Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday's Tips : My Top 10

source:  RobbWolf.com

The other day a member of The Organized Genealogist Group on facebook raised an interesting question.  "What is on your list of things you 'wish you would have know' about getting and staying organized" with your family research?"  The question generated a number of great comments.  I also found myself mulling over the question and comments, so much so that I finally have come up with my list of tips.  Included with some of the tips are links to some of my previous posts on that subject.

Top 10 Things I Wish I Had Known ...

  1. Cite your sources.  If you start from the very beginning to indicate where you find your information, your genealogical quests will be so much easier.  Imagine having no photocopies of pages from unknown books, no "facts" in your family tree from an unknown source, no questions as to where you actually found information.  More about citations.
  2. Talk with family while you have the opportunity.  How I wish I had listened more to the stories my father told about his family!  I'm glad I had actually started paying attention and taking some notes as my mother would reminisce in her later years.  These family stories and names can be the starting place for much of our research.  This can guide you to more places, names, events that can lead you to information about your relatives.
  3. Get information, record, and file.  This is still the hardest thing for me, but I'm working on it.  When I find some useful information online, or at the library, or in communication with another, I am trying to enter the information into my software, Family Tree Maker.  Next, I file any paper document in my files or attach to the appropriate folder on my laptop.  The pile of paper beside my laptop is actually shrinking!
  4. Read the WHOLE document.  Taking the time to read the entire document, even transcribing it when necessary, lets us get all the tidbits of information.  Looking at one entire line of a census record, for example, can provide a variety of  information about one relative.  Look at several pages before and after, and you may meet other family members or someone's future spouse.  Military pension applications are filled with names, dates, events -- history through the eyes of one person.  A draft registration card can tell us more about a man's work history and often includes a good physical description of him.  After all, we're not just collecting dates, we're seeking to learn about individuals and their lives.  More on reading documents
  5. Label photos and maps.  This is something to do now with my own photos.  This means labeling my digital photos with names, dates, locations.  The same goes for print photos.  This will help us avoid those "who in the world are these people" moments.  More about labeling photos.
  6. Trust but verify.  Shaking leaves on Ancestry, family stories, or our recollections can be accurate; sometimes they aren't.  It behooves us to look for factual support in our research.  None of us want to reach a point where we realize that we have been following Alice down the Rabbit Hole, working with faulty logic.  More about verifying data.
  7. Keep a research log.  Keeping a record of where we have looked for information can help us use our time much more efficiently.  It can be a notebook where we list where we've looked and for what.  It can be kept through an online program such as Evernote or Dropbox.  Mine stays in a spreadsheet on Google Drive.  Along the same line, I keep a Research To-Do List.  When I'm off to Georgia, I know some things I can look for during that visit.  I can keep a list of resources I need to locate and what I hope to find there.  More about using Google Drive.
  8. Record names and dates in a standard, consistent manner.  I follow the practice of recording all people as last name, first name, middle name.  A woman are recorded by her maiden name.  I list dates in the DD/MM/YYYY format, 3 June 1876.  This way I know if a person is Smith Nelson or Nelson Smith.  It helps to clarify that the date recorded is June 3, not March 6.  More about recording names.
  9. Have a filing system.  There are many ways to do this, and it comes down to what you are most comfortable with.  If you want paper in front of you, fine; just invest in file folders and storage containers so each document you want to keep has a home.  If you prefer digital storage, fine; just develop a file system on your computer or through online storage.  Regardless of the type of structure you use, if you file with names in a standard format and use a consistent file structure, you should be able to file and find information whenever the need arises.  More about filing.
  10. Develop a research toolbox.  A research toolbox contains links to resources you use frequently in your research.  When I first started researching my family, I bookmarked a number of websites on my laptop.  As my number of bookmarks grew, I organized my 200+ bookmarks into topic folders, i.e. Georgia resources, military records, immigration, etc.  Today I have these topic folders saved on one "Genealogy" folder which I can access after logging into Google Chrome on any computer.  Finally, I added a "Research Toolbox" to this blog to list those web sites cited or referred to in my posts.  I'm all for not spinning my wheels trying to find that great web site I last used two months ago.  More about my Research Toolbox.
That's my Top 10 list.  What's yours?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Military Monday: Thomas Nelson, Captured at Vicksburg

