Friday, August 26, 2016

Things To Keep In Mind When Researching

Busy is not a big enough word to describe these last few weeks.  Thus, I've gotten behind...again....

As my research experience grows, there are lots of things to remember and keep in mind.  There are too many to keep in my head, so figured I'd share them.  Many of these are key concepts conveyed by many well-known researchers.  And, just like everything else in life, these are not hard and fast rules because there is always an exception to something.

This is by no means a complete list, and I heartily invite others to share their words of wisdom, lessons learned and any helpful hints.  Researching Genealogy and Family History is a journey and sometimes the hike can be a challenge!

  • As J. Mark Lowe so eloquently puts it, "Go from the known to the unknown".  I think about that phrase often and cannot endorse it enough. Slow and methodical research produces more productive results.
  • Think and dwell on the information.  Consider the time, place, people involved.  I've always heard the phrase 'put yourself in their shoes' or 'unless you have walked in their shoes, you wouldn't understand'.  I believe that applies to our research as well. We also have to keep in mind that we really don't know what we would do until we are actually in that situation.  All we can really say is what we think we would do - which may or may not be what we would do if we were actually in the situation.  Our ancestors were just like us-if threatened, they may or may not have fought back-we cannot judge, because we were not there, in their shoes at that time.  Judging tend to close ones mind to other thoughts/feelings etc.  
  •  It is a challenge 'reigning in an open mind'-we have to be open enough to think inside and outside the box AND know which side of the box is more likely the side taken.  
  • Taking a break and revisiting later can often reveal things we didn't catch during the previous review.  Little, key clues, may not reveal themselves until we are ready to look at them.
  • Note to self-don't forget to check laws, maps, disasters, epidemics, wars, terrain and most especially, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, newspapers etc   
  • Broaden the research - don't stop at the typical sources (i.e. Family Search, Ancestry, Archives etc) and don't forget to go back and check typical sources.
Phew, that is enough for a start!  AND, those are just some of things I need to keep in mind to keep me on my toes.  Believe it or not, the majority of the time, the answer is out there somewhere!  Happy Researching!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

And the plot thickens with George E

There is something (actually a LOT) to be said for reviewing records/information more than once.  As I was looking at the records from the Children's Home in Miami County, Ohio, something just did not seem right........

The story that was passed down regarding my great-grandfather was that he abandoned his children at the orphanage.   I readily admit that I am guilty of assumptions and did exactly that with this information.  I assumed, or rather pictured in my mind, a man taking all his children and dropping them off at the orphanage.  It didn't even occur to me that it all didn't occur in one day.... until I started scrutinizing the records and put together a chronology.  As can be seen by last week’s post, the children were taken to the facility over a period of time.  It is hard to imagine anyone, much less a family member, periodically abandoning his children at an orphanage.  What was life like, at that time frame, that would bring something like that about?  How could you just leave your children? Where was Rebecca and what was her role in all of this? Did she have any options?  Or was it at her initiative? These questions certainly open the door for more historical research.  Of course, some of the questions may never be answered but certainly some research could shed light on some of the questions.

In fact, just studying the documents a little more, brings about some interesting clues.  Per the records, George himself was placed in the same facility when he was 15 years old and the noted reason was 'destitute'.  Not only that, his brother, William, was place there at the age of 5 and not only was it due to him being destitute but also a 'bad boy'.

George has also been found in the various probate records for Benjamin S. Holeton.
beginning in 1864 at which time Enoch Berry was named his Guardian.[2]  He was 17 years old at this point.  What happened between between 1862 and 1864?  Where was his mother?  Who was Enoch Berry and how did he fit into the picture of his life?

Time to do some historical research……

[1] Ohio, Miami County, Children’s Home Records, 1859-1894, Troy Miami County Public Library, 100 West Main St. Troy, Ohio 45373.

[2]Ohio, Miami County; Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998; Bonds, Vol. 3-4, 1855-1869;  George E. Holeton;  page 310; online database; Ancestry.Com, accessed 7-8-2016.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Chronology of George E. Holeton

Here is a rough draft of what I know regarding George E. Holeton:

Year Age Location Event Source
1847 0 West Milton, Ohio Birth 1850 Census, 
1849 2 Union, Mercer, Ohio Sister Malinda born 1850 Census
1850 3 Union, Mercer, Ohio Census,  1850 Census
1851 4 Laramie Twnship, Shelby, Ohio Brother Alfred born 1860 Census
1853 6 Laramie Twnship, Shelby, Ohio Sister Samantha born 1860 Census
1856 9 Laramie Twnship, Shelby, Ohio Brother William born 1860 Census
1860 13 Laramie Twnship, Shelby, Ohio Census-family together 1860 Census
1864 17 , Miami, Ohio Guardian appointment/father dec'd Probate & Court records
1870 23
1872 25 , Jennings, Indiana Married Rebecca Partlow Marriage records
1874 27 North Vernon, Jennings, Indiana Son:  Alfred bn Census Records
1876 29 North Vernon, Jennings, Indiana Dtr:  Annie bn Census Records
1879 31 North Vernon, Jennings, Indiana Son: William bn Census Records
1880 33 North Vernon, Jennings, Indiana Census, - living solo- Rebecca living with 3 kids 1880 Census
33 North Vernon, Jennings, Indiana Dtr:  Carrie May bn Children's Home Records
1884 37 Son: John bn Children's Home Records
1886 39 Miami, Ohio Abandoned family-kids in orphanage Children's Home Records
1887 40 Hamilton Indiana Quaker Transfer from:  Hamilton Ind Quaker-Ohio Monthly Meeting
Union, Miami, Ohio (?) To: West Branch, Miami, Ohio or Hamilton Indiana
1888 41 Son:  Augustus Squire bn Children's Home Records
1888 41 Son: Wm F. adm Alfred D/C Children's Home Records
1889 42 Son-John Adm Children's Home Children's Home Records
1890 43
1893 46 Miami, Ohio Augustus placed in Children's Home Children's Home Records
1894 47 Carrie, Annie  D/C Children's Home Records
1895 48 D/C from Ch Home:  Wm F.; Children's Home Records
1900 53 Aug. D/C Children's Home Records
1903 56 Dtr Carrie Married Marriage records
1910 63
1920 73
1921 74 Alfred marries Laura Marriage Records
1924 77 Son:  William F. dies Death Certificate
1928 81 Columbus, Bartholomew, Indiana Death Death Certificate

A picture of the orphanage can be found here:

There are still some gaps, especially in the Census records, but at this point, I'm guessing that once he abandoned his family, he wandered.  The potential Quaker involvement is an interesting area to explore.  Once he left his family, Rebecca did remarry James Long and had three more children.

Monday, June 27, 2016

After a two year hiatus....

I'm determined to get back into working on writing skills and sharing my genealogy journey.  Stay tuned.....

In addition to sharing success and dilemmas, I also plan to share what I'm learning, important things to remember while researching and of course lessons learned from doing things the hard way.....

Today's hard lesson learned is that it is better to pay attention to the cat when they desire it....otherwise they will sit on the keyboard and type some very nasty notes in cat language....sigh....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Breck Watkins

Breck Watkins is my Great Grandfather who was born July 8, 1879 in Kentucky.  Have not found him in the 1900 census though I have a note that in that census he was doing Public Work in a Sawmill.  (Need to find out where I obtained that information.)  He would have been eleven years old and he was not listed with parents or within close range-I've checked all pages in that precinct.  In the 1940 Census, he reported that he went to the 8th grade in school.  Primary occupation through the records is farming.

In 1909 he married Mollie Jett and in 1910 they were living next door to his parents, Sherman and Millie Watkins.    On June 5, 1917, he completed the WWI Registration form and indicated that he was then living in Oakdale, Breathitt County, Kentucky with his wife and children.  Occupation was farming.

Their first child was named Gordon and he died young-not sure of year.  Per my Grandmother, he was the first born.  Then Golden was born  in 1912 and Grandma (Lillian) in 1914.   Both are in the 1920 Census.  They were still living close to Brecks parents. There were no more children til Breck, Jr. who was born in 1924.  So, by 1930, Breck and Mollie had lost one son and had three living children.

Based on what I've researched so far, he appeared to lead a normal life.  Then on July 19th in the year of  1944, his body was found on the railroad tracks- his head was mashed and his body severed. Delayed Death Certificate indicates that it was ruled an accident.  Rumors included murder and/or drunkenness.  At this point, I am interested in seeing what the newspapers had to say.  Haven't found any yet, but that is on my To Do List.....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Illegitimate Great Great Grandfather was raised by an Angel!

Today's tale involves my Great Great Grandfather-Sherman Watkins.  Sherman was the son of Emily Watkins and ?  He was born December 5, 1866.  He married Mildred Herrald and had 12 children with her-including my Great Grandfather.  He actually married 4 times so far-who knows, there may be more.  Had a few more children; total I have is 15-there is one set of twins.  But who was his father?

 In researching Sherman, I was not having much luck finding his father.  Fortunately, my Grandma was still alive when I was doing this research-plus this was prior to the computer age we have now.  So, to Grandma I went.  Now, you must understand that Grandma Spencer was the epitome of a sweet, Christian Woman.  She did not cuss-well, let me clarify this a bit.  Out of the blue, I would hear 'Sht' come out of her mouth.  Now, my first thought was, "God Bless you Grandma"- because she sneezed.  Or so I I later learned, I do believe that was her curse word......but she 'daintified' it by leaving out the 'i'.  Anyway, when I asked her about Sherman, she got this little self-conscious, ashamed-yet excited look.  So, I knew something was up!  You have to understand that gossip was big during this time.  I blame it on the phones-8 to 10 party lines provides entertainment when televisions only provide two to three channels-on a good day.  So, Grandma was kind of excited to have something to share, yet her Christianity caused some guilt, but the gossip won-after all we were talking family, and so she spilled the beans .

