28 September 2015

Where do you find records? 52 Questions Week 17

This week we will focus of the question:

 Where do you find records? 

We have gathered information and decided to begin looking for a specific ancestor. As a beginner we want to start with the information that we know.

I always begin my search at FamilySearch, the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world. The best part is that it is free to use either with or without a free account.

The search feature allows you to search by Name or Location. To search by name enter in information on the left side of the page. Sometimes adding or removing information from the search will give you more or less results. It is a good practice when searching to start with a small amput of information and then narrow the search.

For this search I want to learn more about my second great-grandmother Christina McKay and her family. I know that the image says third great-grandmother but my legacy database hase my oldest son as record number one so I can have all of my data in one database.

I know that She died in 1925 in Los Angeles,  I will begin with a search there. I decided to use the name search and I entered her name and death place and date.

The top five search results were for my Christina and two of these were records for her death. It is ok if the birth date is not quite right because we are focused on the death information. If this were birth records we would have to look more closely.

The Find a Grave record and the California Death Index record confirm this is my Christena. The headstone from Find-A-Grave gives me her Husband's Birth and death year. I also know burial custom is that one or both of  them must have lived in or near Pamona, Calfornia at some point in their lives because that is where the grave is located.

The 1900, 1910, and 1920 Census records confirm Christena living in California first with her husband Everett but in 1920 with her daughter. This backs up the dates from the headstone that Everett most likely died before the 1920 census.

The biggest clues from the census records is that Christena's birthplace is listed as Canada and both of her parents were born in Scotland. Other information contained here is that her birthdate is in Dec 1954 and she immigrated to the United States in 1884. Both of these dates are secondary and need to be supported with primary sources but they provide great clues as to when to look for more information. It also says they have been married for 28 years so they were married around 1872.

A quick search for a Christena McKay married in Canada between 1871 and 1873 find an Ontario, Canada Marriage record between Christina McKay and Everett Merriam. I cannot show the image of the record because of Intellectual agreements but the information from the record gives us more clues for where to look for more information. Everett's parents names are Justus and Caroline Merriam. His brothers marriage record is on the same page and his name is Rustin Merriam. They lived in Chatsworth, Canada when Everett was married at the age of 23. Christina's parents are Angus and Hannah McKay. They lived in Sydenham, Canada when Christina was married at the age of 18. They were married on September 24, 1872 in Owen Sound, Grey County, Ontario, Canada by Rev. William Tindall. Everett's brother was married the same day.

25 September 2015

New Way to Search Partner Sites From FamilySearch

I logged onto FamilySearch tonight and noticed in the search record field the logos from the partner sites.

Clicking the FamilySearch logo takes you to a familiar page with search results for the persons whose profile page you searched from. The top five results were for my person.

The Ancestry.com logo has the same functionality as the FamilySearch link. The top nine results were for my person.

The find My Past search resulted in a total of four results, all for my person.

The MyHeritage results were mixed but among the top 20 results were three family trees for my person.

This search along with the hinting feature have made FamilySearch a first stop for searching for ancestors.

20 September 2015

Original Research, Where Should you Start? 52Q W16

This week we will focus on the question

Original Research, Where Should you Start?

Now that we have gathered information, organized our records, and decided what we want to learn about it is time to plan out where to begin.

Depending on your goal, or the question you want and answer for, you may need to break up the goal into small steps. Like I talked about in last weeks post, you need to start with an individual or family  you could research to move you toward your goal. These closer relatives are usually easier to research and will give you a great foundation and more information for the path to the answer of your question.

If you use a tool like Kinpoint to visualize holes of missing information it is important not to start with the hole but with the closest relative for which you have information.

It is easy to be distracted from your main goal and follow research in a different direction. Sometimes this side research can be fruitful but it is best to stay within the same family and within your goal. Start with the easiest research goals first and progress to the harder goals.  If you come across a trail of information you can always create a to do list or another research log about what information you may find and set it aside for when you complete this goal.

Crista Cowan work for ancestry.com and she vlogs about many different genealogy and Family History topics. The above YouTube video is about To-Do Lists.

I use Legacy to keep track of my to-do lists. With the To-Do list I can separate out visits to the Family History Library so I can get copies of the indexed records I have found. I also add a to-do if I think of a place to look for more information about a specific individual. The main purpose of the to-do list is to help keep you on task with your goal. 

This helps you with a larger question of where to start, so every time you sit down to do work you have a great list of places to start. In coordination with your research log it makes your start up time shorter so you can spend more time doing actual research.

13 September 2015

What do you want to learn about your #FamilyHistory? 52 Questions W15

This week we will focus on the question -

What do you want to learn about your #FamilyHistory?

Follow-up questions that go with this question are:
Do you have a burning question about the family that you would like to know the answer?
If you had questions about your family, who would you turn to for the answer?
Do you have any information about this person in your records?
What information do you have to link you to this person or event?

Deciding on a research objective is the next set in learning about your family history. Sometimes you need to set several different objectives to reach the end goal if what you really want to learn. It is important not to pick to large of an objective. It is best to set smaller goals that will help to lead you to the bigger goal or objective.

It is important to research only one objective at a time. Objectives should be small and based on events. Start from what is known to the unknown, sometimes this means starting with a death certificate or a grave and working toward a marriage or birth certificate. It is also best to work within family groups one at a time and not large branches of your tree. Each step you make will lead to more and more information.

