Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Just Genealogy Book Club and “Real Genealogy”

Those of us who gather on Sundays and Tuesdays at the Family History Center and the Just Genealogy Fire Pit at Second Life decided to have a book club. We also decided to study and discuss Val Greenwood’s The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Last Tuesday (August 23, 2011) we met to discuss Chapters 1 and 2 of the book. (At our next meeting, on Tuesday September 20, we will discuss Chapters 3 and 4.)

I own the Greenwood book. When I first bought it, I pretty much read it from cover to cover. Since then, I have used it to look up specific topics, such as land records or military records. And, indeed, this is a valid use of the book. But as I study it in preparation for the book club meetings, I am discovering that I have been fairly casual in applying some aspects of genealogical practice as described by Val Greenwood.

In Chapter 1 the author makes a comparison of the research techniques employed by a research chemist with those to be employed by a genealogist. He describes five stages (or steps) of the research process and shows a chart of this research cycle. At MoSGA, early in August, Patricia Walls Stamm showed this cycle and discussed it. And I smugly thought that I agree with the concept and all was well.

Reading Chapter 1 pulled me up short. Yes, I agree with this idea, but I have not been carefully following these stages. It is true that I had already stared my research when I first read the book, so (perhaps) I can be excused that I had ommitted the first stage, the “preliminary survey;” after all, I didn’t KNOW I should have done this, so that’s OK, isn’t it?

Well, NO. Once I became aware of this step, I should have made a preliminary survey before I continued any research. What is out there about me, about my father, and about my mother? A Google search, a Mocavo search, and a search of public trees on Ancestry and on RootsWeb doesn’t take a lot of time. Searching WikiTree and might also yield other research.

So I did this for any mention of research about me and any research about my father (other people on my tree are still lacking a preliminary survey, but it will come). I was lucky, the sources that I found in this search were already known to me. Most were unsourced; most with sources get their sources from me. So on the date of this blog, the preliminary survey shows me that I am breaking new ground.

But this does not ensure that this particular preliminary survey will remain true as I continue to locate family members and to document their lives. When I plan additional research on anyone in my database, I will remember to repeat the preliminary survey. Otherwise, how will I know that a cousin or cousin-in-law has begun research on this line and has brought to light new information on the subject of my research?

Stage 2 is to evaluate any research that I found. You probably noticed that I had taken this step. The research that I located in the preliminary survey step was already known to me and I was aware of the amount of source references suppled in each instance. I do not count unsourced data as reliable data. It is useful in pointing the way to research but it doesn’t provide answers. So these found instances of research did not provide me with reliable data which could be used in connection with or instead of my own research.

Stage 3: Yes, I can be excused for not having done this step as yet. Stage 3 is the stage where you plan your research. I have spent as much time during the past three years in learning how to plan research and to record my research as I have spent in actual research. I consider this as an affirmative situation. I have been learning instead of rushing ahead toward a huge list of unsourced names.

The class at Second Life which studied Dr. Jones’ course on Inferential Genealogy was the final instruction necessary in order for my to learn how to create a focused goal. Other lessons have begun to help me create records of my research that will be meaningful to me today and will remain meaningful in the future. I took the time to to print out and examine a set of more than 30 forms which I have gathered from four different sources over these past years. After examining these forms, I have selected a dozen which I hope will enable me to keep meaningful logs.

So far my problem with logs is that I haven’t found a way to keep records that are instinctive to me. A week later my records don’t mean much to me, so I forget to review them, and then I forget to create them. There is overlap among these twelve forms. Like Goldilocks, I’ll try they all. Perhaps one form will be “just right.” If not, I hope these forms lead me to the creation of my own instinctive research log formats.

Wednesday at supper I was lamenting  to my husband that I hadn’t done any “real genealogy” this past week. The words echoed from my initial blog and I realized that I was wrong. True, I had not carried out any new research; no data, evidence, or proof had been created for anyone in any of my lines. But I HAD been doing “real genealogy;” I had been learning how to do effective research, and I had been learning to apply it to an individual record already in my database. Perhaps when I have reviewed my focused goal, I will find I have met Genealogical Proof Standards for one entry for one person in my database. And if I don’t meet G. P. S., I will know where my next research step should lead.

Now that’s “real genealogy.”

I hope we all learn by facing our frustrations and moving forward.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Genealogy Conferences

Lide’s story is complete, although the final materials have not yet been posted. I am interrupting the flow of that series to discuss my recent experiences with attending genealogy conferences.

On July 29 and 30 we were in Overland Park, Kansas (part of the greater Kansas City area) to attend the MidWest Family History Expo, a seven-track two-day conference with three all-conference meetings.

The following weekend, on August 5 and 6 we stayed home and attended the MoSGA conference, a two-track two-day event with four all-conference meetings.

We had never attended a genealogy conference before, so this was a very intense first exposure. I do not recommend scheduling conferences this closely together. We should have allowed ourselves time to unwind, to allow our learning to become assimilated, and to resume our “regular” existence for a bit before we attended a second conference. Our impressions are somewhat jumbled and our minds and bodies are a bit overtired.

