Category Archives: Documentation

The Broader Technique

My Maternal Great Grandfather, Pleasant Smith has always been a mystery. When I first broaderstarted my research over 20 years ago, I only had his name, date of birth and the name of my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I had a few stories that my mother had told me about him when I was younger, but I couldn’t find anything that would validate them. So, I continued to search in hopes of a breakthrough.

I would love to report that the solid cement wall that blocked me from finding any shred of information had fallen down and the life of Pleasant had been revealed. But I can’t. What I can say is I do know a little more about his life thanks to the broader technique.

Sarah Jane Page ML James Newhouse 2It all started when I was trying to break through my Great Grandmothers brick wall a few years back. She was 22 years old when she married Pleasant. Back in the mid-1800s, that was a little late for a woman to get married. I decided to take a second look at the “hints” that came up when I entered her information. I discovered she had gotten married and had a daughter when she was 16.  Her husband died when she was 21 and she then married Pleasant who was 29 years old. Once I had her previous marriage info, I was able to find her parents, her grandparents, etc. I also found her siblings names. As a result, I found that one of her younger sisters had also married a Pleasant Smith! As a matter of fact, after Sarah became a widow she got married again and, on her marriage license, I found that the ceremony had taken place at the home of  Pleasant Smith.

I began to broaden my search into this “new Pleasant Smith”. That is when I found that he was the son of my Great Grandfather and his first wife Charity. I still felt like I did not have sufficient proof that the two Pleasants’ were father and son. I continued my search and found the younger one’s death certificate. His parents were listed, and they matched. However, it was solidly confirmed when I saw that my Uncle was listed as the informant on the certificate.

I am still looking for more records on the elusive Pleasant Sr. I know someday I will find what I am searching for. Because of this experience I have applied this “Broader Technique” to some of my other brick walls with great success. When I find any name that is listed on marriage licenses, wills, deeds etc. I make a note of them along with any dates or where they lived. Then I take the time to research that person. You never know who your ancestor may have crossed paths with. You can also use the U.S. Federal Census as a guide. Research your ancestors’ closest neighbors. Sometimes they have had interactions that have been documented and it may lead you to new discoveries. Sometimes we need to broaden our search field to find the hidden treasures!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Broader Technique, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Missouri, Page Family, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Smith, Uncategorized

You Are Descended From Who?

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How many of you have been searching for an ancestor on Ancestry.com and you get a match in someone else’s family tree? You then click on their “Matching Person (from Family Trees)” link and up comes their “facts” page. Here you can see what information they have on your shared ancestor. I have been able to garner a lot of useful data from these. I have even on occasion found family photos and documentation in the Gallery section. I then, usually, click on the members’ name and go to their profile page to see if we have any more relatives in common.

This is where it can get interesting. As long as they do not have their trees set on private you can browse through page after page of their “recently added findings”. The further back in time that your common ancestor lived, the more unrelated info you have to go through. But sometimes, in all that digging you find a gem! Some crucial document that can help you fill in some of those empty spots in your tree.

Yesterday I found one of those gems. I was so excited I decided it was worth looking

knights templar

more closely at this person’s “findings”. I soon came across some things that made me a little concerned. According to her tree, the woman was related to Lady Godiva, King James (all of them), Doretha Queen of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, 4 of the Knights Templars, Mary Queen of Scots, Robin Hood, King Francois of France, and the list goes on. I am not saying that she couldn’t have been related to one or more of them but there was no documentation or references at all. The one that really threw me though was her claim to be a descendant of King David (from the Bible) through his son Jonathan.

The reason I wanted to write about this incident was to take the opportunity to discuss the topic of credibility. Every person who is trying to construct a legitimate family history should strive for accuracy and provide as much documentation or sources as possible. I have a couple of ancestors who are my “brick walls”. When I find possible leads, I sometimes add that name to my tree so I can find it and continue researching. However, I make notes that this person has not been verified as part of my lineage and should not be added to anyone’s tree until it has been.

