Genealogy, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 27: Free

Free is the prompt for this weeks 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and who better than to write about than my 5th-great-grandfather, Solomon Sparks, who fought in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Solomon Sparks was born 13 June 1758 to Joseph Sparks and the former Mary McDaniel in Frederick, Maryland. Overall he was the fifth of at least nine children, and the third boy. (As a side note, Solomon’s younger sister Sarah is also my 5th-great-grandmother, making Joseph and Mary my 6th-great-grandparents two times over).

Solomon’s family moved from Maryland to Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1778 and in 1782 Solomon joined the militia as a private, mustering out when the war was over in 1783. He was a part of Captain Boyd’s Company of Rangers, their job was “to scout the forests and guard the settlements against surprise attacks from hostile Indians” (Taken from the History of Bedford, Fulton, & Somerset Counties).

Upon the war ending Solomon returned to Frederick, Maryland to live for a short time. This is where Rachel Weimer also lived, and they very well could have known each other or met at this point in time. They married in Pennsylvania in 1786 and had 11 children, settling in Providence Township in Bedford County, where he became a successful farmer.

When the War of 1812 began Captain Solomon Sparks and his Regiment of Rifleman “marched through the wilderness to the Canadian frontier and there performed efficient service” (Taken from the History of Bedford, Fulton & Somerset Counties).

Solomon passed away on 8 April 1838 but I wonder if he had been ill for a while. His will is dated 10 January 1821 with the beginning wording as “being for time very unwell but sound in mind, memory and understanding” (will was found in records not yet transcribed on FamilySearch). He gave $200 to each of his daughters, and money and homes to each of his sons. His wife, Rachel, was Executrix and his oldest son, Abraham, Executor.

Grave of Solomon Sparks, he is buried at the Providence Union Church in Everett, Bedford, Pennsylvania

Genealogy

What I Learned from the 2021 OGS Conference

The past 4 days were fun days for me. I took 3 days off work and spent 4 total days doing nothing but taking genealogy classes. This is always a dream come true. I love genealogy, obviously, because I have an entire blog dedicated to my hobby.

Keynote Speaker: Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

As usual, Peggy Clemens Lauritzen did a fabulous job with her keynote speech which was entitled “Let’s Leave ‘Em Something to Talk About” and was all about leaving your own story behind. It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in our ancestor’s lives but we often forget about leaving our future ancestors information about us. She gave a bunch of simple suggestions on how to do this, such as scrapbooking, writing down our stories, our favorite vacations, leaving a journal and just writing down whatever pops into your head on any given day. Talk about your favorite car, your favorite movie, family trips, how you spent holidays… all these things that make up our lives. I left her talk feeling so inspired – it should have been the last talk instead of the first (you know, so I could start sharing the information about my life).

Live Sessions I Attended

I attended some outstanding live classes during the 3-days (the first day was specifically workshops). Between classes on the wonderful session entitled “Beyond Belief: The Wealth Genealogical and Historical Societies” by D. Joshua Taylor, a class taught by Andi Cumbo-Floyd that taught me the benefits and how to use ArchiveGrid (don’t laugh, and I never realized how much it had to offer!), to Colleen Robledo Greene informing many on how to use the HathiTrust Digital Library. Both ArchiveGrid and the HathiTrust Digital Library always make those top places you should check out for your genealogy but always seemed a bit intimidating at the same time. But no more!

Ari Wilkins gave a fabulous presentation on “How Weather Affected Our Ancestors”, it was so informative and gave me so much more to look into with where my own relatives were and the aspects of the Johnstown Flood (they lived in the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania), I attended another great session by D. Joshua Taylor again pertaining to “Online Resources for Colonial America” (and most were free!), and then James Beidler gave 2 sessions that I attended on “An Average Ancestor Seen Through Newspapers” and then closed it out with “Courthouse Research in Pennsylvania” (we all know I can’t resist classes on Pennsylvania).

Recorded Sessions

I’m still working on recorded sessions. They are open for us to watch through Tuesday. So far I’ve watched ones dealing with the history of railroads, marketing and publicity for your genealogical society, methodology sessions about research projects and being your own brick walls (so far I don’t think I am my own brick wall but I wouldn’t put it past myself either).

