Monday, September 28, 2009

Starting the NGS Home Study Course

I received my first CD of the three part NGS Home Study Course over the weekend. The first lesson really takes things back to the very beginning covering definitions for sources, information, and evidence, a chart showing how all of those parts can lead to proof, two small self quizzes and a very good discussion of pedigree charts and family group sheets. The first assignment is to fill out one of each of those forms. There are about 6 lessons on this CD so it's going to take some time to go through it all but so far I feel like it's going to provide a solid foundation. Considering I started out in genealogy when I was about 12/13 with my mother and neither one of us had a clue about what we were doing, I felt like taking the course was necessary in order to continue to grow as a professional. Going back and re-learning the basics through this highly respected home class seemed like the best way to do so. So I may be a little more quiet lately, taking on the course on top of the NGSQ and ProGen groups, and a research trip this week, plus all of the normal home and post-move stuff is really going to keep me on my toes. Hopefully it won't effect things too much though. Thank goodness I'm a stay at home mom to a school-aged child. I can take advantage of the days a little better than if I worked outside the home. I really don't know how some of you do it all!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Planning my first research trip in a long time

I'm so excited I can hardly keep it together. Next week I get to head out to Indiana and Ohio for a short research trip. I'll only have 2-3 days and while making out my list of things I want to do it'll be hard to get it all done, impossible might be a better word, but when I get back I'll have a ton of info that I didn't have before which will be great.

My first stop is probably going to be the Indiana State Library. I'm probably making a huge mistake but I'm planning on looking at as much relevant microfilm that I can before they close on Wednesday. I probably should follow the rule about going wiht a focus but I feel like since I'm there, I need to try and get as much info as I can. No one piece of info I could gain from there is more important than another so I want to just pick someone to start with and work from there. I'll be spanning the state from Parke County, IN on the West side of the state to Jay and Randolph Counties on the East side and covering both my Gilkison family and my Bromagem side. The microfilm collection at the library is extensive from what I can gather through their website. They have deeds, wills and probate, newspapers, delayed birth records, marriage applications affidavits and records, DAR and WPA reports and all manner of other records for pretty much every county in the state and I plan to see as much of it as I can.

Depending on what I can get from the library, that will tell me what I need and where I need to go on the next day. Much of what the library has on microfilm is held at the county courthouses in Jay and Randolph Counties, but not everything, so I'm assuming visits there may be necessary as well. One of the main targets for these areas is to take a look at the movements of the Bromagems through these towns through land records, tax records if they are available. I already know that tax records for this time in Randolph County are non-existant. They were discarded a long time ago and from what I have gathered from the Randolph County Historical Society, there is no way to piece them back together. I can still check the deeds and see what other types of land records are available. I'm not sure if land was ever owned there or if a mortgage is a possibility so those are all things I can look into. In Jay County, I know that one of the Bromagems owned land so that's a start. I haven't been able to figure out the tax situation in Jay County though, so that may still be an option. Again though, a precise plan for those localities won't be possible until after I figure out what I may already have gotten from the library.

After I've covered Indiana, I need to focus on Darke and Greene counties in the Western portion of Ohio. The two earliest Bromagem generations settled in these two counties and I'd like to dig up whatever I can, especially through land records. I've found that land records, tax records especially, are not only difficult to find sometimes, but they are also pretty difficult to order from long-distance. The same can be said of court records, so all of these types of records are going to have to be searched while I'm there.

The finale to the research trip will be a trip to a cemetery to visit the grave of my Great Great Great Great Grandfather near Union City, IN. This will be the first Bromagem grave that I've been able to actually visit since Mary and Lillian's are missing from Oakwoods in Chicago where they're supposed to be, and James' is in D.C. which I can't get to right now. So I'm pretty excited about that. I was able to pull up the cemetery through google earth which was also pretty cool. I'll see if I can get the screenshot posted here. It's a pretty cool view.

