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A Coronavirus Project

What can you do with a sudden two-week vacation during the coronavirus pandemic?

We faced this question when my husband/tech advisor’s employer required everyone to take two weeks of their vacation before Memorial Day this year. We could not use the time to go anywhere during a stay-at-home order even if we wanted to go out and expose ourselves to the virus.

Instead of frittering the time away, we hoped to do something productive. We hit on the idea of replacing the deteriorating floor in our home office.

Not wanting to have workmen come into our home at this time, we ordered all the supplies we thought we would need to do the job ourselves. We were ready to get to work as soon as the calendar said Vacation.

Putting in a new floor requires moving around a lot of office furniture like desks, computer equipment, file cabinets, and bookcases. Putting in a new floor takes a lot of time.

With the office torn apart and my attention on the flooring task during these two weeks, I am not doing much genealogy.

Once we complete this project, the office will be oh-so-nice, and I will be back on the genealogy beat.

Webinar Opportunities Right Now

I keep getting nowhere in my effort to document the pedigree of my ancestor Lucy Snow (1760-1795) of Harwich, Massachusetts. Time again for some professional help.

Yesterday I registered for two webinars being hosted this month by American Ancestors. Perhaps they will help me uncover records that have eluded me so far.

  1. Searching Databases on AmericanAncestors.org will run this afternoon. I have tried using this subscription site, but I find it overwhelming. Searches I attempt often return hundreds of results, most of them irrelevant to my Lucy Snow. In this webinar, the American Ancestors database coordinator will discuss the scope of the site and how to leverage search terms.
  2. Creating a Research Plan for Cluster Research runs next week. I am familiar with cluster research where you include an ancestor’s extended family, associates, and neighbors to solve a genealogical mystery. So far, my attempts at using this technique have been unsuccessful for Lucy Snow or any of my other brick wall ancestors. I hope the Director of Research Services at American Ancestors can help me craft a research plan that works.

I am nearly 5 months into my search for Lucy and her forebears. I have her marriage record and her burial site. I have the names of her children with Gershom Hall. I have what may be her baptism record, if she is the daughter of Thomas Snow and Hannah of the Brewster, MA church.

But there were several Thomas Snows and several Lucy Snows who lived on Cape Cod during the second half of the 1700’s. How do I distinguish my Lucy and put her in the correct family? I need to find the records of each and untangle them to discover the thread of my Lucy’s pedigree.

If some education available from home can help me do that, sign me up!

New Resources, Familiar Resources

This week, for the second time, my local genealogy society met online via Zoom. Our statewide Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies kindly made a subscription available to all its local member societies.

Our guest speaker, Kathy Tarullo, directs one of the Family History Centers in the Denver area. She spoke with much enthusiasm on a topic we can all use these days, online resources for genealogical research.

Although most of the sites looked familiar to me, I have not kept up with many of them. Several have newer features that I have not used.

She categorized sites by function, and I found a few news ideas for sources to try in my hunt for my New England ancestors:

  1. Newsletters. Kathy mentioned a site I want to try called Advantage Archives for small-town newspapers (http://www.advantagearchives.com/).
  2. Blogs. I already subscribe to a couple she mentioned. I have read Geneamusings (https://www.geneamusings.com) for years but had no idea his web page includes sample source citations. I definitely will look at these.
  3. Twitter. I must admit that I do not look at Twitter very often. I find the sign-in procedure a nuisance, but I do not like the idea of remaining permanently signed on to any site.
  4. RSS feeds. Kathy recommended using Feedly.com to manage subscriptions to blogs and newsletters. I have not tried this because I have only a few subscriptions.
  5. Flipboard. I had never heard of this service. Kathy says you can use it to create albums of posts you want to save to read later. Like I need more reading material.
  6. Facebook. I have never joined the Facebook tribe, but I can see some value in linking to pages for genealogy websites and societies. It is on my To-Do list.
  7. Instagram. Apparently, this works best for cellular phones, so I probably will pass on this one. I do not think I could work effectively on a phone format. Kathy did call attention here to a site I do want to check out—Mapire (https://mapire.eu.en/). It provides free maps of historical Europe.
  8. Webinars. Boy, have I ever participated in webinars during this coronavirus lockdown. She mentioned all the major players—American Ancestors, Board for Certification of Professional Genealogists, Family Tree Webinars (Legacy), Family Search.
  9. Podcasts. I never seem to find the time to listen in on podcasts. I can read faster than someone can speak so I find it more efficient to get information via the written word. I prefer webinars for their Power Point pages.
  10. You Tube channels. Kathy watches genealogy-related ones on her smart TV. I could do that, too, but I have the same time problem I have with podcasts.
  11. Pinterest. I would rather have real bulletin boards and white boards for organizing ideas.

