Sunday, May 27, 2012

Scandal? Intrigue? Or Just Plain Doodles?

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I volunteer at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Two weeks ago I completed an 18 month scanning project of all bible records located in the surname vertical files. To find these bible records I had to thumb through every single vertical file from A-Z. This also included naming the scans and putting them into a database. I believe the end goal is for these scans to become accessible online. Overall, it has been a project I've really enjoyed working on. And yes, there has been blood (a really nasty paper cut from a manila folder), sweat (sometimes if the air wasn't on very high and the sun was shining through the window it got rather warm), and.... well no tears. In truth, it was a very stress free environment (somewhat zen like, unless the scanner or stapler gave me attitude), especially when you compare my work at the archives to the hectic very noisy life of raising two young boys at home.

Anyway, over the last 18 months I've seen a lot of really interesting items in these vertical files. The final day of this project would prove to be just as interesting. I was working on my last drawer of files, and while scanning the title page of a bible record from the Wright file, I glance down at the second page  and this is what I see:[1]

Hannah       Statlen [?]

Thom Shult"                                                          

I'm usually pretty focused on any given task, but I have to admit this gave me pause. After all, this was somebody's bible and the word "sinners" is written along with some names. Is Hannah Statlen one person or is it two separate people? Are the sinners Hannah and Thom? Or are these just random writings/doodles on a page? I quickly looked for these names in the bible record and didn't see them (yes, I know it was off task but I couldn't help myself). I even looked, very quickly, in the file for any other information. Nothing. Hunh. So I made a copy of the page and made notes on the back regarding which file it came from. I needed to continue on and I can always go back and take more time looking for details later. There is a story here, if not in actual fact at least in fiction. I'm inspired.

[1]   [Anonymouns], "Wright Family Bible," p. 2; Wright folder 1, surname vertical files; Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Plunge Into DNA

Well, I've done it. sent me an offer for their new DNA test and I decided to do it. It came in the mail on Tuesday. The requirements were to fill a vial to the line with spit (something I can't recall ever being asked to do before), register the kit online, and send it back. So Wednesday it was back in the mail. Now I wait.

What are my expectations? I'm not really sure. However, the question I would like an answer to is about any Native American ancestry. This is a story that has been floated around in the family and its various branches for some time. These various branches (some of us have never met or only vaguely know of each other's existence) all connect back to my four times great grandmother, Delila Caroline Kirby.

Delila's parents died around 1847 in Arkansas. Before that, they were in Alabama where Delila was born. Then it gets a little... strange. A few of the children before her were born in Illinois, but the oldest claims to have been born in Alabama. Delila's father was from Tennessee. What was going on with these people?

I've barely begun my research into this line. It will require digging through records of many family members through multiple states. For now that will have to wait as the next couple of months are just too busy. Meanwhile, I'll wait for one clue and see what the DNA results say.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Music Monday-Donna Summer and Robin Gibb

Many people have memories associated with music. A song you heard on your first date, music that your grandparents always played, a song that made you smile, or one that made you cry. Music Monday, is a time to share those memories.

As everybody knows Donna Summer and Robin Gibb passed away recently. These were iconic 70's, disco era artists. Their credits and talent went far beyond their top hits that most remember them for. My memories of Robin Gibb are intertwined with the Bee Gees and the movie "Saturday Night Fever." I remember when this movie came out. Of course I wasn't old enough to see it and wouldn't be for years, but I remember the publicity around it. It was a ground breaking film for John Travolta (see the clip below), and for some reason I associate the song "Night Fever" not only with the movie, but with my mom going out dancing. I always think of the outfits she wore that were so typically 70's. Not that she went out a whole lot or was a big disco dancer/partier.

Now Donna Summer... it was hard to pick just one of her songs. I have so many memories associated with so many of her songs, and they are just fun. Her album, "Bad Girls," was in my limited collection as a kid. I loved it. I'm not sure what happened to that album, but I remember all the songs. It's hard not to listen to her songs and not wiggle... just a little.

RIP Robin and Donna. Thanks for songs and the fun times they created.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

NGS, SLIG, FGS... Oh My!

It has been a week since NGS ended and it sounds like it was very successful. I kept up to date with many of the bloggers who were there blogging about the sessions they attended, products they saw in the vendor hall, and the lastest news being released at the conference. There was a Kentucky session I wish I could have sat in on, since I have ancestors who made a pit stop there for a generation or two in their migration westward. Well, if you missed this year's NGS conference the 2013 conference will be in Las Vegas. NGS is already advertising it, and you can book your hotel now. Should be fun, after all it's Vegas Baby (sorry couldn't help myself).

If you are looking for something a little more focused on a single subject you might want to consider SLIG which runs January 14-18 2013. Registration opens up on June 2. There are a lot of wonderful courses to chose from and they go quick. There are also evening sessions and the benefit of the fabulous Family History Library to research in.

The next major conference to round out our current season is the FGS conference, taking place August 29-September 1, 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama. Early registration ends July 1st, so if you want to go you need to decide soon for a good discount. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm going to this one or not. It's a two hour drive away from me, so it is very convenient. However, due to other circumstances at that time I would need to figure out childcare. Which means I may not be able to go. The timing of both the NGS and FGS conferences are just not good for me this year. Oh well.... there's always 2013 and Vegas Baby!!! (he he he)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

This Mother's Day, I'll be having brunch with my husband and two boys in the morning, and then I have the rest of the day to myself. I've been told I don't even have to be concerned about what to make for dinner. Aaahhhh.... I feel relaxed already. The only thing that could make my day better, would be hanging out with my mom. She lives in another state and I only get to see her once or twice a year.

