28 January 2014

My Brick Wall Ancestor

I love working on genealogy. I like learning about my family members, the places that they have lived and the reasons they move from place to place. I love to find the happy stories and find courage in the sad. I have felt both pride and sorrow for people I have never met. I am also thrilled when I find an immigrant ancestor and a link to another country or homeland.

I also like fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. Finding the census record with the name of a mother-in-law that leads to a marriage certificate. Genealogists know the thrill of finding a record that leads to another and another. I even enjoy the feeling of finding a record that validates an entry in an pedigree without sources.

I can't say that I enjoy the brick walls, the lines that end without any clues. I realize that some lines end because of how far back the family goes. The time or locality make it difficult to find more information. From what I have read many brick walls are because a source or fact is wrong or misinterpreted. I think my brick wall is a combination of these reasons.

The consensus from most sources is that to break a brick wall you should start with what you know about the closest relative to the brick wall. In this case that is Samuel Thomas Trotter. I do not have a birth record for Samuel but I do have a Death Certificate. Here is where the brick wall starts.

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This document is the only record I can find with that name of Samuel's father James Trotter. Death Certificates are primary sources for the death information for the individual. However, the information included on the death certificate that does not have to do with the death is not as reliable. This non-death information, although at times accurate, is second hand. The credibility of this information is dependent on the person who gives it, in this case the death informant.

From Samuel's death certificate is the following information:

  • Birth date - 15 Feb 1860
  • Birthplace - Greensbrough, Louisiana
  • Father - James Trotter; birth place not know
  • Mother - Ruth Glasscock; birth place Louisiana
As I have done subsequent research I found that:
  • I cannot verify this birth date - The only two sources I can find for that agree with this date are his obituary and his grave. All three of these sources are secondary.
  • The birthplace does not exist - There is evidence that the family is from Greensburg, St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. I have an 1850 Census from Greensburg with a Ruth Trotter and son Saml.
  • I cannot find any record of James. It is reasonable to assume that Ruth had a relationship with a Trotter. I cannot find any record with the name James. The closest I can find is from Samuel's brother William, whose middle name is Jasper.
  • I cannot find a Ruth Glasscock - However, There are several sources for Ruth Trotter including three census records, two land records, and two interesting new articles about her getting stabbed by a Hazel Woods.
From the information I have found, I cannot find one Primary source to verify any of this information. The information I can verify in family records is based on the name Ruth Trotter. I am not sure if Ruth Trotter is a fit or if I am trying to make the puzzle piece fit in the wrong puzzle.

I am open to suggestions or questions. I have spend a lot of time working on this brick wall.

25 January 2014

The lessons learned when beginning genealogy

When I was in my early 20's and newly married I took a family history class at my church. The veteran teacher of the class told me about a free genealogy software that people are using to track their genealogy. He personally had not used it but someone younger like me should "take to it".

This software has been discontinued
I download the software and went through the motions of copying any genealogy information I had into it. I had built a rough tree of my direct ancestors. The other weeks in the class were focused on interviewing family members for information, how to fill out pedigree charts and family group sheets by hand, and trying to gather pictures to add to my pedigree chart. As an LDS class we also talked about preparing the names to take to the temple.

Looking back, I learned about fundamental tools used in genealogy. I learned the basic framework of my family tree, and I spoke to family members about genealogy and learned who had information. I think the biggest thing I got from the class was a desire to do more.

I soon registered for a class at the Ogden Family History Center. They also encouraged me to use PAF, but the teacher recommended that I add my child and my wife's family to my tree. So I proceeded to find and copy family pedigrees into PAF. They also encouraged mt to try and gather photographs of the people in my pedigrees and family group sheets.

Soon after I started taking these classes I was asked to serve as a Cubmaster in my local Pack and my attention and resources were soon diverted to Scouting.

About ten years later, I took another family history class at my church. I had worked my way through scouting from Cubmaster to Scoutmaster and I had found myself in a position where I wasn't working with the boys on a weekly basis. I had a desire to spend my time with genealogy again. This class was also taught by a veteran couple, named the Gabberts, but they used software to track their genealogy. The first lesson they taught was the importance of using software. They talked about PAF but suggested that I download a free trial from another vendor and try to use that. PAF was good but the other others offered more features.

