Category Archives: Tuesday’s Tip

Places I’ve Been, Places They’ve Been: Tuesday’s Tip

This map from Visited States Map Generator has popped up in my Facebook feed multiple times, so I had to make one.  It’s a map!  Who could resist?

where-i-beenColor codes:

  • Green — I’ve lived there
  • Blue — I’ve spent significant time there
  • Orange — I’ve spent at least a night there, most likely more
  • Red (or is that pink?) I’ve at least driven through and experienced the state
  • White — Never been.  Alaska should be there as well.  And I need to get to the Northeast corner of the country.  How have they not been on my travel schedule?

I thought it might be interesting to build the map from a genealogy point of view.  My ancestors once they arrived in this country, mostly in the 1700′s, were not very migratory. So my map is fairly blank.

ancestorsBut here are the color codes that I used:

  • Blue — My paternal ancestors
  • Green — My maternal ancestors
  • Orange – Both paternal and maternal ancestors
  • Red — Places where a lot of descendants of my ancestors migrated to, not including my director ancestors

From my research my maternal side came came into the country from South Carolina and migrated over time into North Carolina.  My paternal side seems to have come in through Pennsylvania and migrated down into Virginia and North Carolina.   I believe some of them came into Virginia ports as well.  But that is just a suspicion.

I would love to seem maps from people who have families who were wanderers.  Play around on Visited States Map Generator and see what you come up with.

Happy Mapping!

A few upcoming speaking engagements. Tuesday’s Tip

I have a few speaking engagements coming up that you might be interested in.  I usually post my slides when I’m done, so if you can’t attend, you can view them later.

March 16, 2013: Ancestry Day, Blue Springs, Missouri

The Midwest Genealogy Center is sponsoring an Ancestry Day with Ancestry.com in Blue Springs, Missouri.

I will be doing two presentations:

  • Find them Fast: Searching Secrets to Help You Find Your Ancestors Stories on Ancestry.com
  • Putting Your Ancestors in Historical Perspective: Extracting Stories from Military Records on Ancestry.com and Fold3

Also, the ever amazing Lou Szucs will be there as well speaking on:

  • Extraordinary Clues in Ordinary Records
  • Hidden Treasures at Ancestry.com

March 21-23: RootsTech, Salt Lake City, Utah

I will be doing one lecture and participating in a panel at RootsTech this year:

April 5 – 6: The Fairfax Genealogical Society’s Annual Spring Conference and Spring Expo

I do not have the schedule for the Fairfax Spring Conference yet, but will post them when I do.

Knowing when to tip over or How I plan to write more this year. Tuesday’s Tip

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

– RAY BRADBURY, Zen in the Art of Writing

entering the overflow

Hilary Dotson “entering the overflow” (http://www.flickr.com/photos/naiadsspring/172927427/, accessed : 2 Jan 2013), Creative Commons Attribution

I do a lot of research and find a lot of cool documents and stories. I’ve put them together in some sort of random order or even some deliberate order.

I’ve found mistakes in others work and “ah ha”‘ed when I’ve discovered the truth.

I’ve rejoiced when I’ve put pieces together on my own that have proved some conclusion that I dared hoped was right.

But you know what I don’t do? I don’t write it all up and publish it anywhere for anyone to learn, question or comment on it. Well at least not often enough.  (Go ahead.  Raise your hand if you too are guilty.  I can’t believe I am the only one.)

Resolved for 2013: Do a bit more tipping. Do a bit more overflowing.  Let the beautiful stuff out.

What I find, I write up.

It doesn’t have to be brilliant. Or even right.

But if I don’t write it down, and don’t let others review, poke and prod, then I’m going to miss a lot. And a whole lot of my ancestor’s stories aren’t going to be told.

And that is the point.  Not to let the people who came before me be forgotten.

Weaving in the Current Events of the Time into Your Ancestor’s Story: Tuesday’s Tip

We look at census records and changes in families as their story. But they lived in a time and place.  Their lives weave through history.   As I work on my Kinship Determination Project for my CG and the family  I’m trying to learn more about the county they lived in, Smyth County, Virginia to understand their lives in the 1800′s.

Yesterday I delved into History of Smyth County, Virginia, Volume Two, 1832-1870: Ante-bellum Years through The Civil War by Joan Tracy Armstrong.  As you can see Smyth County was in the southwest corner of the state and transportation was the biggest issue when it came to developing the county.  The politics of convincing a state legislature to fund the cost of building roads and railroads in remote areas of the state took quite some time.  But it did happen.

