Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 30 January 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

The odd couple by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - have you ever wondered why certain ancestors got together, or what they saw in each other?

A New and Exciting Cousin Connection by Jana Last at Jana's Genealogy and Family History - Jana describes finding a new cousin from a line she didn't know existed

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Mapping the Kentuc Trail by Larry Cebula at Northwest History - Larry has a great tutorial on making a custom Google Map using historic maps and Google Earth

The Value of a Compass Pt 1, Pt 2, and Pt 3 by Bill West of West in New England - family stories getting reprinted in newspapers are some of the most valuable treasures. I like how Bill's ancestor decided to rely on animal instinct, which saved the lives of himself and his companions.

Just the Snow Plow - by Midge Frazel at Granite in My Blood - a great family story with a humorous ending

Census Assumptions: A Tale of a Genealogy Near-Mistake by Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider - a not-so-little reminder to be careful when looking at census--or any--records

His Little Green Book Was So Organized, Why Can't I Be? by Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots - all genealogists have regrets. Barbara shares hers while highlighting her grandfather's organization of his travel memories

Check Marks the Source by Valerie Craft at Begin with 'Craft' - I really liked this method Valerie uses to check her sources. Simple, yet effective.

Genealogy and Algebra: Finding the unknown by Daniel Klein at The Jersey Journal - a great analogy between two fields!

When Genealogy Meets Geology Or Why I Won't Be At RootsTech This Year by Gena Philibert Ortega at Gena's Genealogy - sometimes people get the words "genealogy" and "geology" confused. Gena explains how she combining the two.

Dear Randy: Why Do You Write About Your Personal Research? by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings - confroted by an uninterested reader, Randy gives his reasons. I especially agree with Number 5.

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@DJM0604, @NC_Heritage, @MeetyouinOhio, @FamilyTreeDoc, @BCGenealogists, @sthomas51004, @familytreenow, @agrunst, @CalifWildflowr

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

Follow Me

Check out my websites:

Online Historical Directories 

Online Historical Newspapers

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Light Blogging Week

Just a heads up that this week I'll have little-to-no posts published. I am trying to stay consistent with about three posts per week, but I will be working late three evenings this week, have several deadlines due with other projects, and have been having severe knee pain, which is tiring me out. I do have a three-day weekend coming, in which I hope to rest, see my doctor, and perhaps start scheduling blog posts again.

I appreciate your patience and understanding.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 23 January 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

The Cobweb: Can the Internet be archived? by Jill Lepore at The New Yorker - this long but fascinating article tells the history behind one of my favorite websites, the Internet Archive

The Real Reason Why Your Ancestors Didn’t Smile in Old Photographs at the Crestleaf blog

W.Va. woman finds unexpected history in her family tree by Marta Tankersley Hays at The Charleston Gazette - from bootleggers to royalty

Death in the wrong place and Following up on death by Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist - could your ancestor have TWO death certificates?

Finding the Simon Gates 1803 Home Farm Using Historic Map Works Overlays by Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings - this is a fun one! I enjoyed following Randy's steps to look at my ancestor John Concidine's farm plat overlaid on a Google map. Check it out!

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@elliston75, @PeraneNCo, @AskArchivists, @FemaleFactory, @karendnj13, @rootsandroutesr, @hpconnor447, @maureentrotter, @mattcycle, @mollyscanopy, @IrishRootsMag, @townlandorigin, @rootsireland, @italianside

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

Follow Me

Check out my websites:

Online Historical Directories 

Online Historical Newspapers

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: Research Reports and Other Types of Published Conclusions

It doesn't have to be complicated.

Our goal in genealogy is to share the results of our research with others. Hoarding our discoveries does no one any good. And, since our ancestors are also the ancestors of many other individuals, we can't "own" them or their lives for ourselves. We must share their stories with others.

The final step of the genealogy research process states that we will "arrive at a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion." If we are professional genealogists, our conclusion will be written up as a research report and given to our client (here's the template I use). If we wish to share our discoveries in a formal way, we may write a family narrative to be published in a periodical such as the National Genealogical Society's Quarterly or the New England Historic Genealogical Society's Register. If we simply want to share our stories with family members, we have a variety of media at our disposal to do so, whether it is a family history book, a blog, a newsletter, a website, or even a video we've produced.

