Spider Webs of Connections

I was able to spend a few hours at the library today, but for the first time ever, I could not get onto a microfilm scanner because they were all full!  Normally, I’m one of the first at the library on Saturday, but a dead car battery conspired against me – or so I thought…

Because I couldn’t scan the microfilm pages I wanted, I turned to the stacks to look at a few books.  I had looked at these books when I first started to research Smiths in a new location, but nothing stood out to me then.  Now when I look at these books, I see names and connections that I understand – or at least recognize.

Because I wasn’t planning to spend time in the books, I didn’t have my Flip Pal with me, so I took about 25 pictures with my phone. Most of what I got was from a book of Court Order transcriptions. I was looking for anything “promising” with the Smith surname. Some images weren’t in great focus and most were crooked in one way or another, so I decided to type up what I had collected.

As I was typing things up, I saw listings for wills that had been recorded in the County Court with an unexpected Smith as an Executor or Heir. Or guardianship granted to a Smith for a “non-Smith” child. I’m starting to see connections for which John Smith is which based on neighbors surveying roads together. Wouldn’t neighbors be likely to be witnesses for marriages or wills? In some court orders, additional hints appeared with the names – like “John Smith the lesser”. (I’m hoping that is the same thing as Jr!)

So I decided to see if I could find the wills in the Probate Records on Family Search that matched the court orders I have found. What a great thing this has turned out to be! I see all kinds of family connections for daughters that I didn’t have before. But there is a lot of criss-crossing that has me longing for an empty bulletin board from school that I can pin pages to and start making a “spider web” with yarn to really understand it all. Yarn to show that this group sheet connects with this land record which connects to this marriage bond, etc.

I wonder if my husband would notice a giant bulletin board in the hallway…

In needs of some fans!

For my entire life….well, it seems like all my life, but probably just several years…. I’ve been trying to find the father of John M. Smith who died in Russell County, Kentucky in 1835.  I’ve got hints on top of hints, but the name John Smith is so darn common!  One of the hints that I have has lead me to jump back over a generation and now I’m trying to get them to meet in the middle.

Recently, I received a new hint, but to make the connection – or at least convince me not to stop trying to make the connection – I’ve got to follow the fans (friends, acquaintances, neighbors) and every thing I look at makes me say, “Where have I heard THAT name before”?

No matter how often I’ve heard the advice to keep track of these people, I never have taken the advice and now I’m regretting it.

So where to begin? Of course, it will involve using Excel. This morning, I was able to make a worksheet of the marriage records for the cluster of families and I’m including witnesses, bondsmen and pastors, if known. Next, I’m going to work on land records, but the stack is quite tall, involves at least 3 counties, and I feel like I’m about to jump into a very deep pool without any floatation device.  It seems too random and unorganized. There will be WAY more land records than marriage records. I certainly don’t want to have to do this again, so I want to be thorough. But knowing me as well as I do, I will have to FORCE myself not to get side-tracked, because that’s my M.O.  Read a document, think of 5 questions, research one of those, which leads me to more documents…..till suddenly I have no idea what I was working on originally.

Somehow, I will have to come up with a way to show WHICH John Smith or which family group a record belongs to…

Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Advice is welcome!

Siri hints

Yesterday, due to a bad sinus headache, I desperately turned to Siri on my phone to transcribe a deed that was out of focus on the microfilm.  This worked so well, I did some research to help limit the amount of corrections I was making after copying the email I sent into my word processor.  I thought I’d share a few more common things here but you can see a complete list of commands from the Apple site by clicking here. As I collected this list, I had deeds and wills in mind, so you may find additional commands helpful for other things on the Apple site.

Now if I could just learn to pronounce “appurtenances” so that Siri would understand me….

What to say Result
apostrophe
open bracket [
close bracket ]
open parenthesis (
close parenthesis )
open brace {
close brace }
colon :
comma ,
dash -
exclamation mark !
hyphen
period / point / dot / full stop .
question mark ?
semicolon ;
ampersand &
asterisk *
forward slash /
caret ^
degree sign °
caps on formats next phrase in Title Case
caps off resumes default letter case
all caps formats next word in ALL CAPS
all caps on proceeds in ALL CAPS
all caps off resumes default letter case
dollar sign $
cent sign ¢
pound sterling sign £
new line adds line break
numeral formats next phrase as number
new paragraph adds paragraph break
tab key advances cursor to the next tab stop
dollar sign $
cent sign ¢
pound sterling sign £
new line adds line break
numeral formats next phrase as number
new paragraph adds paragraph break
tab key advances cursor to the next tab stop

Lazy….or Brilliant?

