02 September 2015

Adding Ancestors to the Database

     I joined the Daughters of the American Revolution for the genealogy - it is a lineage society, after all.  In joining, I utilized their Ancestor Database to find Revolutionary War Patriots to join through.  I also pursued their Descendants Database, which is made up of the other generations of ancestors that have been documented to reach the Patriots.

     Unfortunately, I have very few ancestors in this database; for the most part, no one has joined under my lines in a way that connects to me any closer than the grandchild of the Patriot.  Since the Patriots are mostly between 7th to 9th Great-Grandparents, that's not a close relationship.  It is helpful to find closer relatives of course, because it could help me break down brick walls.  Just think, if I had a brick wall line at 3rd Great-Grandparents and they were in the database... brick wall busted!  For the most part, the DAR database is well documented (and if it's not, there's usually a notation).

     Ultimately, the Ancestor Database and the Descendants Database (which are connected), are one giant family tree, with options to order the documentation used to prove the lineage (see my previous post).

     One of the benefits of joining the DAR and having my application approved is that my ancestors are now in the database!  It takes a while, as each generation has to be indexed, but there're there.  My application resulted in five generations being added to the database, starting with my Great-Grandparents, Bennie Craft and Sally Ruth Evans.  I would be so thrilled if one day these generations helped someone break down a brick wall or join the DAR.

     Go explore the databases on the DAR website - and check back often.  One day a new member's application might help break down your brick wall.

02 June 2015

New Bible Record Database

     The Daughters of the American Revolution just published a new database online, filled with over 40,000 Bible Records.  You can read the DAR's announcement here, and start searching the database here.  This collection was created by the scanning and indexing of books created by DAR members over the years, many of which recorded Bible records.  As this collection of books has been indexed, the Bible records where tagged for this special database.

     The search function for this database is very simple.  Type in a search term, ideally a name, then choose your search type: normal, exact phrase and begins with.  Wildcard functions do not appear to work with this database.

     The results are displayed in a list, as you can see in this image:

    There's a lot going on here: the main surname featured in the Bible; the Source, which is something like a dewy decimal code for the database system and which identifies the state that the book was created in; the page number that the Bible is on in the book; the Bible Description identifies the main couple that the Bible belonged to; the Book Title expands on the Source field and gives a bit more information on the source of the Bible.

     If it's not immediately obvious if this is the person or couple that you're looking for, click on the page number.  This will show you a list of other names that appear on the page.  Make sure to see if there's a "Next [#]" button at the bottom of the page for more results.

     Once you've found a Bible record that you'd like to view (and you're not at the DAR library in DC), you'll need to send a Photocopy Service request, which is $15 for non-DAR members.   You'll need all of the information from the search results screen to fill out the G.R.C. request section on the form.  Based on past experience, the turn around time for these requests is very quick.

     Happy hunting!

25 May 2015

Remembering My Fallen Ancestors

     My family has been lucky not to experience the loss of a soldier, sailor or marine since the days of the Civil War, though many have since fought for our country.  Since Memorial Day evolved from the Civil War, it seems fitting to remember those ancestors today.

     Private Wiley Powell was 42 years old when he enlisted in the 38th GA Infantry Regiment as a substitute.  I have to assume that either his family needed the money, or he supported the war effort and saw a financial opportunity.  Wiley fought at 2nd Manassas, Chancelorsville, Winchester, and Gettysburg.  From his service record, it seems that Wiley was often ill (chronic rheumatism, tuberculosis) and, on 14 January 1864, he succumbed to his illnesses at Hospital No 3 in Lynchburg, Virginia.   He is buried in Lynchburg at the Old City Cemetery.

     Franklin E Leaphart was 25 years old when he enlisted in 1861.  As a young father with two children, he must have been a supporter of the war.  He fought at Sharpsburg, Chancelorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg.  He was promoted to 2nd Corporal in June of 1863 and later promoted 1st Corporal and then to Sergeant.  He was shot at the 3rd Battle of Winchester and was a prisoner at the US Depot Field Hospital in Winchester, Virginia.  He died of Dysentery there on 12 October 1864.  His burial location is unknown.

     Many other ancestors have fought in our country's wars, but have been lucky to survive.  Today we give thanks to those men and women, though it feels that no number of "thanks" will ever be enough.

