30 Minute Genealogy – Education

I would love to do a little genealogy every day, but sometimes, that just feels overwhelming because of getting out all the materials I like to have available to me. So I’ve been brainstorming a list of things I could do if I only had 30 minutes available to me.  Here’s my list for genealogy EDUCATION:

Excel and Word Group Sheet Templates

I had a blog reader ask me if I’d be willing to send him my group sheet templates in Excel and Word.  I thought for SURE that I had made those available to download on this blog, but I can’t find them, so I must not have!

I’m not sure if all of my column settings download correctly for everyone or not, but here they are. If you need setting details, let me know and I’ll be happy to share.

Blank Group Sheet – Excel

Blank Group Sheet – Word

30 Minute Genealogy – Family Files

When I first began blogging, I wrote about my organization system. Basically, I have a school style 3-prong folder for each married couple.  I put about 5 sheet protectors in it to keep hard copies of things I find for that couple. (Anything for the individuals before they were married stay with their parents’ folder.) I keep a 5 gen chart, group sheet and research plan in the front pocket.  I keep hard copies of census records (if I’ve printed one) in the back pocket. Other things are kept in the page protectors in chronological order.  So if I find marriage info, birth of children, land sales, biographies, death certs, etc. I put those in the page protectors.

Later, I developed a system for keeping my genealogy research with me at school using half-sheet sized groups sheets, notes, research logs, etc. When students are taking a test or I’m sitting in the car waiting for my kids, or any other time I’ve got a few minutes, I can pull out my research planner and jot some thoughts down or make research plans.

So my first edition of 30 Minute Genealogy involves my folders and planner. If I have a short period of time in the evening after grading and planning is finished, I could grab a family folder and check:

  • Is the group sheet up to date?
  • Group sheet for my planner?
  • Can I find the occupation for each person?
  • Do I have a source for each fact?
  • Is the source in my database?
  • Create a list of questions/resources for my research plan
  • Are they any new shaky leaves in Ancestry?
    1. Search Mocavo
    2. Search FamilySearch
  • Create a group sheet for each child

I think I just might grab a folder now!

30 Minute Genealogy

Lately, I’ve been wallowing in self-pity over the lack of time that I have to work on my genealogy.  If you read my last post, you know that I worked to get a big project completed so that I could have some research time over the 3 day week-end. So now, the big project is done (at least, this phase of it) and how much time have I spent working on genealogy this week?  None.  Why?  Because “there isn’t enough time.”

What this really means is that I don’t have an entire day available to me to surround myself in genealogy.  To spread out the charts and maps and forget about the housework and the schoolwork and just immerse myself in genealogy. But really, how often does THAT come along? What I really need is to get organized in such a way that I could grab something from my file and work on a specific task for 30 minutes or so.

I could easily spend 30 minutes just thumbing through my records for an ancestor and thinking of what I’d like to research next.  I need to have a list handy of things to do so that I can jump right in and feel like I’ve accomplished something in that 30 minutes or so. I’ve been brainstorming ideas on this for the past couple of days and I’ve divided my list into 3 areas depending on how I’m feeling when that free time arrives.

I could use my hypothetical 30 minutes for personal RESEARCH – or preparing for research when those wonderful “surround myself in genealogy” days come along. I could spend my 30 minutes on genealogy EDUCATION to learn something that will help me break down a brick wall or learn about a new resource I’ve never used. Or I could spend my time on BUSY WORK to complete some of those not-so-fun tasks that always seem to be hanging over my head.

So I’ve decided to post my three lists and see if anyone has additional ideas to add. Right after I find a few minutes to make my list a little more coherent… Stay Tuned!

My Personal Week-End Genealogy Challenge!

I am at the beginning of a 3 day week-end. I have not done ANY genealogy in WEEKS!  Why?  Because I can’t say no! Which isn’t always a bad thing, but I tend to overestimate exactly how much work I can do in a day.

I have a full time job teaching high school math and training teachers in how to use MacBooks in their classrooms. In addition to that, I have accepted another project that has turned into the equivalent of another full time job – which I am enjoying, but it is keeping me from having any free time at all.

This project is comprised of 14 smaller projects.  I am down to my last 5 mini-projects and they are the smallest of the 14 projects. I need to be finished with everything by Monday afternoon.  So, in addition to this, I’m DETERMINED to get some library time this week-end.  I have 5 FHL films at my library, and they won’t be here forever! So I’m challenging myself by breaking this project down with a “genealogy reward” between each mini-project.

It is currently 11:15. If I can finish one of my 5 mini-projects before 2:00, I will reward myself today with 2 hours at the library. I will come back to begin watching the football playoffs – during which I’ll be working on another project. Overall project goal: 2 mini-projects completed today and 2 hours at the library.

Tomorrow will be church, then lunch, then an afternoon of football – and working on mini-projects.  I COULD say that if I complete 2 more mini-projects during the football games, then I can spend any “left-over” time organizing my genealogy binder, buy if I can complete ALL of the remaining projects by tomorrow evening, I will give myself an entire DAY of genealogy on Monday, both at the library and at home.