The key is that in publishing our findings, we will, in some way:

  • explain the problem (the question or theory or hypothesis behind our research plan);
  • identify the known resources (which we've faithfully recorded in our research log);
  • present the evidence with source citations and analysis;
  • discuss any conflicting evidence; and
  • summarize the main points and write (or publish in other media formats) our conclusions.
We also must realize that there is no such thing as a final conclusion, because new information can support, question, or disprove our current conclusion.

These above steps are all elements of the Genealogy Research Process and the Genealogy Proof Standard as established by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

But again, publishing your conclusion doesn't have to be a big, scary thing. I'm doing this exact thing, publishing my conclusion about where my ancestor Lura may be buried in a series this month here on my blog. It's not formal. It's not scary. But it does follow the elements listed above.

Just get the word out: make a plan, track your research steps, and publish the story.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Scanfest is Coming!

The January 2015 Scanfest will take place here at AnceStories this coming Sunday, January 25th, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Pacific Daylight Time.
What is Scanfest? It's a time when geneabloggers, family historians, and family archivists meet online here at this blog to chat while they scan their precious family document and photos. Why? Because, quite honestly, scanning is time-consuming and boring!

Scanfest is a great time to "meet" other genealogists, ask questions about scanning and preservation, and get the kick in the pants we all need on starting those massive scanning projects that just seem too overwhelming to begin.

To get started, you need to know the basics about scanning:

1. Don't use commercial glass cleaners (i.e. Windex) or paper towels to clean your scanner's glass plate. Use a soft, clean cloth, preferably microfiber. If you must use a liquid, use water sprayed directly onto the cloth  and make sure to let the plate dry thoroughly before placing photos or documents on it.

2. Wear cotton gloves (available at many art and/or photography supply shops) when handling photos and old documents.

3. Don't slide the photos around on the glass plate. Place them exactly where you want them. Photos should NEVER be scanned by a scanner that feeds the document through the machine, but ALWAYS on a flat-bed scanner.

4. Set your scanner to scan at no smaller than 300 dpi (dots per inch). Many experts recommend 600 dpi for photographs.

5. Photographs should ALWAYS be scanned and saved as .tif files. Use "Save As" to reformat the .tif file to a .jpg file for restoration and touchups, emailing, or uploading to an online photo album. ALWAYS retain the original scan as a .tif file.

6. Documents can be scanned as .pdf files or .tif files.

7. When you are done scanning your photos, don't put them back in those nasty "magnetic" photo albums. Place them in archival safe albums or boxes found at websites such as Archival Products or Archival Suppliers. Do NOT store any newsprint (articles, obituaries, etc.) with the photos. The acid from the newspaper will eventually destroy the photograph.

Now about the chatting part of Scanfest:

We will be using Blyve, a live blogging platform that you access right here at AnceStories. On Sunday at 11 AM, PST, come right here to AnceStories and you'll see the Blyve live blog/forum in the top post. It's not really a "chat room," per se, it's more like a live forum and anyone visiting this site can read and see what is happening in the forum.

You will not need to download any software.

We look forward to having you participate with us!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Review: Week 2

Wednesday concluded Week 2 of the Genealogy Do-Over, and this is my review of those topics:

Setting Research Goals
As I stated in my post, "Key Genealogy Categories for Targeting Your Goals," my main research goal for 2015 is the following: "I will correctly cite in my RootsMagic database all known facts for my ROBBINS ancestors, as well as all their descendants. I will download or scan all correlating documents, and name and file them on my hard drive according to my digital filing system. My purpose is to have a prepared database for a 2016 goal of publishing a family history. I intend to spend a minimum of one hour a week each Sunday afternoon working on this goal."

I've already begun this work, and serendipitously enough, have just this week gotten in contact with another descendant of my (our) infamous ancestor, Uzza ROBBINS.

