Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Weird Life

This morning after running a few errands, I decided to quickly run into the Genealogy Room at the Williamson County Library here in Franklin, Tennessee. I just needed to do a quick look up in an index for a reference to a marriage record. Then I noticed a couple books on Marshall and Lincoln counties. These two counties are adjacent to each other in Tennessee.

I have a Whitsett and Bigger/Biggar connection I've been trying to figure out. They created records in both counties, as most of my other ancestors in this area did. This is due to county boundary changes, families marrying into each other, business transactions, and just plain county line hopping.

Anyway, James Whitsett married Mary Bigger. Joseph Bigger is Mary's father. James dies and leaves behind a wife and minor children. Then Alexander Bigger becomes the guardian for said minor children. Makes sense right? Keep it all in the family. However, what I really want to know is, who are the parents of Joseph Bigger? So I'm perusing the book with court record abstracts. I'm finding all sorts of references to Joseph, his brothers, and Alexander. Then I find the will of Sarah Bigger.

Sarah Bigger's will was filed in Lincoln County or at least a copy of it was. The first line reads, "I, Sarah Bigger of Williamson County, Tennessee..." Wait. What?!? Williamson County? I live in Williamson County! I look up and around the room I'm sitting in. Is this a joke? Is there a hidden camera somewhere? I have to reread that line 3 times for it to sink in. Next I grab a marriage index book for Williamson County. Sure enough, Joseph and his brothers are listed. This is crazy. What are the odds of me living in the same county where I had ancestors living at one time?

Sometimes, even for me, my life is just too weird.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The British Institute

If you are looking for a genealogy education opportunity this October, then the British Institute might be just the thing you are looking for. Want some more information? You're in luck, one of the organizers of the institute asked if I could post the following announcement.

Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Study With The Experts!

If you’re a last-minute Lilly (or Louie), there is still time to register for the few remaining open spots to attend the British Institute in Salt Lake City, 7-11 October 2013.

The International Society for British Genealogy and Family History will accept registrations until Monday, 30 September, for a week of lectures and mentoring by well-known British genealogists Graham Walter, Maggie Loughran and Paul Blake.

The registration fee is $495, and covers five days of instruction with morning lectures and afternoon research opportunities in the Family History Library, including one-on-one mentoring with your instructor.

All courses will be in the Radisson Hotel Downtown, a short walk to the Family History Library. Hotel rooms are still available at the Crystal Inn at $79.00 per night, including breakfast and shuttle bus service to and from the airport, and to the Radisson each day.

Full details and registration at <>

 Using the Cloud for British Family History Research
Graham Walter

Graham Walter combines his IT background with his expansive knowledge of British genealogy resources. This course will provide a guide as to what “The Cloud” is and how we can use it to our advantage in our research.

There are a number of Internet sites that provide some unique datasets for researching British ancestors. We will examine some of these sites and look at the varied search techniques that can be used to find those elusive ancestors hiding in the nooks and crannies of their databases.

The Cloud also provides us with a wealth of tools to enhance the way we collect, share and present our data. We will look at how these services allow us to choose a variety and combination of computing devices that best suits the collecting of our family history on any research trip. The Cloud will allow us to move that data to our other devices seamlessly and without complexity, as well as share it with our families and other researchers. Students in this course must provide their own WiFi-capable laptop computer.

 Course Outline:
  • ·      Introduction/Overview
  • ·     What do we mean when we say "The Cloud?"
  • ·      Notepads/Journals(Evernote/SpringPad/NoteSync/SimpleNote)
  • ·      Website of the Day -
  • ·      Research Journalling with Evernote

  • ·      Cloud File Storage(DropBox/SkyDrive/Google Drive/Amazon Cloud Drive)
  • ·      Cloud Backup (Carbonite/Mozy)
  • ·      Website of the Day -
  • ·      Research Data Storage and Family History Programs

  • ·      Office applications in the Cloud(Google Docs/MS Office Web Apps/Zoho Suite)
  • ·      Website of the Day -
  • ·      Data extraction and manipulation with web

  • ·      Task Management (Remember the Milk/Astrid/Toodledo)
  • ·      Websites of the Day - Online Newspapers,
  • ·      Welsh Newspapers Online
  • ·      Using Mobile devices in Research

  • ·      Collaboration in the Cloud
  • ·      Photo Storage and Sharing(Flickr/1000 Memories/Picasa)
  • ·      Cloud Mapping the Ancestors(Google Maps/Bing Maps)

 Sources For Tracing Pre-mid-nineteenth
Century English Ancestors
Maggie Loughran and Paul Blake

This course will concentrate on tracing pre-mid-nineteenth century English ancestors and will be of special interest to those whose ancestors emigrated to North America prior to the
commencement of English civil registration in 1837, or those who have already tracked their ancestors back to the early 1800s.
Paul and Maggie will focus on the actual records themselves, giving you an in-depth understanding of them. For each record category we will be looking at examples of the original documents and guide you through how to interpret, locate and, lastly, how to access them using the Internet and any other available resources.

