Monday, July 8, 2013

The Reunion Dash

So much has been going on since the last Thompson reunion and now it is upon me.  I have five days to prepare.  This is our fourth annual reunion.   Having been the primary planner for the past four years,  one would think I would be an old hand at getting ready.,,,, and for the most part I am.
There is always the last minute food details.  We always provide the main meat entrees, drinks, plates, and utensils.  Everyone one who attends is requested to bring a covered dish to share.  One of my wonderful "nephews" prepares the meat for us.  He is an great bbq'er and smoker.  All I have to worry about in the area is getting the meat to him for cooking.  That has been arranged.
Where I got sidetracked this year was the genealogy side.  I always like to bring something new to the reunion.  This year...I missed that goal....I had a lot of plans but nope missed it.  I have a display board which starts with my great grandparents, George and Fannie Thompson.  It has pictures of their children, their parents, and them.  It has an image of the census record that has most of all the children in the same household.  Every year I have added to this display.  This year I will be adding their grandchildren's pictures.

But as for new research... not really anything to contribute.  I had different research issues to pursue on this family but when I did do research, I ended up following other family lines.  The board is missing an image of one ancestor, my 2nd great grandfather, William Flaharty.  I had hoped to confirm his parentage before this reunion.  Maybe next year.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Elusive Johnson Family Line

According to US Census Bureau, both in the 1990 and 2000 census records, Johnson is the second most common surname in the US.  In 2000, there are just over 1.8 million Johnson's listed in the census.  If you are as fortunate as I to have this surname in your direct line, you know the challenges that can abound with tracing your Johnson family roots.  

My brickwall Johnson is named John Johnson.  He was born February 5 1806 in Coal Creek, Anderson County, Tennessee to parents whose name is unknown to me.  In March of 1825 in Tennessee, he married Rosanna Monroe Adkins.  From Rosanna's obituary, I know she came with her husband and two brothers to Menard County, Illinois in 1831.  Menard County would split and their homestead would end up in Mason County, Illinois.  He would be listed throughout his life on census records as a farmer.  John and Rosanna would have 14 children.  John died the 15th of April 1873 in Mason County.  He was laid to rest in Bethel Cemetery, Saidora, Mason County, Illinois.

I had tracked him all the census since 1840 through 1870.  It is prior to 1840 that I am stuck.  I know he was married in Tennessee in 1825 not sure where.  In 1830 there are at least two John Johnsons in the census index that Ancestry is pulling up for Tennessee.  I'm sure there are more.  So my Johnson lament... why could you of at least had an unusual first name... like your son Sampson or the male version of your daughter Parthena.

To top it all off... 14 children!!!  Only 3 of which were born in Tennessee... one for which I don't even know the name.  Of those 14 children, only two may not have had children.  Yes... my line contributed to the 1.8 million Johnsons in the US today.

In order to bring my brickwall down, I am going to have to look to those 14 children.  Delve more into their lives... it's time to go collateral.  I wonder how many more Johnson's I'll add by my new research,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Letting Go Of Family History

My mother started me down the path of tracing our family tree many years ago.  She handed to me handwritten family group sheets and pedigree charts which I painstakingly transcribed into my Family Tree Maker program.
I then looked through the old picture albums that we had at my parent's house.  In these albums I found, memorial cards for my parents' aunts and uncles who had passed on photos.  Mostly they were of my father's side of the family but a couple of books had information about my mother's family.
This was the beginning information I used to create my family tree over 20 years ago.  I continued building my tree at that time the old fashioned way...writing letters, going to libraries, going to courthouses and paying for copies of vital certificates.  Then the internet began to explode with genealogical data and it has continued its rapid pace.  
Three years ago my mother passed away and I was amazed at the amount of information she had in her "office".  On the wall was hanging an ornate marriage certificate of my great grandparents.  SAY WHAT!!!  Why was I just finding out about this piece of family history?  But that was not the end of the vast family history treasures we would uncover.  
There were more pictures of her side of the family both her immediate family and ancestors.  I found pictures of people who had only been a name in my family tree.  It was great to put a face with name  even if it did take years to get to this point.
My mother during her last years of life and started gathering some of the pictures into family groups.  She created a book for each of her siblings containing pictures of them which she had accumulated over her life time.  Some of them from before her time were probably handed down from her mother.
This year my mother's side of the family is planning a family reunion.  My husband had spent the winter scanning  all of the pictures and other family history items I had brought home over the past few years.  Now I can bring up a digital image of these items any time I want.  It seems only appropriate to hand off the books that my mother created to someone in the family of the sibling.  
It is wonderful that technology has advanced to where we are saving most pictures digitally.  This makes pictures of our ancestors easier to share.  Knowing I can see these picture digitally at anytime allows me to share the original photos with the direct descendants of these siblings.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Surname Saturday - McIntosh

As I wait to take my godson to the Central Illinois Highland Games to celebrate our Scottish ancestry.  I decided it was only appropriate to do a little research on my ancestor that led me to explore my Scottish roots... Robert McIntosh.

Robert was born November 1820 in England.  However, his naturalization paperwork states he was  born in Ireland.   I know his mother's name was Elizabeth.  She was born abt 1790 in England and died between 1850 and 1860 in the United States.  All I know about her comes from a census record.  I know nothing of Robert's father.

