Thursday, October 12, 2017

... and now I am 5!


"On my way", personal photo


Five years ago I nervously pushed the "Publish" button on Blogger and quickly saw my first post appear on this blog. I wasn't exactly sure what I expected to come from blogging, but 244 posts later, I am glad I decided to start writing this blog. Here are a few of my reasons.
  • COUSINS: I've made contacts with distant cousins whom I had previously not even known of. And I mean, literally, distant cousins, like a cousin who lives in Norway, 4200 miles away. Just this past week my Norwegian cousin and I exchanged some family photos and family information. With other cousins, I've discovered we share a fascination with a shared relative or realize that we both shake our heads at the surprising actions of an ancestor. My posts have not intentionally been written as "cousin bait", but it has been an extra benefit to be able to connect with other family members.
  • RESOURCES AND TECHNIQUES: Blogging has encouraged me to explore new resources and research techniques and to share some of my experiences with others. Several years ago I participated in the first wave of the Genealogy Do-Over, and like others I posted about my experiences. I also gained more insights as I read posts from others who were blogging about their new techniques and organizational strategies. In January, 2017 I started a Genealogy Bullet Journal. Later I wrote about my experiences in a few posts. To my surprise these three posts have had over 2600 views as well as some likes and comments. And I continue to learn from others as they share how they use bullet journals in their genealogy research.
  • CONNECTIONS: My writing is helping me be part of the larger genealogy community. Admittedly, much of what I do is done alone. I might be at my computer or at a research library or courthouse, perhaps reading books, or studying records. Whether it is as a member of the GeneaBloggers Tribe on Facebook or through communications with others through this blog, there are now ways to not seem so isolated in my search to learn more about my ancestors. These connections have also helped in small ways such as sending an old photo to a direct descendant. It has also been gratifying to have the opportunity to help others, sometimes family or friends, other times strangers who are now friends.
  • ADVENTURES: Recently I saw a quote stating that "Retirement is a means to a new adventure". Blogging has truly been a part of my retirement adventure. I still enjoy the process of gathering information, using new resources, and then feeling that urge that now it is time to put it all together, to write, rewrite, and publish. My last post about Bridget Richardson Fletcher, a poet and hymn writer, was a year in the making because I continued to have questions for which I wanted to find answers. After using a variety of resources and visiting a new (for me) university library, I finally saw the story I wanted to share. Blogging gives me a way to share some of these adventures.
So today I celebrate my fifth Blogiversary. And I'll continue my research and plan for more posts for the future. See you later.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bridget Richardson Fletcher: "She being dead yet speaketh"



Old North Church, Boston
source: Wikimedia Commons


I have been accustomed to finding ministers, tavern keepers, teachers, and farmers scattered all over the branches of my family tree. But a poet and hymn writer, that was someone new to find! The bits I have gathered about my seventh GreatAunt, Bridget Richardson Fletcher, have blended into a story of a woman, her family, and life in colonial times.

Bridget Richardson was born in 1726, the fourth of Zachariah Richardson and Sarah Butterfield's ten children.(1) Although I have been unable to find any record concerning her education, she apparently learned to read and to write, as well as the knowledge of poetic form. These things were evidenced in her later life.

In February of 1745/1746 an intention to marry was recorded in the Westford, Massachusetts Church Records for Timothy Fletcher, Jr, of Westford and Bridget Richardson of Chelmsford. In the following years, according to the church records, Timothy and Bridget had seven children.(2) These children were Elijah (born 1747), Josiah (born 1749), Bridget (born 1751, apparently dying in childhood), Luce (born 1754), Jesse (born in 1757, apparently died at a young age), Bridget (born 1760), and Jese (born 1762). Seven children in 15 years is enough to keep anyone busy, but it was often the norm among colonial families.

Bridget Richardson Fletcher died on 8 June 1770, survived by her husband Timothy and five children, three of whom were under the age of 18 and were most likely still living at home. Her oldest son Elijah had just graduated from Harvard and was planning on a career in the ministry.(3) It was not unexpected to learn that her husband Timothy remarried, first in 1774 to Huldah Pearley and, following Huldah's death, to the much young Hannah Proctor in 1778.(4)

Son Elijah Fletcher was ordained into the ministry in 1773 and served as the minister of the Congregational Church of Hopkinton, New Hampshire. According to a biographer, once Rev. Elijah Fletcher began receiving a salary, one of his first deeds, following his marriage to Rebecca Chamberlain, was to arrange for the publication of a collection of his mother's poetry.(5)

Her book of poetry was published in Boston by Isaac Thomas who was the publisher of The Massachusetts Spy, an early colonial newspaper. I was able to access a copy of her book, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, on the Early American Imprints database at King University in Bristol, Virginia. The poems are listed as having been composed by "Bridget Fletcher, The wife of Timothy Fletcher, late of Wesford, deceased. She being dead yet speaketh". Included in the citation for Hymns and Spiritual Songs was this note, "The only known copy is imperfect". There was no mention, however, of the current physical location of Bridget's book.

Although Bridget Richardson Fletcher with this sole publication is not ranked among the oft-mentioned females writers in colonial America, people such as Anne Bradstreet, Mercy Otis Warren, and Phillis Wheatley, her writings continue to appear in a number of literary anthologies. A forthcoming work, American Colonial Women and Their Art, has this to say about Bridget Richardson Fletcher: (6)
Hymnographer Bridget Richardson Fletcher of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, compiled Hymns and Spiritual Songs on Several Occasions. The collection of eighty-two hymns stressed propriety, marriage, the punishment for sin, and the joys of redemption and God's grace. Hymn 36 described the virgin birth of Christ as a character asset of all women and a shield against male scorn. Hymn 70 surveyed the mutual duties of husband and wife and urged every man to prize his wife for her submission to authority."
The introduction of her book takes us clearly back into the eighteenth century as the editor (possibly Isaac Thomas) urged readers to "be ready to make allowances for the many inaccuracies of a female pen, when he considers that the advantages of females in general are but small, in comparison of those of the other sex, in point of polite learning". The editor further noted that the poems were not given titles and that some of them were not finished as "God, in his infinite wisdom, saw fit to call the author from this to a world of spirits, in the meridian of life ... [after] a fever for the space of three weeks ... she having passed through many difficulties".(7) There in the book's introduction was Bridget's probable cause of death at the age of 44.

Her poems are clearly filled with religious imagery and evidences of her faith. The following poems are a few examples of her hymns and sacred songs. This poem urged Christ to take her out of darkness and from her doubts and could have been written during the time of her fever and illness.

     My Saviour dear, don't leave me here,
         In this dark wilderness,
     Pray let me come a leaning on,
         Thy sweetly thy charming breast.
     
