January 30, 2012

January by the fire: Motivation Monday

For some reason I always think that things will slow down after the holidays. “After the first of the year,” I tell myself, “there will be lots of time for catching up on things, reading, sorting photos, and getting stuff in order. I can sit by the fire with a cup of tea and knock these things out.” Ha! Who am I kidding? I don’t think I’ve ever found myself with time on my hands in January, and this year was no exception. But I do feel like I got some things accomplished this month. Here’s how I did with my January goals:

Research
  • Use my last month of Ancestry World Deluxe to look for international records on the Herrel, Evans, and Baxter families. I spent most of the month on the Evans line, but it was worth it. I made a huge breakthrough in pinpointing the family out of all the other Evans families in Wales. I knew I should write a research report for my files so I wouldn’t forget how and why I reached my conclusion. But then I had another idea: why not write it up as an informal case study for my blog? That will force me to think it through—and who knows, maybe something I say will help someone else. The result was Finding Common Names in Census Records: Evans, part 1 and part 2. Oh, and the other names? I searched but didn’t find anything for the Herrels. I saved a bunch of Irish civil registration records for members of the Baxter and Flack families to look up on FHL microfilm.
Organization
  • Organize my surname binders for Herrel, Evans, and Baxter. I did Herrel and Evans. Baxter is on deck.
  • Start reading Organizing Your Family History Search by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. I read the whole book and really enjoyed it, even though the parts about technology are outdated. As I figure out how to use some of her suggestions, I’ll share them with you. I didn't get to the book Throw Out 50 Things, but I did take at least 50 items to Goodwill, so that's a start.
Blogging
  • Begin participating in Amy Coffin’s 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy and Michelle Goodrum’s The 21st Century Organized Genealogist memes. I did one post for Amy’s and am working behind the scenes on Michelle’s challenges. I’m realizing I have a long, long way to go on my digital organization and archiving.
  • Give my blog a fresh look. Well, I got my Christmas background down, does that count? I also rearranged and added a blog roll to my sidebar. 
Writing
  • Create a habit of writing 20 uninterrupted minutes a day. For the most part, I stuck to that, and it feels good. I did miss a few days but tried to make up for it by writing longer on others.
  • Write an article on the 1940 Census for the Palatine Heritage. Done. 
Education
  • Watch two genealogy webinars. I watched “Digital Books and Sites for Genealogists” by James Tanner and “Pilgrims and Patriots: Discovering Your Massachusetts Ancestors” by Marian Pierre-Louis. Both were excellent. I took notes and saved them in Evernote so I can refer to them anytime. I’d like to say thanks to Legacy Family Tree for providing such high quality webinars, free and open to everyone.
  • Start the “Organize Your Genealogy” course with Family Tree University. I just started lesson 3 (out of 4). I'm picking up some good bits here and there, and it's giving me some things to work on.
All in all, not a bad month. Setting monthly goals seems to help me focus. Thanks to Stephanie of Corn and Cotton: My Family's Story for getting a group of us going on this (you’re invited to join in at any time--just go to her blog and link up). Now here's what I hope to do this week:

  • organize my Baxter binder
  • complete the "Organize Your Genealogy" course
  • record information I found at OHS on the Beum family
  • watch as many of the live streaming sessions from RootsTech as I can
  • sign up and start the Family History Writing Challenge, hosted by Lynn Palermo
  • think through what I want to accomplish in February so I’m ready for the next Motivation Monday
Best wishes for a great week, everyone!

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January 28, 2012

Meet Martha Mercer of Maia's Books, on the road to RootsTech

If you’ve been to any of the larger genealogy conferences, chances are you’ve seen Maia’s Books in the exhibit hall. Proprietor Martha Mercer is currently making the long drive from Ohio to Utah—over 3400 miles round-trip—for the upcoming RootsTech conference. In the hustle and bustle of packing up boxes before she left, she graciously allowed me to interview her.