Conducting Self Interview
Years ago, I began a blog called AnceStories 2: Stories of Me for My Descendants which had weekly journal prompts. My responses were journaled here at this blog.

I've also kept various journals in electronic and paper form, as well as written a Christmas letter nearly every year since 1990 which serves as an excellent annual summary. My kids gave me, at my request, a Hallmark journal for Mother's Day about five years ago which has questions to answer about my life's story. I do need to spend some time consolidating everything into one location (like my hard drive) and then create back ups. It's just not a feasible goal for this year.

Conducting Family Interviews
When I first started doing genealogy in 1987, I wrote all my grandparents who lived across the country from me, and asked them questions, which they answered in letters. I also interviewed them when they came for visits, and kept notes of some of the phone conversations I had with my maternal grandmother.

My parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. I am considering how I could conduct some audio or video interviews about their lives, although both were proficient letter writers, and both sets of my grandparents saved the hundreds of letters my parents wrote to them in Michigan from Alaska from 1966 through 1979. My paternal grandparents also saved my dad's college letters from Canada in the early 1960s. I've been scanning all these letters over the past five years. Yes, it has taken that long! I have kept notes of conversations I've had with my parents in the past 30 years when they've  told stories about their ancestors or when I've asked specific questions about family history.

I do have one grandaunt still living, and I've been thinking I need to interview her as well. In fact, that would be a priority over interviewing my parents, considering her age. She is the youngest sibling of my paternal grandfather (who was the eldest). She wouldn't remember some of the grandparents and great-grandparents of that generation the way my grandfather did, but getting her perspective on the family history would still be invaluable. She does live across the country, so I would probably interview her via letter as I did my grandparents.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 16 January 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

Darned Records: When You Let Gollum Index at The Ancestry Insider - from the Humor Department

Speaking of the Humor Department, have you checked out Geneapalooza? This weekday genealogy cartoon always starts my day out right!

Hire a professional? Why on earth would I do that? by the unnamed blogger at For Us the Living - great reasons to hire a professional

On the very same day, I read Barbara Poole's Somebody Answered my Plea to Help Solve A Brick Wall, and I Gladly Paid Him! at Life From the Roots.

Announcing the Genetic Genealogy Standards by Blaine Bettinger at The Genetic Genealogist - we're witnessing genealogy history, folks, and--better yet--the standards will help our research

Top 10 Gmail Labs and Features You Should Enable by Whitson Gordon at Lifehacker -  I'm a big GMail user and fan here, always looking for ways to tweak it

Why are there Blue "Silver" Books? by Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy - as a Mayflower descendant who doesn't own any of these books, but have used them at my genealogical society's holdings, I've wondered this myself

How you can find out if you're related to someone famous by Rob Cardwell at WTVR - this reporter didn't know much about his family tree and even less about Richmond, Virginia history when he moved there from Florida. However, he made some interesting discoveries! - hat tip to GenealogyBlog's Leland Meitzler

10 Years, Over 150 Records Requested--How Many Did I Actually Receive? by Diane Gould Hall at Michigan Family Trails - are you keeping track of your requests? How? Diane displays her handy spreadsheet.

Farm-Spotting: The Simon Gates Home Farm in Gardner, Massachusetts by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings - Cousin Randy did some platting to determine where his ancestor's farm lay. Read this and the following posts, especially if you are a cartophile (map lover), as I am.

Looking for historic NW images? State Library has 'em! by Brian Zylstra at From Our Corner (a blog of the Washington Secretary of State) - your ancestor didn't have to live in Washington State for you to find great images. The collection includes photos from all over the Pacific Northwest. No PNW ancestors for you? Let this prompt you to look in your ancestors' state library digital collections (check out my incomplete Online Digital Archives and Databases series for links to state libraries' digital collections from Alabama through Nebraska, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories).

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@WashburnLinda, @Irish_Genealogy, @NJGenealogy, @ValsRoots, @mamaligablues, @Quizman3

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

Follow Me

Check out my websites:

Online Historical Directories 

Online Historical Newspapers

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My 9th Blogiversary

Nine years ago today, I started my blog.