     For thou are strong and can'st perform,
         If thou the word shouldn'st speak,
     Could I get out then with a shout
         Around the earth I'd leap.

     But fight I will with all my skill

         If God will not forsake,
     I will hold fast while life doth last,
         Lest some my crown should take.
     
Hymn XXXVI, previously mentioned, presented her idea that the dignity of a woman comes because Christ was born of a woman. The photo also shows the condition of some of the pages of this copy of her book.



As I read Bridget's poetry, I kept wondering how these poems might have been sung as hymns. In her dissertation, Dr. Karen L. Shadle explained that "these strictly metered texts were to be sung to familiar melodies".(8) This is easy to understand when I consider the various hymns in our church hymnal that are sung to the same tune. If I tried, I could probably find a suitable melody for verses such as these from Hymn LXXXII:

     A contrite heart, O Lord impart,
         A broken spirit too:
     O meet us there, and hear our pray'r,
         If by thy leave we go.
     .....
     Lord give us grace to run the race,
         Which thou hast set before,
     Lord give us faith to keep us safe,
         And bring us safe ashore.


Library, King University, Bristol, Virginia

Reflections:

  • I am appreciative that I was able to have online access to Hymns and Sacred Songs at King University in Bristol, Virginia. The colonial architecture of the campus was an appropriate setting for accessing information from colonial times.
  • I'm grateful that Bridget Richardson Fletcher shared her thoughts through her poetry and that her eldest son, the Rev. Elijah Fletcher, saw fit to have his mother's poetry and hymns published in 1774.
  • It was good to stretch my research habits by looking into a variety of academic publications and journals. HathiTrust and the JSTOR Digital Library proved to provide a number of excellent resources in my research.
  • My journey to learn about Bridget started about a year ago with a single sentence mentioning her poems, a sentence I read somewhere in something about my 7th GreatGrandparents, Zachariah Richardson and Sarah Butterfield. The more I learned about Bridget, the more I wanted to share her story so that "she being death yet speaketh".


(1) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Chelmsford, Vital Record Transcripts, p 130, Chelmsford Births.
(2) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Westford, Vital Record Transcripts, various pages, Westford Births.
(3) "Ecclesiastical History", Collections, Historical and Miscellaneous and Monthly Literary Journal, vol III, 1824; accessed http://www.kouroo.info/kouroo/transclusions/18/24/1824_JohnFarmerIII.pdf.
(4) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Westford, Vital Record Transcripts, Marriages, p 169.
(5) Shipton, Clifford Kenyon. Sibley's Harvard graduates : biographical sketches of those who attended Harvard College ... with bibliographical and other notes, 1873; accessed through HathiTrust.org.
(6) Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. American Colonial Women and Their Art. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017; accessed on Google Books, September 2017.
(7) Fletcher, Bridget Richardson. Hymns and Spiritual Songs on Several Occasions. Boston, Thomas, 1774; accessed through Early American Imprints, series I, #42439.
(8) Sladle, Karen L. Singing With Spirit and Understanding: Psalmody As Holistic Practice in Late Eighteenth-Century New England. Presented to faculty of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2010.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It Never Hurts To Go Looking: Courthouse Treasures


Courthouse, Cobb County, Georgia;
By HowardSF at English Wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Smartphones. Tablets. Internet. Scanners. There is so much technology that enhances our ability to research and learn more about our ancestors. It took a recent trip to a county courthouse to remind me that old courthouse records can be just as important and meaningful to our research.

During a recent stay in Georgia, I took part of day to visit the Cobb County courthouse in Marietta, Georgia. It seemed the logical place to go since, for some reason, few Cobb County marriage or probate records had been digitized and made available for online research.

Getting Ready - The day before my visit, I did several things that really helped my efforts. First I called the Switzer Library in Marietta, Georgia, and spoke with a helpful person in their Georgia (Genealogy) Room. After I explained the type of information I was seeking, she reminded me, with a friendly voice, that the old records up to 1864 "were burned, you know, during the war" but that later records were all housed in the county courthouse. She also explained that extensive indices for these records were not available at the Library. This call helped me know that the courthouse was exactly where I needed to go for my research.

The second thing I did prior to my visit was to look through my genealogy software, Family Tree Maker, and make a list of those ancestors and some of the relatives from Cobb County for whom I wanted to locate a marriage record, a will, or a probate packet. My handwritten list included:

  • type of record needed
  • name/names of person/s involved
  • probable date of the record

Getting Set - I'm glad to took time to visit the Cobb County, Georgia government's web site, because the county has several different court areas including juvenile, criminal, and probate. I set my GPS for the probate court address, marked the parking garage on Google Maps, and took a picture of my parking spot number with my phone. (I wasn't about to not use my available technology.)

Go - My first top was the Cobb County Probate Office. While there were no public indices to the old probate records, a very helpful clerk in the office offered to look up those people on my list to see if probate records for any of them were housed in that office. From my list of six, only one had any probate records, my second great grandfather, Thomas D. Perkinson. Interestingly, none of the records were indexed under his name. Thomas had died intestate, so all of the records were indexed with the name of his wife Mary and a son William Perkinson, and the records dealt with their efforts to settle Thomas' estate.

As for the other five will or probate records I was seeking, the Probate Office clerk suggested that I might check surrounding counties for records. If my ancestor had owned property in another county, the will might have been probated there instead of in Cobb, their county of residence. Otherwise, the absence of any probate records generally suggests that my other ancestors did not actually own any property or items of value. The suggestion to look in other counties was an idea I need to persue in the future.

  

After a few minutes, the Court Minutes book was brought out for my use. The probate court did not require the use of white gloves on those old pages; I was simply asked to turn the pages carefully. The book containing the records I needed was huge, about 24 in x 15 in x 3 in. It just barely fit on the desk available for public use. Turning its pages was like going back through time. All entries were hand written. You could see when a new ordinary clerk took over through the change of handwriting. And the handwriting, so beautiful, very ornate on some of the pages, page after page filled with that now rarely seen Spencerian Script.


The index listed four pages of records for this estate: Temporary Letters of Administration, two papers for Permanent Letters of Administration, and records for the Leave to Sell Thomas' property. All four records were indexed under the name of "Perkerson", but the records themselves included both the name "Perkerson" and the correct name "Perkinson".

I was able to take pictures of all of the records with my smart phone then later transcribe them using Transcript, a wonderful freeware program by Jacob Boerema. By reading the transcriptions, I was able to construct a timeline and follow the probate process for the estate of Thomas D Perkinson.