Shelley: Tell me a little bit about Maia’s Books. When did you start the business, and why? What kinds of things do you carry?

Martha: Maia’s was established in 1994, after I went to some genealogy conferences and was disappointed in the books being offered. They were mostly research guides and indexes, whereas I was more interested in social history—how people lived, why they made the decisions they did, the economic and social pushes that caused change. I wanted to sell books and items that would deal with social history, start conversations between generations, and help genealogists stir interest with their own family members.

I consider Maia’s a general interest bookstore for genealogists and historians. Rather than specializing in a single area, we carry a wide selection. We have books on regions and states, time periods, ethnic groups, cemeteries, photography, religion, wars, and European countries. And of course we have how-to and reference books for just about any type of research. Another big part of Maia’s inventory is maps. Maps help people see where their families lived, their migration paths, and how geography affected their choices. We have a selection of magnifiers to help read old records. And then we offer some items, such as paper doll books and cookbooks, to help people of different generations connect with their heritage.

Shelley: Who buys your books, and how do they find you? Are conference sales a big part of your business?

Martha: Conference sales comprise the majority of our business, with mail order sales second. People find us in the exhibit halls and through our website, www.MaiasBooks.com. We travel to about 20 conferences a year. Last year we were in Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and New England. Our mail order customer base is worldwide. I just shipped something to Australia yesterday. One of the most interesting orders I’ve had was for a book on Scottish whalers for a customer in Kenya. But that shouldn’t be too surprising, because people migrated everywhere. We’re also one of very few genealogy bookstores in the U.S. with a retail storefront, and we do a small retail business in Columbus.

Shelley: This will be your first time at RootsTech. What makes you excited about going?

Martha: Everything on their program looks interesting to me because it’s learning how to use tools for processing information. I’m excited to learn about technology that I can apply to whatever I’m doing. The first RootsTech was publicized in advance more as a conference for developers, so we didn’t go. But at every conference after that, I had customers asking, “Why weren’t you at RootsTech?” and telling me, “You need to be at RootsTech.” People were thrilled with it. So really, I feel there’s a lot of customer demand for Maia’s to be there.

Some people made excellent points during the recent discussion of whether print book dealers shoud have a place in the RootsTech vendor hall. Technology is great, but that doesn’t mean that print materials are no longer relevant. And while it’s important that the programming at RootsTech is geared toward technology, that doesn’t mean you need to put those limits on the vendors. It’s good that the conference planners were responsive to their participants. We’re excited to be participating in an event that promises to be twice as large as most national conferences.

Shelley: What role do you think books and booksellers play in genealogy today? Do you think books remain important in an increasingly digital age?

Martha: I think there will always be an appeal of holding a tangible object in your hand. What shape that takes depends in part on the individual. Some people will continue to prefer books, and some, especially those growing up with technology, may prefer an e-reader. A lot of people seem to fall in-between and use both, depending on what the book is and what they want it for. The industry as a whole is in a state of transition right now. I expect, for instance, to see print-on-demand services grow. But I don’t see books becoming just a novelty item. I think books still have a great deal of relevance for today’s genealogists and historians.
  
A special thanks to Martha Mercer for sharing her time and thoughts with me. If you see the Maia’s Books exhibit in the vendor hall at RootsTech or another conference, stop by and say hello!


January 24, 2012

Tips for First-Time Family History Library Visitors



Are you planning your first research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in conjunction with RootsTech? Wondering what’s the best way to prepare for it? I was in your shoes last year before I went to SLIG (the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy). Unfortunately, I’m not going to make it to either SLIG or RootsTech this year (and for the record, I’m very jealous of those that of you that are!). But I vividly remember what it was like walking into the FHL for the first time, feeling a mix of awe and trepidation and thinking, “Holy schmoly! What have I gotten myself into?” So I’ve pulled together some tips that I hope will help you.