It was, I hoped, a place where I could share my ancestor's stories. It also was a place where I ended up sharing my own. 

Over the years, I've acquired--and lost--readers according to the flows and ebbs of my writing. It has mirrored my creativity and passion for genealogy, as well as the overwhelming busy-ness that sometimes is my life.

In the past nine years, this blog has won prestigious as well as simply fun awards. But there were times when I wondered if I could even keep it going. Through it all, I never lost my love of genealogy or of writing, even when it seemed like I had no time or energy to do either.

It was never about the awards, anyway. It was always about sharing what I had learned about my family or about genealogy in general with an appreciative and supportive audience, many of whom have become dear friends, and some of whom I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life.

Technology has changed so much even since 2006, but I plan to continue blogging as long as there's a platform and an audience to do so. After all, there are many more ancestor stories to tell, tips to share, and boxes of material for Scanfest!

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. 

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where is Lura Buried? Part 3


A very interesting stranger moved to town.

Thirty-six-year-old Reverend John CRAPSEY, Jr. was a widower1 with a ten-year-old son, Angelo.2 He was also described as crazy and a false prophet.3

John hailed from Western New York State,4 a region described by the evangelist Charles G. Finney as the "burned-over district," meaning it was so heavily evangelized, there was no fuel (unconverted souls) left over to "burn" (convert). It was a region where Protestant evangelists such as Finney achieved many converts to the Congregationalist, Methodist, and Baptist churches. However, there were a large number of uneducated people who were easily influenced by folk religion (Christianity impacted by superstition). Furthermore, there were a number of nonconformist movements founded by laypeople that caused much concern among the traditional church bodies. These included Mormonism, the Millerites, Spiritualism, the Shakers, and the Oneida Society.5

So when John started preaching hellfire and brimstone, with his congregation speaking in tongues, trembling, and seeing visions of graves opening from earthquakes, it was not surprising that a mob of 70 men confronted him with a warrant to leave Roulette and never return.6

Despite this, Lura married him on 18 January 1853.7 Was it a marriage of convenience, love, or a little of both?

Besides Lura's daughter, Viola, and John's son, Angelo, they added four more children to the family within the next ten years: Alice, William Merrick ("Willie"), Harriet (sometimes called "Suky,"8 but more often, "Hattie"), and George Bayard CRAPSEY.9

But religious fervor was not the only thing troubling the country. 

To be continued....

1 Dennis W. Brandt, Pathway to Hell: A Tragedy of the American Civil War (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), 33.
2 Ibid., 30.
3 Ibid., 25.
4 Ibid., 31.
5 Wikipedia contributors, "Burned-over district," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,, (accessed January 12, 2015).
6 Brandt, Pathway to Hell, 35, 36
7 Ibid., 35.
8 1870 U.S. census, Cottonwood County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Southwood, p. 6, dwelling 89, family 89, John Crapsey household; digital image, ( : accessed 16 January 2006); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 187.
9 Brandt, Pathway to Helll, 35.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: Staying On Track with a Research Log

You know you've done it.

Spent an hour browsing through unindexed images on FamilySearch, found the images of your ancestor's probate record, downloaded all 27 pages of it, and...realized you'd already downloaded them last year.

Or you ordered a death certificate of that ancestor's sibling, hoping it will reveal the names of their parents. Spent over $35.00. Waited two weeks. The certificate finally arrives with little information in it. Sighing, you go to file it and..,yep. You've already got that certificate, although you can't remember ever ordering it.

I'm guilty. You're guilty. We're all guilty.

In fact, I almost committed the genea-crime of re-researching the other night, while hoping to find more information to fill in my blog posts in my "Where is Lura Buried?" series. Fortunately, I remembered my research log for the PECK family, opened it, and prevented about 20 minutes of searching for what would have been a negative result. Whew! Saved by the research log!


If you're not using a research log, you are wasting time. You are wasting money. You are wasting energy. Your genealogy research is inefficient at best and ineffective at worst.

Now the good news is, there are many ways to keep a research log, and most of them are free.