Both conferences were exhilarating. Being together with fellow genealogists, catching their enthusiasms, learning from experts has sent me home planning to try harder to follow my ancestors’ trails and to follow those trails using careful scholarship techniques.

Holly Hanson of Family History Expos put together an outstanding event with presentations to stimulate the experienced researcher and with information to help the beginner. and NARA were there to introduce their new online faces. We were taught how to take advantage of the “new look” at both these sites.

Other presentations were “how-tos” for specific programs such as, RootsMagic, and Ages Online. Still other classes involved techniques such as creating and using captions, using photographs, and preserving the same. The “star” of this conference was Lisa Louise Cooke, who led several classes exploring her knowledge of Google and GoogleEarth. She was so popular that it was necessary to move all her presentations to the largest meeting room.

There were vendors there: book sellers, software vendors, people offering products not specific to genealogy. I learned from talking to the vendors as well as from attending classes. I was befriended by the lady who organized the “ask the pros” booth. She gave me some good advice as to “where-to-go next” after I finish my line-by-line study of the military records for William T. Dorrance. Unfortunately, I cannot thank her by name because I lost that note (her name, not the advice). I only hope she finds this blog and learns how grateful I am.

The conference held the next weekend by the Missouri State Genealogical Association was much smaller in scale; the presentations were just as knowledgeable and the vendors just as exciting. And the interchange with fellow genealogists was as refreshing and renewing. A complete stranger gave me a suggestion which will simplify how I frame a request for baptismal records. A lecturer from Jefferson County took home a brief family outline about my elusive William T. Dorrance. The following Tuesday and Wednesday brought me information from her co-worker that has opened up new records for my use!

The “star” of this conference was Hank Jones, who gave four talks at all-conference meetings. When the fun of these presentations focusing on his “poor Palatine” studies “wears away,” you find that Hank has given you advice on sound research principles.

So I am overtired, “over-educated,” and probably over-stimulated; but I am also very excited and very happy. When and WHERE is the next conference?

Back home, I was so tired from the Kansas City trip that I slept through a Webinar that I had wished to attend. I did attend a meeting in Second Life where we marked out several weeks worth of community discussion and learning plans. After the local conference I attended a Webinar on NARA’s online presence and then hurried off to attend a meeting in Second Life where newbies are learning to handle our avatars.

As we left Kansas City, I asked my husband if the conference was worth the physical expense and budget expense as compared to what I experience in Webinars, Scanfest, BlogTalk radio, Second Life, and the entire internet genealogical experience. Now that I have completed my two weekends of conferences, I have come up with the answer that fits me.

YES, I need to attend conferences. There is a connection at conferences that I do not find at other genealogical meetings. I find that I enjoyed the smaller meeting slightly better. I believe that I will go to one or two smaller meetings each year. But the larger meeting was so very exciting that I look forward to attending more. Probably not as often as the smaller meetings, but often enough.

And YES, in many ways the online meetings teach me more. In the online environment, I learn about a specific topic, then take time to assimilate this knowledge before I tackle another subject. The various activities in Second Life combine some of the give-and-take of a conference with the slower pace I appreciate with online studies.

So my personal learning plan will be based upon online studies enriched by at least 1 regional conference each year and further spiced by the occasional larger conference.

Here’s to facing our frustrations while embracing our opportunities to learn.
Frustrated Sue

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lide's Blog – Part 3

This blog completes Lide’s story. We begin with school stories, as pupil and as teacher):

Teacher about 30. Children of all ages. Unpainted desks. Teacher brought her sewing along with her, a wool and silk log cabin quilt. During study and recitations she worked on quilt blocks. Little girls brought boquets of Poppies. Sometimes one immense red Poppy and pretty soon would be be asleep. No offense. Between times we, with a little rag and a bottle of water, washed our desks during study hour which was always when not reciting. One boy of 14 or 15 was a naturalist who brought frogs, bugs, butterflies and snakes and was making a real show which needed only 8 pins for admittance, and maybe later, silver. Finally he brought a copper head snake and soon the question was “Were she a southern sympathizer, out she would go.” The idea of any one allowing a copperhead snake to be on display in any northern school. I think by abolishing the naturalist show she was suffered to teach her term out.
    One girl 14 years old in this school wore a long dark brown calico apron buttoned down the back with white buttons, and hair long Dutch bob which was the style and read, like Pomona of the Range to Catherine only. One time while reading Pamona of the Range by Stockton I said to my brother Joe, ”Listen here Joe” and I mimicked this girl as well as Pomona. The teacher was usually too busy with her sewing to notice her pupils’ mistakes. Not all teachers were like her of course.
        (Here a sheet seems to be missing as it seems disconnected. note from C.E.S.)

