Category Archives: Sorting Saturday

Revolutionary Voices: A Last Muster Film — Sorting Saturday

I believe Revolutionary Voices is going to be great project.  But they need a little bit of help still.

Revolutionary Voices

Go to Revolutionary Voices on Kickstarter and learn more.  And maybe kick in a couple of bucks.  Every little bit helps!

March is Women’s History Month. Sorting Saturday.

March is Women’s History Month!  Over on my Ask Ancestry Anne column at Ancestry.com, I’m running through The Accidental Genealogist’s blog prompts for the month, so check in with me there if you want to play along.

Here is something fun from my friends over at Archives.com for Women’s History Month.  I dare you not to find something inspiring in here.  Dare you.
National Women's History Month - Archives.com

Never Assume Anything. Sixty and Serving. Sorting Saturday.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post The Legal Genealogist Inspires Me to Take Another Look at the Puzzle of Jeremiah which discusses why can I find no record of my 2nd great grandfather Jeremiah Gillespie fighting for the Confederacy?  Or the Union for that matter.

Marian Regan mentioned in a comment that maybe she should go back and look for her ancestor who seemed to old being born in 1817, but who knew?  Maybe he did fight.  It is not out of the realm of possibility.

Robert Bryant discharge
Robert Bryant discharge. Reasons include “old age” and “he is just worn out.

In 2011 I wrote a series of 6 posts for Ancestry.com on the Civil War.  The last 4 were about Robert Bryant, who was born about 1802.  Yep, 1802.  He fought for the 7th Kentucky Calvary (Union) and died from complications from a skin infection in a military hospital.  Don’t assume anything! :-)

My two introductory posts:

Four posts about Robert Bryant:

I sometimes regret publishing these — they would have been an awesome case study for conflicting evidence for my CG.  It is what it is.

Sorting Saturday — Fun with Names using Wolfram

I was named for my two grandmothers, Ann Irene Feazell and Jennie Elizabeth Payne.  The name Ann seems to have no family connection that I can find, so I’m also curious as to why she was named Ann.  I found an app on my iPad that added some possible illumination: Wolfram styles itself as a Genealogy & History Research Assistant.

I choose Names History, and then First Name and enter my first name Anne

And then I “Compute”

My first name was chosen for my paternal grandmother, Ann Irene (no idea why mine is spelled with an ‘e’).  She was born in 1917. You’ll notice the name Anne had a surge in popularity at that time.  Is that why my great grandparents chose that name that was handed down to me? There is no known person that my grandmother was named for, so this is a likely possibility.

You can also find variations on names, which as we all know is incredibly useful to those  of us who are searching for those elusive ancestors.

Name Variatons

It doesn’t do all known name variations, but it gives you some good possibilities.

Fun little app.  Give it a try.  Inspiration comes from all sorts of places.

Sorting Saturday — Good Source, Bad Source, Exhaustive Search

To abide by the Genealogical Proof Standard you must do an exhaustive search. 1

We know that includes vital records, deeds, probate, tombstones and a wide variety of original and derivative sources.  But in the age of the internet, what else does it include? How many sites should we look at?  Random Google searches are not the answer I do believe, but are sites that we know to hold sometimes questionable research part of a exhaustive search?

A Southern Sleuth mentions in Treasured Find, how a SLIG instructor mentioned that “one of the instructors reminded our class of the value of checking online trees to determine what research may have been done by other individuals.”  She continues to discuss how she has often rejected online trees because there is quite a bit of bad research or just complete fabrication in those trees, but she decided to add them to her list.

A capture of my paternal grandfather’s online tree.

I have also stopped looking at online trees because sifting through them looking for nuggets is much like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

I also received a comment on this blog from a reader who didn’t have a lot of faith in Find A Grave because there is some bad information on the site.  And indeed there is.  There are plenty of memorials without any kind of documentation, even tombstones, and extra information is added without supporting documentation.  This is a function of the site, it is not set up for supporting documentation other than photos.

This memorial of Mary Hartigan Cash, my ggg grandmother’s memorial on Find A Grave has information supported by the picture of the tombstone, which states her birth year, death date and that she was the wife of Ready Cash. 2

Find A Grave Memorial for Mary Hartigan Cash

It also states that she and Ready had three children, Franklin, Mary E and Virginia, and there is no supporting documentation.  This doesn’t mean the information is wrong, it is actually correct, although my gg grandmother, Martha Jane Cash is left out of the list.

So what is a good source? What is a bad source?

SOURCES provide INFORMATION from which we select EVIDENCE for ANALYSIS. A sound CONCLUSION may then be considered “PROOF.”

– Elizabeth Shown Mills 3

When the information is selected from the source, it’s validity depends on the informant and what their knowledge is of the event.  The source itself is not good or bad.  It is just a source.  The question being asked determines if the information is evidence and analysis determines if the information is part of the proof.  Conflicting evidence must be considered and explained.

