Genealogy standards and repositories (Priority Reset, Part 2)

The article that I submitted for consideration to a genealogic journal was not accepted. The editor gave lots of feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. In my last post, I reported how and why my genealogy goals for this year have changed. In this post, I outline specific ways in which I plan to revise this article. 

Here’s my new goal: Using the editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. If I follow her suggestions, I will better meet Genealogical Standards[1]. To review, genealogical standards include five criteria:

  1. Reasonably exhaustive research-“emphasizing original records. . . . “[2]
  2. Complete, accurate citation of sources
  3. Tests of evidence by analyzing and correlating data
  4. Resolution of conflicts among evidence
  5. Written conclusion that is reasonable and coherent

Specifically, I did not completely meet the first criteria about original records. I possess, and cited, many  original certificates and/or copies of the originals.  I purchased certificates directly from state, county and local offices. Relatives sent me photo or digital copies. Some records were available online. However, I frequently cited online indexes as sources.

Indexes are not original records!  As the editor pointed out, indexes should primarily be used as a finding aid for the original document. Indexes are transcriptions of original material and, therefore, subject to error. How many times have you found an ancestor’s name misspelled on an index?   Contact the agency or group that holds the original record, i.e. the repository.  Often, you pay a fee for a copy of the record from an agency or group.  Citation of only an index does not meet the genealogical standard.

The original record may be available online. One example is a link to a newspaper article. The article has been indexed on a database; clicking on the link sends you to a digital image of the newspaper. In the example below, the newspaper (Tyler Morning Telegraph, published in Tyler, Texas) is the repository. The obituary was accessed through two database indexes-  Ancestry and Newspapers.com.  Citation of either index without actually finding the article is not enough.  

Is an index ever appropriate as a primary source? I’m not sure and will leave that debate to the genealogy professionals. When you find an index entry for your ancestor, you are definitely one step closer to that missing puzzle piece. Keep good notes and cite the index appropriately in your research log.

For more information: Genealogy 101: Indexes, an Important Part of Genealogy Research

You may not be able to obtain a copy of more recent records. Agencies set criteria for what records are public domain and what records have restricted access. I have seen 75-100- year limits on birth certificates becoming public domain and 25, 50 or even 75- year limits for death certificates. In one jurisdiction, only parents and the actual person can obtain a copy of an original birth certificate, unless the person has been dead for at least 50 years. You may still be able to get a transcript of the certificate. Proof of direct descent sometimes eases restrictions. This can be frustrating for genealogists. However, I respect these agencies for making an effort to limit identity theft.

Remember that online databases such as Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage and Family Search are NOT the repositories of most records. These online services are the intermediary between repositories and the public. Example – the repository for most U.S. census records is the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. State health departments are often the repositories for birth and death certificates issued since about 1910.

Back to my original goal of revising my article.  Related to the first genealogical standard, my specific objectives are:

  1. Identify all citations with the word “index.”
  2. Detect indexes that may have a digital copy of the original records. When found, go to the original source. Cite the original source including URL.
  3. If original record is not available online, contact agency that holds the original record. Submit request forms and fees as needed. Wait for responses.
  4. Recognize that this process may take months and be costly.

Ultimately, I will produce a better, more complete, family history. What if none of these efforts work? That’s a question I will pose to the editor after I have exhausted all other resources.

The editor also suggested that I consult a broader range of sources such as land records and court proceedings. That will be a topic for another post! 

My article is a work in progress. I have to consider possible copyright issues and, therefore, cannot reveal more to you at this time. I have multiple stories about how I discovered information. I hope to share some of those research notes with you later.   

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


SOURCES:

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 2ND edition (Washington, D.C.: Turner Publishing Co., 2019).

[2] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, page 1.

One goal met; reset other goals

I did it! I finally submitted an article for consideration to a genealogic journal. My article was not accepted, but I am OK with that. The editor gave lots of great feedback with clear directions on how to proceed. I plan to work on revisions for that article. Over the last few months, priorities have changed for my genealogy work. In this post, I describe reasons for these changes.

In March 2021, I was diagnosed with a chronic, progressive disease and a life expectancy of two to five years. The disease eventually will disrupt my ability to write or use the computer. I already have limited use of my right arm and hand. This totally changes my genealogy goals. Article submission has been a goal for the last several years. Please note that I didn’t say “published,” although that would be nice! Now that the article has been submitted and reviewed, I can seriously reconsider my other goals. What is most important to finish? What is OK to leave for others?

My broad goals, i.e., to completely redo four different family lines, now seem unachievable. Some things will be left for future generations to do! Writing this blog has helped with cleaning up parts of every family line. I will do my best to continue my blog on a regular basis.