Such a wide variety of programs and each class is so enjoyable.

What I Took Away From My 2nd Conference

The exact same thing I did my first – I need to use a research log when beginning a project. And last night I did just that – I printed off the research log from my program and started writing things down as I went. So proud of myself. Was also analyzing census forms and printed blank ones of those as well so I could write down the tick marks (1800-1810 census forms) to better analyze who could be candidates as Abraham Childers parents.

The other thing was to pay close attention to the forms and analyze everything. You never know what little tidbit of information may blow your case wide open.

Recommendation

If you have never gone to a big genealogical conference I recommend checking it out. It’s not going on presently but the sessions offered at RootsTech in February are up on FamilySearch.org, all you need is a free account to view the many classes that they have on their website. They are available throughout the year.

The one thing I missed this year was being able to chit chat with my fellow genealogists. Though I am huge introvert (I become a little more chatty once I feel comfortable with people) I never had a difficult time 2 years ago when I attended the OGS Conference in 2019. It was so much fun, and it was nice talking to people and having them give me suggestions on the spot. It was simply fabulous.

Something to look out for is a day long program offered at your local Family History Center. I attended my first one in 2018 and enjoyed it so much this is why I went to the OGS Conference in 2019. It was a day filled with 6 classes and included lunch. Such a wonderful day with a variety of topics (DNA, Methodology, How To Use FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc.). Often these are offered in October during Family History Month. Libraries offer excellent classes throughout the year, and even by Zoom presently.

You can never know too much, and you never know when you attend a conference like this, a simple class you take may be just what you need to find that bit of missing information on your person.

Genealogy

Bringin’ It Home 2021

Today is an exciting day! It’s the first day of the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference with the theme of “Bringin’ It Home”. When the co-chairs came up with the theme they had no idea that we would still be living in a virtual world, but here we are, having the conference from the comforts of our living rooms, or porches, or attics, or dining rooms!

The first day is workshops and this year I signed up for one. When I went to my first conference 2 years ago when it was in Mason, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati) I opted to do the meet and greet. This year I am attending my first workshop that will discuss what it takes to be a professional genealogist.

Then Thursday through Saturday we begin the many classes and online exhibitors. What makes this years a little more unique is that any session that is pre-recorded you can watch anytime through April 20 so you can try to seize the “live” sessions so you can get even more knowledge than you thought!

I’m looking forward to learning a great deal. Last week I attended a couple of sessions that the Indiana Genealogical Society offered and on Saturday, Lisa Louise Cooke was the speaker and what stuck with me was her comment about how every day we are a better researcher than the day before because we are always learning new things. And that is so true. You are never looking at the same document in the same way because every day we become more knowledgeable with what we are doing and learning.

So keep that in mind when you go check out at an old document, you have probably learned quite a bit since you last looked at.

Wishing all those attending this week’s Ohio Genealogical Society Conference a wonderful time!

The official logo for the Conference and it’s main sponsor, Vivid-Pix.

Genealogy

Timelines: The Unsung Hero of Genealogy

An important tool for genealogy research is a timeline. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, as long as it helps you on your family history journey.

The timeline allows you to put your family member’s life events that you are aware of in chronological order. These events include:

  • Birth
  • Marriage(s)
  • Death
  • Birth of Children
  • Death of Children
  • Death of Parents
  • Census Location
  • Historical Events: National, State, Local

Once you have all of your events listed, you will see how they migrated, or even stayed in the same area, or if you are missing information all together over a period of time, you can determine what records you need to fill in the gaps. But most importantly, a timeline can help you get to know your ancestor in a way you hadn’t before.

Types of Timelines

There are primarily 3 different ways you can create a timeline for your genealogy. Timelines can be found in genealogy software, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, you can draw them by hand or you can create in a spreadsheet. Below I will go into detail of all of these.

Genealogy Software Programs

If you use a genealogy software program to keep track of your ancestors, you probably already have a timeline or chronology section for this purpose. I use Legacy Family Tree and here is a timeline for my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Warner.

