31 May 2011

Making a "Bee" to Move the Fence

In reviewing material from a Civil War pension file, I came across a deposition that partially confused me.

Ira Boyd is making testimony in October of 1918 in the pension application of Emmar Osenbaugh. He has been asked how he came to know Osenbaugh and her husband, John. He states, in part:

"I came to Iowa about 50 year ago and soon after I came here I became acquainted with John Osenbaugh. The way I got acquainted with him was in the spring of 1869 when we were moving a partition fence for a man named Nathan Dix. Dix made a "bee" to move the fence and Osenbaugh was in the bee."

Any ideas on what a "bee" is to move the fence?

30 May 2011

Back From Salt Lake

I've just returned from my annual research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake. I had a really great time and made a few minor discoveries of my own and made copies for illustrations in several upcoming issues of Casefile Clues.

We had a good group and are looking forward to our trip in 2012.

Having been buried in research and helping others for nearly a week reminded me of several genealogy lessons and I'll be blogging about my experiences over the next several blog posts.

I asked about two questions while I was there. I hate to just "dump" papers in the consultants lap as I know from personal experience that can make helping the person even more difficult.

I asked a consultant on the British Isles floor to help me with Robert Frame, cotton warper from County Cumberland, who was born in Spain about 1814 and died in Cumberland sometime in the 1860s. I had not planned to ask about him while there, but needing a change of pace I decided to.

Before I asked the question, I quickly re-located Robert in the 1841-1861 censuses and the marriage entry from the church where he married. I also re-located the 1841-1851 census entries on Rebecca Frame, who lived nearby and whom I am assuming was his mother. I also re-located some christening entries in Carlisle (where Robert lived) for Rebecca's two children. Those entries indicated a husband of John--possibly Robert's father.

Before I dumped all this on the desk for the consultant, I typed it all up. I summarized what I had on Robert and his potential parents. I tried to make it as easy to read as possible. Then I went and presented my problem to the consultant.

I explained that I was uncertain why Robert was born in Spain and that I thought perhaps his father had been in the military.

The consultant I talked with told me how to search the military records and gave me assistance in locating the military records for John Frames who fit my time "frame."

Did it make it easier for her to have somewhat "organized" information? I'm guessing so and I'm hoping so. I do know that it made it much easier for me to explain my problem to her and there was a lot less paper-shuffling in the process.

In the interest of time while at the Family History Library, I just copied the entire service files of the four John Frames who fit my time frame. I decided it was best to analyze them when I got home and could be somewhat more thorough in my analysis. There'll be time later to go back and work on them further.

28 May 2011

Ancestry.com's Search Comments, etc.

Here's my take on Ancestry.com's search:

1) I like the proximity feature. However, I do wonder what map or database they used to determine what bordered what. Do they count counties and geographic locations that are "corner to corner?" I don't like not knowing how things are done or determined.

2) I hate the pre-filled boxes that come up. Absolutely do not like them. I would like to know why on a United States database, they cannot filter out non-US locations. Also like to know why they can't filter out United States locations when I'm searching the 1851 UK census. If you're gonna make that junk come up automatically, at least have it be from the correct country.

3) Get rid of the family member option on the censuses that have it and simply put "in household" of. I like the ability to search for siblings, don't get me wrong. However, there are times when Ancestry.com thinks the head of household is the parent when even the census indicates that they are not. Set this to "lives in the same household" and be done with it. Or at least add that option.

4) Improve the navigational structure of the site. There are databases on Ancestry.com I use regularly and I get sick of the navigational structure and the card catalog is a pain. I don't make bookmarks myself because they are a pain. If there is a database I've used before on Ancestry.com, I just google it to find it.

I like most of the features of the new search. But I do tend to get a little tired of being given new features and then being told to like them because we have them. Geesh--I'm not five anymore. And sometimes I really really wonder how many in the research trenches genealogists really test these new features out. Not people who were geeks first, but people who were (and are) genealogists first.

I also don't think the new features support the documentation of the search process. Not documentation of results, but documentation of process.

I also do not like it when databases are "updated"or added to with no idea of what's been changed or added. That makes it incredibly frustrating for a database I have already searched extensively to find that it has been "improved" or added to with no idea of what records were added. I've mentioned this complaint before, but I've never gotten any feedback on that complaint. And usually when I complain about something and fail to get a response, that usually tells me something.

Don't get me wrong, I really get a lot of use out of Ancestry.com. But there are times when it is very frustrating to be given "new improvements" without adequate details or changed search techniques and being told we should "like them and get used to them."

24 May 2011

2012 Family History Library Trip

We have set the dates for our 2012 Family History Research Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City--start at 6:30 on Wednesday night and running through a departure the following Wednesday.

  • start on 23 May 2012

  • end on 30 May 2012
We'll post additional information over the next few weeks. Trip members can get help from Michael before the trip and request help with pre-trip planning, research suggestions, etc. We have 8 am. morning sessions (optional), as many consultations as necessary with Michael, assistance with scanning files, deciding what to research next, etc. If using certain records confuses you, I've helped people use various microfilmed indexes, etc.

Early bird registration (complete fee of $175) is due by 1 December. The deposit is only $50. We keep our group size small so that you don't get lost in the crowd (unless you want to).

You can make your deposit here.

13 May 2011

1900 US Census Occupations

Made this discovery on Google Books today. Not time to prattle on about it, but it is a listing of occupations as sampled from the 1900 census. It was put together by the Bureau of the Census. Neat stuff.

11 May 2011

Casefile Clues for Beginners

At the request of some readers and survey takers, we are trying out a "beginning" version of Casefile Clues, yet unnamed.

More details on the Casefile Clues blog.

