Connecting the dots: Posten families

Remember dot-to-dot pictures?  Each dot has a number, letter of the alphabet or other logical system for you to follow.  The dots don’t appear to make sense at first. However, when you connect the dots correctly, a picture emerges.  My current genealogy research efforts seem like that. Each piece of information is a dot. All I have to do is go to the next logical dot and a family picture will emerge. But, the dots don’t always present themselves in a logical manner. Dots are missing. The resulting picture looks more like a scribbled mess. In this post, I describe the status of my Posten files. Think of each file as a dot on the overall picture.

Early in my research, I discovered several published genealogies of Poston families. These narratives outlined Poston families who originated in Pennsylvania but subsequently moved south. One author even stated: “There are no Postons listed in the Pennsylvania census for that year [1790] .” [1]   While that may be true, families with a similar surname, Posten (my maiden name) and its variations, lived in Pennsylvania from 1790 on.  Are the Poston families and Posten families connected? I am not sure and keep an open mind.

Summary of my Posten files:
  1. Dad’s direct ancestral line. I can trace our branch of the Posten family from Dad to Thomas Postens, born 1782 at New Jersey and died 1854 at Monroe county, Pennsylvania. Census records, birth and death certificates prove the lineage. With few exceptions, Dad’s family, including Dad’s siblings, lived in Pennsylvania from the 1800s to the present. I am working on collateral lines. In August, 2017, my husband and I visited the graves of Thomas and his wife, Esther Brown at Friends Burial Ground in Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania. [2] 
  2. New Jersey Posten families. Posten men paid taxes in New Jersey in the 1780s and 1790s. [3]  I believe that at least two of those men – Richard Postens and William Postens- moved to Bucks county, Pennsylvania by 1800. [4], [5]  Either one, or another man, could be Thomas’ father.  Samuel Posten, born about 1794, has been identified as progenitor of a Posten family which still resides in Monmouth county, New Jersey. [6] 
  3. Jacob Postens and Anne Burson.  Jacob, born about 1755 In New Jersey, identified as our family’s ancestor by an elderly aunt. [7]  When I wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, I pursued this assertion but found it to be false.  Dad’s family is definitely NOT descended from Jacob and Anne. Given Jacob’s reported birthplace of New Jersey, my Posten family and Jacob’s family could still be related.
  4. Elihu Posten family.  Elihu lived in Monroe county, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. (Note: Recall that Thomas Postens died in Monroe county).  Elihu’s first wife was Eleanor Transue and they had nine children.  Eleanor died in 1841 and Elihu married Elizabeth Eilenberger about 1842.  They had two children.  William Posten, son of Elihu and Elizabeth, moved to Wisconsin. [8]  Elihu and our Thomas could be brothers.
  5. Benjamin Avery Posten (1839, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania – 1905, Pulaski county, Missouri).  A chance meeting between Dad and one of Benjamin’s descendants led me to search for this family.  The genealogy from Benjamin through the 20th century is fairly clear. Researchers differ as to the identity of Benjamin’s parents.
  6. Posten families in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. I started this file as supplement to Benjamin Avery Posten’s file.  Names from the early to mid-1800s include, among others, Cornelius Posten, Peter Posten and several men named William Posten. Research on these families is ongoing.  Relationships are still tentative.
  7. James Posten and Rhoda Shaffer, Iowa.  James Posten (1790, Pennsylvania –           ) [9]  I believe that James is the son of Peter Posten, found in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania in 1800 and 1810.  Both Peter and James were recorded next to each other on Licking county, Ohio, census in 1820.  [10]  Five of James and Rhoda’s six children were born in Ohio.  Earlier this year, I was contacted by a descendant of James and Rhoda but we don’t share any DNA.  On some online trees, James Posten of Iowa is mistakenly identified as son of Jacob Postens and Anne Burson. Jacob and Anne had a son named James but he never left Pennsylvania.
  8. Miscellaneous Posten families. This file contains a mix of records for persons with Posten surname in various places including Indiana, Kansas and Kentucky.  I haven’t followed up on any of these.

Are any of the Posten families named above related to Dad’s family? That question, my friends, is unanswered.  Each file contains multiple dots (i.e. discrete pieces of information such as census records, BMD certificates, wills, letters, etc.).  For some files, the picture is emerging nicely. In other files, it’s still a scribbled mess.

Reflection:

This post summarizes personal research on my Posten line.  I wrote it as a ‘note to self’ type memorandum as I veer off in other directions.  When I come to a hurdle for one person or family, I put it aside and move on.  My 2012 Posten history now seems vary amateurish and incomplete. I was definitely a novice and amateur genealogist when I wrote it!  I have a lot more information now about each family.  As far as revising 2012 Posten history, I am stuck on Thomas and finding his parents.

What I learned:  I have made good progress for some families, not so much for others. Goal of revising my 2012 Posten history led me to re-open files and look more critically at what I have.  My analysis and research skills have improved over the years.  Take extensive notes about searches, findings and initial analysis. Research logs are a must!

What helped:   paper and digital files for each family group, including family trees in RootsMagic.

What didn’t help:  Items in files with no idea about source. Incomplete source information. Sources that seem to have disappeared. Minimal and/or no research logs. Items not organized in any meaningful way. But, I guess that’s the way many of us start – copy an item and file it, organize later.

To-do:  Record notes about searches and results. Continue to create research logs. Organize individual items in each file by family group or category—lots of paper clips! Continue revision of 2012 Posten history but leave chapter on Thomas for now.


SOURCES:

[1] Erma Poston Landers, A Poston Family of South Carolina:  Its Immigrant Ancestor and some of his descendants:  A Family Genealogy (Atlanta, Georgia:  Erma Poston Landers [Lake City, South Carolina], 1965].  Digital copy accessed & printed, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : 24 March 2010), page 5.

[2] Friends Burial Ground (Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania), markers for Thomas Postens and Esther Postens; personally read, August 2017.

[3] “New Jersey, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1643-1890, database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  :  accessed multiple dates, May and June, 2020); citing Ronald V. Jackson, Accelerated Indexing Systems, “New Jersey Census, 1643-1890,”, data from microfilmed records including indexes to 1772-1822 tax list.

[4] Richard Postens, 1800 census. 1800 U.S. Census, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Smithfield, p. 618, line 24, Richard Postens; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 29 May 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M32, roll 37.

[5] William Postens, 1790 census at Bucks county. 1790 U.S. Census, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, population schedule, no town given, page 112, line 5, William Pofte [Poste]; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 30 January 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publicaiton M637, roll 8.

[6] Personal correspondence with [Name withheld for privacy], Monmouth county, New Jersey, circa 1990s.

[7] Typewritten genealogy, Posten family tradition regarding lineage of John Posten to Jacob Posten (b 1755) as reported by Ruby Gardiner, granddaughter of Daniel Posten & Phoebe Fulkerson to Vera Posten Brooks, ca. 1989; privately held by Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Copy sent by Ms. Brooks to Ms. Ellerbee about 1990.

[8] Wisconsin, son of Elihu and Elizabeth. 1880 U.S. Census, Grant county, Wisconsin, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 116, Millville, p. 243A, dwelling 6, family 6, William Poston [Posten] ; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed 22 June 2020 ); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 1427.