A natural place to start is “Tips for Visiting the Library” on the FamilySearch website. In addition, Kimberly Powell has written an excellent article titled “Research at the Family History Library” on About.com. DearMyrtle offers her thoughts in “Visiting the FHLibrary in Salt Lake City.” Jill Ball recorded her impressions of her first visit on Geniaus, providing some great pictures to boot. Likewise, Randy Seaver recalled his first visit in this post on Genea-Musings. Last but certainly not least, Janet Hovorka just came out with a Quick Insider’s Guide to Salt Lake City, which is available as a free PDF download. As you read them, you’ll notice a few common threads. One thing they all recommend is that you do some prep work at home before walking in the door of the FHL.
 
But how, exactly, do you do that? Here’s an easy method for determining what you want to do and keeping track of your results:
  • Go the FamilySearch Library Catalog and select “Place Names” (note: I used the old search last year, which is still available; the search techniques are similar)
  • Enter the name of the town or county your ancestors lived in (omit the actual word county) along with the state, province, or nation
  • Choose what you want to look at from the drop-down menu (cemeteries, vital records, etc.)
  • Click on a title to see a particular resource. When you find one you want to check, print out a copy (on old search, click on “View Film Notes” first)
  • Write a note about who or what you want to look for right there on the print-out, along with any pertinent details (i.e., “Look for John Eberhard/Mary Comfort marriage in Lehigh Co. around Dec. 1891”). If there’s more than one microfilm listed, circle the one you need to get from the drawer. I used red ink so I could always see at a glance what I was looking for.
  • Following the same technique, search by “Last Names” on the catalog home page to identify sources of interest for your surnames
  • Organize your papers by surname or locality, however it makes sense to you. It’s best to separate book sources, microfilm sources, and international sources, because they’re on different floors of the library.
  • Make a master list of your priority items—those sources you want to be sure to look at. Books should be a priority, because you can’t check them out from your local Family History Center. Use this list as a reminder once you’re there.
  • Take plenty of blank research logs to record your results and sources (here's one I like from Duane Bailey). I used one research log per family but also continued to take notes right on my printouts (i.e., “found in vol. 16, p. 172, film #xxxxxxx” or “checked 1890-1892, no record found”)
  • Fill a tote bag with mechanical pencils, pens, a notepad, paper clips, glasses, a small magnifier, a digital camera, a flash drive, money, a snack (trust me, you’ll get hungry), and whatever else you need to be comfortable for a long day or evening at the library.
  • Make sure you have a portable copy of your genealogy database on a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or printed pedigree chart and family group sheets. You don’t want to get there and waste time duplicating what you already have or wondering how William Whatever fits into your tree. 
That’s it. Don’t worry about the details. The volunteers at the FHL will be more than happy to answer all the questions you’re afraid to ask, like where to find things, how to work the printers and scanners, and where the snack room is. You’ll be in good hands.

My first visit to the FHL was both exhilarating and exhausting. I made some great discoveries—one of which I wrote about in “Striking Gold in Salt Lake City”—and found a lot of information that deepened my understanding of my ancestors. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Here’s hoping that your first visit will be everything you dreamed of!


Photo from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

January 19, 2012

Finding Common Names in Census Records: Evans, part 2

Lately I’ve been working on the challenge of identifying three generations of my husband’s family, all named Evan Evans, in the census records of Montgomeryshire, Wales. Evans is a very common surname there, and it’s taken some strategic moves to narrow the field and find exactly the right family. If you haven’t read Part 1 of the story yet, with my first few strategies, you can find it here. As a refresher, here’s a cast of characters guaranteed to make you head spin:
  • Evan Evans, born about 1840, who married Mary Hughes (Evan A)
  • His father Evan Evans, born about 1812, who married Elizabeth Jones (Evan B)
  • His grandfather Evan Evans, born about 1781, who married Elizabeth Reynolds (Evan C)
After the first flush of success finding Evan A and Mary with their children in the 1881 and 1871 censuses of Wales, I hit a roadblock with the hunt for Evan A as a youth in his parents’ home in the 1861 census. I had one candidate who fit the location well, but the father was widowed and the results inconclusive.

