Notes from the past…


Monday Madness: Finally, a solution

I am the world’s worst procrastinator. The worst. That being said, my Monday Madness is really my Daily Madness: my genealogy database desperately needs to be reviewed, repaired and re-entered. I try not to add anyone into my database without adequate, verifiable sources. At that I have been very successful. Bottom-line, really. I don’t just blindly download GEDCOM’s that I find online and add them to my database. I require at least one decent source.

Ok, so most everyone in my database belongs in my database. No source(s), no admission. Period.

The madness that remains is three-fold:

  1. When I moved my files from Family Tree Maker to RootsMagic a couple of years ago, everything transferred over well enough, but a few items were morphed into jibberish, basically. Not all entries from FTM made the trip to RM in their origin form or context. A few things were just messy, simply put!
  2. Many of these sources that I have gathered over the years haven’t made it to the database at all. As I said, I’m the world’s worst procrastinator, and adding sources to my genealogy database is one of the most glaring aspects of said procrastination. The facts are in the database, the sources are in the file cabinet and “never the twain shall meet”!
  3. What to do with all the images I have acquired: the scanned or downloaded photographs and documents that support my facts. There are currently 5946 images in 519 sub-folders in my Surnames folder.

I have addressed this problem in the past by attempting to review my files alphabetically by surname. The problem with this approach is that I ended up discovering more ancestors, accompanied by the requisit sources, but still not addressing the original issue of the “messy database”. In fact, the messiness just gets worse. Not really solving anything here!

So what is the solution? Instead of examining my data alphabetically, I have have started going through those messy files numerically. Last week I ordered the RootsMagic 4 manual and have learned quite a bit of new stuff about the program, such as how to create a report that lists people numerically by the record number. This isn’t the same as the Ahnentafel number, it’s just a number that is assigned to each person by the RootsMagic program itself. Hence I am #2 (my ex-husband is #1), my daughters are #3 & #4, then my granddaughter is #5, then it jumps back up to my parents as #6 & #7, then my brothers and so on. My 3-month-old grandson (who I am just now adding to my database, I’m ashamed to say!) is #664, which is the highest number at this point. Kinda weird, but it has the advantage of jumping around in the database so that I don’t get bogged down on one group.

As for the images? No way am I gonna add over 5000 images to RootsMagic! I’m 51 years old! So, as I go through each person’s file, those images are uploaded to my Flickr account. That way they are safely backed up online and easily accessible. Not my ideal solution, as I really wanted each image with that person’s RootsMagic page, but I’ll settle for Flickr.

664 people to look at….hmmm, that will take just about forever… but hopefully not. Most of my more distant ancestors obviously will take a lot less work to update as would a more recent and better-documented person.

This is still a huge task that is gonna take some discipline and determination to complete. In the past couple of days, I have updated mine and both of my daughters’ pages. 3 down, 661 to go. It is very easy for me to wander, to go off hunting for data on someone else when I’m looking at a particular person. But I have to stay focused and not waste an hour looking for some scrap of info. I’ll check a few places and then move on.

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The McBurnetts and the Civil War

If I were to do a one-name study, the McBurnett surname would probably be my first choice to examine. Nicholas McBurnett lived and raised his family in Georgia during the most turbulent period in United States history, the Civil War Era. Of his 11 children, 3 sons and 2 sons-in-law fought in the conflict. Sons Thomas and Joshua died while in the service and son-in-law Shadrack Thompson was severely wounded in the leg and left a cripple for the rest of his life. A second son-in-law, James Seigler, developed chronic diarrhea while serving and suffered from it until his death in 1883. 2 of the men were captured at the Battle of Vicksburg and 1 at the Battle of Perryville and became Prisoners of War. The families of four of Nicholas’ sons received Confederate Pensions in later life. Son Daniel McBurnett, only 13 years old in 1860, may also have joined up. Footnote has documents for D McBurnett of Carroll County, enlisting in March 1862 into the same unit as older brother James and being mustered out in July 1862. As not many men were mustered out of the service of the Confederacy in 1862, unless due to injury or illness, perhaps this D McBurnett was young Daniel and he was discharged because of his age.

Thanks to Ancestry’s Georgia, Confederate Pension Applications, 1879-1960 and Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865 and Footnote’s Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia, I have downloaded a wealth of documents pertaining to the McBurnetts’ Civil War experiences.

Some of the genealogical data to be found in these documents:

  • Name of the subject, including initials or little-used middle name
  • Names of spouse and children
  • Dates and locations of birth and death
  • Date and location of marriage
  • Military units served in and dates and locations of service
  • Financial data
  • Physical descriptions and wounds or illness from military service
  • Where the subject lived after Civil War service
  • Names of friends and fellow veterans

In conjunction with census documents, I have been able to trace Nicholas’ children and their families and have developed a good overall image of life in Civil War Georgia. Still needed is land, voter and tax documentation and also anything probate.

And where are all of these people buried at? Still working on that…