Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FGS 2012 in Birmingham

Serendipity.  The most recent weekly assignment for Abundant Genealogy was about the contacts we make and the impact that contact has on our on research.  And now this is the week of the FGS 2012 Conference in Birmingham.  And I am here.  What a perfect way to make new contacts and see your friends!

Tonight - Tuesday, Sept 28th - before the actual opening of the Conference, FamilySearch hosted a dinner and a bit of a news and status update for those of us who are Bloggers.  What a delightful evening!  I know many pictures were taken and there will be blogs that tell you all the details and many of the facts related during the brief presentation.

I just want to say this.  Thank you, FamilySearch.  For so much. For tonight's dinner, fellowship and the really neat gift.  For coordinating the 1940 indexing and bringing the whole project in ahead of time - there is no other organization that could have done so.  For your many research-help classes.  For the ever growing Wiki.  For RootsTech [oh how much fun that is!]  For microfilming and now digitizing those millions of records from past years.  For all the ongoing planning to preserve and digitize records world-wide, and make those records available to all of us.

We can give back.  165,000 volunteers helped index the 1940 census - that has dropped to about 50,000 that are now indexing the Immigration records.  Where did you go?  Just help when you can - every single name indexed is someone's family member.   FamilySearch is now accepting volunteers to help digitize the records and they can work on local projects.  Volunteers can add to the information on the Wiki.  As the Family Tree comes online - and yes, it will - there will be a need for volunteers to correct and improve the data.  We can all help - that's how we can show our gratitude for all that FamilySearch has done for the genealogy community.

If you are not attending this week, I can only say, "I wish you were here!"

Sunday, August 26, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 35

Week 35: Genealogy Friends.
Genealogy friends are wonderful people. Don’t you agree? Tell us about a genealogy friend in your life. How did you meet? Do you share any common ancestors or research interests?

I do agree. I'd say I have Abundant genealogy friends.  I have met them in many ways - at conferences, on message boards, from my blog and website, researching at libraries.  One of my genealogy friends was a volunteer at the local Family History Center - we saw each other weekly and realized we were working on family at some of the same places in the same time period.  I found one of her ancestors while researching my own - at a time and place she had "lost" him. That find helped her to prove his Revolutionary service. We always thought we might find a kinship, or that she might be related to my husband, but no connection was ever revealed. We are positive our ancestors were acquainted.

The most fun we had, were the days we'd travel to a nearby city where there was a large genealogy library.  We would meet and leave early enough to be at the door when the library opened.  We packed a lunch so we could run to the car and eat instead of wasting our research time at a restaurant. Took all of 20 minutes.  She still had a teen-ager in school, so usually she had a time to be back home.  We had the drive timed perfectly so we could research until the last possible moment.  The drive was about an hour and a half so we  discussed our findings of the day, all the way home.

We also attended IGHR at Samford University in Birmingham and roomed together several times.  We shared every night and it was almost like being able to take two simultaneous courses!

Unfortunately life got in the way and I had to move and our research frenzies came to an end.  If we were together today, I'm sure we'd take up exactly where we left off - describing the latest finds and picking each other's brains for ideas!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 34

Week 34: Genealogy Challenges.
Which genealogy challenge has given you the best sense of accomplishment? What was the research problem you had to hurdle? What steps did you take that led to success? Do you have any words of encouragement for others who are facing their own genealogy challenges?

Oh, I'm late this week!  But it is because I couldn't think of a single challenge.  Sometimes very small successes - that one single record - brings on the genealogy happy dance.  I've been extremely fortunate that there have been many other researchers of most of the family lines of both me and my husband's ancestry and I've been able to further expand on that work.  I've found many online friends (even distant cousins) and we've been able to collaborate and piece together our families, correct old research errors, and find previously unseen records.

I do still have those brick walls I'd like to climb over, but I can say that I have knocked down a few and I'm happy to say that I have actually knocked down a wall or two for other people researching their families when they discovered my website.

My words of encouragement would be to persevere - sometimes you might have to lay your research aside for awhile and take another look later.  But don't give up.  Be patient.  You will sometimes have to dig through a lot of courthouse records and look at many rolls of microfilm.  Really, folks, it isn't all on the Internet.  I have been absolutely amazed at times when I found that record that had been there all along and it was very obvious that other researchers had not found it ...because there was the proof in black and white, just waiting to be found.

Many of my problems have been solved when I was willing to take a broader look at an ancestor - that FAN stuff.  Look at the other Family members, the Associates, the Neighbors for clues.

Just one word of warning.  It can be very exciting to find a new connection, but please be sure it is the correct connection.  Be sure that really is your family!

Monday, August 13, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 33

Week 33: Ancestor Legend.
What is your favorite ancestral legend or family lore? Who originally told the story and what was the claim? Have you been able to prove the story true or false? What steps did you take to do so?

We had the usual Indian princess story.  Well, she wasn't exactly represented as a princess - just that one of the grandfathers in the chain had a mother who was half-Indian.  We never knew exactly where - although at one time my granddad sat and figure for awhile and then told me thought he was perhaps 1/8th Indian so my mother was 1/16th and I would be 1/32nd.  Choctaw.  If my granddad was 1/8th Indian then the generation of the full-blood would have been his great-grandfather or great-grandmother. Hints were that my grandfather's grandfather, Elijah "Tom" Comstock was the carrier of the Indian blood.

Once I began the genealogical journey, I realized that the story just didn't work.  If Tom's mother was "half Indian" as the story went, the full-blood Indian would have been back another generation and my granddad would have been 1/16th, not 1/8th.  But there was a bigger problem.  Tom's parents are well identified.  The Comstock line is just about as English as it's possible to be - descendants carry the most common Haplogroup found in the British Isles - the Atlantic Modal Haplotype.  His mother was Nancy Goodman - the most likely candidates for her parents were an Abraham & Nancy Goodman living in Maury County, Tennessee in the early 1800's. This isn't carved in stone, but they are the only viable candidates in that time and place.  Nancy Goodman had married her Comstock husband, Ephraim, in Maury Co in 1823.