You can keep a simple log in a notebook. There are free research log forms available online for you to print up; just go to Cyndi's List and find links to a number of them. Some people prefer using electronic notebooks, such as Evernote or OneNote. Most genealogical software, including my preferred one, RootsMagic, have research logs built in as well. My preference is using a spreadsheet, and Thomas MacEntee has a great one here.

My own research log is available as a free download. I've made a copy of this and placed it in every surname research folder on my hard drive. Within each surname research log, I create a sheet for each individual in that family I'm researching by using the same steps outlined in my post about timelines.

Remember last week when I said there are times when you might not use a research plan?

Those times are when you set out to explore a collection, online or offline, to discover what it might hold for a number of ancestors. For instance, you might realize that Ancestry has released a new database for a county where people from five of your family lines once lived. 

This is where the research log especially is handy.

You can open those logs for each of the surnames, copy and paste the date, website, and collection name into each one, and start your searching, keeping notes every time you change a search term or get a result (positive or negative). And prevent the genea-crime of re-researching!

I hope this information is useful, and I appreciate your feedback.

Next week, we'll talk about research reports.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Where is Lura Buried? Part 2

Now it's really not fair to wonder about Lura's burial place without first discovering a bit about her life.

This life started nearly a thousand miles east of St. Paul, Minnesota in a tiny community called Lymansville, in Potter County, Pennsylvania. Today Lymansville is simply a crossroads of Pennsylvania Route 6 (a.k.a. the Grand Army of the Republic Highway) and Route 872 (a.k.a. Hollow Road)1, on the eastern border of Coudersport Borough. Coudersport itself was only a village at the time, at another crossroads one mile west of Lymansville.2

Here in Lymansville Lura Ann JACKSON was born on 11 January 1826 to Joshua JACKSON and his second wife, Elsie ROUNDS, the seventh of their eight known children.3 And it was probably here--or in Coudersport--that she married Nelson H. PECK around 1847. Their only child, Viola Gertrude PECK, was born 14 April 1848 in Coudersport.4 She became my 3rd-great-grandmother.

We don't know much about Nelson. We do know he was a carpenter and a joiner and that he paid his taxes.5 There are a number of Peck families that lived in the area, but I have no idea how he connected to them. Nelson died a day after Viola's first birthday, on 15 April 1849.6 I'm not even sure where or how he died and I definitely don't know where he was buried. I can only guess at Lymansville or Coudersport for both his death and burial.

But these posts really aren't about Nelson. We'll have to visit his story another time. Our focus is on Lura and where she might be buried.

What's a widow with a year-old baby to do in 1849? She moved in with her sister, Harriet, her brother-in-law, Eli REES, Jr. (himself a carpenter, as well as a farmer), and their four young children in Eulalia Township. And that's where we find them when the 1850 U.S. Federal Census was taken; the first time either Lura or Viola are named on a census.7

Lura probably felt like her life came to an end when Nelson died. But it didn't...not for another 45 years. In fact, her life was about to get very interesting.

To be continued....

1 PA HomeTownLocator, database ( : accessed 10 January 2015), results for Lymansville search.
2 Google Maps, database (, results for Coudersport, Pennsylvania search.
3 Kay Brownell Reed, Potter County [Pennsylvania] Historical Society Genealogist,, to Miriam Robbins Midkiff, e-mail, 8 December 2004, "PECK/JACKSON - Potter Co., PA," info from society vertical files on Joshua Jackson.
4 “Obituary of Mrs. Charles Robbins,” Grand Rapids [Michigan] Herald, 13 March 1918, p. 10. "..."who was born at Cowdersport [sic], Potter county, Pa., on April 14, 1848...."
5 Early History of Coudersport - Pioneer Families of Coudersport (Coudersport, Pennsylvania : Potter County Historical Society, 1949), 11.
6 Potter County (Pennsylvania) Historical Society, newspaper files (typed transcriptions); Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Entry for Nelson H. Peck.
7 Pennsylvania. Potter County. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. : 2014.