One specific project comes to mind. I haven’t specifically addressed this in my annual goals because I thought I had lots of time. But, with my current diagnosis, this project (actually a series of projects) becomes more urgent. The project involves scrapbooking.

Beginning in 2013, I created six genealogical scrapbooks– four in a traditional paper format and two in a digital format. Two paper scrapbooks were for father-in-law (Ellerbee and Simmons families). After Papa died, I made copies for Papa’s sister.  One paper scrapbook was for mother-in-law (Johnson-Reed families combined).  Last Christmas, Nana and I collaborated on a copy of that book for my sister-in-law. Fourth paper book was for my brother-in-law. One digital book was for my dad’s youngest sister about the Posten family. The second digital book was for my brother about our maternal grandmother’s family (Maurer).

As part of my legacy, I want to leave more than one copy of these scrapbooks, especially the paper scrapbooks. I already have two copies of the Posten narrative history that I wrote in 2014, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  So, I change focus and reset my goals for the rest of this year.

New goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for son. Original scrapbook goes to my other son. My sister-in-law received a copy of that scrapbook last Christmas.
  3. Create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents.   Four to six copies – one for each son, one for my brother, one for nephew;  possibly copies for two cousins. Use blog posts as base.
  4. Contact lawyer and write will, including a specific genealogy will. My oldest son agrees to be caretaker of my genealogy work.
  5. Using editor’s suggestions as base, revise article about Maurer family. I will address specifics in another post.
  6. Resume work on other goals as time and energy permit.
  7. Tentative: Send copy of Posten-Richards book to Internet Archive for digital archiving. Note: I have two print copies of the Posten-Richards book that I wrote in 2014. I began a much-needed revision but seem to get easily distracted. I have new information to add. The citations, especially, need re-doing. I may have to leave the clean-up to someone else!

When those projects are done, I will look at my overall goals again and set priorities. No matter how much or how little I get done, genealogy paper and digital files are certainly in better shape than they were four years ago when I started the Genealogy Do- Over!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots  blog, 2021

Reflection on Independence Day: 2021 and an Update

Disclaimer: Parts of this post originally published 5 July 2019

This year (2021), the country feels more divided than united. All of us need to step back and reflect on the sacrifice made by those who fought for our Independence from England. Those persons were labelled rebels. Because of those rebels, we can argue about the meaning of words in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Because of those rebels, we can disagree about the date of our country’s founding.  Remember, too, that we would not enjoy these freedoms if not for those rebels. Like them or not, those rebels deserve to be remembered and celebrated by Americans on this Fourth of July.  

In this post, I update a list of persons from our (my husband’s and mine) family trees who are known or believed to be Revolutionary War patriots. Many of our personal ancestral families lived in the United States in late 1700s and early 1800s.  At least one family may have been Tories (a.k.a. supported the British). 

The roots of my family and my husband’s family run deep in America.  Neither of us have any nationally famous persons in our family trees.  Family stories told of Native American ancestry, but our DNA shows no genetic links there.  Both of us hail primarily from British Isles, Scandinavia, and western Europe. We are descended from immigrants to the United States.  Some of our ancestors influenced events locally or within their home state. Some of my husband’s ancestors owned slaves.  

Should a holiday recognize when the first African slaves were brought to America? Enslaved peoples, primarily of African descent, are definitely part of our American history.  We cannot change American history. Our interpretation of that history changes as we apply current values and beliefs to the values and beliefs held by those who lived in another time. I believe that we can teach differing views of events without belittling either side.

Acknowledge the societal norms of the times and locations that influenced our ancestors’ choices.  We cannot change our family’s history. I diligently record our family’s history and share that information with others.  I try to not pass judgment. Without all of our ancestors and those who believed in America, we would not be here!!  

Revolutionary War Patriots (known, presumed and speculative)

From my family tree:

Samuel Jones (ca 1759 – 1827); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Thomas Ostrander (1745 – 1816); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Richard Posten (1750 – after 1825); signed Articles of Association in Monmouth county, New Jersey.

Nathaniel Richards I (1759 -1831); ? New Jersey militia, family tradition.

Joseph Traver (abt 1732 – after 1790); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Cornelius Van Sickle (abt 1741 – 1820); served New Jersey militia; Revolutionary War pension file W6374.

From my husband’s family tree:

George Valentine Creager (1734 – 1808); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution

Thomas Ellerbee (abt 1743 – 1802); “Captain Ellerbee” mentioned in several South Carolina Revolutionary War pension files; possible distant cousin.

George Hans Friddle (1731-1805); service from family tradition.

Jonathan Roach (abt 1737 – after 1802); recognized by Daughters of the American Revolution.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019-2021. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author.  