I am glad our group did not have to miss out on this interesting program because of meeting space closures and social distancing. The President of our local society has made a good effort to keep everyone connected despite a pandemic.

Normally, we do not meet during the summer months, so this was the last meeting for this season. The program topic for this month provided all of us with many ways to pursue our research while staying at home during the coming summer months.

Zoom Genealogy

Across the nation, we continue to self-isolate and maintain social distances during the COVID-19 pandemic. In times like these, how can a genealogical society continue to hold meetings?

We can do it via Zoom, a remote conferencing service. The Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies purchased a subscription for its affiliates to use.

My local Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society gave it a try this month. The previously scheduled speaker for this month, Carol Darrow CG, has excellent computer skills and was willing to make her presentation this way.

Our President, Dave Barton, took the time to set up everything for us. He sent appropriate web links and the program handout out to the membership. On the appointed evening, he acted as the host for the meeting.

Over thirty people signed in. We had our usual short business meeting and then turned the evening over to Carol.

She did a great job with her program on using charts and spreadsheets to organize genealogical research. On my home computer screen, I could see large images of her Power Point presentation. A smaller video feed of Carol appeared on the corner of the screen.

Thanks to Zoom, my local society could hold its usually monthly meeting just as I needed the organizational skill that Carol had to offer. I have already tried one of her techniques.

As I work to fill in my New England family tree, I encounter many people with the same names. How do I differentiate them? Carol had a chart for that!

I tried it first with Samuel Smith, the name of the husbands of two of my distant great-aunts. Did they both marry the same man? The chart helped me conclude that likely they did.

I am so glad I tuned in to see Carol’s presentation.

Our local genealogy club plans to meet on Zoom again in May. After this month’s successful meeting, I have it on my calendar.

Ahira’s Will

My ancestor Seth Hall’s grandchildren Lucy Hall (daughter of Gershom) and Ahira Hall (son of Edward) were first cousins. They wed in Massachusetts in 1808. As this was long before the U.S. recorded every name on the census, I could not use that resource to find the names of their children.

Luckily, Ahira left a will that was filed for probate in Providence, Rhode Island in 1862. It named his wife Lucy and their children, Orlanda, Roscoe, Royal, and Susan. It also mentioned children Clarissa and Orlanda of his deceased daughter Eliza Bailies. They all shared a handsome estate that included two houses and shares in two schooners.

There was a catch, though. At the end of the will, Ahira included this provision:

I further direct that my Executors hereinafter named shall not pay any money or make any advances to either of my children or grand children unless they are satisfied that such child or children or grand children is the actual owner of a copy of the Holy Bible of the value of not less than Four Dollars.

Lucy and Ahira both came from old Puritan stock on Cape Cod. They accumulated wealth, but it went to their heirs with strings attached.

Ahira sought to control his family from beyond the grave when he stipulated that they all must possess Bibles. Who did he fear was not reading the Good Word? I wonder whether any of the descendants needed to rush out to purchase a Bible only to sell it again after the distribution of the estate.

Most wills do not include such restrictive provisions. The ones that do make for interesting reading.

Wills provide an excellent genealogical resource for learning about the people who lived before 1850. Ahira Hall left an intriguing one.

 

 

 

A Virus Changes Everything

As we all hunker down in these dark times, a new way of living is emerging for me and those around me. So what have I been up to during the pandemic?

  1. Attending genealogy webinars and visiting online databases. Recently I followed Legacy webinars on evaluating genealogical evidence, tracking ancestors who changed their names, researching Scandinavian ancestors, searching on Google, and using digital libraries. Today I will connect to another webinar on researching Mayflower ancestors. In normal times, I do not take nearly this many classes.
  2. Reaching out to family, friends, and neighbors. In my community, people gather regularly for card games, potlucks, and more. No longer! I have taken to calling my immediate neighbors and those who live alone so they and I will have a chance to enjoy some conversation. I have also been texting with my 11-year-old granddaughter who cannot go out to play with her friends.
  3. Binge-watching television and other media. I keep tuning into the presidential and gubernatorial press conferences to get the latest information in the coronavirus. I follow local town halls with the health department. I watch the extended COVID-19 coverage offered by the local broadcasters.
  4. Walking. We know we should not stay indoors for days on end. The only problem has been that so many others are out walking, too. I am finding it hard to maintain a 6′ distance from people on the trails and sidewalks.

