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.

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