Sunday, January 27, 2013

Do you get a headache while doing genealogy?

The most common practice when attempting to resolve a brick wall is not using the proper tool. Knowing the proper tool to resolve your genealogy problem is key to solving your genealogy mysteries.

I am convinced as you do your genealogy that the answer is out there. Look at your problem in several directions. What have you done to resolve the issue in the past? What sources are available that you have not found that would help you? A common belief is if it does not exist on the Internet it's not out there. Don't get me wrong there are many excellent sources on the Internet for research, but it is by no means all of them. Let site some examples.

Alright a common one is your are looking for a birth record. You have looked all over the Internet, but have not been able to locate it. First step is to decide if it does exist. Majority of states in the US did not start keeping track of records of birth until the latter half of the 19th century. They really did not start being kept well until the twentieth century when more importance was put on keeping track. Prior to 1867 they were kept hit and miss. It really depended on what part of the country.

So you can't find that birth record, but where do I look? The first place to look is at offline sources that are in the locations where our ancestors lived. Start by working backwards. Look for the individuals death certificate. These records were kept very well and will record the date of birth of the individual. Understand it is only as good as the informant. In most cases we are going to have to validate the information in more than one source. A place that is becoming more common to find information is at the funeral home and the interment cards at the cemetery. These offer validation of the birth date. We need to find more.

Moving back towards the time of the birth event the next source is the marriage certificate. Here you will find the list of the year of birth. It became common in the latter half of the 19th century and into the twentieth century for more information to be provided. Another place is the children's birth certificates where it became common to list Mom and Dad's age at the time of birth.

Combining the first three searches with a census records search helps in making sure you are on the correct track. Proceed with caution, because a lot of inaccuracies can occur with the recording of dates, names, locations and ages listed in census records. Try to look as many census records as possible. Work from their last year of record to their first recording. In the years after 1900 you get the month included as well. Again be cautious though. Recently I did a search for a client and the individual we were looking for aged three years in ten years. Now that's a trick.

Finally take a look at the church where they attended. All denominations kept track of these records, but the quality and consistency may vary. They are worth looking for.

Remember their is more than one way to look for what you are looking for when it comes to resolving your brick walls. Not all of them can be resolved in the same way and often times the answer is in records that we did not even think of using. It is very important why you are on your genealogy journey to keep adding tools to your box. Most importantly take a look at them all and make sure that you use the correct ones to get the job done.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spring Genealogy Classes 2013

Lifelong Learning Program, Lourdes University, Sylvania, OH
Money and registration:
Deb Jovanovic
Assistant Coordinator

Introduction to Genealogy
Instructor: Derek S. Davey, Professional Genealogist
Mondays March 11, 18, 25 and April 1, 8, 15 (6 weeks) 12:00- 2:00 Saint Clair Hall 146
$72-$90 Register by Feb. 25
Do you know who you are? Are you interested in your family history? Learn about genealogical principles and ethics, research tools, records, and how to use them. Students will learn how to research, organize, and evaluate their findings. Also included will be newspaper sources, as well as vital court, church, immigration, military, cemetery, burial, probate, and land records. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) will also be discussed.

Advanced Genealogy
Instructor: Derek S. Davey, Professional Genealogist
Fridays March 8, 15, 22 and April 5, 12, 19 (6 weeks )12:00-2:00 p.m. in St. Francis Hall 1
$72-$90 Register by Feb. 22
Have you started your genealogy and have the basics down? The Advanced Genealogy course will take those basics and expand on them. Learn skills the professionals use to solve genealogy challenges.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jobs- What type of job did your ancestor have?

One of the important items to pay attention to when doing research is where did your ancestors work. Did they stay current with their job? Did the job allow them to be mobile? Did other family members work in the same types of jobs?

Depending on where your ancestors were located has a large factor in their employment. The earlier you trace your family back the higher likely hood that they would have lived in a rural type setting. This would mean a completely different type of job than in the city. The majority of people would have been listed as farmers, but there were teachers, blacksmiths, doctors, preachers, and leather workers as well. Did your family participate in the same types of jobs for generations? Were they independent or did they work for others? All play important factors in understanding the decision making of our ancestors.