22 May 2015

Mom's Membership, Complete

     Mom's application for DAR membership was received in DC on April 5th.  Today, May 22nd, her application was verified - much to everyone's relief.  As opposed to my application, which went through my dad's line, hers was pretty difficult.  All of her family lines are complicated, many of them being "red-lined" in the DAR database (meaning there's a problem with the prior applications).  I thought that the line we chose, which traced back to Samuel Armstrong of South Carolina, and before that, Ireland, would be the simplest one.... Yeah, not so much.  And it the trouble wasn't even about the Revolutionary War Patriot!

     First of all, with the DAR, you really have to prove every fact that you put on your pedigree chart. If you "know" that someone's name was John James Doe, you need to prove it.  If you records only ever give the middle initial of 'J,' well, that's what you'll have to put on the form.  So the fact that mom's grandmother, Auline, was called Arlene by her 2nd husband, complete with a Death Certificate and Headstone that read Arlene, created issues.  In order to have her name properly recorded on Mom's application and in the DAR database, I transcribed an interview I'd previously recorded with my great-aunt where she discussed her mom's name.  We then had my mom, who conducted the interview, get the the transcription notarized.

     Moving back through her tree, we had a few places where the documents that I had needed to be reviewed and evaluated to see if they were good enough.  I discovered a few places where I didn't have the documents that I thought I had, though I had others that served as proof.  For example, I don't have the death certificate of my Great-Great Grandmother, Nina Sprouse Albea.  I do have her obit and social security application, but was surprised to not have her DC.

     Possibly the most uncertain aspect of Mom's application was the son of the Patriot.  Previously, all DAR applicants had gone through Samuel's son, William, who also served and had a pension.  We were going through Samuel's son, John.  John is listed in Samuel's will as John Armstrong. However, in all other documents he is listed as John H Armstrong.  Since there was a name variation, our registrar felt that we would need to show that John and John H were the same person.  She wrote an analysis, evaluating all John Armstrongs in the area and detailed a theory on the addition of the middle initial after our John became guardian to a younger John Armstrong.

     In another couple weeks, Mom will have her membership number and her lineage will be added to the database.  She's very happy to be a full member and to take part in this fantastic service organization.

11 May 2015

The Lottery Winners

     I have some Georgia ancestors who, for some reason, up and moved late in life.  Or who had random land half-way across the state in their estate records. Why on earth would they move like that or have than random land?  Because they won the lottery.

     In the early 1800s, Georgia was expanding.  In 1802 the western boundary of the state was established, though much of it was land belong to the Cherokee and Creek Native Americans.  As we all know, this land was taken piece by piece.  Once it was taken, the state government wanted to fill it with white settlers.... or cannon fodder.  Depends how you want to look at it, I guess. And of course, there were a ton of young families looking for land to building their lives on.

     The easiest way to settle Americans in the newly acquired land was to simply give it away.  Georgia used a lottery system and in 1805, 1907, 1820, 1821, 1827, 1832 (twice) and 1833, citizens received land.  You could purchase a ticket in the lottery if you met certain criteria, which changed each time.

    Searching for your ancestors in the lottery is a great way to find out if they fought in a war, were a widow, an orphan, or of a certain age.  Also, if you have an ancestor who lived in Georgia and simply disappeared around this period, it might be that they won some land and moved.  If you suspect that your John Smith from Elbert County is the John Smith who is suddenly living in Gwinnett County in the 1830 census, that might be because he won land there during the 1820 lottery.  Lottery records can help confirm your theory.

     Researching these records can be a bit confusing.  There were a lot of lotteries and a ton of records created through the process.  I highly recommend the book, "Georgia Land Lottery Research" by Paul  K Graham, to help figure things out.  It's on the shelf at the Georgia Archives, next to the books that index the winners.  The book has information on requirements for each lottery, maps of the land given away and, best of all, tells you the exact drawer and box of the microfilm you need.  And for each person you want to look up, you'll need to pull a series of four different films.  See why you need the book?

     One last hint, which I picked up from a fellow researcher while a friend and I were trying to figure out the lotteries: some books just list the winners.  If you can find it, look for indexes of eligible drawers, not just fortunate winners.  Even if you ancestor didn't win, you'll find out a bit about then simply knowing that they were eligible.