Thomas D Perkinson died on 30 Sep 1875. In the opening of the October term of court, 7 Oct 1875, his widow Mary Putnam Perkinson and his oldest son, William Howard Perkinson, applied to the court to receive Permanent Letters of Administration in order to settle Thomas' estate. The record included that statement that Thomas had "left considerable estate" which needed to be handled. A further statement estimated the value of the estate to be $15,000. The Ordinary was on vacation, so the court gave only Temporary Letters of Administration. In addition, five men were named as appraisers of the estate, among whom were an H Putnam (who might have been Mary Putnam Perkinson's brother Henry) and an L Litchfield (who might have been the Lemuel Litchfield who was married to Thomas and Mary's daughter Nancey Ann Perkinson).

In the November 1875 term of court, Mary and William Howard appeared in court and swore that "to the best of their knowledge" Thomas had died without a will. The actual Permanent Letters of Administration were granted to Mary and son William Howard on 6 Dec 1875 during December court.

By February of 1876, the appraisers had apparently studied the land Thomas owned and had reported to the court; the document to this effect was not recorded in the minutes book. What was recorded was this description of the real estate owned by Thomas. It consisted of
"numerous lots of wild or unimproved land, scattered, in different counties through the state, a great many of said lands being of very little value, and will not pay for the expense of advertising and selling in the usual way [so] the Court being notified that it will be of interest of said estate, to sell these lands at private sale, it is therefore ordered, that [the administrators be] authorized to sell and convey the wild or unimproved lands at private or public sale as their judgment may dictate and to the best interest of said estate."
Basically, Mary and William were given permission to sell the lands any way and for any amount they could get in order that Thomas' estate be settled. How I wish the final return for Thomas' estate had been recorded in these records. It would have been interesting to learn exactly where the properties had been located and who purchased them. Regardless of the final outcome for the probate process, these Court Minutes records were a real treasure to find and read.

My next courthouse stop was at the county's License Office. Today this is where people apply for a marriage license, a weapon carry permit, or papers regarding residence status. It was an interesting and busy office. Fortunately for me, the License Office had a bound index to the marriage records stored there. According to the index, the only existing marriage record I was seeking was that of my Great Grandparents Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr. and Georgia Camp.


Again, I was presented with a large volume of records and was allowed to photograph the desired record. I even smiled when I saw, once again, the signature of H. M. Hammett, the Ordinary of Cobb County, the gentleman who had signed papers relating to settling the estate of Thomas D Perkinson six years prior to this marriage. I had known of their marriage date for a number of years, but there was something very special about actually holding that record book and seeing the official record for the beginning of their married life. It was another courthouse treasure to add to my files.

Marriage Record for Albert Bell Vaughan, Jr, and Georgia Camp

Lessons Learned:

  • When looking through old, handwritten documents such as these, it is not that unusual to find various spellings of an ancestor's name. These documents were generally written by others based on oral information given to them.
  • The contact I made with the city library and my use of the county government's web site helped my visit to go very smoothly. As the saying goes, prior preparation prevents poor performance.
  • I was surprised at the emotional impact of seeing these records. It is one thing to read information digitized online or recorded in a database; it can be something a little different to actually hold an original record written at a specific point in your ancestor's life.
  • I am now starting some lists in my Genealogy Bullet Journal of other Courthouse Treasures I want to search for in the future. I need to include looking for probate records of my Cobb County ancestory in some of the neighboring Georgia counties.

Update:  You may want to look at this You Tube video from Genealogy Magazine about Courthouse Research. It provides a quick overview presented with a light touch.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjxOkXDU2cY&feature=youtu.be.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

It Never Hurts to Go Looking: Civil War Records

"Binoculars"; source Pixabay

Last week I finally updated to Family Tree Maker 2017. The process went smoothly, and I was anxious to try out some of its new features. I also started reading with renewed interest Russ Worthington's blog posts on FTM2017, especially his post on Color Coding and Civil War Soldiers. This post inspired me to follow his steps in a search for Civil War records for my Second Great Grandfathers. Here is how my search went.

Although past versions of Family Tree Maker had the ability to filter the index of persons in a tree, I had not found it to be particularly helpful. I just seemed to generate a long list of names for a specific time period. Now, with the color coding of my ancestral lines, after using the filters Russ had suggested, I still had a long list of names of possible Civil War soldiers, but I also had the color coding dots to help me quickly locate just those direct ancestors who might have military records for the Civil War.

I quickly had a short list of eight names, four for whom I had already located Civil War records from a variety of resources and four for whom I had no military information. Interestingly, two were from Georgia, likely Confederate soldiers or sympathizers; the other two were from Pennsylvania, most likely with information to be found in Union records. Because of  ancestors from just two states, I ended up searching for the two individuals from a state in each state database or source rather than searching through a variety of records for just one person at a time.

As I searched, I noted my negative research in the Notes section of the Person Workspace for that ancestor. Below are the notes of my search for my 2nd Great Grandfather William Wallace Andrews of Crawford County, Pennsylvania. My sources and results are indicated with blue. This has become my standard format for a simple research log since particapating in the Genealogy Do-Over several years ago. If I later find other Ancestry databases, I will add it to the Ancestry list in the Notes. If I come across a totally different source, I just add " // " after fold3 then add the source and name of the new database. If I find information in a record, I will change "no record" to "information found in ... record".


It turned out that none of the four direct ancestors in question had any military records, but now I had a research log to indicate that I had searched for records of their military involvement. In addition, the whole process didn't stop me from seeing other family names listed in some of the Georgia records. The surprise for me was learning more about William S Vaughan, the son of my 2nd Great Grandfather Albert Bell Vaughan, Sr. Through the same records in which I found nothing about his father Albert, I learned that William had enlisted in the Confederate Army at the age of 15.(1) At Andersonville in 1864 William contracted measles and became blind in one eye. Later William received an allowance from the state of Georgia to compensate him for his loss of sight. Apparently William was able to return home to Pike County, Georgia for he was listed in the 1864 Census for Reorganizing the Georgia Militia where it was noted that he had an exemption (to any further service) due to his eyes.(2) No more military service for William.

This search period gave me the opportunity to see how the color coding and filters in Family Tree Maker 2017 can help me focus on a specific group of individuals in my research. It also let me see that the Notes field of the Person Workspace in FTM2017 remains a useful place to keep an individual's research log. Finally, using the same geographical databases to search for different people provided to be an efficient strategy, one I'll use again in future research.

Thanks to Russ Worthington's post, I was able to give FTM2017 a good work out and to learn some new information. After all, it never hurts to be looking for new strategies or techniques in researching our ancestors and their families.

1. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Georgia, packet for William S Vaughan, accessed www.fold3.com.
2. Cornell, Nancy J. 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia; accessed Ancestry.com.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Tale of the Timeline : Sarah Good of the Salem Witch Trials




Salem Witch Trial Engraving, unknown artist;
source: Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes it is rather exciting to discover that an ancestor or relative had a brush with history. Other times, it can cause sadness, discontent, and questioning. The latter has been the case for me as I have learned more about the life and death of my 8th Great Aunt, Sarah Solart, for she was one of those accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials.