My mom is a great mother. Of course when I was growing up, we had our moments like any parent/child does, but I'd like to think those moments weren't too bad or often. She is an artist and has an artists spirit even though that isn't her job now. As a child I traipsed through many museums in various cities, sat in the back of art classes she taught or took, and watched her create pieces of art at home. Growing up with my mom was fun and even better, I like hanging out with her now.

So I hope you all have a lovely Mother's Day, whether you are a mother or are spending time with your mother. But most especially, I wish my mother a Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Are You Going To NGS?

I'm not. My preschooler is graduating this week and I wouldn't miss it for the world. He keeps counting down the days until he can wear his "handsome suit" and his "handsome shoes." It's the kind of excitement that I hope doesn't involve an emotional overload meltdown come graduation day.

Now as much as I'm looking forward to watching my little guy graduate, I'm also a little sad about not going to NGS. There are some lectures I would love to hear, people to see, and of course the vendor hall is always a treat. Being able to "talk shop" endlessly with people over lunch or dinner, without fear of them getting bored is nice too. Let's face it, our spouses, friends, and families can only listen to us talk genealogy so much if at all. Going to conferences is also a great networking opportunity.

So other than hanging out with preschoolers, what else will I be doing? Well, I have IGHR at Samford to get ready for. I'm taking Advanced Methodology taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills this year. I've already done the required pre-reading assignment, but there are a few more things I would like to do to prepare.

Firstly, I've been wanting to flag my Evidence Explained book. There was a girl in my class at IGHR last year who had done that and it inspired me. I feel like I'm always looking in the index for the same 20 types of records. If I flag the book I won't have to do this all the time.

Secondly, Elizabeth Shown Mills has a website, Historic Pathways, that contains many of her articles. I want to read a few of those. The next best thing to not hearing her speak in person, right? ESM also recently launched the Evidence Explained website. I've briefly checked this site out, but would like to give it more attention.

Overall, I'd say it is going to be a busy week. For those that are not attending NGS what are you doing this week to keep up to date? If you are going to NGS and you are a blogger I expect a full report. I want details of what lectures you heard, breaking news, the gadgets in the vendor hall, where NGS will be held in 2014 ( yes 2014, 2013 is in Vegas), who you saw, and any good food you had. I'm living vicariously through you. It's a big responsibility, I know. I have confidence in you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Strange Misadventures in Research

*The following is a story involving client research. Names and locations have been withheld for privacy.

I have a client who first hired me to find their great grandfather's parents, which I happily found. Then the client wanted me to find their great great grandfather's parents (to be referred to as GGF). Could be a bit more complicated, as it appears that GGF died young (disappears off the tax lists before 1860) and didn't leave much of a paper trail.

You may recall a blog post last week (you can see here) that I found an index listing records I was interested in, but had to leave before viewing them. Well I did manage to get back to the archives this past Thursday and pulled the microfilm of interest. The index had indicated GGF's wife (GGM) had some part in an estate settlement case (circa 1865-66). My hope was that the case was GGF's and that within the documents would be some sort of guardianship set up for their minor children, and that GGF's kin would be involved. Best case scenario right?

Well, instead it was GGM's father's estate. Turns out he died intestate leaving behind a widow and minor children. All of the heirs are named, including GGM, along with the wife and the minors who are babies. That caught my attention. GGM would have been about 35 in 1865-66. If she were the first child and her mother had her at say 18, that would mean her mother would be 53. That means she would have had babies in her late 40's early 50's. Not completely unheard of but stretching it in terms of childbearing years for this time period. I wonder if this is GGM's mother, but think it is a good possibility it is her father's second wife. Oh well, I wasn't hired to find GGM's line, I need to find GGF's parents. I search a few more records and it is time for me to go.

Yesterday I went back to the archives to search out more records on GGF. There are two reels of court minutes on microfilm that I haven't looked at. Why? They aren't indexed. This means I would have to go  page by page reading and searching for the surname of interest. However, I did find a book that indexed and transcribed the records up to 1849. It's a start. I looked at the list. I see GGF listed! I turn to the record, and would you believe it is guardianship record involving GGM's father for his minor child with his deceased first wife (Ha! I was right!), and GGF is the security for the bond. Okay, although this is exciting it is not what I'm looking for. Moving on.

I continue to look up other surnames related to GGF, especially the one I suspect is his father. As I'm looking at one of these records, who is also listed on the same page? That's right GGM's father again. It's another record about the guardianship of his minor children, the difference is this record lists the maiden name of his wife. Crazy right? Usually it is the women who are difficult to trace and this information is literally just falling into my lap. The worst part is that it is not even what I've been hired to find, and it is a gold mine of information!

The strange part, is that this scenario is not really all that unusual for me. It is typical of my misadventures in research. I set out with a goal and other information will come forward. So, the moral of the story? Some ancestors are happy and willing to be found, others like to hang back and wait awhile, and others elbow everybody else out of their way and shove the information in your face whether you want it or not.