29 April 2015

The War of 1812 at the Georgia Archives

     Last weekend I attended a symposium on the War of 1812 hosted at the Georgia Archives, along with some of my fellow DAR ladies.  First off, a shout out to the Friends of the Georgia Archives for the yummy snacks and all that they do for the Archives.  Also, thanks as well to all of the wonderful speakers.  I didn't realize that I really didn't know anything about the War of 1812, but now I have a good understanding of the events, the causes and the longterm repercussions of the war.

     One of the main reason I went was to find out how I could find out more about my ancestors and their participation in the war.  The Archives staff gave an overview of the resources that they hold that would be of interest to genealogists.

     They started off by talking about the history of the collection and how much of the provenance of the holdings are lost.  Back in the early days, the original organization of collections was not important.  If a researcher requested a certain record, the archivist pulled it and the record was never returned to its original location.  Many of these loose records have been reorganized into a collect called File II.  These documents are organized by names, subjects and counties.  They consist of both primary and secondary records.  Those files organized by name are searchable online.

     Other records include:

     And they're not part of the Georgia Archives, but don't forget about the free War of 1812 Pensions that are available online at Fold3.com.  They've gotten partially through the 'M's so far.  

13 April 2015

Skipping Page Two

     Thanks Lewis, for living to an elderly age.  Not that you didn't accomplish a whole lot in your life, but I appreciate that you lived long enough to be enumerated on the 1840 census.  You provided me with an ancestor that utilized the "Revolutionary War Pension" and exact "age" column.   Of course, if I'd skipped page two, I never would have seen that little fact anyway.

     There's so much information that can be found on the 2nd page of many documents.  Unfortunately it's often not clear that there is a page two.

     You do your search and come up with a document.  You get your information, download a copy, attach it to your tree, etc, and move on.  But in reality, there was a gold mine of information on the second page that you missed.  Such as the fact that Lewis Stowers wasn't just age "70 and under 80;" he was 76.  And by the way, he has a Revolutionary War Pension that you need to go looking for.

     Here's a short list of documents that you should always flip to the next page on - and sometimes keep flipping.

  • 1840 & 1830 Federal Census Records
  • Census Non-Population Schedules
  • Military Service Records
  • Military Pension Records
  • WWII Draft Cards
  • Veterans Headstone Applications
  • Ship Passenger Records
  • Naturalization Records
  • Estates & Deeds
     In general, it's always a good idea to check the page before and after the record that you've found. Even if the information doesn't pertain to your ancestor, you might find family, acquaintances or neighbors (FAN) that can help you.

     It can also help to learn more about the record collection that you're looking at.  Both Ancestry and FamilySearch will have a link to "more about this collection."  This will sometimes include a list of the enumerated information or questions asked, or even a blank form that is more legible than the actual document.  If you know what information should be there, you'll know to keep looking if you don't see it right away.

     So remember to check the 2nd page and just maybe you'll learn someone's exact age from the 1840 census too.

07 April 2015

Technology in the Library

     A few weeks back I visited the Washington Memorial Branch of the Macon County, Georgia, Library for the first time.  They have a large genealogy room there and I'd heard that it held a lot of Revolutionary War resources.

     As I was browsing books I did what I often do now: take photos of pertinent information using my cellphone.  As I sat in the isle (I didn't see the point in hauling a shelf and a half of books about Edgfield Co., SC to a table), a voice behind me asked, "You're not taking photos of the books, are you?"  I found out that the library does not allow patrons to photograph book pages.  Instead, you must make a photocopy (20¢).  I complied, but I was flabbergasted.

     The only reason I can see for this policy is to make money.  And yes, I understand that these libraries are all likely underfunded and need all the money they can make to provide services.  And the photocopy machine costs money to operate.  But to force patrons to use the copy machine if they want a copy of the book pages?  I'm sorry, but it feels greedy to me.  I hate to say that, because it's judgmental.  I don't honestly know the library's reasoning for the policy but, regardless of what the reasoning might be, I don't like it.

     Aside from the money aspect, I have to wonder what their thoughts are considering the technological aspects of their policy.  Every day more an more people, regardless of age, use smartphones.  Genealogists are buying portable scanners and tablets to make research easier when away from home.  Heck, there are cameras in eyeglasses!  The use of digital technology in libraries, archives and courthouses is on the rise. I'm not sure how long this library thinks to enforce this policy, but I just can't see it lasting long.  Technology is growing and changing so fast that there's no telling what it will look like in five years.  I'm betting this policy won't last that long though.

