Saturday, January 30, 2016

Help! Need Ideas to Obtain Baptismal Records

I’ll be traveling for my primary job over the next few days so I decided to save my Kinship Determination Project (KDP) in several places – the cloud (I use Dropbox), a thumb drive, my desktop, my husband’s computer’s desktop, and a hard copy.  Yes, I’m a little paranoid that my hard work will disappear! 
This trip could not have come at a worse time as far as the KDP is concerned.  I was really on a roll with it and then company arrived last Sunday so I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I wanted to do.  Had a very busy week of classroom visits and meetings, took a webinar, and was fighting off a cold so the KDP was put on the back burner.  I really don’t want another week to go by without progress on it so I thought maybe I could edit the hard copy on the plane and make an update via the cloud when I land.
I resolved a few confusions - the first had to do with a death certificate not matching a tombstone; the second was too many people with the same name in the same place at the same time but they were all of vastly different ages so that was a quick analysis, too.
I’ve gotten a lot of the first and second generation written but I've identified two areas I need to do more exhaustive research in – I need to find a deed and a will.  Other than that, I’m feeling good about the records I’ve uncovered.
So after awhile of analyzing records I decided I needed a break and I took a look at a different line that I've hit a brick wall with.  Last month I found the obituary and it wasn't very helpful.  I'm trying to identify parents but it didn't mention them; neither did the death certificate or the cemetery records. The obit did say the individual was a lifelong member of a church so I decided to contact the church to see if they had a baptism record that might list the parents.  It's been 6 weeks and I'm getting a little frustrated. I’ve emailed, called (several times), written a letter, and posted on their Facebook page.  I’m feeling like a pest but persistence pays so I’m not giving up yet.  How hard can it be to look this up, especially since I gave them the date of birth, too!  I offered to pay.  I sent a stamped return receipt envelope.   Still received nothing.  I know no one that lives in the area that could go in person on my behalf.  I contacted the library, museum and the local genealogy society to see if they had any ins with the church.  Nada!  If anyone has any brilliant ideas for me I’d appreciate hearing! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Careers of Yesteryear...And Today!

Last week I took an interesting webinar called Your Ancestor Was…Occupations of our Ancestors by Nancy Waters Lauer through the Florida State Genealogical Society.  I had never heard of many of the occupations the presenter mentioned. Have you ever heard of a brightsmith?  It's a metal worker. How about a bluestocking?  That was a female writer.

I guess this topic was in the back of my mind as I continue to work on my Kinship Determination Project for my Certified Genealogist portfolio this week. 
Guess what century I’m working on based on the “hot” jobs of the individuals I’m writing about:      
  •   Blacksmith
  •   Wagon Maker
  •   Farmer
If you speculated it was the 19th Century you are correct!
Funny, but I did an Interest Inventory with my students recently and I found many scored high in the areas of Transportation and Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources.  I doubt any of my students will turn out to be blacksmiths or wagon makers but the allure of travel and the interest in food production definitely continues in this century.  The more the world changes the more it stays the same!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Kinship Determination Project and Its Emotional Impact

The Kinship Determination Project, aka KDP, has been looming as the last requirement I need to complete before submitting my portfolio for analysis to become a Certified Genealogist.  I had started writing before I submitted my application but in November, a few weeks into being "on the clock," I rewrote most of it.  I changed from end notes to footnotes so the judges would have an easier time tracking citations,  I wrote for many needed documents to give a more thorough look at the individuals' lives.   I  added additional background data, too much, in fact, which I removed yesterday. Not to worry, it's full of very interesting stories of the ancestors I'll be focusing on later so I'm keeping it safe for another project.  I think that it was good to start 3 generations prior to the 3 generations I'm focusing on as it gave me a better perspective of my main characters' lives.  We often become who we are because of the influence of our parents, grandparents and perhaps, our great grandparents.
Back in the day, meaning when submitting more than 3 families was permitted, my paper would have been fine but I'm trying to stick to the application guide.  I had viewed Judy Russell's webinar, "Kinship Determination:  From Generation to Generation" which is free to view on the BCG site (click Skillbuilding, then click Webinars, then scroll down.)  I loved Judy's passion about her project!  I share that passion when I start analyzing the evidence I've accumulated;  the humanness behind the paper record is revealed and I begin to understand what occurred in their lives.  Sometimes it's something personal from my own life that I can relate to and sometimes, not.  Makes me wonder how I would have reacted if the event had happened to me.
I just reread what I wrote about the first generation and I've very excited.  I didn't quite finish that first generation individual's life but plan on doing so today after my company leaves.  I want to get back into the story as there were two twists of compassion that I hadn't known existed prior to analyzing the records.  Although I can't share much due to the requirement of submission, I will say that those tick marks on early census returns come alive when you attach a name to them.  Pondering why you have extra marks is important - was their a child or two that died prior to being revealed in later censuses or other documents?  Did other family members, an apprentice, an indentured servant, or a neighbor reside with the family the day the census was being enumerated?  Did the family provide the enumerator misinformation, meaning the missing son was marked as a daughter or did the enumerator err?  That's a lot to think about and oftentimes, later records will help explain what was happening in the household.
The impact on a child when there's a change in a household unit is important to consider.  When community influences and national events occur there are additional effects.  Such was the case with my generation 1.  Now I think I better understand why the individual exemplified compassion, an interest in politics and education, and safety for future generations.
What really struck me was discovering that three of the siblings of the individual I'm focusing on relocated in the mid 19th century across the continent.  I can't imagine the anguish that must have been felt when communication was cut off.  Strangely, I happened to visit 2 of the 3 places that the siblings had moved to this past year.  I even blogged about one of the buildings in the town that I visited.  Most likely, that building played an important role in the lives of the sibling's children!  It was such a strange feeling when the realization hit.  I began to wonder how many times I've walked in the footsteps of my ancestors and never known it.  It's one thing to purposely go to a location you've discovered to visit.  I've dragged my family on many vacations to visit homes where prior family members resided, ports they disembarked and battlefields where they were injured but I've never had the experience of visiting a place, feeling quite at home there, writing about it and then discovering months later that there was more of a connection then I was aware of at the time.
Today, I hope to make more headway on the KDP as next week, I'll be traveling for business and won't be able to work on it.  My new goal is to try to get the draft complete by the end of February as I may be making a trip to obtain a few documents during my spring break.
I hope your week is filled with wonderful discoveries!