The Gabbert's like to use Legacy and they showed the software and how they used it. They also said I could create a GEDCOM file and import the information I have from PAF to Legacy. I started with the free version of Legacy 7. After the import I immediately saw issues with my file. I had holes, loops, and duplicates. I hadn't recorded full families, place names or sources. What I had was a skeleton framework. A work in progress. The Gabbert's suggested that I keep the information from PAF in one Legacy file but that I start a new file and that I start with my oldest son as the first person.

As I started adding names to the new file and I could add sources and pictures. By no means is my file perfect but over the years I have gathered roughly 8500 individuals in over 2780 families using 717 sources.

23 January 2014

FamilySearch Family Tree Watch List

When I attended the Ogden Family History Conference last September the Keynote speaker was Ron Tanner. Ron is product manager for the Family History Department of the LDS Church. His bio from the conference says that, "his primary responsibility is to lead a team doing research and design of Family Tree and companion products."

Ron described functionality of Family Tree as well as some of the products that work with Family Tree. One  functionality that he highlighted was the watch list.

As you navigate the tree you can click on the name of any person and a small details box pops up for that person. Details include an image of the person (if one is loaded), full name, ID number, birth and death information, as-well-as the number of sources, photos, discussions, or stories that have been attached to the person. For members of the LDS church it also shows temple information. The cursor is pointed to the Watch/Unwatch feature.

The same information appears on the persons details page. Each Friday I receive an email from FamilySearch detailing any of the changes that have been made to each of the people on my watch list. You can also view your watch list by clicking the Lists link in the navigation bar on Family Tree.

My watch list shows 240 people that I am watching. This is also the number of detail pages I have added sources, pictures and other information. I could go through and check all of my people in the tree but this is a quick and easy way to check my progress

Clicking the 'Changed To People I'm Watching" link shows that there a 826 changes to the details pages of the people I am watching.

Most of the changes are generated by people merging or deleting duplicate information. As you can see in this image above, Stanley Roberts, who I don't know, detached a source for one of our common relatives. If you click on the person's name the link takes you to their detail page.

On the right side of the detail page is a box with the three latest changes for your person's detail page. Clicking the show all link in the box allows you to see the changes that were made to the detail page.

The information shows that on 22 January 2014, Stanly Roberts detached the source "Massachusetts, Marriages, 1695-1910" because "he found better data". I have used this list to see if someone had added new pictures, made changes to data I have verified, or merged two files.

The number 826 seems like a large number of changes but that is the total since I started my watch list. Each Friday I review only the changes for the previous week.  It has made it easy to collaborate with others and identify new sources of information.

21 January 2014

Family Tree Portrait View Helped to Lead Me To Genealogy Gold

After reading Lynne C. VanWagenen's post earlier this month in the Family Search Blog about the Family Tree Portrait Pedigree I decided to take a look for myself.

To access the tree I logged into the FamilySearch website and selected the Family Tree link. In the top left hand corner of the tree view is a drop down menu that allows you to choose Traditional, Portrait, or Fan View.

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This is the Portrait view of my closest ancestors. As you can see, my side of the tree is doing well. I had to work pretty hard to get the photos for two of my relatives but I will save that story for another post.

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My wife's portrait tree was looking a little sparse. I logged in and added a few of the pictures that I had and was surprised to find that I did not have a picture of her great-grandfather Furniss. I asked her if she remembers any pictures of him. Off the top of her head she couldn't remember any pictures but she did remember that he had died when her grandfather was 12 years old.

It has become a custom that we eat Sunday dinner at my mother-in-law Vicki's house. I took the first opportunity I had to mention to Vicki that I did not have a picture of her grandpa Furniss. She said that she had a few but he had died when her dad was very young (my wife was right).