Oh the weather outside is frightful…..well, maybe not that bad…but cloudy and snowing none the less.  Not a storm, but a steady flurry of snow with dreary clouds everywhere.  And my sinus headache reminds me what the weather is, even when I can’t see the skies!

This morning, I went to the library with a list of deeds to scan and wouldn’t you know it, several pages on the reel were not scanned in focus – including a short series of pages containing a deed I was especially anxious to see.  I scanned the page anyway and printed it out before leaving. It almost looks like it was filmed twice in the same frame.  So I knew I’d want to transcribe the page immediately or I’d look at it later and be less than motivated to try to decipher it.

blog_image

Enter the sinus headache – there was no way my eyes could go back and forth between the document and the computer screen.  Not even if I had the scan and word processor side by side.  My head would have split wide open leaving quite a mess on my desk!  If only I could read it out loud and have someone else type it for me….wait a minute…..what about Siri on my cell phone?

I decided to give it a try and I think I have a new “normal” way to transcribe my documents! I opened a new email, clicked on the microphone and began to read. She was amazing at recording what I was saying!  Of course, a few words were “auto-corrected”, but those were easy to find and correct in my word processor.  I was able to read several sentences before Siri would “bing” at me, indicating that her memory was packed, so I’d click “done”, she’d type what I had so far and then I’d click the microphone and continue reading.  By the time I was done, I had a nice little email ready to send.

I copied the email into my word processor and began to read for accuracy.  Since I’d just read it out loud, most things I was able to fix without even looking at the horrible copy I had from the microfilm.  Some of the “misinterpretations” included:

doth>tough
thence>event
appurtenances>after 10 manses (what???)
heirs>errors
aforesaid>at four said

Overall, not too bad! I’m certainly going to use this method for the other deeds that I scanned today and if they go as smoothly as this one did – I may be grabbing my book of deeds to see how many I can get transcribed this week-end!

And now I’m thinking about using this same method during my 10 minute drive home from the library.  Seems like my brain churns out questions about what I’ve just discovered and using Siri to type an email to myself as I think of these questions would be an easy way to make my list while everything is still fresh in my mind.

Hmmm….other thoughts are now going through my mind….this could get interesting!

Ellis Island “How To” for Educators

Recently, a US History teacher in my school asked me if I could “come up with something” to help his students determine if they had any ancestors who had arrived through Ellis Island. Since we’ve had several snow days here (actually, little snow but wind chills around -25!!) I’ve had plenty of time to put together a packet for his class showing how to find that out using only free web sites – FamilySearch.com, EllisIsland.org and Steven Morse’s One Step site (although I did mention that the local library may give access to Ancestry, which ours does.)

I thought I’d offer the packet to anyone who might find it useful as well.  It is a PDF document with clickable links as well as a family tree circle chart, blank 1940 census example and blank 1930 census example. It is designed so that it can be broken down into sections easily and I do give basic information on Bob Hope as a search subject if no family of their own came through Ellis Island.

The information in the packet is certainly not entirely from my own brain, but the layout of the packet is, so I put a copyright at the bottom with absolutely no legal knowledge on my part! Needed? I don’t know.  Illegal? I hope not!

If you just happen to be a genealogist who just happens to be a teacher who just happens to be reading my blog….enjoy!

Did Your Ancestors Come Through Ellis Island?

Confession of a flash addict

Is anyone else addicted to portable storage?

School was cancelled today, so I spent the day organizing my digital files – getting everything onto one “Master Drive”. I have a habit of putting a few files onto a portable flash drive “in case I have some free time” but then I worry that I’m going to forget something, so I copy folders with family group sheets and surname notes as well. So later, I’m unsure which files are the last to be updated, and to be safe, I don’t delete anything. And then I see a flashdrive with more storage and I have to have it and then that becomes my “just in case” drive.

Couple that with the fact that when I scan files at the library, the folder is automatically given the name “Scanwrite”. For several years, the computers at the library would not allow you to access anything other than the library web site or the scanning software, so I was always sure to write down what was in the folder – but never quite got around to renaming it because “I’m sure I won’t forget!”

Repeat this for a few years and soon, I have duplicated files out my ears and I’m never sure exactly what I have. So today, I decided to “get organized”. Step one – collect the flash drives.