As we moved closer to the twentieth century and the world became a more industrialized place people moved to Urban settings. The pay was higher and the quality of life often improved. Resources were close at hand and people lived in neighborhoods. Higher likely hood of living in building with lot's of people. Way more contact with neighbors, because they were all around you. Immigrants tended to work in jobs where they did not have to speak in English and they were paid for their muscle. Was a much higher instance of people living in Ethnic neighborhoods. Was your ancestor keeping up with a current job? Did the women in the family work as well? Were they able to advance in status as time went by?

Looking at what our ancestors did for a living and where they lived provide excellent sources for further research. Work records, city directories, church,and school. Identifying occupations of your ancestors helps differentiate them from others that may share the same name. Fathers often taught sons their skills.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Even our ancestors made mistakes

Researching our ancestors with the belief that they did not make mistakes often leads us on wild goose chases in our research. Understand that people all made decisions that effected their lives both in the time period, but also for generations to come. Discovering and understanding these decisions helps us in getting more insight into our ancestors lives.

One of the first major events in a persons life is getting married. Looking at the area they lived in and understanding why they married is important in understanding your family. Where did they meet? What were some of the reasons they did get married? Did they live close? Where did their paths cross? In my own research I had families that lived in the same area for hundreds of years. It was rural Ohio and the pool of marriage candidates was small. For this reason family lines crossed several times in multiple generations. They were neighbors. Attended the same schools and church. They lived and worked together in their community. It is fascinating to look at all the various families properties and where lived in comparison to each other throughout the years. Amazed at how many folks lived right next door.

Another event in a persons life would be their job. Where did they work and what did they do? Did they switch jobs a great deal? Did they sometimes not have a job? Were they located in a urban or rural setting? Do some research on their occupations. Understand the history in the nation at the time and what effected their job decisions. My family had a history of being farmers, but in the latter half of the 19th century things changed. The family moved to the city. Previously the family had a history of being millers. When they moved to the city they worked in quarries, electric car company and eventually a gas driven car company. They lived in a neighborhood of primarily blue collar workers. They attended church and public schools. My great grandfather married a city girl. Where they met I still do not know. One of the mysteries in my family history.

Pay attention to the events in our families lives. They made decisions both good and bad just like we do. What caused them to make the decisions they did? Does it offer clues to our family and genealogy history? What were the influences? My great grandfather made decisions in his life that still effect my family today.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Handy program for GPS

Here is some software that I became aware of as a result of the previous article on the Genealogical Proof Standard. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Information is incorrect

One of the common questions I get when teaching my class is that, the information that they found is incorrect. How do they know that?

A concern of mine with genealogist is that they are not taking the necessary steps to verify the information they find on their family members. Have you checked all the sources that are available. This is a big reason for the creation of the Genealogical Proof Standard that every one is so interested in learning about. The GPS was set up to establish guidelines to properly verify ones genealogy. Failure to source your genealogy causes it to be a great book of fiction.

There are five rules to the GPS. The fist is completing an exhaustive search. This means checking all the records available. Not just the easy ones. The ideal is to locate three different sources that validate each fact. Depending on just a few sources does not make it correct. Understanding the difference between a primary and secondary source is key. You want to see the original source as much as possible. Don't accept a transcription as proof. Seek out the original document. Do not trust anything!

Make sure to source all the information. Genealogist as a whole tend to be a little on the lazy side. Failure to identify where you got your information will only result in confusion when collaborating with fellow genealogist and those in the future. Identifying where you got your information helps people understand why you made the conclusions you did. If you do not paint a clear picture of your research things will be fuzzy for others.

Once you have identified some information make sure to analyse it and correlate it. Include all information discovered both good and bad. What does all the information mean? Genealogist tend to fall into the trap of using wood working tools when trying to put that square peg in a round hole. The negative information often is the correct information when weighed with the body of evidence. Don't jump to assumptions. Let the facts and good research lead the way.