Is Chester E. Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri in your family tree?

Off on a different kind of search today. It started with a new (to us) piece of furniture, an antique display cabinet bought at an estate sale. This glass enclosed cabinet replaces another wood cabinet. When we cleaned out the wood cabinet, we found a pile of old stock certificates purchased at an auction years ago. Our original plan was to decoupage the certificates on old pieces of furniture. We looked through the certificates and made some interesting finds. One of those finds is an original issued patent, complete with the red seal from the US Patent Office. This post tells about my first foray into forensic genealogy with the goal of returning this heirloom to a rightful owner.

Is this person in your family tree?

The patent is for Rotary valve engines issued to Chester E. Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri in 1918. There are also 4 stock certificates in the Rotary Valve Manufacturing Company issued to L. A. Sherman in November 1914.

Who was Chester E. Sherman? I entered his basic information on Ancestry. First item uncovered was a 1920 census record for Chester E. Sherman in Kansas City , Missouri.[1] Following the information from that record, I found Chester’s death certificate. [2] He was born in Kansas in 1874 to Louie A Sherman and Alta Page. Chester died in Dallas, Texas in 1961. He married Izetta Peppard in 1916. [3] Izetta died in 1987, presumably also in Dallas.[4]

Chester and Izetta had two daughters.  Edith Pauline, born 21 December 1923 in Missouri, died 5 March 2002 in Dallas, Texas. [5] Edith’s name is on same mausoleum slab as her mother’s. Edith possibly never married.

Eleanor Lucille Sherman was born 16 April 1915 in Kansas City. She married C.W. Morris on 5 March 1933 in Dallas, Texas.  [6] Eleanor died in September 1996.[7] C.W. and Eleanor had at least one daughter, Bobette Eleanor, born 23 March 1937 in Dallas. [8] Bobette married possibly two times – 1st to Max Alford and 2nd to Everett W. Campbell.  Bobette may still be alive and could be Chester’s only direct descendant.  Other relatives of Chester may also be interested in having this piece of their family’s history.  

Three ancestry trees included Chester. I sent a message to the owner of one of those trees and wait for a response. If I don’t get a response, I will message the owners of the other two trees. Posting the information on my blog is another way of trying to contact a member of Chester’s family. I will hold on to this document for several months then seek an appropriate repository.

This line of inquiry is called forensic genealogy. Recently, there have been several TV shows about this type of search using DNA matches. All of us probably use similar methods to find cousins or other relatives. I admit that I am not as proficient in this as others. I do not expect any financial renumeration for returning this very important document to the family. I hope that someone someday will do a similar favor for me.

Reflection

This was an interesting journey. I used many skills learned through my Genealogy Do- Over to access information and evaluate the data. I amazed myself that I was able to find relevant information within a few hours.  My reward will be the return of this document to a family member.

 I needed a break from the intense work I’ve been doing on an article about my mom’s family.  I only need to track down a few more sources. I wasn’t sure what to write about this week. A topic always seems to surface!

What I learned: more about forensic genealogy and different ways in which it can be used.

What helped:  genealogy do over skills. Online database with search feature.

What didn’t help: having only a name and residence in 1918 for Chester E. Sherman.

To do: wait for someone to claim the documents.


SOURCES:

[1] 1920 U.S. Census, Jackson Co., Missouri, population schedule, Kansas City, enumeration district (ED) 117, p. 5A(ink pen), dwelling 80, family 113, Chester E Sherman, head, age 24; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021);  citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_927.

[2]Texas, U.S., Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Chester Elisha Sherman; citing Texas Department of State Health Services. Austin, Texas.

[3] Missouri, U.S., Jackson County Marriage Records, 1840-1985,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Chester E. Sherman and Izetta Peppard, certificate no. 1913K0058670; citing Marriage Records, Jackson County clerk, Kansas City, Missouri.

[4] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  :  viewed 8 May 2021 ), memorial page for Izetta P Sherman, Find A Grave Memorial no. 107692206 , citing Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park (Dallas, Dallas Co., Texas), memorial created by T, photograph by T.

[5] Social Security Administration, “U.S.  Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 , database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 9 May 2021);  entry for Edith Sherman, SS no. 449-24-6962.

[6] Texas, U.S. Select  County Marriage Records, 1837-1965,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 8 May 2021), entry for Ms Eleanor Sherman and C.W.Morris, certificate no. 16229; citing Dallas County Clerk’s Office, Dallas, Texas.

[7] Social Security Administration, “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, “ database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 9 May 2021);  entry for Eleanor Lucille Morris [Eleanor Lucille Sherman], SS no. 449-68-6967..

