Friday, October 20, 2017

An Exercise in Possibilities

Considering the possibilities is something I like to do when an ancestor appears in few records, is "lost," or when the "facts" I have don't add up.  In cases like the one below I imagine as many possibilities as I can and then list the next research steps to take. 

My ancestor in this exercise is William Doyle.  His name, death year of 1844, his wife's name (Martha Ray), and his occupation of coal miner come from family records.  The only record I've found for him is an online transcription of his marriage to Martha Reay in 1825.

His absence from records include
  • the 1841 U.K. Census.  His wife Martha and five children live in Bedlington, Northumberland.
  • an 1844 death record (though there are plenty of other William Doyles indexed online but none in 1844). 
  • a birth record or hint of a birth year.  (The only basis for estimating a birth year is his marriage year.)

Possibilities for William's absence with his family from the 1841 U.K. Census are...

Possibility #1:  He was temporarily working in another mine in another city or county (based on the assumption that he was coal miner as per family legend).
Next Steps:
  • Look at every William Doyle in the census to see if any were coal miners.
  • Look for one who was living alone, in a boarding house, or with relatives.
  • Look at birth years (assuming a birth year between 1795 and 1805 based on the 1825 year of marriage).
  • Learn the names and locations of other coal mines then look for him there.

Possibility #2:  He died before the 1841 census.
Next Steps:
  • Look for a death record between 1838 and 1841.  (His youngest child was born in 1839.)
  • Were deaths recorded in newspapers?
  • If he died in a mine accident there may be another kind of death record in addition to a civil land church record.

Possibility #3:  He was in the hospital due to an injury or illness.
Next Steps
  • Learn whether patients in hospitals were enumerated there or at home.
  • Identify contemporary hospitals local to Bedlington where Martha and the children were living in 1841.
  • Learn whether there are records of mining accidents in collieries in England in the 1840s.  If so, look for William.

Possibility #4:  He was in prison (or debtors' prison).
Next Steps:
  • How would he have been enumerated if in prison?
  • Would newspapers have listed prisoners, have had articles about court cases, etc.?
  • Learn whether there are prison records, where to find them, and how to access them.
  • Determine the location of prisons local to Bedlington.

Possibility #5:  He and Martha separated, divorced, or William deserted.
Next Steps:
  • Are there divorce records for the 1840s and, if so, where might I find them?
  • Would divorces have been announced in contemporary newspapers?

Did you think of any possibilities I didn't think of or any additional research I didn't include?  I often add to these lists as I continue to think about the ancestor's situation and circumstances, especially when my first ideas don't reveal new information.

As you know, if your are family historian, this research will take some time and effort to complete and, of course, I hope the first possibility reveals the information I want to find.

I can search records and transcriptions of records on FamilySearch, Ancestry, and Find My Past.  I may also learn more about possible records (prison, hospital, and newspaper research) by asking questions on the U.K. Facebook groups.

When you're stumped do you list possibilities, too?

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hint: Using Those Film Numbers Found in FamilySearch Citations

I'd like to thank Anonymous, a reader who left a comment on yesterday's blog post where I bemoaned the fact that the FamilySearch citation did not tell me the actual source of the transcription for a marriage.  Anonymous suggested that because the citation included a Family History Library (FHL) film number I could reserve the film and have it sent to one of the local Family History Centers to see the image.

FamilySearch has discontinued its microfilm lending program but some digitized films are available through the online FamilySearch/Family History Library catalog.

I looked at the FamilySearch citation again and found the FHL film number.  Then I headed to the FS Catalog where I typed in the film number.

This is what I found:  the record for William and Martha (Reay) Doyle's marriage came from St. Peter's Church, Wallsend, Northumberland. 

When I clicked on the highlighted "Items 1-2, Item 3..." (in above image) it took me to another screen with more information.  Scrolling down provided even more details (not shown in this screenshot).

It doesn't appear that this film has been digitized and made available online but even these details about the film give me more information that I had.

Eventually I may have thought to look at the FS/FHL catalog for the film in the citation but it wasn't my first thought.  Perhaps this is second nature to more seasoned researchers.  Is it something you regularly do?  I hope it will become common practice for me when I see a FHL film number and the FS citation seems limited.