Several months ago I posted about what I had learned about her father John Solart and the financial problems caused by his death. Even ten years after John Solart's death, his surviving children had not received any money from his estate. The property and money all appeared to remain in the hands of Ezekiel Woodward whom John's wife Elizabeth had married shortly after John's death. While her other sisters did not seem to have fallen onto hard times, this was not the case for Sarah.

The basic facts of Sarah Solart's story are told in a variety of sources ranging from Wikipedia to scholarly books and journals. Each source seemed to give very similar information. Once again, putting facts found from a variety of sources into a timeline helped to present a clearer picture of what happened to Sarah and her role in the Salem Witch Trials.

For the time period, Sarah married somewhat late in life, not marrying for the first time until she was about 28. Her husband was Daniel Poole, a young man considered to be a poor laborer.(1) Poole apparently died soon after their marriage, leaving Sarah to assume his debts. Several years later, Sarah married for the second time, this time to laborer William Good of Salem Village.(1) Sarah and William then had two daughters, Dorcus (sometimes referred to as Dorothy) Good and Mercy Good.

Sarah and William never seemed to have the financial success enjoyed by Sarah's father. Instead, they began to be regarded as annoying beggars. Books make reference to William sending Sarah out to beg, carrying baby Dorcus, as she visited neighbors seeking food or money. Marylynn Roach describes Sarah was "a woman at the lower end of the social scale ... pipe in her mouth, an infant in her arms and a four-year-old girl in tow ... reduced to begging for her children's sake."(2) As neighbors grew tired of the Good family and their begging, Sarah became what Emerson Baker described as a "poor, disaffected women, known for her sharp tongue and outbursts hurled even at those who offered to help her".(3) And so, the downward path for Sarah continued.

By February, 1692, the rumblings which soon erupted into the Salem Witch Trials were gathering and Sarah, according to Emerson Baker, was the "stereotypical view of a witch".(3) The records concerning all aspects of Sarah's trial are extensive. These include the various complaints against her, her arrest, examination, imprisonment, evidence entered against her, the grand jury indictment, her jury trial, her conviction and execution and even restitution for William Good.(4) Below is a timeline of Sarah's last five months as documented by A Guide to the On-Line Primary Resources of the Salem Witch Trials.(4)

29 Feb 1692warrant for Sarah's arrest
1 Mar 1692examination of Sarah, William Good said she was "an enemy to all good"
5 Mar 1692William Good's testimony about a mark on Sarah's shoulder
5 Mar 1692Sarah transferred from Ipswich to Salem
7 Mar 1692Sarah transferred from Salem to Boston
23 Mar 1692warrant for arrest of daughter Dorothy Good
24 Mar 1692examination of Dorothy Good
4 Apr 1692Dorothy Good accused of witchcraft
12 Apr 1692Dorothy Good sent to Boston
23 May 1692more testimony against Sarah
25 May 1692warrant to imprison Sarah
2 Jun 1692physical exam ordered for Sarah and others
28 Jun 1692Grand jury considered the case of Sarah Good
      29 Jun 1692Sarah arraigned on indictments for witchcraft
12 Jul 1692judge signed death warrant against Sarah
19 Jul 1692Sarah's death by hanging
unknown dateSarah's daughter Mercy died while in prison with Sarah

A Guide to the On-Line Primary Resources of the Salem Witch Trials also sheds some light on the life of young Dorcus/Dorothy Good. Dorothy, at age five, was the youngest person accused on witchcraft during the trials, but she was finally released in December of 1692 on a recognition bond posted by Samuel Ray. I have not been able to establish a relationship between Ray and young Dorcus. Ray was not married to any of Sarah Solart's sisters, and the recognition bond does not provide any information as to why Ray was involved in that action. Admittedly, it seems puzzling that her Dorcus/Dorothy's father, William Good, did not post that bond. Perhaps he was too impoverished to assume that obligation for his only known remaining child.

Little more is known about Dorcus/Dorothy Good or her father following Sarah's execution except for one legal document that William Good signed in 1710. At that time the Massachusetts legislature had passed the Reversal of Attainder which nullified the trial judgments against 22 of the convicted witches, one of whom was Sarah Good.(5) In response to the legislative action, William Good filed a petition for restitution on 13 Sep 1710.(6) Below is a transcription of William Good's petition.
To The Honourable Committee
The humble representation of Will'm Good of the Damage sustained by him in the year 1692, by reason of the sufferings of his family upon the account of supposed Witchcraft
1 My wife Sarah Good was In prison about four months & then Executed.
2 a sucking child dyed in prison before the Mothers Execution.
3 a child of 4 or 5 years old was in prison 7 or 8 months and being chain'd in the dungeon was so hardly used and terrifyed that she hath ever since been very chargeable haveing little or no reason to govern herself.--And I leave it unto the Honourable Court to Judge what damage I have sustained by such a destruction of my poor family
And so rest, Your Honours humble servant William Good
Salem. Sept 13, 1710
Further records indicate that 30 pounds was proposed to be given to William Good. These records are also the last I was able to find concerning either William Good or his daughter Dorcas/Dorothy.

Lessons Learned

  • So, why celebrate the story of Sarah Solart Good, one of the first accused of the Salem witches? For starters, she was a relative. All of us have questionable individuals, those we don't particularly care for or agree with within our families. Sarah and her story just happens to be more public and well documented in a number of sources. 
  • Her story reminds me that the lives of our ancestors and relatives are shaped and influenced by the time period in which they live as well as the geographical area of their home. Had Sarah exhibited her behavior in another time or place, she might well have been regarded simply as being a strange individual, one who might have been labeled "insane" on a 19th century census record. Living in another time or place, the actions of William Good might not have been seen as the norm.
  • I was amazed at the quantity of digitized records online relating to the Salem Witch Trials. Without them, learning more about Sarah would have relied primarily upon resources available through area libraries. As an aside, I appreciate the way none of the staff at my local library seemed concerned when I would check out an armload of books about the Salem Witch Trials each visit over several months this past winter.
  • The story of the Salem trials may not be over. As I was working on this post, I came across two new bits of information relating to the trials in Salem. Recently an original deposition from the Salem Witch Trials was sold by Christie's for $137,000.(7) In this document from August of 1692, Mary Daniel was accusing Margaret Scott of sorcery. References to this accusation are available on several online sources, but until Christie's included a photo of the document in the sale information, reading the original text online was not possible because the document was owned by a private collector. Perhaps other primary source documents will surface in the future. In addition, an interesting post by AncestralFindings reported that "ground penetrating sonar revealed no bodies at the presumed gallows site" on Proctor’s Ledge.(8) This raises an interesting question. What happened to the bodies of those executed? Where they removed in secret by family members? Were they taken to an as yet unknown site? Were they buried on family owned property? New information continues to lead to more questions.
  • Because of researching Sarah Solart's life, the Salem Witch Trials are more to me than the old televised episode of You Were There: the Salem Witch Trials or a production of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible. There is now a personal connection. And with it, personal questions as to how we regard those who are different from us, those with mental health issues, those on the fringes of society as well as concerns that we do not let mass hysteria contribute to future dark periods in our history.