[8] Texas, U.S. Birth Index, 1903-1997,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 10 May 2021), entry for Bobette Eleanor Morris, roll no. 1937_006;  citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas; father: Charles William Morris, mother: Eleanor Lucille Sherman.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Priority- write that article!

                         

Just when I thought I had things under control, I re-prioritized my genealogy goals and began writing an article about my mother’s ancestors for a genealogy journal.  I thought that I had most of the information on three to four generations of descendants. I thought that I had most of the sources for that information. Over the last month, I discovered that neither one of those assumptions are true. In this post, I describe my journey to date.

What have I done to prepare for writing an article? In January of this year, I participated in a month-long webinar about writing. I bought a book, Guide to Genealogical Writing, and have been reading it.  I downloaded a template for writing using the Register style. I created an outline of people who I would be writing about. On the outline, I numbered each person as they would appear in the article.

Stratton and Hoff suggest to temporarily stop researching and start writing[1]. So, I have done that. I discover gaps in family stories –gaps not always identified in my RootsMagic tree.   Information on my RootsMagic tree on my computer is only partially complete, especially for the later generations. Sources are also incomplete. However, the families are becoming more real as I notice similarities and differences in family experiences. Example – sisters who both buried husbands and at least one child.   

I began writing the family stories with the information that I have. As I write, I make a note in red that a source or other information is needed.  I try to complete at least one person’s story each day. I follow the “cite as you write” guideline. Sometimes, I stop writing and follow clues to locate a source or other information. As a result, my personal tree is becoming more complete. So, the exercise of writing the family history for a genealogy journal has its benefits.  

Previously, I focused on the older generations, typically those who lived and died before the early decades of the 20th century.  This article includes four generations from my German ancestors in early 1800s through the latter part of the 20th century.  I choose not to include information about any persons who are still living.  

What have I learned from this? It takes more time than expected. There will be gaps to fill in. There will be sources to find. Even if my articles are not accepted for publication, I will leave fairly comprehensive and extensively researched histories to share with descendants. For your information, if the articles are not accepted for publication, I will share the information with you through my blog.  Yes,  I said  “articles”.  Last year, I started another article about a collateral family on Dad’s side.  I put aside that article to tackle other projects. When the current article is done, I plan to take up the second one again.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021


[1] Penelope L. Stratton & Henry B. Hoff, Guide to Genealogical Writing: How to Write and Publish Your Family History (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014), p.3.

She gets the farm

A man has an affair and leaves his wife for the other woman. He plans to sell the family farm and other property, leaving his wife and children virtually penniless. Wife discovers the scheme and files a restraining order. She eventually divorces the man and receives a substantial settlement. Sound like a story from today’s headlines? Well, this story happened in the 1850s. In honor of Women’s History Month, I tell the story of Elvina Masters Cole, a woman who fought for her rights.

This is a true story gleaned from various records. I discovered the basic information as I researched my brother-in-law’s adoptive family.  Another descendant of Elvina’s graciously contributed his extensive research on this matter. Both gave permission to share her story here.

Elvina Masters was born 25 April 1813 in Bowling Green, Warren county, Kentucky, the daughter of Richard Clement Masters and Agnes Cochran.  She married Thomas J. Cole on 10 November 1831 at Springfield, Illinois. [1]   Children followed quickly with their oldest son, William, born on 16 October 1832. William would later become embroiled in the family scandal. About 1835, Thomas and Elvina moved to Bureau County, Illinois.  In June 1838, Thomas J. Cole was accused of adultery and fathering a child with Pyrena B Ellis. Although Pyrena claimed that he was not the father of her child, Thomas was indicted for adultery.[2]  

In March 1849, William married Ellen Emeline Bradshaw, a servant in the Cole household.  Ellen was later named in Elvina’s divorce. The year 1850 finds Thomas and Elvina with six children in Berlin, Bureau County, Illinois. [3] The children were Catherine, age 16; John,age 12; Albert, age 10; Thomas J., age 8; Elizabeth, age 4 and Mary, age 1.  The family farm was valued at $5000.  Two more children would be born to Thomas and Elvina– Cornelia in 1851 and Enos in July 1857.  

On 20th February 1857, Elvina Cole filed for divorce from Thomas J. Cole in Bureau County, Illinois.[4]  Her complaint stated that, about November 1848, her husband, Thomas, brought  “ into their family as a house servant Ellen Emeline Bradshaw.”  After which, Thomas’ “affections became alienated and estranged and at the same time showing a criminal fondness and regard for Ellen. . . “   (Note: Ellen is recorded as Emaline/Emeline in some documents). Recall that William, son of Thomas and Elvina, married Ellen in March 1849 and reportedly lived with his parents during the first months of their marriage.  In September 1849, William and Ellen “removed to a small tenement upon the farm of her [Elvina’s] said husband and lived there for about 18 months, when the said William Cole left her and departed from this County.” Thomas moved Ellen back to the family home and moved himself into Ellen’s bedroom.

