Friday, March 13, 2015

Week 10: Exciting? no; Productive? YES!

I am still coping with the annoying medicine, so I have been very slow in everything I do this week. Cheer-up folks (including me): tomorrow is the last dose, so I will probably never refer to the medicine again (unless I decide to report on its final effectiveness). 

This week has been so overtly uneventful, that I was tempted to skip my report. When I started blogging about the Do Over, I thought I would be recording a weekly diary of my work. As we come close to the end of the official course, that continues to seem like a good idea. So I did talk myself into this week’s issue.

Goal 1: Reviewing DNA Testings: Both Bob and I have had DNA tests made and have spent some time in trying to understand the reports. Bob has had Y-DNA, mtDNA, and Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder test (we don’t have the results of that one yet). Being female, I have had only the mtDNA and the Family Finder. I really didn’t do anything about this part of my activities this week, but reports continue to come in, so I have constant reminders. I will pursue this. (And probably be active in the Facebook Do-Over group asking questions.)

Goal 2: Organizing Digital Files: I’m one of the people here who discussed this issue well before Week 1. At that point in time I set up a new-to-me narrative-style research log which is combined with a research plan. I also refined two databases which I had originally prepared for my previous work. They now track my current Do-Over research. One of these databases acts as an index to entries in my basic software program and also in my log; the other is my ToDo List. The narrative-style log is still rather cumbersome, but it is working well enough;  I almost never forget to use it — and when I do forget, something reminds me and I can go back and fix the “forget" before I lose track of the activity. I am sure that the more I work with this, the more efficient the log will become. But during these 10 weeks I have achieved a system that tracks where I have been and what I have found and is combined with plans for were to look next; and all of this information is organized by a list of proof points. This is more organization than I had previously achieved in seven years of doing genealogy.

As to the rest of the digital files, they are slowly being searched for, relabeled, and stored in Dropbox. As each file is found, it is being saved twice — once in Dropbox, and once on a backup hard disk through the Apple Time Machine program. And if the file is anywhere on my computer, it is being backed up by Time Machine, even if I haven’t located the file at this time. This task isn’t completed, but I am on track here, clearing up at least one document a week and usually more than one.

What I Achieved This Week: My newly building database in my core software program is very small as of today: only 23 people. As I have mentioned earlier I am tracing the pedigrees of three home people: me, my first husband (who is the father of my children), and my present husband (who has been a member of the family more actively and for a longer period of time that my first husband). So the 23 people are the three “home people," their parents, and the grandparents of the home people. No siblings have been added as yet, and no great-grandparents of the home people. (Although some of those not-entered names show up on census reports; those names appear in my Evidentia files because why enter only partial data from a source? And one or two extra families {collateral research and/or cluster research} have also been added to Evidentia or mentioned in my To Do lists as possible lines.)

I am slowly, one-person-at-a-time, preparing the narrative research logs for each of those 23 people. And as I work with each name, I also try to provide some research (with citations) on what is to me Proof Point one for each person on my tree — “What is the birth date of (name of person being researched)? Without reasonable proof of the birth data, the researcher will never be sure if the Sue or the Robert or the Joe {surnames} are truly the persons you are trying to research. And when the surnames of those three home people are Strickler, Watson, and McCormick respectively, you can see that even when I personally know on what day those birthdays are/were celebrated, I am going to run into many similar names. (You can also see that I have become more anonymous with each marriage!)

Stacy Weaver posted on the Genealogy Do-Over page a form that lists resources which may provide answer sources for many of the proof points we need to research. As I looked over the list in connection with one of the mothers in the three lines, I realized that I had never finished the search for her baptismal records. Oh, LOOK, the next church to ask is an active church! O-o-h, look, the church is on Facebook! A query on Facebook gave me contact information; an email got me a response within the week. Answers with information for 5 different people. Only one of these is one of the 23, but I know I need this information. So the data is entered in the dropbox files (with the double backup in place) and pointed to by the Index and To-Do databases. All in place ready to be used when I get to those names. None of these 5 people is the mother for whom I was searching? A negative answer is still an answer. I know of another church, and yes, that church is also on the internet and on Facebook, and I have contact information.

Week 10 ends with improved organization, several census records entered into Evidentia where they will become part of future proof statements regarding the birth of some of those 23 people (and of other family members who will be added when I get to them). And I have another place to contact for more information.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What is the opposite of BSOs? DULL PEBBLES

And that may be as interesting as my Week 9 review gets.

