Friday, May 15, 2015

Cite Your Sources!

Tools = Ancestry, Family Search, Find-a-grave and other genealogical websites are only tools to help you locate sources of documents to prove your ancestors existed, however, not all documents are online. Some you have to go dig out yourself from family members,  local libraries, inter-library loan and/or on-site such as in cemeteries, courthouses, FAN's (friends, associates, neighbors), and historical/genealogical society libraries and museums. I have said that genealogy is much like a scavenger hunt and a jigsaw puzzle all rolled into one!
3 Documents 4 Each Point = According to my schoolteachers, you should have at least three documents for each point you want to discuss on any point in a report and genealogy is essentially reporting on an ancestor. So in this case, to prove not only that your ancestor lived with three documents,  you also need prove each thing that happened to them during the course of their life with three documents apiece or more. And do not disregard the citations, for these help you prove your point(s), should you ever have to do so. Membership in various groups such as Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution or the Boone Society require these. And the more documents you locate, the better you will get to know your ancestor(s) as well.
Timeline = I found it most helpful to set up a timeline for both of the current ancestors I'm researching (my 3rd great-grandparents) with a birth and a death date and filling  in between those two dates with other documents.  It's a given that all people have at least two dates in their life-time -- a birth and a death, but generally, most people have more than that.
* birth records = (primary sources such as family Bibles, letters,  birth certificates, baby announcements, baptism/dedication/church/ministerial records,  census records, doctor/hospital records,   parental wills,  tax records, tombstone/cemetery records. Secondary sources such as published genealogies, county histories, magazine/newspaper articles, etc.)

* death records = (primary records such as family Bibles, letters, death certificate,  funeral leaflet, funeral home/mortician records,  tombstone/cemetery records, canceled checks,  military records, ministerial/church records, hospital/nursing home records, insurance papers, probated wills, and secondary resources such as newspaper death records or obituaries,   published genealogies, etc.)
Give credit where due = I cite or document my sources this way below, however there are other preferred methods too. Find the one you like and  consistently stick with that form. I'm using the one I learned in school.
* Citation form = Name of article and/or book. Author. Illustrator, if there is one. Publisher; city/state, copyright date. Volume number, if there is one. Page number. Repository location (where the material was found, so other researchers can also find it) or if retrieved from an online source, give website url/address. If shared with you from a family source, also acknowledge their contribution. 

Is it the gospel truth? = Documents can prove or disprove a family story. You begin with the family interview (memorized oral tradition) or family Bible (handwritten record), but then you go out and find other documents to go with it. Memory can sometimes be faulty or the tale may have been twisted in the telling. Remember the "Telephone" game we used to play as children?  Records can also be off  by a year or two, so take that into account. If the census taker did not have good spelling skills and if a transcriber of the records did not have much experience in reading the old script, there may be mistakes in written names, so look for all possible variations.

Be as Professional as Possible = I've been told by several genealogical/historian friends that they will dismiss a family tree as unreliable if there isn't any citations listed, so if you wish to have your claims about your ancestors to be taken seriously, you must cite all your sources as you find them.  Not everyone is endowed with photographic memory, so as you collect more and more information on your ancestor(s), you must add the sources in as you locate your material, because you won't remember them. Get OCD about it!

Good Hunting!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Disneyland 's Ullom Brick

I have never been at Disneyland, but if you are planning on visiting this summer, hunt to find your cousin's special brick in the walkway! Happy feet!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Keepers of Personal History