By March 1856, Elvina had had enough of this arrangement and forced Ellen out of the house. Ellen supposedly moved to her father’s home. Thomas left home for weeks at a time “to find Ellen.“   On February 20, 1857, Elvina filed for a divorce. [5] (Bureau County case #395).  Her complaint stated that “Thomas left home on 5th January 1857 and has not returned. “ William Cole  filed for divorce from Ellen on August 12, 1857. [6]

Before he left, Thomas “tried to sell and dispose of all his property. . . “  including  two farms with an estimated worth of $25-30,000 plus “a large amount of stock, grain & money.” Elvina asked for a restraining order to prevent Thomas from selling and disposing of the property “then abscond” with the funds which would leave her and her children “helpless and destitute.”

The outcome? Elvina was granted a divorce on 29 September 1857 by order of default.  According to Neal Smith:

The documentation as being in Township 17, North Range 10 East (now known as Berlin Township in Bureau County). In Section 6, the property was the west half of the northwest corner, and the west half of the southwest quarter. In Section 7, the property was the west half of the northwest corner, along with 50 acres on the west side of the east half of the northwest quarter.

Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 11.

William Cole was granted his divorce from Emeline/Ellen on April 19, 1858, also by default. [7]

Elvina was deeded the 140+ acre farm on which she was living, worth about $10,000 or more (equivalent about $335, 000 today). She was also to receive alimony payments of $700 yearly (about $21,000 today) with the property to be held as a lien. [8] If alimony was not paid, Elvina could sell the property or remain and take the profits.  In September, 1867, Elvina finally received all rights and title to the farm. She was now a wealthy woman.

Elvina’s land, circa 1875.
SOURCE: U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 13 March 2021), map of Berlin, p. 61; citing Atlas of Bureau Co and the State of Illinois, 1875; Microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Collection Number: G&M_43; Roll Number: 43.

Elvina never remarried. She died 16 December 1882 at Ohio township, Bureau County, Illinois, from bronchitis[9] and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at Dover, Ilinois.[10] Her grave is unmarked.

REFLECTION:

March is Women’s History Month.  I decided to write about at least one woman in the family tree. I am going to make this a specific goal each year from now on. As I mentioned earlier, I encountered Elvina as I researched my brother- in -law’s adoptive family. Her story impressed me then and it still impresses me.  She exerted her rights at a time when women had few rights. I am grateful to my brother- in- law and to Neal Smith for allowing me to share Elvina’s story.

What I learned:  the power of collaboration with others.

What helped: previous work done and documented. Neal Smith’s extensive work copying and transcribing handwritten county court records.

What didn’t help: incomplete entries for some items.

To do: still looking for Elvina in the 1860 census. Neal Smith also mentioned that she seems to have disappeared from the records in 1860 although there is an 1862 tax record for her in Bureau County Illinois.[11]


SOURCES

[1] Neal Duane Smith, transcriber and compiler, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings of Thomas J. Cole (1810 to 1873?), among the first persons of European descent to reside in Bureau County, Illinois, as well as documents relating to the divorces of his three oldest married children“ (PDF digital copy, 2012); privately held by Neil Duane Smith, [address for private use], Davenport, Iowa, 2021.

[2] H.C. Bradsby, editor, History of Bureau County, Illinois, (Chicago, Illinois: World Publishing Company, 1885); digital images, Hathi trust (https://babel.hathitrust.org :  accessed 14 March 2021); pages 274 & 295.

[3]  1850 U.S. Census, Bureau county, Illinois, population schedule, , p. 206B, family 343, Thomas C Cole 40; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 31 December 2019); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication M432_99.

[4] Bureau County, Illinois, Circuit Court Case 395, Elvina Cole vs. Thomas J. Cole; County Clerk’s Office, Princeton, Illinois. Original handwritten documents photographed, with permission of County Clerk, by Neal Duane Smith, 2012; included affidavits from William T. Cole, Elvina Masters Cole, John L. Cole, Catherine Cole Murphy  and William Masters.

[5] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” pp. 19-26.

[6] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” pp. 99-117.

[7] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 11.

[8] Neal Duane Smith, “Documents preserved in the divorce proceedings,” page 77. Transcription of Bill for Divorce, filed 29 September 1857.