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Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday Finds and Follows: 9 January 2015

Articles and posts that caught my eye:

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is Back Online by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - I'm excited to hear one of my favorite genealogy websites is back online!

How to DeClutter Photos Like an Archivist by Sally Jacobs at Practical Archivist - great idea for those New Year's resolutions!

Genealogy Do-Over without Using the Internet by Barbara Poole at Life from the Roots - I have usually found I'm much more efficient if I happen to go without the Internet, either voluntarily or not. I was interested in Barbara's take.

Online Indexes for Death Records, Cemeteries and Obituaries (USA) - Latest Additions by Joe Beine at Genealogy Roots Blog - I enjoy seeing updates to Joe's famous website,

This Day in History: Samuel Morse Demonstrates Telegraph Machine by Dick Eastman at Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter - I found this article fascinating as I realized how the telegraph machine changed people's lives as much as the Internet has. I imagined how it affected my ancestors.

My New Genealogy Follows at Twitter:

@gargaroblog, @SteveBFTR, @HistoryByPaula, @familymemo1, @JoFullCircle, @JanetFew, @TraceMyTree, @evergreen_anc, @CharnwoodGenie, @ancresbyjacq, @GSQPresident, @HannArchive, @Genealogy_links, @Nana_Cheryl, @mrsdewinter, @GenealogyBranch, @Special2Us, @knitgenie, @MaureenLElliott, @rstevens1963, @HeirloomArch

Genealogy Facebook Pages I've "Liked":

Follow Me

Check out my websites:

Online Historical Directories 

Online Historical Newspapers

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Review: Week 1

Today begins Week 2 of the Genealogy Do-Over, so here is my review of the topics of Week 1:

Setting Previous Research Aside
Many participants have decided to recreate their family tree in their genealogy software, using the best practices they have learned since they first started researching their family history. In my post, My Goals for the Genealogy Do-Over, I stated that I was not going to do this. My reasons are that I have invested too much time over the years, as well as having improved on how I conduct my research, cite my sources, and come to conclusions. However, in the spirit of things, I have stopped doing any research other than the current individual I'm blogging about this month, my 4th-great-grandmother, Lura Ann (JACKSON) PECK CRAPSEY.

Preparing to Research
One thing I've done is to assess how much "stuff" I've got. Although I've pretty much migrated solely to digital records, I do have a lot of censuses and other documents I printed up from microfilm or from my early days of Internet research, when storage space on hard drives was a premium. All my hard copy folders were sitting in a lateral file cabinet that quite frankly, isn't handling the weight of all that paper very well. The drawers are difficult to open and close. So I have bought some file boxes instead and placed all the folders from my dad's lines into two boxes, and all the ones from my mom's lines into one box. I am also researching my children's paternal grandparents' lines, and those folders fit into one box each.

All four of my biological grandparents and my maternal step-grandfather have passed away, and in handling the estates, my aunts and uncles generously sent me many original documents and photographs from my grandparents' lives, as well as my grandparents' ancestors' lives. Much of this still needs to be curated, and was sitting in cardboard boxes in the spare room closet, prone to possible damage from moisture and insects. I have stored these items in water-proof 18-gallon totes, and while this certainly isn't archival quality storage nor a permanent one, it is far better than the cardboard boxes.

I made an interesting discovery: I have less square footage of "stuff" than I thought I did. That's not to say that I don't have a lot. It definitely will take a long time to curate. But a lot of the space that was being taken up was created by the storage means themselves (cardboard boxes). So my tasks will be less than I originally thought. It's a relief!

Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
I created a checklist for myself on research practices and guidelines:

1. Whenever I being research, I will open the research log(s) pertinent to the individual(s) I am researching. I will then record the source I am using for research, as well as the date.

2. Once I start my research, in my research log(s) I will make notes of search terms used, whether or not an index was consulted, and the results of that search/information found (positive, negative, irrelevant, or uncertain). I will be sure to list details (pages, image numbers, columns, etc.) for easier re-finding. This step is pertinent or both online and offline research.

3. Next, I will copy or download pertinent pages of the documents I researched. If I am photocopying an offline document, I will scan it when I get home.

