Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Morehead on Finding an Ancestor’s Hometown

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 7 May 2016.

S401, Shellee A. Morehead, PhD, CG, “Clusters and Chains for Genealogical Success”

Reviewed by Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

Shellee lectured on using extended family groups and migration patterns to identify family relationships. She provided information that applies to every ethnicity, location, and time period. Explaining cluster genealogy as the tracking of whole families, Shellee presented a broad list of potential relationships and urged the audience to expand rather than limit their scope. Beyond family and extended family, she suggested considering shopkeepers, midwives, and people from the same town or parish. People who associated together prior to immigration would often be found in similar relationships in the new country or location.

Shellee Morehead, PhD, CG
Photo Courtesy of Jean Andrews, CG

“Birds of passage” are people who came to the United States then later returned to their homeland one or more times to bring others to America. Young men, often unmarried, were frequently the initial pioneers. Other family members followed. Constructing timelines helps identify these people; tracking their movements can show chains of subsequent migration and prevent errors of identity.

Shellee’s case study example used Italian immigrant Michele Lautieri, believed born about 1882 in a town whose records ended in 1865. His parents were unknown. Shellee analyzed passenger and census list details and triaged multiple passenger lists to reveal patterns of movement based on Michele’s relationships. Studying movements, associations, and knowing related family such as siblings is necessary to separate families of similar names. Naming patterns and the custom of reusing names when older children die young are significant and can provide hints to hometowns and family groups.

Although Shellee’s case study example used an Italian immigrant, the methods she demonstrated apply to any time and place where migration took place.

 

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The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Evans on Negative and Indirect Evidence

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F351, Stefani Evans, CG, “Doughnut Holes and Family Skeletons: Meeting the GPS through Negative and Indirect Evidence”

Reviewed by Nancy A. Peters, CG

At the start of her lecture, Stefani asked tongue-in-cheek, “Who doesn’t love a corrupt governor?” She went on to describe how the Matteson family story has all the elements of an antebellum soap opera—westward migration, political corruption, fraud, bribery, witness tampering, and the villain fleeing the country.

Stefani Evans, CG
Photo courtesy of Adrianna Ko

On the serious side, Stefani faced one of the more troublesome, yet common, genealogical problems—no direct evidence connects an early nineteenth-century female to her birth family. Nancy Matteson was not named in her putative father’s will or estate file. Was she or wasn’t she his daughter? Confronted with records created in two states, family skeletons, and doughnut holes in the evidence, Stefani explained how she relied on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to solve the puzzle of Nancy’s parentage.

An essential element in the solution was the “hypothesis-based problem solving approach” used to identify the problem, develop positive and negative hypotheses, and test them using the GPS. At first, the evidence seemed inconclusive. However, deeper analysis of the negative and indirect evidence taken from a Bible, obituaries, gravestones, newspapers, and land transactions; an understanding of cultural context; and rigorous application of the GPS yielded a reliable conclusion.

Any family historian who faces negative and indirect evidence could benefit from hearing about Stefani’s approach to solving the Matteson family mystery.

 

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The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: J. Miller on Reasonably Exhaustive Research, a Case Study

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F341, Julie Miller, CG, FNGS, “Eddie Wenck:  The Case of a Little Lost Boy”

Reviewed by Karen Stanbary, CG

Little Eddie Wenck died of “congestion of the brain” before he reached his third birthday. Julie Miller, in her quest to fully document the life events of her grandfather’s siblings, uncovered Eddie’s death register entry and church burial record, both naming “Four Mile Cemetery” as the place of interment. Yet, there is no “Four Mile Cemetery” in the community where Eddie and his family lived. There is no mention of said cemetery in the county histories. The closest Four Mile Cemetery was a twelve-mile journey from the Wenck home.

Julie Miller, CG, FNGS
Courtesy of Karen Stanbary

Eddie called to Julie to uncover the truth. She methodically studied city directories, church directories, county histories, diocesan histories, land records, maps, and newspapers. She identified early roads and even the location of a tavern where Irish mourners might gather after a burial. She analyzed assigned priests and each man’s handwriting in the church registers for both the Irish and the German Catholic churches in Eddie’s community. When the microfilm images did not seem quite right, she sought the original volumes. When denied access, she politely persisted, climbing the hierarchy within the church to gain access. She studied the provenance of the records.