02 April 2015

Find One Near You

     I've been lucky with my research, in that my ancestors stayed put and that I live within a few hours drive of most of their homes.  That means that, without a tremendous amount of effort, I can access their records.  Other folks aren't nearly as lucky.  I've been working on the genealogies of a few other folks lately who live half a continent away from their ancestors.  Every day more and more records come online, but it's not nearly everything.  But there are a few ways that you can actually bring those records to you, rather than having to go to them.

     I'm surprised that I run into researchers quite often who don't know about some of these resources, so I thought I'd share them here.

WorldCat and Interlibrary Loan

     WorldCat.org "is the world's largest network of library content and services." It's a way for you to search a ridiculous number of libraries to find the book (and more) that you are looking for.

    Put in your zip code, and it will tell you the closest library to you that houses the book.  If there isn't a library near you that has the book, contact your local library and see if they can order the book through Interlibrary Loan.  Whether or not you can get the book will depend upon the policies of the two libraries, so you might try and look over the website of the library that houses the book to see their policies.  You might also find that the library will do a research request for you.

     You can search WorldCat in a variety of ways, from title and author, to subject and keyword.  Make sure you do a thorough search and, when you find something you like, use the links within that listing (author, subject), to easily find other books.

FamilySearch.org Catalogue

     Although FamilySearch has a lot of records online, but so much more in their library in Salt Lake City.  You can search their catalogue to see what microfilm they have in their vault - which you can have shipped to a Mormon Church near you to view on their microfilm machines.  You do have to pay $7.50 for each film you borrow.

    Search for items of interest in a variety of ways, including location to subject, for best results.  When you find a microfilm you'd like to borrow, click on the Film/DGS link in the blue box title "Film Notes."  From there, it's a very simple process to complete your order.  I haven't requested any microfilm in a while, but the few times I did it I found the local church volunteers very friendly.  They had a genealogy room with a couple of computers and microfilm readers.  The hours are sporadic, but not during church hours.  At my location, there was a backdoor with a doorbell and clear signage for the many non-church members who visit.

     If you haven't used these resources, please check them out.  It could save you a trip across county - although I know you really want to go anyway.

23 March 2015

Public Vs Private

     The other day I was checking my Ancestry.com hints, viewing only photos.  I was both surprised and not surprised to see almost a dozen photos suggested as hints for one of my GG-Grandfather,.  I was surprised because they were photos from my own collection, yet not surprised because this happens often.  It is frustrating because these photos are attached to my family tree and, instead of using the ancestry feature that allows users to attach photos in a way that is really a link to the original, this person downloaded the photos and re-uploaded them to their tree.

     As I said, this happens fairly often.  In some cases, it's a situation like this one, where it seems that they got the photos directly from
Ancestry.  Other times they got them from another site that I'd shared them to.  And the issue is not that they uploaded the photos, the real issue is that they aren't giving credit.

     In the case of the photos found on Ancestry, the other user has, purposefully or not, subverted a system designed to maintain provenance.   In the case of photos from other sites, the user has declined to cite the source.  Either way, it's the wrong thing to do.

     I vented a bit on Facebook and the comments indicated that many others have become fed-up with this sort of thing and now keep only private family trees.  I fully understand that they have their reasons for keeping private trees and respect their right to have them.

     At the same time, I can't stand private trees.  I view genealogy as a collaborative effort.  I make some discoveries, which connect me to another researcher.  Their family tree gives me information that allows me to make more discoveries.  All of this information is then available for others to build off of.  More and more people add to the data and, if everyone is making their discoveries available online, we all benefit.  This is how I view online family trees.  Why would I make mine private?

     There are a number of ways to share family trees online, from private trees and public trees on many websites, to truly collaborate trees at sites like WikiTree.com.  I would never want someone to do something that they are not comfortable with, but would encourage people to be open to sharing and working with other genealogists.  If we work together we can accomplish more than we can on our own.

15 March 2015

I Could Be a Rosebud

There’s something true about
Red, white, and blue about
Rosie the Riveter

     I had the pleasure to see a presentation on Rosie the Riveter by Carol Cain, during today's DAR meeting.  Ms Cain was extremely entertaining and inspirational, while educating us about "Rosies" during World War II.