Is this a legitimate genealogy blog post? I don’t know, but by putting these goals out there “for the public”, I hope to be more determined to GET THEM DONE!

UPDATE: 1:40 – phase one COMPLETE!!

UPDATE 2: 10:00 pm – I accomplished my goals for today PLUS one EXTRA mini-project!  VERY HAPPY!

Disappearing Christmas Tradition?

In my family, it has always been a Christmas tradition to tape all of the Christmas cards we receive around the kitchen doorway.  It’s like having a very colorful and festive garland around the door and I could look at the family photos that were included and remember fun times and pray for the families as I wash dishes or cook dinner.

But this year seems to show a dramatic decrease in Christmas cards! Several people have sent e-cards, but I can’t put those around the doorway. I wonder if the reason is a lack of time – everyone is busier than ever – or if it’s a cost cutting measure due to tight budgets? I wonder if the ability to stay in touch through Facebook, Google+ and Twitter has made the yearly greeting through Christmas cards seem unnecessary?

It makes me sad that this tradition may be coming to an end, but who knows, perhaps the cards are yet to come!

Microfilm Strategy

I’ve been researching the Smith family in the Harrodsburg, Kentucky area.  Fort Harrod was the first permanent settlement in Kentucky and several Smith men were there from the beginning (based on land documents).  My theory is that my “brick wall” – John M. Smith, from Russell County, Kentucky – was a descendant of one of these men.

So I’m turning to land deeds to see if I can make a connection. I ordered 5 microfilms of land deeds from the FHL and received them this week, but one of those is on backorder.  I still may not have all of the information I need for what I want to do.  Fort Harrod was settled around 1776 and land grants started being given around 1780, but the films that I ordered begin with deeds in 1787 because that’s when Mercer County was formed. So I may need to order at least 1 more film from Mercer’s parent count, Lincoln County, but the FHL site is giving me an error whenever I click on the film link so that will have to wait.

I’m attacking these deeds from both ends.  Beginning in 1787, I’m scanning every deed with a land transfer involving a Smith. I can only spend a couple of hours at the library at a time and each scan takes quite a bit of time, so I feel like it’s going to take me a year to get through these. Yesterday, over a 2 hour visit, I scanned 11 deeds (about 30 pages). As I scan, I take a break every 10 scans or so and print out what I have.  As I continue to scan, I write the film info on the back of each page and do a quick read through to see if anything jumps out at me. So far, I have wives names for 4 Smith men. The wives names are widely available on other genealogy sites, but I like having a source from an actual document as opposed to “so and so said so”. Some Smith names in the deeds, I don’t recognize – perhaps because they weren’t in the Harrodsburg area of Mercer Co, but I need to analyze the area more. Lots of analysis ahead!

From the other end of the time spectrum, I found a deed for a John Smith selling land in 1826, just before MY John Smith appears in Russell County.  I plan to follow this piece of land backward to see if I can find any Smith relationships mentioned that might help me make a connection.

The timing for this is pretty good for me.  This is exam week at school, which means no lessons to prepare in the evenings.  Most of my Christmas preparations are complete, so I can spend an hour or so at the library each evening.  I can read the deeds while students take the exams and I can write all kinds of notes and questions to follow up on.  It isn’t often that you’re forced to sit in a silent room for 2 hours at a time!

This isn’t the first time I’ve attempted to gather information on every person with a certain surname and the challenge always becomes, How do I organize this? A file folder for every family? A binder with all of the deeds and some type of table of contents? What about the digital images? I have to rename each file, but again, how to organize? Family folders? Chronologically? Perhaps I’ll have time to ponder that during exams!

Music to My Ears!

Yesterday, my daughter (a high school junior) told me that her history teacher is giving extra credit to whoever brings in the “biggest, gnarliest family tree” (you have to know the guy) – which they have to make themselves.  For years, I’ve been teased by my daughter about my genealogy research, but suddenly, she’s asking for information and as she began to make her chart, she told me that if she gets the extra credit, she’ll never make fun of my genealogy again.

Using the information I have, she’s attempting to create a NINE-gen chart on a 6 foot scroll of paper.  So far, she’s spent an hour and half just drawing the lines.  It should be a bit more interesting for her when she starts adding the names and dates.  And who knows, maybe she’ll catch a bit of the bug?  Probably just the opposite, but stranger things have been known to happen!

George Smith Warrant and Grant

This is the mysterious George Smith.  I don’t know how he related to the other 3 Smiths, but I suspect that if MY John M. Smith is related to anyone, he comes through George’s line.  I can find very little on George Smith, so I’m hoping for some treasures in the land records that I’ve ordered.

Warrant:

Kentucky County (pct?)

We do hereby certify that George Smith is entitled to four hundred acres of land in the district of Kentucky on account of settlement made and raising a crop of corn in the county in the year 1776 lying on the waters of Harrods Run joining Capt. Harrods land on the northwest and that the said George Smith is also entitled to the preemption of one thousand acres of land adjoining the said settlement given under our hands at the Falls of Ohio this 18th day of November 1779.