(1) Torrey, Clarence Almon. New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co, 1985.
(2) Roach, Marilynn K. Six Women of Salem: the untold story of the accused and their accusers in the Salem Witch Trials. Boston: DaCapo Press, c2013.
(3) Baker, Emerson W. A Storm of Witchcraft: the Salem trials and the American experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, c2015.
(4) "People Accused of Witchcraft in 1692", A Guide to the On-Line Primary Resources of the Salem Witch Trials. accessed http://www.17thc.us/primarysources.
(5) Roach, Marilynn K. The Salem Witch Trials: a day-to-day chronicle of a community under siege. Taylor Trade Publications, 2004.
(6) "Reversal of Attainder and Restitution Files 1710-1750", Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. http://salem.lib.virginia.edu.
(7) Martinez, Alanna. "Christie's Sells Rare Deposition From Salem Witch Trials for $137K", www.observer.com, posted 15 Jun 2017.
(8) "Site of Salem Witch Trial Hangings Discovered: Why It's Important to Genealogists", www.AncestralFindings.com.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Genealogy Bullet Journal, Month 5


"Winner" from pixabay
Winner from pixabay

Sometimes you just end up amazed at what a positive change something has caused. That's the way I feel about my genealogy bullet journal after five months. And here are three reasons why.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Virtually all of my genealogy research is done solo. By myself. At my own pace. When I decide to do it. The simple act of writing down one or two weekly genealogy to-dos has helped me be more accountable to myself. It is one thing to think I might try to look for a new record, check out the validity of a shaking leaf, or search for a death date. I've found that writing it on a weekly to-do list has made me much more likely to do it and to do it in a timely manner. Amidst travel plans, family visits, and life, I have that visual reminder of what I am trying to do. It is written right there in my bullet journal.

PLANNING: On page three of my bullet journal is a list of five genealogy related goals I hope to accomplish in 2017. I wrote about having goals in my Genealogy Bullet Journal, Day 1 post. Two of them had been ideas that I just hadn't gotten around to for several years. Once again, seeing something written in my bullet journal has reminded me that this really is something I feel is important to do.

One of my 2017 goals was to study some documents housed at the Calvin M. McClung Collection of the Knox County Public Library in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was especially interested in looking at the  Parham Papers, a collection of documents, records, and notes by genealogist Will E Parham that documented many families who had been part of East Tennessee's history. I particularly wanted to view those papers related to my husband's Bogle family ancestors. In my bullet journal I had already recorded information about the collection as well as the library's address and hours.

In April we were near the Knoxville area so I let this become my time to finally see the Bogle folder of the Parham Papers. Seeing available time was something I had discovered and mentioned in a previous Bullet Journal post and now was the time to see those Bogle papers. It was a worthwhile two hour visit. I saw much that confirmed what I had already learned on my own. I was able to have photocopies made of new information. I even enjoyed reading Mr. Parham's letters to genealogy clients quoting rates for his services, even requesting approval of a $2-$2.50 cost for a hotel room in Nashville if the client wanted him to conduct additional research at the state capital in the 1930s. Had I not listed a visit to the McClung Collection in my 2017 goals, I would probably still be planning to do it someday, later, eventually, one of these days.



PROGRESS: Another goal for 2017 was to finally compile a small scrapbook of the stories associated with some family heirlooms. My bullet journal has proven to be a good place to record my progress on this project. I started with a burst of activity back in February, taking a lot of photos and looking over previous blog posts to see what I wanted to include in the scrapbook. I actually started putting the scrapbook together during one of those periods when I needed a break from research. Before long I had completed 20 pages in my Family Treasures And Tales scrapbook. This much was completed in time to share with our children and grandchildren during recent visits.

The scrapbook is still a work in progress. Notes in my bullet journal help me keep up with these additional things that I want to include in the scrapbook. Now I when see an item related to family history, perhaps a quilt on a bed or a 100-year old wooden planer sitting on a bookcase shelf and realize that its story needs to be included in the scrapbook, I make a note in my journal. My mother's collection of souvenir spoons hangs on the wall in my dining room, and my notes remind me that I need to polish those spoons, take pictures, and write a short story about some of them.



So, for me, my Genealogy Bullet Journal continues to have a special role in my genealogy research. It has made a difference to be more accountable to myself and to actually carry out plans that had previously just been rolling around in my thoughts. My journal isn't fancy or elaborately decorated. It is minimal in design, but it has helped to encourage me and has enabled me to be a better researcher and family historian. That makes my Genealogy Bullet Journal a winner for me.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Amazing What You Find When You Do a Little Spring Cleaning!

Spring Cleaning in the Vondelpark; source Wikimedia Commons.


Like so many, I have been anxiously awaiting the upcoming release of Family Tree Maker 2017. Having been a Beta tester for several library software products and revisions, I know that it can take time for all aspects of new or revised software to work consistently and in the intended manner so I don't mind waiting until FTM 2017 is 100% (or at least 99%) ready to go before my copy is ready to download.

I agree with Russ Worthington that the waiting period is a great time to do some neglected database clean-up. His post on 14 April 2017 presented a number of areas we can look into and steps we could each do to improve the quality of our database before we tried to sync it with an Ancestry tree. If you use Family Tree Maker, his post is definitely worth reading. A clean-up like Russ suggests is what I've been doing the last two weeks, and each day I am amazed at what I find in my personal clean-up.

My first round of clean-up involved looked at FTM sources that were not attached to anyone in my FTM tree. Probably 95% were for a source which, upon closer reading, turned out to not have information related to any one in my tree. These had come about because I have gotten into the habit of creating a new source when I find a record or other information that seemed, at first glance, to belong to someone in my family tree. Then, as I read the entire record or document, it was clear that the record involved someone who was not connected to my tree. Some of these sources remained like dead leaves on my tree as I tried to see if the information applied to someone else in the family; some remained because I just forgot to delete the source at the time. Now, after reading a lot of source records and following the web link in the citation, I was able to delete all that didn't belong in my tree. The great part was finding those few sources that did belong but somehow I had not actually connected them to the specific person. Who knows why, the phone rang, time to cook dinner, my phone buzzed that it was time to leave for an appointment. But now, all those previously unattached sources are either attached to someone or else have been deleted. I also have a new resolve to study a document more thoroughly before I consider it as a source for my tree, saving creating a source citation for when I know the source actually provides information about someone in my family tree.

