Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Progress Is Better Than Perfect

Climbing My Family Tree. Image via Shutterstock.
Image via Shutterstock

I really thought I’d be posting another ancestor story today, but I didn’t get much genealogy done this past week because I spent most of last week really sick. I couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything of any length and I definitely couldn’t analyze evidence.  I missed 3.5 days of work (should’ve been 4) and I never do that.

I was in too much pain and too exhausted to do much besides read some blogs and some Facebook, which left it a great time for some of the darker varieties of self-introspection.   I’d recently joined the Do-Over group on Facebook because, although I don’t intend to do the whole thing the way they are, I thought I would pick up some good ideas. And I expect I will. But just then it became rather overwhelming to see the level of perfection that group seems to be insisting on. I started feeling the stirrings of  the anxiety of perfectionism. This is NOT a good thing for me. I have in the past gotten locked into perfectionist loops, which means because I can’t get “it” perfect, I don’t even really start, or I spend way too much time trying to get every little thing just right, and I don’t actually get anything done, I get stressed, and I lose the fun.

If I’m stressing over what makes me happy, then I’m doing it wrong.

I reminded myself that I’m not a genealogist. I don’t even want to be a genealogist “some day”, frankly. This is a hobby. I do it because it’s fascinating and fun (both the family history and the blogging). I’m very good at my regular job in (an, admittedly, very) niche area of the law, which has nothing to do with genealogy (or copyright law) – but some skills and attitudes do transfer over. I’m good at research, assessing evidence/sources for credibility, analyzing evidence, and writing up my decision/conclusions based on that evidence. I have been obsessed with sourcing my discovered facts from day one. I can speculate on the blog and I try to make it clear when I’m speculating;  however, if the fact is in my tree, I have a source for it (which isn't another person’s tree), unless my person has one of these pictures on him/her.

Climbing My Family Tree: Is This Connection Correct?
Is This Connection Correct?


[That puzzle piece picture means I’m trying out a theory and I’m not sure s/he belongs yet, and if it turns out they don’t belong then I take them off. Because of the pace of the 52 Ancestors challenge I didn’t have time to finish sorting it out and I stuck those pictures on those questionable ones so I’d know who I have to really address again.]

I had to remind myself that this year I’m basically striving to create an organized research plan for each person (because I was moving too fast to do that properly last year), to tell more stories, and to press on if I can. Good enough is good enough. My source citations only have to enable someone to find what I found, where I found it; they don’t have to meet professional genealogy standards. I want to remember to enjoy the process as well as the outcome.

Having jacked myself up again, I went and turned off the notifications on the Do-Over group. I’ll still drop in to look for advice and ideas, but having it constantly in my feed is not such a good idea for me. And shortly after I came to that conclusion, and took that step, the universe gave me a gift. Now you could say it’s not a gift because it was there all along, but I didn't know about it. I’m really still a newbie. I thought, when the latest update imploded my Family Tree Maker software that I would have to re-enter every single person & all their details and sources from my Ancestry.com tree, by hand, into Legacy 8. Since I research all the siblings I can find, too, down a couple generations (because it helps with finding and assessing evidence and gives me more stories) that was an intimidating thought if ever there was one, but I was going to do it.

Climbing My Family Trees: My Ancestry.com tree details Feb 2015
My Ancestry.com tree details Feb 2015 (I chased a few BSO's)
Click to Make bigger


But then I discovered GEDCOM’s! I didn't know about them before. I didn't know I could download a GEDCOM file of my Ancestry tree to my laptop and then import it into Legacy! I read about it on someone’s blog – I really wish I could remember which one, I’d plug it. Then I looked it up in the Legacy instruction book. Then I did it, and it was easy! True, I’m still going to go back through each and every one and makes sure all is all right, and see what else I can find, and order pension files and such, and make research “to do” lists, but I feel so very much lighter since all that information just transferred in. YAY! I also discovered that Ancestry says it has over 1600 hints for me. Oh, boy, I can’t wait to start seeing if any belong to my people! And hit the newspaper sites....I'm getting excited again...and that's good.


Oh, and I should be posting another Ancestor bio (like the 52 Ancestors posts) next week after I finish up some historical context research. It will be of one of my great-grand aunts on my Dad’s side, Grace Gregor Bentley.  I was hoping to have a picture of her for the post, but I haven’t heard back from the person who had the picture on their tree yet, so that is unlikely to happen. But, I hope you will find her story interesting. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

NoteWorthy Reads #3

Climbing My Family Tree: Noteworthy Reads #3
Image from Pixabay.com




For me, Noteworthy Reads are articles, websites, or blogposts I found this week which are fascinating, interesting and/or helpful, and occasionally “wacky” or “wonderful” will likely sneak in as well. It’s not going to be a “best of” post because I don’t have the knowledge to make that determination. I don’t even promise that the articles & blogposts will be written that week – just that I found them that week. At the end of each quarter I’ll review the posts to determine which entries should be put in my Resource pages; the rest will still be available through the blog's search function.