Thomas Nelson, Roll of Prisoners of War card
source: www.fold3.com

Thomas P Nelson, my husband's Great Grandfather, was a soldier in the Civil War, serving in Company B of the 34th Georgia Infantry.  On 4 July 1863, Private Thomas Nelson was among the 484 soldiers in the 34th Georgia Infantry captured following the Battle of Vicksburg.(1)  He was also among over 29,000 Confederates taken prisoner at that time.(2)

Parole Oath, Thomas Nelson
source: www.fold3.com
Thankfully, Thomas Nelson's term as a prisoner of war was short lived.  Four days later on 8 July 1863, the 484 prisoners from the 34th Georgia were paroled along with virtually all the Confederates who had been taken prisoner on July 4.(2)  This mass parole of the Confederate prisoners at Vicksburg was part of the surrender terms negotiated at the conclusion of the Battle of Vicksburg.(3)  One part of the parole process required Thomas to sign an oath that he "will not take up arms again against the United States ... or serve in any military [of] Confederate States of American".

The following newspaper account appeared in the Southern Confederacy a few days after the fall of Vicksburg.  It details the terms of capitulation as well as providing additional information about the parole of the captured Confederate soldiers.

Southern Confederacy, 9 July 1863 (4)

Thomas Nelson, along with so many from his regiment, was free, free from prison, and free to fight another day, parole oath notwithstanding.  And that is another story ...

(1) "Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865 ", database and images. Ancestry.com.
(2) "July 4, 1863." The American Civil War 150 Years Ago Today, 18 Jul 013.  http://civilwarsesquicentdaily-wolfshield.blogspot.com/2013/07/july-4-1863.html : 2014.
(3) " National Military Park,: National Park Servicehttp://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture/confederate-parole-records-index.htm : 2014
(4) "By Telegraph, Jackson, July 7." Souther Confederacy, 9 July 1863. http://atlnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/atlnewspapers/view?docId=news/asc1863/asc1863-0400.xml

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Heading in the right direction: People

Cartoon Family Holding Hands
source:  www.clker.com

Whether you plan to write a few family stories or devote years to developing a family tree, it is important early on to have a consistent way to list people's names in the information you gather and store.  Using standard format makes it easier to locate your notes, find those digital photos you've scanned or uploaded, and establish that the new information you've just found is really about your relative.

Tip 1: Label, tag, identify, file your material using a person's entire name, surname first, followed by first name and middle name or initial.  Listing an uncle as Smith, James Edgar keeps his information stored alphabetically near that of other Smith family members.  It also makes it easier when you have information with a variation of his name, i.e., J. E. Smith, Edgar Smith, or even Jim Smith.  Some choose to capitalize the entire surname, others don't; it's your choice.

Tip 2:  Record a female by her maiden name.  Whether a women remains single, uses a variation of her birth name, or marries, information about her will stay in the same place in your research files.  For clarity, you can add a married name in (.....) on a file tab or computer tag, showing Grandma Jones as Smith, Mary Louise (Jones).

As you take personal notes, you can refer to that person as Uncle Jim or Grandma Jones but follow the practice of using these tips to identify the person as you file or store information either electronically or on paper.  Practicing these two tips from the beginning will help you both as your collection of  family information grows and as you share information with others.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday's Tips: Flip-Pal Tips

I was really excited to receive a Flip-Pal scanner for Christmas.  (Thanks, Santa!)  I had already started using it to scan some old family photos I had at the house.  Now it was time to take it along with me and see what it worked out in other situations.

I had to swing by our local public library to return some materials, so I decided this would be a great time to scan some materials in the Tennessee Room, our library's genealogy collection.  This way I wouldn't have to take books elsewhere in the library to use a coin-op copy machine.  I was also anxious to compare scanning pages with just taking page photos with my smartphone.

In the new materials section of the Tennessee Room was a book about researching your ancestors from Ireland.  The first chapter had a lot of basic information on various free websites that were good starting places for this type of research, pages I decided to scan.

Tip 1: Make your first scan information about the following series of scanned images.

Tip 1:  Rather than doing 3 or 4 scans just to have the cover and title page of the book, I wrote this information on an index card and made this my first scan.  This eliminated a few scans, plus I now had all the information, even the call number of the book, should I need to write a citation for this book.(1)  I also noted the starting and later the ending scan numbers done from that book on the index card.  Having the numbers made it simple to separate this book's scans from the magazine pages I also scanned.

I really found the scan numbers helpful as I was selecting scans to stitch and print.  I could see each scan's number as I opened it on my computer's photo viewer.  Then, I would check the number against my list, and I could be sure not a skip any of the scans.  Once I have a page printed, a website mentioned now bookmarked on my computer, or data recorded in my genealogy software, I can delete the scans and toss the card when I have finished with that group of scans.