If you’re not getting anywhere, try a different tack

In a sailboat race, if a boat isn’t catching the wind, it will come about and head off on another tack. Since I couldn’t pin down either Evan A or Evan B in 1861, that’s what I had to do now. With a less common name, I might have broadened my search to adjacent counties. But that wouldn’t help here because I already had an overabundance of results. Another thing I could do was look at Evan’s neighbors in 1881 and 1871, and see if I could find them in 1861. But what I chose to do instead was look for Evan’s mysterious brother, John Higgs.

Higgs is a much less common surname and I quickly found John in Carno in 1861. But the census record didn’t give me the results I hoped for. He wasn’t living with the Evans family; he was living in Stephen Higgs’ household, and identified as Stephen’s brother. Evan was nowhere to be found. There was, however, a Hannah Evans, identified as “sister.” Hmmm. The plot thickened.

Yet another tack was in order. I left the 1861 census and decided to search in 1851. According to the family summary, I could expect Evan B to be about 39 years old, with a wife Elizabeth and a son Evan (A) about 11 years old. I had no idea if they had any other children. But I was tired of looking for Evans—I had Evans coming out the wazoo by this time—and this Higgs business intrigued me. So I started my search of the 1851 census of Montgomeryshire by looking for John Higgs, born about 1837.

And just like that, there was my family. With one important twist.

1851 Census of Wales, Evan Evans (B) (see source citation below)
  • Place: Trawscoed township, Carno, Montgomeryshire, Wales
  • Evan Evans, head, married, 37, farmer (90 acres) employing no man, born in Carno, Montgomeryshire
  • Hannah Evans, wife, married, 45, born in Carno
  • Children: Mary Evans, daughter, 13; Evan Evans, son, 11; Hannah Evans, daughter, 9; Rebecca Evans, daughter, 7; Margaret Evans, daughter, 5; Stephen Higgs, stepson, 22; Elizabeth Higgs, stepdaughter, 17; John Higgs, stepson, 15 (all born in Carno, Montgomeryshire) 

Form a hypothesis if you find unexpected results

As you can see, Evan B wasn’t married to Elizabeth in 1851, but to Hannah. There’s no mention of Hannah in the family summary, so how do I really know this is the right family? I needed to make a hypothesis and test it with other evidence. The hypothesis I drew up is: If Evan Evans married Elizabeth Jones, as asserted in the family summary, she died prior to 1850. Evan remarried to a woman named Hannah, who previously had been the wife of a Mr. Higgs. She brought at least three children—Stephen, Elizabeth, and John Higgs—from this marriage into Evan’s household.

I decided to look back to the previous census, 1841, the earliest one available, for more clues. I searched for Evan Evans (B), born about 1812, in Montgomeryshire. Ancestry returned 57 results. Based on my locality information, I narrowed that down to six likely records. One of these, in Trawscoed township, Carno, was clearly a better match than any of the others. It was the household of Evan Evans, a 30-year-old farmer, with Hannah Evans, age 35; Mary Evans, 3; Evan Evans, 2; Hannah Evans, 9 months; Elizabeth Higgs, 8; John Higgs, 6; Thomas Rees, 15, a servant; and Mary Benbow, 75, Ind. (“of independent means”). Relationships were not stated.

1841 census of Wales, Evan Evans (B) (see source citation below)

This census tells me that Evan’s supposed first wife, Elizabeth, as well as Hannah’s husband Mr. Higgs, died before 1841. I adjusted my hypothesis accordingly. It’s pretty safe to assume that Evan and Hannah were married at the time this census was taken. Most likely, little Hannah Evans was the daughter of Evan and Hannah. It is not possible to determine from this record who the mother of young Mary and Evan Evans was. This census also gives me another name to research: Mary Benbow. Could she be Hannah’s mother, and therefore a clue to her maiden name?