Once you feel you have a good picture analyze what conflicts you have. This is a very important step in validating your genealogy. This step results in saying yes I got everything or no I need to do more research. If you feel you have it all pulled together and it's correct you can go to the final step. If you have holes in the information you need to determine what the next step is going to be. Do I have to do more research? What records have I yet to find and are they available? With the internet today records are being made at a rapid pace. Have you checked them all? Sometimes you need to put a project on the back burner until you find more information.

The last step is to write out a proof conclusion. This is where you are explaining out why the information you have found has led you to this step. Often we are not always able to come to this step. New information is always coming out, but based on what you have found make the best conclusion you can. Make sure to include the good and the bad. Explain why it is good or bad. Write it down on paper or on your computer. Read it and make it makes sense to you. Share it with other genealogist and even those that are not. Does it make sense to them.

Remember these five steps and you will be doing excellent genealogy. It helps put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly and helps identify other pieces that may fit better. Genealogy that is not sourced is just a really great piece of fiction. Your family is not fiction they were and are real!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Migration Patterns- Northwest Ohio 1840

After 1820 the movement into this area increased at a very quick pace. The routes to get into Northwest Ohio were greatly expanded. The Seneca road was extended along the Erie shore past Cleveland and into Toledo. Two routes sprung up coming from the south that came from the area of current day Columbus. The water routes also increase dramatically over Lake Erie and the creation of the canal systems.

The overland routes were improved now to handle a steady group of migrants. Travelers were able to have some of the comforts from the East with the establishment of lodges and taverns. The roads were now built to better handle the wagons that were bringing folks to Northwest Ohio. The roads from the South went to Sandusky which during this period was a much more active area than Toledo. These routes would bring many people from the Mid Atlantic and Southern states. Travel on these routes was still very slow. Coming from Buffalo would take months to get to Toledo and some times years. Stop offs and temporary settlement along the way were common.

The water routes were the cheapest and quickest forms of travel. Buffalo was a very popular departure point for those folks coming out of New England that had traveled across the Erie Canal. The completion of the Erie Canal was a major boom to migration to the Midwest and Northwest Ohio. People were able to travel on a boat all the way from Boston to Toledo. Along the coast of Lake Erie Huron, Sandusky, Milan, Oak Harbor and Toledo became major stop off points. They also became major trading centers, because of the development in the overland routes. Items grown in Ohio had found a cost effective way to be transported back to the large populations located on the east coast. This would help in adding capital to fund the future growth of Northwest Ohio.

The canals that were built into Northwest Ohio helped to bring people from the south to Northwest Ohio. The Miami and Erie Canal was built from Cincinnati to Toledo. Many Irish and German immigrants moved into Northwest Ohio as a result of this route. The Irish helped dig the route and the Germans helped in designing the many locks that were necessary along the route. Counties like Allen, Putnam and Henry in Northwest Ohio were the benefactors of this route. The Wabash Erie Canal followed the edge of the Maumee River from far down into Indiana up to Toledo. The economic impact of these two routes to the area were tremendous as it brought migrants and capital to the area.

Migration Patterns- Traveling in Groups

A common misunderstanding is that people would travel either alone or in single family groups. This is not the case. Unlike today where people travel often on their own to new homes in the early days there was strength in numbers. This becomes a very important issue when using the Census to pinpoint family groups and areas of origin.

When reviewing the US census records it is important to use the up ten and down ten rule. Once the person you are looking for is identified on a particular census sheet it is now time to use the rule. Look at the ten family groups previous on the census and the ten families after you ancestors group. Notice surnames and states of origin that are common. These will be very important clues to doing your search.

During a recent search I was able to use this technique with great success. I was having problems with locating the original state of origin for a family member. They were living in Huron Co., OH from about 1845 to the early 1900's. From information I obtained I new that the family had originated from Ashtabula Co., OH, but the eldest members had been born in Massachusetts. They were in Ashtabula at a very early date between 1820 and 1845. From doing will and land searches in Huron Co I determined that my ancestor has a brother living in the same town. This helped me in locating where they lived in Ashtabula. They had both lived very close to each other through several census records and ended up being buried very close to each other in a cemetery in Huron.