Friday, January 22, 2016

ACES and Genealogy

Went to a training today on Cyberbullying and students' ACE Scores were mentioned.  It got me thinking of what some of my ancestors' scores would be!
ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences.  There's a phenomenal TED MED talk about how the effects of childhood trauma resonate well into adulthood, effecting not only mental, but also physical health.  You can view the video of speaker Nadine Burke Harris here.
I decided this weekend, since it's going to be cooooold and wet, that I would stay inside and keep the ACE test in mind as I look at my tree by working backwards.  By that, I mean I'll look at cause of death and then investigate the individual's early life.  Anyone dying of heart disease, lung cancer, or diabetes may have had a high ACE score.  Was it a one parent household?  Was the parent an alcoholic?  I can check that by looking at some of the newspaper articles that I've found and poking around some more for those that I don't have much info.  I won't be able to fill in many of the other ACE questions but the results of this little experiment may prove interesting.  If you'd like to obtain an ACE Score or learning more about it check out this website.  Make sure, if you go to the site you scroll down to obtain a Resilience Score as that's important, too!
Personally, I think genealogy is a lesson in resiliency.  Whenever things are tough I know my ancestors had it a whole lot worse than I do.  I'm thankful to live in this day and age, even with all the stressors we face and most of all, I'm really thankful that my ancestors had the resiliency to carry on under adversity. If they hadn't, I wouldn't be here!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A New FAN Idea

FAN - Friends and Neighbors - of your ancestors is a tried and true way to help uncover brick walls. It didn't dawn on me that checking out your current Friends and Neighbors can also help you connect with the past. In December, I was talking to my office mate about my genealogical plans for the holidays.  She has no interest in genealogy but inherited from her grandmother all of the family heirlooms which she keeps in her garage.  GASP!  I almost had a heart attack when she told me she has an indentured servant record of an ancestor from the 1700's in her garage, along with civil war letters and tintype photos.  The look on my face must have said it all as she immediately told me I shouldn't worry as she had "all that stuff in acid free folders and binders" in rubber totes.  I mentioned no air conditioning, high humidity, bugs and rodents (hey, this is Florida and that is in everyone's neighborhood!), not to mention dust, mold and temperature extremes.  She decided she would spend a few minutes over the holidays cleaning out a closet to store these family treasures.
That evening, I got a text from her with several pictures of documents and a question about how she could find out the name of a man in a photo and how he was related to her.  Since I didn't get her a Christmas gift I told her I'd check it out.  Three hours later I had discovered the man's name, occupation, place of birth and sad tale of his daughter who had been the clue in identifying him.  Still working on how she's related to him and I suspect she isn't.  My present hypothesis is that she is related to the man's daughter's husband.  They had no living children so the photo may have passed to the husband's surviving family members.
Oddly, my husband's got family with the same name in the same location at the same time with the same occupation and I bet I can tie everyone together.  If so, this means that my husband is distantly related to my office mate.  If not, their families were definitely neighbors.
We live in the Florida.  The family I'm researching lived in New York in the 1800's.  My husband was born in Indiana and my office mate in Massachusetts.  If she hadn't mentioned the stash of heirlooms in her garage I would have never discovered a connection.  Yes, the FAN method works but not the way I expected!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Becoming a Certified Genealogist - An Update