Nancy Goodman had also been wrongly identified in some of the family genealogies as being from Graves County, Kentucky - the grain of truth is that some of her probable siblings lived later in Graves County, 1850's and later.  But Nancy never lived in Kentucky.  And the likelihood of her being of Indian heritage seems remote - by scant evidence, the Goodmans had arrived in Tennessee via North, then South, Carolina. The only census when Nancy Comstock appeared under her own name was 1850 and she did indeed state she was born in South Carolina.  Goodman is a very common name among British Isle folks.

The claim of Choctaw heritage didn't fit the above locations too well, not for Nancy, nor for her probable parents - they were primarily located in Mississippi.   This added to the puzzlement...  

I've had autosomal DNA testing done by both FamilyTree DNA and 23andMe.   If there was ever a single drop of Indian DNA in my body, it's gone.  I've found paper trail + DNA matches all over my family tree - some as far back as 8th and 9th cousins.  It seems unlikely that every trace of Indian DNA would have disappeared, but I'm told it could happen.

What I did discover is this, which may have influenced the family "tradition". One of my 4th great grandmothers, gg grandmother of the maternal grandfather who furnished the Indian heritage story, was Dorothy Amos Poindexter (1805-1846) whose younger brother Micajah did indeed marry a Cherokee lady in Kentucky by whom he had two sons before her untimely death.  Grandsons and great-grandsons were enrolled in Oklahoma and rightly so - because of the area where they were living they were included on the Choctaw rolls, even though they were Cherokee.  Some of Micajah's Indian descendants were denied because they claimed through a later wife and through Micajah's mother, neither of whom were Indian - they were apparently unaware of the true identity of Micajah's first wife.

Over 800 members of the vast Poindexter family applied for Indian rights but most were refused as most of the other lines could not prove their descent. Their confused and confusing testimony is an amazing read as few could even agree on the same Indian connection in the same generation.  Much of this testimony can be found on Fold3, the Guion Miller Rolls and the 1896 Dawes Applications.

I don't believe that the Indian story originated with my Granddad, although he seemed very proud of it.  It's well known in the family that old Elijah "Tom" Comstock loved to tell a good story and there does exist a letter by one of his wife's sisters claiming that Tom Comstock was said to be "part Indian".  Old Tom lived long enough to have told the story to his grandson [my Granddad].  I very much suspect the story originated with Tom.  I also believe the story actually applied to Micajah Poindexter's family - Tom may very well have "borrowed" it - he also may have been simply one of the carriers of the various Indian stories that seemed to proliferate throughout the Poindexter descendants.

I am convinced that it is all just a bedtime story.  We have no Indian heritage.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy - Week 32

Week 32: Family Memories. Records are the backbone of genealogy, but memories are the glue that hold our history together. For which memory of a loved one are you most thankful? Describe that moment in time, answering the who/what/when/where in the details. How did this memory impact your life and the way you approach family,

This is the hardest prompt so far.  Memories, oh my!  I was married 45 years before my husband passed away and his family was as dear to me as my own.  Many of our relatives lived well into their 80's, some into their 90's.  To isolate a single memory among so many seems impossible, but I do have a memory of my great grandmother that perhaps lit the flame of my desire to know much more about my family.

I used to go visit a great aunt and uncle for a week every summer.  She was my maternal grandmother's sister and he was my maternal grandfather's brother - they never had children of their own but were extra grandparents to my family.  They still lived in the town near where they were born and where his mother still lived with a widowed daughter.   I would always have a day to spend with Grandma and Aunt Maude at the old home, but mostly the time was spent with Grandma.

When I arrived, Grandma, then in her mid 80's, would be sitting at the kitchen table sipping her coffee from the saucer, not the cup.  This is an old country habit - a quick way to cool the coffee - pour it into the saucer and then drink  from the saucer.   She was the only person I ever saw actually do that and it was very fascinating to a 10-year-old whose own Mom would probably slap her away from the table if she dared drink from a saucer!

Now by age 10, I was already taller than my tiny great-grandmother who probably never weighed as much as 95 pounds.  Yet she had delivered eleven babies without benefit of hospitals - that was fascinating, too.

After Grandma finished her coffee, she would always take me back into the living room which was furnished in bits and pieces of furniture reminiscent of horse-hair Victorian and always very dark to keep out the Southern heat. She would take me to a picture on the wall.  It was a picture of her family about the time her first two grandchildren had been born and included her long dead husband, nine of her children, the spouses of the older children and the babies.  I was to tell her who each person in the picture was and how they were related.  As the majority of the people in the picture were still living and were still in that small town, or they trekked back home every April for Grandma's annual birthday party, this was easy to do.  I have a copy of that picture now and of course, none of them are living now. Honestly - it doesn't seem that was 60 years ago and counting.

Then Grandma would be ready for the rocking chair in the corner of her bedroom where she spent most of her days and tell me stories about her family.  Hanging on the wall across from her rocker where she could look at it often, was a portrait of her lovely daughter Lelia, who had died at age thirteen.  Other than her first newborn that lived only five days, that was her only deceased child.  Her first story was always to tell me about Lelia and how a mother could never recover from such a loss.

Grandma lived to be almost 97, although both her frail body and her mind failed her in the last years.  Maude lovingly cared for her there in her bedroom until she drew her last breath.  I think as a link to such a long-ago past along with the deep feeling of love and pride in her family, Grandma provided me with that burning desire to know more about all those who had gone before.