4. The digital documents will be renamed according to my digital naming system and placed in their corresponding digital folder. Hard copy documents will be discarded unless they are original documents that have great sentimental, historical, or monetary value (i.e. birth certificates, military discharge papers). Hard copy documents that are saved will be filed in their corresponding file folder and file box. Fragile hard copy documents will be stored in archival safe, acid-free storage boxes.

5. Next the information will be added to the correct person(s) in my genealogy software, RootsMagic. I will cite my sources correctly in that software, using its Citation Manager and Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills. I will also rank the record in the Citation Manager, as to its source, information, and evidence type.

6. I will track the information in my research plan and research report (conclusion) as well.

7. I will backup my data to my external hard drive and my online backup service (IDrive) at least once a month.

The above seven guidelines are aligned with my first two Genealogy Do-Over Goals: Slow Down and Do It Right. After all, my family tree deserves the same respect and care that I would give any other client!

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for, and as such, receive compensation for products advertised on and linked from this blog.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Where is Lura Buried? Part 1

As a genealogist, it's ironic that I've only visited a total of eleven of my ancestors' graves, and of those eleven, three were not biological ancestors (one grave belongs to my step-grandfather and two belong to the set of great-grandparents who adopted my paternal grandmother). But considering that I was born and grew up in Alaska, have spent the majority of my life in Eastern Washington, and only four1,2,3,4 of the hundreds of my direct ancestors who have lived and died in North America are buried west of the Mississippi River, it's not so strange, after all!

Now there's one ancestor who lived within only a mile of that Mississippi River: my 4th-great-grandmother, Lura Ann (JACKSON) PECK CRAPSEY. And if she's buried where I think she is, her grave lies only two miles from the east bank of the river, technically to the north of it, as it loops through St. Paul, Minnesota.

Join me as I do a little ancestor grave hunting.

To be continued....

1 Find A Grave, database with images ( : accessed 26 April 2004), Sgt. Robert Louis Robbins.
2 Find A Grave, database with images ( : accessed 18 May 2012), Jeanne Marie (Holst) Robbins.
3 Find A Grave, database with images ( : accessed 24 May 2005), Charles Frisbie Strong.
4 Find A Grave, database with images ( : accessed 24 May 2005), Mary Lucy (Wright) Strong. I've visited Charles' and Mary's graves. At "only" a six-hour-plus drive away, they are the closest ancestral graves to my residence.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: Research Plan - An Explanation and a Template

Ever feel that solving a genealogy problem is like navigating a challenging game of chess? Here's how a research plan can help!

A number of people who are participating in the Genealogy Do-Over have asked about how to create research plans or find forms or templates to use. Whether or not you're participating, you may wish to know more about research plans, why and when to use them, and how to create them.

When I took the ProGen professional genealogy course, one of our early lessons was learning how to create research plans, based on Chapter 14: "Problem Analyses and Research Plans" of Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. We used one of our own research problems to develop one. Here is an example of one I wrote to determine if my 2nd-great-grandmother is the same person as an orphaned girl I found in records in the Netherlands.


"Plan refers to the process of thinking through our purposes and procedures before research begins."
--Helen F. Leary 

First of all, what is a research plan, and what is its place in genealogy? According to Helen F. Leary, author of the aforementioned chapter, "Plan refers to the process of thinking through our purposes and procedures before research begins."

So what is our purpose? It can be to find the names of the parents of a brick wall ancestor. It can be to uncover the maiden surname of a married female ancestor. It can be to answer any of a thousand questions: "Why did my ancestor move West? Where is he buried? How many children did she have? Did he serve in the Civil War? Is my family legend true?"

What are our procedures? These are the process and systematic steps we take in our attempt to solve our problem.

There are four to six basic parts of a research plan:

1. Objective - This is our purpose (see above). It can be written as a statement or a question.

2. Known Facts - Obviously, this is what you already know about your research problem which you are attempting to solve. The information about the person should be placed in chronological order, citing the sources where each fact was found. This is where a timeline of the person's life can be really helpful.