Marion, Va Train Station

Marion, Va Train Station by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent), on Flickr

“By the end of 1855, tracks for the railroad were within two miles of Marion.  Four months later the train was making runs to Marion and track was being laid toward Abingdon.” 1

So the 10 years from 1850 to 1860, did not just show a change in the personal life of my ancestor Adam Boyd Snavely.  He was married,2 became a father,3 and a widower4 over those ten years. There was also a change in the ways in which the people of the county, and Marion, where he lived, conducted their lives.5

And I think that is the challenge of telling the story.  Our lives are against the backdrop of the world around us.  What happens in my city, my county, my state, my country has an effect on my life as I interact with the people in my communities, and the events of the world.

To be really good at what we do, telling the story, we need to bring in those details, not just the personal details we find in historical records.

Footnotes

1. Joan Tracy Armstrong, History of Smyth County, Virginia, Volume Two 1832-1870: Ante-bellum Years through The Civil War
(Marion, Virginia: Smyth County Historical and Museum Society, Inc., 1986), 56.
2. Smyth County, Virginia, “Marriage Registers,” registrations ordered chronologically by date, p. 158 (stamped), line 2, entry for Adam B Snavely and Mary J Aker; citing Marriage Records 1852-1935 [microform], Reel 47, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
3.Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 2 Sep 2012), memorial page for Emma Snavely Find A Grave Memorial no. 47227744, citing Bear Cemetery, Atkins, Smyth County, Virginia.
4. Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917, database online, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Sep 2012), entry for Mary J Snavely, death date 17 May 1859; citing Virginia Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1912, index, FamilySearch.
5. 1860 U.S. census, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, p. 145 (penned), dwelling 948, family 951, Nicholas Snavely household; database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Jun 2010); digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll 1377.

Tuesday’s Tip: Public Profiler Worldnames

OK, I don’t know if this is going to break down any of your brick walls, but if you are like me, it was fun to play with.

I started on Public Profiler Worldnames and entered my maiden name Gillespie.

This is the distribution of the name across the world.  Well at least in the countries they are tracking. Below the map, I discover there are more Gillespie’s per million in Ireland in any other country.


So I click on Ireland in the map and see that they are concentrated in North Ireland and Scotland. This fits with my belief that they are from the Ulster Scots or Scotch Irish.

Clicking again on the dark blue area, I see:

Now I don’t think this helps me in my genealogy research all that much. This tells me where the names are most likely to come from, not where my ancestors come from.  But I love maps.  So what the heck — it was fun! :-)

Tuesday’s Tip — Stop Searching, Start Analyzing

I’ve been on Vacation, a girl’s weekend in New Orleans.  So I’ve been away from my blog.  Good weekend!  New Orleans is an amazing town.

So I’ve been working on my Sources.  I really thought this was going to be tiresome, but it’s not.  I’m actually slowing down and looking at the images.  And rethinking about people that I haven’t thought about in awhile.

Mary Elizabeth Gillespie is my great great grandmother.  Here is where she fits in my grandfather’s tree:

And I came to the conclusion quite some time ago that Mary’s parents were Willis Gillespie and Harriet Smith.  But you know what, I have nothing to prove that.  Nothing.

Here is what I know:

  • On Wyatt  Gillespie’s marriage certificate, his parents are listed as Jere and Mary Gillespie. 1
  • Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary Gillespie were married in 1842. Talton Gillespie is listed as Jeremiah’s father, Mary’s parents are not in the index. I suspect it is because Jeremiah was not 21 when they were married. Do I have the original or have I seen it?  I have not. 2
  • My Great Aunt Eva told my father that Jeremiah and Mary were first cousins.3

I choose Willis and Harriet because they seemed to be the most likely candidates. And they may be correct, BUT that is not proof. And now it really vexes me. What if I am wrong? The earlier you find “the truth” in your genealogy career, I suspect the more likely it is that the Genealogical Proof Standards are not being met.

Parents of Mary Elizabeth Gillespie? Back on the list of what I need to prove.

Footnotes

1. Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia
2. “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRDN-B9Q : accessed 14 Aug 2012), Jeremiah Gillaspie and Mary E. Gillaspie, 21 Nov 1848; citing reference p 408, FHL microfilm 30273.