The timing had to be right, or the planets aligned, or the disturbance in the force was enough to make unlikely things happen. Whatever the case, Vicki received a call from her sister Diane that evening. They were planning on getting together to go through some family pictures in preparation for the Furniss Family reunion this summer. Vicki mentioned to Diane that I didn't have a picture and Diane says that she knows where one is and will bring it when they meet.

Flash forward a week, it is Sunday dinner and Vicki says that she and Diane found two photographs of their grandfather, William Robert Furniss, that I can scan. After dinner, and dishes, and football, and a surprise visit by the LDS missionaries; Vicki brings up from the basement a metal box that has a handle on top and a built-in lock. She fidgets with the lock and opens up a genealogists dream collection of records. I thought I could hear angles singing in the background as the top of the box opened.

The funny thing is she set aside the birth certificates, death certificates, marriage records, and baptism records looking for the pictures. She stopped to show the form her mother filled out to have her birth certificate amended. Then she found the first picture.

Four Furniss Brothers (from left to right) Cliff, Frederick, William, and Earl.
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I don't have anything against the picture, it is a nice photograph and one I did not have before. In fact, I did not have a picture of two of these brothers before. However, the pile of records sitting in front of me really had my attention. In all there were 41 records (certificates, obituaries, funeral programs, etc).

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This is a birth certificate issued by the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is for William Furniss' wife Sietska. The information is based on the earliest church records found in Groningen, Netherlands.

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This copy of William and Sitska's notarized marriage license is also a neat time and money saver.

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This is the blessing certificate for William and Sitska's oldest son Frederick (my wife's grandfather). It is dated 3 March 1915. Those with LDS roots may be interested to know that along with this certificate is Fred's Baptism, Deacon, Teacher, Priest, Elder, Seventy, and High Priest certificates as-well-as his first temple recommend, two priesthood line of authorities, and two letters from Salt Lake about his clerk and executive secretary callings. Also in the box was his high school diploma, birth, marriage, and death certificates.

Three Generations: (from left to right) Robert Jr., Frederick, and William Furniss.

This is the second picture that Vicki and Diane found of their grandfather William Furniss. The little guy in the middle is their dad Fred. It all goes to show you that people don't always know what they have in there basements. I am so grateful to have experienced this genealogy treasure. I credit the Furniss family for their wonderful record keeping, Lynn VanWagenen for her post, and the wonderful tree that Family Search put together to help me identify the photograph holes in my tree.

20 January 2014

Genealogy Fun - My Matrilineal lines

I know it is Monday but I have been thinking about the post Randy Seaver made called Saturday Night Genealogy Fun about Matrilineal lines in his Genea-Musing blog.

In his post, Randy talked about the lineage we have from mother to mother instead of father to father.

Here are my results:

1) My Matrilineal line is:

Anna Catherine Leib (1739-????) had one child and 2 grandchildren.*
Anna Catherine Weigel (1759-1820) 2 children and 10 grandchildren.*
Sarah Hoblit (1786-1859) had 9 children and 8 grandchildren.*
Margaret Lucas (1822-????) had 8 children and 7 grandchildren.*
Mary Charlotte Wood (1850-1913) had 7 children and 12 grandchildren.*
Henrietta Inez Moler (1896-1966) had 3 children and 4 grandchildren.*
Wilberta Annette Merrian (1922-2001) had 4 children and 13 grandchildren.
Linda Lee Bartholomew (1949-Present) has 4 children and 10 grandchildren.

2) I did this using the Legacy 8. I counted the number of children I have recorded for each person.

3) In the Descendant tab for each person I counted the number of names I have recorded with the number 3 next to them.

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4) Not only did this list answer the question I have been thinking about for the last few days, it also made me aware of home much I have been focusing on my Paternal lines. I need to flesh out the entries for these women more and follow up with better descendent research on these families.

5)   I did this here!

The URL for this post is: http://genealogytrot.blogspot.com/2014/01/genealogy-fun-my-matrilineal-lines.html

I can see how this type of research can be very difficult to find documentation especially from before 1850. It did however show a great way for me to see where I have a  need for more research. I honestly did not know how many generations of this line I have in my database. I was surprised to see what I had and I am excited to see what other information I can find. I think I may also do the same exercise for my daughters lines.

