Genealogy, Maternal Side

Research Logs

One of the most important tools you should use when doing your family history is completing a research log. I will admit, I am horrible at getting one out and using one but I am also a very scattered researcher. I flit from one side of the family to another and don’t think anything of it, and I also duplicate my efforts because as good as my old noggin’ is for remembering things, I can’t remember everything.

And that is where a research log comes into play. Not only do they allow you to visually look at what you have discovered in a specific source (be it a census, book, magazine, newspaper, etc.) it allows you to see where you didn’t find information, and that can be just as valuable.

Where Can I Find a Research Log?

Research logs come in many different formats and can be found pre-made for you to download. I know the one I tend to use can be printed from my Legacy Family Tree software. I can imagine most of the other brands of genealogy software have research logs ready-made for you as well. In the screenshot of my program below, I have boxed in red the “research log” tab where you can print one off lickety-split.

Here is what the research log looks like that Legacy offers. I’ll also show an example I downloaded from FamilySearch.

Legacy Family Tree Research Log
FamilySearch Research Log

If you prefer to have an “online” research log, you can always create a document in either Excel, Google Spreadsheets, or even creating a table in Word or Google Docs. Thomas MacEntee has this handy dandy sheet available by just Googling “genealogy research log in excel”, it was the first item that came up, I clicked and it led straight to the directions on creating your own spreadsheet.

Every Good Research Log Should Ask a Question

Like my subtitle above states, a research log should always ask a question, and you should use 1 research log for 1 question on 1 individual. If you have another question about the same individual, you begin a new research log. And the question should be very specific in reference to your person.

I do not have any concrete evidence of who the parents of Oliver Charles Warner, my fourth great-grandfather on my maternal side of the family, are. I sadly must have done the biggest of no-no’s and just gone off the one big tree for who his parents are, so here I am, doing my due diligence to prove his parents are Joel Warner and Thankful Chapin (as Thankful would have been Joel’s wife in 1809, but now that I think about it, many don’t even have Oliver listed as their child, many only have Sharon Burke Warner, their oldest daughter).

Who are the parents of Oliver Charles Warner, born approximately 1809 in Franklin County, Massachusetts?

You are best to be as specific as possible for your question, to make sure you are not confusing the person you are researching with another potential candidate. I’d like to think that my Oliver Charles Warner was the only one born in 1809 in Franklin County, Massachusetts. But we shall see.

When I make a log for the documents that I do have on Oliver Charles Warner, not one mentions who his parents are. He is married in all the census records I can find, and his death record, which I should be able to open at a Family History Affiliate, came up empty when I went to the library (a FamilySearch affiliate). One day a Saturday will be free for me to visit the Family History Center nearby to see if I have luck there.

My starter research log on Oliver Charles Warner, listing the documents I have found for him and realize none list his parents.

With Oliver Charles Warner being born in approximately 1809, this is the world of tick marks on the census. My goal is to first find a census that will show Oliver being born on the census with Joel and Thankful in 1810. Please note this will not give me concrete proof of any means, it’s just a start to see if Oliver is in the household with Joel in 1810.

When I go to consult my files, I find it strangely ironic that the only census I am missing for Joel Warner is the 1810 Census. Ideally, this census should show Joel Warner as the head of household, and other dependents including his wife, Thankful, his daughter, Sharon Burke Warner, and two sons, Anson, approximately 5, and Oliver, approximately 1 (possibly less).

When I found the 1810 Census using Ancestry.com, it had not yet been indexed so that could explain why the 1810 Census had been missing in my files and on my profile of Joel Warner on Ancestry (however, the 1810 census is now saved in my computerized files).

The above 1810 Census can be found on Ancestry.com, J Warner is boxed off near where the word “Bernardston” is written on the left-hand side of the page.