You can see her age in the left hand column and you may find a gap of where additional information is needed. This is is not a complete picture, it’s what would fit on my screen so you can still read it.

Online trees such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org offer timelines too. On Ancestry it is easy to miss as it’s the “Facts” view on a person’s information page.

My Ancestry page on my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner. You can see how the years are off to the left going down in a timeline form.

To access the timeline for a person on FamilySearch.org you just need to highlight the second option (to the right of “Details”) to show the chronology of your person’s life. If nothing else this exercise has brought to my attention that I do not have the 1880 census as a source for Mazie on FamilySearch.

Draw a Timeline By Hand

Sometimes simple is best and the easiest way is to draw a timeline by hand. For many this is a great way because by writing out the documents you have in chronological order, you see how their life progressed. I feel using colored pencils may nice to use because you could have selected Green for all birth dates, Red for all Death Dates, etc.

My attempt at a hand-drawn timeline.

Using a Spreadsheet

I discovered a YouTube video done by Anne Mitchell for Ancestry.com on how to create a simple timeline using a spreadsheet that included a column devoted to “Thought’s and Comments” which was a space that included your analysis of the timeline, and where you could add the types of records that you needed to look up for any gap you may have found. This type of timeline can be used with a Spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets, or by creating a table in Word or Google Docs.

Creating Timelines to Better Understand Records and Families – by Anne Mitchell via Ancestry.com was a YouTube video I watched that instructed me on this homemade table/spreadsheet

I found this to be extremely helpful when working on my family members. By typing out what I had and knew it allowed me to not only really look at each document closely, but pointed out what documents I still needed to find.

Original Research

What do I mean by “original research”? It’s the research you do when you are looking for something specific that you don’t have. Something not handed to you in the form of a hint on a database program (such as Ancestry.com’s leaf hints or the “Research Help” suggestions on FamilySearch.org).

By creating a timeline of your ancestors you can then move onto original research as you find the missing documents to fill in the gaps that you find. For example, I only have a date of my great-great-grandparents marriage from a Marriage Index I found but I do not have the actual marriage license confirming the date of 2 January 1894. I need to go in search of this record that took place in Wellsville, Allegany, New York.

As you continue to see what information you are missing for your person, think about what records you need to find. For example if you find that your people are moving around, try to find them in city directories, or look through land records to see if you are able to find where your ancestor was either the seller of their old property or a buyer for their new (they should be listed on both). If your person fought in a war look to see if maybe they had any land warrants for serving.

Also remember that not all records are found online. There is that chance you may have to research in person for the records that you seek. Sometimes you will be fortunate to contact someone in the records/archives where you people lived and will have time to look for you (though a price may be involved).

I hope you enjoyed learning about the different ways that you can create timelines for your research and I hope you begin to implement them in your family history journey.

Genealogy

Genealogy Podcasts

Have you ever taken the time to listen to a podcast? I’ll admit I always meant to do some listening but find myself always on the go and never really having a moment to just sit and listen.

But that changed when I decided to listen one day on my way to work. It’s not a huge drive, mind you, just 8-10 minutes depending on how many red lights I get stuck with between my house and my place of employment. But it was nice as I really seem to pay attention to what is being said by the host of their show, and often a guest.

More Than One Way to Listen

One of the things I find interesting about these podcasts is that there is more than one way to listen to the programs.

Apps

You can listen to your podcast of choice by downloading an app on your cell phone. I know mine automatically came on my phone. On both iPhones and Android phones there is an app called “Podcasts” that you can use to listen. It’s easy to get going as you can just put in the keyword of “genealogy” in the search bar and it will bring up a list of programs to choose from. Below is what came up on mine:

You can then just click on a program that looks interesting. The one that caught my eye today is the The Genealogy Professional by Marian Pierre-Louis (I’ll confess she is in my library but I don’t think I’ve officially listened to this one yet, but this episode from February 1 looks interesting):

Websites

Another way to listen to podcasts is using your computer or tablet and eliminating an app and going to the program’s website (though obviously you can use apps on tablets and I just checked on PC’s too). To be consistent, I’ll use the same program I clicked above and go to the website associated with it (I’m hoping Marian doesn’t mind, she seems nice when I hear her on webinars).

