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? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Day 1 - FHWC - Decisions - Genealogy Do-Over versus the Family History Writing Challenge

It's day one of the Family History Writing Challenge and week five of the Genealogy Do-Over.

The Genealogy Do-Over headed by Thomas MacEntee had us setting all our previous research aside and starting over. Apparently I am not the only one who felt that my tree was out of control and not properly sourced because the group is currently 3700 strong and still growing. Each day the Facebook gets bigger and bigger and I can honestly say I am happier with the current 11 people in my tree than I was with the one that went back generations.

The Family History Writing Challenge, led by Lynn Palermo is an opportunity to share the history of the people who made us who we are. That may be a little hard to do since I not longer have the information available to write about my family.

Ergo, on day one of the Family History Writing Challenge I am not sure what to write. In my last post for the Do-Over, I shared that my father and my grandfather had different birth years depending on the records. I knew in the back of my mind I would be dealing with that issue eventually but with the Do-Over, it was something I could no longer ignore.

(Aside here, isn't "Ergo" a great word!)

I have made a decision. I will attempt to do both the Challenge and the Do-Over. The two are not mutually exclusive. Like the differences in my dad's and grandfather's birth years, having to create and track source citation on my newly minted research log has provided me with little bits of information that previously eluded me. The discovery of these little pieces will provide bite-sized chunks I can use for the Family History Writing Challenge.