Next I turned to looking at people in my database who had no source attached to them. Again, I was chagrined to realize that I had about 40 names attached to my family tree with no supporting documentation. Just a name, and that was all.

For example, in trying to find documentation (beyond personal knowledge) for the husband of a second cousin, Alice Northcutt Dean Felton. I stumbled upon a treasure trove of family information in Alice's obituary.(1) I had documentation of her death through an e-mail I had received, but this obituary found online from a small, local newspaper provided information about her husband, children, and something I had never heard before, that Alice had polio as a child. This one fact added another dimension to her rich, full, active life.

Another just-a-name-cousin became more real to me just be googling his name. I found information about his college years at Davidson College, an address for him from the 1960s through an alumni directory, and a record of his marriage to the previously named Joan xxx (my method for recording an unknown part of a name). The college information supported what I already knew about this first cousin once removed and where he had lived for many years, but now I had something besides a family directory from the 1970s that I had never bothered to cite as a source for him.

Other names without a source turned out to be very removed from my family tree. That included people people like George Glasscock, the brother-in-law of an 8th Great Uncle, and living in the 1600s. Looking at the information about my 8th Great Uncle, I could not find any connection to George (beyond that of being the brother of his wife), so George was among the names I decided to just delete from my family tree.

Then there are people like William Good, the husband of Sarah Solart (about whom I will be posting later). All I can find are the numerous statements in books that refer to William as the husband of Sarah, nothing more. I had early on added him as her spouse but never sourced it, hoping to easily find a record of their marriage. After several months, I still have found nothing more than William Good's name, but at least I realized that I needed to document that it was recorded in several books. After all his life was a large part of Sarah Solart's story.

The real thrill came as I tried to find a source for Weldon Perkinson, a 4 Great Uncle, the son of my 4 Great Grandfather David Perkinson. I had found sources to verify that David had a son William and a daughter Phoebe/Phebe, just no source to connect Weldon beyond having seen his name written somewhere, some time. There were a number of online trees that listed Weldon as the son of David, few with birth or death dates only Union County, South Carolina as his place of death, I knew I had to approach this from a different angle. David Perkinson's death was listed in many online trees as occurring about 1807 in Union County, South Carolina, so I spent an hour looking at unindexed probate records for Union County on FamilySearch.(2) Finally I find a link between David and Weldon. David had died intestate, so his son William was appointed by the Union County court as administrator of his father's estate on 17 Aug 1807. Pages later in the packet, the final payments from the estate were made to the Martha Perkinson (presumably a daughter), Weldon (presumably a son), Phoebe Perkinson Bevis, Polly Perkinson Dickens (presumably a daughter) and Elizabeth Perkinson (presumably a daughter), the amounts to each person being essentially the same amount as is frequently the case with children in an estate. This certainly started chipping away at a brick wall.

Lessons learned: All in all, my Spring cleaning has kept me busy while I wait for the actual release of Family Tree Maker 2017. During this time, I was able to find sources for several relatives, possibly poke a few holes in a Perkinson brick wall, and locate helpful information using online obituary and college sites. Plus I removed a few people about whom I found nothing. It also became clear that I need to tweek exactly when I create a source and attack it to an individual. Maybe I need to do Spring cleaning a little more frequently than every four or five years.

(1) "FELTON, Alice Dean", Tribune Ledger News, Canton, GA, 24 Jan, 2017; http://www.tribuneledgernews.com.
(2) South Carolina, Probate Records and Loose Papers, 1732-1964, Union, Probate Court, Probate records 1777-1961, Box 5, package 24, estate of David Parkinson/Perkinson; accessed www.familysearch.org.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Slave Name Roll Project* : Estate of William Brooks Willingham, Walton County, Georgia

"Power of Words" b y Antonio Litterio,
via Wikimedia.org

Each will or probate record of an ancestor who owned slaved provides the opportunity to learn the names of enslaved individuals. This was definitely true when examining the records for William Brooks Willingham who died in 1838 in Walton County, Georgia.


William's will is not presented in the online records, but the probate records for his estate provide a great deal of information. The inventory of his estate recorded in September of 1838 listed 12 slaves.(1) The inventory was especially informative as it provided the name, sex, and age of each of Willingham's slaves. Records from the 1839 sale of these slaves provides information as to where they moved as the estate was settled.(2) The information provided in these two lists has been combined and is recorded below. These individuals were each listed in the 1838 estate inventory. There was one girl, however, a girl named Lucretia, aged 15 months, who was listed in the estate inventory but whose name did not appear in the 1839 sale. One possible reason might be that she was the unnamed one-year-old child who went to Mary Willingham. The ages given are those recorded in the 1839 sale.


  • Charles, a man age 45, to John T Pool
  • Mary, a woman age 35 and child age 6 months [not listed in the estate inventory], to Wm Lacky
  • Eliza, a girl age 4, to Wm Lacky
  • Henry, a boy age 3, to Charles Huff
  • Sarah, a woman age 36 and child 1 year of age, to Mary Willingham [wife of William Brooks Willingham]
  • Rose, a woman age 19 and child 2 months of age, to R S Willingham [son of William Brooks Willingham]
  • Allen, a boy age 2, to R S Willingham
  • Sanday, a girl age 15, to Jessee Moon [brother-in-law of William Brooks Willingham]
  • Ebeline, a girl age 3, to Jessee Moon
  • Sally, a girl age 5, to Louis S Moon, Jr
  • Sam, a boy sold by the Sheriff to Jessee Moon in October 1838

Blogger Schalene Dagutis, through her blog Tangled Roots and Trees, developed the Slave Name Roll Project in 2015. This project is a means for listing the names of slaves as individual names are located through our research of wills, probate records, and property records. It us the opportunity to provide information so that present day descendants can make a connection to their enslaved ancestors.

(1) Georgia, Will and Probate Records, 1742-1992, Walton County, Estate Papers, 1820-1915, image 1194 of 1295, estate of William Brooks Willingham; accessed on www.ancestry.com.
(2) Ibid, image 1207 of 1295; accessed on www.ancestry.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Tale of the Timeline: the Solarts of Massachusetts


The Solomon Kimball House, Wenham, Massachusetts
By John Phelan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, it takes something as simple as a timeline to make sense of the stuff going on in a family. That was certainly the case when I started researching the family of my 8th Great Grandfather, John Solart of Massachusetts. I kept finding tidbits over several months from various sources concerning various family members. When I put events in order chronologically, several stories just seemed to pop out.

