Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cleaning Up The Letter B

I've started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I'll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

I have 7 main family lines filed under the letter B, plus a ton of my relatives married people with B surnames. The letter B took a while to get through, but it did not disappoint.

Here are just a few of the gems I found in the Bs:
  • Found the obituary of Catherine Bank, wife of John Weis in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania newspapers. I was also able to track them down in the census and city directories after I found their address in the obituary. Thanks to Leslie Lawson for the obit lookup.
  • Realized that a family history had spelled a woman's first name incorrectly. It's Ursula Barrows, now Visula. Then I was able to find her marriage to James Madison Washburn and track the family through the census.
  • Found marriage records for Margaret Bascom's daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Smith, which led me to finding Margaret in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses, Indianapolis directories and a second husband. Still need to find the second marriage though.
  • Finally put together everything I had gathered on Fanny Bascom and was able to follow her children around St. Louis, Missouri after her death in the 1840s.
  • Found the marriage of Philo Dibble Bates and Ann Magdalene Whitmore in Ontario. Then I found Ann's death in British Columbia.
  • Tracked the John Bower and Maria Katharina Schilling family in census records and found John in the same cemetery as his wife. Imagine that!
These are just the highlights from the B surnames in my tree. Only 24 more letters to go!

Other letter cleanups:
Unknown surnames
Letter A

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Genealogy Resolutions - Review Time

It's the end of the year. So it's time to review last year's resolutions. Here were my 2011 genealogy resolutions:

Research Goal: Collect more original records. Included in this goal is ordering more microfilm from the Family History Library, visiting the Indiana State Library and visiting Switzerland County, Indiana. I also hope to visit Lycoming County, Pennsylvania again this year in order to improve my writing goal.
I started ordered microfilm of probate records in Indiana and then got bored with them. So I'll have to come back to them at some point. I was able to visit the Indiana State Library, Switzerland County, and Lycoming County this past year. I found lots of records to help me find my ancestors and hope to visit more repositories in 2012.

Writing Goal: Write a book about my surname line, Eiswerth. I was finally able to connect this family in Pennsylvania together and find them in Germany. This year I hope to gather the German parish registers, more tombstone photos, and other original records and publish them as a coffee table book for my family.

The prelimary edition of the Eiswerth family book was published and shared with family in August. I have since added more German church records, agricultural records, and photos to the book. I am waiting for the 1940 census before I decide if I want to make hard copies or keep it alive as a PDF.

I also started a book on my grandfather's military service. I just need to add some history to it and it should be done soon. Of course it would have been done awhile ago if I could find some motivation to finish it.
Scanning Goal: Scan all of the slides in my grandma's house. I knew that my grandpa had made a ton of slides, but I underestimated how many were there until I actually looked at them in December. There are 3 shelves full of slide boxes. I took home just the first shelf of 14 boxes. I'd like to turn each box into a video slide show and put them on DVD.
I never want to see another slide again. I finished all the slides at my grandma's house and then did all the slides that my parents had. I then organized all my photos and hopefully I will be able to find them now.

Education Goal: Continue National Institute for Genealogical Studies courses. I should be finishing the intermediate courses soon and then it's time for the advanced courses.

I finished the intermediate courses and all but one advanced course. 
Conference Goal: Although I want to go to every genealogy conference, I will definitely be attending the Indiana Genealogical Society conference in Indianapolis on April 16 and the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Springfield, Illinois in September. I have decided to skip the Ohio Genealogical Society conference in Columbus, Ohio because I wasn't too excited about this year's program lineup and I think a trip to the Indiana State Library is a better use of my time and money.

I had so much fun at FGS again this year. I'm working on the husband so I can go to Birmingham for FGS 2012. I was also able to attend the IGS conference and the Kentucky Genealogical Society's seminar with Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Blog Goal: Write more about my ancestors and start blogging about my husband's ancestors (more on that soon). I need to get into a better routine about writing up my genealogy finds before I continue my research.

 I started the Mr. Gen Wish List blog and scheduled a bunch of posts about his ancestors. So that side is taken care of for a while. I haven't found a good routine for writing about my ancestors yet but maybe that will change with my crazy organization goal for 2012.