[I have been trying to post this for hours. Something is wrong with either my Time Warner Cable internet connection or Google Chrome. I wasn't able to test all the links. If any are broken, let me know in the comments, please & I'll fix them as soon as things start working correctly again. Hopefully, this posts this time.]


CANADA

Bytown.net – It says it is “A Digital History of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, Canada Including the Cities of Ottawa and Hull / Gatineau 1600 to 2014”. It is one LONG scrolling page chock full of genealogical and historical information, links, maps, tables. I have ancestors that lived in that area, you can bet I’ll be checking this out more thoroughly in the future!

New Canada Directories Online per Olive Tree Genealogy blog


COPYRIGHT

Copyright And the Genealogy Lecture (just because you paid to sit in the lecture doesn't mean you can legally copy and share it) and Credit and Copyright (avoiding plagiarism vs avoiding copyright violation) from The Legal Genealogist blog


EDUCATION

Webinar – How To Analyze And Find More Obituaries ($4.99) from The Ancestor Hunt blog

Legacy Webinars - Learn genealogy at your own pace. Live Webinars free. Plus Library of Archived Webinars accessible for reasonable monthly or annual fee which currently contains 210 classes & 862 pages of instructor handouts. Plus videos on how to use Legacy software.


FUN

Did you know that Oxford University is older than the Aztecs? That our (USA) 10th President has two living grandchildren? Check this out!


GREAT STORIES

I have been following the unfolding story of the blogger’s attempts to find his mother’s father at "Hoosier Daddy?" for months now, and that man sure knows how to tell a nail-biting serial story! Fabulous writer. You’ll also learn a lot about the doggedness of genealogy and DNA genealogy. When you click through, as much as you want to, don’t read the current post first, go back to the beginning and read the whole blog (it’s just a year long & it’s well worth it). In fact, contrary to my usual practice, I won’t give you the general blog link at this time. Here’s the first post: In The Beginning



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Building My Own Genealogical Library

photo via Pixabay.com


I spent the week finishing off a project I owed someone who helped me a great deal last year, and it’s done now, but it doesn’t make much of a blog post. I didn’t know what I was going to write about this week, so I went into procrastination mode and cleaned my apartment.

I discovered while I was straightening that I’m amassing a rather eclectic genealogy library. Some of the history timeline, historical mapping and geographical dictionary reference books I had before (I just like that sort of thing), but I used them a lot last year in writing 52 Ancestors posts, and/or reviewing the context of my ancestors lives to get an idea of where to search for more sources in which they might have been mentioned. I added to the stash last year by buying county specific Family Map Books for Lapeer and Sanilac county MI, by Gregory A. Boyd, which contain land patents, townships, cities and town, cemeteries, roads, and historical (before modern roads) maps.

Then there are the reference books I bought because I was unaware until recently how helpful genea-people and out-of-state librarians could be (and because I’m an introvert and tracking down and buying a non-circulating reference book was easier for me than picking up the phone and asking someone to copy some pages for me – I’m aware of how little sense that makes but it’s still true). Probably the most unique book I bought falls under this category. (I did try to get it through inter-library loan first; that’s how I know it is non-circulating.) So now I am the owner of the hard to find Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies, by Hugh F. Gingrich and Rachel W. Kreider. Published by the Pequea Bruderschaft Library in Gordonville, PA 17529 (the 2007 updated and corrected version). So if anyone needs a “look up”, my email address is in the “Contact Me” page.

The second most unique book is a CD version of the Dictionary of Scottish Immigrants to Canada before the Confederation, Volumes 1-4. Or perhaps, the Marriages of Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Ontario, compiled and transcribed by Marjorie Clark.


Climbing My Family Tree
"Evolution of Reading" Shutterstock Image ID: 197751560; copyright to Spiber.de

Additionally, over the course of last year, I have gathered about 115 old (out of copyright) histories of counties, states, provinces, and certain religious or cultural groups in scanned in Google eBooks mostly from the 1800’s or early 1900’s. They are very helpful for understanding the context of my ancestors’ lives. Some of the books contain biographical sketches of original settlers and then-current residents; I found some of my ancestors in those!