[9] Public Member Photos & Scanned Documents, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/collection/1030/tree/119526247/person/390182674740/media : accessed 13 March 2021); “Masters, Elvina Death,” death certificate, posted 23 December 2012 by “erbowdle” ; citing Bureau County, Illinois, certified copy or abstract of vital records, issued 9 August 1999, certificate no. 98.

[10] Find a Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com  : viewed & printed 10 March 2021), memorial page for Elvina Masters Cole, Find A Grave Memorial # 198838221, citing Pioneer Cemetery (Dover, Bureau, Illinois), memorial created by Good Oman,  no gravestone photo.

[11] “U.S., IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 10 March 2021), no page numer, Elvina Cole, Dover; citing The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for Illinois, 1862-1866; Series: M764; Roll: 20; Alphabetical list of persons residing in Division No. 11 Collection District no. 5 of the state of Illinois.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021 plus a grateful acknowledgement to Neal Duane Smith for his willingness to share.

Where to next?

Who should I write about for today’s post? This question has bugged me for the last two weeks. Although I am working on several projects, none are ready for a report yet.

This year, I started tracking my blog post topics more closely. I created a spreadsheet with information about each blog post including date, title of post, and person or persons discussed in the post. I made a table with number of posts related to each family by year. The highest number for a given year reflects my primary focus for that year.

What determines my focus for a particular year? I started my blog in April 2017 with goal of sharing  information more or less equally about each family line.  An August 2017 family reunion trip to Pennsylvania generated more posts about dad’s family.  In 2018,  I received family pictures and other items from two cousins on mom’s side.  Cataloging those pictures and items steered me to Tucker-Maurer family for 2018. My father- in- law’s death in February 2019 guided me towards the Ellerbee family.  Johnson-Reed family then became focus for 2020 as I prepared another scrapbook.

As I write each post, I check sources, revise citations and identify gaps to be filled for each person.  I pose and try to answer at least one question. Content in my family tree improves.  Sometimes, a person contacts me about an ancestor named in an online tree or blog post.  These contacts often generate a topic for my blog. DNA matches also yield possible blog topics.

For my blog, what are the benefits of delving deep into a particular family or person? Well,  I try to discover the story beyond the basic facts. I seek a better understanding of the person and share that information with others. I feel like I am more intimately involved in their lives.

Writing about a variety of people has been a blessing.  I reach a wider audience with the potential of contacts from more than just one branch of the family tree.  Often, I choose the person or topic just a few days before I publish.  I am writing shorter blogs so there may be more series about a particular person or family.

Right now, I have several projects in the works. I am writing two articles to be considered for publication in genealogical journals. Due to potential copyright issues, I must defer writing more here about either of these. A potential DNA match contacted me about a specific line.  Several years ago, I made a note in my files and asked questions similar to what this DNA match is asking.  I give what input I can.  

Question for today is still- where do I go from here? And I don’t have a good answer. I search for inspiration from various sources such as  blog posts written by others.  I review my goals for the year but nothing stands out at this moment.  I have been here before. A spark of inspiration will come!  In the meantime, I continue the process of cleaning up at least one family tree.  Stay tuned!

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

2021 Genealogy Goals

A new year and time to set goals for my genealogical work. In my Last Post,  I reported how l I did with 2020 goals. Some goals were met and others were not. I have a mixture of broad and specific goals. Broad goals enable me to follow leads as they pop up. Specific goals lead me in a certain direction. For 2021, I make some goals more specific than in previous years.

One of my goals last year was to purchase voice recognition software.  Prices of these programs seem high. I went back to Genealogy Do- over Facebook page and looked at comments about the various programs.  One suggestion was to use the Microsoft 365 voice recognition app. So I’m trying it for the first time with this post. I will keep you informed.

2021 Genealogy Goals for Susan Posten Ellerbee

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; one chapter rewritten in 2020). *Priority item for 2021
  2. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.
  3. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Complete descendant list for Smetts-Maurer family as requested by cousin.
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings.
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Scan original documents in paper files. Place originals in archival sleeves and appropriate notebook.  
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings in each family group.
  3. Create family group records with citations as addendums to scrapbooks given 2019 & 2020 for at least 4 family groups.
  4. Continue to trace descendants of slaves owned by Ellerbee & Johnson ancestors. Use templates and directions from the Beyond Kin project.
  5. Follow-up on at least two BSOs generated from previous searches (one from each family group).  

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law).
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. (continued from 2019).
  5. Continue to address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports.

General items:

  1. Continue to place To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family on color-coded file cards.
  2. Send for at least 4 BMD certificates.
  3. Submit article begun in 2020 to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA.
  4. Add to Research Toolbox:  books “Dating Vintage Photographs”.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined. 

