"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
-George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spring Cleaning and Organization

I have that room in my house, that almost every house has, 'the home office' which has become not really a home office but more of the family dumping ground for things that we don't know where to put it or where to hide everything when company is coming. We're trying to clean out that room, and I have found that the two feet of paper on the desk is mostly genealogy related. I think many genealogists share the same clutter of papers and treasures we've all gathered in our ancestor hunt.

I have also realized that I have a desk I have to clean off under all those papers. I've tried to tell my husband that it's an 'organized mess'. Now as the home office makes its transformation from office to a room for our baby that we are expecting in Decemeber, it gives me a chance to reflect on my organization and to see where I am repeating my work because I didn't know that I had a certain piece of paper. For example, I have found 4 copies of my Grandpa's step dad's obituary.

So I'm going to talk about my methods of orgnization. A very good book about organization is Oragnizing Your Family Tree by Sharon Debartello Carmack. In the book she describes some wonderful ways to organize your research, which I have modified to fit my needs.

First of all I have files of families by husband and wife. In those files also include their children unless I have 1)added so much additional paper on the child and his or her spouce and/or they have children as well or 2)they are my direct line ancestors and I am working on reseraching them.

There is so much more I could talk about my organization, but then that wouldn't get my cleaning very far. The house is slowly starting to look like a house again and not like a tornado went through it, although with a 3 year old sometimes it feels that way.

Happy researching and organizing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mistakes are Bound to Happen

So, Today's topic is about making mistakes and how we learn from them. So I'm talking about my mistakes and how I've learned from them.

The main one that sticks out in my mind is taking other researcher's information as correct. My GGGGrandpa George Lardie had a son, also named George Lardie. George, Jr. also had a son named George W. Confused yet? I am.

George Sr. first married a woman named Mary Chartran then Esther Beauchamp after Mary's death. George, Jr. married Harriett Coutu. George W. married Clara Secor and Clara Franklin, although I'm not sure yet in what order. Anyway, most reserachers have George, Jr and George, Sr's marriages messed up. I had George, Jr. married to his mother for a long time. When I broke out of just using internet research (another mistake to be discussed later) I started working on obituaries at the local library and death certificates. When Esther's obituary said she was a widow, I was really confused! After drawing a pedigree on a really large piece of paper, I realized that I had George, Jr. married to his mother! And that there was a George, Sr.

I had been relying on other researchers information as fact, when in fact, there were errors in other people's research as correct. Always verify your research and support it with sources. It also pays to look at those sources yourself.

Another major mistake I made as a 'newbie' is relying solely on the internet for research. This is a common mistake talked about in the industry magazines. When I started out genealogy, it was a school project to fill in a pedigree chart. Well, as a teenager growing up, one has limited funds on what can be spent for writing away and much of my time was spent writing relatives for updated information.

When I started dating my husband and met my mother-in-law, she showed me her Family Tree Maker (c) program, and I was able to find the some of my family. Then she showed me Ancestry! What a world of information that opened up for me! My husband bought me my first copy of Family Tree Maker (c) for Christmas and along with that came a free 1 year subscription to Ancestry. That started many long nights of research...and loss of sleep! I spent so much time using ancestry (and not much else) that I exhausted all the resources that ancestry had and found myself just searching the same things over and over again. I really didn't get into using local resources until about a year before I joined GTAGS. I guess the fear of not knowing what to expect and the fear of people being rude/mean kept me from checking out these resources. We all have heard horror stories about people's experiences while they are researching.

I'm sure there are many other mistakes that I have made along the way, none that really stick out right now. I'm sure there could be much more added to this entry.

Take care and good luck on your searches!
I hope you knock your brickwalls down!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day! Thank a vet!

Today as I sit here waiting for the family to get out of bed and get ready to go off to Mom and Dad's house for Golf, family and Barbeque, I like many people, think about, and thank, our veterans. Both my Grandpas were vets from World War II and my Dad is an Airforce Veteran and my husband is a veteran from the second Iraq war. I am thankful for the men and women who have given us the freedoms that we have.

