! Both my Albea and Powell (via Craft) lines have graves with known locations and markers.  Both lines go back to my 5x Great-Grandparents. On the Albea line, that's Thomas Albea who was born in 1778 and died in 1844. On the Powell line, that William R Powell who was born in 1772 and died in 1847.

     I visited the graves of all but one of these ancestors. Wiley Powell died in Virginia during the Civil War and was buried at a veterans cemetery there. A FindAGrave volunteer kindly sent me a photo.

Roy Albea
(and Betty Huyler)
Roy & Betty Albea
Thomas Craft
(and Sarah Britt)
Thomas & Sarah Craft

C Vernon Albea 
(& Auline Witt Albea Wilson)
Charles Vernon Albea

BE Craft
(and Ruth Evans)
Bennie and Ruth Craft

William Albea
(& Nina Sprouse)
William Albea

Effie Powell
(and G "Bob"Craft)
George & Effie Craft

Thomas Albea
Thomas T Albea

John Powell (and Emma Taylor)

Tilman Albea
(and Julia Glaze)

Wiley Powell
(and Mariah Adkins)
Wiley Powell
Thomas Albea
(and Rachel Johnson)

William R Powell
(and Sarah Franklin)
  William Riddle Powell

My Response to Today's AncestryDNA Survey

     Today I received an email from Ancestry.com, asking me to take a survey about AncestryDNA. I thought I'd share my responses on my blog.

     My responses were influenced by the fact that I had tested with other DNA companies (ftDNA and 23andMe) prior to Ancestry.com.   Based on what the AncestryDNA test currently offers in the way of results, my responses were low.   I think that those without experience with other companies would probably give more positive answers.

  • Overall satisfaction? 4 out of 10.  I had higher expectations for such a leader in the genealogy industry. This test is missing many features available from other companies.
  • Value for the money? 6 out of 10. It is much less expensive that the tests at other companies. But, you don't have the features.
  • Would you recommend it? 3 out of 10. Although it's cheaper, the other companies provide a better product. If you only have $100 and don't think you can save $300, go for this one. If you are more concerned about quality, save up.
  • Increased my satisfaction with Ancestry? 2 out of 10. Again, I expected better. This product actually lowered my opinion of Ancestry.com as a company.
  • Website is easy to use. 5 out of 10. It is easy to use (almost too simple) but it is slooooooow.
  • AncestryDNA website clearly represents my results. 1 out of 10.  This one needs a bit of an explanation. Yes, the website is pretty simple. But, as I said above, it is almost too easy. I understand the info they give me, but I don't learn anything. Based on their website, I have no idea how they came to these conclusions. I just have to hope that Ancestry.com got it right. Sorry, but I want to know the science behind it all.

On the other hand, I did give them a few high marks:
  • Test was easy to do. 9 out of 10. Spit. Done.
  • Test was easy to ship and register. 9 out of 10.  It was pretty simple.
  • Test result turn around. 10 out of 10. It took less than a month. Hard to beat.
  • My results are kept private. 10 out of 10. Private? I don't even know all of the info behind my results.

     I would love to see more detailed results from AncestryDNA. Raw data, chromosome data, ability to triangulate matches and, simplest of all, a search function.  Let's add those features and I'll give a higher score.

09 October 2012

Before and After: Using Tax Records For Civil War Analysis

     The Civil War had a major impact on the lives of the people who lived through it. One way to see this impact is through tax records. I recently found tax records at the Georgia Archives from just before and shortly after the Civil War for Tilman Albea, my 4x Great-Grandfather.

     Tilman lived in Lincoln County, Georgia and was a farmer. When the war began he was 55 years old. His sons served in the Civil War, including my 3x Great-Grandfather, Thomas T Albea. His wife, Julia, owned her own property in 1861, for which Tilman is listed as an agent. She is not listed in 1866.

Polls of Whites
Polls of Blacks
Kids age 6-18
Hired Hands
Acres of Land
112 + 110
Value of Land
$800 + $600
Value of Slaves
Other Property Value
$298 + $75
Total Property Value
  $1098 + $1975   

     So, what can we see in these tax records regarding the impact of the Civil War on Tilman Albea and his family?

     First, the family had a lot less land in 1866 than 1861. Before the war they had 222 acres combined. After the war, Tilman was listed with only 110 and the value was a lot less. Julia was no longer listed with her own property. Did they sell the rest? Was it taken? Perhaps they couldn't pay their taxes? Or maybe gave it to one of their children? Regardless, the remaining 110 acres were worth almost half of what the 110 acres were worth in 1861.

     Second, the amount of money held by the family appeared to be zero in 1866 (it was marked with an x), verses $400 in 1861.  It was probably difficult to hold cash after the war, and any cash they might have had would probably have been worthless confederate money. The value other property, likely things such as wagons and farm equipment, had also dropped. Combined with the loss of land, their total property value was only a fraction of what it was before the war.

     Also notable: slaves. In 1861 the family, specifically Julia, owned one slave.  She had inherited this slave from her mother in 1858 (which is also when she got her land). From wills and census records, it's believed that this slave was a 16 year old named Jinney.  Obviously, the family did not have any slaves in 1866. They did, however, have a person living with them that qualified for a black poll tax. This means that there was a black male living with them who was eligible to vote.

     These tax records paint a picture of a family that suffered financially during and after the Civil War.  Further tax records show that the land continued to loose value; minute book records show requests for tax exemptions; newspaper records show the auction of this land by the Sheriff's office.

