Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Day 5– Gather ALL clues

Sherlock gathered ALL of the clues from the scene of a crime even if he didn’t know if they were relevant or not. Genealogists make the mistake of gathering only what they think is important and then they miss something vital along the way. Take the time to look at the neighbors in the census records. Do background research on the location to see what was going on during that time period. Extract ALL the names mentioned in official documents. Make note of the deeds before and after the ones you are interested in. Look at everyone with the same name in the same area and develop a profile on each one of them. Over time you will be able to figure out which facts go with which person and then you will be able to exclude those that don't belong to your person of interest.

“As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded, well-trained foxhound, as it dashes backward and forward through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent.” [Watson observing Holmes, "A Study in Scarlet"]

“Well, Mr. Holmes, what are we to do with that fact?”
“To remember it – to docket it. We may come on something later which will bear upon it.” [Inspector Lestrade to Holmes and Holmes' response, "The Six Napoleons"]

"I had at the outset no particular reason to connect these journeys with the disappearance of Godfrey Staunton, and was only inclined to investigate them on the general grounds that everything which concerns Dr. Armstrong is at present of interest to us…” [Holmes to Watson, "The Missing Three-Quarter"]

"Much of what I tell you is no doubt quite irrelevant, but still I feel that it is best that I should let you have all the facts and leave you to select for yourself those which will be of most service to you in helping you to your conclusions.” [Watson to Holmes in a letter, "The Hound of the Baskervilles"]

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A husband for Katie

The background information for this story is in Mystery Marker and Update to Mystery Marker. It has been a year and a half since I last looked at this.  I am a big believer in two heads are better than one so yesterday I posted a query on a Facebook group that I belong to and Mississippi researcher “GJ” jumped at the challenge.  We started trading information back and forth and within three hours we had the answer. We used newspapers, city directories, social security applications/claims, draft registrations, census records and Find a Grave to put the pieces together.

Catherine Elizabeth “Katie” (Hickman) Warden married Oliver Searcy Simmons.  It was the second marriage for both of them. We have a paper trail but I will be calling the Forrest County Circuit Court to request a copy of their marriage license/certificate to seal the deal.  I already had Oliver in my file as I knew I would.  I doubt if there is a Simmons in Perry, Forrest, Lamar or Marion County that I don’t know.  What I didn’t know is that Searcy remarried after his first wife died.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Another must have book

Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

This book is in a workbook format like the others in this National Genealogical Society’s series. Here are the others:

I have the previous three books and recommend them.  I am looking forward to the new book which will begin shipping on May 22nd.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

More on spreadsheets (some mistakes)

Someone on the Excel-ling Genealogists Facebook group page wanted an example of how I use a spreadsheet to analyze data.

This is actually an old spreadsheet I did and now I want to go back and clean it up to make it better. In a nutshell, there were THREE Mathew Pattons in Augusta County, Virginia at the same time. I am trying to separate the three men.

DISCLAIMER: You will see that I am using Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, a three volume set of document abstracts that is available online. I normally harp on the importance of obtaining copies of the documents themselves but right now I am compiling data for a process of elimination. Abstracts are exactly what I need for this.

I inputted every entry for every Patton (not just Mathew). I also had a couple of newspaper clippings that helped differentiate the three. My mistake with the spreadsheet was that I needed columns for other people mentioned in the document so that I could pick up patterns of who each person was associated with. This was a big mistake because I have 354 documents entered! I will look through the old spreadsheet and see the max number of witnesses for an event and then create that many extra columns. 

Another thing I need to do is reverse the names so that they sort better. I need James Patton and Col. James Patton to sort next to each other so I need to do Patton, James and Patton, James Col. Titles are very important when trying to separate men with the same name. Another clue is when a man always used his middle initial.

I also want to add a column indicating the type of document. This won't help with the analysis but it will make it tidier. Since I will have associates listed I might get rid of the Event column completely and maybe add a comments column in case there is something really important I need to mention.

Anyway, I wanted to show an early attempt at a spreadsheet along with some ideas of how to make it better.




I will be able to sort by the person, the associates or the date. I can also sort using multiple parameters. The more ways you can sort your data, the easier it will be to see the patterns you need to see.

Monday, May 8, 2017

I have no clue but I am very happy about it

UPDATE: Thank you Tim Firkowski for letting me know these records are actually in RUSSIAN! I did tell y’all that I had no clue and I also told you that I would probably need to learn some Russian too.  So here are some additional resources:
FamilySearch’s Russian Word List
FamilySearch’s Russian Alphabet Key
Reading Russian Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The Russian Alphabet
Reading Russian Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Russian Names, Dates, and Key Words
Reading Russian Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Russian Records

The Polish Archives in Łódź just sent me scans of seven death certificates. I can’t read one word of Polish and I don’t even know which one belongs to which person yet but I don’t care. The most important thing is I now have a new resource for a very important branch of my family, my maternal grandfather’s line.  These death certificates are just a start. The Polish Archives also has birth and marriage records and my grandfather’s family was in the area that became Poland since the early 1700s at the least.

All I have to do is learn a bit of essential Polish and I am well on my way. Chances are I will eventually need to learn some essential Russian also.  I do have German covered though.

My starting point is FamilySearch’s Polish Word List and their Polish Alphabet Examples. The handwriting on all seven death certificates is very clear which will make things much easier.

Look what else I found:
Reading Polish Handwritten Records Lesson 1: Polish Letters
Reading Polish Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Names, Dates, and Key Words
Reading Polish Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Polish Records

I can’t say enough about how great a resource FamilySearch is.