Notes from the past…


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There it is!… or Jane is not your aunt or your wife, SHE IS YOUR MOTHER!!!

I was working on my Kennedy line last night. My 3GGF, Dr Nathan Blunt Kennedy was born in Sumter County, Alabama and moved to Hill County, Texas in about 1875. Nathan had six siblings and 2 of his brothers also became physicians. According to an old Hill County history book, Nathan’s sister Jane also married a physician, a man named Edward Tandy Easley.

Trouble is, that old book has been the absolute only reference to Jane Kennedy that I have been able to find. The earliest census record I have of the specific children of the Kennedy family is the 1850 enumeration, and she is not listed with her family. I have always thought she had probably married and moved out of the house before 1850.

I had searched and was however able to find quite a bit of data on Edward Tandy Easley. He was prominent in the early years of the American Medical Association and died in 1878 while helping victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to going to Memphis, he had practiced in Dallas, Texas and Little Rock, Arkansas. I have census entries, his Civil War records, numerous references to him in medical journals of the time (again, Google Books!), even a tax listing from Dallas County, Texas.

And not one documented connection between Dr Edward Tandy Easley and Leah Jane Kennedy!

I had about decided that Jane Kennedy was one of those ancestors who simply vanishes. The one that you know shoulda been there, but wasn’t. And last night, I was just fixin’ to shut it down and go to bed….

But before I give it up for the night, one last search… A Google Books search… and…

THERE IT IS!!!

If you click on the first page, you will see a larger, readable page from Transactions of the State Medical Society of Arkansas, dated 1879:

Jane Kennedy didn’t marry Edward Tandy Easley… SHE GAVE BIRTH TO HIM!

Jane Kennedy married Tandy Walker Easley, also a physician, in 1840. Edward Tandy Easley was born of that union in 1842.

Well, I guess I gotta update my RootsMagic database. I wonder how difficult it is the change a woman’s husband into her son… Anybody got Bruce’s cell number?

 


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Using Google Books in your genealogy research: an example

A couple of years ago, I blogged about the 1886 adventures of my 3GGM and the Texas Supreme Court. I had put her name into the search box on the Google News Archive page and found a transcript of the Court’s decision in the case of Kennedy vs Upshaw. Wow! Pretty exciting!

Only problem was… I couldn’t understand much of the paper’s language! Apparently lawyers speak (and write) something other than English :)

In a nutshell: the lower court determined that part of the will was a forgery and therefore invalid and my 3GGM appealed, with the case eventually reaching the Texas Supreme Court.

Flash forward to yesterday.

I was updating my 3GGM Susan William Lee Martin in my RootsMagic database and did a routine Google search, looking for anything new.

To my surprise and delight, Google Books found another transcript of the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in this case, more of a review actually, written in plain English!

From this new “translation”, I learned the case apparently dealt with a codicil to the last will and testament of my 3GGM Susan William Lee Martin’s father, James Harris Martin. In the original will, James Martin’s estate was equally divided between my 3GGM and his other daughter. The codicil (a document that amends a previously executed will) added about 2 weeks before James’ death and witnessed by Susan Martin and her husband Dr N B Kennedy and signed in the Kennedy home, changed the distribution of the estate. Susan would continue to get her 50% of the estate, with the other 50% to be divided between Susan’s 2 kids and the other daughter!

James Harris Martin was apparently quite ill at the time the codicil was signed (according to his attending physician’s testimony) and his hands were very shaky. Martin’s signature on the codicil was “written in a smooth and regular hand”, unlike the signature on the original will, thus it came into question and was determined to be a forgery.

The Supreme Court did not question the final verdict in the case, but did find several mistakes in the way the trial was conducted and returned the case to the lower court for retrial.

What was the genealogical value of these documents?

The transcript that I found 2 years ago gave me the full name of James Harris Martin ( I previously had James H Martin, from his 1850 Federal Census entry) as well as the date and location of his death (28 Mar 1883 in Hillsboro, Texas). Armed with these new details, I was able to locate Martin’s burial location and headstone photo at Find-A-Grave, which contained his exact birth date, 21 Jun 1807. All that from a court transcipt… AWESOME!

And what genea-goodies did I get from yesterday’s “translation” document? Remember the other daughter who was originally supposed to get half of Martin’s estate? Martin’s 1850 Federal Census enumeration lists his kids as Susan W L and Sarah A D (apparently this family had a thing for 2 middle names!). Susan was of course my 3GGM and I have been able to follow her life and amass quite a bit of data on her. But what of Sarah A D Martin? We all know the difficulties in tracking down female family members, especially from this time period. I have found essentially nothing on Sarah and even thought she might not have survived childhood, as frequently happened in those days.

Thanks to Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas, Volume 66 , Sarah A D Martin is now Mrs S. A. D. Haigler! I now have her married name! This is a major find for me, as hopefully it will begin a new line of research!


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Spring Cleaning….GENEALOGY STYLE!

Since I have once again taken up my genealogical research after an extended hiatus, I have been quite busy. In my RootsMagic program, I created a custom report called RIN List. The RIN List is simply a list of every individual in my database, sorted by each person’s Record ID Number (RIN).

With that list in hand (on the left side of my desk, actually), I started at #1 and have worked my way down to #96, adding sources and images, checking for new data and making corrections as I go. A big job, to be sure! It has actually been a quiet satisfying and exciting task, as I have met two new “cousins” online and received a lot of new data and photographs. If I were to choose one particular category of my research that is sadly lacking, it would be ancestor photographs. I have a lot of surname STANLEY images, but very few for the rest of the clan. So I am always particularly excited when I find a new photo!

I have also been searching for the best way to share my research with others, and in turn safely back it up online. The recent earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disasters in Japan clearly illustrate the need for a safe storage solution “in the cloud”, as entire towns were literally washed away!

My sharing/storage solution actually has four facets:

RootsWeb WorldConnect

RootsWeb FreePages

Picasa Web Albums

WeRelate

Overkill, you say? Do I really need that much “security”?

Well, each site has certain advantages over the others.

RootsWeb WorldConnect is probably the most “basic” solution. Not much more than a simple GEDCOM. A lot of names, dates and places, but no images. However, RoostWeb is the most active genealogical site online, so here my data probably has its greatest chance for exposure to like-minded researchers. My WorldConnect database is also pretty simple to update as needed.

RootsWeb Freepages is more like a regular website that can be customized at will. My FreePages site contains the website that I created using my RootsMagic program, with a few photos. I can change it if I desire, to add more images, links, etc. Also easy to update.

Picasa Web Albums is where my images go. Photographs and scanned documents, also census pages, military files, and other docs that I have downloaded from Footnote, Ancestry, GenealogyBank and FamilySearch. 1 GB of free storage and if that isn’t enough space (it ain’t!), I can get 20 GB for $5/yr. Can’t get much cheaper than that!

Finally, there’s WeRelate. A true wiki, I have my GEDCOM, notes, sources, links, images…just about all my research is here. And as a wiki, it is a collaborative environment with user-contributed data, the goal being the creation of a single family tree. We all work together at WeRelate! It is a bit more complicated to update the GEDCOM, although that promises to get easier in the future.

And don’t forget this blog! Here I offer a narrative of my on-going research.

Oh, did I forget to mention that it will soon be tornado season in north Texas? Cloud storage…