Let’s see – there’s my normal genealogy flash drive and my school flash drive, which just might have a file or two collected over lunch breaks.  And wait… I used to have a blue flash drive, so where is that? I think it may be in my research backpack. When I look in the pocket, lo and behold, there’s also a flash drive that I had to purchase at the library because I accidentally left mine at home. And look! There’s also a teeny tiny flash drive that was just sooooooooo cute that I had to have it! That reminds me that somewhere, I have a flash drive that looks like a little surf board that was an AWESOME deal for 10 whole gigs! I know where that one is stored and when I get that, I also see my old iPod that I used for storage for quite awhile as well. Which reminds me of my very first external drive – what files might be on there?

So bottom line – I’ve been transferring files all day. I have a 1 terabyte drive that I’ve copied everything onto – well, only files for my Mom’s side of the family. And only files that were not created by me, such as family group sheets or timelines or notes. Six flash drives, 1 iPod, 1 older external drive and files on my laptop have been combined into one location. As I copied to my external, I deleted from the device I was working with.  If I had already copied something from a previous device, I deleted it from the the remaining drives.

I’ve placed everything into folders by county name. There are some additional folders for photos, maps, military histories and educational information I’ve collected. Each county has folders for cemetery records/images,  land records, tax records and census records. But the files in my county folders are still named really creatively – like Scan 01, Scan 02, etc. How many of these files might be duplicates? That is what I’ll be working on next. As I have time, I’ll be working on renaming the files and making a list of what I’ve already scanned – to make sure I don’t duplicate things again!

Of course, my external drive isn’t nearly as easy to take along as a flash drive, so as I get things renamed, I’ll want to put everything onto one “Master flash”.

And luckily for me – I have an awesome 32 gig flash drive still in the package that I got at a great after Christmas sale!

Snow!

Well, I was steaming along quite nicely with my research until the holiday pack up caught up with me and the snow hit! Have only been out of the house once since Saturday (grocery shelves are almost as bare as our kitchen pantry!) – although I may venture to the library today. Roads are still dicey – all schools have canceled – so we’ll have to see how lucky I’m feeling after lunch.

But I’ll be using this opportunity to organize files on my laptop as well as in my “genealogy cave”. Hope to get back on the Welcome Stephens research train soon!

When the shoe won’t fit – part 3 (Census)

I am trying to narrow down the dates of birth for the children of Welcome Stephens.

My original list of children looked like this:

Elizabeth

1794

John

1797

Dudley

1797

Joshua

1800

Andrew

1801

Polly “Mary”

1807

Thomas

1810

William

1813

Sherwood

1815

Lettie

1816

After looking at Welcome’s will, I adjusted the list of children to:

  • Dudley
  • Joshua
  • Andrew
  • Sherwood
  • Elizabeth
  • Polly
  • William
  • John Bailey (not a child, but listed in the will and could be a clue to Welcome’s wife)

Now I am ready to look for information in the 1840 and 1850 census records.

Dudley – my original d.o.b. was 1797 and that came from the 1850 census where Dudley was listed as 53 years old. I know he couldn’t have been born before 1800, so taking a look at the 1840 and 1830 census helps me to narrow this down a bit. In both census records, Dudley was listed as being between 30 and 39. So if he was on the younger end for the 1830 census and the older end for the 1840 census, I would put his d.o.b. around 1800.

Joshua – Joshua is a bit of a mystery. The first census record I can find for him that I feel confident is the correct record is in 1860 when he is found living with John Bailey’s family! (John Bailey married Andrew Stephens’ daughter – Martha “Patsy”) In 1860, Joshua is listed as 49 years old, giving him a d.o.b. around 1811 – much younger than I expected! At the same time, I see that John Bailey is listed as 37 years old, giving him a d.o.b. around 1823. He would have been 17 years old when Welcome passed away.

Andrew – 1850 census, 50 years old – 1840 census age 30-39. I’m going to put a potential d.o.b. at 1801 because I believe Dudley was the oldest.

Sherwood – 1850 census, 34 years old – 1816 d.o.b. This seems a bit young compared to the others, but in the 1820 census, Welcome had 2 males under 10 and that could have been Joshua and Sherwood, so it’s not out of the question.

Elizabeth – I have found zero records for John Ard. ZERO! So the only thing I have to make a guess on would be the marriage record. Elizabeth was married in 1822 and was listed as the daughter of Welcome Stephens – making me think she was young enough to need her father’s permission to marry. In the 1820 census, Welcome had one daughter under 10 and one daughter between 10 and 15. If Elizabeth was 15 in 1820, she would have been 17 when she married in 1822. This would make her d.o.b. around 1805.