When looking at the Census records for 1820 and 1830 in Ashtabula I was able to identify several heads of household sharing the same name. On the brothers census in 1830 two people living with him were over 70 years in age 1 male and 1 female. Combining this information with tax records and voting records I was able to determine that this was the boys father. With additional search I was able to determine that other people with the common surnames were male siblings. Without using this technique I would not have been able to connect the family back to the 1630's.

So when you are doing your next census search remember families and old neighbors moved in groups. Check the names and locations where they came from. Searching some of the biographies or obits on the neighbors may help in determining your ancestors origins.

Migration Patterns- Northwest Ohio 1820

Prior to 1820 the migration routes into the Northwest Ohio region were limited. As mentioned yesterday this was limited by two major factors. The Black Swamp that covered a good portion of Northwest Ohio and the American Indian.

During this early stage the major route overland was the Seneca Road which began in Buffalo and went as far as current day Cleveland. Two major trails moved back to the east coast traveling through the New England states. The southern route was the National Pike that came through the mid section, but during this time period there was no real extension up to the Northwest.

The roads during this time period were extensions of paths that had been created by the American Indians and had been used by them for centuries to travel between tribes. At this time they were not designed for wagon travel and many of the early settlers were forced to widen the roads as they traveled. Some of the early expansion of these roads occurred by the soldiers that were fighting during the War of 1812. Travel none the less was a long and difficult journey. Northeastern Ohio became a common stopping area on people's migration trails west.

Navigation of Lake Erie was also taking place during these early stages. The cities of Sandusky and Toledo became common areas for port arrival. Food also was transported out of these ports in very small quantities. Water travel was by far the easiest, but as of yet had not developed enough to become a major factor. The Erie Canal out east was also just in the early stages of development and would become a driving force in migration after 1820.

Migration Patterns Northwest Ohio the Early Period

Millions of people traveled from the east to settle or pass through Northwest Ohio during the latter part of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The main road block in the early days was the habitation of the Native Americans in this area and the Black Swamp.

Northwest Ohio had a large Indian population located primarily along the Maumee River Basin. Many tribes were in this area from Ft. Wayne, IN to the mouth of the Maumee at Toledo. It was not until after the War of 1812 that these tribes began their journey out of this region further west. After this time Europeans began to locate in this area in larger numbers. When water travel improved on the Great Lakes this became a common way of traveling to this area.

The use of water travel was best due to the Black Swamp that covered this area. The swamp area covered wide parts of Lucas, Wood and Fulton counties. Travel by land was very difficult and created a natural barrier to settling this area and western travel. It was not until the 1830's that farmers started coming into these areas to drain the water from the land. What was left after the water was removed was some of the best farming land in the world. This would become a major attraction for the migrants looking for farm land. This would mark the beginning of this area becoming the bread basket of America.

Migration Patterns the Firelands Region

A major development in the migration to the west was the Military bounty lands that were located in the Northern Portion of Ohio. The first area to cause people to migrate to Northwest Ohio was the region known as the Firelands. This area was located just west of The Connecticut Western Reserve. The land today is present day Erie and Huron counties. Some of the land is also located in Ashland County.

The area was twenty five miles wide. It was established to compensate those residence of the State of Connecticut that had property destroyed by the British during the Revolutionary War. The raids occurred in the towns of Danbury, New Haven, Fairfield, Norwalk and New London. Families in these area were greatly effected by the raids. Many of these town names were used for areas in the Firelands region. Approximately 500,000 acres were put aside in 1792 to compensate these people. It took over thirty years after the war for the claims to take full effect and many of the claimants were either to old or had passed on. These claims would also be sold to other people that would then move to the area.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Story Ideas

Got plenty to write about, but I am looking for story ideas from you the reader. Let me know what you would like to learn more about. Look forward to hearing from you.