My thanks again to Anonymous who made the suggestion.  It was very helpful.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Monday, October 9, 2017

William Doyle and Martha Reay: Marriage

Family records give William Doyle's wife's maiden name as Ray.  It seems more likely to be Reay if the information below is correct -- if it's transcribed correctly from the original record.






I can't quite call the image above a document:  it is obviously a transcription of a document, probably a government record, though FamilySearch's citation doesn't indicate a specific source other than a FHL microfilm.  I can and will cite it as a source with the hope that it will lead me to the real document.

The information I gather from this transcription is:
     William Doyle
     married Martha Reay
     on 3 May 1825
     in Wallsend, Northumberland, England

I do not have any governmental marriage records for ancestors who were married in England.  If I were to request a marriage record (if it's available at the U. K. Government Records Office (GRO)), I wonder what information I would find on it.  Besides the bride's and groom's names, the marriage date, and the location, would it include their birth dates, birth locations?  Would it include the names of their parents?

The current cost of U.K. records from GRO is £9.00 or $12.00 U.S.  To buy or not to buy?  I need to investigate what information that document would contain before ordering it.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

New to Me: Zoning for FamilySearch

I sent a request to zone for FamilySearch a little more than a month ago when I first learned about it.  Within a short time I was given access to the program.  I guessed it might take a while to learn so delayed giving it a try.  Today I took the plunge. 

I don't know how long FamilySearch has had this program but, in my opinion, it is one of FamilySearch's best kept secrets for volunteers who want to help make more information available to researchers.

In essence, zoning is a precursor to indexing and involves perusing (as opposed to the less in-depth browsing of) newspaper pages to identify announcements of births, marriages, and deaths, and any news articles that include any of those three.

If you have a computer, internet access, and a mouse with a wheel, you can zone.  It may help to have indexing experience but it's not required.

I received five newspaper pages to zone.  Several were identified as definitely having BMD informaiton and the others were not.  I carefully read down the columns of the first page until I found an article about a death.  I tapped the "d" on the computer keypad.  A + appeared on the newspaper and, using the mouse, I placed the + on the upper left corner of the news article then pressed and moved the mouse button to the lower right corner to highlight the article.  First article done.  I continued reading the column, highlighting as I went, then moved on to the next.  The five pages I zoned yielded 75 notices/articles of deaths and marriages.  It may not happen immediately but in the near future, some researchers will be very happy to find these news articles about their ancestors/family members.

Yes, it requires careful reading but it does not require reading sometimes-illegible handwriting.  I don't know whether or not it takes longer to zone than index because I didn't time myself.  But I did notice that I was drawn into some of the articles to read current events of the time and publication place of the newspaper which probably slowed my progress a little.

When I agreed to zone I also agreed not to make and share screenshots of my work to post here.  All I can do it describe the process and recommend that you give it a try.  I am thrilled to have another way to help FamilySearch make records available.

For more information about zoning, click through to these web pages:

> Getting Started with Zoning  (The images above are from this website.)
> Quick Start Guide
> Top 5 Errors to Avoid
> Complete User Guide 
> Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to have or create a FamilySearch account to zone.  If you'd like to request the opportunity to serve in this way, click here to go to the message screen and leave a request.

I love, love, love zoning.  Perhaps you will, too.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Family History Day with D. Joshua Taylor

This past Saturday the Columbus Metropolitan Library offered a Family History Day with guest speaker D. Joshua Taylor.  I couldn't resist.  When he was a boy, he and his parents attended the same church congregation our family attended.

Josh offered four one hour presentations.  Each was was well-prepared and presented and offered an abundance of information.  These are the presentations with a few highlights and brief overviews of each.

Finding the Roots of Your Family Legends
Don't discount a legend.  Try to find where the legend originated in your family.  Then research the family, taking into account the social, political, and geographic conditions in which your ancestors lived that might have fostered the legend.  As you research the legend, you'll also research the family/families and learn the facts and fiction of the legend.  He recommended that we not discard the legend completely because it's what draws family in and will lead to interaction and the opportunity to clarify and correct the legend.

Online Library Catalogs:  A Genealogist's Best Kept Secret
Not all online library catalogs are organized the same way.  When viewing a catalog for the first time, look to see how that library's catalog is organized.  Use the Library of Congress's catalog to determine subject headings and keywords that may be used in most libraries.  He encouraged us to visit the libraries/archives libraries (online and/or the physical buildings) in the city and state where an ancestor lived, even if there wasn't a library there at the time. 

