Here’s a little treat for you trick-or-treaters out there in genealogy cyberland. Even the editor of the
paper this article ran in—the October 18, 1894 London Times, published in London, Ohio—recognized what a fun piece
he had on his hands.
Without further ado, I give
Jonas Good, a resident of
Ross county, Ohio, has had his will probated in Chillicothe. The will is a very
queer document and was written by himself and is as follows:
August 31, 1894, last request
and testament of Jonas Good: At my request I have about three or four acres of
corn on the uplands of L. B. James, and it is my request for Moses Good, my
nephew, to take it in his care and see to it until said corn be ready to cut
up, and also want the said Moses Good to sell the said corn and pay to Frank
Vincent $5 of the corn money, and the balance of the money that is left after
paying Vincent is to be equally divided between Polly Good and Leroy Good, her
grandson, and the balance of my goods and chattels also to be in charge of
Moses Good, except my garden stuff and turkeys, which I want my niece, Eliza
Carroll, to take in charge; to gather the garden stuff and see to the turkeys.
Isn’t that a hoot? And the
thing is, as odd as Jonas’ requests are, this is actually a great will, because
it names people and states their
relationships to each other. If only some of my ancestors had thought to do that…
I hope Moses took care of
that corn and Emily saw to the turkeys, so old Jonas won’t be tempted to play
any ghostly tricks tonight. Happy Halloween!
Source: “Queer Will,” The London Times (London, Ohio), 18
October 1894, p. 1, col. 3.
Three years ago, I ventured
out into the wide, wide world of cyberspace and posted my first welcome message
here at A Sense of Family. It’s been
a great three years, and I want to take a moment to reflect and thank everyone
who reads and subscribes to this blog for making it so rewarding.
In looking back, I’m struck
by three things: how fast time goes, how many more resources for genealogy are
online today, and how many wonderful people I’ve come to know through blogging.
Since I haven’t figured out a way to slow the speeding days, weeks, and months
down, I’ll stick to talking about the other two things here.
In the fall of 2010, most of
my searches on the FamilySearch
website gave results from the Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and IGI.
I couldn’t have imagined the scope of databases under the FamilySearch umbrella today, or the ease of having so many actual
record images at my fingertips 24/7. And that’s just one website. Think of all
the expansions at Ancestry and Find My Past in three years’ time. And
the rise of new companies that serve the genealogical community—Mocavo, for instance. Not to mention the
proliferation of smartphone and tablet apps like BillionGraves (I could barely text on my 2010 cell phone). It seems like everyone—from the federal
government to state archives to county offices to local genealogical
societies—is making an effort to improve access to historical records online. And
the ways to learn about genealogy have exploded, too (think webinars and study groups). I know
there are some challenges, such as threats to the Social Security Death Index,
but the progress is truly phenomenal when you stop to think about it.
Reading blogs is one way I try to keep up with all that change. Bloggers are generous with sharing information
and tips. It helps to hear about other people’s experiences as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of 21st century family history
research. Every blog has a voice, and behind that voice is a person. In my
experience, the people who write genealogy blogs tend to be passionate,
helpful, smart, involved, and genuinely nice people. After reading someone’s
posts for a period of months or years, you come to know them a little bit, so
when you meet for the first time, there’s a quick bond. You know just what to
talk about. I’ve met many fellow bloggers at genealogy conferences and institutes
who have become good friends, and I treasure those friendships. There are many others
I hope to meet someday.
Mostly, I want to say thank
you, readers, for taking precious time out of your days to read my posts.
Thanks especially to those who reach out to leave a comment here or contact me
by email. It makes my day to know I’ve helped or touched someone. It’s also a
thrill to hear from a distantly-related cousin who’s just discovered my blog. Connecting
with people regardless of the boundaries of time and space is what it’s all
about, after all. That’s the magic that keeps me sharing those stories, reviewing those resources, and talking about those tips.
So please join me in raising
a toast to being three!
Randy Seaver, author of Genea-Musings, always comes up with a
fun challenge each weekend. This time he prompted me to explore a genealogical
numbering system I’ve never used before. Here’s his “mission”:
Your mission, should you
decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:
1) Do you know what
a "Henry Number" is? It is a descendant numbering system from a
specific person. The Wikipedia article for Genealogical
Numbering Systems describes it as:
"The Henry System is
a descending system created by Reginald
Buchanan Henry for a genealogy of the families of the presidents of
the United States that he wrote in 1935. It
can be organized either by generation or not. The system begins with 1. The
oldest child becomes 11, the next child is 12, and so on. The oldest child of
11 is 111, the next 112, and so on. The system allows one to derive an
ancestor's relationship based on their number. For example, 621 is the first
child of 62, who is the second child of 6, who is the sixth child of his
parents. In the Henry System, when there are more than nine children, X
is used for the 10th child, A is used for the 11th child, B is used for the
12th child, and so on. In the Modified Henry System, when there are more than
nine children, numbers greater than nine are placed in parentheses."
2) Go to your first
known ancestor with your birth surname and calculate your Henry Number from
that person. Show each generation of your line of ancestors with your
birth surname with their Henry numbers.
3) How did you
calculate the Henry numbers? What do these numbers tell you?
4) Tell us in your
own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+
My first known ancestor with
my birth surname, Ballenger, is Charles Ballenger, born 29 March 1815, possibly
in Fairfax County, Virginia. He lived most of his adult life in Athens County,
Ohio, then moved to Delaware County, where he died 19 October 1891. According
to the Henry system that Randy explained, Charles is ancestor number 1.
Here is my Ballenger line with
their Henry numbers:
1 Charles Ballenger (1815-1891)
18 James Madison Ballenger (1855-1913)
181 Charles Cleveland
Russell Ballenger (1911-2002)
18132 Edward Ballenger
181321 Shelley Ballenger Bishop (living)
Figuring out the Henry
numbers was relatively easy, because I already have a complete list of the
children in each generation. I simply went to my family database in Reunion for Mac, my software of choice, and found the birth order for each of my direct
ancestors (all males, since this is my birth surname). I also consulted a
previous blog post, Surname Saturday: Ballenger Family, which gives the names
of everyone in the families. I had to make one decision: whether or not to
count an unnamed infant who lived only four hours (she was an older sister of
Lloyd Ballenger, my grandfather). I did count her, because she was a very real
baby to her parents, which made Lloyd their third-born child.
The most widely accepted
genealogical numbering systems today are the Register System, developed in 1870
and used by the New England Historic and
Genealogical Register, and the NGSQ System, developed in 1912 by the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
The NGSQ System is sometimes called the Modified Register System. A short book
published by the National Genealogical Society called Numbering Your Genealogy provides a good overview of both of these
systems, and it also briefly describes the Henry System.
While I don’t think I’ll ever
use the Henry System in my own research or writing, it was fun to experiment
with it. I’ve read about it before, but there’s nothing like a good hands-on
exercise to help me understand it. Isn’t that true of a lot of things?