The Genealogy Professional

You can see where there is an advertisement to sign up and automatically receive the latest episodes using an app. But in the middle of the page you see the triangle inside a circle, that’s the media player where you can listen to the podcast straight from Marian’s webpage.

YouTube

Some podcasts also post their recordings on YouTube. One in particular I enjoy listening to is called PA Ancestors, and since we all know that I am stuck in Pennsylvania, no one is happier about finding new avenues to do my research in the Keystone State.

The PA Ancestors YouTube page

Along with her YouTube channel, you can also listen to PA Ancestors on podcast apps. She also has a blog that is worthwhile too (I actually discovered Denys Allen on Twitter and started listening to her that way). Her podcasts are very informative and have a lot of range from regular history to cemeteries to how to find various types of records – I soak it all in (as I have Pennsylvania ancestors on both sides of my family – but especially my dad’s side).

Google

If all else fails, Google “genealogy podcasts” and you will get all sorts of recommendations. On Google one of my other favorites came up as a suggestion, Amy Johnson Crow’s Generations CafĂ©.

Things to Look For in a Podcast

One of the things I look for in a podcast is how long is the program going to last? I’ll admit, one of my favorite parts of Generations Cafe and PA Ancestors is that many of them are 10-20 minutes in length. When I’m going back and forth to work, I can listen to the entire program on my trip in or on a round trip to and from work (I go home for lunch each day so it’s not bad to start one on the way home, and I can either finish at home or listen to it on my way back to work when my lunch is over).

Some are well over an hour long – and you have to know yourself if you can sit still long enough or have an activity where you can listen.

The one nice thing about using my phone is that when I hit pause, it picks up right where I leave off. I’m fairly certain YouTube and a website may not be as accommodating (but you can always write down where you are at time-wise and so you know where to put the little dot so you could pick up where you left off on the recording).

However you like to listen, I think podcasts are great, despite really getting into them within the past month (though I have listened to The Genealogy Guys off and on after meeting them at the 2019 Ohio Genealogical Society). There are so many to choose from I am sure you will find one that you enjoy.

If you have a podcast that you just L-O-V-E, share with me in the comments! I’m always up for trying something new!

Genealogy

The Lovely World of Source Citations

This past weekend I spent a few hours each day adding documents I’ve accumulated over the past few years into my software program (I know, I know, I should be doing this all along but sometimes you just get so excited about adding a new family you find you don’t add all the paperwork too).

Along with adding all the censuses, birth certificates, death certificates, and anything else I could find, I made sure I cited where I found these documents.

Besides making your life pure torture (or so it can seem as I know there are times I often get stumped) citing your sources is important for two main reasons.

You Can Duplicate Your Research

Duplicating your search and re-finding your documents are very important when you are trying to get into a lineage society. They need to re-trace all your steps to make sure your proof does exactly that – proves that your person is really YOUR person.

So You Know Where You Have Already Looked

By keeping track of where you have already looked, you know not to look there again (at least for a specific person).

It can also help you go back to a document where you may have already found information on George Henry Fesler, maybe I can find some details on his brother John in the same document?

This is the profile of my 3rd Great Grandfather, George Henry Fesler. Most of these events/documents were placed into it just this weekend (he’s been in there a while as he is person 44 out of 1,741).

If you look above at the photo of my 3rd-great-grandfather’s profile in my program, you can see I have a lot of censuses for him (it helps he was a veteran so I even have an 1890 for him).

But if you look at the row of “books” those represent that the event or source has a citation. (I’ve highlighted it with a square box below).

Citations Really Aren’t Bad to Do

If you have a genealogy software program, completing citations is much easier than you think. Many have a step by step form that you complete so you are able to complete them painlessly.

The information that you need for the citations can be found on the title page of a book, and if you look closely on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org you can find the citations you need.