It was as if Eddie accompanied her in this journey, compelling her to not give up until she could fully document his short life. In the process Julie (and Eddie) discovered and corrected significant errors in the burials of Newport, Kentucky, including naming many who lie in unmarked graves, now long forgotten.

This lecture is a fantastic example of source appraisal and analysis, an essential component of reasonably exhaustive research.

 

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The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Jones on DNA and Brick Walls

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F321, Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “Systematically Using Autosomal DNA Test Results to Help Break Through Genealogical Brick Walls”

Reviewed by Melinda Daffin Henningfield, CG

Dr. Thomas W. Jones suggests autosomal DNA (atDNA) as another puzzle piece in helping family historians identify their ancestors. DNA should be employed along with traditional genealogical methods. He emphasizes that using DNA does not relieve the genealogist from adhering to the Genealogical Proof Standard.[1]

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
Courtesy of Scott Stewart Photography

Most genealogists are not geneticists and may be baffled at how to begin using atDNA in their research. Utilizing a case study, Jones provides a framework to assist in employing this tool.[2] He steps through traditional research that brought him to specific and unanswered questions of identity. These were recognized as questions that might be answered using DNA. He discusses challenges in using DNA as a tool and outlines specific steps that can be followed to use it effectively.

Identifying ancestors for whom few traditional records exist is a constant challenge for family historians. Genealogists can now employ atDNA as an additional tool for identifying ancestors, but the large number of results makes it confusing to many. Jones gives a blueprint which clarifies how to begin this process. This lecture will assist beginning-to-advanced genealogists wanting to use this tool. The use of atDNA, accompanied by skillful use of traditional genealogical methods, can help family historians identify those elusive ancestors and break down those brick walls.

 


[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, imprint of Turner Publishing, 2014), 1–3.
[2] Thomas W. Jones, “Too Few Sources to Solve a Family Mystery? Some Greenfields in Central and Western New York,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (June 2015): 85–103.

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Bloom on Writing Conclusions

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F311, Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, “Sharing with Others: How to Convey Evidence”

Reviewed by Darcie Hind Posz, CG

I always like a Jeanne Larzalere Bloom presentation because whether in person or by audio, I can tell how enthusiastic and passionate she is about genealogy and writing. Jeanne’s instruction technique also works for me. When I was working on my portfolio, defending my conclusions in my case study and kinship determination project was intimidating. Jeanne’s lecture from the NGS 2012 Family History Conference titled, “The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments into Genealogical Narrative,” talked me into taking the plunge to write out those conclusions.[1]

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG

This new lecture, “Sharing with Others: How to Convey Evidence,” definitely lives up to its title and description and provides listeners with new tools to apply towards our genealogical skill set and education.

Jeanne draws us in with the fact that our work must be written because it is our legacy. Part five of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is to write out our conclusions. It’s the final step after the other components of the GPS, the mental processes of assembling and analyzing. Many of us hesitate with the phase of writing out our research and analysis; research is addictive and rewarding, but explaining it to make a solid case is another thing.

We need a lecture like this in our playlist. Writing an analysis of evidence and a conclusion can be overwhelming. When we can break the project down into smaller steps, writing it out and presenting it in pieces makes the process easier to understand and apply.

Listening to this lecture (several times, of course) reveals Jeanne’s methodological plan so that we can become less timid about writing out our research. We learn to use tools like research plans to lead us toward construction. Jeanne Bloom provides a road map that makes writing less intimidating and more approachable.

 


[1] Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, “The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments Into the Genealogical Narrative,” lecture F-303, National Genealogical Society 2012 Family History Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. The lecture is also available as a BCG webinar.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Coming from OnBoard, May 2016

OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists is scheduled to publish in May 2016. We’re pleased to offer a preview of some of its content.

“When Does Newfound Evidence Overturn a Proved Conclusion?”