Grant:

Grant Book 1, pg. 623
George Smith 1000 Acres

Kentucky

Benjamin Harrison Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, to all to whom these presents shall come greeting.  Know ye that in consideration of the sum of two hundred and forty pounds paid by George Smith into the Treasury of this Commonwealth there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said George Smith a certain tract or parcel of land containing one thousand acres, surveyed the 7th day of October 1780 four hundred acres of which is by virtue of a certificate in right of settlement lying and being in the County of Kentucky on the waters of Harrods Run adjoining the land of James Harrod on the north, and bounded as followeth, to wit, Beginning at a sugar oak and hickory tree a corner to Harrod’s and Bowman running from thence north one hundred and sixty poles to two Elms and black oak tree, thence west forty two poles to an Ash and White Oak tree thence north ninety two poles  crossing the river to two white oak trees thence west fifty eight poles crossing the run to a white oak and sugar tree, thence South forty poles to an Ash and Elm tree a corner to Quirk, thence west with his line two hundred and one and a quarter poles crossing the run to a mulberry and ash tree, thence south two hundred and twelve poles to two sugar trees in Harrods line, then East with his line three hundred and one and a quarter poles crossing the run to the Beginning, the residue six hundred acres on a preemption treasury warrant No. 953(?) and issued the 28th day of June 78- adjoining the Settlement on the west and Bounded as followeth, to wit, Beginning at a Mulberry and Ash tree a corner to the settlement lands, running from thence west twenty and three quarter poles to two sugar trees and an ash, thence north two hundred poles to two white oak trees, thence west two hundred and twenty two and a half poles to a sugar tree and two ash trees on the side of a small branch, then south four hundred and twelve poles to two ashes and sugar trees, thence east two hundred and forty three and three quarter poles to two sugar trees a corner to the settlement lands, thence with a line of the same north two hundred and twelve poles to the beginning with its appurtenances to have and to hold the said tract or parcel of land, with its appurtenances to the said George Smith and his heirs forever. In witness of the said Benjamin Harrison Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hath here unto set his hand, and caused the lesser seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond on the first day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty two and of the Commonwealth the sixth.

Benjamin Harrison

Adam Smith Warrant and Grant

This one confuses me a little.  I had found the grant quite awhile back.  When I found the warrant, the database also contained a link to the grant.  When I click on the grant link, it does not take me to the correct one.  In the database, it lists “Cain Run” as the watercourse, but Cain Run is not part of the grant you get with the link. For the grant that I have, Adam is an assignee of John Bowman instead of having a warrant of his own.  Until I have time to really sit down and analyze these, I’m just going to post what I have.

Adam Smith is the oldest of the 3 Smith brothers.

Warrant:

Kentucky County (pct?)

We do hereby certify that Adam Smith is entitled to a settlement of four hundred acres of land in the district of Kentucky on account of raising a crop of corn in the County in the year 1776 lying on Cain Run to include a Mill Seat and adjoining the lands of Harlan V William Bryan Heir to David Bryan dec’d to include his improvement and that the said Smith is also entitled to the Preemption of one thousand acres of land adjoining the said settlement given under our hands at (S Araph) this 25th day of April 1780.

Grant:

Grant Book 1, pg. 161
Adam Smith 400 acres Lincoln 

Benjamin Harrison Esquire Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia to all to whom these presents shall come Greeting.  Know ye that in consideration of the sum of one hundred and sixty pound paid by Adam Smith into the Treasury of the Commonwealth There is Granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said Adam Smith assignee of John Bowman, a certain tract or parcel of land containing four hundred acres Surveyed the thirtieth day of May, one thousand, seven hundred, and eighty one or part of a preemption Treasury Warrant number five hundred and sixty and issued the first day of April, one thousand, seven hundred and eighty, lying and being in the County of Lincoln, adjoining John Bowman’s settlement on Harrods run, on the side and bounded a followeth, to wit, Beginning in Harrods line at a white oak and honey locust, running from thence with Bowman’s line North three hundred and twenty poles crossing Harrods run to a white oak and two Buckeyes in McBrides line, thence, with him East ninety poles to two white oaks and honey locust thence with said McBride, South ninety nine poles to four white oaks all from one root, thence with said McBrides line East two hundred and thirty poles crossing Harrods run twice to a (post) oak, white oak, and Walnut, in Adam Fisher’s line thence South ninety poles with Fishers to a sugar tree and small Walnut the corner of Zachariah Smiths land thence with in Smiths line West eighty poles to an Elm and Ash near Harrods run, thence South thirty two degrees West, one hundred and fifty Eight poles with said Smiths line and corner with him to two sugar trees, and white oak, thence West one hundred and sixty poles with said Smiths and Harrods lines to the beginning with its appurtenances, to have and to hold the said tract or parcel of land with its appurtenances to the said Adam Smith and his heirs forever. In witness whereof the said Benjamin Harrison Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hath hereunto set his hand and caused the lesser seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed at Richmond on the first day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty two and of the Commonwealth the seventh.

Benjamin Harrison

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