Memory Medallions, etc.

Mark me down on the cynical side, but I don't think I want someone sticking one of these on my ancestor's tombstone.

1) Who decides which descendant gets to put it on?
2) Is it going to permanently mark the stone in some way?
3) Will it work in 50 years? 20 years?

Here's one site. There are others.

I'm not opposed to preserving memories and information. I'm just not certain this is the way to do it.

Punch cards? Floppy disks? Who can say this is any more permanent?

Publish your genealogy and preserve that. I'm certain others will disagree with me, but I'm just not certain this is the way to go about it.

NGS Casefile Clues Offer

You can still take advantage of an NGS offer on Casefile Clues even if you are not at the conference. Through the conference, you can subscribe for our regular rate of $17 and we'll throw in the most recent 14 issues from volume 2. Subscriptions must be done through this link to get the offer. Not valid with any other offer. Thanks!

10 May 2011

Family Search's Civil War Database Search

Family Search has a special site to search just their Civil War materials. I'm a little bit confused. This is the search screen I got when I searched for Riley Rampley. It said there were no results that matched "strongly," yet the "non-strong" match was for the exact name I put in. Just makes me a little curious as to whether or not the search is actually working right.

I'll post a follow up if I have one.

Family Search Releases Draft Registration Cards, compiled 1948-1959

Just for these two states, FamilySearch released Draft Registration Cards, compiled 1948-1959 :

Why To Transcribe Exactly

There are many reasons to transcribe a document exactly. This letter taken from the Georgia Confederate Pension application of H. W. Rucker (and his widow) makes the point. The letter is dated 19 Sept 1925. Bennett indicates Mrs. Rucker died on 29 Sept 1925. Something is wrong. Is it the date of the letter or the date of the death? Without looking at other records, the transcriber does not know. The transcription should render it as it is.

In this case, there may be other records to allow one to determine if the date of death is correct. One will not always be that lucky.

05 May 2011

Ancestry.com's Updating of Databases

I wish the Ancestry.com blog had some real information about their new or recently updated databases in it--instead of being vastly marketing material.

Their passport applications are indicated as being "updated" again, but I have no clue how. Does this mean I have to search them again for people I've already searched for in the database?

The last time it was updated there were "new" applications in there for people I had already located.

It is a little frustrating for databases to be "updated" multiple times. Don't get me wrong, I use Ancestry.com and like it, but these updates without information on "how they are updated" is frustrating--especially when it doesn't enable me to know whether to search the database or not.

Hopefully I'm wrong and there's information on the update somewhere that I have just overlooked.

04 May 2011

All Have A Leaf But The Guy I Want

I have several private trees at Ancestry.com. I largely use them to keep track of things I have already found on Ancestry.com, particularly families I am researching for Casefile Clues. These online trees are not my "real" databases--I don't use Ancestry's cloud for my personal research, largely because I'm a down to earth person.

Sometimes I do find the leaves helpful, if for no other reason than it saves time in locating certain things. Does Ancestry.com find things that are totally "out there?" Of course. Do they find things that are correct? Yes. Like any other source, one has to constantly be evaluating and judging. I don't often use the trees of others, unless I'm trying to connect with others working on the same brick wall people that I am.

I don't even always contact other submitters. In many cases, I can tell they've most likely not done any original research--seeing "errors" from my early days of research is a good indicator of this. I won't share those errors here, but I know them when I see them and I can tell that the person hasn't done any "new" work or they would have picked up on the errors themselves.

The image with this blog post makes the point I was originally going to make with this post:

"the leaves don't often help on your real brick wall problems"

The leaves on my tree as shown above appear for all the names, sans one, Benjamin Butler. The leaves are usually indicating there's a census record (which I already have, but just don't have "linked" in this tree) or to public member trees that pretty much are just copies of what I've already located myself.

Benjamin Butler, the guy I'm "really stuck on" has no leaves--no suggestions.

All the other suggestions are to things I've already found and that someone else has submitted--except for Clark Sargent whose family has been documented to early New England families.

I find that the leaves aren't always there for the people on whom I'm really stuck. Or if they are, the suggestions are really out in left field.

A part of this problem is that Ancestry.com's leaves are not all that helpful for pre-1850 era American families when someone hasn't already done (or tried to do) the work. When there's not a tree that may provide suggestions, the leaves just aren't that helpful in this era.

And so I'm back to working on Benjamin Butler, without leaves. Ancestry.com's indexes will help me, but there probably won't be any leaves and I'll have to be using records besides those on Ancestry.

At least in my experience.

02 May 2011

Free Copy of article "Brick Walls from A to Z"

I'll send a free copy of my article "Genealogy Brick Walls from A to Z" to anyone who wants it. Requests can be sent to brickwallsa2z@gmail.com. Feel to share the news about this offer.


Don't get me wrong. I get a great deal of good information from the Family History Library in Salt Lake. But their catalog was created by humans and the occasional error can creep in and users (as humans) can interpret things incorrectly.

This image is from the catalog entry from the Bethany United Church of Christ in Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois, where my grandmother was christened in 1915 and where her family had attended since the 1850s.

The notes contain an error--indicating the originals are at Eden Theological Seminar in Webster Groves, Illinois. It is actually in Webster Groves, Missouri (here's the webpage). It's a lovely campus, having been there many years ago.

The other item of concern is with the year range for the records--1805 to 1884. The records actually start in the 1850s, but death register entries do refer to individuals with an 1805 date of birth. There are no records from the church going back to 1805.

Just take a look at what you are using and keep in mind that catalogers can make mistakes or may be interpreting things in ways that the user is not.

01 May 2011

Casefile Clues Subscription Palns

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