Polly – Polly’s 1850 census indicates that she was born around 1810. She had a 19 year old daughter who would have been born when Polly was about 21, so that d.o.b. fits.

William – The 1850 and 1860 both put William’s d.o.b. around 1807.

Name

My original d.o.b.

Updated d.o.b. based on census records

Dudley

1797

1800

Andrew

1801

1801

Elizabeth

1794

1805

William

1813

1807

Polly

1807

1810

Joshua

1800

1811

Sherwood

1815

1816

John Bailey

?

1823

The first thing that I notice now is that there is a 10 year difference between my original notes and my new dates for Elizabeth and Joshua. That could make a significant difference when looking for potential records!

So do these new dates line up with the older census records for Welcome’s family?

1810 Buncombe Co, NC

1810 Buncombe Co, NC

Based on these dates, in 1810, Welcome should have 4 or 5 children – 3 boys and 1 or 2 girls. Checking the records, I see that Welcome has 3 boys under 10 (check!) and 2 females under 10 (check!). (I also notice an additional, older woman – perhaps a mother or mother-in-law?)

1820 Adair Co KY cropped

1820 Adair Co census

In 1820, Welcome should have around 7 children – 5 boys and 2 girls. Checking the records, I see that Welcome has 2 boys under 10 (Sherwood and Joshua), 1 boy 10-15 (William), 2 boys 16-18 (Andrew and Dudley)[the 2nd 2 is males between 16 and 25, which would be the same 2 boys], 1 girl under 10 (Polly) and 1 girl between 10 and 15 (Elizabeth). This looks good EXCEPT – Dudley was married in 1818, so he would not have been living with Welcome. Or if he was, there should also be an extra female. (The Dudley listed above Welcome was his older brother.) So who is the “extra” male? If my “new” dates are correct, he certainly wasn’t in the 1810 census. The other  new piece of information in the 1820 census was that there was no wife, so now I have a potential date of death for “Nancy #1”.

I’m pretty happy with these numbers, but it does give me more questions. My next step will be to take a look at tax records to see if those give me additional clues.

When the shoe won’t fit – part 2 (The Will)

I’m trying to narrow down the dates of birth for the children of Welcome Stephens.

I will begin with Welcome’s death. Welcome died in 1840 – before any census records listed all family members. So I will look to see who was listed in the will and what I can discover in the estate settlement.

I Welcome Stephens Russell County and State of Kentucky do hereby make my last Will and Testament in manner & form following that is to say

1st I desire that my blacksmith tools shall be sold immediately after my decease and out of the monies from all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid.

2nd after the payment of all my just debts and funeral expenses I give to my beloved wife Nancy Stephens one bed and furniture and for her to give the same to who she pleases at her death and shall have her support in manner hereafter mentioned only she shall have the use of my farm or so much of them she needs for her and John Baily and the kitchen furniture

3rd I give unto my son Dudley Stephens all the ridge tract of land including the Racoon Springs and the tract on which he now lives included in the deed to me from Thomas Wilson so high up the creek as to take square across the bottom at the lick at the upper end of the old field, to him and his heirs forever also my clock and my five dogs.

4th I give to my son Andrew Stephens the tract of land where he now lives containing one hundred acres more or less to him and his heirs forever.

5th I give to my son Joshua Stephens the home tract of land that is including where I now live and the place where he settled at the Lisha[?] place only he shall contribute to my wife before mentioned a reasonable support in the following manner, she shall have choice houses on the land for own self to live in and as much ground as she can tend herself during her life or her widowhood and my sons Dudley Stephens and Joshua Stephens shall contribute to her what she lacks of making in manner before mentioned.

6th I give to my son Sherwood Stephens the tract of land where he now lives to him his lifetime and to his heirs forever also my bureau

7th as far as John Ard and the children he had by Elizabeth his first wife my daughter I have given them all that I intend for them to have

8th, all the rest of my estate both real and personal of what nature or kind so-ever it may be not herein before mentioned and disposed of I desire that it may be equally divided all my children only I want John Baily to have my young mare when he is 21 years old or one that is as good as she makes when he is 21 years of age provided that he continues to conduct himself as well as he has done heretofore and lives at home as he has always done until he is free.