When this social distancing began, I thought I would have hours to fill with my genealogy research. But these new activities have eaten up my time. I find that I am progressing slower than usual with my family history.

That is because, in part, I have not yet settled into a new routine to replace the old one. At first, I questioned whether I would need to. This situation seemed temporary. We originally received a 14-day directive from the state.

Then yesterday, our governor announced that the schools would close for another month. Suddenly the timeline appears much longer.

New habits can form in a month. At some point this will no longer feel like a temporary situation.

I, and everyone else, will need to find a new rhythm of daily life. When I do, I can begin to become a productive researcher again.

Coronavirus Hits the Genealogy World

The genealogy community makes up just a small corner of the world, but like everyone else we face challenges presented by the spreading coronavirus. Event cancellations pour in as people practice social isolation.

  1. Yesterday the Denver Public Library cancelled all meetings and events for a month. This requires the Colorado Genealogical Society and the Colorado Chapter of Palatines to America in turn to cancel upcoming meetings and seminars that would have been held in Denver’s main library.
  2. Our local LDS meeting place has requested that the Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society gather elsewhere or cancel its monthly meeting and annual genealogy fair in April.
  3. My husband/tech advisor has offered to host a virtual meeting for our Sons of Norway board this month. If our usual meeting place at one of the Douglas County Libraries follows Denver’s example, we will lose our meeting room.
  4. He has already announced that the Norwegian Genealogy study group he facilitates will meet in virtual sessions during April and May.

One event (I hope!) that will not face cancellation is the Legacy Family Tree 24-hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon scheduled to begin later today. I registered for this event that I can attend on my home computer.

Several topics caught my interest. Luckily, they are not classes that will occur during the middle of the night in my time zone. I plan to tune in to these:

  1. How Do I Know It’s Correct: Evidence and Proof by Rebecca Koford
  2. Not Who He Once Was: Tips for Finding Your Name-Changing Ancestor by Mary Kircher Roddy
  3. A Vast and Virtual Genealogical Library is Waiting for Your Exploration by Mike Mansfield
  4. Advanced Googling for Your Grandma by Cyndi Ingle
  5. Researching Scandinavian Ancestors by Mike Mansfield

Perhaps these virtual meetings will become more commonplace. We do not know when or if our world will return to the days of carefree gatherings of every kind. Already we have adjusted to heightened security measures when we meet in large groups. Perhaps we will see a permanent change in public health practices for meetings, too. Genealogists and everyone else will have to adapt.

Lives Affected by Epidemics

With the coronavirus outbreak all over the news these days, I began thinking of ancestors who might have lived through epidemics of their own. A few came to mind.

  1. Regional outbreaks of diseases such as measles and diphtheria occurred in communities where my family lived during the 19th century. My own family members likely endured some of these sicknesses. Although I have seen columns of Midwestern death listings from these and other illnesses, I have found none of my family names in these records of fatalities. A century later I, too, survived a case of the measles in 1964. It was the sickest I have ever been.
  2. About 1910, my great-grandfather Ole Bentsen (1880-1976) experienced a bout of typhoid fever. I do not know whether others in his Sheridan County, Montana community also had this illness caused by contaminated food or water.
  3. The Spanish flu swept the nation during World War I. My grandmother’s cousin Arthur Davis Riddle (1881-1919) succumbed to this illness in Seattle, Washington. He was a tall lumberjack, but his robust strength did not protect him from the influenza.
  4. During the 1930’s my grandmother Grace Riddle Reed (1896-1976) contracted smallpox in Wheatland, Wyoming. My father was a young boy at the time, but he remembered that his mother was quarantined during her illness. No one else in the family caught the disease.
  5. My entire family contracted the Asian flu in 1958. We lived in Bismarck, North Dakota at the time. I can remember my parents having a difficult time rousing themselves from their own sickbeds to care for their two young children who also had this illness. We all recovered.

