Saturday, March 28, 2015

Week 13 of the Genealogy Do-Over - Recap

Thomas MacEntee started this 13 weeks ago and I'm probably still on week 2 or 3. citing sources. In doing so, I found small details I overlooked but it's interesting how much more I know about my family from the little pieces.

My grandparents lived in Billings, Montana at 123 N 24th St. That's where we always went to visit and all the documents say they lived in Billings. Until they moved to that house, they farmed while my grandfather worked for the railroad. In my head, I see them living out by the Yellowstone River on a large farm.

From actually writing out each census report and city directory, I now know they moved four times before getting to their final residence. My dad talks about learning to swim in the Yellowstone River but the family only lived on that farm until he was 10. I discounted one residence because it was outside of Billings. In doing so, I discovered another man with the same name as my grandfather also living in the Billings area.

These are the details I missed in my first go around with the family tree. I am finding the same thing with Polly, my great, great grandmother. The family records (not documented) says the mother of Polly was Susannah. On a census, it says her father married Susannah when Polly was already married with children. Most trees show Susannah as her mother and I know that's incorrect.

There is some family lore the mother of Polly was Sally. Again, most trees show Sally as a nickname for Susannah. I actually believe that Sally is the real mother of Polly and have to find documents to prove it. There is a marriage record for John and Sally but it would have made John about 7 or 8. These are the small things that makes this Do-Over rewarding.

My original tree has about 3500 people, my new tree is at 89. I haven't even looked at my mother's side of the family because (although it's going to take forever), I want this to be as accurate as possible. This time, I have ordered the actual records and am taking the time to transcribe them all.

I bought Evidentia. What a blessing and a curse that has been. I have so much to evaluate but each time I tackle one item, like the birth date of my father, it forces me to look at all the documents. There has always been a debate over his birth year. After loading all the items I finally got irritated and ordered his actual birth certificate. It seems he lied and now I know for sure. Without Evidentia, I would have continued with the wrong year.

It has been an interesting journey. I am so glad I decided to start over. Thanks Thomas!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wk6 Genealogy Do-Over - Smug people should not do genealogy

My grandfather is William Ogden Rhea. He was born in Tennessee and died in Montana. He was born in 1882 and died in April of 1962. He lived on a farm and worked for the railroad. I know everything I need to know about my grandfather and so I added all the records from Ancestry. I didn't really look at them because I know everything there is to know about my grandfather. A little smug, I never thought I could learn anything more because I know everything I need to know about my grandfather.

Come the Genealogy Do-Over. Still smug, I pull the paperwork I needed and started on me. That was boring because I know everything I need to know about me. There are a lot of documents and tidbits for my parents so I skipped back a generation to cite those for my grandfather. It would be easy because yada, yada. yada.

I pull up the Web: Montana, Find A Grave index, 1864-2012. It says he died on July 1, 1962. It doesn't really hit me but I continue to cite it. Finished with that, I pull up the Social Security Death Index. I start typing it in and find the death date is 1968. Wait, how can that be? I know he died in 1962 because we took my dad to the airport so he could fly home and I was just starting high school.

So feeling a little less smug, I look at Find A Grave. The Montana link is is based on the larger national database and on the original Find A Grave, I find my grandfather died on April 17, 1962. I have my own photos of his headstone with the same date. I go back and look at the source citation on Ancestry. It is wrong! I make the adjustment on the source and look at my grandfather's profile. It has been wrong since day one because I was smug. Feeling even less sure, I look at the year discrepancy.

I think I should get a copy of the Social Security Death Index because I can't believe it is that far off on the year. Then it hits me, I have his death certificate buried somewhere in my paperwork. After some searching I find it and low and behold, it says he died in 1962. What I did find however is the social security number on the Death Index is different than the one on the death certificate. DUH, missed that tidbit too. I know there was only one William Rhea in Billings, Montana in 1962 because he was my grandfather. Could it be possible that another William Rhea lived there at the same time? I have made a discovery. There was another William Rhea. I don't know who he is or if he is even related but it's another avenue to explore.  

I have been very sure of my facts and very smug because I was so careful as I accepted each piece of information. After all, my grandfather was unique and I knew everything I needed to know about him.

Thank you Thomas MacEntee for suggesting a Do-Over. Thank you for making sure those of us who were lazy go back and cite our sources. Thank you for telling us to slow down although I now realize that when I'm done scrutinizing each piece of information, I will be a very old woman.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Decided not to do the Family History Writing Challenge

I really thought it was possible to work on the Do-Over and do the challenge but find I'm feeling pushed and not doing a good job on either. So the Do-Over gets my full attention.

Bit the bullet and ordered the birth certificate for my dad. Interesting, I can get the certificate on-line and really quickly for the small fee of $80.00 or get it snail mail for $12.00. I really want it right now, hate waiting, but the difference in price went towards new baseball cleats. I am really anxious to see if they even have one and what it might say. Feels kinda' like Christmas morning seeing what Santa will bring. 

Citing sources has been time consuming but as I go through each document, there are details I've missed. The 1930 census shows my grandfather as a farmer but a little code to the side says he was employed. That confirms the letter he wrote to his brother in 1926 where he talks about the farm and the job with the railroad. I knew he farmed and I knew he was employed but now I also have a time frame. I can't imagine working a full time job and handling a farm at the same time. My dad used to talk about the sugar beets they grew and he would have been 9 or 10 (depending on the birth certificate) working with his brothers on the farm as well. 

While I wait to see how old my dad really was in 1930, I will move on to the 1940 census. Wonder what details I've missed there?