The minimum amount of information you should find for a person is their name, gender, approximate birth date and place, and their death date and place. Marriage information is also a great way to expand your tree and find more related documents and sources.

By no means am I an expert but I have a desire to learn and have had my own experiences of trial and error.
Henrietta Inez Moler Merrian Green (1896-1966)
For years I worked to try and chip away at the Trotter family brick wall. A task that I am still working on but need to focus on something else for a while. You can only bang your head against a wall so many times before you learn your lesson. I took a look at my fan chart and saw the blank spaces from my maternal grandmother's family.

My uncle Michael Hill had done a lot of genealogy work on the family in the 80's and had presented my mother a book of printed pedigree charts and family group records. In all of his efforts he was unable to find any information on my grandma's line. FamilySearch also did not have any information populated into my tree. I decided I would take a look at this line and see if there was any information I could find now that 30 years had past since uncle Mike had worked on the line.

When I was a child my mom told me the family tale that the Merrian family had come from Nottingham, England. They they were part of Robin Hood's merry men and lived in Sherwood Forrest.  The thought of being a descendant of these people gave me a lot of pride and many visions of grandeur.

There were few real pieces of evidence I had to go by but another more plausible story I heard about my grandmother's name gave me a place to start. My grandmother was named Wilberta Annette Merrian Bartholomew and she said that she was named after her father Wilbert. He was expecting to have a son so they settled on naming him after his father but when she was born they gave her a feminized version of his name. I was fairly certain that her father's name was Wilbert Merrian.

Because Wilberta is such an unusual name it make it pretty easy to use as a search term. I quickly found her in the 1930 U.S. Census living in Reno, Nevada. A record my uncle Mike would not have had access to. In the census I found the family of Alfred W. and Henrietta I. Merrian along with their children Wilberta, James and Ruth. This record also states that Alfred as well as his father were born in Canada. It also says he immigrated to the United States in 1892.

In the 1920 Census in Reno, Nevada I found the entry for A. W. [indexed as H. W.]  and Henrietta Merrian. Both A. W. and his father are listed as being born in Canada. I am almost positive this is my great-grandparents. A bonus from this record says he immigrated to the United States in 1898.

A 1918 World War I Draft Registration Card lists a birth date as June 7, 1879 for Alfred Wilbert Merrian. It also lists his nearest relative as Henrietta Moler Merrian, and they are living in Sacramento, California. I am sure these are my great grandparents despite the change in his name.

 Following steps like these I was able to verify the members of my family across Canada to Connecticut. A process I will outline in another post.

07 September 2015

How do you organize your #FamilyHistory? 52Q W14

This week we will focus on the question -

How do you organize your family history?

Over the last 13 weeks we have focused on gathering information for our family history research. This is the first major step when beginning your research. We should have a good foundation of what you know about your family. It is important to organize the information to keep your records safe and to help you find your information quickly.

This base of information is what the rest of your family history research will grow from. Being organized helps you to more easily collect sources and then compare and evaluate them. There are several different established methods for filing records. I cannot say that I use the best method. What I do know is that I have a system that works for me and where I can recall information and sources easily. This is key when putting your files together.

I have used the physical color-coding system developed by Mary E. V. Hill. I gave the shopping list to my wife and kids for a fathers day gift. I cannot say I have used this method to its fullest potential. However, Legacy has a feature where you can color code for families to match Mary E. V. Hill's color coding system.

I use and trust my electronic filing system the most. Although not perfect, I am able to find and add information for my families. When I began one of the bits of advice I followed was that it was more important to document your sources that to worry about how you are documenting your sources. I tried a method that made sense to me and then followed. I have found since that there are some complication to this process. The biggest of which is that it is time consuming to change your electronic filing system after you have already started. Any change will break the links to your files and must be repaired one by one.

I group my files into folders by family name. This seemed pretty straight forward until I had the same family name on two different sides of my family. This problem is solved if you keep your family files grouped together in separate folders. So if I had put all of my mother's relatives into one folder and my father's relatives into another. This system also causes issues when trying to find files afterward.

One suggestion that was made was to file information by location. I created a tree of information based on country, state, county, and city. I found that using this method for all sources put to many files together into the same folder.

I settle on using a hybrid between the two methods. I use location information for cemetery information, maps, plats and other location specific information. I keep all other records with names included by family name. I keep file folders with all of my direct relative's surnames in the top file and any different surnames that descend from my direct relatives name in sub folders. Above you see my Bartholomew family folder. The Keller, Nelson and Stewart files are all surnames of daughters who were married and whose names change. I am related to these families but not directly so the folder is not in the top or main folder.

Legacy assigns each individual a Record Identification Number or RIN. When I save a record I use the name of the main person who the record is about followed by a short description and then the RIN. The short description is not needed but I have found that after I create the record it is easier to save to me database with the description. My short descriptions include obit for an obituary, died for a death certificate, birth for a birth record, grave for a headstone or monument, etc. If the record contains two names I use the RIN of the person with whom I am more closely related.

My only exception to this rule is for census records. Because census records often contain the records for more than one family, my naming standard begins with the year of the census, then the name of the oldest relative on the page, then the RIN. If the census record covers more than one page I add a page count after the surname but before the RIN. [See example above.]

In addition to the family and location folders I also use a source folder. I have found that some sources are not family or location specific. In these cases I add the digital copy of the source to the source folder without including a specific name or RIN.