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Although I did find one good document in this woman’s common ancestor file, it made me concerned about the accuracy of it because of her listing her other “Ancestors”. Her credibility had been called into question.

The moral of this story is: “Always verify any information that you obtain from anyone else’s tree and always make sure your own data is correct when you add your findings to your own trees”. No tree is 100% perfect, but we should make every attempt to not add anything that can’t be proven.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Credibility, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Research, Source Citations, Uncategorized

5 Genealogy Myths

mythThere are so many “truths” that we believe about the subject of Genealogy. When I first started researching mine, I believed everything I read or heard about the subject. I apparently was quite naïve.

 

Here are 5 Myths that most new Genealogists are told but they are not true.

1. Your ancestors’ name was changed when they can through Ellis Island.

This isn’t necessarily true. Passenger lists were created when your ancestor boarded the ship at their port of departure. When they arrived at Ellis Island their names were checked off that list. There were, however, some passengers who wanted to change their names, for whatever reason, and the attendants would sometimes accommodate them.

 

2. Your ancestors’ records were destroyed in a Courthouse fire.Chenango_County_Courthouse_May_09

Yes, a lot of Courthouses have burned to the ground, but this doesn’t mean all of the records were destroyed. Some Courthouses did not totally burn down so the surviving documents were transferred to another county close by. Most of them contacted the residents of the county and asked them to bring in any documents they may have so that they could make a note of them. Many States have archives where their staffs have prepared special helps for genealogists researching around Courthouse fires. They would have records of these notes or copies.

 

3. The 1890 census burned to a crisp.

Truth is it did not burn. It became waterlogged while the fire was being extinguished. The papers were left lying around and they rotted. Some unknown person gave permission for these papers to be destroyed. A fraction of the census’ did survive as well as about half of the Civil War Union veterans census records.

 

4. Everyone has a Family Crest.

crestHaving a coat of arms or family crest is much rarer than you might imagine. Having the hereditary right to use it is even rarer. While there are many companies out there that are willing to sell you all kinds of merchandise with your supposed “family crest” on it, the vast majority of these companies are not engaged in legitimate genealogical research. The coat of arms or crest you get may or may not belong to your family (and it might be made up completely by the company selling it to you), or you may not have the hereditary right to use it. Historically speaking, a coat of arms is a design on the shield of a medieval knight. The design was unique to an individual and not to a family. Sometimes, the individual only had rights to the coat of arms during his lifetime. Other times, he was allowed to pass it down to his descendants, and it became the family coat of arms. Google your last name i.e. Hughes Family Crest and you will see how many variations there are.

 

5. You can find your whole family history online.

Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, errors abound in online indexes, transcriptions, and family trees. There is so much documentation out there that may never make its way online. Repositories still hold richly detailed, lesser-known records that haven’t been digitalized. It would really pay off if at some point you could visit a local library or courthouse.

These are only a few of the myths we have heard or believed. It is best to always verify any information that you may come across to determine the “truth” of it.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Courthouse, Documentation, Family Crests, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Myths, Research, Uncategorized

Racing to the Finish Line

Lets be honestIf we are to be honest it is hard to resist rushing through our research in the effort to go back one more generation. Especially when we find that next ancestor while doing the research. It is exciting to see how far back we can go and what interesting facts or stories we may find. Sometimes we abandon a “brick wall” ancestor to pursue an easier line.

I must confess, I have been guilty of this. One of these ancestors, my 4 times Great Grandparents on my Dad’s maternal side has been patiently waiting for me to return and try to find any information on them. I have had them in my tree for over 8 years and I have tried filling in the blanks, but I always got impatient in the searching.

A cousin I met for the first time gave me their information. I had taken a research trip to State Historical SocietyMissouri and when I walked in her house I was both impressed and jealous. She had been researching our mutual family for over 40 years. She had worked for the State Historical Society in Jefferson City for over 30 years and she had been able to search to her heart’s content. She had dozens of file cabinets and binders full of documentation. I took her word without hesitation.