So that's the plan for now. I'll be heading out on Wednesday next week and I'm sure I'll have lots to post about when I get back.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Genea-Musings Ahnentafel Roulette-Great Grandma Ward

One of my favorite genealogy blogs posted this "assignment" tonight and I thought I would post mine here. It's one of the perks of having my own blog, I can talk about whatever I want :)

Here are the directions:
1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then spin the wheel again - pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

The person with my roulette number is my Great Grandma, Elizabeth Taylor Ward. She's a pretty interesting lady but her story has been touched upon here before, at least I think it has. Three facts about her are:

1-Her life's story is actually what brought on my passion for genealogy and apparently she had that interest in family history as well. She applied to DAR in the 1950s and the story goes that she came home very upset at having her application denied due to some missing dates. So upset in fact that she threw her work into the fire. All of her work, all of her knowledge was lost and I've spent years trying to reconstruct it, with quite a bit of success. Her MA and PA roots are extensive and interesting. They include one of our family's links to the Mayflower, by which my mom was able to join the Mayflower Society. They also include our link to some really incredible Salem, MA families, including those linked to what is now known as the Witch House. Her PA ancestors go back to Philadelphia in the 1700s (probably farther, I just haven't gone back myself beyond that yet) and a Captain John McKeever, who offered aid to the American allies during the Revolution. Ironically, it is the info relating to those who were closest to her, her father and brother in particular, that I'm still missing. Information that she could easily have provided and info that would surely, and clearly, have been included on her DAR application paperwork. (This brings us to #2)

2-She had a brother, Raymond, who I have attempted to track in the hopes that he would have living family who could tell me what happened to their father after 1911/1912 when he kicked Elizabeth out of the house for being pregnant. At that time, they were living in NYC and George Ward was a pretty common name, as was his occupation (mechanical engineer, engineer, and other variants). Unfortunately I have lost track of Raymond after 1942 when he filled out WW2 draft paperwork from New Hampshire. Prior to that, he had been living in Nassau, NY so why and when he came to NH is unknown.

3-Grandma Ward was described by my mom as a fairly bitter woman (to put it nicely), I believe rightfully so considering the events of her life. Her mother died when she was about 13, she got pregnant 6 years later, her father kicked her out of the house, the father of her child married someone else and then died, she eventually married a man who turned out to be abusive, and then she had to run half-way across the country to get away from him. She and her daughter, my grandma, settled in the Chicago suburbs and remained there for the rest of their lives.

So I'd say that gives her a right to be bitter and generally not a cheery person. I never got to meet her, she died just a few years before I was born, but I do know that she was completely devoted to her daughter. I inherited an opera book from my grandma with an inscription from her mother on the inside front cover and it's really the only thing that I have to show what kind of person Grandma Ward really was. She wrote a few lines of Emily Dickinson to her daughter:

"She ate and drank the precious words
Her spirit grew robust,
She knew no more that she was poor,
Nor that her frame was dust.
She danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings.

To my Isa on her 19th birthday."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Book Review...I don't have a clever name yet

Hey everyone, I have my first book review ready for you. I chose "Finding Indiana Ancestors" as the first review. It is a book published by the Indiana Historical Society Press in 2007, edited by M. Teresa Baer and Geneil Breeze.

The book is divided into six parts: Getting Started, Identifying Resources, Researching Records, Researching with Maps, Researching Ethnic Groups, and Providing Context and Accuracy. An Index and two appendices are also included. Each chapter is written by a different "expert". Think of Elizabeth Shown Mills' "Professional Genealogy", same format.

Some of my favorite sections are the discussion of how to date photographs using women's clothing and hair styles, a thorough list of what's available at the Indiana State Library, Archives, and Historical Society Library, and a great description of Indiana church records by Timothy Mohon which gives both a brief history of various denominations and some first steps toward finding the records, if they exist at all that is. The map section covers quite a bit of ground from mapping the Ohio River and county boundary changes to auto and Sanborn Insurance maps. Unfortunately, it's done in some pretty general terms.

Which brings me to the down side. While the book seems pretty ambitious by the scope of its Table of Contents, some chapters just don't offer the kind of detailed information that a state-specific guide should offer, at least in my opinion. For instance, the section on "Indiana's Pioneer Periods" is one page and half a paragraph (with the rest of the 2nd page showing a map of the counties and their establishment) about the Society of Indiana Pioneers and the development of their statutes. Not exactly what I was expecting. In truth, the subject has taken up entire books but still. I was looking for more info on Indiana's pioneer period than what was provided, way more info.

Another subject I found particulary lacking was that of migration. While the book does have sections on various ethnic groups in the state, they don't really cover where American emigrants came from. From my own experience, I have ancestors who came to IN from OH and before that, from VA, during what's known as the Pioneer Period, as they put it, but there is no section included which tells you that this was a popular westward movement, what trails may have been used, other areas of origin for those who migrated, other trails, the history of the trails, what areas of the state were particularly attractive to newcomers, etc. All of which would have been extremely helpful in a "Guide" for historical research. If you look up Northwest Territory in the index-which is what Indiana (as well as parts of IL and OH) was known as during the 18th century until it became the Indiana Territory-you won't find it. Surprising? I thought so considering the sub-title of the book is "...A Guide to Historical Research". Also, a section on popular laws and/or ordinances for genealogical/historical research would have been nice. I realize that a complete rundown from the time of the Northwest Territory to the present would be totally impossible and even irrelevant within this framework, but a section of commonly encountered issues such as whether Indiana honored the English Law of the age of majority, laws on slavery, ages for marriage, laws regarding the process of inheriting/obtaining land, etc. (to use very general terms) would have been a nice addition. Some laws are touched upon in the various sections to which they refer but for the sake of reference but I think the subject is important enough to the field that it deserved a chapter of its own.

Still, despite its faults, the book does offer enough guidance for the beginning genealogist and/or newbie to Indiana records and research to make it a recommended title. However, if you've been working with Indiana records for a while you may want to look elsewhere.

Sad day for Philadelphia...

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter reported last night that Philadelphia will be closing all Free Libraries, as well as the central and regional libraries in the city. Here's the report with a statement posted on the Free Library's website

To read more, visit the Free Library's website here

Monday, September 14, 2009

NGSQ article group

I don't know how many of you are members of this online study group but I thought you may like to see what case studies we've been reading this year. All were available to NGS members through the paper format and also on their website Archives section. If you are not an NGS member (first off, look into becoming a member) then you might find hard copies of the Quarterly at your local library. If not, articles can be easily photocopied and mailed to you through your library's Interlibrary Loan program for a nominal fee, or even free at some libraries. So here's a partial list of what we've covered so far, as others are added I will also add them here for those who may be interested.

Birdie Monk Holsclaw, " From Hypothesis to Proof: Indirect Evidencefor the Maiden Identity of Elizabeth, Wife of George Hagenberger,"National Genealogical Society Quarterly 92 (June 2004): 96-104.

Brenda Dougall Merriman, "Validating Inferences from Records: JaneBaker and Thomas Burnett of Kingston, Ontario," National GenealogicalSociety Quarterly 94 (December 2006): 259-266.

**Helen Hinchliff, "Job Davidson, Cooper in Baltimore, Maryland, and HisLong Lost Descendants in Ohio and Indiana: Using Occupation andBirthplace as Census Finding Aids," National Genealogical SocietyQuarterly 94 (June 2006): 85-100.

Donn Devine, "The Common Law of England: A Key Resource for AmericanGenealogists," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 95 (September2007): 165-178.

Margaret J. Field, "From the Black Hills to the Berkshires: Lessons inUsing Indirect Evidence to Find the Ancestors of Albert Field,"National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91 (June 2003): 85-94.

Victor S. Dunn, "Social News as a Clue to Ancestry: Hester (neeRogers) Cunningham of Virginia and West Virginia," NationalGenealogical Society Quarterly 93 (September 2005): 165-176.

T. Mark James, "Abraham Ott of Orangeburg, South Carolina: Direct vs.Indirect Evidence," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 93 (June2005): 85-93.

Kathryn C. Torpey, "Assembling and Correlating Indirect Evidence toIdentify the Father of Susan Kennedy (1815-59) of Philadelphia,"National Genealogical Society Quarterly 92 (December 2004): 256-68.
[Harold Henderson gives a brief rundown of this article at his blog here]

**This one was probably my favorite case study of the year so far. The author used the subject's occupation as a means to find family members since it was one that was often passed down from generation to generation. A great article with some interesting sources in the footnotes too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Finally Took the Plunge-APG

After waiting for nearly a year I finally joined APG this week. The Association of Professional Genealogists is an immensely important entity for those of us working towards building a career in the ever-growing genealogy field. A strict adherence to ethics which enforce the belief that a professional is constantly working towards further education and excellence is central to the group's core values and I'm glad I can finally feel comfortable to call myself a member.

My decision to put it off was primarily because I didn't feel like I was up to the task. Two years ago I made the decision to start looking into genealogy as a profession but up to that point I had been a hobbyist and knew absolutely nothing about the field beyond the realm of personal research. It took me almost another year to find out about BCG, APG, and all of the societies and educational resources out there and at the time I knew I was not ready to be listed in APG's extraordinary member list. I'm still a beginner to the business side of the field, but after spending some hard time refining research skills and getting a few pro bono jobs from friends and relatives I'm more anxious than ever to continue to grow and expand my experience with clients and building an actual business for myself. Now is a great time for me to join APG and start taking advantage of their wonderfully informative Quarterly and to get involved with the local chapter as well.

If you aren't an APG member yet, take some time to consider doing so. You must carve your own path and what seems to be working for me, may not be the right way for you. Some people do decide to join an organization like APG earlier on in their development, and you may be one of them. Whether you decide to join sooner or later isn't the real point here though, as long as you do join. Being able to read the articles and go to the chapter meetings is more than just a vital learning step, it's also a great way to feel proud of yourself for getting this far and for making the commitment to continue to grow as a professional. Take some time and consider joining. Maybe I'll see some of you at the next APG Roundtable....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Getting Ready for the First Book Review

Hey all, I received a book through Interlibrary Loan last week and have finally had a chance to start going through it a bit. The book is call Finding Indiana Ancestors: a Guide to Historical Research and it is a compilation of articles relating to successful genealogical research in the state. The articles appear to cover both broad topics, such as historical context in your research, as well as more specific topics, such as church and land records. I'm hoping to have a review put together either this week or next week.

I also have a second review lined up on a book called "Women and the Law of Property in Early America by Marylynn Salmon. Several people from the various study groups have mentioned this book in passing and it seems to be very well regarded as a book to add to your library reference shelf. So I'll be ordering that through my library's ILL this week and will let you all know how it goes.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New book by Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective

I just read a blog entry on Maureen Taylor's website that she has a new book available through print-on-demand. It's called Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900" and you can order the book through If you have any of those orphan photos with no name and you'd love to be able to identify them, any of Maureen Taylor's books would be a great help and this one looks like it would be another great addition to the collection of photo identification aids.

Make that 4 missing gravesites

For those who skipped the last post, I've been trying to figure out what happened to some Bromagem gravesites. Despite having death certificates for four individuals, all with burial information shown, they do not appear in cemetery records when I call to confirm that they are there. I started to worry when I heard that Oakwoods cemetery in Chicago has been wrapped into the current Chicago-area cemetery task force investigations and called to confirm that Mary J Bromagem and her daughter, Lillian Bromagem Stevens, were in fact there. The cemetery office has no record of either of them and in fact, I was told that they have no one "with that [sur]name". Which made me even more nervous after I went to the County Clerk's office to obtain brother, George's death record which stated that he too was buried there. So that brought the count up to three missing burial sites. The other sibling, Eliza/Lida Bromagem Van Wormer, died in 1930, twenty years after the death of her last surviving sibling, Lillian, and was buried at a different cemetery, Fairmount, outside the city limits.

One of the ideas I had was that perhaps Lida's family, her children and grandchildren, may have moved the Bromagems to a cemetery to be with Lida which would explain why none of them remained at Oakwoods even though the death certificates said that was where they were. So I called Fairmount today and they do not have a Lida or Eliza Van Wormer in their records. Now the missing gravesites are up to four and the investigations at Oakwoods continue. I'm just wondering why Oakwoods doesn't have the Bromagems in their records, even if they were moved at a later date. A visit to the cemetery, with the documentation in hand, is becoming even more necessary with the current investigations.

I thought the death certificates for George and Lida would help me figure out what was going on, but they ended up just widening the problem to surround two more people.