I recall a recent discussion between a cousin and myself. At the time, he was in the process of moving. Perhaps he shouldn't have mentioned he was throwing out some old posters of his past concerts (he's a gospel singer), because I just had to tell him that he ought to be saving some personal history. He came back and said he didn't want to be a called a hoarder. I was truly surprised at him, because he's been very interested in everything I've been discovering so far on our mutual ancestor. And just where did he think I was getting this information? I bet he didn't put two and two together. *smile* He would be compiling his own personal history for his descendants and I know he has at least two.
Genealogists, historians, and librarians consider journals, photo albums and scrapbooks as treasure troves of information, because so few people keep them. If it weren't for the keepers and savers, we wouldn't have materials to research from. Thanks to a certain cable television show, which I've heard this cousin mention from time to time, people are being led to believe that collecting of any sort is a shameful thing and it makes them fearful of being labeled a misfit of society, not realizing that one poster in a scrapbook does not a hoarder make. This is yellow journalism at its worst -- ridiculing the mentally ill who truly cannot help themselves. Hence the consequences of a throw-a-way society who are constantly bombarded with messages to buy, buy, buy. At one time, thriftiness was considered a virtue.
And while I'm on the subject, I have been urging my fellow paper artists not to recycle/upcycle old ledgers, handwritten letters and ephemera to use in their artwork. In these days of easy photocopying/scanning and printing, making a copy and donating their flea-market finds to their local genealogy/historical society makes perfect sense to me. If it hadn't been for my thrifty great-grandmother and hence my grandmother, I wouldn't have had Hannah's wonderful letters to scan and transcribe like this one:
Dec 18, '29
Dear Tacy, So sorry to hear Laura had the small-pox and you had to be vaccinated. Hope she did not have it very hard and that she is getting along all right.
Am sending a check for $3.00 to you to use wherever you most need it.
Ronald wrote me about Laura. Hope this doesn't put her back in her studies at school.
It turned cold last night and we are in a snow blizzard now. We are promised zero weather soon.
Mildred had a baby girl born to her and Clarence Dec. 10th. Both Mildred and baby are doing well.
Love to all, Hannah
Here's gold! First of all, this letter tells me that Laura had small-pox when she was old enough to attend school. These days when small-pox has mostly been eliminated by immunizations, it's hard to believe that a family member would have this terrible disease in the twentieth century. Laura lived through it and not only did she live through it, but she lived to a ripe old age scar-free. That was a blessing! Not many people did. My encyclopedia says it was the most contagious air-borne disease and was usually considered a death sentence when people were diagnosed with it. The current ebola epidemic in Africa should serve as an example. People had to be isolated in quarantine to try to stop the spread of it and when you had precious little to begin with, burning all the personal possessions of a sick person, because back then one didn't have anti-bacterial cleaners to sterilize the sick person's room with as we do today, was heart-breaking as well. Young people should realize that the risks that come with vaccinations are a lot less than should their children get the real disease. I've seen many young children's tombstones cemetery walking that has made me realize how heart-breaking it must have been to lose their precious heirs to disease outbreaks.
Second, pooled information from other genealogists, may indicate to county historians, who also in the region may have died from smallpox in 1929.
Third, this letter tells me that Hannah was a compassionate woman and knew their need. It also tells me that she lived somewhere above the equator by the weather she was experiencing in December of 1929. And it tells me that she had been communicating with mutual acquaintances, most likely family members, about the birth of a baby girl. She names names! And last, but not least, we have a sample of her handwriting!
Since I've decoded a few clues from this letter about our family from this single sheet of paper, I can now apply that to a family genealogy chart. For the clueless, genealogy is like a scavenger hunt and a jig-saw puzzle all rolled together. You have to hunt for primary documents (ie. like this letter), then decode the clues from the documents (ie. see above), and fit the clues together to reassemble your ancestor's lives. (Note: And be sure to record where you obtained your clues if you wish to be taken seriously. It has saved my bacon more than once!)

Giving Back!

Sometime during the course of your research, you might want to "give back" to the community of family historians/genealogists. That's partly what motivated me to extract information of mostly female Missourians from national women's magazines for It's not an easy job to go through old magazines and scan each contributors' letters for personal information, then type it up in a format that everyone could use, but I knew of a private collection of magazines that the public might not ever see and I wanted to contribute something to Missouri's genealogical knowledge base.
Contributing information to a county or state based genealogical society is not the only way to give back. I've donated scans of old postcards to  The Philatelic Genealogy Website such as this one:
Christmas greetings from Ell, Norma, &  family, To Miss Laura Ullom, Elkhart, Kansas

I also like to take photos of historical markers of events that my ancestors might have participated in  or experienced to stick into my archive of knowledge about them. Sometimes you get quizzical looks from people when you hop out of the car with your camera in hand to take a snapshot. I frequent a website called the Historical Marker Database Organization to see if there are markers that pertain to certain ancestral events. I recently noticed an offer on the front page for FREE business cards you can hand to people should they come to ask you what you are doing. I received mine today in the mail.

The center is left open to attach an personal or business adhesive mailing label or to stamp your name on it  if you wish to add it. So far, I haven't found any markers in my neck of the woods that haven't been added to the site, but if I do find one missing, I can contribute there as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

From the Paper Trail

Lately, I've been keeping busy with sharing information with new-to-me relatives who have found a couple of the little biographies on my History Nut blog, extracting and transcribing old magazines for the Missouri State Genealogy Association Journal (MOSGA), which by the way, the first in a series of extraction articles called "Missouri Contributors to National Women's Magazines" has been published in the newest issue (Vol. XXXIV, No. 1, 2014).