Search for correlating evidence

The census records of 1871 and 1881, where John Higgs is listed in Evan Evans’ household as his brother, support my hypothesis. And the odd result I found for John Higgs in the 1861 census, where he was living with Stephen Higgs, brother, and Hannah Evans, sister, makes perfect sense now. It also made this result from the 1861 census, where Evan B was widowed but living in Carno with children Mary, Evan, Rebecca, and Margaret, look like the correct one:

1861 census of Wales, Evan Evans (B) (see source citation below)
This meant I had five decades worth of census records that were in agreement with one another. The next logical thing to look for was a marriage record for Evan Evans and Hannah Higgs. Unfortunately, very few Welsh marriage records are available at FamilySearch.org, and none at all prior to 1916 on Ancestry.com. Neither could I find any newspapers from Montgomeryshire.

Ancestry.com does have a FreeBMD Index to Welsh death records that begin in July 1837. I searched for an Elizabeth Evans who died between 1837-1840 in Montgomeryshire, and got 29 results. Narrowing it down to the Newtown registration district left me with 12 prospects. Unfortunately, the index does not provide any personal information, so I was unable to tell if any of them might be my Elizabeth. Next, I searched for a man with the surname Higgs who died during the same time period. There were no results in Montgomeryshire, which suggests he may have died prior to when the index starts. Finally, I searched for a Hannah Evans who died between 1851-1861. Again I received way too many prospects in the Newton registration district, with too few details to identify my Hannah. A search through the Welsh death records on FamilySearch.org returned similarly inconclusive results.

As a final step, I searched for the grandfather, Evan C, in the 1841 census. The family summary indicated he was born about 1781, lived in Carno, had married Elizabeth Reynolds, and had children named Evan, Richard, Roger, Maurice, and Mary Elizabeth. Now I just love that name Maurice. It is unusual enough that I rarely get multiple results for him—and with a common surname, you can’t ask for more than that. I’ve already researched Maurice Evans after he immigrated to Columbus, Ohio and have his obituary. He would have been about 18 years old in 1841, and that made quick work out of finding the right family—living in Trawscoed township, Carno—in the census.

1841 census of Wales, Evan Evans (C) (see source citation below)
Evan Evans (C), age 60, had no wife listed and apparently was widowed in 1841. He still had three of his children at home: Roger, Maurice, and Elizabeth. The fact that his son Evan was not living with him supports finding Evan B as the head of his own household in 1841, in the exact same locality as his father. The puzzle pieces fit.

Draw your conclusion and plan future action

Here’s my conclusion: Three generations of the Evan Evans family lived in Trawscoed township, Carno, Montgomeryshire, Wales, between 1841-1881, as evidenced in the census records of that locality. One thread that links the records together is the presence of John Higgs, stepson of Evan B. While more research is needed to confirm the results found in these census records and identify the wives of Evan B, it will primarily need to be done offline in archives and repositories, or possibly on UK-specific websites.

To recap, here are the strategies I used to locate my Evans family in the census:
  • Compile background information on your family
  • Start your search where you know the most
  • Milk every bit of info from the records you find
  • If you’re not moving, try a different tack
  • Form a hypothesis if you find unexpected results
  • Search for correlating evidence
  • Draw your conclusion and plan future action


What do you think? Have I made my case for finding the right family? Do the strategies I used seem like they’d be helpful in your own census searches?

Source citations:
1851 census of Wales, Montgomeryshire, Carno, Trawscoed Township, folio 397, page 13, household 52, Evan Evans; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 9 January 2012); citing original records, The National Archives of the UK, London, GSU roll 104258, class HO107, piece 2496.

1841 census of Wales, Montgomeryshire, Carno, Trawscoed Township, folio 16, page 2, line 16, Evan Evans; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 9 January 2012); citing original records, The National Archives of the UK, London, GSU roll 464338, class HO107, piece 1436.

1861 census of Wales, Montgomeryshire, Carno, Trawscoed Township, folio 32, page 5, household 21, Evan Evans; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 9 January 2012); citing original records, The National Archives of the UK, London, GSU roll 543256, RG 9, piece 4247.

