Notes from the past…


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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy Week #43: Memorable Genealogical Moment

Think back to when you first started researching your family history. Is there a memorable early genealogy moment that stands out in your mind? Describe this event or discovery and how it impacted your research going forward.

Many years ago, not long after I got my first computer and barely knew how to fire it up, genealogy had only recently begun to cloud my thoughts and destroy my sleep patterns and social life. One day, while surfing the net, I came across Ancestry.com and a free 7-day membership, which I immediately signed up for.

Now what? Apparently, Ancestry was not gonna just serve me up a documented list of my ancestors all the way back to the Three Wise Men. I would have to search for them!

Well, fortunately for me and all my soon-to-be no longer long-lost kinfolk, my oldest daughter Sarah was hanging over my shoulder that day, impatiently waiting to use my shiny new computer.

As I stared blankly at the computer screen, Sarah rather rudely barked out, “Here, give me a name. Let me show you how to do this!”

The name of my grandfather Vic Hall popped into my head and out of my mouth. Sarah ungraciously shoved me out of the way and began typing with electrifying speed (don’t you just hate people who can type fast, without even looking at the keys?)!

A screen with several Victor Halls appeared…

I continued to stare blankly…

Sarah: “When was he born?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Sarah: “Where was he born?”

Me: “I don’t know?”

Sarah: “What were his parents’ names?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Sarah: “What do you know?”

Me: (silence)

Sarah: “What was your grandmother’s name?”

Me: “I KNOW! I KNOW! I KNOW! It was Agnes!”

With fire dancing at her fingertips and smoke pouring from her nostrils, Sarah typed in “Agnes” as the first name of Vic’s wife…

 

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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.


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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy Week 42: Biggest Genealogy Accomplishment

What do you feel is your biggest genealogy accomplishment? What were the steps you took to get there, and what was the end result?

When I first started researching my ancestors, my late Aunt Jan showed me the Stanley Family Bible. It contained parts of the Stanley pedigree doing back several generations. As I studied these page, a name (added to the Bible by my Aunt Jan) that caught my eye was that of Major John Isler:

“a gallant revolutionary soldier”! Wow, how exciting! Gotta find this guy..

I didn’t look very hard for Major John Isler at that time because I really didn’t know even where to begin! I was a very green, ignorant and inexperienced family historian.

But over time, as I began to learn how to search, to document and to decide what was legitimate data and what was hogwash, Major John Isler was always there, in the back of my dusty brain, patiently waiting…

Years later, I was finally able to trace back to Harriet A (Isler) Kennedy, my fourth great-grandmother. Major John Isler was the next generation above Harriet. Harriet was born in Jones County, North Carolina in about 1805, so that’s were I went in search of John.

As I can’t travel to Jones County, North Carolina at this time to personally search courthouse and other historical records, most of my research was done online. Using Ancestry, Fold3, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank, Google Books, USGenWeb and other such sites, I came upon the handwritten Revolutionary War Pension statement of another North Carolina soldier, census and estate records and Jones County, North Carolina historical records. I located Major John Isler and was finally able to link him to my fourth great-grandmother Harriet Kennedy and establish his Revolutionary War service.

Was he “gallant”? Well, I couldn’t find anything indicating that he had been shot or hung by his own men, therefore… ;)

(To view the documentation for John Isler, Sr, click the menu at the top of this page: Photos/Documents>Isler>John Isler, Sr)

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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.


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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy Week #41: Past Genealogy Resources

Nothing good lasts forever and that is definitely true in family history. Think of all the genealogy tools, magazines or websites that no longer exist. Which one stands out in your mind and why? Are there still archives of this tool that can be accessed by the public? Share any information you may have.

So true! That’s why it’s so important to DOCUMENT! DOCUMENT! DOCUMENT!

One site (rather, massive group of sites) that no longer exists is Yahoo GeoCities. This free hosting community closed its doors in 2009. Many a family historian (including me) used GeoCities as a genealogy web presence. I kept my GEDCOM and many photos and documents available to fellow researcher at my GeoCities site. Fortunately, we GeoCities folks were warned several months in advance of the site’s closure. I moved my database (to RootsWeb Freepages), but… many GeoCities genealogists did not!

Some of those sites are still viewable in various places on the Internet, but many others seem to be gone forever.

Not long before the demise of Yahoo GeoCities, I had met a McBurnett cousin online and, you guessed it, she had a genealogy site at GeoCities. This lady was very instrumental in pointing me in the right direction to research my McBurnett line, and her site had a wealth of information. Not a source I wanted to lose access to!

What to do? I couldn’t possibly go through this site one page at a time to save all the data…

Dick Eastman to the rescue! He also posted about the shut down of GeoCities and suggested a solution in the form of HTTrack, which is a wonderful little free program that enables an entire website to be copied to a local directory (your hard drive). The program is simple to use and within minutes, I had all the McBurnett data safely on my own computer, where I can refer to it as I need to.

This is also an example of another lesson often learned the hard way: BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP! (and to more than one location!)

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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.