My Great Great Grandfather was illegitimate!  Once that sunk in, I asked who the father was.  The answer was, that no one was really sure but the story went like this.  Emily Watkins, Sherman's mother, worked for the Crawford Family, a well to do family (-to whom I am also related-legitimately:)  Well, somehow or other, she got pregnant, (not sure how that happened as folks just didn't do those kind of things back then.  HA!) Apparently, marriage was not an option because the story is that the Crawfords gave her $300 and put her on a train to Magoffin county.  Believe she had some kinfolk there. She had Sherman there and, then at some point, came back to Breathitt County.

So, where does the Angel come in?  Well, when Emily and Sherman came back to Breathitt County, she soon married and raised Sherman with her new husband-Levi Angel.  So, you see, Sherman, while illegitimate, was raised by an Angel:)

Now, is there anything to support this?  The Crawford Family were prominent in Breathitt County and did live close to the Watkins.  In the 1880 Census, when Sherman was 14, he was living with Calloway Crawford.  Sherman named his son, Breck and living close was Breck Crawford.  Determining which Crawford may be a bit challenging as I am also related legitimately to the Crawfords as well.  DNA may help-and does indicate Crawford connections....but haven't found the specific Daddy yet.  Either way, he was raised by an Angel:)

To date, I am still looking for Sherman's Death Certificate.  And, until recently I was not sure of his death date.  But then, my ADGD kicked in!  (There are some advantages to having ADGD:)  I was at the Kentucky History Center one day and was skimming through the Breathitt County Genealogical Society's publications, The Record.  These publications have been out for several years now.  Since I'm related to a significant percentage of the Breathitt County population, I will skim through them to check on different family names.  So, one day I was just flipping through the pages when something caught my eye.  I was looking at 'Extracts from diary of Sam B. Watts, Baptist Minister, Breathitt County Kentucky' and there it was!  He had noted that Sherman Watkins passed away on Monday, 27 April 1936.   Nearly fell out of my chair!  Now I have a date!  Still looking for the elusive Death Certificate-but I do have a date!

See how much fun researching can be?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hyrcannous Jett or is it Harkanus?.........52 Weeks, #3

     Hyrcannous Jett is my 3rd Great Grandfather.   He was born January 2, 1838 in the area that became Breathitt County, Kentucky.  He is the son of Newton Jett and Elizabeth Cloud Jett.  In the 1850 Census, Hercann was 12 years old and living with parents in Breathitt County, KY.  At the age of 18, on the 15th of February in 1856, he married Carolina McQuinn in Breathitt County.   They set up their home on land in Jett's Creek.  On the 8th of August 1864, Harcanus enlisted in the Confederate Army.  He served in Company B of the Three Forks Battalion.  He mustered in on the 17th of August in Booneville, Ky.  He served 6 months and mustered out on the 17th of July 1865 in Estill County, KY.   The Civil War Pension Index lists his name as Hyrcaunus.  In the 1870 Census, Harkanes was listed as a Farmer, had annual income of $3000 and still lived in Jetts Creek in Breathitt County, KY.  Breathitt County Court records indicate that Hyrcannous C. Jett was appointment Postmaster for Jetts Creek.  This was the 15th of July 1872.  The 1890 Veterans Schedule lists Arkanes Jett as having served 11 months and 13 days.  In the 1900 Breathitt County Census, Arkansas Jett is Crawford Precinct (formerly Jett's Creek).  Harkanis died 25 January, 1916.
     This is a brief overview of his life.  Why do I bring him up?  Well, even with all of these records, I still have no clue as to the 'correct/intended' spelling of his first name.  When I first started doing research, the internet was not yet the asset it is today.  Needless to say, finding him in the records was a challenge as a result of all the variations of his name.  One of my biggest breakthroughs came with Fold3, back when it was Footnote. With the filmstrip feature on this site, I was able to pull his Civil War records with all the various names. Needless to say, it was not spelled the same way twice.  But I had some additional variations to add to search list.
     For some unknown reason, Hyrannous' father, Newton, chose to give his children names that did not follow the trend.  Hyrcannous is the most unique; his siblings names ranged from Pocohontis and Tymandra to Nancy and Rachel.  Maybe they decided to slide away from the trend of  Stephen, John, Curtis, William...  Is it easier to locate our ancestors if they continue 'family' names or start a new trend?
    Based on the research I have done thus far, either way presents its own challenge, as I will share in another post on Curtis Jett.  So, stay tuned.....