Whoever supplied the information for Mary’s tombstone, not the Find A Grave memorial,  probably had good knowledge of her death date, 29 Aug 1887.  In fact, he or she may have been a primary informant if present at her death. But given that she was 87 years old when she died, it is doubtful that they were a witness to her birth, so that person was at best a secondary information.

As for the children of Ready and Mary, the person stating the information, most likely did not have direct knowledge of the children and their parents.  However, the supporting documentation may be there, but we don’t know because it is not listed.

So what does all this mean? The Find A Grave memorial may or may not be good evidence, it depends on the question. There are four possible questions that pop to mind that be answered by this particular source:

  1. When did Mary Hartigan Cash die?
  2. Who was Mary’s husband?
  3. When was Mary born?
  4. Who were the children of Ready and Mary?

The quality of the evidence from the Find A Grave source depends on which question you are trying to answer.  To do good quality genealogy you must do a exhaustive search.  You may choose to reject the evidence because of who the informant is, other conflicting information, or lack of documentation.  But you must examine all the sources available to you.  And online trees and Find A Grave and other online sources hold both good and bad information that must be included in an exhaustive search.

Footnotes

1. Board for Certification of Genealogist, “The Genealogical Proof Standard,” BCGCertification.org (http: //www.bcgcertification.org/resources/standards.html : accessed 25 Aug 2012).
2. Find A Grave, Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 2 Aug 2012), memorial page for Mary Hartigan Cash, Find A Grave Memorial no. 41042042, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
3. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained, Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3d ed., digital ed. (Baltimore, Maryland, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2012), 3.

Sorting Saturday — Making Sense out of the Mess or Sources Matter

I am trying to pull my grandfather and his ancestor’s lives into order and tell their story.  I find I have a mess of records.  One big old honking mess.  So I’m getting organized.  And not just thinking about it.  Or starting and stopping. (Yes,  I’ve done that multiple times.)  I’m doing it.

Prune the Tree. I use Family Tree Maker (yes, I’m a Ancestry.com employee, but I was using long before I joined the company.)  I went to Export and selected my grandfather, his descendants.

I selected his ancestors and included all parents and all ancestor’s descendants for 1 generation.

Do I really need all of his 5th cousins 4 times removed husbands?  I think not.

This is a copy, nothing is lost if I need to go back.

Sources.  OK, it is time to clean up my sources.  And is where I am now.  I’m cleaning up duplicates.  And removing all those horrid sources that you collect over the years.  I opened my electronic of Evidence Explained (you must get yourself one!) and went to work.  I’m about 30% of the way done I’d guess.  Oh, and managed to delete about 50 1880 sources.  I will recover I’m sure.

My 1850 sources are looking awesome!


One document per family.  I’ve also have one document per family, and attach every one to that.  Boy does the cut down on the chaos.  AND when I make a mistake in  sourcing (gasp!) I only have to correct it and re-correct it once.

Images for Indexes.  You know when you merge in a Social Security Death Index, but you have no image.  Well I make one.  I have Snagit (I love it, but there are other reasonable solutions.)  So let’s say I add my Great Aunt Eva’s SSDI.  I go to the page, clip out the important stuff:

So if I’m working on someone and I don’t have access to the internet, I have everything I need.

I’m sort of excited to have a clean tree.  Sourced correctly.  And then the story telling will go much faster.  I’ve often found it takes me as long to source a blog post as it does write it.  This should really help.

I learned a lot when I took the Genealogy course at Boston University.  I took the class and I got an A.  Now I have to walk the walk. And one thing I believe with all my genealogy heart is that sources matter.  No more sloppy sourcing for me.  And I won’t have to feel guilty when I sit in Thomas Jones or Elissa Scalise Powell‘s classes at FGS!

Happy Sourcing!

Sorting Saturday — The Legend of Middle Names

Both my father and grandfather were named Gilbert McClung Gillespie.

According to my father, it was tradition for parents to give the last name of the Doctor who delivered them as a middle name.  The story was the elder Dr. McClung delivered my grandfather and the younger Dr. McClung who was the son delivered my father.

I have found nothing to support that this tradition was prevalent in the early 1900’s but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tradition.  It made have been a family tradition.

A search of the 1940 census in Rockbridge County, Virginia finds a Hunter McClung who was a practicing physician at the age of 60 in 1940. 1 I found no other physicians in Rockbridge County, Virginia whose last name was McClung. My father was born in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Lexington and I believe it is reasonable to assume that his doctor resided in Rockbridge County.

1940 entry for Hunter Oscar McClung

Hunter McClung was also a practicing physician in 1910 in Lexington. He was the son of John McClung who was a retired physician in 1910 .2 Again, I found no other doctors named McClung in Rockbridge County. My grandfather was born in Lexington, Virginia and Hunter McClung may have delivered him as well.