1841 census of Wales, Montgomeryshire, Carno, Trawscoed Township, folio 21, page 11, line 24, Evan Evans; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 9 January 2012); citing original records, The National Archives of the UK, London, GSU roll 464338, class HO107, piece 1436.

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January 16, 2012

Finding Common Names in Census Records: Evans, part 1

For the past two weeks, I’ve been searching UK census records for the family of Evan Evans in Montgomeryshire, Wales, which is one of my January goals. The problem wasn’t a lack of findings. It seems like half the families in the county had the surname of either Evans or Jones. And the given name Evan was quite popular, too. So the challenge was identifying my particular family out of a sea of men named Evan Evans. I’ve tried before only to give up discouraged, but this time I’m happy to report success. I found six census records spanning three generations, and identified a wife’s family in two additional records. The process I followed can be used for identifying families with common names in U.S. census records as well. Here’s how I did it:

Compile background information

The first thing I did was read over all my notes and research on the family. I had three generations to work with: an Evan Evans, born about 1840, who married Mary Hughes in 1865 (we’ll call him Evan A); his father Evan Evans, born about 1812, who married Elizabeth Jones (he’ll be Evan B); and his grandfather Evan Evans, born about 1781, who married Elizabeth Reynolds (make him Evan C). Do you know your ancestor's occupation? That can be an important clue. Making a chart, timeline, or ancestor profile can help you visualize the information you have better.

Two pieces of information ended up being keys to my success:
  • The name of the town where the family lived. With common names, it’s crucial to pinpoint their locality as much as possible, down to the city or town, and then to the township or parish if possible. I had a short family summary from my husband’s grandmother (Evan A's granddaughter) that said the family lived in Carno, a small town in Montgomeryshire. It was enough to get me going. Admittedly, I was lucky because my family stayed in one place. If your ancestor moved, can you estimate when? Collect clues on both localities.
  • A list of all the children of Evan A and some children of Evan C, from the same family summary. With census records, it’s helpful to have the names of as many family members as possible—children, siblings, even in-laws and neighbors.
The family of Evan and Mary (Hughes) Evans
Start your search where you know the most

Like other aspects of genealogy, it’s usually easiest to start with the most recent generation and work backwards. Since I had the names of Evan A’s children and knew some of them immigrated to America in the 1880’s, I started with the 1881 UK census. This first step ended up being pretty easy. Ancestry.com returned 55 results in Montgomeryshire for an Evan Evans born within two years of 1840, but only four of these met my criteria. One Evan Evans living in Carno with a wife Mary had four children whose names and ages corresponded with those on my list. There was one extra person listed in Evan’s household: 46-year-old John Higgs, whose relationship was “brother.” My first thought was that Higgs must actually be Mary’s brother, since her maiden name was Hughes—perhaps the enumerator got the spelling wrong. But as you’ll see later, that assumption was a mistake.

1881 census of Wales (see below for source citation)

It was relatively easy to find Evan A in the 1871 census, too. Ancestry.com returned 53 results in Montgomeryshire for an Evan Evans born in 1840 (plus or minus 2 years), but only three matched my criteria for both town (Carno) and wife’s name (Mary). One of these, an Evan living in the township of Trawscoed, had children corresponding to the names and ages of Evan A’s three oldest kids (Evan, John, and Thomas). And there was John Higgs again, a 34-year-old laborer, identified as Evan’s brother.

1871 census of Wales (see below for source citation)

So far, so good. But going back to 1861 meant taking the search back a generation, before Evan A’s marriage to Mary. I didn’t know if Evan A had siblings, so I didn’t have any names other than his parents, Evan and Elizabeth, as a guide. Would my strategies be enough to overcome this hurdle?