    When Ms Cain was first asked, as a teacher, to give this presentation, she didn't know anything about Rosie and her role during the War.  Since then, she has met many real life Rosies and helped inspire the creation of the American Rosie the Riveter Association.  This is a society that I had never before heard of, but which is much like the DAR.  One big difference: the original women that the society honors are alive today and can join along with their descendants.

     Ms Cain's presentation reminded me of a few family members.  First, my Great-Aunt Ollie, who was herself a Rosie.  I only know of her work thanks to her certificate of graduation from the San Diego Vocational School, where she completed a course in Aircraft Construction and Assembly, as well as a reference card that states that she worked on commercial and Air Force aircraft for Convair. Ollie didn't have any surviving children, so I am happy to have these documents to remember her service.

     Otherwise, I know that my maternal Great-Grandparents and their children grew Victory Gardens.  For my Great-Aunt Ree, this service would allow her to join the society as as "Volunteer Rosie" and allow me to join as a "Rosebud."

     Lifetime membership is only $10 for Rosies and $20 for Rosebuds, which seems a small price.  The money helps the association to "recognize and preserve the history and legacy of working women, including volunteer women, during World War II."  I appreciate their mission and will be looking into membership.

12 March 2015

Supporting Documents - A DAR Resource

     A little while back the DAR introduced a new service, the ability to purchase supporting documents online for $20.  These are the documents that are submitted along with membership applications that prove the lineage.  In general, there's no way to preview these documents to see what you're going to get (vital records, family bibles, published histories, etc) before you buy, but these records could be a way to quickly find many records for one of your ancestors.

     I'll give an example of how it all works.

     Take my 6th Great Grandfather, Kindred Braswell, for example.  On his page in the Ancestor Search results, I see that eight members have joined the DAR through him, four of those through his daughter Margaret (my line).  When I click on the green "Purchase" button next to each of those members, I can see that two of them have supplemental documents that I can purchase.  The older application has 21 documents while the more recent application has only two.  This makes sense, as new applications can simply cite older applications as proof.   For the members' applications with no supporting documents available to purchase, I'm not sure if that is because they are not available, or because there are no records submitted.

     The application with 21 records follows my family line for the oldest three generations (click on the pink 'D' button back on the search results page), so I decided to purchase the records.  After a few clicks I was given access to a link to download a PDF with records that were used to prove the Braswell lineage.

     In this case, the records consisted of research notes from courthouse records requests, census records, estate records, and bible records.  In the end, this was an ancestor that I had thoroughly researched, so I already had these records.  But if it had been a new ancestor for me, this would have been a gold mine.

     It is important to note that documents created in the past 75 years are not available to protect privacy.  Also, this same service is available through the mail for $10 (for 10 pages plus .30¢ for each additional page) as a Document Request.  Finally, if you know a member of the DAR with Image Access, they can view all the supporting documents available by ancestor, instead of by member.

05 March 2015

Safety Vault Microfilm

     I recently went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Georgia Archive and learned a lot about how they functions.  One particular aspect that I learned about is Safety Vault Microfilm.  This service allows counties to have their records microfilmed (I'm not sure if it's through the archive or a third party) and stored at the Georgia Archive.  These microfilm rolls are not available to the public, but are stored in one of the many areas of storage that are not considered part of the Archives records.  The Archive employees I spoke to referred me to the individual county's Superior and Probate Court Clerks for details on which records have been microfilmed.  I also don't know when this service started.

     Going forward, if you are researching at a county courthouse in Georgia that has experienced recent records loss (Hancock County, for example), make sure to ask the court clerks if they utilize the Safety Vault Microfilm service and how you might be able to access those records.  For other states, ask if they have a similar service.

16 February 2015

GRC Followup

     Last week I wrote about the Daughters of the American Revolution resource, the Genealogical Record Index (GRC).  Last Sunday I sent off a fax request for a record I'd found in the index that listed my 6th Great Grandparents, Peter Ouzts and Elizabeth Harling.  I had hoped that it would be a bible record that would help take one of my lines back another generation.