I’ve also bought “how-to” books. how to research German genealogy (Baxter), Scottish genealogy (Durie & another by Clarke), and Loyalist ancestors (Bunnell) – the first two I definitely have, the last one I might have.

And then there are books I bought because they just sounded fascinating: The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada, 1784-1855 by Lucille Campey, Our Daily Bread: German Village Life, 1500-1850 by Teva J. Scheer, The Complete McPhatter Letters, collected by Matthew McPhatter and compiled by Anna Jackson, Authentic Letters From Upper Canada by T.W. McGrath (1833), The Passing Parade by Gordon Bennett (that’s a pen-name, he’s a grand-uncle) and A Walk Through Yesterday: Memoirs of Jessie L. Beattie by Jessie L. Beattie (I think we’re related somehow. Maybe not, but her grandfather arrived in pre-confederation Canada as a child on the same boat my 3rd great grandfather and his family did), etc. There are others but this is enough for one post.

Can you tell I love books?



via Pixabay.com

Sunday, February 15, 2015

NoteWorthy Reads #2


Image from Pixabay.com


NoteWorthy Reads Week ending  2/14/15

(It's still last week if I haven't gone to bed yet, right? Sorry this post is late, it's been a busy week.)

For me, Noteworthy Reads are articles, websites, or blogposts I found this week which are fascinating, interesting and/or helpful, and occasionally “wacky” or “wonderful” will likely sneak in as well. It’s not going to be a “best of” post because I don’t have the knowledge to make that determination. I don’t even promise that the articles & blogposts will be written that week – just that I found them that week. At the end of each quarter I’ll review the posts to determine which entries should be put in my Resource pages; the rest will still be available through the blog's search function.

I've had a busy week so the crop is a little thin in number this week but they are all very worthwhile reads.

CANADA
Upper Canada Genealogy  - Offers "professional research services, indexes to hard-to-access records, free reference resources with information about Upper Canada history, geography and resource centres, and links to other useful sites."


IRELAND
Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum Collection database at Quinnipiac University Free database contains about 1,500 articles and illustrations related to Ireland and the Great Famine.  The museum website is here: Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum 

NATIVE AMERICAN
Native American Encyclopedia –  Articles on Native American History, Biographies, Tribes, Facts, Statistics.  Really quite interesting. (I think the storied Native American heritage in my family is a myth as I’ve not found it yet, but this might help someone.)

TOOLS
5 Genealogy Data Backup Tools You Can’t Afford to LiveWithout  - I need to get one of these to prevent  a re-occurrence of the disaster I ended last year with.

The Ancestoring Blog  has done a series of posts on how to use Legacy 8 (which I just bought).  I’m just posting the first one here: Legacy  but when I plugged the word “legacy” into the blog's search box  it turned up about 25 very helpful posts. I’ll be reading them all in the near future.

Monday, February 9, 2015

My New Resources Pages Are Up!


I have been working on a major update of my Resource page, which contained links to helpful online resources I'd found as I researched my family history. In this update, my one Resource page has grown to five Resource pages because I am including links to every useful resource I have found in my family history research this past year-and-a-half relating to the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K. & Ireland, and Germany. In addition there’s an Etcetera page for links I want to keep that don’t fall under the foregoing categories.

These pages will grow as I continue to find sites that will be useful in my future research, but right now my “Resources: U.S.A.” page has over 100 links to helpful websites (several of which are portals to hundreds of online databases) under the following categories: General (covers the whole country), U.S. Government, Military, Immigration, History, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Newspapers, Books, and Blog Finders.

My “Resources: Canada” page has over 80 links to helpful websites, several of which, again, are portals to hundreds of online databases containing thousands of records. I’ve organized them under the following categories: General (covers the whole country), History, United Empire Loyalists, Immigration/Emigration, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario / Upper Canada, Quebec / Lower Canada, Newspapers, and Books. [The Canadian page is the one I had to do twice as I accidently deleted it just as I finished it the first time.]

My “Resources: U.K. / Ireland” page contains resources relating to the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is not as well developed because last year I temporarily ended my research on each line with the ancestor(s) who came to North America if I could get that far. It will grow in the future as I discover more sites to use. I’ve got about 25 different links on this page split up among sections for England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (most of them are for Ireland and Scotland).

My “Resources: Germany” page is again not well developed because I haven’t done much with my German ancestors yet. There are about ten links so far, but they do include a few portal sites to hundreds of databases, and if you’ve got ancestors who emigrated from Baden Wurttemberg the LandesArchive site is very helpful.