Here is an example of the information you need for citations from Ancestry.com
Here is how the citation information is found on FamilySearch.org

If citations weren’t important, Elizabeth Shown Mills wouldn’t have written “Evidence Explained”, which is an 892 page book all about how to cite any type of source – from books to newspapers to webpages. Cyndi’s List is another place you can go to find answers on source citations (and most everything else you are looking for in relation to genealogy). Click here for an entire heading on Citing Sources. Family Tree Webinars even has two webinars dedicated to citations (one is on how to do citations in the Legacy Family Tree software). Lastly, here is a link to Amy Johnson Crow’s podcast she did called “Citing Sources Without Stressing Out“.

As you can see, you have a variety of options to learn an easy way of making sure you have good citations. I find the more I do them, the easier they become. I guess you could say repetition is key.

I wish you all luck going forward and you all become pros in the art of citing sources.

Genealogy

Using Libraries in Genealogy

Libraries are very helpful resources for researching your family tree. Not every library is fortunate to have what my library calls a Special Collections department where local history and genealogy books are located. But if you are fortunate to have this resource available to you, you would be wise to use it.

Classes

During a “normal” year (a.k.a. one before Covid-19 hit), my local library would have a variety of classes spread out throughout the year, normally once a month, highlighting basic classes like: Getting Started on your Family Tree, Vital Records, Using the Census, immigration (breaking it down into 3 classes – before 1820, 1820-1890, and more or less modern day); photography (the different types or history of photographs, clues to identify time period); and how to use – Ancestry, FamilySearch, Heritage Quest, Fold3, Find My Past (the Ancestry one in particular is often repeated because it’s a great introductory class).

They also offer programs from area experts, like archivists where they tell you how they can assist in your search as well as preservation techniques, curators from the historical society where they explained that even if they don’t have information on your specific ancestor they can help you with how your family lived.

Speakers

I am also lucky that my library (the Akron-Summit County Library) also gets nationally recognized experts to come in and speak. For example, this past Saturday (January 16) Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, spoke via Zoom on Identifying Family Photographs. Past speakers have been Dani Shapiro (author), Judy Russell, CeCe Moore, John Phillip Colletta, and James Beidler, to name a few.

Here is my autographed book by Dani Shapiro in reference to her own DNA journey when she spoke at my local library.

Even though they may not pertain directly to your research, speakers give you something to think about on a grander scale.

The Librarians

The best part of Special Collection departments are that they have the very best librarians, in other words, they are so incredibly helpful! They have this very calm way of asking you questions and helping you figure out what your next step should be when you are stuck (I really should be at the library every day for at least 8 hours).

Free Access to Online Databases

Most libraries will have access to genealogical programs such as Ancestry, FamilySearch (yes, you can get it free at home but sometimes if your library is an affiliate you will have access to even more collections you may not be available to use at your house), Find My Past, MyHeritage, Fold3, American Ancestors, and I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting. Some you are able to access at any library, others you can only access at the main library.

Presently some of the databases such as Ancestry, Fold3 and MyHeritage are available to you at home as long as you have a library card since we are suppose to be practicing social distancing. I believe most of these are presently ongoing through the end of May and at that point will be re-evaluated.

Books

Last, but certainly not least, there are a variety of books available in the library to help you with your research. As my library is located in Akron, Ohio they have a quite a collection on Summit County and Akron as well as Ohio in general. But they also have a variety of books from Pennsylvania (a large branch of it) as well as from the northeast region of the United States and the south.

Periodicals are aplenty as they have magazines that can assist you with how you go about your research. They also have city directories (up until 1969 have been digitized and are located on the website), maps, and participate in interlibrary loans if they don’t have the book you seek.

These are my books but they are ones you would most likely find in the Special Collections area of a library.

When You Hit Your Next Roadblock…

Make sure that you head to your library to see what information that they can provide, especially if your family lived in the area where you presently live. If your library is a bit smaller and does not have some of the above features, see if another library close by does (I realized when looking around at the other larger area libraries they all seemed to have a genealogical presence but it does not appear to have the resources my library system has).