That initial scan note card could also be helpful when scanning photos away from home.  It would be a quick way to note "15 family photos in Aunt Sue's house".  There would also be room to quickly note the names of the people in the photos for future reference.

Comparing the Flip-Pal with taking smartphone photos, the Flip-Pal was definitely the winner for me.  The weight of the Flip-Pal on the book kept the page open, so much easier than trying to hold a book open with one hand or another book, all while taking a picture with my phone.  I could also stay seated to use the Flip-Pal rather than having to stand up.  Trying to have good lighting on the page was also no longer an issue as the Flip-Pal provides its own light.  The nod, for me, definitely goes to the Flip-Pal.

Tip 2: A carrying case is helpful.

Tip 2:  My Flip-Pal did not have a carrying case, so I decided to make one.  I used a piece of upholstery fabric and quilted it to a polished cotton backing.  I decided to add a zippered pocket to my case.  Inside the pocket I have a lens cleaning cloth and have added a few blank index cards for future scanning sessions.  The Flip-Pal can now be carried safely in my genealogy tote bag.

I'll pass on future tips as I play around and learn more about using my Flip-Pal.

(1)  Grenham, John Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: the Complete Guide. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, c2012.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday (almost): Rev. Dr. Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr.

Dr. Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr.
ca 1910

The Reverend Dr. Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr. was my Great Grandfather.  I now have a very usable photo of him, thanks to my new Flip-Pal scanner.  The original photo pictured below is probably 100 years old, badly curled, and the heavy paper on which it was printed is splitting into plies.  It even has holes at the top and bottom as if someone had nailed it to a wall.  

I decided to scan it as my first Flip-Pal project.  It was amazing to see how the Flip-Pal stitched together 11 images to form the new picture.  After opening the stitched photo in Photoshop, I spent a few minutes cropping, doing a little touch-up, and converting to a version of black and white photography, ending up with the great picture above. 

Original photo, approximately 10 x 16 in.

Flip-Pal picture, stitched from 11 scans

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mystery Monday: Answers ... and More Questions about Samuel C Dean

Rev. Sam C. Dean
[Atlanta] The Constitution, 3 May 1897
source: fold3.com

After posting about the wedding plans for my aunt Leila Perkinson, I decided it was about time I looked into the family relationship with Rev. Sam C Dean.  It has been an interesting journey, one that isn't over yet.

According to that wedding plans article, Sam Dean was the uncle of my aunt (and my grandfather), so he presumably would have been a brother of my aunt and grandfather's father, William Hiram Dean.  Looking at the family information I have gathered over the years, I knew that William Hiram Dean was one of eleven children born to Lemuel Dean and his wife Elizabeth Howard Dean.  Lemuel and Elizabeth even had a son named Samuel Howard Dean, but this Samuel was not the preacher Sam C Dean.  Samuel Howard Dean had died in 1862.  I had previously written a post about Samuel and his death in Richmond.  So, could Lemuel or another family member have had a son and named him in memory of the deceased Samuel Howard Dean?

I started by looking back at census records for Lemuel Dean, my 3GGrandfather.  Lemuel had died in January 1880, but I still checked the census for that year.  There in the 1880 census was a widow named Nannie Dean, two married daughters and their families, a son last name Jones, a son Lemuel Dean, and a son Samuel Dean, all living at 348 Marietta Street, Atlanta.(1)  This was the same address where Lemuel Dean had lived for a number of years, and it suggests that Nannie Dean might have been the widow of Lemuel Dean  The questions started because Lemuel Dean's (first) wife, Elizabeth Howard, had died in 1864, and I had never found anything to suggest that 3GGrandfather Lemuel had remarried and raised a second family.

Looking at the other sons of Lemuel Dean and Elizabeth Howard Dean, this Nannie Dean did not seem to be a widowed daughter-in-law now under Lemuel's care nor was Nannie the name of any of his daughters, back home to live with her children.  Perhaps Nannie Dean was a second wife.

Going back to the 1870 census, I saw that Lemuel Dean had a Nannie Dean in the household, along with young Lemuel Dean and the children with different surnames found in the household in the 1880 census.(2)  It was beginning to look like a second family for my previously widowed 3GGrandfather Lemuel Dean.