Lastly, my “Resources: Etc.” page contains links to websites I’ve found helpful and want to keep at my fingertips, but don’t fit in the prior four categories.  The categories on this page, so far, are Oddments (a list of the meaning of archaic medical terms, Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, How to get Patent Drawings, an article on Women and Insane Asylums, etc. – you get the idea), Images – for blogs (the sites I use to find public domain or creative commons licensed pictures for my blog), Copyright - U.S.A, and Tools (tools for genealogy, how to articles and videos, etc.).

Take a look, you might find something helpful.





Images from Pixabay.com

Saturday, February 7, 2015

NoteWorthy Reads

Image from Pixabay.com

NoteWorthy Reads, week-ending 7 February 2015

I’m going to make this a weekly series.  For me, NoteWorthy Reads are articles, websites, or blog posts I found this week which are fascinating, interesting and/or helpful (and occasionally “wacky” or “wonderful” will likely sneak in as well). It’s not going to be a “best of” post because I don’t have the knowledge to make that determination. I don’t even promise that the articles & blog posts will be written that week – just that I found them that week (although this week I’m cheating a bit as I’m still cleaning out my bookmarks and catching up on 1000 backed up Feedly entries). 

Every few months I’ll review the posts to determine which entries should be put in my Resource pages, but I won’t lose the others since they’ll be here and the blog is searchable. This should help me keep the “bookmarks/favorites” clutter on my browser under control so that they are actually useful (you wouldn’t believe what they looked like at the end of last year, even using a folder system!). And, maybe, you, my reader, will see something on this post or future NoteWorthy Reads posts that will intrigue you, make you smile, or be just what you need right now.  

DNA

Understanding Patterns of Inheritance: Where Did My DNA Come From? (And Why It Matters), Ancestry.com blog, – The first article I've seen on how DNA descends that is simple enough for me to understand it.  

HISTORY

The Immigrant’s Experience - pictures and information on immigration through the port of New York. Fascinating read.


A Supreme Irony, The Legal Genealogist blog  -- Finding Family History in U.S. Supreme Court Cases (read the comments, too)

TIPS

Instead of Failing, Read the Instructions, No Story Too Small blog  Important, even essential in genealogy – read why! Don’t build your own faux brick wall.

Quaker Calendars and Dates,Ancestry.com blog – when I left off , it looked like my 4th great-grandmother had grown up Quaker. Great! Quakers kept wonderful records! But their dating system is not American standard. This will help me figure out the records when I find them.

Tuesday’s Tip: Local Genealogy Via Long Distance, Climbing My Family Tree blog (not my blog, Marian Burke Wood’s blog.)  Some great tips on how to do local genealogy from far away (which would cover everyone in my family tree).

TOOLS

Using Evernote for Family History series - The blog, “One Life Picture by Picture,” has a whole series of posts which explain, very clearly, how she uses Evernote in her genealogy research and how to do specific functions, with screen shot examples. Since I want to start really using Evernote for my research, this will be helpful.


My Genealogy Digital File Folder, Randy Seaver of the Genea-musings blog explains his Genealogy Digital File Folder Organization,  I’ve got to organize my digital files better (they’re a bit of a mess because I was moving too fast last year doing the 52 Ancestor challenge from scratch) so I’m looking at how other organized people do it. 

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Yes, I know how to spell "noteworthy"; the extra capitalization is stylistic for the title of the series.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Eat a Live Frog ...



They say “Eat a live frog in the morning and nothing worse will happen the rest of the day” (I think that’s a bastardization of a Mark Twain quote). I’m rather hoping the same principle applies to years. January has been very difficult, and I would like to think that the rest of the year will be much better.

There’s been a few things that happened in regard to my research and my blog that normally would see me catastrophizing them for days, if not weeks, but for the life perspective provided by the deaths of three good friends of 15 or more years in this month; two at the beginning (I hate cancer!) and one towards the end (a shock). All three were true bright spots in this world. My heart hurts and I miss them very much.

In my last post of last year I said that I would be using this past month off blogging to: finish some research I owe someone who helped me, update my blog’s resource page(s), update ‘favorite blogs’ page, and try to fix whatever went wrong with my genea-software.  Yeah, well, there’s another quote about the “the best–laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley” (bastardized Robert Burns, I believe - “agley” being Scottish for “awry” or “totally-off-the-rails”. [I’d have another phrase for it if my Mom didn’t read this blog.]).

I’ve finished the research; but didn’t get it written up and sent off yet. I’m sorry, Ms. Clark; you will get it.