     I received the record only four days later.  Talk about a quick response!  Unfortunately, it wasn't what I had hoped for.  It turns out it was a family bible, but it was for one of Peter and Elizabeth's children.  The only reason that it even had that couples name was because, for some reason beyond comprehension, the folks who transcribed the bible decided to supplement the information with more "facts" from a published family history.  Based on the bible as published, this transcription is actually useless to anyone, since you can't tell where the bible ends and the extra information begins.   Sigh.  I guess they were trying to be helpful?

     Regardless of how this request turned out, I still feel like the GRC is a great resource.  It's an index, so it's something of a game of chance.  There are some Daughters who, through their positions in the society or through their hard work, have earned access to view digital copies of these records.  Going forward, I might reach out to them before ordering a record.

10 February 2015

My Official Invitation - 124th NSDAR Continental Congress Page

     One aspect of my membership in the DAR is the fact that, as a woman under the age of 36, I am a Junior.  This doesn't mean that I'm a second class member, but is a way to give special significance to younger members.  As you might imagine, the average age of DAR members is in the 50s and 60s.  However, the Society greatly appreciates their younger members and the skills and passion they bring with them.

     Part of being a Junior is the opportunity to be a Page at conferences, both State and National.  I haven't taken part in this aspect of the DAR yet, but those who I've spoken to who have paged really seem to have enjoyed the experience.  It seems to encompass many different tasks, from hostess and hospitality, to errand runner and guide, to ceremonial participant.  And you do it all while dressed in white from head to toe.

     Back in the fall I had planned to page at my state conference, but my work schedule would not permit it.  I decided to go for broke and attend the national conference, the 124th Continental Congress, in Washington, DC.  I've never been to DC before and this seems like a great opportunity.  I'm joining other chapter members and other Daughters from Georgia on a state bus trip.  I have to admit that it's not an inexpensive trip, but I think it will be more than worth it.

     Today I received my official invitation to page at Continental Congress.  I need to indicate which days and times that I am available to page, as well as some skills that might be of use as a page during the conference.  I'm going to wait to fill out the form for a few days and get advice from other chapter members during our next meeting.

     After sending in my RSVP, I will receive more information about my assignments.  Until then, I'll be pursuing the calendar of events, exploring maps of DC (our bus is taking us in early so we'll be doing some sight seeing), and shopping for all things white.  I do so love to over-plan.

03 February 2015

Are You Using This Resource? The GRC

     I mentioned last week that joining the DAR had opened me up to new genealogical resources.  One of those is the Genealogical Records Committee Index (GRC).  This is very similar to a service offered through FindMyPast.com's index to the PERSI database at the Allen County Public Library, that I wrote about last year.

     The GRC is composed of records collected and created by DAR chapters worldwide, who transcribed and indexed unique records in their local areas, from census and tax records, to church and cemetery records, to obituaries and family bibles.  There are over 17,000 records in the collection!  These records have been, and are still being, reviewed, and the names included have been added to a searchable index.

     The search is simple, but the results can be vague.  Here's how it works:

1. Fill out the search form with the surname your looking for, as well as a first name and a state.  In this example, I searched for my 6th Great-Grandfather, Peter Ouzts.

2. Here, you can see a number of results.  You can see the name I searched for with the book code to the right and the page number in blue.  Below that is the title of the book, which is the only piece of information that tells you the subject of the book or record.  Review the matches and, when you see something of interest, click on the blue number, which is the page the name appears on.  I clicked on a series of Bible records, in which the name Peter Ouzts appears on page 100.

3.  On the next page, we can see the other names that appear on the page along with Peter.  Only a few names down I see Elizabeth Harling.  It's Peter's wife!  This book looks like it contain the family bible of my Harling ancestors.  Could the John and Kiziah listed above Elizabeth be her parents?

     Unfortunately, the information shown above is the only information I have on this record.  In this case, it's more than enough encouragement to send off and request a copy of this record.  I can do that using the DAR Photocopy Request Form (PDF) and for a fee of $10 for members ($15 for non-members).  For that fee, I will receive 10 pages, including the cover page.  

     Searching the GRC database, I found a number of requests that would be worth requesting.  Not all records are as clear as this one, with regards to the subject of the record.  Based on the title of the book, I know that the above record should be a Bible record.  Other titles are often titled as "Misc Records."  I would be taking a chance ordering these records, but they could turn out to be a gold mine. 

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.


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