3. Potential Conflicting Data - Very often, we hit a brick wall because of a Major Problem. One of my examples is that I have an ancestor listed on the 1890 Union Veterans Census. One problem--the conflicting data--is that the unit number he supposedly served from (101st New York Volunteers) did not muster from anywhere near his place of residence. I believe there's a simple explanation: the numbers got reversed. The 110th New York Volunteers did muster from his county. However, there is another problem: except for the veterans census, I cannot find any other evidence that this ancestor served in the Civil War. I have to explain this in the Potentially Conflicting Data part of my research plan.

By the way, not every plan will have this part. You may not have conflicting data at all. You may be simply stuck with not enough data!

4. Working Hypothesis - You may have an idea about what the answer could be to your problem. This is where that idea is stated. You should list your reasons as to why you believe this statement could be true.

When you first start your research plan, you may not have a hypothesis. As you start to research, one may form, and you can add this in at that time.

5. Identified Sources - These are the sources I've already looked at, which have given me my known facts, and--if I have conflicting data--be where I've found information that confuses the situation. These identified sources will be the same as the cited sources for my Known Facts, with possible additions, but are simply given in a source list entry or biographical form.

6. Research Strategy - Here is where we list the steps of what we're going to do, and where we're going to do it. Are we going to look at particular databases on Do we have a list of microfilm numbers at the Family History Center for records we believe will solve our problem? Is there a book in our local genealogical society's library that may have an answer?


Here is a link to your own free research plan template which you can download to your computer. You can open it with any word processing program (like Microsoft Word), edit it to fit your research objectives, and save it as another document in your genealogy research folder, or in the relevant notes section of your genealogy software.

And? Keep it simple. It doesn't have to look as complicated as the example of my 2nd-great-grandmother. But it covers all the bases: what you've done, the snags you've hit, and where you're going.

One thing to keep in mind: We don't always use a research plan in every search (I'll explain the exceptions in next Tuesday's Tip post). However, whenever you have a question about an ancestor or another person you are researching, you definitely should use one!

I hope this template is helpful, and I'd appreciate your feedback.

Happy Hunting!

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for, and as such, receive compensation for products advertised on and linked from this blog.

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Monday, January 05, 2015

My Top 10 Blog Posts for 2014...And Then Some

Now why on earth would my readers care about my top ten blog posts for the past year?

Well, if you're new to my blog, you may be interested in seeing the kinds of posts I typically write. Most of my popular posts were either Tuesday Tips or posts targeted especially to help my readers in their genealogical research. Check them out:

Now, to be fair, the top ten most read posts during the past year were not all written in 2014. In fact, posts numbered 1-5 above were actually the 1st, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 10th most read of this previous year. The following from years past were the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 9th most popular, respectively.

#2 (from 2009): A Beginner's Guide to Scanning Postcards - It make sense that this is a popular post, as I refer many readers to it when they have questions about scanning to .tif files rather than .jpg files. Don't let the title fool you; it applies to scanning images, letters, and other documents as well.

#3 (from 2013): Tuesday's Tip: 2014 Genealogy Blog Post Planner - No longer relevant; see #8 from the Top Ten list above.

#6 (from 2008): Tuesday's Tip: Organizing Your Digital Files - Here's another post to which I point readers, especially when answering questions in genealogy groups on Facebook.

#8 (from 2012): RootsMagic 6 Review - I love RootsMagic! Whenever students of my classes or audience members of my presentations ask me my opinion of the best genealogy software, I unhesitatingly reply, "RootsMagic!" Version 7 has just been released, which I received as a Christmas gift...lucky me!

#9 (also from 2008): Wordless Wednesday: CHAPLIN - MARTIN Certificate of Marriage - I'm not certain why this post received so many hits. As the only top post directly related to a family line (on my children's father's side), I find it interesting that it's so popular. Perhaps it's the common genealogy and blogging terms plus the surnames in the title.

Analyzing these posts helps me as a blogger, too. I've learned my readers enjoy reading my discoveries written as helpful tutorials. I plan to continue this feature.

Have you read these posts? How have they helped you?

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