A couple of days ago I decided to scan through my trees to find the dead-end lines and see if I could find anything pertaining to them. I had my 4 x G-Grandfather as Augusta White who was born in Virginia and lived in Alexandria, Kansas in 1835 when my 3 x G-Grandmother was born. That was it. My 4 x G-Grandmother had even less information. I had her name as Margaret “?”. Nothing else. I also had their children as Elisa Jane and Greenbury/Greenberry White and I at least had their birthdates and place of birth.

Elisha Jane WhiteI decided to take a different approach this time. I would start with the son and see what came up. I use more than Ancestry.com to do research so I pulled up all the sites. I found a Civil War Union Army document that had Greenbury’s name and place of birth that matched mine. It also listed his parents name as Augustine White born in Virginia and Margaret McClain born in Kentucky. With a little more research I found their marriage information and census records that listed the names of their children which matched mine. In no time I had the dates for their marriage, their places of birth, additional children’s names and the places they had lived. This opened even more doors of info which gave me possible names for their parents. My cousin had Augustine’s first name wrong, but once I discovered his correct name it busted through that brick wall.

The moral of this story is: It pays to revisit those “brick walls” ancestors often and exhaust every possible lead. Who knows what you may find?

 

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available  on Amazon.com:     http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Civil War, Cousins, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hayes Family, How-to, Missouri, Research, Uncategorized, Union Soldiers, Virginia

The Truths You Find While Researching Genealogy

The family 1966

Growing up my parents didn’t talk much about our family history. I heard a few stories from my Mother but none whatsoever from my Dad. I didn’t get curious about my family until after my Mother died and by then it was too late to ask the questions I had.

I had always been told that my Mother and Dad had each been married before they themselves had gotten married. My Mother said she had been married twice before. She told me her first husband had died from typhoid fever and her second husband has killed in a house fire while she had gone out shopping.

Truth #1: My Mother married to Earl Joseph Wilson on September 4, 1936. My half-brother was born in April 1937. This is where the information stopped. However, after much research I discovered that Earl Joseph Wilson had served in WWII in the army, he also moved to Dayton Ohio after the war and he passed away there on December 23. 1993. So much for Typhoid Fever.                                                                                                  George C Liermans' Death

Truth #2: She married George C. Lierman on July 19, 1940. On May 14, 1948 George did indeed die in a house fire along with 1 of his step-sons. The newspaper article stated his wife Grace had gone to the store and the kerosene stove exploded shortly afterwards. No mention of my Mother. George and Grace were married in 1946 so apparently he and my Mother had been a divorce prior to that.

Truth #3: My maternal Grandfather’s second wife died February 4, 1948. In her obituary it lists her step-children, John P Smith; Raymond Smith; Mrs. Otto Claxton and Mrs. Ike Cook. My Aunt Mary was married to Otto so who was Mrs. Cook. Of course, it had to be my Mother. There was never a mention of her 3rd marriage the entire time I was growing up!

I had been told that my Dad had been married once before and he and his wife Mildred had 2 daughters. Mildred and the two young girls died of Scarlet Fever.

Dad Mildred 1 MLTruth #1: My Dad married Mildred Shockley November 20, 1937. He was 22 and Mildred was just 17. On February 28, 1938, 3 months after getting married my half-brother Benjamin was born. I never knew I had another brother as I only discovered this about 8 years ago! Benjamin died on May 12, 1938 from Pneumonia. Mildred died on June 12, 1938, also of Pneumonia.

 

Dad Mildred Loretta

Truth #2: In March 1944 he married Mildred McQuillen Young who had a 2-year-old daughter. They never had any children. They had to have gotten divorced because both were remarried in 1948. Mildred died on December 5, 1981 not of Scarlet Fever. The young girl died in 2008.

 

I will never know the reason behind my Mother not telling me the truth about their lives. Maybe it was just during that era it was frowned upon to be divorced or married more than once. I also wonder why I was never told about my baby brother who died so young. All I know is I am more determined than ever to leave behind an accurate account of my life, yes even the unflattering things, for my descendants.