Meanwhile, I started a separate family tree for Samuel C Dean, listing the various census records and other personal information I found about him.  Fortunately, I found many references to Samuel in archive issues of The (Atlanta) Constitution.  I was able to track his record as an outstanding orator at Boys' High School in Atlanta and as a law student at the University of Georgia, and then the public announcement of his plan to leave the law for the ministry.  The sketch above accompanied the article about Samuel's decision and told of his plans to tour the state preaching in a large tent.(3)   

Further help came when I started a spreadsheet so that I can establish a timeline for information I had gather about Lemuel Dean, Nannie Dean, and Samuel C Dean.  As I added more information about these people, the spreadsheet pointed to the big questions:
  • When did Lemuel Dean and Nannie Jones marry?
  • Was Lemuel the father of Samuel?
  • What else happened to Samuel?
5/5/1864Howard, Elizabethdeath of Lemuel's first wifecemetery transcription
???marriage of Lemuel Dean and Nannie (Jones)
1870Dean, Lemuelresiding in ATL, Nannie in household1870 census
1870Dean, Nannieresiding in ATL, in household of Lemuel Dean1870 census
1873Dean, Samuel Capprox birth year1880 census
1877Dean, Lemuel348 Marietta ST, ATLSholes City Directory
1/11/1880Dean, Lemueldiedcemetery transcription
6/8/1880Dean, Nannie348 Marietta St, ATL, listed as widower1880 census
6/8/1880Dean, Samuel C348 Marietta St, ATL1880 census
1893Dean, Samuel Cgraduated from UGA
1894Dean, Samuel Cin ATL, practicing law, Withrow & Dean
May 1897Dean, Samuel Cannouncement of entering ministryAJC 3 May 1897
1898Dean, Samuel Cmarriage to Allie P1900 census
1900Dean, Samuel Cminister in Americus, GA1900 census
1903Dean, Nanniedied, listed as Nannie Dean MitchellAJC 5 Feb 1903
Apr 1908Dean, Samuel Cminister in Philadelphia, PAAJC 25 Apr 1908
abt 1910death of Allie P DeanAJC 20 Jun 1910
1910Dean, Samuel Cminister in Cartersville, GA, listed as widower1910 census
1911Dean, Samuel Cmarriage to Ida B D'armondAJC 19 Mar 1911
                     1912Dean, Samuel Cminister in Elberton, GAAJC 13 Jun 1912

So far I am not been able to locate a marriage record for Lemuel and Nannie either using Ancestry or through Georgia's Virtual Vault.  I'm still looking for answers to my questions about Samuel.  The Atlanta Constitution had numerous legal notices in which William H Dean, my 2GGrandfather, was listed as guardian of Samuel Dean and executor of Lemuel Dean's estate.  There were sales of property by the executor, some sales specifically noted to care for the care and education of Samuel Dean.  What I wouldn't give to see Lemuel Dean's actual will!  There are so many hints pointing to Lemuel being Samuel's father, but I really wanted to see something definitely documenting this before I could accept it as fact.

After writing the first draft of this post, I was straightening up my desk and saw the original file I had made for Lemuel Dean.  In Lemuel's file was a newspaper printout that mentioned a Sam Dean.  I had made several questions marks on that printout because I had been researching Lemuel Dean when I printed the article and had been puzzled by one sentence, "Rev. Sam C Dean ... was born in Atlanta, a son of Lemuel Dean."(4)  Now I have more certainly that Lemuel Dean is the father of Sam C Dean.  Certain enough to post this, certain enough to merge the Sam Dean tree into my family.

Samuel's life continued to take a lot of unexpected turns, first as a young man about Atlanta in the mid-1890s, then as a minister in Philadelphia, Newark, and in several towns in Georgia.  His first wife died, leaving him a widower with three small children.  He later remarried, then ... That's where the rest of my questions lie.

Lessons learned:
  • A spreadsheet can be invaluable for combining information about several different people.  It helps to point out the holes or missing pieces.
  • Keeping data on a new person in a separate family tree lets me dig and search, recording a variety of information until I know people are identical and I can combine the two family trees.
  • It pays to look back at documents with fresh eyes.
(1)  Georgia. Fulton County. 1880 U.S. census. Population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2014.
(2)   Georgia. Fulton County. 1870 U.S. census. Population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2014
(3)  The Atlanta Constitution, 3 May 1897. content source: Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN; accessed through http://www.fold3.com : 2014.
(4) Atlanta Georgian and News, 13 Feb 1909. http://atlnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu.