How’d I Do in February? (Not Good.)

February has come and gone and I pretty much missed all of my personal monthly genealogy goals. I’m going to continue to blame my client projects, as they did take up all of my available genealogy time. Not that I’m complaining too much. I love my client projects!

First, let’s grade my progress. Here are the goals I set for myself for each month:

  • Processing one document/source per week (if not more) into my RootsMagic database. I didn’t touch RM this month — need to get back to it.
  • Writing at least one blog post per week. If you include my January recap post, my journaling post and a local history post, I only missed this mark by one. Phew!
  • Reading one genealogy book per month. I’m not reading much in the form of books lately and that needs to change. I blame House of Cards on Netflix and the availability of some of my favorite History Channel shows on Amazon Prime. And myself.
  • Exploring one new technology per month. Not genealogy-related, but I re-learned pivot tables in Excel at work this month. Does that count?
  • And taking one genealogy-related trip every two months. No February trips, but I did register for the Washington Family History Conference coming up in May!

Will I fare better in March? I’m going to be realistic and say no. I still have active client projects on-going and more work coming my way. My personal genealogy research is usually what feeds my blog, so if I don’t have time to research, I’m not going to blog. I am going to try and do better on the reading front.

News about The Hill in Easton

The Asbury AME church dominates the view down South Street in The Hill neighborhood in Easton.

The Asbury AME church dominates the view down South Lane in The Hill neighborhood in Easton.

There’s beginning to be a lot of buzz about The Hill, perhaps the oldest established African-American neighborhood in the country. Read three recent articles in the Star Democrat at the links below:

More details from ‘The Hill’ come to light

History on ‘The Hill’

More digs planned for ‘The Hill’

What’s more, the neighborhood’s two historic African-American churches, both of which hosted speeches by Frederick Douglass

when he visited Easton, are slated to receive preservation funds in Governor Martin O’Malley’s budget this year.

If you are interested in learning more about The Hill, donating towards the preservation and archaeological work, or getting involved as a volunteer, please visit the Historic Easton web site or send us an email!

How’d I Do in January?

Okay, okay, okay. It’s only February and I’m already behind on my January goals. But I do have good reasons.

First, let’s grade my progress. Here are the goals I set for myself for each month:

  • Processing one document/source per week (if not more) into my RootsMagic database. I got off to a good start the first week of January and added several items to RM. So, if you take the average, yes, I did add what comes out to one document per week.
  • Writing at least one blog post per week. I only posted a few times in January. Explanation on why below.
  • Reading one genealogy book per month. I read several chapters in a book on archival preservation, but didn’t quite make it all the way through. Not the book’s fault — I am taking the blame on this one. I need to really set aside more time for reading.
  • Exploring one new technology per month. I actually have this one covered! More on that below.
  • And taking one genealogy-related trip every two months. I didn’t go anywhere in January. We’ll have to see what February holds.

On to my excuses (I think they’re pretty good, actually):

1) I was without my laptop for two weeks — I dropped it off with a local company to be suped up with a new hard drive, operating system, Parallels, and to have my old hard drive turned into an external drive. Could I have done all this myself? Probably. But it would have taken me even longer and no guarantee that everything would be working right. Unfortunately, the guy assigned to work on my computer caught the flu and was out for several days. That and waiting for parts to arrive meant a lengthy delay before I got my computer back. I relied on my iPad in the interim, but I really don’t like blogging on it. The good news is I have the laptop back now and it’s super-fast and up-to-date.

2) I started a new job. I’ve been getting used to a new routine and schedule and my personal genealogy projects have been on the back burner since the middle of the month as a result.

3) I picked up new client genealogy work. For the better part of a week, when I got home from the day job, I was on the clock for a client. This left little time to work on my own genealogy. The good news is that the client wants me to do more work on the project and I had a couple more inquiries from other potential clients as well. The bad news? I will still be delaying work on my own genealogy into February, which will probably mean I won’t be posting much new material on the blog.

Now, for the new technology tool that I learned about this month. I needed to create multi-page PDFs for my client research project. You can do this in a program like Adobe Acrobat, but I found out about a different, free way to do so (as long as you have a Mac). You can use the Automator tool to create a script that will string together individual PDFs into one larger file. Read more about how to do it here.

Let’s see how I do in February!

SNGF: Where Were They 100 Years Ago

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun has led me to a missing record! Tonight’s mission:

1)  Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 January 1913 – 100 years ago.

2)  List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?

3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status or Google+ Stream post.

I was relatively certain that my dad and his family were living in Washington, D.C., but I was missing their 1910 census records. I knew they were living on Columbia Road in 1920. My grandparents were married in 1905 in Philadelphia and then my father was born in 1906 in Washington, D.C. I wasn’t certain where the family was living in 1910, but I was pretty sure they were in Washington.

I knew a good place to start would be to try and find their 1920 neighbors in the 1910 census. I’ve had success with this method before. I struck out with the first two families that I tried, but I hit paydirt on the third attempt.