Lastly, my library does have a way to get a library card online, so you could use what they have available even if they aren’t in your neck of the woods. You never know what you might find checking out other libraries, you may find one where your ancestors are from that would work with your local library on an interlibrary loan that could be a key to your research. Or you may find out your library has more than you thought!

Happy searching!

Genealogy

Goals

Until I read a post on the Chiddicks Family Tree blog, I never really thought about having goals for my genealogical journey. Halfway through 2020 I saw his 6 month review of the progress he was making and I realized I needed to do that for my own accountability.

#1 Cleaning Up My Personal Tree

I already mentioned how I am focusing my time going through my software program and add all applicable citations, add the many documents I’ve saved on folders in the cloud where most of my information is, and get those included in my software. I’m hoping by working on everything and analyzing what I have, I might stand a better chance of breaking down some of my brick walls.

Below are my present statistics from my software – I’m not worried about the number of individuals and families but would be happy to have more citations than people by the end of the year. I’m horrible about putting people in with the thought I’ll get to the other stuff “later”.

#2 Getting Out of my Comfort Zone

I am determined to learn more about my family and their environments by reading about the areas where they lived, and who knows, possibly learning more about them. I am so reliant of going to Ancestry or FamilySearch and plopping the names in the search boxes and discovering seeing the same search results for the same people and never really obtaining new information. I guess a better title of this paragraph is “finding patience” as I learn to manually hunt for things in collections that have yet to be transcribed so finding the information will bring me that much more satisfaction.

#3 Being a Better Blogger

I need to learn to be better and sharing my finds and the stories. I say this as I have finally given out my website out to family members and so now that I know they are reading, they may get a kick out of reading stories about their family members.

Part of this objective will be covered as I am going to do my darndest to achieve all 52 weeks of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors and in 52 Weeks challenge that she hosts. I’ve already got this week’s written – I just need to tweak it a bit with a few more photos and it will be ready. I’m so thankful she gave us 10 days to do the first so I can begin to focus on what I’m going to write for week 2.

But in the end the purpose of my blog was to share what I know about my family and by discussing how I found out something may help someone else find their long lost family member, and that’s the whole reason. Not to mention I hope that maybe my stories are as interesting as the other blogs I read.

#4 Get a Handle on Scanning Photographs

I’ve learned scanning is not as easy as it looks. Sure, you lay your photographs on the glass of the scanner but it’s so much more than that. It’s identifying the people in the photo, where it may have been taken and the worst part… when it was taken. If it’s not listed on the back of the photo you really have to do some thinking! (Or a lot of asking! I don’t know where I would be without my dad, my aunt and my uncle (and my other uncle that my aunt asks as I don’t think I have my other uncle’s phone number, but I doubt he would want me to bug him about such things).

This is SJ Randol Store, not sure of the year but the only city directory with this store listed in it was the 1924 edition, so this is in the range of 1923-1925, it was located on Howard Street in Akron, Ohio (I pass it every day on my drive to work, or at least where it stood, there is just a brick wall now). The mystery is the 2 ladies. The store was owned by Samuel Randol and his wife, Mazie Warner (my 2nd-great-grandmother), the woman on the left looks like Mazie’s sister, Cymanthia, but she passed in 1925 in California, so could it be her other sister, Janette? (Not 100% sure what Janette looked like but she was in Ohio by this time and did not pass until 1930).

Looking Ahead

I am excited about this new year and what awaits me and my family’s history. May this be my most successful year yet! (And I hope Paul doesn’t mind my stealing a bit of his inspiration!)

Genealogy

Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year Everyone!

I took the time and wrote down all the people who had just a year or the month of January as a birth or death date in my software (as they all came up as having a birthday or such on December 31) so I could try to find better records. I used a steno book and if memory serves it took 4 pages back and front. Way too many.

I also ran the potential problems report, which was just 2 pages and I fixed them quickly (page 2 had just 2 people on it). Many were transposed numbers – like I had a person dying in 1894 instead of his rightful year of 1984 (which was really bad since he was also born at some point in the 1900’s) or that a child was born more than 25 years after the parents were married, there isn’t a whole lot I can do to change that.