The first story concerned John Solart, Sr, my 8th GGfather, one of the early settlers of Wenham, Massachusetts. The earliest mention I've found concerning John, Sr. was in an interesting chapter on the historical taverns located in Wenham in Jack Hauck's book, Treasures of Wenham History.(1) John, Sr, was appointed by the General Court as "Keeper of the Tavern" in 1670, and later that year, John built another tavern, a building that still stands as a private residence on Main Street in Wenham.

John, Sr, was considered, by many sources, to be a wealthy man, implying that he was most likely an astute business man. It was surprising, however, to learn that John, Sr, died intestate, leaving no will. The story that appears over and over is that John committed suicide on 24 May 1672. Essex County Court records presented the deposition of two of his servants or employees who told of John, Sr, telling them several months before his death of his final wishes. John told the two men that he was "being often troubled with faynting Fits" and felt he "haue not long to live".(2)

In September, 1672, John's widow Elizabeth presented John's verbal will to the Essex County Court. At this September hearing, the two servants stated that John, Sr, said that his entire estate was to go to his wife Elizabeth "duering the time of her widowhood" and to be used for raising their children. Were Elizabeth to remarry, she was to receive one third of John, Sr's estate, the other two thirds to be divided among his children. Their deposition agreed with the customary division of property during that time. The estate inventory valued John, Sr's estate at 500 pounds. The record also listed the names of the seven children who were to receive a share of their father's estate when they came of age: John (Jr), Sarah, Hanah, Martha, Joseph, Abigaill (my 7th Great Grandmother), and Bethia.

Just three months later the widow Solart married Ezekiel Woodward on 20 Dec 1672.(3) According to the terms of John Solart, Sr's will, Elizabeth would not receive a portion of the estate, only money for the raising of the seven named in the court records.

Jump ahead a few years and the family composition has changed. Son John, Jr, had died and his will was proved on 28 Mar 1676.(4) Elizabeth Solart Woodward died in December of 1678.(5) The money from John, Sr's estate, however, still had not been divided among John's six children and John Jr's wife.

Less than a year after Elizabeth Solart Woodward's death, her son Joseph died. The Essex County Court in April of 1679 appointed an executor for Joseph's estate and allowed Elizabeth's daughters Abigaill and Bethia to select whom they wanted to be their legal guardians. Interestingly, none of these legal responsibilities were handed over to Ezekiel Woodward.(6) The estate money apparently had continued to be kept or used by Ezekiel Woodward.

It took further lawsuits filed by the surviving six children to attempt to get the share of their father's estate due to them. In September of 1682, all six of the surviving children, plus the husband of a deceased daughter Mary Solart Edwards, were still petitioning the Essex County Court to let one of them be named administrator of their father's estate.(7) The petition stated that Ezekiell Woodward had taken over the estate and had not paid the legacies.

By 1682, ten years after his death, the estate of John Solart, Sr, still had not been settled according to his desires. His widow had died, both of his sons were deceased, and all of his surviving daughters were now of age to receive their legacies. And, thus far, I have not come across any record that the daughters ever received the money due them by Ezekiell Woodward. For some of them, having additional money could have made a significant difference in their lives. For Sarah Solart, at least, her life might have made for a very different story.

Lessons Learned:
  • Research such as this would be much more difficult without the digitized court and church records available online, records that have survived from our country's early days.
  • When I find probate records like that for John, Sr, listing the full inventory and value of his estate as well as the names of all his family members, I remember once again just how much we can learn from wills and probate records.
  • It is hard not to judge Ezekiell Woodward by today's standards, but the early courts did not appear to punish him or penalize him for the manner in which he seemed to maintain control of the Solart family's money. Life then as well as now is not an drama that is neatly solved in a 42 minute television program. I need to remind myself to simply look at the facts as they are presented in the time in which they occurred and not as similar events might be dealt with in the twentieth-first century.

(1) Hauk, Jack E. "A History of Wenham Taverns From 1643 to 2008". Treasures of Wenham History. Wenham, Mass, self-published, 2013; accessed http://www.hwlibrary/org
(2) Dow, George. The probate records of Essex County, Massachusetts. Salem, Mass: Essex Institute, 1916-1920; accessed on www.hathitrust.org.
(3) Ancestry.com. Massachusettes Town and Vital Records 1620-1988, Wenham Vital Records Transcripts, Marriages; accessed on www.ancestry.com.
(4) Ancestry.com, Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991, Essex Probate Records, 1672-1691, estate of John Solart, Jr.; accessed on Ancestry.com.
(5) Ancestry.com. Massachusettes Town and Vital Records 1620-1988, Wenham Vital Records Transcripts, Deaths; accessed on www.ancestry.com
(6) Dow, George. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County. Salem, Mass: Essex Institute, 1911; accessed on www.ancestry.com
(7) Historical Collections of the Essex Institute. Salem, Mass: Essex Institute, 1861; accessed on www.books.google.com




Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Step by Step, Bit by Bit, Learning More About Hannah Larcom

"Step By Step" MPN photos

Hannah Larcom, my 6th Great Grandmother, wasn't exactly a brick wall, but she has been one lady for whom each answer tended to bring more questions.

It all started several months ago when I found the marriage record for Hannah Larcom and my 6th Great Grandfather Stephen Fairfield.(1)  The record was simple to find on a page of marriage records from Wenham, Massachusetts. There were even two other Fairfield relatives whose marriages were recorded on the same page. But who were Hannah's parents? Had she always lived in Wenham? And when was she born? Already the answer of her marriage date brought new information to seek.

There are a number of online family trees that listed Hannah as being the daughter of Mordecai Larcom so I tried to verify this information as the online trees all seemed to cite other online trees as the source. Sure enough, in the same collection of Wenham, Massachusetts records, I found the birth of a Hannah Larcom, daughter of Mordecai and his wife Abigall, born in Wenham 16 July 1704.(2) Now I knew the possible parents, birthplace, and birth date for Hannah.

It wasn't long before I stumbled over a big rock. While looking through that same record collection for some Fairfield information, I came across the unexpected. A death record for Hannah Larcom. Hannah, the daughter of Mordecai and Abigall, had died in October of 1704, at the age of just three months.(3) The fact meant that either two different people were the parents of Hannah Larcom or, as was frequently the case, Mordecai and Abigall later had a second daughter whom they also named Hannah. One more answer, more questions.

Trying to find a record of the birth of another Hannah Larcom still has me stumped. I have searched the available birth and baptismal records available online for the town of Wenham, Massachusetts, as well as those of the neighboring towns of Beverly and Ipswich, without having any success. The only mention thus far that I've found for a later birth date for a Hannah Larcom was in "Genealogy of the Larcom Family" published in a 1922 issue of the Essex Historical Collection journals.(4) This lengthy two-part article lists a Hannah Larcom, daughter of Mordecai Larcom, who was baptized in 1711 and [who became the] wife of Stephen Fairfield.

