Friday, April 15, 2016

FINALLY: Get Organized! March 13th - 19th

 1. Consider the differences between sources, information and evidence.  Are you drawing on the most original form of first-hand information? Certified Genealogists Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas W. Jones discuss these concepts in their published works and methodology presentations.

If we are able to determine the informant, we may decide if the information he provided is primary or secondary. Primary information is an eyewitness account. Secondary information is just that - second hand or hearsay.

When selecting evidence to answer a specific research question like "What is this couple's marriage date?" it's a good practice to obtain direct evidence wherever possible. Occasionally, we are forced to rely on indirect evidence, though a written proof argument should be created to explain why we have made the decision to answer our research question with less than stellar information.

  • An example of direct evidence of a couple's marriage would be a marriage return, signed by the justice of the peace or church minister who officiated at the marriage.
  • An example of indirect evidence of a couple's marriage would be an indication on a death certificate of the surviving spouse's name. Though this may be a clue, we would consider this inadequate to fulling answering the question of the date and place of the couple's marriage as it would be preferable to obtain the marriage return, the first published document that the marriage took place.

As I work through my family history and family tree, my "quest" is always to attempt to 
find the most original copy of the sources, and what a bonus it is when that
information comes from a Primary source!  It is so interesting learning
about all the different levels that a source can be, and the levels of the evidence.
I am learning to "question everything" in areas that I had not questioned before.
My family may be tiring of my questioning their "facts" when chatting, asking them if 
indeed what they are saying is actually a FACT, or is it an assertion (theirs or someone else's) 
with or without the needed information that gives evidence to prove this assertion ......LOL!
But, I am happy to be able to encourage our grandchildren to " question" and
not just accept.

  2. Organize your thoughts, "current thinking" as Cousin Russ calls it. Take the time to write a paragraph or more justifying your "current thinking" for each parent-child-spouse family relationship in your genealogy database. Do this for each event in an ancestor's life. This keeps you from having to rethink the conclusion, until perhaps additional sources of information come to light. We have previously reminded you to look at a series of DearMYRTLE Study Group sessions titled The Written Conclusion, based on Chapter 7 of Mastering Genealogical Proof cited above. It may help to study two of Elizabeth Shown Mill's posts:
We are only dealing with the first four generations, starting with yourself.
Though your compiled genealogy may contain more generations, we are working to learn correct research principles.

DearMyrt, thank goodness that we are just working on the four generations at this time!
This is an area that I feel very weak in. I think that I am trying to make it much more difficult than it really is....... I am re-reading chp. 7 of Thomas W. Jones' book,
plus I have also re-read the Quick Lesson 16 and Conclusion or Confusion.  
Practise, practise, practise..........!  I am working on applying this
to a few "sticky situations" in my tree, and will continue on with writing 
my "current thinking" on each of the relationships in the four generations.

  3. Start planning your summer vacation. Check to see which towns of interest to your ancestors are along the route. Make a point to stop by, even if the focus in now research. You will learn much about the lay of the land. For instance, during Ol' Myrt's 1995 research trip to Germans I noticed a striking similarity to the place of origin on the Nckar River valley (east of the Rhein River) and the Tupelhocken Valley of Pennsylvania where my Palatine immigrant ancestor eventually settled. The impact of that familiarity still brings tears to my eyes. The hills rolled about the same, and the familiar orange geraniums grew wild here and there along the roadside in both places.

This is one of the areas in which the "gift of being mobile" has been so nice for genealogy!
This summer, we will spend some time in my place of birth (and my parents' and some of their parents' as well) and also in the place of my husbands' place of birth and the place where his family name ancestors migrated to.  We will continue in our research in each of the places, Michigan and Indiana.  Every summer we try to do some research while we are there.  This year, I hope to find a few divorce records and some probate files.
It always feels so good to be "Home....."

 4. Paper-oriented genealogists need not be confused when filing papers.  It's appropriate to file photos and documents mentioning a female before marriage in her maiden name binder, immediately following the family group sheet where she appears as a child with her parents. Once she is married, the marriage certificate, birth records of children, census records and family portraits are filed in her married name surname binder, after the group sheet where she appears as the spouse/parent in the family. Should she be widowed and subsequently remarried, that information would appear in the surname binder for her subsequent husband. 

When you reprint the family group sheet where she appears as a child with her parents, the name of her spouse will be shown. This provides the reference to the new family group sheet where she appears as the mother/spouse reflecting her new family situation.               

*** A NOTE:
There have been no further weekly checklists added, and so
it seems that our Get Organized project is either finished, 
or put on a shelf for now.

I will try to continue with the blog
as I continue to 
Tip-toe through our Generations!

Have a great weekend and "Till Later"
from Abbeville, South Carolina.........


Friday, April 1, 2016

FINALLY: Get Organized!, March 6th-12th, 2016

Sunday, March 06, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized! 6th-12th Mar Checklist

Here in the United States we celebrate March as Women's History Month, so let's focus on the wives of your first four generations in your family tree. We've got some simple rules to follow that will make things a lot easier for you in the long run.


  • If the christening record of a child list "John and Mary Smith" then you are to enter "Mary" as the given name, leaving the surname field blank. 
  •  If the marriage record lists "John Smith" as the groom and "Mary Morgan" as the bride, then you may begin to construe that "Morgan" was Mary's maiden name. Is this always true? Well, be sure to see if "spinster" is listed, meaning she had never married.
  • With this same couple, never list Mary as "Mary Smith" as that implies you know her maiden name is Smith. Indeed it is possible that a woman marries a man with the same surname, but that is usually an exception. Think of Megan Smolenyak who married a man whose surname is Smokenyak. She then became known as Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. Like I said, highly unusual.
  • If you do not know the given name for "_____________ Morgan" merely list her surname as "Morgan." In other words, do not assume anything.
  • It isn't necessary to use the terms like "unknown" for either the given name or the maiden name.
  • Do not refer to an unnamed wife as Mrs. John Smith, as this is confusing, particularly when the gentleman in question was a remarried widower.
It would be much easier if the women of the world
merely kept their birth name 
after marriage.

  1. Enter the names as you know them for the wives of the first four generations in your family tree. These may be your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so-forth.

Done.  Each of the wives are listed, with their maiden names;
Dorothy Ellen Carlson Dostal (my mother); Lila Mae Cooper Carlson Fredericks (my mother's mother); Mable Irene Parmelee Cooper (my mother's maternal grandmother); Anna Cristina Karlson Carlson (my mother's father's mother); Evelyn Frances Gaffney Dostal (my father's mother); Etta Flood Gaffney (my father's maternal grandmother); Caroline Meyer Dostal (my father's paternal grandmother).

  2. If you have the names for the spouses of your ancestor's brothers and sisters, go ahead and enter their names as you understand them. Remember we are concentrating on just the first four generations, so we are assured of assimilating high-quality principles of data entry, citing of sources, analysis and correlation of information items within each source and overcoming conflicting information when arriving at conclusions about individual and family identity.

I have had about 75% success with this, 2 of my great grandparents who came from Germany are incomplete, both with the known siblings and their spouses.  Also, my great grandmother who immigrated from Sweden had at least 2 siblings, likely more, and I have not found any of their spouses to date.  The browsing in the Swedish records are slow-going....but I have had much success finding birth records and marriage records when I knew the date and area for my ancestors there.  The German records are much more difficult for me, as I have not spent as much time researching how to use them.
  3. Gather with other local genealogists. Back in 1995, when Ol’ Myrt here first began this organization checklist, I was encouraging folks to break out of their comfort zones, and join the local genealogy society. Boy, did I get a lot of flack about it. People didn’t want to join a local society when their ancestors had never lived in the area. But joining the local family history or genealogy society is sort of like joining AA – where we learn we are powerless over paperwork, the internet, burned courthouse and 15 ways to spell names like Smith.

So ask around at the public library and local Family History Center to learn about genealogy society meeting times and dates. Attendance will open up opportunities to meet interesting folks with varied talents and experiences who might be able to help you learn better research techniques.  At the very least, they will understand what it means to be ancestrally challenged by those aggravating brick walls.

IMAGE: Licensed from Adobe Stock.
At my local genealogy societies in Florida, Ol’ Myrt here found friends who are very good with computers and are willing to share their talents with others. During the past 18 years of membership in two local societies, I cannot think of more than five meetings devoted to Florida research. Topics have included:
  • tracing immigrant ancestors
  • report on research trips overseas
  • what's new at our local Family History Center
  • migration patterns
  • New England
  • printing a family history book
  • preserving photos
  • new software options
  • inferential genealogy
  • ordering microfilm
  • websites worth visiting
I attend every meeting and note that during the introductions of new members there is always someone in our society who has experience researching in the area the newbie finds challenging.

I plan on joining the one in Texas where we spend a few months wintering......I have no ancestors from there......but I look forward to the fellowship of genealogists!  I know that I have SOOOO much to learn, and what a fabulous way to grow!  DearMYRTLE, thanks for the boosts that you have given in this organizing series to try new things!  Truly, it has been the push that I needed!

  4. Join an interactive DearMYRTLE hangout.  You know you've been meaning to tune in to the live Mondays with Myrt (Noon Eastern US) or WACKY Wednesday (9pm Eastern US), so you can ask questions in real time, and interact with the participants. It is much easier now that we've enabled logging in via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. You'd only need to use your Google account if you wish to be a panel participant. Here's where you register for the hangouts each week:  

We will be discussing this week's checklist during our Mondays with Myrt hangout. 

Here's the link to the calendar of other upcoming DearMYRTLE genealogy hangouts:

I have not been "at the right place at the right time" to be able to join one of the hangouts live, but I have finally been able to listen to several after-the-fact!  I am hoping in April that we will have Internet without limits and with plenty of strength, so hope to be able to sit in soon!
Check out all previous DearMYRTLE's Finally Get Organized! Checklists.

Please note: the above information (apart from my answers in red) has been
copied and pasted from DearMYRTLE's website.  If you have not visited her site before,
I am sure that you will find it so interesting!  

Beautiful Texas skies!


Blue Bell Ice Cream serving station at the DAIRY PALACE in Canton, TX

Have a great week!
I am off to "tip-toe through a few generations!"