Milk every bit of info from the records you find

Ancestry.com showed me 59 men named Evan Evans in Montgomeryshire in 1861 who were born about 1840. Fourteen of them were residing with fathers named Evan, three of them lived in Carno, and several had a mother named Elizabeth. I went through them one by one. But none of them seemed like a good match for my Evan. I had given up at this point before, because it seemed like I just didn’t have enough information to make a connection. He had to be floating around there somewhere, but where?

I took a closer look at the locality information for the two census records I had found. In both 1871 and 1881, Evan Evans was living in Trawscoed township. His registration district was Newton, and his sub-district was Llanwnog. (US censuses often note the township, and in various years the enumeration district and/or post office district.) Now, it’s certainly possible that he lived in a different place as an adult than he had as a child. But it’s also possible that he lived in the same place. There was one Evan Evans residing in Trawscoed township in 1861, and he had a father named Evan. But there was no wife named for the elder Evan; he was marked widowed. Four children were listed, but I had no names to compare them with. It seemed inconclusive at best, risky at worse, to assume this was my man. I tried searching for a death record for Elizabeth Evans, but without at least an estimated date, there were too many possibilities. It looked like I was drawing a blank on 1861.

If you’d like to know how I eventually solved this, and the rest of my tips for finding common names in the census, stay tuned for the next part of the story later this week! 

Source citations:
1881 census of Wales, Montgomeryshire, Carno, Trawscoed Township, folio 28, page 3, household 16, Evan Evans; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 5 January 2012); citing original records, The National Archives of the UK, London, GSU roll 1342318, RG11, piece 5483.

1871 census of Wales, Montgomeryshire, Carno, Trawscoed Township, folio 28, page 1, household 6, Evan Evans; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 5 January 2012); citing original records, The National Archives of the UK, London, GSU roll 892470, RG10, piece 5611.

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January 9, 2012

Going Out on a Limb Again: 2012 Goals


Here we are at the beginning of a new year, with its blank slate of promise and possibilities. I hope 2012 is off to a good start for you!

I took some time last week to think about what I might want to accomplish this year. It’s kind of scary laying things out for everyone to see, because there’s always the risk of not succeeding. Even when I start out with good intentions, real life has a way of—well, not interfering, but happening. It’s a given that some things won’t go the way we planned. But I think it’s a risk worth taking, because I found last year that setting goals in public helped keep me focused and motivated. And that’s a positive thing. So with that in mind, here’s what I hope to focus on in 2012:

Research:
  • Research my maternal grandparents’ lines more thoroughly
  • Research my husband’s New England ancestors
  • Submit an application to Century Families of Ohio lineage society 
Organization:
  • Record, analyze, file, and cite loose documents from my previous research trips (these are laying in piles on my dining room table)
  • Keep current by recording new research discoveries immediately (so I don’t fall behind again) 
Writing:
  • Create a habit of spending 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, on recording memories, family stories, and/or personal writing projects (I can already tell this one will require the most discipline--notice I gave myself 2 days a week "wiggle room")
  • Write two articles to submit for possible publication
Blogging:
  • Continue blogging regularly and making improvements to the blog
Education:
    Well, there you have it. Seems like a tall order, but hopefully within reach. Some of these things will need to be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. For that I plan to set monthly goals in Motivation Monday posts at the beginning of each month, to help keep me on track and making progress little by little. You can read my January goals here. And now as tempting as it is to sit and dream of what might be, I'd better stop making goals and start actually working on them. Whatever your goals, best wishes for a successful and satisfying year! 

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    Going Out on a Limb

    January 7, 2012

    Why I Read Blogs: Abundant Genealogy

    Amy Coffin has initiated a new series, “52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy,” for 2012. For the first week, she asks:
    Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?

    Great question, Amy! Only problem is, I read a lot of great blogs, and picking just one is too hard. Among them is Amy’s own blog, We Tree Genealogy, which I took a closer look at in a post last August. I subscribe to over 130 blogs in my Google Reader account, and I enjoy every one of them. Some blogs teach me about records or resources; some encourage me to write; some give interesting accounts of their own family history searches and stories; some tell me how to use technology; some deliver announcements; some alert me to webinars and conferences; some comment on recent developments; some help me learn to be a better genealogist; some foster connections with other family historians; some make me laugh—and a great many do a combination of those things.