The perplexing challenge I face with the 1810 Census is that it states that “J Warner” and his spouse (at this time I do not know for certain if this is Thankful) are raising 1-boy under 10; 2-girls under 10; 1-girl 10-16; and both the man and the woman in the house are between the ages of 26-45. Why this is perplexing is that many records have Joel having another son, Anson, born in 1805, with Oliver Charles supposedly being born in 1809, which leaves him with 2-sons under 10. I am also unaware of any daughters under 10 and this lists 2.

This census also lists Joel’s siblings, Pliny and Roswell, which is why I’m confident my “J Warner” is Joel. Both of his brothers are listed as having sons under the age of 10 as well (or at least boys in their homes). Pliny has 4, while Roswell has 3, more possibilities on who Oliver’s parents might be. (Joel also has one other younger brother, Seth, who could also be a parental possibility, and Seth, like Joel, moved to Potter County, Pennsylvania).

Now while looking through some of the birth records from Bernardston, Hampshire, Massachusetts, it’s quite odd that on 15 November 1804 Alson Warner was born to Pliny and Jerusha Warner. I now wonder if the mysterious “Anson” could be “Alson” (the Anson I have found was born in 1805 and I’ve never seen any other record relating him to my Warner’s, I have a hunch I have found information on an Anson that doesn’t belong to my family as there are many Connecticut ties). But does that mean that Oliver Charles Warner is the “boy under 10” on the 1810 Census for Joel?

Also, Oliver was supposedly born in Franklin County in 1809. And though Franklin and Hampshire are next to one another, was Oliver born in Franklin County or in Hampshire? It’s entirely possible they moved, as Thankful died in Franklin County as well in 1812. In fact, it appears that Bernardston has changed what county it is in (or at least I have it down as two different counties, maybe Franklin was formed from Hampshire). A simple Google search provides me the answer, Franklin county was formed in 1811 “from the northern third of Hampshire county”.

So now my latest deduction is if Oliver Charles Warner was born in Franklin County, how accurate is his 1809 birth year since Franklin was formed in 1811? Oliver is not listed in any birth records for Bernardston, only Sarah Burke Warner, the oldest child of Joel and Thankful, is listed as being born in the vital records of Bernardston, Massachusetts. None of the other children that are represented on the 1810 Census are listed either. So, my next task is to look through other city’s vital records in Franklin County to see if Joel Warner is listed with offspring. This also includes me creating a new research log with the question:

Where in Massachusetts was Oliver Charles Warner born in 1809?

I’ll keep the year the same because as I look through the documents listed I’m sure if he was born a few years later I should still find him. It’s possible as I find the vital records about Oliver that maybe I will find information about the girls under 10 that are also listed in the 1810 Census under Joel Warner.

Other research logs I could work on were extending my research to the collateral members of the Warner family, finding out the name of the children of Pliny, Roswell, and Seth Warner as well, to make sure my Oliver Charles didn’t belong to them. It’s always possible that the girls listed with Joel could have been nieces of his, nothing is guaranteed that the girls are his daughters.

Research Logs Keep You Focus

If nothing else research logs keep you focused. You may end up working on multiple research logs simultaneously but it’s worth it to keep yourself from duplicating work. Not to mention we all know how easy it is to go down the rabbit hole when you get distracted by bright, shiny objects, I’m not saying you won’t still do that, but hopefully, you will have a new research log for each hole you go down, and then some.

As for me and Oliver Charles Warner… I am still in the throes of trying to find towns in the vicinity and going through the online records. Many of these vital records have been digitized but you have to go through each record page by page. Where Bernardston’s records are all alphabetical and are just beautiful, not every town is Bernardston. It is just taking me longer than I anticipated to narrow down areas and figure out where to look. Part of me thinks I should do more of the collateral search first to discover all the children of Joel’s brothers to verify the names of all of their children to aid in my search, and that finding those records may assist me in narrowing things down. But I am determined to find what I need, hoping beyond hope that Joel and Thankful are Oliver’s parents.

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.