This quote exemplifies why I work on my family tree. I do my best to preserve each and every member of a family in order to have a correct family tree, but most importantly so that each person is remembered. Because for me, it is when a person is forgotten is when they no longer live.
This is my quest as the family historian. I try to find everyone, especially the babies who never had a chance to make much of an impact in the world. All of these people who make up my tree, without them I wouldn’t be here. In some way they all have impacted my life, whether it was someone I knew or someone I learned of doing research. All of them deserve to be remembered.
Preservation was the theme for this week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, a weekly writing challenge offered by Amy Johnson Crow.
October is one of the greatest months of the year because it means we all have an excuse to work on our genealogy!
Not that we ever have to have a reason to continue to work on our family trees, but it is a month filled with educational webinar’s, podcasts, and articles that will further our knowledge to find our ancestors.
So I hope you are all able to enjoy the month and get the most out of all the opportunities that are out there. May you break down your brick wall and move on to new ones!
I literally went through a list of my ancestors names to determine my “favorite name”. It was tough but like most everything else, she popped out and despite my looking at other names that caught my eye (one was a first cousin twice removed, Chester Charles Childers because who doesn’t like a good cha-cha-cha) I couldn’t stop thinking of a name I saw before his, and that is Thankful Chapin, my fifth-great-grandmother.
Or is she?
I think she is though many do not have her listed as my fourth-great-grandfather’s mother. He was born in 1809, she died in 1812, seems like he should fall into her realm. But who knows? But here is what I do know about Thankful Chapin Warner.
Who is Thankful Chapin?
Thankful Chapin was born 11 November 1774 in Bernardston, Franklin, Massachusetts to Lt. Joel Chapin (he fought in the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War) and Sarah Burke, the sixth of seven children born to this couple. Her siblings names are Joel Chapin, Jr., Eddy Burke Chapin, Israel Chapin, Solomon Chapin, Sarah Chapin, and Oliver. Depending on the book you read it claims she had another sister, Gratia, who was also married to Joel, but this book seems to be the only book I can find that lists her.
On 27 April 1799 she married Joel Warner and in their almost 13 years of marriage, they had three children: Sarah Burke Warner born 8 February 1800; Anson Warner born 27 November 1805; and lastly Oliver Charles Warner who was born in 1809. She died on 3 April 1812 and is buried with many other Chapin’s in Old Cemetery, Bernardston, Franklin, Massachusetts.
I have never been able to find a whole lot of information on Thankful, and honestly nothing concrete if she is really Oliver’s mother (though since her younger brother was an Oliver, it really helps to think that she may be).
So over the course of the next few months, as I discuss research logs I plan on using Thankful as my example, to prove that she is the mother of Oliver Charles Warner.
Why Is Thankful a Favorite Name?
I chose Thankful Chapin as my favorite name as it always brings a smile to my face. We all have so much to be thankful for and to have a direct line ancestor named such, and you wonder why her parents, my sixth-great-grandparents, would name their daughter such a name. Did they have a reason to be extra grateful at that time? 1774 had the British Colonial America gearing up for a war with Great Britain, Massachusetts especially. Did they have a good crop that changed their world? So many things go through my mind.
Do you have an ancestor whose name is your favorite? Feel free to share!
This is my 100th post on my blog. I was surprised a few weeks ago when I saw I was at 95 posts and couldn’t believe I was reaching a milestone (or at least it is for tv shows).
The one thing I have not done is add more book reviews and actual history tidbits – I actually named my blog “becky history helper” for a reason – because I wanted to bring history to life. I was fortunate to have fun history teachers that made learning fun and I hope to do the same going forward with my blog.
In the meantime I will re-start posts on the important things you should do when completing your family history (if nothing else as a reminder to me) as well as continuing Amy Johnson Crow’s writing challenge of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.
Thank you for reading and subscribing to my blog and I hope to share more knowledge and make it even more exciting in the future.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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 of Children
Death of Children
Death of Parents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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).
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.
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.
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).
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 Café.
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!
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?
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.
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.