12 Ancestors in 12 Months

Month #1: Foundations

As you begin your family tree, one item is essential: you must have a strong foundation.

What is the foundation of your family tree, you ask? That is simple. It all begins with you. And then your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, I am sure that you get my meaning. You have to have good, solid facts on yourself, your mom and dad, everything in order to have a strong tree.

Trust me, I know the lure of just adding person after person in your tree. It’s exciting as you get up higher and higher into the branches as you find a fifth-great-grandmother here, and a seventh-great-grandfather there. But if you haven’t done your due diligence down below, you know, where YOU are, and YOUR PARENTS are… you aren’t going to know for certain if your fifth-great-grandmother is really who you are related too.

I am a person who does the horrible, awful no-good type of researching because I skip around (and I have a feeling there are more people like me out there than aren’t). They say you should just work on one branch at a time. I am sure that is the smart way of doing things but there are days I want to work on my dad’s side of the family, and other days when I feel like getting my mom’s family a little more under control. It’s called variety, and I love variety (it is the spice of life, after all). Not to mention sometimes you have people on both sides of your family curious about what you are finding, and you don’t want to disappoint anyone, so I skip around and do both.

Sometimes on the same day.

But you always begin with you. And once you know about you, you can move onto your parents, and their siblings which leads to your grandparents, and their siblings, and so on. Yes, I’m the type that likes to work on the collateral people as I work my way up because you never know when you are going to find a distant aunt or cousin that may come back and help you figure out a puzzle later on (like, great-great-grandma was living with an aunt, and it wasn’t popping up in an Ancestry or FamilySearch search).

But it’s always best to find everything you can, or at least all the vital records and census records before moving up to the next direct line ancestor. This gives you a strong foundation for your genealogical research. And a strong foundation helps you build a very healthy tree.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Genealogy

Week 52: Future

The final week of 52 Ancestors in 52 Week’s has a heavier topic than normal (I type as I laugh as some of the themes have really made me think hard). This week’s is no exception with the prompt of “Future”.

Family Lines

I’m going to seize the moment and really focus on 2 lines from each side of my family. The Warner’s and Gustin’s on my Mom’s side and the Blair’s and Aker’s on my Dad’s side. I’m sure others may pop up with interest (for example, my Dunbar’s married a Warner so I could stray a bit that way), or maybe I’ll have a moment when I want to research my maternal grandfather’s side of the family, and since they are all in England, you utilize that mood when it strikes.

The Warner’s

My genealogy future will be me going into a little more detail on my mom’s side of the family, the Warner’s to be precise. While attempting to look up some information on Thankful Chapin, who I believe to be my fifth-great-grandmother on my maternal side of the family, I realized not only do I not have the paperwork to back this up (though her years of being alive do) but I don’t have confirmation that her supposed son, Oliver Charles Warner, is a son of Joel Warner. By exploring this portion of my tree, it will help me explore other areas of this side, and since my great-great-grandmother, Mazie, was a Warner, they are extra special (because for some reason she is extra special to me, I truly feel she would have liked me).

The Gustin’s

If I am going to write more about the Warner’s I may as well learn more about Mazie’s mother, Orienta Gustin and her parents, Benjamin Gustin and Nancy Return Gault. I remember being so tickled upon finding Orienta’s photo that I want to know more about this amazing lady and her lineage as well.

The Blair’s

Oh, it wouldn’t be a year of genealogy if I didn’t try to work on my Blair brick wall, now would it? Observing in the past weeks of various DNA matches I saw that a person who was placed in the middle of my Blair’s on FamilySearch’s one big tree is on a DNA matches tree. Though there is a possibility that the person has the wrong fellow in his tree, just in case that I am somehow related to the infamous Andrew Sloan Blair I am investigating him by putting him on an experimental, private tree. I will never know if there is some sort of distant connection until I build a tree and flesh it out. The worse thing I do is waste my time. (And honestly, I have no idea how this will all pan out).

The Aker’s

And it’s not fair to write about the Blair’s and not bring in Susanna Akers. I so wish to know more about my third-great-grandmother on my paternal side. Just how they appear and disappear from thin air has me especially intrigued. I hope to find her. Or whatever Susanna’s last name is. I still feel the key is with their second youngest son, George Washington Blair.