     This once prosperous family was greatly impacted by the Civil War. Future generations would not own land, but would rent, first as farmers and then as mill workers. It wouldn't be until 100 years later, during the post WWII boom, that my direct Albea family line would own land again.

05 October 2012

03 October 2012

Rally for the Georgia Archive

      Mom and I arrived at the Georgia State Capitol a little after 11am. A small crowd had already started to form in front of the building. We were restricted to a corralled area and the sidewalk along the street for our demonstration. After a bit there were a good number of protestors walking two protest lines and attempting to elicit honks from passing drivers and chanted such slogans as "What Do We Want? / Save the Archives / When Do We Want It? / Now." There were probably about 75 people out front, leading up to the noon speeches. There were at least three different news organizations recording video and interviewing protestors.

     When we went inside to the rotunda at noon the 50 or so chairs were already full. I'd estimate that there were about 200 attendees, perhaps more. The speakers were really effective and made strong statements. The GA Archive does not NEED to close and in fact it is probably illegal for it to close.

     Kemp has a tough job on his hands, but there are certainly alternatives to closing the archives.
I thought it telling that neither Deal nor Kemp were in attendance. However the politicians who were there certainly seemed dedicated. They encouraged attendees to keep pushing. Contact all of our representatives at all levels and educate them. There is a tour available at the Archive, which some legislators are already singed up for. Keep up the hard work because, as of right now, the Archive will close and employees will lose their jobs as of November 1st.

      Sign the petition and check out fogah.org to see what else you can do to help.

02 October 2012

Georgia Family History Expo, 9-10 Nov 2012

    The following press release regarding the upcoming Georgia Family History Expo is courtesy Family History Expos:

Your Family History Starts in Duluth, GA
Georgia Family History Expo Nov. 9-10

     Alabama genealogy professional and author Robert S. Davis, M.Ed, MA will reveal the “Secrets to Research in Georgia” at the Georgia Family History Expo Nov. 9-10 at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.

     Davis is director of the Genealogy Program of Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, Ala. The historian has more than 1,000 publications on records and research to his credit. He will kick off the Expo at 2 p.m. Friday in the Gwinnett Center Ballroom.

     “We’re so lucky to have such an experienced historian address us at this Expo,” Family History ExposFounder and President Holly T. Hansen said. “We’ve got a spectacular lineup at this event and I couldn’t be happier.”

     On Friday, 6:30 p.m., Davis will lecture on, “The Secrets to Research in Alabama.” At 7:50 p.m. he will present a course titled, “Crossing the Great Divide: Little Known Federal Sources for Place of Birth before 1850.”

     Davis will return on Saturday to teach Expo participants about “Research in the War of 1812 in the Deep South.” At 11:20 a.m. he will discuss “The Thirteenth Colony: Exploring the Colonial Georgia Records.”

     Featured speaker Paul Adjei, CEO at Worldbiz Business, lives in Kumasi-Ghana. He collects and preserves oral genealogical data and is currently preserving the history of one of the most powerful tribes in West Africa called the Akan. He manages 20 field staff members performing research on this tribe. Adjei will address the topic of African roots at 6:30 p.m. Friday for all levels of family historians. The course description of “Africa the Root of Our Ancestors” notes, “As you begin your journey back to the root of your ancestors you will find oral history is one of the key resources on both sides of the ocean.”

     On Saturday at 10 a.m. Adjei will offer a lecture titled “Echoes from Africa.” This course will help participants discover the kinds of roots available to assist researchers of African Roots.

     At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday Adjei will team up with Bernard E. Gracy, Jr. for a panel discussion titled, “Unlock Your Ancestry with DNA and Oral History.” The discussion will focus on DNA research and oral history highlighting new strategies to discovering ancestral roots.

     Gracy is the external chief technology officer and vice president of business development at Pitney Bowes. He has a master’s degree in computer science and a master’s in e-commerce. In addition to his work as a Fortune 500 executive, he is an accomplished genealogist.

     Expo participants will also be treated to lectures from a wide variety of other professional genealogists and family historians including (but certainly not limited to) the following:

“Where Do I Start?” by Billy Dubois Edgington for beginning family historians
“Georgia Land, Maps and Technology,” by Jennifer Dondero
“Reading Old Style Handwriting,” by Sharon D. Monson
“German Church and Civil Records,” by Fritz Juengling, Ph.D.
 “Using the Neighbors to Find Your Ancestors,” by Monica L. Hopkins

     Hansen will share her personal research magic during a closing keynote address in the ballroom on Saturday at 3:50 p.m. She will also draw for door prizes offered by sponsors and supporters of the event.

     “At a time when the Georgia Governor has decided to close state archives to the public, it is more important than ever before that we come together in numbers and talk about the importance of the preservation of records and public access to them,” Hansen said.

     The cost to attend this two-day event is just $89 with pre-registration and $110 at the door. Pay only $60 for one day. Onsite registration will begin and the exhibit hall will open at 1 p.m. on Friday. The event will close at 9 p.m. Exhibits and registration will re-open at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The exhibit hall will close at 4 p.m. Prizes donated by exhibitors will be given away both days and Grand Prizes donated by sponsors will be given away at the closing ceremony. This event is sponsored by Family History Expos and supported by FamilySearch.

     Register now at www.FamilyHistoryExpos.com or call 801-829-3295 for telephone registration.


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