BUDGET:

I forgot to mention genealogy budget in my last post. So, here is my budget and actual spending for 2020 and proposed budget for 2021.

REFLECTION

My 2020 goals were mostly general.  However, general goals allow me to go where a search leads me. I could say “ identify siblings of great grandfather, Daniel S. Posten”   but instead I choose to leave my annual goals more generic.  I have been using yellow pads more this past year. When I sit down to work, I write a specific objective such as “ find Daniel Posten family in 1870 census.” Then, I make notes about which towns I searched. These yellow sheets are effective research logs for me.

I do create a digital research summary log of my findings. I sometimes forget to look beyond the first page. I looked at other formats and decided to stick with what I have been using.  

I probably use different methods to organize and document my work than you.  Each person uses mechanisms that work for them. However, we all desire similar outcomes –  to identify our ancestors, to find out about their lives and to share our findings with others.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

A culinary memory book

“Culinary memory book” a.k.a. “Family Cookbook” a.k.a “Collection of Family Recipes”

 My sons frequently remind me about the need to save family recipes. “Make sure that I get a copy of this one!”  “Add this one to the family cookbook!”  Well, it’s finally done – 124 recipes in the “Ellerbee and Extended Family Cookbook”.  Of note, 38 (about 25%) of the recipes fall into one category –  “Desserts, Cakes, Cookies and Pies”.  I now tell the story of this endeavor.

My sons and their cousins are now adults in their own households. They often ask for this or that recipe from me, their parents and grandparents.  The need to transfer those treasured culinary memories has gradually become more acute.  We talk about this at family gatherings. I have a bookcase full of recipe books but regularly consult only about a dozen or so.  I agreed to take on this project for our family.

The process began in 2019 with goal of producing book for Christmas 2019.  Recipes kept drifting in and other priorities took over.  So, I made completion of the cookbook as one of my genealogy goals for 2020.  And, it’s now done! Many will receive copies as Christmas gifts this year.

Where to start? That’s easy – begin collecting recipes! What dishes do you remember from your childhood? What dishes are always gone at the end of family meals or gatherings? What recipes are often requested by others?  Search recipe boxes and recipe books. Pick out the most worn recipe books – those are the ones most used. Look for recipes with handwritten notes. Include a story about the recipe.

How to put your family cookbook together?

You can:

There are, literally, thousands of websites to look at.  Important thing is to get started! Decide on format and template, collect and enter recipes, share with others. Enjoy the food and memories!

REFLECTION:

Election Day has come and gone. Multiple issues with getting accurate count of legally cast ballots. I choose to NOT comment on the results. Some people are happy and some not so much.  Seems like that’s always the way with these national elections.  This post tells of a positive event for my family – creation of a family cookbook with well-remembered and cherished recipes. Traditions live on!

What I learned:  Include extended family members when searching for recipes. Many templates are available. Limit recipes to those that are truly family favorites. Include recipes from all branches of the family tree.

What helped: Prompt response to call for recipes.

What didn’t help:  My procrastination to complete project.

To-do:  Digital cookbook in the future??

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020

A death certificate finally arrives!

My mother’s family is from New York. Her family tree reaches back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. New York City and its boroughs have records from the 1800s.  I have copies of my grandmother’s birth certificate (born 1892) and several death certificates from the 1880s. Usually, a request takes 6-8 weeks to be filled.  Similar document requests from New York State took months BCV (Before Corona Virus) due to a much larger volume and a limited number of staff to fill those requests.  With the pandemic, these requests take even longer.  In this post, I relate events leading to the receipt of one death certificate.

 Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy of the death certificate for Margaret Ann Tucker [1], wife of my 3 times great-grandfather, Jeremiah Tucker. I sent the request over a year ago. In 2020, the number of deaths in New York due to Corona Virus spiralled. The need for those certificates far outweigh genealogy requests.  I just had to be patient!  I hoped to find the names of her parents on that certificate and was not disappointed.

A note about my personal ethics.  I purchased this certificate directly from New York State.  The certificates are not available online.  Therefore, I will not post a scanned copy to my blog or any of my online trees.  I placed the original in the appropriate notebook in an archival quality plastic sleeve. I scanned it to my personal computer.  The State of New York Health Department and/or State Archives derive income from these requests.  Therefore, I feel ethically bound to not post a digital copy of the certificate.  However, I will share some of the information with you.  