Record Categories
Locating, interpreting, and accessing pre-1858 English probate records
From the 13th century until the civil probate system was introduced in 1858, probate (the ratification of a will) was controlled by the church. Wills were recorded in the
ecclesiastical archives as were most matters to do with death, with over 300 church courts functioning at one time or another. These jurisdictions frequently overlapped each other and
boundaries may have changed from time to time making the use of early wills and other probate records challenging to say the least. This session will take you through the process of
discovering if your ancestor left a will and where to find it plus any other associated probate records including administrations, inventories and accounts.
plus much more…see the website for complete details

Friday, September 20, 2013

Discovery of a Group Migration of Convenanters

Ideally when setting out for a day of research you have one or two questions about a particular person to focus on and drive your research for the day. Maybe you will come across an item that will lead you to an unexpected source to investigate about that person. Generally it doesn't require that you bring a binder full of ancestors, or your genealogical software with all your kith and kin mapped out. For me, this is mostly true...unless it involves the adjacent Marshall and Lincoln counties in Tennessee.

A few weeks ago I went down to the local library in Lincoln County, Tennessee which you can read about here. For this research I have to bring my "cheat sheets." These are just pedigree charts with a few notations on them. Some of these notations include what dates/locations I have proof for, what I suspect or have a question about, brief military information, and possible connections. These are my working notes in short hand, if you will. I would never show anybody these, they are for my eyes only. I need these notes for researching in this area. This is a very rural community and I have a lot of ancestors here that criss crossed over county lines, married, and conducted business with each other. So while I may focus on one person, all of my other kin can't help showing up in the records that I'm looking at. I need my cheat sheets to keep track of them all.

So there I was sitting in the library looking at a couple of sources, making notes, checking my cheat sheets occasionally and I notice something. There were a lot of people that came from South Carolina to Lincoln County, Tennessee. Why? Why would all these people come here of all places? I mention this observation to the library volunteer. To which she says, "Oh, maybe they were Covenanters."

I don't know what a Covenanter is. She didn't really either, other than they had something to do with the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Hhmmm. So when I get home I Google it. I click on the Wikipedia site and discover that it has to do with a Scottish Presbyterian movement that started in the 1500's. In a nutshell, they were groups of people, or covenants, that were committed to upholding the ideals of the Presbyterian religion. After 150+ years of all sorts of political trouble, they flee to Ireland. Then around 1717 a group of Covenanters decide to leave Ireland and migrate to North America, settling in the Philadelphia area with one group forming the Reformed Presbyterian Church . Not surprisingly, Covenanters would become avid supporters for independence from Great Britain. They would also volunteer in large numbers to participate in the Revolutionary War. Later, around 1800, this group would oppose slavery and outlaw slave-holding for the people within the congregation.

This is all great, but what does it have to do with my people coming from somewhere in South Carolina? I Google some more and find Reverend William Martin. He came to Rocky Creek, Chester County, South Carolina with a huge congregation during 1772 in 5 ships. Over time it seems little groups would splinter off and migrate elsewhere in the U.S. One of these little groups would migrate to Lincoln County, Tennessee.

After I learn this I look back at my cheat sheets. There are several people who were born in Ireland and died in Chester County, SC, a couple more who were born there, and one with this note "Rocky Creek?, SC." All of these people were members of the same church. This was a group migration from Rocky Creek, Chester County, South Carolina that followed the preacher. I sit back to let this sink in.

These people knew each other in South Carolina. I look at the dates in my notes. Gasp! They probably knew each other in Ireland! This is immediately followed by the next thought of; I wonder if they knew each other in Scotland?? Whoa. I've just gone from researching this group in two counties of one state, to two states and three countries. It's a good day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Charity, Breakfast, and a Hero

Last May my DAR chapter, Sarah Polk, held their annual silent auction. It helps raise money for our chapter and enables us to then be more philanthropic. One of the items up for auction were seats to the Operation Stand Down breakfast on September 6, 2013. The keynote speaker was scheduled to be Tony Mendez.

Operation Stand Down is an organization that provides assistance to veterans so that they can rejoin society productively. It is a really good cause and an important one. Our veterans deserve this help to readjust to the society we live in, after experiencing whatever horrors they have had to face. I was happy to bid on a seat. Plus there was breakfast and I like food so it had that going for it too.

Now the other attraction was Tony Mendez. Last year there was a film that came out called, "Argo." This was by far my favorite film of the year. It centers on the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran. I vividly remember this crisis as a kid. I remember the news footage of hostages with hoods on their heads, the failed helicopter rescue, the start of tying yellow ribbons around trees, and just the absolute horror of American civilian hostages that went on and on and on. One group of hostages was held for over 400 days. Then there were the 6 that got away...with a little help.

Tony Mendez is the hero of this story. He devised a plan to extract the 6 Americans that escaped from the embassy. The film follows the crazy plan, the anxiety, the fear, and the danger. The very real, terrifying danger. Tony put his life in peril to save these people. In the U.S. Tony was a guy in charge. He could have sent somebody else to do it, but he didn't. In short Tony Mendez is a hero. That is one reason I was so excited to meet him. The other reason? To me, Tony also represents all the men and women who do things for this country that we will never know about unless a book is written, or a movie is made about them. Tony represents the unsung heroes of our country.

The keynote address at the breakfast was a strange mock interview set up with Tony and his wife, that was intercut with many clips from the movie. In short, it was a little odd. Tony really didn't say much and his wife did most of the talking. I felt like there was something else going on that the audience wasn't privy to. Based on my own observations, I wondered if perhaps Tony is a shadow of his former self. At times I wasn't sure how cognizant he was.

At any rate after the keynote address was over, Tony and his wife sat at a table to sign his book. Of course, I had to get one and see if I could get my photo with him.

I was beyond thrilled. A charitable contribution to a wonderful cause, breakfast, an interesting (strange?) keynote address, a signed authored book by a hero, and a photo with said hero. It was a fantastic morning!