Outbreaks of illness seem to cycle regularly through communities. Some of these epidemics seem deadlier than others. It remains too early to tell how the United States will fare with the current coronavirus. At our house we remain watchful and have prepared for whatever it brings.

Hunting for Mayflower Ancestors

With the new year comes a new genealogy project. After spending last year on foreign research in Finnish records, I will turn my attention closer to home in 2020.

My father had deep American roots. His mother’s family lived in New England a couple of centuries ago, and I want to find out more about them. I am hoping to prove a line or two of Mayflower ancestry.

Dad’s direct maternal line offers me a chance. According to a post on WikiTree, his third great-grandmother, Lucy Snow, descended two ways from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins. The lines go this way although no sources are cited:

Lucy Snow>Hannah Lincoln>Hannah Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins>Giles Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins

Lucy Snow>Thomas Rogers Snow>Nathaniel Snow>Edward Snow>Jabez Snow>Constance Hopkins>Stephen Hopkins

My first stop searching for proof of this ancestry has been the databases on the American Ancestors website (https://www.americanancestors.org/index.aspx). There I located documentation for the births and marriage of Lucy’s parents. Lucy herself is not mentioned so I have nothing to link her to them. I need to find some proof of her parentage.

I also need to find some proof that Lucy was the mother of my known ancestor Rhoda Hall. I have only cemetery information saying she was the first wife of Gershom Hall. I believe Rhoda Hall Dunbar, Dad’s second great-grandmother, was the daughter of Lucy and Gershom.

My next task will be to link up the three women. If I can find documentation for the relationship Rhoda Hall>Lucy Snow>Hannah Lincoln and Thomas Snow, I will have my Mayflower ancestry from Stephen Hopkins. Then I can turn my attention to learning whether I descend from any other Mayflower passengers. Many people who descend from one Mayflower passenger also descend from others.

New England family lines have been well-documented. I think proving a line of Mayflower descent, if I have one, should be doable this year. This project will offer me an interesting genealogical year.

Reading for Genealogy

A genealogist needs to spend time improving skills and keeping up with happenings in the genealogy world. One can choose from both print and online publications for professional reading. These resources provide educational articles, examples of well-written genealogies, and announcements of upcoming events. I subscribe to several journals and blogs that keep me up to date.

In Print

  1. National Genealogical Society Quarterly. This publication has promoted genealogical scholarship since 1912. Each issue consists of several genealogy case studies that serve as an example of excellent analysis and writing. The Quarterly also reviews recently published genealogy books.
  2. NGS Magazine. This quarterly magazine includes news articles about the National Genealogical Society. It also contains how-to articles, including columns on using the National Archives and technology.
  3. The Palatine Immigrant. This periodical covers research on German-Speaking ancestry. It includes book reviews, research articles, a genealogy advice column, and news of upcoming Palatines to America events.
  4. The Colorado Genealogist. The quarterly publication of the Colorado Genealogical Society focuses on articles and transcriptions of records specific to Colorado.
  5. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. This journal of American genealogy publishes current research on New England families and sources.
  6. American Ancestors. A sister publication to the Register, the magazine covers Society news, program and tour announcements, and articles of genealogical interest.

Online Blogs and Newsletters

  1. The Legal Genealogist. Judy G. Russell, a lawyer and a genealogist, writes about (what else?) genealogy and the law. https://www.legalgenealogist.com/
  2. Vita Brevis. The blog of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, it posts essays by the Society’s professional staff. https://vitabrevis.americanancestors.org/
  3. Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. Dick Eastman has been covering genealogy news with his online newsletter for 23 years. https://blog.eogn.com/
  4. DNAeXplained—Genetic Genealogy. Roberta Estes helps us discover our ancestors, one gene at a time. https://dna-explained.com/
  5. Norwegian Genealogy and then some. Martin Roe Eidhammer writes helpful tips for Norwegian research, and he also offers travelogues and book reviews. https://martinroe.com.godtsagt.dev/blog/

At our house, we also receive one more genealogical publication that comes addressed to my husband/tech advisor. I do not know how much of it he actually reads because Slekt og Data is written in Norwegian. This publication is put out by Norway’s largest genealogy organization.

Most of the blogs I listed arrive in my e-mail In box every day. I can read or skim them in a few minutes. I set aside some time in the late afternoon to read the journals that come by snail mail. The writers who contribute to these publications provide a wonderful educational service to those of us searching for our ancestors.