Expanding My Researching

This year I plan on doing something I have never done before. Going to specific places to research, and try to utilize knowledge from groups I already belong too.

Family History Center

I am going to get the courage to go into my local Family History Center and ask for help on how to use their facility (assuming they are open – with the different Covid variants running around, this may be another pipe dream). I know that there are files for Oliver Charles Warner that I can hopefully view in the Family History Center, so this is one of the reasons why I am planning on using this wonderful place to find out what I need.

AmericanAncestors.org

I signed up for the AmericanAncestors.org website to utilize as my mother’s family is from New England (you may recognize these names, the Warner’s, the Chapin’s – all from Massachusetts). This appears to have so much great information that I plan on utilizing it more for my research so I can better understand this area of the world and hopefully learn so much more about my relatives. As a person who absolutely loves the history involving the beginning of our country, this should be a wonderful treat me for me.

The Genealogy Center

Since I live within four hours of Fort Wayne, Indiana, I hope that I can go and visit the Genealogy Center in the Allen County Public Library over a weekend. I know I need to be ready to research what I need to find out if I go there, but it just seems like a great resource for me to go since I just live in the state next door.

Continue with my Blog

My other goal is to continue with my blog. I know I was able to increase those who follow me this past year and that is great. I like to think that means people are enjoying what I’m writing. I hope to add more history book reviews in the mix, and more how to articles, as well as the occasional prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (I’ve still signed up for it – just may not do it every week – I’ll write when the feeling strikes or the theme is too enticing that I can’t say no).

I enjoy sharing what I know that if maybe it helps someone else with their research, all the better. And I’ve actually chatted via email/Facebook messenger with distant cousins because of my blog and that had made it that more exciting!

Continue to Learn

I love to read books about genealogy. I have various books on finding church records, the Genealogical Proof Standard, books detailing women’s lives (The Hidden Half of the Family), researching newspapers, and the like. I’m also trying to get more out of the genealogical memberships that I belong to from my local county chapter to my state and even NHS as they have all kinds of learning opportunities for free and some classes you can purchase. All of them will allow me to be the best researcher I can be.

I also want to be a better participant in the Facebook groups and on Twitter. If you aren’t a part of the Twitter genealogy scene, you are missing out. So many wonderful people in the social media world.

So that is what my genealogical future holds. All in all it’s about learning. You can never learn too much!

Genealogy

It’s October!!!!

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!

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

Genealogy For Free? I’m Going to Try

I’ll admit, I love all the records a certain subscription site offers when I am working on my genealogy. Especially for Pennsylvania, and that’s where my paternal ancestors all reside (and half of my maternal for a while). But sometimes it’s so easy to just keep clicking away at those hints that I try to take my time and examine things before I click yes (and often click ignore) but I know I may still go awry.

So in less than a week my latest membership expires. I’ll admit, I don’t have the money to pay the full price for six months worth of research (I’m a “wait a handful of months and get a better deal” type). So I’m going to work on my family tree using what is at my disposal for free (except I’m still in the midst of a Newspaper.com subscription that may be renewed if they offer the deal up again just because it offers me so many Pennsylvania newspapers).

This will also give me the opportunity to re-examine my tree. And in my remaining week I’ll try to catch up on stuff I have already added to my own Legacy Family Tree software and complete the citations (I know I am horrible as I should be doing them as I enter the information).

Have you ever taken the time to re-focus on your genealogy research? If you have any tips I’d appreciate them!

This quote was found on http://www.rosecoloredwater.com
Genealogy

Going Back to the Basics

When I began my family history journey, I remember how I made sure in countless ways before I added someone to my tree that they belonged. I had to have censuses showing that they were in the family with my relative for me to truly believe that they deserved to be on my tree.

I’ve been working on my tree for 4 years now and for the most part I have stayed true to this theory. Occasionally I will forego and add people I see, for example, many online trees had a Wealthy Blair listed as a daughter for my great-great-grandparents. Even my late cousin Darlene had Wealthy listed on a family sheet for the same said 2nd-great-grandparents. I’ve never found any information on her, she was born and died before 1880. When I look at the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census which asks how many total children a woman had, there are always 3 children that had passed for my great-great-grandmother, and I always assumed one was Wealthy (one other was Margaret, born in October 1879 and lastly an unknown child I just have listed on my tree as I have no birth or death dates for them).