I wanted to have the newly refurbished blog good to go on February 1, 2015, but I accidentally and irretrievably killed a week’s worth of work (user error – too many windows open, I lost track of which window I was in and overrode the safety “are you sure?” messages). I have to re-do one of my new resource pages - one of the longest ones (sigh). Thank God, I didn’t erase the source material yet. I hadn’t yet gotten to updating the favorite blog page yet. I will get there. It’s frustrating and I felt rather stupid that night, and in other years, I’d have been upset with myself and catastrophized the whole situation for days. But it is what is. I will fix it and it will go up whenever it’s finished.



And speaking of catastrophizing…I really haven’t got the energy, but the next problem would definitely deserve it in a normal year. “Trying to fix whatever went wrong with my Genea-software”, well, that problem was far worse than I’d realized. I’d had some other problems with my Family Tree software in the past year, but between customer service and me, I’d always gotten it sorted. After the last update was downloaded, it stopped working, and this past month I found out that not only did it no longer sync with Ancestry.com, it had erased 60% +/- of my tree on my computer! And we can’t get it back!! And trying to create a new tree to then sync with the online one didn’t go well either. And then, the worst is that I’d been lax in my backups since my move this summer as I tried to catch up on the “52 Ancestors” posts and I had no recent backup. I wanted to cry and I was sick (metaphorically and literally – missed nearly a week of work with a bad cold). But given what had happened in the month already, it just didn’t rate.

At least the online version of the tree at Ancestry is still intact. But I want my own copy on my own computer, too, as that makes it much easier to keep track of the information I’ve found that didn’t come from Ancestry.com, helps me paint a broader picture, and helps me in other ways. I’m really tired of the repeated bugs with the Family Tree Maker program. In my blog reading last year, I’d seen that many of the people whose work and blogs I respected used a genealogy program called Legacy. So I just bought the new Legacy 8 software. I installed it this weekend but the hardcopy manual is back-ordered. (Figures.) I think there’s a .pdf version I can download. I’ll look. I need to read it to figure out how (& how best) to use this. [I’ve also programmed an alarm for monthly backups in my phone!]

I hadn’t really planned on doing the full “do over” that a lot of the genea-bloggers are doing this year, since I’d only been at this a year and was certain that I had documented every fact I’d claimed (except for the folks with the “? in  a puzzle piece” pictures on the Ancestry tree) but had planned on going back over the tree as I’d been very hurried last year, and I needed to create “to do” lists for each person, among other things. Well, now I have to re-do/re-copy everything by hand to get the information from my online tree to the new computer tree (no sync).  This is going to take a lot of time, but this way I can organize my computer files (the downloads need to be sorted & saved per family – I didn’t have time last year), and make “to do” lists for each person, and double check the cites, and explore new hints/ideas….I guess it’s a “do over” by default. I also want to learn to how to better use Evernote for my research. The overall problem is damn discouraging, but ultimately not a totally bad thing. It will, in the long run, be better as I will know what I have and be more certain of the connections made, which will provide a better foundation for expanding up. This year is unlikely to be as exciting (or fast) as last year; but doing things well, and in an organized fashion, will have long term rewards. I hope.



photo credit: hgjohn via photopin cc
photo credit: hgjohn via photopin cc
I’m not certain now what that means for the blog. I want to try to keep it going. I have also realized in this month off that I also want to keep it fun for me. As I’m still working a high stress day job, that will mean that my dream of daily posts had best remain a dream for the time being.  I don’t want to add stress to my life as my body nearly always reacts to too much stress by getting sick. At this point, I’m thinking about doing two regular posts weekly, with occasional additions. One would a genea-diary type entry just talking about whatever I’m doing relating to my genealogy or blog work that week like this one, or at least, some hopefully interesting aspect of whatever I’m doing. The other regular one a week would be a list of articles/blogs I found interesting or helpful that week (so I don’t overload my bookmarks again). It’s not going to be a “best of” post because I don’t have the knowledge to make that determination. I don’t even promise that the articles & blogposts will be written that week – just that I found them that week. I’m stealing the post title from my boss at work; that post will be “Noteworthy Reads”. I also still hope to do a 52-Ancestors-style Ancestor write-up once or twice a month, and I expect there will be occasional other things meriting extra posts because I when get excited, I want to share with someone.

So what are my lessons from January? 1) Appreciate the good people in my life while I’ve got them and try to make sure they know they are appreciated. 2) Many problems aren’t worth the energy to catastrophize. Just fix it and/or look for alternatives. 3) And back up, back up, back up!


How was your January? What were your lessons?

(I just thought he was cute. I found him when looking for "computer error" pics in the public domain. )