My dad and his parents were living next door to a Mr. Story B. Ladd and his family in 1920. I found the Ladds again in 1910, still on Columbia Road. My ancestors were their neighbors then too, but their name was mistranscribed as Cortey, which is why they hadn’t turned up in previous census searches. I’ve since submitted a correction to Ancestry and saved the record to my father and grandparents. Yay!

Given that the census records show that the family was at the same address in 1910 and 1920, I can say that’s probably where they were on January 1, 1913.

I’m less certain when it comes to my great-grandfather on my mother’s side, William Edmond Hayes. His family was originally from Carter County, Tennessee. In 1910, however, Willie and his parents were in Umatilla County, Oregon, in what appears to have been a failed attempt to make a better living. In 1914, Willie is back in Tennessee, marrying my great-grandmother. And he wasn’t the only one to return — every single member of his family was back in Carter County again by 1920.

I’m still unclear as to the exact details about what the Hayeses were doing in Oregon, but I think they were trying to operate an orchard. I have found records that indicate that they went into debt regarding such a venture. The fact that the entire family returned to Tennessee leads me to believe that it didn’t work out, although I need to do more digging to find out the whole story.

Given the information I have so far, I can’t say for sure whether the Hayses were still in Oregon or back in Tennessee again by January 1. 2013.

Most of my other ancestors were where I expected them to be — elsewhere in Carter County, Tennessee, or in San Antonio, Texas. It’s dinner time now, otherwise I would go into more detail here.

Thanks, Randy, for prompting me to find that missing census record!

My 2013 Genealogy Re-Boot

2013 will be a year of big change for me. I’m starting a new job closer to my home and one of the results of this will be recouping hours each week previously spent in my car commuting. I’m hoping this will translate into more time that I can put towards genealogy.

Additionally, I’m in the midst of a genealogy re-boot. While I’m choosing to blog about it at the beginning of the New Year, it’s actually been underway for a couple of months (even before I knew that I’d be taking the new job). I’ve been slowly making changes to my blog and how I do research, in the hopes that I will be a better, more organized genealogist in the long run.

Steps I’ve taken so far:

1) most notably, was the re-design of my blog, which was mostly cosmetic, but was needed to make my content more accessible and pleasing to view;

2) I updated my versions of Crossover and RootsMagic, as I plan to start using RM more (more on that later);

3) I started blogging more often, using the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories as a convenient way to bring more content to my blog (this also helped me to make use of many photos I recently acquired; more on this later as well);

and 4) I added a small “cousin-bait” paragraph to blog posts about my ancestors, inviting those who may share those ancestors to be in touch with me. Folks still find my blog by searching for terms that make it painfully obvious that they share, or at least are searching for, an ancestor of mine, but still, they don’t make contact. However, I have started to hear from cousins more often (one of whom cited the cousin-bait paragraph in his email to me), so I think this was a worthwhile update to make.

I have many more changes that I hope to implement. Among these is to set goals for things I’d like to accomplish each week or month, such as:

  • Processing one document/source per week (if not more) into my RootsMagic database. I have been neglecting this database entirely over the past year, and that’s bad because it’s the database where everything is sourced properly. My Ancestry.com family tree allows me to discover lots of potential resources, but not everything on there is proven fact. I’m using RM to create a fully sourced tree.
  • Writing at least one blog post per week. I’ve been neglecting this blog, but I hope to have lots of new content thanks to my revamped genealogy plan.
  • Reading one genealogy book per month. I am a book collector, but haven’t done very well when it comes to reading those books. I’m excited that I will have more time and energy to put toward this goal.
  • Exploring one new technology per month. This doesn’t have to be genealogy-related, necessarily. Things are changing so rapidly these days and there’s so much out there that I want to explore.
  • And taking one genealogy-related trip every two months. I won’t be able to travel to far-flung conferences this year, but I’m hopeful that I can do things like attend local APG chapter meetings, FHL events and the like.

There are some specific things I want to have completed by the end of 2013:

  • Become an expert Evernote user (I’ve only been using this tool haphazardly until now).
  • Explore FamilySearch more, especially FamilySearch Wiki.
  • Clean up the surname organization of files on my computer.
  • Re-organize my office. I brought home a lot of stuff from my old office and so I need to find a way to store everything in my home office and still be able to use the space.
  • A renewed focus on photo organization and actually using my photos, not just archiving them. My focus over the past several years has been to try and preserve as many family photos as I possibly can. I want to start using these photos more, however. I have many of them in scrapbooks and other items that only I can enjoy. I want to explore ways to share the photos more easily with family members and others.

I’m publishing this post as a way to hold myself accountable for the above goals. I’ve been in a holding pattern over the past year when it comes to my own personal genealogy research. This is partly due to a lack of time, thanks to my old commute. However, the biggest problem was that I didn’t have a plan. I expect that I’ll be revising the above plan as I achieve goals, acquire new skills and learn about new resources. I’m looking forward to sharing my new discoveries with you.

Way-Back Advent Calendar: Music

MomPianoGraceXmasThis is the only photo I found that even came close to today’s topic of Christmas music. I know I had a piano like that when I was small. I can still here the tinny plink-plink-plink it would emit when I banged on the keys.

Thus concludes my posts for this year’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories! I hope everyone has enjoyed the photos. Happy Hols!