But since I began organizing my DNA matches I’ve found myself getting envious of tree size. I see people with 48,987 people on their tree and my eyes just widen and my jaw drops. What a glorious tree!

And then I find myself going new person after new person checking out the hints and adding (always logically, but still adding) them to my tree. One after another and I’m fairly certain most of my people are legitimate people with fairly good dates off said hints (I am rational enough to NOT add people who were born 100 years earlier coming on a boat from England when they were born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania), but still, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in hints on Ancestry and the one big tree on FamilySearch.

So I’ve started over from scratch in a way. One by one I’m going through my people in my personal family tree software that I keep on my computer. This is my main tree, the tree I don’t really share with the world and the one I find to be the most accurate. I’m going through one by one and making sure all the documents that I have in my online folders are included on the tree. Some items I have, like the beforementioned great-great-grandmother who my late cousin Darlene hand wrote her obituary and this is the only way I have it, I knew I had it in an envelope of documents Darlene had sent me, and now I have scanned it and added it to her profile.

The profile of my great-great-grandparents, Andrew Jackson Blair & Susan Jane Foster. You can see on the children listed that Wealthy appears to be the second oldest child. The last one designated as “Blair” was the child I don’t know when the child was born or the gender.
Specific records I’ve entered for Susan Jane Foster. See the book icon, that represents citations for the records. The City Directory I need to look up (probably found on Ancestry so the information should be there), the final one, her obituary was a handwritten copy by my cousin, Darlene Reese Prosser.

I’m also comparing them to the Ancestry tree just in case there is a random document that I have on there that I hadn’t downloaded (that happens sometimes when I’m out and about and am not on my regular computer to save the documents as easily). By doing this I can clean up the Ancestry tree at the same time.

In the long run I must remember it’s not the size of my tree that matters, it truly is quality that counts. I’ve worked so hard and I want to be 100% positive that I’m putting the correct people in my tree.

This was all brought to my attention when I was working on my mother’s side of the family. I’ve haven’t delved into the Fairhurst branch often, but I have learned there are many William and Thomas Fairhurst’s out there, and trying to make sure I select the correct one was getting me quite confused.

So I took a deep breath and slowed down. It’s not a race. I’ll find each and every ancestor when they want me to find them.

Genealogy

My Week in Quarantine

So I haven’t really done as much researching as I have wanted to do in my family history journey but this past week I spent some of my days creating an introduction to genealogy PowerPoint presentation for my son’s Boy Scout Troop.

It’s pretty basic as I’ve included what ancestors are, descendants, how you really only need 7 to 15 names to begin working on your family tree on the major online databases (FamilySearch, Ancestry or MyHeritage) and then detailed the items you need to seek: birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and censuses to start out.  Throw in examples of family group sheets, pedigree charts, a brief bit on land records, how everyone needs to search newspaper articles and a little bit of information about DNA and you have a 31 slide presentation all raring to go (unless of course I forgot some major point that I was suppose to include – which hubby is looking it over as I type this).

It was a fun endeavor as I got to show off my favorite documents in the presentation – Ralph Reed’s death certificate – I figured as part of ad-libbed anecdotes I’ll discuss my surprise in finding his at the library, my grandfather’s birth certificate where he was originally named Charley Wilmer but my grandmother opted to change it to Leroy at some point later in time (would love to know when that took place). For newspapers I included the article about why Ralph was executed and what his last meal was, and my grandfather Harold Fairhurst’s hole in one. I also included a 1910 Federal Census where several of the families on 1-sheet were all related – my great-grandparents lived near several of my great-grandmother’s brothers and sisters.

Tomorrow night I get to practice my presentation as I’ve never been on the speaking end of a conference call or using the meeting software.  Fingers crossed it goes well.  My son’s troop has decided to still meet electronically so they can still earn merit badges in this isolating time (my daughters troop has done the same).

I hope everyone is handling the isolation in their own way.  Being an introvert I knew I’d somewhat excel at this – but even I’m missing people (I see people on my weekly trip to the grocery store but it’s not the same as I don’t really talk to people – it’s more sport now than shopping as you do your best to stay 6 feet apart).

Wishing everyone all the best in these trying times!