[9] Susan Posten Ellerbee, James Posten-Rhoda Shaffer Family Group Sheet, Family charts and Group Sheets, privately held by Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Canadian, Oklahoma. In vertical file, “Iowa Posten Family”, data collected circa 2000-2020.

[10] 1820 U.S. Census, Licking county, Ohio, population schedule, Franklin, page 21, image 35, line 10, Peter Posten, line 11, James Posten; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed 12 June 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication, M33_94.

Midyear review, June 2020

Time for midyear review of my 2020 genealogy goals. My overall assessment?  Distracted. Minimal focus. Why? Multiple factors but nothing specific. I feel like I am in a rut. I have run out of steam to complete various projects.  Due to possible impact of Corona virus? We are blessed that none of our immediate family here have been directly affected. One of my second cousins, who lives in another state, contracted the virus but isolated at home. An elderly relative suffered other health problems and the doctor deferred hospitalization due to Corona virus.  She required 24/7 in-home care for several weeks.  

I feel overwhelmed by the constant negative reports on the news. Perhaps that negativity bubbles over into my genealogy work?  I continue to do some genealogy every day but lack momentum. Current work seems rote and routine – complete family group records, create and fill in research logs, clean up paper and digital files. Yet, these tasks are necessary to leave a coherent trail.

As I review my 2020 goals, I have made progress. I completed some goals quickly- copying BMD certificates from a Posten relative and responding to cousin requests for Tucker family.  I sent my DNA to a third company based on request from a possibly related Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties. Result? No shared DNA. But, we are still hopeful for a common ancestor!   

Family cookbook project is almost done. So far, about 1/3 of total recipes are desserts. Shows obvious preference of our family and friends!

I received death certificate for Mom’s great grandmother, Anna Wolf Klee Mϋller/ Miller.  Anna died in 1883 at New York City. I plan to write a blog post about the process and information on that certificate. Two death certificate requests, both from New York, are still pending. New York state has so many other issues than responding to genealogical requests!  Because of Corona virus, I will defer making any more requests this year.  

I started work (again!) on revising Posten history, initially written in 2012. Last year, I took an online genealogy writing course and revised outline for book. I realized how sketchy much of the information is. I am still looking for Thomas Postens in 1830 and 1840. This entails page-by-page search of those census records because Ancestry and Family Search yield no hints, even when I use variations and asterisks. No results found in Northampton, Monroe or Pike counties, Pennsylvania. Expanding search to nearby counties- Bucks, Chester, Luzerne, Wayne.  I carefully document my search efforts and results.

I admit to following some rabbit trails in this search. I found some leads about Richard Postens and William Postens, either of whom could be Thomas’ father.  I may have found three daughters of Richard Postens – Elena (baptized 1774), Jane (born 1785) and Elizabeth (born circa 1795-1802).

Last week,  I followed a rabbit trail for Cornelius Postens who lived in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon county is in western part of the state. Cornelius was born about 1778 in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Rachel, had at least three children- John, James and Charles. Cornelius died about 1852. I am still piecing their story together. The Huntingdon County branch could be related to Dad’s family.  

I am keeping a personal Corona Virus diary that I do not plan to publish. Daily entries have been reduced to once a week, or even less. I scanned and added articles from our local newspaper.  Perhaps one of my descendants will find it interesting.  I will probably print it and place with other personal papers at some point in the future.

To review, perhaps I have made more progress than I thought. My initial feeling of inertia is gradually being replaced by slow and steady.  Daily research efforts aren’t totally without focus but have been scattered between different families. My original set of 26 goals now seems too ambitious.  I continue to forge ahead.

As usual, writing my blog post helped. I see where I’ve been and the progress that I’ve made.  Emotionally, I still feel overwhelmed but less so. What did I learn from this reflection?

  • Recognize the challenges to identify family members who lived in late 1700s and early 1800s. 
  • Re-focus, set a specific research goal for each session.
  • Work in short spurts – maybe only 20-30 minutes at a time instead of hours! 
  • Keep extensive notes.
  • Review information already in files before each session (i.e., avoid duplication).  
  • When a specific goal seems unattainable or gets me bogged down, take a break then work on another question.

Apparently, others are experiencing similar issues.  Read Thomas MacEntee’s “10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy”, posted 4 June 2020. https://genealogybargains.s3.amazonaws.com/10+Ways+to+Jumpstart+Your+Genealogy.pdf

Blog posts that I found helpful:

Amy Johnson Crow, “Avoiding distractions in our genealogy”, blog post, 19 August 2019, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/avoiding-distractions-genealogy/  :    accessed 4 May 2020).

Amy Johnson Crow, “Genealogy Research:  The WANDER Method,” blog post, 17 January 2020, Modern Genealogy Made Easy  (https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/genealogy-research-process-wander-method/  :  accessed 4 May 2020).

“The Shiny Object Syndrome in Genealogy and How to Cure It,” blog post, 28 January 2019, Family History Foundation (https://familyhistoryfoundation.com/2019/01/28/shiny-object-syndrome-in-genealogy-how-to-cure-it/  : accessed 8 June 2020).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

White carnations on Mother’s Day 2020

Mother’s Day 2020.  A bittersweet day in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic.  With social distancing, many mothers receive only virtual hugs from their children.  For others, like myself, I wish that I could even do that. My mother died in January 2007. My image for the day is carnations, honoring mothers.

Facts about Mother’s Day:

  • 1914:  Woodrow Wilson signed law recognizing 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis is honored as the woman who began the tradition of wearing flowers to honor our mothers.  Source: “Mother’s Day 2020”, https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day)
  • Carnations are associated with motherhood traits including faith and charity. A red flower shows  respect for a living mother.  A white carnation remembers a mother who has died. Some people prefer pink as a sign of gratitude.  Source: Tradition of Red & White Flowers on Mother’s Day  (https://www.proflowers.com/blog/red-white-flowers-mothers-day )

I am also thinking about all of the mothers in my family tree.   Women who bore sons and daughters and eventually became our ancestors.  Our family’s heritage reflects the diversity that is America.

  • My mother’s mother, Amalie Charlotte Maurer, granddaughter of German immigrants.
  • My dad’s mother, Jennie Ash Richards, granddaughter of a woman who died a week after giving birth to her only child, a son. The woman’s ancestors included early Dutch settlers of New York.
  • My mother-in-law’s mother, Mabel Venette Reed, descendant of a Revolutionary War Patriot whose family originally came from England.
  • My father-in-law’s mother, Clara Doris Simmons, great-granddaughter of Georgia planters with English and Irish origins.

 I don’t have any famous women in my family tree. But, each was famous in their own right. Without each of those women who became mothers, I and my husband would not be here.  I believe that all of my fore-mothers showed a strength of spirit and endurance.  They cared for the daily needs of their family and looked to the future.

To finish, I’m reminded of an old poem written by Rosemary Benet, “If Nancy Hanks came back as a ghost”. Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, died when Abe was 9 years old.

So, I salute all mothers and tell them that their children did, indeed, “get on”.

“White carnations on Mother’s Day 2020,” Blog post, Posting Family Roots, 11 May 2020

Nellie’s parents were born in USA

A brick wall without a hole or chink or a hurdle to hop over? Depends on your perspective and the status of your research.  In the case of Nellie Black Johnson’s parents, the wall has a tiny peephole. This post describes positive and negative evidence about Nellie’s parents and suggests next steps.

Nellie Black Johnson, my husband’s great-grandmother, married Henry Louis Johnson about 1910, likely at Limestone county, Texas [online tree with no source reported].  Her death certificate claims her race as White; birth date, place and parents as 16 January 1888 in Texas to C.W. Black and Mary Bull. [1]  The Johnson family was in Limestone county by the mid-1870s. Nell died on 2 May 1960 in Mexia, Limestone county, Texas and is buried in the Point Enterprise Cemetery. Informant was her oldest daughter, Katie Johnson Brannon.  Next steps: Determine place of birth for Nell’s parents using 1920 and 1930 census for Nell and Henry.  1940 census lists place of birth for the person but not parents.

Evidence:  

1930 census. Mexia, Limestone county, Texas. Henry L. Johnson, age 46; wife, Nellie Johnson, age 42; eight children:  Katie, 18; Luther C, 17; Horace C, 14; Alice P, 12; Annie R, 10; Edith N, 8; Mary L, 4; and Marie A, 1. [2]  Race, W [white] for all. Birthplace of Nellie’s father and mother recorded as “United States” and “United States”. Birthplace for both of Henry’s parents recorded as “Mississippi.”

1920 census. Enterprise, Limestone county, Texas. H.L. Johnson, age 35; wife, Kellie [per transcription] Johnson, age 32; 5 children:  Kate, 9; Clyde, 7; Horace, 5; Pauline, 2 7/12; Ruth, 2 months. [3] Race: W [white] for all. Birthplace of Nellie’s father and mother recorded as “USA” and “USA”. Birthplace for both of Henry’s parents recorded as “Mississippi.”

Analysis:   Listing parents as born in “United States” and “USA” seems odd. This is the first time that I encountered an entry like this. Perhaps she didn’t know or didn’t remember. Perhaps they said nothing more for a reason. Possible that Nellie knew but didn’t want to reveal that information? If not, why not?  

1920 census instructions for enumerators may shed some light (page 31, item 147, column 21)[4]:

“In case, however, a person does not know, the state or Territory of birth of his father, but knows that he was born in the United States, write United States rather than ” unknown.”

Enumerators for 1930 census received similar instructions (page 29, item 174, columns 19 and 20). [5]

According to a source at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City[6],  USA was sometimes used to designate birth in Oklahoma Territory or Indian Territory before Oklahoma statehood in 1907. This leads to the possibility that Nellie’s parents were born in Oklahoma Territory, Indian Territory or another territory.

Nellie & Henry Johnson, date unknown, circa 1950-1955? Personal collection, Susan Posten Ellerbee [Yukon, Oklahoma]

My mother-in-law reported that her grandmother was Native American, according to oral family history. Mother-in-law sent DNA to two companies. Neither one reported any Native American ancestry.

“Anyone with even a single indigenous American ancestor has indigenous American ancestry, but not everyone with an indigenous American ancestor has indigenous American DNA.” [7] 

Could Nellie’s Native American roots be so far back that they don’t show up in the current generation?  Do other descendants of Nellie have Native American genes in their DNA?

Next step- 1910 census.  April 1910. Waco City, McLennan, Texas.[8] 22 year-old Nellie Black, boarder, birthplace Texas, living with Sarah J. Bull, 45, head of household and her 4 children.  Nellie’s parents recorded as born in Texas.  Is Sarah J Bull related to Nellie’s mother, Mary Bull?  No definitive information about Sarah J Bull yet. Is this even our Nellie?

At least two online trees identify a South Carolina family consisting of C.W. and Mary Black as Nellie’s parents.[9], [10] According to census records, William Caleb Black and wife, Mary, lived in South Carolina continuously from 1870 to 1920. 1900 Census[11] shows a child, Nellie Black, born 1886 in South Carolina. Family does not appear to have ever left South Carolina.  Conclusion:  William Caleb Black, South Carolina, is not C.W. Black, father of Nellie Black.

From the scant evidence, I make these propositions:

  1. Nellie’s parents did not tell her where in the United States they were born.
  2. Nellie did not want to reveal where her parents were born.  
  3. Nellie’s parents were born in one of the territories prior to statehood.  
  4. Nellie’s ancestry does not include Native Americans.
  5. Nellie’s Native American heritage was not passed on genetically to her granddaughter.

I contacted DNA matches who have surnames of Johnson, Black and Bull.  One person shared some leads that are now on my to-do list.  Late last night, I found two interesting census records and will follow those clues later.

Reflection

March is Women’s History Month. This post briefly outlines one woman- Nellie Kay Janet Black Johnson, my mother-in-law’s paternal grandmother- and our DNA dilemma. This year, I plan to look deeper into my mother-in-law’s family.   I continue to work on goals related to other families.  

I am somewhat discouraged by the status of family trees on my computer-based genealogy program. I thought that I was making such good progress with my Genealogy Do-Over! Dad’s tree, the first one used for Do-Over, still needs work. Rewriting Posten family history will certainly help there! Other trees are in various states of repair.  Thanks to the Do-Over, I made a back-up every time that I worked on a tree. I re-opened the latest version and re-named with 2020 in the title. Note to self –one person and one family at a time!

What I learned:  A little more about DNA testing.  

What helped:  Picture of Nellie. List of DNA relatives for mother-in-law. Response from one DNA relative. Remembering that a genetic cousin is always a genealogical cousin. Just need to find the genealogical relationship! Writing this post.

What didn’t help: Ineffective and late night searches. I need to try different strategies!  Work on the brick walls earlier in the day. Not tracking what I found.

To-do:  Create research logs for Sarah J. Bull and others as I search; document findings. If needed, set aside for a week or two.  Follow leads from DNA match and census records.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


SOURCES:

[1] “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 27 February 2020), entry for Nell Johnson; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; certificate no. 37422.

[2]. 1930 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Mexia, enumeration district (ED) 11, pg. 6B, dwelling 135, family 149, Johnson Nellie, wife, age 42; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 26 Feb  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 2371.

[3]. 1920 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Pt Enterprise School District, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 3A, dwelling 41, family 47, H.L. Johnson head, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 26 Feb  2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1829.

[4] Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States, January 1, 1920, Instructions to Enumerators (Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1919), digital image;  United States Census Bureau (. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/programs-surveys/decennial/technical-documentation/questionnaires/1920instructions.pdf  : Accessed 26 Feb 2020).

[5] Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fifteenth Census of the United States, January 1, 1920, Instructions to Enumerators, Population and Agriculture (Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1930), digital image;  United States Census Bureau (. https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1930instructions.pdf  : Accessed 26 Feb 2020).

[6]Susan M. Ellerbee,  handwritten notes, 27 July 2014, in vertical file for Henry Louis Johnson and Nellie Black.

[7] “Indigenous Americas Region, “ Ancestry Support (https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Native-American-DNA  : accessed 27 Feb 2020).

[8]. 1910 U.S. Census, McLennan county, Texas, population schedule, Waco City, enumeration district (ED) 89, sheet 25B, dwelling 276, family 298, Nellie B. Black, age 22; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 26 Feb 2020; citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. , microfilm publicationT624_1575.

[9] Camtrot, “Trotter Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/20201602/person/943537300/facts  : accessed 26 Feb 2020), “C.W. Black,” born and died in South Carolina.

[10] GaryTaylor8958, “Lynda Jean Martin Family Tree,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/9918609/person/-693511314/facts   :  accessed 26 Feb 2020, “William Caleb Black,” born South Carolina; last census record 1920 in Garvin, Anderson, South Carolina.

[11] 1900 U.S. Census, Anderson county, South Carolina, population schedule, Garvin, enumeration district (ED) 52, sheet 20A, dwelling 217, family 225, Nellie Black, age 14; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 26 Feb 2020). Nellie listed as born in South Carolina.

School teacher, soldier, farmer-James T.L. Powell

Every soldier has a story before they became a soldier. In genealogical research, I sometimes identify people only in terms of their military experience. But, there is more to each person’s story. Previously, I wrote about a Confederate soldier, James T. L. Powell. This post describes James in terms of his other roles — son, husband, father and school teacher and farmer.

Little Creek School house, circa 1870, Buchanan, posted July 11, 2017.  Courtesy Brian Brown/Vanishing North Georgia

Profile: James T.L. Powell & Deborah Daniel (1st wife)

For more information about education in the 1860s:

 “Education during the 1860s,” American Battlefield Trust, no date ( https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/education-during-1860s   :   accessed 5 November  2019).

Elyse Hoganson,  “The evolution of  schools in Bartow County, Georgia,”  Etowah Valley Historical Society,  no date  (https://evhsonline.org/archives/43743   : accessed 5 November2019).

Brian Tomlin. “Schooling of the 1860s”,  Civil War Blog,  a project of PA Historian,  26 March 2012 (https://civilwar.gratzpa.org/2012/03/schooling-of-the-1860s/   :  accessed 5 November 2019).

Reflection:

I rewrote this post more often than usual. I just wasn’t happy with my standard recitation of facts and questions. I googled ‘writer’s block’ and found a website, “Warts and All” (https://wartsandall.blog/2019/06/25/writers-block/ ) with some ideas and templates. I tried one of the templates and liked the relative clean look. The result is this post.  

I still have lots of questions about James and Deborah. I didn’t meet the ‘reasonably exhaustive’ research criterion.   I checked Family Search again for new documents – no results. I checked Internet Archive for books about the histories of Calhoun county, Georgia and Cherokee county, Texas.  I found one book about each with no results for relevant persons with surnames of Powell or Daniel.  Print books are available at libraries distant from me. I searched Louisiana newspapers (Newspapers.com) with mixed results, specifically obituaries for Alvey and some of James’ grandchildren. Research about these descendants is not complete.

Unexpected result:  Grandparents of Cora Dowdle  (wife of Alvey Powell) are Stephen Myers Hester and Mary Delphine Fayard. Stephen and Mary are also grandparents of Deedie Bailey Simmons, my husband’s great-grandmother. My husband shares more DNA with Alvey and Cora’s descendants than we thought!

What I learned/ recalled:  Value of using multiple sources. Obituaries often give married names of female siblings and daughters.  More than one way to present information.

What helped:  Previous research about James and Deborah virtually complete with research logs and sources.

What didn’t help:  Stopping to follow-up on James and Deborah’s descendants. Finally realized that I didn’t need to include all information about all descendants for this post. I still can’t confirm Deborah’s death date or place! 

To-DO:  Obtain death certificate copies for Alonzo Powell (died 1940, Louisiana); James M Powell (died 1948, Louisiana) and Peter Powell (died 1955, Louisiana). Add to BSO list – create research logs for Alonzo, James & Peter; learn more about their children. Questions:  Who moved to Louisiana first? What was reason for moving from Texas to Louisiana?  Follow Miles & Mahala Buzby as clue to James’ parentage. Mahala could be related to James. Discover information about Thomas and Eleanor Daniel, presumed parents of Deborah A.C. Daniel.  

Sources for James T.L. Powell, School Teacher

Sumter County, Georgia, Marriage Books, Sumter County Ordinary Court, 1850-1857, p.218, no. 24, James T.L. Powell, Deborah A.C. Daniel, 28 June 1857; digital images, University System of Georgia, Georgia Archives (http://vault.georgiaarchives.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/countyfilm/id/289112/rec/3      : accessed,downloaded, printed 24 March 2017); Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

1860 U.S. Census, Calhoun county, Georgia, pop. sch., 3rd Distric, p. 139 (stamped), dwelling 335, family 335, James T.L. Powell age 25; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com   : accessed, downloaded & printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_113.

National Archives & Records Administration, “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia,” digital images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com   : accessed, printed, downloaded 8 October 2018), entry for Powell, James T.L., 18 pages; citing NARA M266. “Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Georgia units, labeled with each soldier’s name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier.” Roll 0366.

1870 U.S. Census, Calhoun County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 626, p. 55 (ink pen, p. 585 (stamp), dwelling 510, family 486, Jas T L Powell; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed, downloaded. printed 9 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_138.

“Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966-2002,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed 1 November 2019), entry for J.T.L. Powell and Catherine Brown, 19 April 1877, Cherokee county; citing county courthouse records  extracted from copies of original records in microfilm, microfiche, or book format.

1880 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Precinct no. 8, enumeration district (ED) 19, p. 1 (ink pen); p. 447A (stamp), dwelling 6, family 6, D.C. Powel age 9/12; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com   : viewed, downloaded, printed 26 December 2015); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T9, roll 1295.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019

Of laptops and laundry: A light-hearted look at things that interfere with genealogy

Do you remember this poem? I embraced this idea when the boys were small. Now, those babies are grown and out on their own. I retired from work outside of the home in 2016. Genealogy is now my 40+ hours per week job although my husband sometimes says it’s more of an obsession. I need to remember that genealogy DOES keep! Especially, if you have thorough, complete records of your efforts. 

My 10-year-old laptop died a few weeks ago. That event certainly interfered with my genealogy work.   In January 2017, I accepted the reality of disorganized paper and digital genealogy files. I resolved to correct the situation. That’s when I discovered Thomas MacAntee’s Genealogy Do-Over program. [1]  One step is “securing research data.” I followed directions and began routine backups.  Daily data and image backups on the cloud and weekly backups to an external hard drive. Last year, I began monthly backups of all laptop files (not just the genealogy files) to the external hard drive.  These activities resulted in minimum loss of data when my laptop died.

I knew that the laptop’s days were numbered. Laptop’s response time gradually slowed.  My son offered to build a desktop computer for me. We planned for the new computer to be functional before laptop died. Oh, well!  Only one loss found so far – bookmarks to websites. Remedies:  Sync bookmarks with another computer. Periodically save bookmarks to HTML file; store file on Cloud, flash drive and/or  external hard drive.  

We bought a Surface Pro notebook computer in 2017. The purpose was twofold:  (1) Don’t take laptop with personal information on a genealogy field trip.  (2) Take pictures with notebook rather than a camera. Pictures didn’t need to be downloaded from camera to computer.  My husband became an excellent photographer of gravestones! Although there was a lot of perceived ‘junk’ on old laptop, we decided to use the Surface notebook minimally. The Surface became my lifeline while son built desktop computer.  Desktop is now up and running!

Which brings me to another thing that interferes with genealogy – laundry (and other housework).  There are always 2-3 loads of laundry to be done.  Buzzers on washer and dryer alert me to step away from the genealogy work (usually on the computer) for a few minutes. Actually, not such a bad thing! Cleaning house has never been one of my favorite jobs. I describe myself as a ‘laissez-faire’ housekeeper—the house doesn’t have to be completely dust-free and spotless clean.  I live by this motto:  “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.”  Everything does get cleaned, just not every day!

And, there is the issue of food! My family is always appreciative when I cook. Sometimes, I resort to my “meal prepared and on the table in 30-45 minutes” mode that was common when I worked outside of the home. One advantage of retirement is that I can now prepare those ‘’week-end only when I have lots of time” meals on a weekday. Of course, there are still the “what do you want from take-out” days and “let’s get a pizza” days.  Grocery shopping and meal prep also mean that I put the genealogy aside for various time periods.

Genealogy does keep! But only if you have complete, thorough records of the data and your analysis. Document everything you do, then save it in more than one way.

Try this mantra:  

      Records searched and dutifully filed. 
      Data reviewed and analysis writ down.    
      Media saved, backup plan in effect, files are in order.  
      More Genealogy will keep till tomorrow. 
     (Unless, of course, you just found that elusive person or item 
       that answers one question but generates more!)  

Reflection:

I had to get out of serious genealogy work for a bit. I have been getting bogged down with small details. The elusive ancestors from the early 1800s and late 1700s remain elusive. Oh, I have names, dates and places.  Questions remain:

  • Who is Thomas Ellerby’s father? Thomas bought land in North Carolina in 1724.  Candidates include Thomas, John, William and Edward Ellerby, all of whom were in Virginia circa 1683-1690.     
  • What is relationship between Thomas Ellerby, who moved from Virginia to South Carolina about 1737 and John Ellerby, who bought land in North Carolina in 1738? Both men owned property near the Pee Dee River which runs in both North and South Carolina.
  • John Ellerby died 1751 in Anson county, North Carolina. Is he ancestor of our John Ellerbee, born 1808 in Georgia and died 1884 in Florida?

The amount of work needed for do-over of Ellerbee family tree is overwhelming. Other projects beg for my attention. Solution? One project at a time. Work on each project at least once a week.

Temporarily put aside further review and searches for those early Ellerby/ Ellerbe/  Ellerbee ancestors.  I reviewed digital and paper files for John E. Ellerbee and his two wives, completed research logs and re-wrote citations to meet standards.  The same process is complete for four generations of Ellerbee men who are direct descendants of John E. Ellerbee plus 13 other persons. Scattered re-written source citations appear throughout my RootsMagic tree. Proposed work plan:

  • Wives of Ellerbee men and their direct ancestors.
  • Siblings of Ellerbee direct ancestors.
  • Simmons direct ancestors (father-in-law’s mother’s family).
  • Wives of Simmons men and their direct ancestors.
  • Siblings of Simmons direct ancestors.

Continue applying lessons learned in Genealogy Do-Over.


[1] Thomas MacAntee,  Genealogy Do-Over (https://genealogydoover.com/are-your-ready-for-the-genealogy-do-over/    :  accessed 7 October 2019).

What’s in a name – Sally or Ciety or Suzetta or Sarah Bailey?

The name of a person on a record is not always what it appears to be.  A person’s first name (a.k.a. given name) at birth and the name by which they are known are often different.  One name may be used on legal documents and a different name, often a middle name, on other records.  Then, there are nicknames and variations of given names. The given name-middle name-surname order is common in America but not in other countries.  To address the dilemma, genealogists ask:  “Is Person A on Document A really the same as Person B on Document B?”  Clues from various records lead to a best guess.  This post describes such an event in the Ellerbee family tree.

James John Ellerbee is my husband’s paternal great-great-grandfather. The maiden name of James’ first wife was Bailey. Her first name could be Sally, Ciety, Szetta, Sitie or Sarah. 

Source #1: Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986).

Page 14-43: “Jim Ellerbee served in Company L, 25th Regiment of Georgia Infantry Volunteers (Calhoun Repeaters); he enlisted as a private September 2, 1861, and served for the duration of the war. His regiment surrendered at Quincy, Florida, May 11, 1865. His first wife was a daughter of Judge William Bailey. Before going off to war Jim Ellerbee moved his wife Sally and their two children to the home of Judge Bailey. The Judge’s new wife did not like her step-daughter and step-children, so she had them move out of the house and into the slave quarters where they lived with a female slave. Later Sally became sick and died. The slave woman continued to care for the two small children until Jim returned home from the Civil War. He returned in the spring of 1865, dirty, in rags, his hair down to his shoulders, his health poor, with a muzzle loading rifle as his sole possession. He found his family in that grievous situation, and a general distress prevailed everywhere. He remarried later that year and rented a farm near Damascus, Georgia.  Just 12 years later he died.

His oldest son, then 17, moved to Wells County, Georgia, in Angelina County, to work for his grandfather Judge Bailey (who had moved there after the Civil War). William Green Ellerbee moved his stepmother and the rest of the family to Texas about two years later. “  NOTE: Specific source not cited. Book contains list of sources at the end.

Source #2:  John N. Cravens, William Edward Bailey: Georgia Planter and East Texas Farmer (Wichita Falls, Texas: Tosh Press, 1962). Copy given to Susan Posten Ellerbee by her father-in-law, Jerry Donald Ellerbee, ca 2012.

Page 3: “[W.E.] Bailey was married three times. In 1839, he married Miss Sarah Sutton of Calhoun County, Georgia, where he then lived. His wife died shortly after their child was born. In 1849, he was married a Miss Elizabeth Hutto near his home and one child was born to them. After his second wife died, Bailey married Mrs. Indiana Cherry Moore at Bainbridge. Delta, now Decatur County, Georgia in 1853. [Footnote] (5).”

Footnote 5:  “Obituary” previously cited and another clipping of an obituary of W.E. Bailey owned by Anna Bailey Cochran, a granddaughter.

“Obituary” in the East Texas Reformer, IV, No. 31, Jacksonville, Cherokee County, Texas, Thursday, February 23, 1899.

No further mention made about  children born to William Edward Bailey and his first two wives.

Source #3: 1850 U.S. Census, Baker County, Georgia, population schedule, Third District, p. 46B, family 97, William E. Bailey 36, head of household; digital images,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com    : accessed, downloaded, printed 2012); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication roll M432_61.

  • Family no. 97:
  • William E. Bailey, 36, born Wilkinson Co, GA [Georgia]
  • Louiza, 16, born Baker Co, GA [Georgia]
  • Ciety, 10, born Baker Co, GA [Georgia]
  • John King, 17, born  SC [South Carolina]
  • NOTE:  1850 census does not list relationships of persons in household.

Source #4:  1860 U.S. Census, Jackson County, Florida, population schedule, Marianna, p. 111, Family 785, John J Ellerby; digital images, Ancestry  (http://www.ancestry.com     : accessed, viewed, downloaded on 3 February 2017); National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M653.

  • Family no. 785 (transcribed as written)
  • John J. Ellerby, 21 male, race:  marked with X,  farmer, born Georgia.
  • Szetta Ellerby, 18, female, race: marked with checkmark , born Georgia
  • Sarah A Ellerby, 1, female, race: marked with checkmark , born Georgia
  • John Stanley, 26, male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born N. Carolina
  • Thomas Houston, 33, male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born  S. Carolina
  • William Johnson, 13,  male, race: marked with X, farm laborer, born Georgia
  • NOTE: 1860 census does not list relationships of persons in household.

Sources # 5 & 6:  Death certificates for William Green Ellerbee and Sarah A. Ellerbee Martin Sutleff, presumed children of John J Ellerbee and his first wife.  Death certificates accessed online from Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com )

  • Texas Department of Health, death certificate state file no. 56, Sarah Alice Sutleff.  Birth:  July 6, 1859 in Macon, Georgia. Death: January 23, 1954 in Angelina county, Texas. Parents: James Ellerbee, ‘Sitie’ Bailey.  Note:  ‘Sitie’ has quotation marks on the certificate.
  • Texas Department of Health, death certificate no. 9457, W. G. Ellerbee. Birth: Jan. 12, 1861 in Georgia. Death: March 18, 1932 in Lufkin, Angelina county, Texas. Parents: W.G. Ellerbee, Miss Bailey.  Note:  W.G. Ellerbee’s parentage  is a topic for another post. 

SUMMARY & ANALYSIS:

  • From Ellerbe history, John J. Ellerbee’s 1st wife was Sally Bailey. Specific source not cited for information.
  • Sally is a derivative of the name Sarah. Source:  Behind the name: Sally
  • Biography of William Edward Bailey does not name the child of Bailey’s first wife, Sarah Sutton. Source is obituary for William E. Bailey. I have not been able to locate or obtain a copy of the obituary.
  • 1850 census: 10 year old Ciety Bailey living with William E. Bailey, age 36 and 16-year-old Louiza Bailey. Ciety’s estimated birth year of 1840 is consistent with 1st marriage of Judge Bailey in 1839.  From unconfirmed sources, Judge Bailey’s mother was Ciety Allen.
  • 1850 census: “Louiza” is likely Elizabeth Hutto, Judge Bailey’s 2nd wife whom he reportedly married in 1849 per Bailey biography.
  • 1860 census: Szetta Ellerby [Ellerbee], age 18, presumed to be wife of John J. Ellerby [Ellerbee]. Estimated birth year 1841 or 1842.  Sarah A. Ellerby, age 1, presumed to be their daughter, Sarah Alice.
  • Death certificates for children of James J Ellerbee and his 1st wife list mother as ‘Sitie’ Bailey and ‘Miss’ Bailey. Digital copies of the original certificates.
  • Two of five sources (1850 census and death certificate for Sarah Alice Sutleff) show similar given names of Ciety and Sitie for her mother. Two of five sources (Ellerbe history, 1860 census) list different names of Sally and Szetta. One source (death certificate for W.G. Ellerbee) lists his mother’s name as ‘Miss Bailey’ .
  • Three of five sources (Ellerbe history, children’s death certificates) suggest a maiden name of Bailey.

CONCLUSION:  

  • Sally Bailey, daughter of Judge William Bailey (Ellerbe history), Ciety Bailey (1850 census), Sitie Bailey (daughter’s death certificate) and Szetta Ellerby (1860 census) are probably the same person.
  • ‘Miss Bailey’ named on son’s death certificate is likely the same person also known as Sally, Ciety, Sitie, and Szetta.
  • Sally Bailey, 1st wife of John J. Ellerbee, is likely the child of Sarah Sutton and William Edward Bailey.
  • Sally’s given name was perhaps Sarah, after her mother. Her daughter, Sarah, was possibly named after her grandmother, Sarah Sutton.

 

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

I have multiple handwritten notes on various documents about Sally Bailey Ellerbee’s name.  I compiled the information in one document when updating my father-in-law’s Ellerbee scrapbook.  I used the Genealogy Proof Standard as a guide. Both original and derivative sources were used; source citations are mostly complete. The sources contained secondary information and reflect indirect evidence. Multiple data and sources were correlated.  I addressed conflicts and wrote a conclusion.

What I learned:  Look at each document critically. Second or third or fourth review may yield insights that you missed previously. 

What helped:  Copies of all documents and sources readily available. Notes written earlier on various documents. Compiling all information in one document.

What didn’t help:  Initially, not recognizing possible derivations of the same name.

To-do: Continue search for documents and evidence about Sarah Sutton and her presumed daughter. Keep research logs.

“Mother’s daddy was Clay Simmons”

“Here’s my mother’s parents—Clay Simmons and Deedie Bailey.”  My father-in-law, Jerry D.,  paused before the granite grave marker at Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Texas.  Having just begun doing genealogy, I feverishly wrote the information in my notebook.  We visited multiple graves that hot summer day in the late 1990s. This post describes, in chronological manner, what I discovered about Clay Simmons and his family.  Throughout the post, I reflect on how my research practices changed.

SimmonsClayDeedie11July2013MtHopeCemWellsTX009

Clay & Deedie Simmons grave marker.  Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas. Picture taken by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 11 July 2013. [1]

 

Jerry D. recalled only that his maternal grandfather’s name was Clay Simmons. [2]  He did not know the names of Clay’s parents.  So, Simmons ancestry became my focus of inquiry in January 2013.  A scrapbook, presented to Jerry D. as a Christmas gift that year, described my findings.  My husband and I traveled to east Texas in July 2013 to search further.

Start with what you know. I began with Clara Doris Simmons and her father,  Clay Simmons.  A file review yielded previous online searches and a Texas death certificate for “H.C. Simmons”. [3] An early record shows the name “Richard”, followed by a question mark.  Was Clay’s other name Richard or one that begins with “H”?

Simmons_HC_b1885_d1946_DC

Disclaimer: This work was done PGDO (pre Genealogy Do-Over). I did a lot of point-click-save genealogy.  As I found documents, I printed and placed in a folder.  I did not keep a research log or a list of what records I found. Fortunately, most databases also printed names and  dates on the page.  I did not recognize the value of thorough and systematic record-keeping until much later!

In January 2013, I printed an online gravesite index which listed his name as “Henry Clay Simmons”. [4] I still needed proof.   Note:  We again visited his grave, among others, at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, Cherokee county, Texas during our genealogy field trip.

A marriage record index entry for H.C. Simmons and Dedie Bailey offered little new information[5]. We obtained a copy of the original certificate on our genealogy field trip.  The certificate is now scanned and  in an acid-free sleeve.

Using “Clara Simmons” as key word, I had previously found 1930 census record for the family. [6]

Simmons, Henry C., head, age 43. 
Deedie D, wife, age 40. 
Lester, son, age 20. 
Otha F, daughter, age 18. 
Morris C, son, age 14. 
Clara D, daughter, 14. 
Mildred, daughter, age 13. 
William J, son, age 8.

“Henry C. Simmons”?  Yes, this could be Clay’s other name instead of Richard.  Maybe the online grave index entry was correct? I don’t have any notes about my initial review of this record. Did I even recognize his name? Now, I mark or highlight the name and write a note or analysis in research log. Notes include comments about the consistency or inconsistency of information.

Back another decade to the 1920 census, same county (February 2013):  [7]

  • Simmons, H.C., Head, M W, 34, M[arried], born Texas, father born Alabama, mother born Mississippi.
  • __________, Deedie, wife, F W 29, M[arried], born Texas, father born Texas, mother born Texas
  • _________, Lester, son, M W 9, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Opal F, daughter, F W 7, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________,  Morris, son, M W 4 6/12, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Dorris, daughter, F W 4 6/12, S[ingle], born Texas
  • _________, Mildred, daughter, F W  3 2/12, S[ingle], born Texas.

Yes, Morris and Dorris are twins (confirmed by Jerry D)!  Their full names are Clay Morris and Clara Doris.  Information is consistent with marriage record, death certificate and 1930 census record.  To summarize, I had found:

  1. Known as Clay by family and friends
  2. Death certificate for H.C. Simmons, buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Texas. Known burial location for Clay and Deedie.
  3. Marriage record index: H.C. Simmons and Dedie Bailey.
  4. 1930 census: entry for Henry C. Simmons, Deedie, and children.
  5. 1920 census: entry for H.C. Simmons, Deedie, and children.

The search continued for additional documents with both names—Henry and Clay.  We found no new records during our field trip. Finally, Henry’s World War I Draft Registration card surfaced: [8]

Simmons_HC_b1885_d1946_WWI Draft regis_card

Richard can definitely be ruled out as part of Clay’s name.

I presented Henry Clay Simmons, a.k.a. H.C. Simmons, a.k.a. Clay Simmons  in a scrapbook dedicated to the Simmons family ancestry.  Jerry D. said that he had never heard his grandfather called “Henry” or even “H.C.”   After confirming the identity of  “H.C. Simmons”  from  the death certificate found years earlier, I traced the Simmons line from Texas to Georgia to North Carolina in the late 1700s. And, that is a story for another day!

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

This year, I am reviewing and cleaning up files for families of  my in-laws.  As I pulled files for this story, I realized (again) how inconsistent my recordkeeping has been.  I do not always find chronological records in the exact sequence in which events happened.  In my opinion, keeping track of when you find a record is as important as placing that record within the person’s biographical timeline. Access to records change. Websites disappear or change names.  Records transfer from one agency to another.  Agencies move to another address.

What am I doing different?  Trying to be more systematic and thorough in approach.  I create research logs and/or fill out research checklists and individual worksheets more often.  I track the sequence in which I find records.

What I learned:  Reinforced previous experiences of person being called one name but having one or more additional names.  Keep complete records of all sources and include date on which you accessed the source. Take time with record and file clean-up process.

What helped:  Printed copies of sources and records in file.  Scrapbook done in 2013. Individual worksheets and research checklists begun in January 2017 but not complete.

What didn’t help: Incomplete record keeping and analysis.

To-do list:  Continue file clean-up.  Check scans of certificates. Place originals in appropriate BMD notebook.  Create Research logs for Clay and Deedie – DONE.

SOURCES: 

[1] Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), Clay & Deedie [Bailey] Simmons; photograph by Jerry L. Ellerbee, 11 July 2013.

[2] Personal knowledge of [living] Ellerbee, shared with Susan Posten Ellerbee, daughter-in-law, ca. 2010-2011; handwritten notes in vertical file, Clay Simmons family, privately held by Ms. Ellerbee, [address for private use,] Yukon, Oklahoma. Mr. Ellerbee stated his grandfather’s name of Clay as a fact.

[3]. Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, “Standard certificate of death,” digital images, Footnote (now Fold3) (http://www.fold3.com     : accessed, printed, downloaded 23 July 2011), entry for H.C. Simmons.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com    : viewed 30 January 2013), memorial page for Henry Clay Simmons, Find A Grave Memorial # 88689404, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Eleanor Baker.

[5] Marriage record for Mr. H.C. Simmons & Miss Deedie Bailey, (18 February 1909), Cherokee County Marriage Records: ; County Clerk’s Office, Rusk, Texas; obtained 11 July 2013.

[6] U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 6, enumeration district (ED) 37-34, p.3B (penned), dwelling 62, family 62, H.C. Simmons head; digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com     : accessed, printed & downloaded 2011); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 2307.

[7],  U.S. Census, Cherokee County, Texas, pop. sch., Justice Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 35, p. 6A (penned), family # 103, H C Simmons; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com   : accessed & printed 22 March 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625_1787.

[8] World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1919,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, printed ,downloaded 2 December 2013), entry for Henry Clay Simmons; citing United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M1509.

©  Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

 

Do-over for another branch

Spring 2017. My genealogy files are a mess!  20+ years and multiple family lines. Duplicates and large gaps are everywhere! Where and how do I clean this up?  Hmmm- a magic wand?  Wave the wand and files are in order with complete documentation. Digital items have easy to recognize labels.  Family tree on my computer follows current standards. Data analysis is still up to me. Well, I don’t have a magic wand but I did find The Genealogy Do-Over.[1]   I ordered the book and signed up on the website for monthly guides. This post reflects my thoughts as I begin the do-over process in earnest for husband’s family tree.  magic wand emoji

How did I start? Developed a global plan then applied the plan to specific family lines.  Color-coded paper files for primary branches became first priority. I reviewed record keeping forms and decided which ones to use. I had recently changed to RootsMagic for my computerized databases. A planned genealogy field trip and family reunion in Pennsylvania, Dad’s home state, directed one choice.  His family tree provided the perfect venue to reexamine old skills, learn new skills and clean up digital data. Mom’s family tree became my focus for 2018. I continue to refine the process.

Now, I turn to my husband’s parents (father- Ellerbee/ Simmons; mother- Johnson/ Reed) and begin again. Green file folders hold Ellerbee family data. Red file folders hold Johnson data. Standard forms appear in most files although data may not be complete. Digital file clean-up has been hit-and-miss as I prepared a scrapbook and wrote a few blog posts.  Research logs started and/or completed?  Zero. The process begins again.

NOTE:  2019 goal says: “Begin paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.”  Change to:  “CONTINUE paper and digital clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.”

My initial reaction was “What a disaster!” Then, I remember the much improved content now in my parents’ digital and paper files.  Preliminary work is done for husband’s family.  Now comes the detailed and sometimes tedious work of review, analysis and documentation.

Start with current generation and work back in time. Generations 1 and 2, including siblings, are up-to-date. I have basic information on direct line ancestors. I followed the same sequence more-or-less with my parents’ families, i.e., direct line ancestors first with occasional side trips to collateral relatives.

What prompted my decision to learn more about a specific collateral relative? The receipt of vintage pictures from a cousin was one reason. Review of early notes and questions about previous findings suggested new directions. Online comments or an email from a distant cousin led to seeking more details. Information about one person revealed a tantalizing clue about another person. And, I was off in pursuit of the next person! In a few cases, I just wanted to know when a person died and/or if they married.

family tree branch logo_mine2I recently received an information request from an Ellerbee distant cousin.  I have an original source that she didn’t have. I scanned and sent the relevant information. In return, she shared information about her direct ancestor, a sibling of husband’s direct ancestor.  I love the give and take of genealogy!!

Now comes my dilemma. Do I start with husband’s direct line great-great-great grandfather and work forward?  Or, do I follow the more standard procedure of working from husband’s grandparents back?  Working forward from John Ellerbee (born about 1808, Georgia) seems more glamorous. This path shines brightly with possible detractors that could easily derail my plan. Starting with Ellerbee grandparents appears to be a straighter and better lighted path with fewer shiny pebbles as detractors.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists[2] offers some guidance. One genealogy research standard addresses “efficient sequence.”  Specifically, “Research plans specify the order for examining resources. These sequences give priority to efficient discovery of useful evidence.” The term “efficient discovery” stands out for me. Which procedure will enable me to discover information in the most efficient manner? In general, more current information is easier to discover. The straighter path seems less exciting but still leads to important results.

Answer seems obvious- start with Ellerbee grandparents. (Big Sigh!).  Last week, I found a probate record for John Ellerbee.[3] The record lists children’s names including married surnames of daughters. One entry confirmed information provided by distant cousin about her ancestor. Detour!  I created research logs for John and his two wives. Citation revision continues in database. I note questions and observations for later follow -up.  When this is done, I will return to the more recent past and pick up with Ellerbee grandparents.

Now that I’ve started, I feel less overwhelmed. Thanks for listening!

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REFLECTION

I used this post to explore my current dilemma. Writing helped to defuse my sense of despair about the status of the Ellerbee and Johnson files. I admit to applying Genealogy Do-Over principles inconsistently and rarely to these files over the last few years.

Recent family death and another family emergency greatly affected my motivation to work on genealogy over the last 4-5 months. I have kept up with genealogy blogs.

What I learned:  Journaling is a way to think through a dilemma. Remembering positive results from application of Genealogy Do-Over principles to my parents’ family trees. Specifically, careful review of documents revealed previously unknown information and presented new insights. I am leaving a better legacy for later genealogists.

What helped: Writing this post. Previous experience with Genealogy Do-Over principles. Having standardized format for record keeping. Color coded files in place. Knowledge of both family lines from previous research. Some clean-up of Ellerbee and Johnson files is done.

What didn’t help:  Personal frustration.

To-do:  Complete work on John E. Ellerbee with currently available information. Leave questions for another time. Focus on Ellerbee grandparents next. Follow research plan including documentation.

SOURCES

[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook  (Hack Genealogy : 2019);  digital images, PDF version.

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2nd ed.. (Nashville, TN: Turner  Publishing Company, 2019), page 13.

[3]  “Florida, County Judge’s Court (Hillsborough County),” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 May 2019), entry for John Ellerbee, 1 Dec 1886, file 73, Hillsborough County; citing “Florida, Wills and Probate Records, 1810-1914” [database online], Florida County, District and Probate Courts.

©Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots, 2019

Genealogy digital spring clean-up

Spring cleaning. Air out the house after months being closed up. Dust everything even baseboards and tops of cabinets that no one can see. Get rid of worn-out items and start fresh. I am running out of space on my 8-year-old laptop. My son deleted unnecessary program files accumulated over the years. Then, it was my turn for a serious look at everything else, especially genealogy files.

 

I started by moving most files to OneDrive, an online storage program that syncs with your computer.  Files can be online only or downloaded to your device but are also available online for viewing from other devices. You can identify files as “always available on this device”. Then, I looked for and deleted duplicate files and folders. Next, I backed up all files to external hard drive because I hadn’t done that in 2 months. Should I have done the external hard drive backup first??  Identifying older and rarely used files as “online storage only” seemed like the next logical step.

I queried Google how to move files from hard drive to online only. One advice column mentioned that deleting a file from hard drive would still preserve it online. Other message boards seemed to support the same action.  So, I began the process of deleting some files from PC hard drive.  When I clicked on “Delete”, a message popped up that file would be permanently deleted from PC hard drive but would still be available online.  I  deleted a few files from OneDrive online.

The next day, I had an email alert from OneDrive – (paraphrased) “we noticed that you have deleted a lot of files. These deleted files will remain in the Recycle Bin for 30 days then be permanently deleted from your OneDrive files.”  PANIC!!  I DON’T WANT TO PERMANENTLY DELETE THE FILES FROM ONEDRIVE ONLINE ACCOUNT!!

Calm down a little! I do have the files backed up on external hard drive. I use multiple devices and do not always have external hard drive with me. Doubtful that I will need any of these older files when I am away from home and the online program is part of my backup plan.  Daily emails with OneDrive support team ensued.  Their first response was basically a standardized answer that made little sense to me as a person who is not fluent in tech jargon. Five days later, we may have answers.

First, my primary computer was not synced with OneDrive online files. Not sure why or when that happened. A link to a program upgrade fixed that issue. Second, some files still show a sync issue with an error message – “You already have a file or folder with this name in the same location.”  Suggested fix is to rename item on either PC or online to keep both. Another option is to delete version on PC to download the online version.  That seems to work well for individual files and not so well for folders.  I am still scared that those files will disappear completely from both PC and OneDrive.

Some files are readily available online and easily accessed from my PC, just like files that I save only to PC hard drive. When I open these files, the dropdown menu includes an option to “Free up space”. This option moves the file to online only access and frees up space on hard drive. This is the option that I should have been using instead of deleting files from hard drive.  Restart main PC.  More or less space on PC? At the time of this post, I have more space on main PC.

Will some of those files that I deleted earlier still disappear from OneDrive online? Support tech said “Yes”. I’ll let you know in 30 days!

FYI—I started Genealogy Do-Over in 2017. Renaming files is one task. How many “1880 United States Census (4)” transferred with GED files from Ancestry? One in each family tree. I keep each family line in a separate tree. My spring clean-up revealed multiple files with same name, such as “img_004” in various folders. I also found complete folders saved as subfolders under other folders. Example: Gravestone pictures from our 2017 Pennsylvania trip were saved under 3 different folders!!  Fear of losing information led to a hoarding-type situation! As a result, I sometimes couldn’t find specific items. Hmm, genealogy hoarding disorder??

A backup plan is essential to prevent loss of your work.  Create a plan and stick with it at regularly scheduled intervals. Test plan on a small dataset and include a restore test.

 Thomas MacAntee suggests a 3-2-1 plan:  [1]

  • “At least 3 different backups.” Personally, I use cloud, external harddrive, and personal computer. Personal computer may not reliable as a backup.
  • “Use 2 different media for backup.”
  • “At least 1 backup must be offsite, and away from the original source computer.” Use of the Cloud is one example.  

So, the work continues.

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REFLECTION

This has been a difficult week. A family emergency took me away from home for 8 days. The email notice about files potentially disappearing only increased my stress. Fortunately, I had internet access and could correspond daily with OneDrive Support staff.  I didn’t have access to my primary PC so I couldn’t try any of the suggested fixes until I got home.  I still don’t know if those ‘deleted’ files will actually disappear from OneDrive online.

What I learned:  Don’t follow advice of only one person. Read all instructions about program or service carefully.  When in doubt, contact Support Team. Follow 3-2-1 back up plan on regular basis. 

What helped: A very patient tech who responded with non-technical terms when I kept asking the same questions. Remembering that I had multiple backups of all files in more than one location. 

What didn’t help:  Being away from home and primary computer.  Initial sense of panic.

To-Do:  Continue process of using ‘free up space’ option on primary computer to move older and rarely used files to ‘online only’.  Check that each file is on external hard drive and another Cloud location before using ‘free up space’ option.  Buy new primary computer!

For more information about Microsoft OneDrive, watch this video:

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots 2019

 


[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook  (Hack Genealogy : 2019),  Step 12. Securing Research Data, 59-60; digital images, PDF version.