A further link between Hannah Larcom and her parents Mordecai and Abigail was found in the probate records of Mordecai Larcom's estate. Mordecai Larcom had died intestate in 1712, but his estate, however, was not probated until after the death of his wife Abigall in 1741.(5) Hannah's husband, Stephen Fairfield, appeared as a witness on a number of documents related to the probate proceedings, and a division of the estate was made to Stephen Fairfield "in right of his wife Hannah".(6)

Once again, Birth, Marriage, and Death/Probate records provided answers to some of the questions about Hannah. Looking for that elusive original birth or baptismal record from 1711 for Hannah will stay on my To-Do List for a while. For now I'll have to be satisfied with possible baptismal information and the probate records to connect Hannah to Mordecai Larcom and Abigail Solart as her parents. Several dots that could finally be connected to made a line on my family tree.

Later, when I started searching for information about Hannah's Solart grandparents, I found myself pulled in an unexpected direction. Talk about examining a Bright Shiny Object! I found not just more questions but a surprising brush with history. Definitly the subject for a future post. Or two.

(1) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Wenham Births, Marriages and Death, 670 of 696 images.
(2) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Wenham Vital Record Transcripts, p 57.
(3) Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. Database and Images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011); citing Wenham Vital Record Transcripts, p 210.
(4) Abbott, William F. "Genealogy of the Larcom Family", Essex Institute Historical Collectionm vol, LVIII, 1922; accessed on Google Books.
(5) "Essex, Massachusetts Probate Records, 1648-1840", Ancestry.com; citing Sanborn, Melinde Lutz. Essex County, Massachusetts Probate Index, 1638-1840. Salem, MA,  probate of estate of Mordecai Larcom, 2 Jun 1741; 
(6) Massachusetts, Essex, Probate File Papers, 1638-1881, Essex Cases 16000-17999, #16401 Mordeca Larcom; accessed AmericanAncestors.org

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Genealogy Bullet Journal, Month 2

Public Domain Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Some say that doing something daily for 30 days is enough time and opportunity to establish a habit. After using my Genealogy Bullet Journal for the month of January, I can state that I have established a new habit. A habit that enhances the way I research. A habit I feel will stay with me into the future.

Last month I posted about starting my Genealogy Bullet Journal. Frankly I wasn't sure exactly how or even why I would use it, but I felt bullet journaling was a trend worth investigating. Here are some of the things I tried and learned through January's 31 days.
  • I experimented with several different weekly spreads, trying to find one that suited me. After all starting with a blank journal gives you the opportunity to try different things, different looks, add your touch. I've ended up settling on the basic spread shown in my first post. I found that amount and organization of space has been enough for what I wanted to note and record for any given day.

  • Yes, it is SO tempting to add color, stamps, stickers, you name it to a bullet journal. I confess, I picked up a set of planner stamps on sale at my local craft store. 
    • I like putting an ! or * or thumbs up to indicate success. They are a good balance for the frowny faces :( I draw when I've spent an afternoon or two looking, or searching, or reading and found nothing that advances my research, all that negative research that is a real part of genealogy. I still enjoy looking at photos of all those beautifully designed bujos (bullet journals) on Instagram and Pinterest, but my ministampers will probably be the extent of my bujo creativity. 
    • The list stamp has proven to be helpful. Just stamp it on a sticky note, list up to six places I plan to look for information about that person or event, and I'm ready to go. All research questions won't focus on using the same sources. My check list stamp encourages me to consider the wide variety of possible sources to use, some online, some at a library or in a book, something in my files that might warrant a closer look. 
  • Every once in a while, we stumble upon something that is some simple, yet so great. That is the way I feel about my 3F idea - First File Fifteen minutes. Having those seven task boxes across a page of my weekly spread kept me going. Besides seeing my document pile shrink, there was also that simple little kid joy in seeing all seven boxes marked as tasks completed for the week. By the end of January, I had actually looked at, read over, and filed about 3 inches of documents in my file basket, all relating to my Perkinson family tree. This filing time was a daily warm up to more serious research. Now, for February, I'm starting to dig through the stuff relating to my husband's Nelson family tree. And later, once that pile is cleared, I'll spend time looking through my files to see what needs to be placed elsewhere, clear out duplicates, determine new questions for which to seek an answer. Filing, like laundry, will be an ongoing task!
  • I am learning to use and rely on the Collections section of my bujo. First, as I filed, if I had a question or noticed something needing further research, I finally had a place to record it. On days when I wasn't sure exactly as to what I wanted or needed to research, I could turn to my Research Questions in the Collections section, choose a question I had previously recorded and I was good to go for several days.
    • Here is just one example. I had printed out a family group sheet on the William Huey Family that I had found on FamilySearch.org. It listed names, dates, children, their spouses for my 4th Great Grandfather's family but NO sources. My first research question was to try to verify the information on this printout along with a note as to the folder and item number where the printout was filed. I'm still working on this project, but I'm also finding a few sources for some of the information on the printout.
    • Learning more about the Hueys has lead me to add another collection section, one I'm calling my Treasure Chest. After spending parts of a week browsing through the Pennsylvania Archives on Ancestry.com, looking for anything about the Hueys, I added a note describing this resource in my Treasure Chest. I wrote "Pennsylvania" in large letters, then a paragraph to describe the types of information I found there - things like marriage records, rosters of militia, immigration information complete with a physical description of the immigrant and his/her family background. Even though I found only a few Huey facts, I know I want to remember this resources in the future when researching ancestors in 1650-1800 Pennsylvania, even if it is months from now that I jump back into some Pennsylvania area research.
  • Having the big picture of my yearly spread is helping me better plan for blog posts and research times. Now that we have some family trips, looking after grandchildren, and a few get-togethers listed, I can see times in which to plan or add on some research trips. 
  • My bujo isn't replacing my detailed research log. Instead it supplements my research. I add a few notes in my daily block noting the family, area, topic, or source I researched. Looking back over my diary entries for the month of January, I get a feel for what I did and can gain ideas as to other approaches or resources to use. I can also see that I've spent enough time, for now, on looking for the Hueys in early 1700s. It is about time to move on to another question. My actual research log will continue to be the private notes I add for an individual in Family Tree Maker.
Meanwhile, I've also started a personal bullet journal. It too has the 3F filing blocks which I'm using to get our household files in order and to look for any paperwork needed for filing our taxes for the year. I've also added daily check boxes for my walking / exercising. On the daily spread, there are notes about progress on some of those household projects we want need to address in 2017. There is also room for journaling my reflections on things I read or the Bible study in which I am involved. The yearly and monthly calendars contain lists of our family activities and various volunteer commitments. Another bujo as individual as its writer.

It looks like I'm hooked on bullet journaling. Where is my heart stamp when I need it?