Tuesday’s Tip — New Job, Punctuation and New Perspective

After 4 years at Ancestry.com I’m working at a different job and therefor not paying as much attention to my blogging the last few days.  I’m now the product manager for Institutional and Library version of our product working with Kim Harrison.  I’m super excited about learning how we can best serve libraries and other organizations who use our products to assist their patrons with genealogy research.  It’s a different way to look at Ancestry.com and it has given me a new perspective on what we do.

When I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been working on cleaning up my sources.  Well, I’ve also been watching the Olympics and cleaning up my sources. I really thought that this was going to be tedious, but not so.  I’ve been working on them by source, and I’ve been noticing something when I’m done with a group, for instance 1840:

You can quickly tell who lived close and who did not, assuming of course that the records aren’t in semi alphabetical order, which should be in the source as well.

And by the time I get to 1850, I see families and their proximity to one another:

You just don’t see that in a family tree.  You see who your ancestors are, but you don’t see them in proximity.  This combined with Thomas MacEntee’s article: uencounter.me – A Way To Plot Cluster Genealogy Research makes me think what if I did genealogy for a week, and didn’t use a family tree.  What might I learn?

But first I have to finish my sources. I am on a mission. :-)

Oh, and punctuation.  I know where the colon goes in the piece of documentation that is: (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Aug 2012), but I’ve been writing it as (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 4 Aug 2012).  And I taught it in my livestream class that way.  No one is perfect, I suppose.

This weeks theme will be sourcing.  And I’m discovering the more I do it, the more I like it.  Who knew?

Tuesday’s Tip — Ancestry Magazine on Google Books

Although it’s no longer being published, you can still access copies of Ancestry Magazine on Google Books.
Starting with the first issues in 1994:


Up until the last issues in 2010:


There are all sorts of great articles in here.  And it’s all free!

Tuesday’s Tip — Ask Ancestry Anne’s Top 20 Search Tips

I posted a series of Search Tips specific to Ancestry.com and thought that they might be worth rehashing here.  Here are my top 20 search tips:

  1. Shaky Leaves — Ancestry.com will do searches for you
  2. Place Pages — 30,000+ data collections organized by country, state and county.  Great way to find data collections you may never have seen
  3. Card Catalog — How to find where your ancestors may be hiding in 30,000+ data collections
  4. Finding Local Histories — Local histories give you context and hide many hidden gems
  5. Finding Surname Histories — You never know who may have documented part of your family tree
  6. City Directories — New technology have made these goldmines easier to search
  7. Ancestry.com Wiki  – Red Book and The Source for free
  8. Message Boards — See what other people are looking for and ask a question yourself
  9. One World Tree — There are hidden treasures in here; find out how to uncover them
  10. It’s a Big Web Out There — Suggestions to Ancestry.com members on where else they might look
  11. Name Filters — How to narrow down your searches and get known name variations
  12. Location Filters – My favorite filter; adjacent counties rock!
  13. Wildcards — Tried and trued, but it still works
  14. Limit Your Scope — Start with a small search and then expand out
  15. Category Searches – Search one record type at a time
  16. Use Facets — Don’t ignore the left side of your search results page
  17. Search From Your Trees — User your online tree to populate your searches
  18. Read the Search Form — Effectively searching a data collection requires you to understand what is in there and what is indexed
  19. First or Last Name Searches — If you can’t find out who you are looking for, try one of these techniques
  20. Look for Family Members — If your direct ancestor is hiding, look for his or her family

Tuesday’s Tip: What To Do When You Start Researching A New Place

Every state and county handled vitals and other legal documents differently.

The state of Virginia in its infinite wisdom decided NOT to record births when my great great grandfather Charlton Wallace was born and also not to record deaths when he died.  His parents are still my brick wall.

The Ancestry.com Wiki has put the entire contents of two books online that will help you understand what was recorded when:

The Red Book specifically will help you figure out what was available when.  I do a lot research in Virginia.  If I click on Virginia Family History on the Red Book main wiki page, I see information about the state.

If I click on Virginia Vital Records I see an overview of the what was recorded and when.  It helps to know birth certificates were recorded in 1824 and that you need to prove a birth date some other way.

You can also drill down to the county level.

And all of this is free.  You don’t need to be an Ancestry.com subscriber.

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