Monday, May 22, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Searching for Living Persons


We’ve all wished we could talk to someone who might have that critical piece of the family puzzle. If only we could talk to Aunt (or Uncle) So-and-So. They are in their 80s or 90s now, and we don’t know where – or if - they are living. How can we find out? That’s the reason I attended Thomas MacEntee’s, They’re Alive! session at NERGC.

Besides expanding our genealogy research, other reasons you might need to find long lost relatives is if you are planning a family reunion, or find cousins who might be working on collateral lines.

PeopleFinder.com website is free to search, and it might give you enough information in order to use other sources to drill down. When I put hubby’s name in and the state, the site came up with four cities he was associated with, along with a list of people. The site wants you to click through to their paid section for more information, but Thomas warned the audience about doing this.

PeopleSmart.com is another reputable site. When I put hubby’s name and state into this site’s search function, it was very fast. It gave two locations in which he had lived, and one in which he hadn’t. It gave a list of people, some with middle initials, and one more than PeopleFinder.

ZabaSearch was fast, provided hubby’s current address and includes a Google map of the location. It listed the same associations, but the phone number listed was outdated.

Anywho.com is another interesting site, providing much the same information as the others. All these sites have paid options for more information, and Thomas said – Use at your own discretion.

Other ways to find folks is to utilize Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. These sites might have the information you need. White pages, Facebook, Ancestry public trees, Twitter, Google Blog search are all options for finding people. Alumni associations – high school and colleges, court records are also possibilities.

My Best Takeaways: Learning about ZabaSearch with its Google map feature. Whether you find a family tree online or information from one of the people finder sites, always verify the information yourself. Thomas allows information he produces to be used in genealogical society newsletters. All the newsletter editor has to do is contact him and ask permission. Very generous.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past


Marian Burk Wood at NERGC 2017
The session we were waiting for was at 3:00 on the first day of the conference. Our good friend, Marian Burk Wood was presenting information on how to organize and preserve your genealogy materials for future generations.

I didn’t need to take notes. I already had her companion book Planning a Future for YourFamily’s Past. This book is a must-have for every genealogist.

The room was packed, even though Marian’s time slot competed with presentations by well-known speakers like Thomas MacEntee. Elissa Scalise Powell, and Helen Shaw.  It was apparent that conference attendees craved information on how to preserve their genealogy collections.

Marian introduced the audience to her PASS Process: Prepare by organizing materials; Allocate ownership; Set up a genealogical “will,” and Share with heirs.

She went on to explain how to sort your “stuff,” and various organizational techniques. She had examples of storage materials and showed how to use and label.

After placing documents and photos into acid/lignin free archival boxes, Marian inventories the items. She explained how this process makes it easy for her and other family members to know what is in box.

She covered the delicate situation of family feuds. What to do if more than one person wants possession of your genealogical materials. She also explained what to do if no one steps up. She suggested donating your material to your ancestor’s local historical society or other interested repository. She found repositories for items that were of no value to her family, i.e. she donated a WWII war bond wallet showing General MacArthur to the MacArthur Memorial Museum in Norfolk, VA. Make sure you contact the organization and find out their specific donation requirements.


My best takeaways: “By the inch, it’s a cinch.” I have to remind myself that in order to tackle the job of preserving my genealogy research, I have to do it in small increments. Although I have acid free boxes and photo envelopes, they aren’t adequate for our documents and photos. Nor have I inventoried the boxes. Many items are in Pendaflex folders and we have photos that are not labeled. I have ordered more archival boxes and protective sleeves. Not enough to take care of everything hubby and I have, but it is a start – remember – by the inch, it’s a cinch. We also have to develop our genealogy “wills.” Good luck with your preservation efforts.

Monday, May 8, 2017

NERGC-2017 - Finding Someone Who Eluded Census Records



Directions to the Springfield, MA Civic Center provided by the New England Regional Genealogical Society were easy to follow. We exited I-91 at Columbus Street, onto Main Street, and within a few blocks was the Civic Center where the Fourteenth New England Regional Genealogical Conference was being held. Excitement was mounting!

Parking was right across the street; registration was easy. While we waited to meet our friends Wally and Marian for lunch, we had a long chat with speaker DonnaMoughty. We first met Donna when we lived in Newtown, CT, and she spoke to our newly formed genealogy club. Donna now lives in Florida, is a member of the Manatee Genealogical Society, as are we, so we see her there as well. It was nice to have a chance to visit in Springfield. Donna is a professional genealogist specializing in Irish research along with U.S. research, methodology and technology including Macs, iPhones and iPads.  She provides research, consultations and training. She is one busy lady!

After a delicious lunch at the Red Rose restaurant, my first NERGC session was Finding Someone Who Eluded Census Records, by Carol Prescott McCoy.

There are different types of censuses. The population census is the most used, but there are also industrial, agricultural, Veteran’s, some state censuses, and slave schedules. Note the date when the census was taken, i.e. in 1920, the date was 1 January. Check every year, every type. People moved and could have been missed. Or they were too far out in the country, in dangerous territory, where the census taker didn’t want to go. Sometimes ancestors are listed twice, if they were traveling between residences. And these could contain different information!

Copy/download entire census page to capture neighbors for future searches. Record all members of the household. Sometimes boarders or “servants” can be relatives. Record names, ages, and places exactly as in the census.

Name spelling issues are the most common. Try every variation. If that doesn’t work, find neighbors from previous census. If your ancestors stayed in the same place, finding the neighbors will locate your people. This was the only way we were able to find my New York City Nunn family in the 1900 census. When the census taker was told the last name was Nunn, he thought he was being told “none.” After several attempts at this misunderstanding, he finally wrote the deceased father’s first name “Joseph,” as the last name, scribbled in with the wife’s first name – a real mess. I located them because I found a 1905 New York Times article where Elizabeth Nunn (eldest daughter) sued her neighbor for return of money Elizabeth had entrusted with the woman in 1900. When I untangled that mess, I found the family!

Census Substitutes. Town records, tax lists, school lists, old maps, town histories, voter lists are all places where your ancestors’ histories reside. Hubby and I developed an 1890 Census Substitute for Newtown, Connecticut by using tax records, school and voter lists, and some church records. It was our hope that other towns would follow suit in order to fill in this 20 year gap.

My best takeaways: Develop a census database. This can be done for each person or by family, to sort by last name as well as date. Develop a timeline (I did that years ago, but it is a good reminder to review and update.) FAN Club - Follow friends, associates and neighbors. Be flexible!