Most serious genealogists are aware of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and its five elements that guide us to reliable conclusions in matters of kinship and identity. Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, explains a paradox inherent in the GPS—a conclusion can meet the GPS and yet allow “documents left unexamined.” What happens if we later find new evidence relevant to our research?

“Reporting Research in Progress”

Whether working on simple or complex genealogical problems, research reports are fundamental tools that help us to keep track of and organize our findings. Michael Grant Hait Jr., CG, shows us how following genealogy standards for reporting is critical to overall research continuity and success.

OnBoard publishes three issues per year. A subscription is included in annual associate fees and is provided to applicants “on the clock.” Subscriptions are also available to the general public for $15.00 per year (currently) through the BCG website, here. Issues back to 1995 can also be ordered online, here.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Associates in Action

Welcome to Associates in Action! This monthly feature highlights BCG associates’ news, activities, and accomplishments. Contact  Alice Hoyt Veen to include your special news in an upcoming post.

Activities & Projects

Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, MFA, CG, will teach two courses: Genealogy & Family History Writing and Tracing Immigrant Origins for the summer semester of Salt Lake Community College’s online Certificate in Genealogy Research and Writing program. Classes begin 16 May 2016. A lower tuition fee is offered to out-of-state students who do not need college credit. To enroll or for more information, go to http://www.slcccontinuinged.com/program/genealogy.

Awards & Achievements

Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG, received the Elaine Spires Smith Family History Writing Award at the annual meeting of the Indiana Genealogical Society on Saturday, 16 April 2016. The $500 award, sponsored by the Society, honors an outstanding article published in the Indiana Genealogist. Kathy’s article, “Eliza Jane Henry of Putnam County, Indiana: Documenting Her Heritage,” has been published in the Indiana Genealogist 26 (December 2015): 5–32.

Publications

Paul Friday, CG, Vital Record Manuscripts at the State Historical Societies in New England (N.p: the author, 2016). This new book serves as a finding aid for New England vital records and includes a partial inventory of vital record manuscripts (church records, minister records, town vital records, tax lists, employment records, petitions, subscriptions, passenger lists, etc.) for all time periods at the six state historical societies in New England. Each record in the book includes the call number, manuscript collection name, box number, and (usually) the folder number (everything required to locate the record). Roughly forty-five percent of the items in the book do not appear in any of the societies’ catalogs; they are present in the manuscript finding aids only. Paul’s book is available at Amazon.com.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Little on Weighing Evidence

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 6 May 2016.

F301, Barbara Vines Little, “On a Scale of One to Ten:  Weighing the Evidence”

Reviewed by Darrell Jackson, CG

Barbara Vines Little structured her lecture around the “fundamental concepts” of sources as original or derivative, information as primary or secondary, and evidence as direct or indirect. The title emphasizes evidence, but since evidence is information viewed in the context of a research question, weighing evidence consists in assessment of information and the source of that information. The most emphasis on a general principle for this assessment was given to knowledge of the law and custom of the time and place. Other principles include the closeness of the source to the event, the involvement and credibility of the person who provided the information about the event, consistency, both internal and with other information, and the number of iterations the source has gone through.

Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FVGS
Courtesy Scott Stewart Photography

Barbara examined several kinds of sources. Information about land transactions is found in deeds, which may be viewed as the original, the recorded copy, an image of either the original or the recorded copy, or an abstract. Deeds state a date for the transaction. This information cannot be taken as evidence of when the grantee occupied the property. There may be, for example, a land bond that predates the deed, with the deed being executed only when the land was paid for. Or a person may have rented the property for a time before purchasing it.

Death records include many items of information. Some are likely to be more credible than others. Date and place of death may be relied on more than names of parents.

Marriage records include marriage bonds, banns, consents, minister returns, marriage certificates, and marriage registers.  Barbara discussed marriage returns filed by one minister who listed a large number of marriages, with the only date given being the date that he had made the list. That single date is highly unlikely to be the date of all of the marriages, which almost certainly occurred before that date.

