Genealogy, My Family Tree

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.

Genealogy

I Should Be Driving to Sandusky

Back in late November during a Black Friday Sale I purchased my registration for all 3 days of classes at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference that was taking place at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.

But of course, like so many other events, it was cancelled so here I sit, with my children, working from home instead of driving to Sandusky for a few days of family history fun.

So I’ve been thinking about what I can do to still give myself a conference experience.

Watch Webinars

I happen to have a subscription to Family Tree Webinars so I am able to watch as many webinars I want.  But throughout this past April they’ve had a free webinar each day, and the Webinar Wednesdays are normally available for a week after it first airs for everyone to watch for free so you can utilize it for one of the days as well.

Check Out Some Podcasts

Podcasts are something I need to listen to more often.  There are a variety of podcasts out there for you to enjoy for free. Here are some I’ve listened to and enjoy:

  • Generations Café by Amy Johnson Crow – these are fun to listen to and they tend to be on the shorter side, which I sometimes like.  I don’t always have 90 minutes to spare to listen to a to longer ones in their entirety and these are just right.
  • The Genealogy Guys – I met George Morgan and Drew Smith at least year’s OGS Conference (and they were to be a part of the Meet & Greet last evening as part of the Genealogy Squad).  They have lots of great information on their podcast.
  • Genealogy Gems – Lisa Louise Cooke always has an informative podcast on her website that is always filled with a variety of topics.
  • Extreme Genes – it’s America’s family history show!  Hosted by Scott Fisher and David Allen Lambert, this successful podcast has topics pertaining to all sorts of areas to help you on your genealogical journey.

These are just a few that I’ve listed. If you Google “genealogy podcasts” you will get about 30 links that you can click on to see if anything flips your trigger, plus there are a bunch of articles that give you the “20 best genealogy podcasts” as well.  I just gave you ones I knew existed and had checked out that were off the top of my head.

Read Some Books

Read! And it doesn’t have to be just genealogy based books (I’m presently reading the How to Do Everything Genealogy Fourth Edition by George G. Morgan – yes, same as mentioned above from the Genealogy Guys. It’s 480 pages and I’m loving it as it just gives me common sense suggestions that I may have overlooked as I have never read an intro book before). You can read books that relate to your relatives.

For example, I recently finished a book by John Fitzgerald called Dirty Mines and it went job by job on what coal miners did, beginning in the breakers for the young kids who could have been starting between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, to being an independent contractor as an actual full-fledge coal miner (they had to pay their helpers with the money they earned for each cart of coal). It was extremely enlightening as I really didn’t know much about what positions there were as you moved up the ladder. It also went into detail about the creation of the United Mine Workers and the Molly Maguires court cases where several men were executed for no other reason other than they were framed because everyone was in cahoots with the other – government, coal companies, judges. Several of my ancestors were coal miners, so this book was exactly what I was looking for to educate me a little more about this industry.

You can also read about the towns your family lived in, books relating to the historical happenings at a specific time of your ancestor, be it on a city, state, or country level.  Sometimes international happenings can effect our people, too.

The same can be said for Civil War diaries.  It may not be the diary of your ancestor, but it would still have similar details of what may have been going on with your relative.

Hang Out in Genealogy Facebook Groups

Lastly, to give me that true conference feel, going and posting questions or helping others with their family history journey will be the icing on the cake.  By visiting some of the many family history groups I belong too on Facebook I should be able to get that wonderful vibe that I got last year about just communicating with others who have a love of this wonderful hobby (well, maybe obsession is a better word). If you have a Facebook account but haven’t checked out any of the genealogy group offerings, you are really missing out.  It is so much fun to read of others’ tales of triumph and woe (well, maybe not fun for this, but there are some stories that definitely bring a tear to your eye).

A person’s family history journey is so special and unique, and being able to share it with others is wonderful.  Not to mention the people in these groups are outstanding, I honestly we feel overall we are the friendliest of all the hobbies as we are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Power Through

I will power through this and I’m sure I will find ways to successfully pass the time while I research my family members.  Yesterday happened to be the 235th birthday of my 4th-great-grandfather and I realized I’d found and saved his information but hadn’t put any of it into my software program.  So we are going to delve into Baltzer Morgart.  He was born in 1785 and I know he ran the Morgart Tavern in Everett, Pennsylvania.  I was able to see the building last summer (sadly, we knocked but no one was home to see if I could have gone inside). He died at the age of 68 in December 1853.