Ruth's Genealogy

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

The starting over work with my RootsMagic database is progressing nicely. But it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. I have only edited a few of my ancestors’ files so far, but I have been really digging and scratching, in search of new data. As much as possible, I am trying to present a complete picture of that person, birth to death and everything in between.

The work on my grandparents is done (for now…). Particularly with these two people, I remember so much “first person”, especially with my recently-deceased grandmother. But the only documentation I have for some of these facts is “personal knowledge”, which is really not the most dependable of sources.

As an example, I entered several residence facts (dates and locations) for my grandmother. I knew these facts to be true, as I had visited the sites hundreds of times throughout my own lifetime. The locations were accurate, the dates for some where “ballpark” figures.

I needed more than personal knowledge and estimations to vouch for these facts!

So start off, I went to the Tarrant (County) Appraisal District website. As I knew the street addresses for my grandparents’ homes (those that I remember visiting), I searched for those addresses. This database shows recent previous owners, as well as the legal descriptions (subdivision name, block number, etc) of the property locations.

Armed with that knowledge, I next went to the Tarrant County Clerk home page, and searched for real property records for my grandparents that correlate with the legal descriptions. Most of the documents don’t show the actual street addresses, only the legal descriptions of those locations.

I found and downloaded about 40 pages of documents, containing the legal property descriptions and my grandparents’ names, dating from 1950! I’m not quite sure what all of these documents show, as I am not terribly familiar with the “legalese”, but they do all relate in some way (deeds, mechanics liens, etc) to the legal descriptions and ownership of my grandparents’ homes.

MilesFStanleyII (82)This document from 7 Mar 1950 shows that my grandparents paid $1950 for:

certain improvements, to-wit: Convert existing garage into a room, repair entire house, construct garage…

That $1,950.00 in 1950 had the same buying power as $19,256.17 in 2014! (Annual inflation over this period was 3.64%)

Interestingly, from the Tarrant Appraisal District site, I learned that this house was built in 1946, yet by 1950 it needed significant repair work.

An added bonus from these many documents: my grandparents’ signatures on every one!

While these resources deal with Tarrant County, Texas, I’ll bet many other localities have similar records available online, just waiting to be found!

 

A few days ago, I posted about my summer genealogy plan: to “start-over” with my RootsMagic database. The project is to re-do, clean up and simplify all of my source citations, to make them compatible with Evidence Explained.

So, how’s it going? Well, I have reconstructed the source citations for 4 folks and it’s a slow go, starting from scratch. My method has involved:

  • Step 1- I exported the GEDCOM from my old database, but with names only (no sources, no notes, no multimedia links)
  • Step 2- I installed RootsMagic To Go on a USB drive and plugged it into my computer, then opened the old database from the USB drive and opened the new database from my hard drive. Both databases are now open, side by side on my computer screen
  • Step 3- I looked at the sources for each fact, threw out the weak ones and re-did the citations for the stronger sources (ex: I was using a marriage index entry as a source, as well as the original marriage certificate)

This is a slow process, but I’m also taking my time, trying to make sure the citations are correct. I think things will move faster, as I get more comfortable with this system.

For comparison, here are images of the “old” source citations for my Mom’s file:

MarSStanley old sources1

MarSStanley old sources2

And here is the single image of the “new” citations:

MarSStanley new sources

Same facts, but clearer and more concise citations.

As I understand the purpose of a source citation, it is to present the information necessary to allow another person to retrace the researcher’s path and locate said source.  As I look at the “new” source citations, I think those paths are clear.

 

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