Online Resources:  Religious Archives and Organizations
Josh guided us through ways to find online religious records and discussed different denominations and some of the records available at each.  To begin an online search, find the website for the ancestor's denomination and look for digital collections.  I came away with the impression that unless my ancestor belonged to a church with a national organization, it will be harder to find records, especially online images.

Evaluating & Documenting Online Sources
Look at who created the website, the target audience, the organization/sitemap of the website, record types, and content to decide the reliability of digital record images.  Josh gave a list of key elements to include when documenting an online source and some sample citations.  This was an interesting presentation with lots of great information.

The lunch hour gave us an opportunity for a guided tour of the genealogy section of the library.  There were also librarians available to show us the library's scanner and explain the procedures they follow to catalog the scanned images.  Visitors to the library are welcome to take their own historic photographs and documents to be scanned (the images of which may be added to the library's collection to be available online).

I missed last year's Family History Day with Lisa Louise Cook.  I wonder who the guest presenter will be in 2018.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Using Facebook Groups for Genealogy Help

Have you ever had trouble deciphering a word in a handwritten document?  Perhaps you asked your genealogy friend what he thought it was.  If you have a blog, perhaps you wrote a post about it.  If you have a Facebook account and are a member of a genealogy group, you probably posted the image there -- and within an hour, received help from at least half a dozen people.

I've had a Facebook account for a while but didn't bother with it much (a little too public for introvert me) until recently when I discovered its rich source of genealogy and family history groups.  I think it's safe to say that no matter your location or area of interest in family history there will be a Facebook group for it.  From location, to translating from one language to another, to reading old documents, to dating old photographs, to learning about your genealogy program, to so much more, you can find information and/or help on Facebook.

I've been impressed with the speed at which responses come when I ask a question.  In the whole wide world there is someone awake every minute of the day or night and often one of those people can answer my question at 2:30 a.m. or 5:00 p.m.

Genealogists and family historians are more than willing to respond to questions and often go beyond just answering the question to giving help by finding documents, headstones, and fixing photographs.  That being said, everyone is busy with paid employment, family life, daily responsibilities at home, and family history.  There's more to do than there is time in the day for many people.  Be kind and don't waste others' time.

How, you ask?  Use the "Search this group" box, barely visible at the bottom of the image at right, to see if your topic was discussed a week ago, just before you joined the group, or weeks before you knew you wanted to know that information.  Choose a few words from your question that a search might find (e.g., probate, voter lists, Ohio, a surname, a cemetery name, etc.), type them into the box, then click/tap the magnifying glass.  The results will appear in the center of the page.  Scroll through them to see if your question might have been previously answered by someone else.  If not, ask.

In addition to using the search box, check the Files.  Not all Facebook groups have files but if the one you've joined does, be sure to scroll through them.  You may find surname lists; lists of books owned by members who are willing to do searches; resource lists for a state or county; lists of state resources; lists of county estate files; and more.

Using Facebook for family history is another way to crowdsource.  Of course, it's not only about getting help.  It's also about giving help.  When reading another's post and you have a helpful answer, respond.  You may have knowledge that no one else in the group does.  Share it.

I've joined a number of genealogy groups on Facebook.  Some are closed groups, which means I needed to request to join (usually by clicking a button).  Other groups, like genealogy societies, often have a public page that is open to anyone including those without Facebook accounts.   Below are a few of my favorite groups.

Genealogy program  (This is the program I use but there are groups for others, too.)
RootsMagic Users

General genealogy questions and help
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness - RAOGK USA

British genealogy group
Ancestry UK Discussion Group

County and state genealogy groups
Mercer County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

Pennsylvania Genealogy Network

Jefferson County Ohio History and Genealogy

Genealogy blogging groups
GeneaBloggers TRIBE
We Are Genealogy Bloggers























If you're curious to know which other genealogy groups are on Facebook, click through to Katherine R. Willson's pdf list, Genealogical and Historical Groups/Pages on Facebook (in English).  It is over 300 pages long with more categories than I want to list here and with hyperlinks to each group's page, or visit her website.  She updates the list at least annually.

Do you have a Facebook account?  Are you a member of any genealogy groups and, if so, have you received or given help?