The clock is still ticking and now that we're in the new year I've got less than 10 months to submit my portfolio requirements.  I actually accomplished way more than I thought I would during the holidays. My family kids me that I must be channeling the dead.  I don't know about that but I certainly had some awesome finds that propelled me forward.  Here's where I am and what I have to do:

1.  Preliminary application was submitted in October 2015 - DONE
2.  Signing the Genealogist's Code - that's easy!
3.  Background Resume - completed but needs to be reviewed and possibly updated right before submission - Almost Done
4.  Document Work - BCG Supplied and Applicant Supplied.  All transcribed and written, just need to review and make a final edit. - Almost Done
5.  Research Report prepared for another person - started this in late December.  This was unexpected but I loved the hunt so decided to switch what I originally had planned to submit that was already finished.  Completed the newly started report on December 31st and gave it to client on January 4th - DONE
6.  Case Study - used a client's second report I was working on instead of what I had originally thought I was going to do.  I finished it over the holidays with some wonderful documents that simply showed up!  Wish I could share this with you - a real twist and turn type of case. - Almost Done (haven't given it to client yet but have appointment scheduled)
7.  Kinship Determination KDP- have a great start but didn't work on it much in the past month.  I'm still assembling documents and my problem is I don't live anywhere close to the areas that the family lived.  I'm planning on a trip in March to one of the states but that still leaves me with a hole on the east coast and I wasn't planning on being close to that area until July.  So, it'll be slow going with this item.  I figure, unless a miracle occurs, I won't be done with this until September and will just make the deadline but who knows?  I put the rest of the requirements together in a much quicker time period than I planned so maybe this will come together, too.  KDP 1/3 Done

In hindsight, I'm glad that I had a skeletal idea of what I would be submitting before I actually committed to the process. I'm also thankful that I took the webinar about what certification entails so I had clear expectations of what was expected.

Here's an update on my 2 past blogs regarding Ancestry.com and member family tree's that reported a co-worker's mother as deceased when she isn't - I received an email from Ancestry staff on Monday directing me to have the deceased email them with her request to correct the records and to provide Ancestry with the URL's of the trees.  I pulled the URL info and included it with the forwarded email to my co-worker who sent it off to her mom.  I was impressed that Ancestry responded so quickly, especially after the phone conversations I had with their support staff.  I didn't think there was going to be any resolution!  I'm also very pleased that Ancestry stayed true to their confidentiality statement and understood how the problem impacted the affected family.  Kudos to Ancestry!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tree Error in Ancestry - An Update

Here’s an update on my blog, Faulty Family Trees - Erasing a Deadly Mistake, from 7 January regarding one of my co-worker’s mother being reported dead on Ancestry when she’s very much alive.

Of the 2 family tree’s that gave her a death date, therefore making her birth date and place visible, along with her marriage date and place, I received an email message from one tree owner who did delete the death date.  Unfortunately, although I had asked him to, the tree owner didn’t make the individual private so some of her info is still showing:


I cut off the rest of info, above, as I don’t want to publicize the year and place which are still visible.   I emailed him again to ask that he make the individual private but he didn’t respond.
The other tree owner never responded so all information is still displayed.
The other problem is if you do a search of the individual’s name under Family Trees this shows up as public:



Even though one of the tree owners removed the wrong death date it is still visible in the search. 
Since 3 days have passed, no telling when the other tree owner is going to respond AND Ancestry.com needs to update their search results, so I called Ancestry.

They were experiencing heavy call volume so I waited about 5 minutes.  Spoke with Carnel who said "due to privacy, we can't do anything."  He acknowledged that "this happens all the time."  Ancestry will update an error in an index but won't touch a family tree.

I read Carnel Ancestry's privacy policy: " We recognize that the information about living family members can be sensitive so we have safeguards to hide living individuals within family trees, the AncestryDNA experience, and other areas of the site."

Carnel couldn't explain to me what safeguards Ancestry has put into place to protect the living when they are marked as dead.  I understand why he couldn't because they have none.

I then asked what happens if the individuals we're trying to contact never respond to the email we sent or don't renew membership.  Carnel said they still maintain registered guest status so they can always add and edit their trees.  That means, if they ever read their email and follow the directions, they can correct the wrong information.

Carnel told me that I could contact customersolutions@ancestry.com - email only, can't talk to a real person! and they will email the individuals.  What a brilliant idea (note sarcasm).  We've already done that twice.  Although Ancestry has phone numbers for these people, they don't call them.  Heaven knows, Ancestry will protect the PRIVACY of the living who make errors but not of the living who are trying to preserve their own PRIVACY.