Thanks for the tip Randy.

19 January 2014

Mistakes Can Also Bear Fruit

In my Hello World post I made reference to an ad I found on newspapers.com of my great-grandfathers store in Provo, Utah. I posted the image and link on a Facebook group page for my Trotter family. My uncle pointed out that I probably should have posted the information on the Taylor family page. As it turns out even my mistakes are blessings in disguise.

My grandpa Trotter worked at Carpenter Seed Company with my great-grandfather Taylor eventually becoming a part owner of the store. While I was growing up I always associated Carpenter Seed with my grandpa Trotter. I was pretty young when my grandfather retired and when I was 18 I moved away from Provo and Carpenter Seed became just a memory for me. I have found several articles and other information about Carpenter Seed in recent years. I received a set of work gloves and a shirt with the store logo at a family reunion. I feel Carpenter Seed is defiantly genealogy file worthy so I have always felt open to any information I can find.

In the weeks since my error my retired uncle made a visit to Carpenter Seed. Yes, it is still open and run by members of the Taylor family. Not only did he visit, he took pictures and gave descriptions. Did I mention that he is my favorite uncle?

The old '51 International would only go 50 MPH. They used it to deliver seed boxes all over the West.
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In the basement of Carpenter Seed is the last remaining company International truck. I remember seeing this truck as a child but I didn't realize that it was still at the store. My favorite uncle also included with the above picture a brief narrative of the seed business -- with pictures!

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My grandfather ordered seed packets with the Carpenter Seed Co. logo printed on them.

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The bulk seed was kept in the above bins. The grand-kids would spend a lot of time in the winter months weighing and filling the packets.

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The scales on top of the bins were used to carefully weigh the seed in 1/4 oz or 1/8 oz packets.

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The packets were sealed by this sealing machine. The packets were then put into the seed boxes (which opened up into displays). The seed boxes were delivered to all the mercantiles and general stores in the spring. In the fall, the seed boxes were all picked up and the process would start over again.

Many long days were spent on the road in the old International delivering and picking up the seed packets all over the inter-mountain West. I can't express how grateful I am to my uncle for sharing these images and for narrating a story I could never have guessed. With the limited knowledge I had of the store, the few clues I found on the internet, a slight mistake on my part, and the good grace of my favorite uncle -- I have more great information for my family history.

Now to document it all.

18 January 2014

RootsTech 2014

I have registered for this years RootsTech conference which will be held February 6­–8, 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have been reading about the conference for a few years and I decided that I wanted my registration fee to be my big Christmas present this year. I received an email from RootTech, because I am registered as a Family history consultant, so my registration fee was at a discounted rate.

For the last several years I have attended the Ogden Family History Conference at Weber State University. The conference sponsored by the Ogden Family History Center and is free to attend. I have learned a lot of useful information and I am grateful for the conference and the patience of the teachers. They have classes for many different levels of expertise from beginner to advanced. I am by no means an expert but it seems like I end up in classes where people are more concerned with learning how to use the Internet or they are not exposed to any Internet based resources. I am by no means the youngest person to attend these conferences but I am pretty sure I am on the young end. It seems like the technology learning curve is a hurdle that many of the teachers have to work around. I have had to be very careful to choose classes that will present information to me at an intermediate genealogy level and an expert computer level or I feel like the class is a review of what I already know.

RootsTech seems to present the opposite problem for me. With technology as the focus of this conference I am not sure what level of classes I should be taking. This year will be a trial of some sorts while I figure out where my skill level compares to others at this conference.

I found myself eliminating classes base on certain criteria to help me narrow down my choices. I thought I would try and explain my decision making process.