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Andrew Doyle, Son of William Doyle

We family historians and genealogists search for death dates.  After all, they make final a person's existence on earth and help tell the story of an ancestor's life.  Born ~1800.  Married 1825.  Died ~1844.  The End.  We conscientiously record those dates.  But are you like me?  I am guilty of forgetting the impact a death had on survivors, especially if there were children:  the mother or father left to care for him- or herself and the children and to make the best of what was left.

Family records/legend tells me that Andrew Doyle was born on April 13, 1836, in Northumberland, England.  The same records tell me that his parents were William and Martha (Ray) Doyle who were married on May 3, 1825, and that William died in 1844.  Andrew would have been eight when his father died.  William was a coal miner in the northern county of Northumberland, England.

A search for the family in the 1841 U.K. Census found Martha Doyle, age 30, living with Jane, 15; William, 10; Larence [sic], 10; Andrew, 5; and Martha, 2.  The older William was not enumerated with them in that census.  Martha and children were living in Bedlington, Northumberland.  



It would be easy to assume that William, senior, died before 1841 but I don't want to be too quick to jump to that conclusion.  Perhaps William was working and living away from home on census day.  Perhaps he had been injured and was in the hospital.  Or perhaps he was travelling.  Or (I hope not) in prison.  After all, I have that family record that says he died in 1844.  I can't give up on that date without more research.  I was unable to find a likely William Doyle in the 1851 or subsequent U.K. census records.

More research produces an indexed U.K. BMD record transcript for William Doyle with a death date between  July and September of 1844.  Location of death was Manchester, Lancashire, England.  This may or may not be Martha's husband and Andrew's father.  If there were there coal mines in Manchester in the 1840s it's possible it is.  Another William Doyle died in 1847 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, a more likely location for William.

In the 1851 U.K. Census I find Andrew Doyle, 16, living in the home of Thomas and Martha Richardson.  He was recorded as Thomas's step-son.  Also living in the home as step-children were Andrew's siblings, Jane Doyle, 25; William Doyle, 23; and Martha Doyle, 12.  They were living in Bedlington Cotts, West Sleekburn, Morpeth, Northumberland.  I cannot doubt this is Martha and her children of the 1841 census.

Of course there's more research to do on this family -- these families.  But seeing Andrew as a five-year-old in 1841 with no father in the home, a father who was possibly dead or would have died within the next few years, brought home the sorrow of a child losing a father and the difficulties of a mother-become-widow in 1840s England with five children ages 2 to 15.  How were their needs met?  Who provided food, clothing, shelter?  Did anyone share memories of the lost father with the the children who were too young to remember him?  In 1851 Andrew, at age 16, was already a coal miner, and so was his 11-year-old step-brother.  Perhaps Andrew and his older brothers, William and Lawrence, became the breadwinners after their father died.

I suppose families of coal miners were acutely aware of the possibility of a mining accident taking the lives of their men.  Knowing the possibility would not have made the actual event any easier.

I use the term half-orphans for these children who lost one parent to death.  Andrew is not the only half-orphan among my ancestors, and not the only one whose father was a coal miner.

Do you have any half-orphans among your ancestors?  Were any of them coal miners?

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Thursday, September 21, 2017

RootsMagic, FamilySearch Family Tree ID Numbers, & RootsMagic Facebook Page

My genealogy program of choice is RootsMagic which I use in conjunction with FamilySearch's Family Tree.  Each individual on Family Tree (FT) has a unique ID #.  Robert Laws's number is KDQ1-33T.

When I research on FamilySearch and find a document that I want to add as a source to an individual, I need to know the person's ID #. 



Ideally, I would like to be able to click on RootsMagic, find the person, check the number, then return to FamilySearch Family Tree and choose the individual with that number and add the source.

I scouted through Bruce Buzbee's book, Getting the Most Out of RootsMagic 7, but was unable to determine how to add an ID # and have it appear next to the surname.  I finally decided to add it manually, adding a few spaces after the name, then typing the number in parentheses.  Perfect, I thought.




But not so perfect.  When I looked at the list of individuals on the left sidebar of RootsMagic I saw the usual alphabetical list -- except that Robert Laws was not in order because the ID # had prevented it.  Darn.  That didn't work.


The light bulb came on and headed to the RootsMagic Facebook page. 