Have a great week!
Postscript Note: The third in this series has now been published! Mr. Hough, the editor, is looking for other submissions. My articles will be ending as of the last issue of this year (2015), although I have more I could contribute. If anything I have extracted has been helpful to your relative research or if you have enjoyed reading the articles, please contact Mr. Hough and express it. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hannah's Heirship Letter

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1735 Thorndale Ave.
Ravenswood Station

April 18, 1929
Dear Folks All,

I received Frank's letter written early in April, and also the one with the heirship proof that papa had made out last year this morning.

I am very busy packing up my things to get them ready to put in storage. I have no help from anyone unless I hire them at $1.50 an hour for labor, and that counts up pretty fast. I can get the Janitor to help me carry heavy things upstairs but real help comes very high. I sometimes wonder how people can charge and pay such high wages. It cost more to put things away and pay rent on them than it does to buy new things, almost, only the new things are such poor stuff. You pay a big price and get little back in value, compared to what you got a few years ago.

Am glad Mabel got through having her baby all right, and am anxious to know how the baby is getting along after what you said about its throat.

Am so glad you got Mr. Lorenz to let you have the ground you wanted. Guess he wanted to be as sure as he could be that he wouldn't be gypped by a dishonest man again. He had experience in, I believe So. Dakota, and Florida and lost quite heavily. He wanted to go slow the next time. Clarence wrote your mother while she was east on her visit about them drilling for oil in or near Elkhart. Can you tell me what is going on and what the prospects are for oil?

A conducted trip such as I am going on is ideal in many ways especially for one travelling alone as I have to. We have guides in nearly every port we stop. We are put up at first class hotels and am sure of good rooms without the worry of hunting rooms in a foreign city. Don't have to worry about changing our money into the coin of the country we are in. Guides take us to the most interesting and important places. The company we go with get Visas for us for every country we visit, (that is a permit to land in these foreign ports), furnish all means of transportation for us while we are ashore, and especially in Palestine, and Egypt, and Syria. We are to have a guide who instructs us from the Bible. We study each day from the Bible the places we are visiting and in that way places and events will stay with us better.
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Many say its cheaper in the end to travel as I am going considering the service they give us, and the protection we have. I would hesitate to go on a long trip such as I am going on, from June 18th to Sept 10th (from New York back to New York) all alone for if I got sick, who would look after me? Living and travelling alone has many disadvantages.

The letter you sent me from Mr. Wehking in St. Louis simply means, it takes a lot of money to fight a case in court especially the higher W.S. Courts. Most of the officers of the Emerick Heirs Association are poor men and they have it the money to take out of their own pockets and fight the case alone. The Association should come forward and each one contribute toward this expense. If the court decided the case in favor of the Emerick Heirs, then there will be one grand rush of heirs to claim a share. They are not willing to help pay for the fight and take a chance of losing but they will want a big
share in what others have fought for and won.
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Cora Bircher, in her last letter to me says there is a J.D. Butcher in Pennsylvania who can give dates of Alexander and his wives. If that is true, then that is a big victory for Alexander & his heirs getting in on this claim. She also says she was told that Attorney Hay, who is lawyer for the Emerick Heirs Association, is going over to Holland, to Amsterdam and search the records for to see what he can find out about the estate in Holland. That will be interesting if its true for he knows how to go about it, and I would not know the first step to take. These are things I hear and I pass them on to you as I hear them. Ellsworth says he wants to join the Association but I haven't written him about it. Now that I have the papers papa made out, I can, when I get time send him a copy of what papa sent in.

Many names are misspelled in the paper papa had made out. I shall spell them correctly when I send them to Ell.
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Quite awhile ago, but since Christmas I wrote Uncle Henderson and Ray that I would like to have them pay the note Ray owes me. Neither of them have written me a word in reply and I do not know if he is going to pay it or not.

I wish you would write me at once for I may not get your letter if you don't. I don't know yet where I am to stay until I leave Chicago about May 30th so I can't give you any address to send me mail later than Apr. 26th I have to look around for a place to stay until I go away.

I hope you Frank and Lawrence are planning to pay up the loans I made you last summer. I will be away from United States when they fall due. The way Lawrence kept me uneasy last summer over not paying up when he promised me faithfully he would has cause me to be uncertain as to what to expect of him this summer. The letter you wrote me two weeks ago you never mentioned your mother's name as to how she was or how she was getting along since she came home. I will send you the Heirship Proof papers in the near future.

Love to all,