Have you uncovered any “untruths” in your linage? I would love to hear about them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Hughes, Marriage, Memories, Mistakes, Personal Stories, Research, Smith, Story telling, Truth, Uncategorized

This Is So Frustrating!

FrustratedHave you ever been frustrated trying to find information on a critical ancestor? I have. I am also surprised that I can find 10+ documents/sources on an ancestor who came to America in the early 1600’s but I can only find 3 on my Great Grandfather who was born February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Missouri. Oh, but his wife, my Great Grandmother, has over 20 documents/sources!

I have been searching for information on Pleasant (Plesent) Smith for over 20 years. pleasant ml 2Here is what I have found thus far. He married Sarah Jane Page (McDowell, Farris/Parris) on April 13, 1882. She had been married twice before Pleasant and once after. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8th, 1882 so apparently, she was pregnant before they got married. I have John’s Social Security Application and he states that Plesent and Sarah were his parents and it has their dates of birth. I also have a Census Record which I will explain about later.

I can find no birth or death records. In John’s 1920 Census he states his Father was born in Texas. I know this information can vary depending on who answered the door and gave the it. So, there is no proof of where he was born. In my baby book the date and place of birth was given as stated above but again no solid proof.

The legend or oral history passed down from my Mother was that Pleasant was a Creek Indian. He had deserted his tribe and married Sarah. Sometime after the marriage some of the tribesmen found him, killed him and dismembered his body. They then placed the parts on the railroad tracks, so it would appear the train ran over him. A gentleman found the body before the train came. This occurred sometime between 1882 and before 1894. My Mother also told me that some after Sarah married her last husband James Newhouse in 1894 that Sarah got a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Chief (she couldn’t remember the name). She said Sarah sent the letter back unopened. Does this prove that he was Creek Indian? I don’t think so.

census 2On Sarah’s marriage license to James it lists her last name Parris/Farres. So where is the name Smith? This brings me to the Census record I mentioned above. In the 1870 Census it has a Pleasant Parris working on the farm of Norman Wyckoff in Lincoln, Putnam, Missouri. He was 17 years old same as my Pleasant. The last name matches the marriage license. So, could it be that this is my Pleasant?

Does anyone have any wisdom, ideas or good advice of where I can go from here? No wonder my hair is turning white and I am getting black rings under my eyes.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Now That Was Embarrassing!

thankfulSometimes I am thankful that most of my “Genealogy Finds” are ones that no one else will find out about. At least not until I am gone and they inherit all my research. Today I found a mistake in my paternal family tree. You could say it was an honest mistake on my part, but it was a mistake nevertheless.

I must admit that lately I have been too busy to spend quality time working on busyGenealogy. I have written a third book that has nothing to do with Family History. It has taken up almost all my normal research time. As a result, I have divided my trees into groups of ancestors so I can work on them more efficiently. So, with my “spare” time this morning I decided to work on my Strother line.

Beverley Strother Randolph is my 4th cousin 4 times removed. Born July 17, 1851 and died February 5, 1929 I didn’t have much more information other than that about her! Image my surprise when I found her marriage information. According to their marriage license Beverley married Mary Strother Jewett on April 20, 1882! I was so confused. After all this was the 19th Century, this was not done.

shockedUpon further research, I discovered that Beverley was not a female as I had assumed. Just because he had a feminine sounding name I had entered his gender wrong. I have heard of other males with this name but it never struck me that this may be his case when I added him to the tree. After correcting his gender and finishing my other updates I began to wonder what other mistakes like this one have I made.

There are a lot of names that could be used for either gender. Take my name for instance. Here in the States, Valerie is a feminine name, but in Russia it is a male name. My youngest son’s name is Starr which can be used for either gender. Names like Chris, Angel, Terry or Kelly can also be for either one.

I guess now I should find the time to take a second look through my trees to make sure that I haven’t made this mistake anywhere else!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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