Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Night Fun - Finding FHL Resources

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has put forth his weekly challenge, Saturday Night Fun. Tonight's focus is on the resources at the Family History Library and its online catalog. Very timely, as I spent all morning at my local Family History Center (a branch library of the main one in Salt Lake City), giving two presentations for their Family Trees and Ancestories Conference. I usually visit my local Family History Center several times a month, either to do my own research, or to do lookups for others through requests made through the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website. The following are Randy's step-by-step procedures with my answers:

Here is the "assignment" for tonight's SNGF:

1. Identify one "elusive ancestor" family (perhaps one you just found, or one you've not found any information about), and the county/state that they resided in. Tell us the family name and the county/state. One of my elusive ancestors (and the topic of my April Brickwall post) is Nelson H. PECK (c. 1819 - 1849) who probably died in Coudersport, Potter Co., Pennsylvania. I found his date of death listed in the Potter County Historical Society's archives of transcribed newspaper extractions. There were no citations listed for the newspaper's name, date, or page number.

2. Go to the FHL Catalog, find the resources for that county/state. The Family History Library Catalog has resources for Potter County here and resources for Coudersport here. Since Pennsylvania did not require the keeping of birth and death records until 1906 and marriage records in 1885, the vital records the FHL filmed will not be of use to me. I'll have to rely on land and perhaps court records to find useful information that might lead me back another generation.

3. Identify at least three items from the FHL Catalog that you need to look into in an effort to further your knowledge about that family's history. Tell us about them. One set of records that may be of help to me is the Orphans' court docket, 1836-1855. Even though Nelson's daughter, my 3rd-great-grandmother, Viola Gertrude PECK, was not truly an orphan when her father died, because her mother, Lura Ann JACKSON PECK, was still alive, there is a possibility that some sort of record could be listed for her.

Another possibility is Cemetery records, 1756-1973. Perhaps Nelson's burial place is listed, with other PECK family members buried nearby to give me some ideas of possible relatives. There are a lot of PECKs in this county; I just have no clue how they're related.

A third set of records would be the deeds for Potter County, which might show that Nelson purchased or inherited land from family members, or that it was sold or given to family members after his death.

One last set of possible helpful records would be the Registers docket, 1836-1908. Although these wouldn't probably give me direct information and original documents, they might lead me to any probate records Nelson had. The FHL didn't microfilm them, so I'll have to research where they're archived.

4. Do you know where your nearest Family History Center is? If not, go here and look for it. Tell us where it is. Yes. As mentioned before, I frequent it regularly. It is the North Spokane Stake FHC. We have three others in this county, and I've been to two of them.

5. Are you willing to make a commitment to go to the FHC and rent microfilms in order to pursue that elusive ancestral family? If so, tell us about your commitment. I'm currently researching another brickwall line, and hope to get to Nelson later this year. He's one of my lines I'm working on breaking down as a goal for this year.

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