(as teacher):
Frank, Ed,and Joe Jr. and the late Joe Penrod of Wenatchee, In this school were the grown up girls about sixteen and eighteen who always told me what I left undone. One was, why I swept the house after school instead of letting or allowing the boys and girls to. Let the sausages and pie, mostly apple, fall on the floor, etc. etc. etc. I always staid after school to review the lessons for the next day. One day during history class I mis-pronounced a  word in Spanish and they meekly told me that two winters ago they had a teacher who was fine in history and could pronounce all the foreign words, so after that they corrected all the mistakes. Along after the fall crops were in and wood cut about five of six young men came to school and asked me if I would let them come in and cipher through the arithmetic, and read history and spell, and they they would not ask any assistance in the book of numbers. But one day one of them came to me with an example he could not do; so [he] asked me to do it for him. The angels certainly were taking care of me as I performed the difficult task without any trouble, not knowing any rule or reading any note. Just did and thanked my stars I could. My ability with numbers: Were Jean Stratton Porter’s brother here today he could tell you what poor certificates I always had although I was always considered one of the best in any school I ever attended. But I had the tact to teach, which too many [trained] and learned teachers do not have,and as my Ben said about a very bright teacher sent out to teach our country school of about two in the winters, ”she knows much but is too lazy to impart it to her pupils.

Lide’s Final Years:
Clipping from Okanagan Wash, newspaper, May 30, 1939.

Local couple married 65 years ago in Indiana; Golden wedding Club meet

    Sixty fifth anniversary of the wedding of Mr.and Mrs. J. P. Wantz was observed by the Golden Wedding club and a host of other friends at the Wantz home here Sunday. The local pair were married in North Manchester, Indiana.
    Mr. and Mrs. Wantz are both 89 years of age. Mr. Wantz was born at Lewisburg in Ohio June 13,1850. And Mrs. Wantz was born at Laketon, Indiana July 7 of the same year. They were married May 26, 1874. They are both in good health and are active and alert, mentally and physically.
    They came to Montana in 1882, arriving in Helena just as the Vigilantes had finished hanging the last horse thief who fell a victim to their law enforcement. Mr. Wantz ran a photograph gallery in Helena for a number of years and then they moved to a ranch which he operated until 1905.
    Montana was a mighty rough country when we first pioneered there, Mrs Wantz recalls.
    In 1905 they moved further west, settling at Cashmere where they lived until 1918 when they came to an orchard on Pogue’s Flat. For several years they have lived in Okanagan.
    Mr. Wantz has been a member of the Odd Fellows lodge for 69 years and Mrs. Wantz has been a member of the Rebekhas for 65 years. Mr. Wantz is a past grand patriarch of the former order.
    They had eight children, of whom three survive. They are Mrs. W. F. Kester of Great Falls, Montana, Mrs. Fred Young of Leavenworth (later of Wanatchee) and Katherine of Okanogan. They have two grand children and two great grandchildren.
    At dinner at the Wantz home were members of the Golden Wedding Club as follows: Mr.and Mrs. Jack Thorp of Okanagan, Dr. and Mrs. J. L. Pogue of Pogue Flat, Mrs. Wilson, president of Omak, Mr.and Mrs. Wootring, E. T. Dodd and Mrs. Emily Chedzey of Okanagan, and Mr.and Mrs.Wantz. Also present at the dinner were Mrs. Ella Watkins of Omak, Emma Proctor of Okanogan, and Katherine Wantz. Mr.and Mrs. Frank Butterbaugh of Manson, old Indiana friends , also were visiters.

    In honor of the occasion Mrs. Jack Thorp wrote the following poem:

We are growing old, dear friends, Our career is nearly done.
We gaze from life’s west windows  To the setting of the sun.

And away beyond the sunsets  We see a golden glow
As radiant from the Throne of God  Criter on waters flow.

We penetrate fair Beulah land  Where dwell the loved and blest,
We hear our Savior’s gentle words  “All come to me and rest”.

May we all trust our Pilot dear  Nor fear the surges dark.
He will lead and guide us homeward;  He will steer our fragile bark.

On Sept. 7, 1941 Lide suffered a heart attack in the presence of her family and passed in a few minutes.

On July 19, 1943  James suffered a heart attack and had already passed when Katherine came in.

Both are buried in the cemetery at Cashmere Washington.

Source: Eliza “Lide” (Hoover) Wantz (1850 -1941), (Okanagan, Washington), Charles E. Shafer (1867 - 1961), (Benton Harbor, Michigan), Lide’s ca 1938 Family History and Reminiscences, focusing on the 1860s and 1870s, Annotated transcription by Shafer ca 1943., Photocopies, supplied by Rae (Strickler) Underwood, (private address), to Sue W. McCormick, {August 2008}, Prime source(s); sometimes hard to read., My transcription is stored in the computer, the original and a printout are in the paper files.

The remaining information in these papers consists of family relationships as Lide recalls them. I plan to publish these in a fourth blog about Lide. I don’t believe that many of you are interested in who “Aunt Mary Eli” is; I am publishing this because these papers are a treasure trove of family history (and of how recollections illustrate history-book history). But the papers are also genealogical facts in full measure, pressed to the brim and flowing over.  Many of these genealogical hints have appeared in these first three blogs. The information at the beginning of the fourth blog based on Lide’s papers will present the rest of that information.