Also was told that Ancestry does update all of their records but there is no time frame for that (could explain why I have so many ghost leaves).  Eventually, Ancestry will get around to doing that so when someone is searching this individual's name in a family tree the corrected tree won't display the death date that is still showing.

Will let you know how this plays out...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Faulty Family Trees - Erasing a Deadly Mistake

I’ve written before about the difficulty in correcting record mistakes but I didn’t expect the situation I’m about to describe as hard to fix.  Boy, was I wrong!
Right before the holidays a co-worker’s adult son went online and discovered that his grandmother was reported as dead on someone’s Ancestry.com tree.  He had the free trial membership, was inexperienced with how the program worked and emotionally impacted by the wrong info, especially at holiday time.  He notified his mom what he discovered.  She told him she had seen the same information a few months earlier when she, too, did a trial membership.  The information was so off that if the woman had died in the 1950’s when the tree said she had two of her children would have never been born.  My co-worker asked me what to do to fix the information since it was upsetting to her children.
I gave her Ancestry.com’s contact number and suggested she call Customer Support and explain the impact the wrong information was having on her family.  She did so and was informed that Ancestry.com policy does not allow for corrections to information placed by members on their trees.  She could file an appeal but it would most likely be wasting her time as the company only approves the removal of “offensive” information.
I don’t know about you but I find it offensive that a loved one has been reported dead when it’s not the case.  I also find it offensive that personal information on living individuals is displayed when the company policy is supposedly to keep that information private.  In this case, the co-worker’s mother’s name, date and place of birth, and marriage information is available because of the incorrectly added death date.  I also find it offensive that the company knows that their member tree information is inaccurate yet provides no recourse to correct wrong information.  If you’re allowing inexperienced individuals a free trial offer with little direction who then abandon what they input you’re going to have wrong information available for a long time.  I also find it offensive that the problem will continue since the company does not provide simple to follow step by step directions for newbies to eliminate the possibility of errors.  I also think it’s offensive to charge a hefty membership fee when they know their site doesn’t work correctly, is error filled and the number of records they tout as available includes wrong information.  Since we’ve all gotten valuable information from each other I’m not advocating  making all trees private; I’d be happy if they added a disclaimer banner when someone is searching on the member trees to remind people to be cautious. 
I told the co-worker yesterday I’d see what I could do.  Last night I looked and wasn’t surprised to see that the error has now spread to a second tree.  Of course it would, since people blindly click other’s information believing it to be accurate.  I emailed both tree owners explaining the error, its impact on the family and asking them nicely to remove the death date which would make the individual’s other info private.  One of the tree owners included in her biography that she’s a beginner so I’m hopeful she responds and I can educate her on how to avoid this problem in the future.  She was on the site yesterday so that’s a good sign for a quick resolution (if she figures out that she can get messages from other members!).  The original source hasn’t been on for over a month so I can see that as going through the appeal process which ancestry did not spell out to my co-worker.  Co-worker said she had previously emailed the individual but the wrong info remains.  I plan on calling Ancestry.com today to find out what the appeal process is and I’ll keep you posted on an upcoming blog. 

Now that Ancestry owns Find-a-Grave I’m wondering if there will be negative changes at the Find-a-Grave site as well.  I’ve always been pleased on how the administrator at Find-a-Grave handled correcting errors.  All you needed to do was email the organization and let them know that you attempted resolution with the memorial owner.  My second cousin was able to get his mother’s information corrected within 2 weeks by showing that both he and I made attempts to resolve the problem before contacting administration.  Why Ancestry.com can’t follow that process is a mystery.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Genealogical Resolutions

Exercise, eat healthier, lose weight - nope, not for me!  The time has come to resolve for 2016, that I will
  • diligently work on completing my Board of Certification of Genealogy portfolio and submit it before my deadline of October 24th.
  • in my free time (yeah, right) start downloading all of the scans I have placed on Ancestry.com so when I can no longer afford a subscription I won't have lost anything.  I foolishly saved everything to Ancestry without downloading a copy to my overworked laptop.  
  • continue blogging twice a week.
  • plan my upcoming midwest research trip and find things that will interest hubby while I'm researching.
  • really, truly set up an office that is functional.  I'll be reclaiming the dining room table in the interim now that the holidays are over.
  • reread the genealogical bibles - the Genealogy Standards, Evidence Explained, BCG Skillbuilders, etc, to refresh the unfreshed mind.  
  • fix my old citations in my family tree as they really were poorly done back in the day.
  • work on completing my e-book, Thanks to the Yanks. (Since part of this is included in my certification portfolio I'll be unable to publish until after the process is completed but I can continue to work on it since I've changed directions from when I started)
  • continue taking webinars to refine my craft and
  • looking forward to attending conferences, especially the National Genealogy Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in May!  Email me through my website if you plan on attending, too! (www.genealogyatheart.com)
HAPPY NEW YEARS!