So that's how I did on my 2011 genealogy resolutions. How did you do?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cleaning up the Letter A

I've started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I'll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

I didn't find anything exciting by reviewing the letter A surnames. But I was able to find more family histories that needed the source details added. Although they weren't "A" surnames, I still found:
  • That I forgot to do the last generation in a family history. I stopped with my common ancestor and forgot about the extra entries for a few of her children. Then I was able to find:
    • The middle name of one woman
    • That one man in my database was actually 2 men. The woman had married cousins with the same name. Then I was able to find the 2nd marriage record and detangle the two men.
  • In another family history, I found that they mixed up the woman's maiden name and first married name. Then I was able to find her first husband, obituary, and burial place.
I also went through a family history that was created for my maternal grandmother's side of the family in the late 1990s.  Everyone wrote in with their own stories of the family. When I ask my grandmother about her life, she tells me that she doesn't remember. But 15 years ago, she was ready to write those stories and share her memories so that her children wouldn't forget. Luckily the person who put the book together, recorded who wrote most of the stories. So every time it said that something was written by my grandmother, I transcribed it and put it into a Personal Historian file for her. So now I have the stories, even if she won't tell me them herself.

I also plan to cut up those stories into small parts and send them out to my family over the next year. That way they can build on the stories and also help me to identify which child was causing what trouble.

So even though I didn't find anything exciting in the letter "A", I still was able to find gaps in my database and fill in more blanks.

Other letter cleanups:
Unknown surnames

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cleaning Up My Genealogy Database

Last month I wrote about the amazing finds that I had made in my research just by cleaning up my database. I said that I was going to write about my process, but then I never did. So today I will share what I am doing to make my family tree database better.

First thing I did was to create a list of all the people in my database. I could have kept this as a digital file and highlighted within it, but I wanted to use my pretty highlighters and I get some odd satisfaction out of actually crossing things off a list. This list will help to make sure that I get everyone. I've found more people to add to my database, but I've decided not to add them to the list. I'm trying to add them and all their details properly the first time (and they'll get their turn the next time I decide to do this).

For each person in my database I am:
  1. Checking that all facts have sources.
  2. Making sure that all sources have source detail to tell me what the source said and why I added it to each fact. Nothing annoys me when I am trying to figure out who was in a census with someone and it's not in my database. The record is there, but not the transcription. I like being able to see the information I want quickly and not having to waste time trying to decode someone's awful handwriting for the 10th time.
  3. Research for person in online databases. So many new databases have come online recently. I keep pretty good track of what is new, but I will never remember all the places that family members lived. So it's is good to go back through everyone and see what new resources are available to find them.
  4. Check Find A Grave. Add person if not listed. Request photo if not found. At one point, I thought I would just visit and take all these photos myself. But that is not realistic, especially for all those collateral lines. Now might not be the best time to request photos with the snow and cold weather, but I've already gotten 5 photos back. Plus my requests will be waiting when someone wants to take a walk through a cemetery on a warm day.
  5. Compare RootsMagic database on my computer to my online tree on Ancestry. I love my Ancestry tree and all those little leaves. Probably because I'm smarter than those leaves. I don't just add everything it suggests, I evaluate the sources and add them if they fit. But I love those leaves because sometimes they find sources I would never cross my mind. Keeping my Ancestry tree current with my research should help to get more leaves that fit my tree.
  6. Make a list in Evernote of sources to check at the Allen County Public Library on my weekly research trips.
So why am I taking the time to do this? There are 2 main reasons. First, my research skills have improved tremendously in the last 3 and a half years. It's time to go back and use my improved research skills on my own tree. Second, I'm bored with my research. I've been stuck with my research and have been ordering microfilm and other records. Which is good. But sometimes I just want to do some good old fashioned census research. I thought that I had finished that within my own tree, but I am amazed at how many people I lost track of and have now been able to find. I'm still going to order microfilm, visit repositories and request records, but I like having something I can do at home and online.

My goal is to do 5 people a day. There are over 1800 people in my database, so I'll be able to finish this clean up before the end of 2012 if I keep doing a little every day. I am skipping all the people in one branch of my tree that I think has a bad connection. Whenever I finish a surname letter, I'll write a blog post on what I found. I've written about the unknown surnames already and will post about the letter A tomorrow. Currently I'm working on the Bs which will take a while since there are 6 main family lines under that letter.

What are you doing to improve your database?