Another Ancestor, Another Newly Discovered Birthplace

Ancestry.com sent me an email with new hints for ancestors among the Texas death certificates. Amid this information, I learned the supposed birthplace of my 2G-grandfather, Anson G. Bennett — Warsaw, Mo. I say “supposed,” because Anson obviously wasn’t there to verify the information. I haven’t done a lot of research on my Bennett line — this gives me a new lead to work from.

Might a New Clue = A Chink in a Brick Wall?

I had a breakthrough on one of my lines over the weekend. I found a passport application for my paternal great-grandmother Ida Champ Ferris, which listed her birthplace as Brownsville, Penn. (Her name was mis-indexed, which is why I’d never come across it before.) I had always thought that she was from the Philly area because that’s where she went to college, but turns out that she was born closer to Pittsburgh. I don’t know much more about her parents except that they came from England shortly before she was born. Hopefully this new information will lead to more clues about them!

Genealogy Research Tools News to Me

Recently, I attended WebSearch University in Washington, D.C. The conference is geared toward research professionals of all ilks. I attended pre-conference workshops on public records and finding business information in the “deep web” (those sites that aren’t indexed/searchable by services like Google). I learned about how to search without leaving a trace. There were sessions on Big Data, MOOCs, multimedia searches and other online resources. I was attending on behalf of the engineering company that I work for full-time, but a list of tools that I could put to use as a genealogist came to light as well. Here’s just some of what I learned:

Death Indexes Online — divided by state; online searchable death indexes and records. (Interesting side note: I found out about this resource in a session taught by a Department of Justice researcher who LOVES to use FindaGrave to search for next of kin in cases where there are assets to disperse.)

Western States — have an ancestor who lived in The West? This BYU-established resource may have marriage information for them.

GenWed — marriage records arranged by states

VitalRec.com — comprehensive database providing access to birth, marriage and death records.

Geonames.usgs.gov — this place name repository provided by the USGS can help you identify the county in which a place your ancestor lived in or frequented is located

NETROnline — find what public records are available online for a particular location

Public Records Search Directory — another resource divvied up by state and topic

Google tip — search for your ancestor by searching for “lastname firstname” AND “firstname lastname” to make sure you are finding all records (a good tip for other databases too)

Another Google note: I learned that Google disabled the use of the tilda (~) for searching back in June when it did away with almost 70 different services. At an earlier genealogy conference, I had learned to add ‘~genealogy’ to search terms on Google to help narrow results to only those that would be relevant to genealogy. According to Google, their built-in synonymizer should provide the same function, but you lose control over the search by turning it over to them. Just a word of caution.

Black Book Online — a site geared towards private investigators that may also prove useful to forensic genealogists and others trying to find living relatives

EInvestigator — another site that serves PIs; check out their link for genealogy resources

Student Archaeologists Dig up Easton’s Past – WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Student Archaeologists Dig up Easton’s Past – WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -.

More coverage of the archaeological dig happening in Easton at the link above!

Happy Birthday, Obediah Basham (b. 1760)

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!

One of my 4th great grandfathers was Obediah Basham, who was born on April 7 in 1760 (or 1758, according to some records) in Cumberland County, Virginia. He was a Revolutionary War soldier and there is a lengthy pension file about him (I still need to transcribe it). Numerous folks have used him as entree into the DAR. He has a FindaGrave page, but no photo of his gravestone in Kentucky (his wife’s is available and it is crudely engraved). Obediah’s daughter Delilah married into the Corley family.

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.

Picnic for Twelve — A Family Memoir

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I am happy to report that one of my clients has published Picnic for Twelve, a book about his parents and their growing family as they navigated The Great Depression and other events over the last century. If you are interested in the life of Irish-Americans during the 1900s, have Boston-area ancestors, or are just looking to read a cleverly written yarn, I highly recommend that you download the book for your Kindle or purchase a print copy.

I provided genealogical research support on the Driscoll and Sheehan families. This was a fun and challenging project to work on, as various members of the family moved around a lot, originating in or living in locations including New York City, Southern California, here in Maryland, and of course, Massachusetts and Ireland. Along the way, vital records unlocked most of the clues needed to solve a few family mysteries. As part of the project, I read an early version of the manuscript. The author is a former editor of the Boston Globe and a great storyteller — I highly recommend this book!

Meet Anson G. Bennett, My 2nd Great-Grandfather

Anson G. Bennett

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!

This weekend, one of my aunts and I went through a ton of photos and documents that used to belong to my grandmother. Among the treasures was a funeral announcement for my second great-grandfather, Anson G. Bennett. I wrote about him briefly before.

One of the most exciting things about the article was the photo shown here — I’d never seen his photo before. Unfortunately, the newspaper clipping isn’t dated or identified by publication name. It most likely came from one of the San Antonio papers.

The article reveals several new-to-me facts. One of Anson’s sons was San Antonio city clerk. Anson was buried at St. Mary’s parish cemetery. Anson’s address at the time of his death was 619 Cedar Street.

619 Cedar Street, San Antonio

The following excerpt is especially rich in detail:

“A native of Missouri, he was brought to San Antonio in a covered wagon by his father, Capt. Sam C. Bennett, Civil War veteran and boat captain on the Mississippi river between St. Louis and New Orleans.” (“A. G. Bennett Funeral Services Set,” date and publication unknown.)

I already knew that Anson died on 12 Mar 1944. I didn’t know about his father’s Civil War service. I believe he served the Confederacy as I have evidence he was a slave owner (an obituary for one of the family’s slaves was even published in the San Antonio Express).

Beyond the above clues, searching anew for information on Anson led me to his listing in the 1940 census. I also found another newspaper article that said Samuel C. Bennett was custodian of the Alamo for three years prior to his death in 1900 (“Capt. Bennett Dead,” Dallas Morning News, 16 Jan 1900, digital image, GenealogyBank, http://genealogybank.com : accessed 2 Sep 2012.). I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot more material to find on him.