I hope each and every one of you brought the new year in safe and happy, and I look forward to reading about all your genealogical finds over the course of the next year.

Genealogy, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

It’s All About Focus

Are many of you like me, where I sit down to begin researching a specific person in my family tree and before I know it I am on the opposite side looking up the exact opposite person?

These are the moments when I take a deep breath and remind myself to focus.

But then I decide to peruse a webinar (presently my only subscription – www.familytreewwebinars.com) on FAN’s (friends, family, associates and neighbors) and Elizabeth Shown Mills makes it look so easy with her arrows and people with common names and as soon as the webinar is over I rush to my own censuses for my Andrew and Susannah and no one has the same names, and they are in a different county in 1850 to 1860 to 1870 and…

And I tell myself to take a deep breath and focus.

I love learning but when you sit down to begin do you ever just become overwhelmed with what to begin working on first?

Sometimes I start with my grandparents and look at what I am missing. My Grandma Blair (Anna Maria Morgart) is pretty complete but I am missing the 1930 census of my grandfather, her husband, Leroy Blair.

The above is the 1930 census listing my paternal grandmother, Anna Maria Morgart. This census was found on FamilySearch. She is listed on line 68.

Leroy passed away in 1975 when I was 2 years old. I’ve discussed with my dad if he knew where his dad may have been in 1930. In the late 1920’s Leroy was working in the mines, like his dad. His dad (my great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Blair) died in 1926 when the mine he was working in collapsed, crushing his chest. Apparently Leroy had a close call in the same spot as his dad, and that’s when he left mining behind him.

My dad has also told me that Leroy moved to Akron, Ohio before he met my Grandma (Akron is where they ended up settling in the 1950’s). I’ve always wondered if it was around 1930. I’ve looked in both Ohio and Pennsylvania to see if I could find Leroy Blair in the 1930 census. I’ve even used his original name of Charley Wilmer Blair (before his mom decided she liked Leroy better) on the chance he decided to go by it instead. Still no luck.

I’ll admit I get a little closed minded when it comes to how to misspell my last name. Blair is just not a name that is misspelled. Blare, Belare, Belaire, Blain. I’ve tried just an “L” for the first name, sometimes I’ve just used the surname (shocker, when putting in the misspellings it always comes up with Blair as a result).

I’ll admit I haven’t tried going page by page through all the counties of Summit, OH; Blair, PA; Cambria, PA; Bedford, PA; Huntingdon, PA; Fulton, PA; or Somerset, PA because he has family in all of these areas so he could be anywhere.

Or maybe he had a rental (more like a boarding room) in any of these areas and was just missed (this is my dad’s thought). Or this was when he was in the process of moving to Akron to work in the cottage cheese plant (he could never eat cottage cheese again after this experience, according to my dad).

Would you believe I have the same issue with my great-grandfather, Charles Jackson Morgart (who would have been Leroy’s father-in-law) in the 1900 census?

And what is considered an “exhaustive search”? (Well, looking through all the pages through all those vicinities I am sure is a good start).

This is where research logs come in handy.

This is the research log that comes with the Legacy Family Tree software, which is what I use for my family tree.

I have always been a very unorganized genealogist. That I had tables made in excel highlighting who I was looking for when I went to Bedford County 18 months ago was HUGE!

I am the girl who sits down and decides “I think I’ll do this today”. But in 2021 I am going to be more organized. I am going to begin logging what I’ve searched in and effort to keep myself on track.

And as I’ve read/watched/listened repeatedly by all kinds of professionals – it’s not always what you find that is important, but what you don’t find.

Research logs help you keep track of the sources you have already searched so you don’t duplicate your efforts.

And if you haven’t guessed, they should help you minimize your need to take a deep breath and focus – because that’s their main purpose!

So my primary goal of 2021 is to focus, focus, focus! I am determined to expand my horizons to books and other documentation that’s not just found by putting names in a search box.

So cheers to your 2021 genealogical resolutions! Feel free to share what you hope to accomplish in the comments below.