In one of my first blog posts, dated 24 April 2017 (Genealogy Do-Over, month 2, Blog #1, https://postingfamilyroots.blog/2017/04/), I reported what I knew about Margaret. To summarize:  

  • According to oral family history, her maiden name was Margaret/ Maggie Irwin.[2]
  • Census records for 1870[3]  , 1875[4], 1880 [5] and 1900[6] show Jeremiah and wife, Margaret.
  • Per the 1900 census, Jeremiah and Margaret had been married for 33 years – estimated marriage year about 1867.
  • 1870 census includes a child, Lavina, age 8, born about 1862.
  • 1875 state census includes a child, Lavina, age 13 and 64-year-old Ellen Ervin.
  • 1880 census includes daughter, Lanna, age 18.
    • ASSERTION: Margaret, identified as Jeremiah’s wife, was his 2nd wife. She is not mother of Lavina/ Lanna. The identity of Lavina’s mother remains a mystery.
  • Death record for George Tucker (age 3 in 1880) lists his mother’s name as Margaret Collins.[7]
  • To-do item (from 24 April 2017 blog post):  “Confirm death date & location for Margaret Tucker. Obtain death certificate.”

Later, I discovered that Jeremiah Tucker married Allie Traver Briggs in 1905.[8]  This information narrowed Margaret’s death date to between 1900 and 1905.  A cousin sent a death notice, dated September 1904, from a local newspaper for Mrs. Jerry Tucker. [9]  Then, I accessed the New York State Death Index, online, for a certificate number.[10]  Finally, I could order Margaret’s death certificate from the State of New York!

Item on To-Do list from April 2017 is now complete!  Margaret’s death date and location are confirmed and her death certificate obtained. Information on her death certificate includes:

  • Age: 69 years, 6 months, 6 days for a calculated birth date of 28 February 1835. Place of Birth: New York. Per the 1875 state census, she was born in Greene county.
  • Died 2 September 1904 at Greenville, Greene county, New York.
  • Names of her parents:  Wm [William] Irving, born New York and Lana Hilliker, born New York.

One mystery solved!  Margaret’s maiden name was Irving.  Lana could be another name for Ellen, the 64-year-old woman living with Jeremiah and Margaret in 1875.  I am not ready to share  tentative results from my preliminary, quick searches for William and Lana.

 REFLECTION

This post is shorter than most that I have written.  I realize that I don’t need to report everything about a topic in a single post. My posts often report unfinished work.  My cousin, June, who lives in Greene county, New York, also works on this family line.  She has access to local resources and often shares items with me. I sent her a copy of Margaret’s death certificate.  

What helped:  My cousin, June, who found the newspaper death notice for Margaret. Previous review of records and notes in my files. Research log. Added info to research log started in 2017. Notes on research log and RootsMagic.

What didn’t help: Not entering DC information to RootsMagic before doing anything else.  

What I learned: Patience pays off!

TO-DO:  Find Margaret’s parents in census and other records.  Continue search for Lavina/ Lanna.


SOURCES:

[1]  New York, State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate and Record of Death 38927 (5 September 1904), Margaret Ann Tucker; State of New York, Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Albany, New York; photocopy received 3 October 2020.

[2] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” [Page]; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original handwritten document created ca. 1975-1980 given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother.

[3] 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Albany county, New York, population schedule, Westerlo, p. 10 (ink pen), dwelling 77, family 79, Margaret Tucker age 36; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : downloaded & printed 30 December 2014); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication M593.

[4]  Jeremiah B. Tucker, 1875 New York State Census, Albany county, New York, population schedule, Westerlo, pg. 24, lines 29-36, dwelling 231, family 249; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed 8 December 2017); citing New York State Archives, Albany, Albany county, New York.

[5]  1880 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 2B (ink pen), dwelling #1, family #1, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded and printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T9, roll 836.

[6]  1900 U.S. Census, Greene county, New York, pop. sch., Greenville, enumeration district (ED) 78, p. 8A (ink pen), dwelling 189 , family 196, Jeremiah Tucker; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 November 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T623_1039.

[7]  Greenville Rural Cemetery (Greenville, Greene, New York);  to June Gambacorta, photocopy of office record obtained by June Gambacorta,  [address for private use], New York;  No date, Cemetery information card received via email from June Gambacorta, 18 May 2016.

[8]  “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,” database with images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 23 April 2018), entry for Tucker, Jeremiah, Greenville NY; citing New York State Marriage Index, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY.

[9]   “The funeral of Mrs. Jerry Tucker. . . .”, The Greenville Local, Greenville, Greene county, New York, 22 September 1904, page unknown, column 2. “funeral on Wednesday of last week”, date 14 September 1904; digital copy sent to Susan Posten Ellerbee by June Gambacorta,  [address for private use], New York.  

[10]  New York Department of Health, “New York, Death Index, 1880-1956,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 20 June 2018), entry for Margaret A. Tucker, pg. 851; citing New York Department of Health, Albany, New York.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots Blog, 2020.