    Blogs provide a pipeline into the heart of the genealogical community. What we’re thinking, what we’re discovering, what we’re doing. They lead me to books, journals, websites, events, webinars, and social media. Blogs connect me with people I’ve never met but share a common passion with. In the virtual community, geneabloggers share triumphs, hardships, goals, and ideas. They explain processes and offer each other support. And this leads to real friendships. When I attended the FGS conference in Springfield, I met people who seemed like old friends within hours because I knew them from their blogs. And an active group of bloggers in Central Ohio are planning to meet in person after becoming acquainted online.

    So that’s why picking just one blog is so difficult. To guide you to some of the blogs I’m thankful for, I’ve installed a widget called “Other Blogs You Might Enjoy” on my sidebar. I plan to start highlighting a few at a time on occasional Fridays. I also find a lot of interesting posts from the Follow Friday series on these blogs:

    Gena-Musings by Randy Seaver
    Climbing My Family Tree by Jen
    Geneabloggers (roll-up) by Thomas MacEntee

    If you're new to following blogs, I encourage you to try some that interest you. Most blogs have a subscribe button and/or a place where you can enter your email address. If you're already reading a number of genealogy blogs, I'd be interested to know what you look for in a blog. What attracts you to read and subscribe? What kinds of posts do you like best? And if you're a fellow blogger, thank you for being part of this great community. You're welcome to leave a link to your blog in the comments. Happy reading, all!

    January 2, 2012

    High Hopes for January: Motivation Monday

    We’re off and running with a new year, and it’s time for me to get motivated! I’m still formulating my yearly goals, but I’ve got some ideas about what I want to accomplish in January. I’m joining with Stephanie on Corn and Cotton: My Family’s Story in laying out goals at the beginning of each month this year. There’s a great support group gathering with her, so please join us. My list for this month is ambitious, but heck, hope springs eternal at the new year, so here goes:

    Research
    • Use my one remaining month of World Deluxe membership to Ancestry.com to search for and order records on: Herrel family in Germany; Evans and Hughes famillies in Montgomeryshire, Wales; and Baxter, Flack, and Carmichael families in County Antrim, Ireland
    Organization
    • Organize my surname binders for Herrel, Evans, and Baxter. I find it’s easier to update the binders at the same time I’m actively researching the families
    • Start reading Organizing Your Family History Search by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, 1999) and Throw Out 50 Things by Gil Blanke (New York: Springboard Press, 2009). The latter is because I need inspiration to clean out my house!
    Blogging
    Writing
    • Create a habit of writing for 20 uninterrupted minutes a day
    • Write an article on the 1940 Census for the Palatine Heritage (the Ohio Chapter Palatines to America newsletter, for which I am Publications Chair)
    Education
    • Watch two genealogy webinars
    • Start a short online course. In keeping with my organization theme for the month, I’m thinking of taking “Organize Your Genealogy” from Family Tree University (here’s a link to a coupon code for 20 percent off any January class) 
    That should keep me busy enough for one month! Do you have any suggestions for me? What are your goals for January? Let me know so we can cheer each other on! 

    January 1, 2012

    Ringing in 2012



    Happy New Year to all my readers, near and far, who make writing this blog such a pleasure! Just for fun, here are the posts you liked best in 2011, according to the stats:

    a story of service, illness, and fortitude during the Civil War

    some of the tools I turn to over and over again

    what happens when an elopement coincides with a classic rivalry?

    reflections on my first year of blogging

    how I keep track of my books with this resource

    when your daughter is stranded at JFK, you’ll do anything to help

    fond memories of a landmark store at the most wonderful time of the year

    national and Ohio-specific websites for finding burial places


    Wishing you good health, happiness, prosperity, and success in all your ancestral quests in the new year! Thank you for reading!

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