And lastly I hereby appoint Dudley Stephens and Joshua Stephens Executors to this my last will and testament in witness whereof I do hereby set my hand and affix my s—[?; remainder of word obliterated] the 14th day of July 1840.

First in the will, he mentions his wife, Nancy. I “know” (information from other people) that Welcome married Nancy Bailey and there is a John Bailey mentioned in the will, so this makes sense to me – perhaps a younger brother.  However, Welcome is a fairly uncommon name (unlike William and John which I have in the dozens!) so I have also noticed that Welcome Stephens married Nancy Stephens in 1830 – long after his children were born.

Marriage of Welcome and Nancy Stephens

Marriage of Welcome and Nancy Stephens

I have to assume that this is NOT Nancy Bailey, but a 2nd marriage. Based on that marriage record, I believe that Nancy Bailey died before 1830. I do not know if the Nancy Stephens that he married had been previously married and therefore has a different maiden name or not.

OR – I can continue the plan of accepting no information other than what I can find myself and then believe that Welcome’s first wife is unknown and the Nancy he married in 1830 WAS Nancy Bailey and John Bailey was HER son from another marriage. The only problem with this is that the marriage record clearly says “Nancy Stephens”. Could the recorder have accidentally written Welcome’s last name for both individuals? No way to prove that so I will add John Bailey to my “group sheet” to see what information I can find for him as he is my best clue for Nancy Bailey – whether she was Welcome’s first or second wife.

The children specifically mentioned in the will were:

  • Dudley – because he is listed first and was a co-administrator of the will, I’ll assume that he is the oldest child.
  • Andrew – assuming he is 2nd oldest
  • Joshua – 3rd oldest – however, he is also a co-administrator of the will – does this mean he might be the 2nd oldest? More clues needed.
  • Sherwood – 4th oldest
  • Elizabeth – Welcome states that his daughter is deceased and that his son-in-law and grandchildren have been given all he intends to give to them. I do not feel that having her listed at the end is an indication of birth order, but that he takes care of his living children first.
  • John Bailey – not specifically mentioned as a child, but Nancy is given “use of my farm as she needs for her and John Bailey” and he is to be given a mare “when he turns 21”.
  • The rest of the estate is to be disposed of and divided equally among “all my children”.

When the estate was settled, 2 more names come to light. Polly Stephens, who agrees with those mentioned above to sell the property to the highest bidder and to give an equal share to William Stephens. William was living in Mississippi or Alabama at this time, so that explains why they mentioned giving him his equal share. From my original list, 3 individuals are missing – John, Thomas and Lettie.  I will have to think about these individuals later.

So my “new” list of children becomes:

  • Dudley
  • Joshua
  • Andrew
  • Sherwood
  • Elizabeth
  • Polly
  • William
  • John Bailey

My next step will be to see what I can determine about each of these children in the 1840 and 1850 censuses.

When the shoe won’t fit!

When you begin gathering family history information for the first time, it’s exciting to find information in a book about your family. It’s almost like discovering you’re famous!

I have a group sheet for Welcome Stephens that I created years and years ago. I believe the information that was the basis for this group sheet came from a Russell County History book in which individuals can submit family information and from people who submitted trees on Ancestry.com. I have approximate dates of birth and to be honest; I have no idea where some of this information came from. So after this oh-so-newbie beginning, I have 10 children for Welcome Stephens and his wife, Nancy, with dates of birth ranging from 1794 to 1816.

Elizabeth

1794

John

1797

Dudley

1797

Joshua

1800

Andrew

1801

Polly “Mary”

1807

Thomas

1810

William

1813

Sherwood

1815

Lettie

1816

I have used that information as the jumping off point for both directions – ancestors AND descendants of Welcome Stephens. But as I spend this holiday season updating notes, I just can’t make some of this information fit. And if I’m searching for individuals many years older or younger than their actually age, I may be missing valuable records.

In the 1800 census, Welcome’s household only had 2 people – a male and a female, each between the ages of 16 and 25.  Based on my group sheet, there should be 3 or 4 children by this time, which makes me see that this information cannot be accurate. I understand that census takers sometimes got their information from neighbors, but there were a total of 4 Stephens’s families living in the area at the time and I find it hard to believe that a stranger would know that there was a man and a woman living at a location, but fail to notice 4 kids!

So what if I was starting totally from scratch with no “outside” information?  What would I have in my group sheet? For years, I’ve been collecting documents from any Stephens name I could find – time to be a detective with the documents I have by looking at them with a fresh eye.

Next Time: Welcome’s Will

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