Now of course this wouldn't be a complete entry without me talking about how to incorporate genealogy into our days. If your family is like mine, stories will be told today. This is a perfect time to record those stories. Taking a small tape or digital voice recorder to set nearby to record the stories. Another method is to take notes when stories are being told.
If you want to be more formal, prepare some interview questions to take along with you and set up some interview time with your family members. Some suggestions I have read include setting up time, like an appointment, with family members, or making an interview corner that family members can come to you. Personally I prefer a less formal method.

Another time to think about interviewing and recording stories is family reunions and gatherings. If you family is like mine, this summer you have reunions, camping and family cookouts for holidays. In our hometown there is also the summer time national festival. There are so many oppotunities to make family memories and gather family stories.

The stories are what makes our genealogy 'real'. Family History is more the just the facts and vital statistics, it is the stories that future generations will read that will make our lives more real to them, so it is important to record them.

Enjoy the barbeque, or whatever your family traditions, enjoy the family! Thank the vets in your lives! Be safe today!

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Collection of Genealogy Links!

So I'm trying a new entry style. I will be compiling a list of links for website that I have found interesting and useful. I will update this periodically!

Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society (GTAGS)
Grand Traverse County Clerk, online death and marriage index
Traverse City State Hospital (Nothern Michigan Assylum)
Traverse Area District Library
Michigan's Research Website, includes the Michigan Death Certificate Project
Family Search website
Cyndi's List
Dead Fred
Find A Grave
Oral History Interview Questions
How to Conduct an Oral History Interview
The 1940 Census News!
Jewish Headstone Symbolism
Ancestry (what list wouldn't be complete without Ancestry)
National Archives-military records, etc; online ordering

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Research, Research and more Research

Last Thursday I spent almost all day at the Traverse Area District Library (TADL) working on my own research after I completed a couple quick Random Acts requests. I made some progress and I had one of those 'oh duh' moments.
Records are still being added onto the Seekingmichigan.org website for the death records, so after a quick search I was able to find several death certificates for members in my database. It helped put things together. One person of interest was John Peter Valley, s/o Isadore and Mary Valley, who died from a skull fracture. Obviously not a normal natural cause of death so my curiosity lead me to the microfilm where I found an article on the car accident that lead to John Peter's injuries that ultimately caused his death. I also confirmed that he was the father of little Louise Mary Valley, whom I had listed with my greatgrandparents, because she died at their house from from complications of diptheria. Anyway, John Peter was driving with William Emory when the car rolled and both men were thrown from the vehicle. William was unhurt, but is was stated in the article that John's head appeared to have hit a rock causing his injuries. In the article it stated the John was a widower and he left behind his daughter, Louise. I still don't for sure know the name of Louise's mother, but I have a tentative name of Mildred Evans. Further research is required for this to be sure.

Monday I spent most of the day with Kathi adding information from my research to our Oakwood Cemetery records project. I feel that I have added a valuable amount of information to the project. CDs will be available hopfully this fall. Once the group has finished with the records in the office we will be working in the cemetery to walk the cemetery and verify information on the headstones. It should be fun.

I also worked this week and finished adding several hand written pages of notes to cemetery cards that were complied from the Immaculate Conception Church death records. I was also able to sort by cemetery and put the cards in alphabetical order.

George Lardie (Lardy) and Esther Beauchamps

I finally have added a generation on my Lardie research. I found on ancestry.com a copy of the marriage record for George Lardie (Lardy), Sr. and Esther Beuchamps. It was in french, so after a day of waiting someone from the findagrave.com forums was able to translate the document into english for me. There are some very talented people there.
I have saved a copy of the image, which is from teh Druoin Collection in Canada. The record not only gave me George's and Esther's marriage date, but also stated that George was a widower and his first wife's name as well as the name of George's father and the names of both Esther's parents.
What an exciting find!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pennsylvania Cancelled

It has been disappointing to find out that we are not able to take our trip to my ancestor's home state. Due to family conflicts we aren't able to take our vacation as we planned.
I've spent some time lately helping other people with their research locally. I've filled some Find A Grave photo requests and I'm working on a couple of RAOGK requests. I'm a little embarrassed that I actually lost one request out of my email. I think I deleted it. Ooops! I hope the requestor emails me back soon.
Anyway, off to bed soon.
Good luck in all your future research!