Last evening I posted my question.
I know there must be an easy way to add FamilySearch Person ID#s to the individuals in my RootsMagic tree but I have been unable to find out how. Can anyone help, please? 
Within an hour someone had responded with clear, concise directions.  By the time I checked Facebook this morning, others had chimed in with more questions to determine exactly what I wanted to do and exactly how I wanted the results to appear and responded with comments.  More clarity about using RootsMagic's FamilySearch Central came soon after.  Family historians are the best and I'm becoming a fan of Facebook!

If you're like I was and want to add the FamilySearch Family Tree ID #s to your individuals in RootsMagic, these are the steps:
> Click File at the upper left of the program.
> Choose FamilySearch Central.  It will ask you to log into FamilySearch.
> Click AutoMatch at the top of the screen and let the program do its work.

AutoMatch will match individuals from Family Tree with individuals in your RootsMagic program without adding any data.  According to Getting the Most Out of RootsMagic 7 it must be an "undeniable match" which, I assume, would include name, birth and death dates and locations, parents, etc.  But, of course, you can match each person individually.

Now I'm a fan of RootsMagic's FamilySearch Central, too.  Technology is so amazing!

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Jurisdictions and Civil Divisions in England for RootsMagic Citations

Locations are simple here in the U.S.  From smallest to largest they are town/village/city or township; county; state; and country.  When I look at U.S. census records, the forms name the kind of location (such as city, village, township; county; state) and therefore the locations are easy to decipher, clear and concise, and fit in the appropriate spaces in my RootsMagic program.

But in England?  Perhaps it's because I don't live in England that I am challenged trying to decide the order in which to place the locations on a census record.  British census records from the 1800s have spaces for these locations:  parish or township; ecclesiastical district; city or borough/municipal borough; town; village; municipal ward; parliamentary borough; hamlet; tithing district; local board or improvement commissioners district; and urban sanitary district.  Not every census year has all of these options but beginning with 1851, each year has at least five of these options, and 1871 and 1881 have spaces for eight locations.

This is the order I think the most common ones belong in, from smallest to largest.
  • Township - sub-divison of a Civil Parish
  • Civil Parish - territorial designation; lowest tier of local government
  • Borough - an administrative division
  • District - a level of sub-national division used for local government purposes
  • County - a sub-national division such as Durham, Yorkshire, Northumberland, etc.

This question of how to order/organize these locations came about because I began entering census records for some of my English ancestors in RootsMagic.  Below is a screenshot of part of the citation/source page where I will add the information from a British Census record.

Jurisdiction and Civil Division are the two categories I'm uncertain about.  Below is the information from the screen above.
Jurisdiction  - place where the census was taken
Hint behind the ?:  Monmouthshire, Wales (omit Wales if part of Census ID)
Civil Division - divisions represented
Hint behind the ?:   e.g. Bedwelty, Glammorgan Mountain Ash

I believe jurisdiction should be county and country, for example, Northumberland, England.

But Civil Divisions are less clear cut.  Are they all the locations named on a census other than county and country, or only some of the locations?  And if only some, which ones?  In what order should they be placed? 

Are these the Civil Divisions for my ancestors in the the census of England in
1841:  Wingate Grange Township, Kelloe, Easington?  (In Durham)
1851:  West Sleekburn, Morpeth?  (In Northumberland)
1861:  North Seaton, Morpeth?  (In Northumberland)
1871:  Cambois, Morpeth?  (In Northumberland)

If the census and RootsMagic had the same identifiers it would be easier to know the placement of location names.  Does the order of location names matter as long as they're all included?  Does one add the names as they appears, left to right, on the census form?

If someone from England (or anyone else) reads this post and can explain the order in which to list the locations from a British census record, I hope you will please leave a comment.  Thanks.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

England Census Dates

If you're like me, you like to know the day/month/year dates when adding census records to your genealogy program.  These are the U. K. Census Dates from 1841 to 1931.  Every census date is a Sunday.

1841 Census     June 6, 1841
1851 Census     March 30, 1851
1861 Census     April 7, 1861
1871 Census     April 2, 1871
1881 Census     April 3, 1881
1891 Census     April 5, 1891
1901 Census     March 31, 1901
1911 Census     April 2, 1911
1921 Census     June 19, 1921
1931 Census     April 26, 1931


It's true that the census may not have been taken on that date but information in the census was to have been reported for that date.  And since the U.K. census records I've looked at recently have not had dates, I'll use the ones above when adding census information to my genealogy program.

--Nancy.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
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