Question: Where did great-grandfather Daniel S. Posten live in 1900?
This blog post outlines one experience in my Genealogy Do-Over journey. “Tracking Research” and “Conducting Research” are the topics for Month 4 (April 2017). OK, so I’m still behind on some of my lessons. And, I am still working on improving my research practices. I want to share one example of how the system worked for me.
Here is a copy of my original family group sheet (FGS) for paternal great-grandfather Daniel S. Posten.
The yellowish color of the paper and the form itself suggest that this is one of my earliest attempts, probably started about 1987. Entries are written in pen and pencil and may have been made at different times. This was definitely a work-in-progress! For the Genealogy Do-Over, I used a different form and re-wrote the FGS. I have confirmed a lot of information so the entries are neater and more complete. I started entering trees online in 2001 and Dad’s tree would have been one of the first.
Write your name (as preparer) and date on each form. Many forms have space for this information. In general, use a pen to write information that you can confirm. Use pencil, different color ink, or highlighter for information that needs to be confirmed.
A research log is the way to track research efforts. I am beginning to see the log as a diary of sorts about the journey. As I filled out the log and other documentation forms for Daniel, I found several gaps. Daniel was born in 1859 and died in 1918. I downloaded a copy of his death certificate in 2010 and received an original copy (dated 1979) from a cousin in 2012. That original copy has been scanned and placed in acid-free, archival quality sleeve in Posten binder.
One way to track our ancestors is through the United States federal census, conducted every 10 years since 1790. Census records are available through 1940. States also conducted censuses at random times. A list of state censuses can be found here: https://www.census.gov/history/www/genealogy/other_resources/state_censuses.html
From previous searches, I tracked Daniel in 1860, 1880, and 1910. After his death, Lizzie (Elizabeth Phoebe Fulkerson), his wife, was listed with my grandparents in 1920 and with another daughter, Bertha Posten Brack, in 1930. Lizzie died in 1938. All of this information was entered on the newly created research log in May 2017. I hadn’t really noticed the gap until I filled out the research log for Daniel. Yes, this gap should also be apparent from the genealogy software program listing of events for Daniel. There is a note for 1870 with Daniel’s parents: “Family moved to Pittston about 1870; date from obituaries for both James and his wife, Meriam.” Since Daniel would have been with his parents in 1870, I decided to conduct that search later.
Where were Daniel and Lizzie in 1900? Have I searched before and not found anything? If so, what and where did I search? With no research log, the answer is: “I don’t know.” Action item for To-Do List: “Locate 1900 census record for Daniel S. Posten. Target Resources: Ancestry, FamilySearch, census books at OK History Center. Start West Pittston.” Why start in West Pittston? Because that’s where the family lived in 1910.
And, here’s the rest of the story. Date: July 11, 2017: In depth review of records for great-grandparents, Daniel S. Posten and Elizabeth Phoebe Fulkerson. Research goal for day: Locate 1900 census record. Start with West Pittston, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. Go to Ancestry website. West Pittston has 3 districts, with about 50 pages of census records for each. Big Sigh!! District #1 – no luck. Stretch, get water and a snack.
Look at family group sheet again. Three of their 8 children were born around 1900: Bertha in 1895, Martha Jane in 1898, and Samuel in 1901. Birthplace for those 3 children is listed as Ransom Township, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania. Check sources – obituaries and death certificates for Bertha, Martha and Samuel. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place! Go to census record for Ransom Township. Only 22 pages! And, success! On Page 3B, Danial S. Poster (as transcribed), wife Lizzie, and 6 children. 
Research goal met! Additional information from 1900 census—Lizzie is recorded as mother of 6 children with 6 children living. On 1910 census, she is recorded as mother of 8 children with 7 living. The two census records combined support a fact recorded by others, with no documentation, that another child, Ida, was born about 1903 and died about 1908. I am still searching for Ida.
REFLECTION: Using the research log, I identified that I didn’t know where Daniel and his family lived in 1900. I initially used only one clue, residence in West Pittston in 1910, to find them. I only searched one website because that is the one that I am most comfortable with. I met research goal for this session and didn’t follow any BSOs . I downloaded census record immediately and recorded information on research log and genealogy software. Total time spent: about 45 minutes. If I had looked at FGS closer before beginning, I might have noticed reported birthplace of children as Ransom Township and avoided searching 50 pages of West Pittston census. Transcription of surname as “Poster” may have been an issue. Since I hadn’t filled out a research log before May, 2017, it is possible that I had previously looked in West Pittston and Pittston, found nothing, then became discouraged and stopped searching. Suggestion for future: Review all documents to narrow search criteria. Recognize that notes on research log may have been written at end of a long day and may or may not reflect the best search criteria. Continue creation of research logs for direct ancestors in Posten line. Vary websites and other sources so I can become more familiar with each.
Participating in the Genealogy Do-over is helpful although frustrating at times. Slowing down to complete specific tasks is still a challenge. I am now working on Dad’s great-grandparents. Citations are getting easier. When I print an item, I often add more information about the source than what is printed. In the last month, I started 2 new projects, using improved techniques and tools. TO DO: midyear review. Read Genealogy Do-Over, Months 4-6 again!
 1860 U.S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Price Twp., p. 76 (penned), dwelling 516, family 691, Daniel S. Posten : digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2012); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1142.
 1880 U.S. census, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania population schedule, Pittston, Enumeration District [ED] 136, p. 18B (penned), dwelling 163, family 177, Daniel Bostons [Posten]: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2012); citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1150, image 0464.
 1910 U.S. census, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania population schedule, West Pittston, Enumeration District [ED] 127, p. 17B (penned), family 405, Daniel S. Paster [Posten]: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 2012); citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1370, image 528.
 1920 U.S. Census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, pop.sch., Ransom Twp., enumeration district (ED) 93, p. 6B, Family #118, Elizabeth Posten; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 13 December 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration. Roll T625_1578.
 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Scranton, enumeration district (ED) 26, p. 2B (penned), Elizabeth Posten mother-in-law, 69; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, printed 13 Dec 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D. C.. Microfilm publication T626, Roll 2052, Image 187.0.
 1900 U.S. census, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania population schedule, Ransom Twp, Enumeration District [ED] 40, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 42, family 43, Danial S. Poster [Daniel S. Posten]: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 Jul 2017); from National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1419.