Wisdom Wednesday — Sure it’s fun and addictive, but it’s not all that easy

So I’ve be blogging for a few months now and it has indeed been a lot of fun.  I spent the last couple of days thinking about what kind of posts have gotten some of the best responses.

Posts that have a story associated with them.  Can be small snippet of a story of lengthy piece.  But it seems those with a genealogy bent to their personality love a good or even passable story.

Posts that talk about how I’ve done it wrong. Confessing one’s genealogical sins seems hard at first, but it seems to have brought out some camaraderie.  Let’s face it — none of us are perfect.  And we all started as really naive and clueless family historians.  Who knew a birth record could be wrong?  Who knew that vital records don’t exist for everyone and are not readily available?  Who knew those stories about Indian princesses are just stories and not facts?  But figuring this out and then learning how to fix our errors?  That is one of the joys of genealogy.  We never stop learning.  I enjoy discussing the learning process as much I enjoy discussing my ancestors.

Posts about the forgotten.  This was and still is the main goal of my blog.  I don’t want my ancestors, good, bad or ugly to be forgotten.  They have  made me who I am.  And remembering those who have left no one behind, such as my maiden aunts and bachelors uncles, seemed to have struck a real chord with many.

So I think I’m on the right path.   It’s OK not to be perfect.  Which is good, because that is not in my DNA.   And sharing our mistakes maybe can make it easier for others.  Or at least we can share in our “can you believe I did that?”

And telling the stories.  Making the records come to life.  That is the fun and addictive part, isn’t it?

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.

Wisdom Wednesday — The World is a Limitless Place

I am a perpetual student because the world is a limitless place. — Elissa Scalise Powell

I had the honor of being in Elissa’s class when I was a student in the Boston University Online Certificate program.  She was inspiring then, and in a recent post on APG mailing list, she delivered the above gem.  (I couldn’t find this attributed to anyone else, so I assume it is hers.)  It was part of a great discussion about education.

When I was a computer science student at the University of Arkansas working on my bachelor’s degree, I remember sitting in an architecture class and thinking, there is absolutely no way I am ever going to know all there is to know about this.  It inspired me to go get a Master’s Degree at Purdue.

I had that moment in my BU class where the light went on and I knew I would have to pick and choose what I became truly knowledgeable about in Genealogy.

For me, I want to know all I can about Southern Genealogy, specifically Virginia, and the Carolina’s and the Civil War.  That is where my family’s history lies.

Oh, and sourcing!

Some days I feel like I am making progress and some days I am overwhelmed.

But I keep reading and practicing.  Because the world is indeed a limitless place.

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?

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!

Follow Friday — 1940 is Done! and Blown Away with DNA

Here is what I’ve been reading this week.  It’s been a great week for genealogy blogs!

From Ancestry.com

A beautiful pictorial journey through Virginia: Surprises Around Every Corner by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast:

And:

And last, but not least, what I thought was the most touching story of the week from the Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell: Blown Away with DNA

Treasure Chest Thursday — Sourcing Presentations

I don’t know if these are treasures, but these are the PDF’s of the sourcing presentations I’ve done for Ancestry.com

From Citing Sources Part 2

Happy Sourcing!