Robert came to America in 1848 through the port of Philadelphia.  His wife, mother and three children would follow him to America  a couple of years later in 1850.  They would make there way to Illinois where there would make a home in Mason County Illinois for several decades before moving to Kansas with his youngest son in 1880.

It was in Kansas eight years later that Robert would pass away in April 1888 in Crawford County, Kansas.  Some day I will take a trip to find his resting place.

Several years ago while living in California, my husband and I attend a Highland Games event in Pleasanton.  It was there that I would recognize McIntosh as a Scottish ancestor.

So today I am introducing my godson who also has McIntosh in his veins to his Scottish heritage if all goes to plan.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Addiction of the Shaking Leaf

Let me start out by saying how thankful I am for the internet and online genealogy sites like They have given us access to more information easier than ever before, given us an easy way to link up with new relatives, and all in a short amount of time.... no more waiting for the mail.
The other information online genealogy has given us is a plethora of family trees.... some sourced and some not. Some carefully researched and some not. What these sites do not do in their "Getting Started" videos is discuss how to evaluate the data being presented.
It is easy to accept what someone else has added to their family tree as truth. I have found several family trees online that have copied information from my tree that is in the public realm which I know has no public sourcing. How do I know it is my information because of the pictures I have added to the tree. That's not to say my tree is not supported by proper documentation but just that I have not posted it into the online version. So people have accepted this tree and others have accepted the information from other people and so on. It is the addiction of the shaking leaf.
My husband also a genealogist has encountered a similar problem tracing his family line. Several people have the same person as the progenitor of one of his lines. But no one has the proof to support the progenitor as they found the information in a tree online.
I like many people are addicted to the shaking leaf but I remember my tree is only as strong as my documentation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Tombstone, A Tombstone... Genealogists Need Tombstones

Or at least tombstone transcriptions....but pictures are the best.

While doing research for a friend, I came across a discrepancy in the death years of this friend's great grandparents.

The death information was first obtained through Ancestry which now searches FindAGrave's database through the Ancestry portal. This database provided my first set of death years. With each entry, Ancestry provides a link to FindAGrave's website for the person. I followed the link but no picture existed. I did the logical thing.... I put in a request for a picture. But my instant gratification was not satisfied.

Yes, I know genealogy is not about instant gratification most of the time. But I can dream. Anyway....
I did a search on the internet for the great grandfather of my friend. I find his name in a cemetery listing online. But his death year and his wife's death year are switched! That is when the conundrum started. Still no picture of the tombstone at FindAGrave.

How was I going to resolve the discrepancy?

In the past two decades, the search for genealogical information has become easier and easier. To get information from a tombstone, you had to go to the cemetery or have access to a library that had a reliable listing on those interred at the cemetery. But now you may find the same information at FindAGrave, the Tombstone Transcription Project or several other websites.

So I searched with no luck. Then one day I received an email stating that someone had taken pictures of the tombstones and posted them to FindAGrave. You never know when a picture is going to be posted. I have some requests that have waited for years for someone to take a picture. But the genealogy genie smiled on me that day.

From those pictures I was able to determine that the dates had been posted transposed. Yet another reminder, that seeing the original is the best way to confirm information.

As I said at the beginning, I was doing this work for a friend. No good work goes unrewarded. A day later someone posted the pictures of two tombstones I had been waiting years to see! I know there are a lot of requests out there for pictures.... now my turn to pay it back!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Thrill of the Search

Some people like to drive fast.  Some people like to jump out of airplanes.  Some people like to climb mountains.  It is all about the thrill.... the excitement!  I prefer to get my thrills in a differrent way.  It's all about the genealogical and historical search for me.  When I find that clue that solves the problem I was stuck on.... or just when I find out something I didn't know before, those instances are the thrill for me.

Whether I am working on my own family tree or a client's, I get the same thrill to find a missing piece of the puzzle. Even though information is more readily available to us via the internet.  But some times the indexing of information isn't accurate and that provides a challenge.

 I was searching for a census record.  The family name had been changed by the family at one time but I didn't know when it changed.  Using the census index was no help.   I had found the family I was researching in a City Directory.  I had the street address so headed back to the census records and  found the enumeration district I needed.  Then I started a page by page search.  I found them!

Sometimes the thrill happens after I have had some time to interpret the information I have found.  That was just the case as I was working on a census record for a client.  It stated that the husband and wife were from Germany and that their native tongue was Dutch.  Dutch??  I was stumpled for a while.  Then  telling my client about it, the lightbulb went on!  Not Dutch.... but Deutsch.  I had solved a misinterpretation that was over 100 years old!

I also love speaking to my clients and telling them something they didn't know about their ancestors.  Sometimes I am trying to get a clients read on new information I have found  One client now says I know their ancestors better than they do.

The thrill of bringing someone to life again that has been dead many years.  To flesh out the life of a   person who was just a bunch of vital records.  To fill in the dash between the birth date and the death date.  I like learning about what was going on in their lives as well as what was going on in the world.  How did that affect them?  Did they make any big decisions because of a world event?

Okay so maybe my heart doesn't threaten to jump out of my chest.  But the tingles are there.  These are thrills we as genealogists can have every day!