  1. I will not attend any classes for resources that I am already familiar with. I don't lessons about Family Tree, Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com, Photoshop, Dropbox, FindAGrave.com or Legacy because I use them every day.
  2. I will not attend classes for resources I have chosen not to use at this point. I am currently not interested in using Scriver, Youtube, Twitter, SmartArt, FindMyPast, MyHeritage.com, Flipboard, or Mac based products.
  3. I will not attend classes based on presenting my research. I feel like I am still in the discovery phase so I don't believe I am ready for those classes yet either.
  4. I will not attend any classes associated with DNA. I have nothing against DNA research for genealogy but I am still hunting and gathering. I will get there someday but I am not ready now.
  5. Ironically, I will not attend any classes focused on the LDS Church Member. I am not ashamed to be a member of the LDS Church, but I feel my skill level is above these classes. 
  6. I will not attend any classes focus on areas that my research has not taken me yet. I currently do not have a need to study Jewish or African research materials and Spanish speaking classes or foreign language records 
Even with this list There are so many choices that I hope I have made the right decision. Below is the schedule I have worked out. When I have attend the Ogden Family History Conference, I have switched classes based on teachers and such. I think I may use this same strategy for RootsTech. I will be a little flexible, I view this schedule as tentative.  Only one of these classes is advanced several are beginner or all access and a couple are intermediate. I don't think they fill up but the website suggested building a schedule with the app to reserve your spot.

(I am not planning on attending any of the classes on Wednesday. They are focused on developers and I am not sure they are for me.)

Thursday, Feb 6
8:30 - Keynote - Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman
10:30 - Ballroom B - Can a Complex Research Problem be Solved Solely Online? - Advanced
11:30 - LUNCH
1:00 - Ballroom E - Accessing Land Records using new technology - Beginner
2:30 - Ballroom C - Common Surnames: finding your Smiths - Intermediate
4:00 - RM 251A - Deciphering Old Handwriting Online: Introducing BYU’s Enhanced Paleography Website - Intermediate

Friday, Feb 7
8:30 - Keynote - Judy Russell and Dr. Spencer Wells
10:30 - Ballroom F - Will your Family History Have Lasting Value? - Advanced
11:30 - LUNCH
1:00 - RM 251D - How the Internet Makes Us Sloppy Genealogists and How to Thwart the Trend - Advanced
2:30 - Ballroom G - Strategic Planning for Your Genealogy - All Skill
4:00 - Hall D - Basic Online Resources for the Beginning Genealogist - Beginner

Saturday, Feb 8
8:30 - Keynote - Todd Hansen and Stephanie Nielsen
10:30 - Ballroom A - Applying Technology to Each Step of the Genealogist's Research Cycle - Beginner
11:30 - LUNCH
1:00 - Ballroom D - Your Portable, Sortable Research Log
2:30 - RM 250DE - Presenting and Preserving Family History:
4:00 - Ballroom B - Big Sites, Little Sites - All Online

I also registered for the opening social and the late night at the Family History Library. I don't know if I am going to attend them but they were free and I wanted to keep the option, especially the evening at the library.

I have several alternate classes I think I may pop into if the original class I picked doesn't work out:

Game-Changing Trends in Simplifying Research Tools for the Masses - Thursday, 2:30 PM
Doing Time­ Prison Records as Genealogy Resources - Thursday, 2:30 PM
Using Tools and Organization for Creating a Valuable Family History Blog - Thursday, 4:00 PM
Cartography for Genealogists: Digitally Mapping Time and Generations - Friday, 1:00 PM

16 January 2014

Hello World

It has been a while since I tried this blog thing. I have tried many different times to start a blog based on my hobbies and such. I had one fairly successful blog that ended in 2006. It was about random things I found on the internet. It really was a place holder so I could remember where I found them and share them with my friends.

When Facebook took off, I found myself sharing more and more information there. Pretty soon I started family history pages, soccer pages, my teenage daughter dating pages, and other random things to share the information that I have found. Over the years I learned that I wanted to share information between different pages or that I would forget where I posted them. I have also been posting things to the wrong page.

Provo Daily Herald - 20 April 1959 - Page 5
I recently posted an advertisement for my great grandfather's business on the wrong family page. Although it generated a lot of comments, I felt silly that I have made this simple mistake. I decided that I would like to try and start a blog again. The I could post all of the information I find in one place and direct my different family members to the blog for more information.

Hopefully I can build on past success and not create another abandoned blog. I follow several genealogy blogs and I hope to become more active with that blogging community. We will see how this goes.