Information in tax records is determined both by the law at the time and by the understanding and application of the law by the record maker. In Virginia the age at which white males were taxed varied by law from time to time. Tax commissioners did not, however, always understand or follow the law. Failure to determine the law and practice can create errors in assigning ages to persons listed in the records.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Mills on Research Problems

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 5 May 2016.

T251, Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, “Dissection & Analysis of Research Problems”

Reviewed by Sara Scribner, CG

Elizabeth Shown Mills began her lecture referring to the title of Thomas MacEntee’s blog Genealogy Do-Over. Re-doing work when we are stymied requires changing our thinking and seeing information in a new light. With her low-key, humorous delivery, clear analysis, elegant slides, and helpful forms, Mills laid out a ten-step process to solve a problem by re-thinking it.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

Each step requires an activity, and Mills provided eight worksheets to help carry out that activity. Step 1 suggests we fully understand every aspect of our ancestor’s lives leaving nothing out. “Context is Key.”[1]

Most steps involve reformatting our thinking or beginning a new practice. Step 2, “Review the Known Facts,” requires finding a way to interrupt what Mills called our “auto-pilot.”[2] Interrupting automatic thinking displays our research in a new way and leads to new insights. Other steps mandate analyzing prior conclusions and arguing with ourselves to be sure we haven’t missed something.

After working nine of the ten steps, researchers should have in hand a series of targeted worksheets full of new insights, research areas, and premises to investigate. Step Ten suggests preparing a Master Plan to conduct that research.

Mills closed with a call to action: “Seek out new ground no one else has plowed. Are you a researcher or a recycler?”[3] The ten steps and eight worksheets provide the format, skills and guidance for anyone who is serious about being a serious researcher.


[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Dissection and Analysis of Research Problems: (Ten Steps to a Solution)©,” National Genealogical Society Conference, 2016, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

 

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Eagleson on Finding Robert Walker, a Case Study

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented Thursday, 5 May 2016.

T241, Pam Stone Eagleson, CG, “An Ancestry for Robert Walker of Rockingham County, NC, and Orange County, IN”

Blogger: Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG

How can a genealogist not be hooked from the beginning of Pam’s syllabus: “Robert Walker vanished without a trace . . . ”? Then she gives a source list for fourteen children of the subject’s father, and it just gets better!

Pam Stone Eagleson, CG
Courtesy of Michael Ramage

It took Pam two years and a great array of evidence to prove the connection between Robert Walker and his ancestors in 1829 Rockingham County, North Carolina, and beyond. It took research in thirteen counties in five states.  And, of course, she had to contend with a very common surname.

Pam aptly took us through a proof argument using such records as 1700s and 1800s marriage bonds, an unsigned deed, land grants, a reference in an early 1700s court order to the family, recorded deeds, obituaries, guardianship papers, early census schedules, and derivative records.  Ample screen shots of these old records as well as tables analyzing the various information points help us visualize the proofs involved.  She masterfully distinguishes ancestors falling within the “same name, different persons” category.

Five male Walkers had to be painstakingly researched as potential fathers of Robert Walker.  It gets better.  A Walker Y-DNA Surname Project with hundreds of members provides genetic evidence leading from Virginia (part of today’s Kentucky) to North Carolina.  Kentucky land records become important, and the Kentucky Secretary of State provides a ready source for these records.  The Virginia Land Law of May 1779 resulted in Certificates of Settlement and Preemption Warrants that add to the mix of evidence supporting Pam’s proof argument.  Rockingham County estate proceedings in the late 1790s supply numerous family affidavits found on the Kentucky Secretary of State’s website.  A “Kentucky Doomsday Book” adds an unusual record to the numerous proofs.

It takes several intestate heir proceedings and deeds stretching to Missouri to provide the evidence needed to tie Robert to his father and thirteen siblings.  Anyone interested in proof arguments, deeds, estates, and solved puzzles will love this presentation.  The evidence seamlessly ties this family together through a number of sound methods including the FAN Club (family, associates, and neighbors), migrations traced by land deeds, naming patterns, and genetic genealogy.  Well done, and thank you, Pam, for a great story well presented.

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A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.