1910 entry for Hunter Oscar McClung

I wonder if the same man delivered both my grandfather and father.   I have never found the name McClung in our family tree and I suspect that there is a bit of truth to the story of where their middle names came from, but it does appear that if it is true then they were delivered by the same man.

1. 1940 U.S. census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington Township, enumeration district (ED) 82-7, sheet 9-B, dwelling 195, Doctor Hunter A D McClung; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 20 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 4290.
2. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 167 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 114, sheet 17-A, dwelling 246, family 252, O H McClung; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 20 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1647; Dr. Oscar Hunter McClung was a physician, his father John was a retired physician living with him at the time which suggests he did not deliver my grandfather, but Hunter did if indeed a Dr. McClung delivered him.

Sorting Saturday — My Documents Are a Complete and Utter Mess or Yes, Elizabeth Shown Mills is Always Right

In my post Sorting Saturday: Starting a Narrative Lineage, I stated that my grandfather was the descendant of a Civil War Veteran, specifically, the a member of the Stonewall Brigade.  And I left the proof for later.  Here are the statements I need to prove:

  • Gilbert McClung GILLESPIE was the son of Laura Cecile DONALD. 1
  • Laura Cecile DONALD was the daughter of James Calvin DONALD and Elizabeth Jane WALLACE. She was born on February 13, 1877 in Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia. 2
  • James Calvin DONALD was born June 30, 1836.  He enlisted in enlisted in Company H, 4th Infantry Regiment Virginia on April 20, 1861, three days after Virginia seceded from the Union. He served in Company H, until April 16, 1862 when he transferred to Preston’s Company, 7th Cavalry Regiment Virginia. 3
  • Company H was part of the Stonewall Brigade.4
Parents of Wyatt and Laura on Certificate of Marriage

Oh goodness.  I can not find a whole bunch of documentation.  Ms. Mills tells us to document and summarize as you go.  And you know she’s right.  And I have stuff everywhere and it is totally unorganized.

I shall take a moment to feel totally sorry for myself.  And I vow to spend 30 minutes everyday to start sorting through documents online and in that big pile in my office and get myself organized.

And never again do I pull documents and throw them on my hard drive or on a pile telling myself I will source and organize later.  Probably never. :-)

And I am going to get assertion about my grandfather and his grandfather documented.

Footnotes
1. Rockbridge County, Virginia, Deeds, 285: 482, Children of Laura Gillespie to Eva Gillespie, 15 Mar 1965; County Courthouse, Lexington; Copy part of private collection of Anne Gillespie Mitchell.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, page 364, line 10 (1894), Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecile Donald; Virginia Department of Health, Richmond; states Laura is the daughter of James C and Elizabeth Donald.
3. Where are my Fold3 Documents?
4. Where are my Webpages for this?

Sorting Saturday: Starting a Narrative Lineage

I am prepping for my first CG attempt, which I hope to start sometime this year.  One of the requirements is to write Narrative Lineage.  I’m going to practice writing one for my paternal paternal line.

Today, I’m going to write some informative paragraphs and a intro and end.  I’m quite sure I’ll rewrite them but it’s time to start. I’ve got a lot more detail to fill in the middle here. but what I am realizing is how much of this is what I know I do not have sources.  I need my grandfather’s birth certificate and marriage certificate, at the very least

So here goes.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Gilbert McClung Gillespie (1914 – 2003)

My paternal grandfather, Gilbert McClung GILLESPIE, was born on March 20, 1914 in Lexington, Virginia.1  He was the seventh of eight children born to Wyatt Paul GILLESPIE and Laura Cecile DONALD2 His father was born at the end of the Civil War in 1865 3; his mother was the daughter of veteran of the Stonewall Brigade.4 Lexington, his hometown, was the burial place of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E Lee.   He is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.

Over his lifetime he lived through WWI and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. The Civil Rights movement and 9/11.  He raised 4 children and lived to see all 8 of his grandchildren. He had 12 great grandchildren, but he died in 2003 before most of them were born.

Family Photo of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie’s family

He died on November 21, 2003 at the age of 89 in Huddleston, Bedford, Virginia.  His youngest son, Paul, was with him when he died.  He was buried next to his wife, Ann Irene FEAZELL who had died twenty years earlier. 5

——————————————————————————————————————

Footnotes

1. Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Jul 2012), entry for Gilbert M Gillespie, SS no. 224-03-0395.
2. I need my grandfather’s birth certificate to document this.
3. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Wyatt Paul Gillespie (1865 – 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56048050, citing Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia; the tombstone is for Wyatt Paul Gillespie and his wife Laura Cecile Donald.
4. This is actually a complicated footnote; leaving for later.
5. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Gilbert McClung Gillespie (1914 – 2003), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56069420, citing Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia; the tombstone is for Gilbert McClung and his wife Ann Irene Feazell.