Last week I mentioned medication with side effects. During week nine the medication made me sleep — long naps and frequent ones. When I wasn’t sleeping I have felt too doped up to accomplish anything; reading blogs, studying archived webinars or hangouts, and so on — they all feel like too much trouble. This is a very dangerous state of mind for doing genealogy. In this condition you will overlook facts and relationships; you will enter data inaccurately and misspell names. In fact, you may create more trouble for yourself then you would ever wish to face!

So I how did I handle this? I went to work on some of my dull pebbles.

First let’s review Thomas’ goals for week 9.

Goal 1: Conducting Cluster Research In the Facebook Do-Over group I posted about a habit of mine that saves data in anticipation of the need for community research. As often as I remember to do this, I save to my files not only the census page (or pages) that show my target family, but also the page appearing immediately before my target page and also the page appearing immediately following it. This gives me an already prepared list of friends, associates, and neighbors, ready for use should I need to extend my research in that geographic area at a time period in or very close to that census year. This is a useful habit; one I hope to become more diligent in and one in which I shall extend my earlier searches to include.

As I was preparing this blog I realized that I am already engaged in a type of cluster study: military records. My mother’s grandfather is a brick wall. We have almost no information about him; family legend has been proved to be mostly wrong. However the information that he was a soldier in the regular army appears to be correct. At least we know that he received lands in Missouri for service in the “Florida Wars.”

I have found entries for one or more enlisted soldiers named William T. Dorrance from Connecticut in the “U. S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914.” (These records can be found at Ancestry. com.) In order to follow these records in some type of chronology, I am transferring the entries into a database, starting in 1828 and working my way through to the late 1850s when he appears in Missouri. I am including all entries, not only those which could be my ancestor, because context may turn out to be important. This set of information will probably lead me to similar information concerning the records of the various army units where my target Dorrance enlistees have served.

This is a long-term project, sometimes hard on the eyes and on the brain. I try to get one set of double-page entries done each week, but am often not alert enough to work with this data. I hope that when I have worked through all these records, I will have accumulated enough information to find out WHICH William T. Dorrance from Connecticut is my ancestor.

No progress was made on my cluster research this week, but I have reviewed Thomas’ goal and have proved to myself that I understand the goal and have begun to apply it to my genealogical studies.

Goal 2: Organizing Research Materials — Documents and Photos I have a fairly effective notebook filing system on-hand for document storage. I shall need to recheck the documents currently stored in the notebooks, in order to be sure that they clearly differentiate between old research and research being done under the procedures I’ve been learning in the Do-Over.  This task was beyond my abilities during week 9, but I have managed to place my re-organization ideas on my To-Do list.

Organizing our photos is a part of my on-going activities. Physical storage of the older ones will depend upon and follow the electronic storage.

Other Activities: This brings us to the dull pebbles. It is clear that I spent week 9 fearing to do any serious genealogy work. It may also be clear that I hate to let an entire week go by without getting something done.

A family which emigrated from Germany to Pennsylvania and then spread out throughout the United States shows up in my tree. My paternal grandmother’s mother is on that line, as are some collateral connections.

During my very early research I found a complicated tree for this family posted on a now defunct web-site and also on a tree at Roots Web. More recently a member of the family produced a book about the family (I purchased an e-book version from Lulu. com). These are “springboard sources:” neither give source citations for its data. The book author makes this very clear and gives his reasons for not providing sources. He also gives indications of conflicting data and occasions when he finds the data to be unlikely.

During that early research period I created an auxiliary database containing 3,859 people, entered from both sources. This gives me a picture I can consult when my research bumps into the family. From this auxiliary database, I can assess interconnections and get help in differentiating one David (or Henry or Peter) from another. In preparing this database, I made heavy use of the notes section to list the doubts expressed by the book author and also my own doubts and concerns about the data.

Recently I have discovered two flaws in this previous organization. 1) The notes pages aren’t visible to me as I consult the database; and 2) it is difficult to connect database information with the proper book page. Taking care of these flaws is not very important, but it is a useful help in organization. In periods of lowered efficiency it also has the advantage of not creating problems with important research. So this week I have been adding a flag labeled “Conflict, Alternate, or Dubious Data” to anyone on the tree among the 825 individuals which have entries on the notes page to that effect. (Some entries are additional information about the individual, not notes about problems.) I have also been adding information in the details field which follows the book citation. I have added the e-page number of the pages on which the nearly 4000 names appear. Any errors I make in these entries will create only minor problems (flags and page numbers are easily deleted) and my use of this springboard reference will more efficient in the future.

I wasn’t able to advance toward my true genealogy goals this week. But, instead of losing an entire week to doing nothing, I was able to clean up a side issue. Not managing to go forward, but better than doing nothing. Not bright shiny objects, merely re-arranging dull pebbles.