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

My first post (for 2020): Genealogy Goals

Time to make resolutions for the new year. So, I share my genealogy goals for 2020.   Last year, I referred to a specific blog post that I found helpful:  Setting Genealogy Goals by Jennifer Patterson Dondero. [1]  She offered five steps:

  1. Previous year review
  2. Broad interest or goal identification
  3. Refining your interests/ goals
  4. Correlating your previous year review with your refinements
  5. Finalizing your resolutions/ goals

2020 Genealogy Goals for blog

I reviewed 2019 in my last post. Now, I set my 2020 goals starting with broad interest areas:

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook. (continued from 2018 & 2019).
  2. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; rewritten in December 2019).
  3. Send in my DNA to a third company.  Reason:  A Posten descendant with Pennsylvania ties contacted me in 2019. This person is a known descendant of a ‘possibly related’ Posten family that I identified circa 2015.
  4. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.
  5. Continue paper & digital file clean-up as needed.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Anticipate receipt of at least one death certificate (Margaret Tucker, wife of Jeremiah Tucker). Scan document and enter information when document received.
  2. Respond to cousin requests for copies of information (Maurer & Jones) and pictures (Tucker).
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches.

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

  1. Continue review of paper files for documents to be scanned and placed in notebooks for Ellerbee-Simmons & Johnson-Reed families.
  2. Continue paper & digital file clean-up for these family groups.
  3. Plan field trip to Alabama and Georgia to trace Ellerbee family migration. If time and geography permit, follow migration of Johnson-Reed family.
  4. Begin to trace descendants of slaves owned by husband’s 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).
  6. Complete family group records (11 done, 18 to do) with citations as addendum to scrapbook given Christmas 2019.

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 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
  3. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA.
  4. Begin research for another family member- person of interest TBA.
  5. Add to Research Toolbox: books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software.
  6. Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution.
  7. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.
  8. Complete Family Recipe Book started in 2019. Planned distribution- Christmas, 2020.

2020 Budget:  reflects additional expenses from 2019 and changes in subscription plans.

2020 budget_ver2

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

Reflection:

As I read these goals, I wonder if I am being too ambitious. In general, I spend about 40+ hours per week on genealogy. My family thinks that it has become an obsession. Maybe, it has! But, what a wonderful obsession! Gratifying most of the time because I can see definite results. Sometimes frustrating and time to step away from the computer and files. I believe that I am better organized now than when I started the Genealogy Do-Over three years ago.  Writing these blog posts has helped me step away from just gathering facts and learning to tell the stories. I will keep you posted.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots  blog, 2020

Sources:

[1] Jennifer Patterson Dondero, “Setting Genealogy Goals”, The Occasional Genealogist, December 2017 (https://www.theoccasionalgenealogist.com/2017/12/genealogy-goals-new-year.html  : accessed 27 December 2019).

Susan’s Genealogy Research Goals for 2019

In my last post,  End of Year Review- 2018 Genealogy Goals,  I reviewed my 2018 goals. Now, I present my 2019 goals and some insights.

Why set goals for your genealogy research?  The terms ‘focus’ and ‘guide’ come to mind.  Focus implies a specific area for your attention. A synonym for guide is ‘direct’ which also means ‘showing the way’.  Goals help you stay focused and direct your path. Annual  genealogy goals should also be flexible.  Circumstances, such as time and money, change.  New opportunities and challenges present themselves.  Be prepared to change or delete.  Be open to adding new goals.

Goals can be broad or narrow.  I believe that broad annual goals serve us better.  Although, some specifics are needed.  Example:   “Order birth/death/ marriage certificates” is probably too broad. “Order at least 4 birth, death or marriage certificates for Tucker-Maurer ancestors”  gives direction and is measurable.

COMMENT:  My teacher persona now kicks in. Most people use the term “goals” in the same way as the term “objectives” .  I view goals as broad statements with a long term focus such as goals for the year, quarter, month or project.  An objective (or step) reflects a short term focus—what do I want to accomplish today, this week, or during this work session.  Objectives are more specific than goals.   “Order death certificate for Anna Klee Maurer from New York in January 2019” is an objective.  Enough of the soapbox. Don’t fret about which term that you use.

I found this blog post helpful:   Setting Genealogy Goals by Jennifer Patterson Dondero. [1]  She suggests five steps:

  1. Previous year review
  2. Broad interest or goal identification
  3. Refining your interests/ goals
  4. Correlating your previous year review with your refinements
  5. Finalizing your resolutions/ goals

I have already reviewed  2018 (see last blog post).  Based on that review, I wrote an initial set of goals (step 4).  So, back to steps 2 and 3.  My broad interest areas are mom’s family (Tucker-Maurer) and husband’s family (specifically Ellerbee). We are tentatively planning a genealogy field trip to Alabama and Georgia in summer 2019. Purpose is to visit areas where Ellerbee family lived during pre-Civil War era.  I reviewed Ellerbee family research in 2014 before we made a trip to east Texas. Ellerbee family review was done December 2017 through January 2018 as I prepared a scrapbook for father- in-law’s 80th birthday.  I think that initial goal refinement is needed to set aside mom’s family for now and focus more on Ellerbee family.  

Here are my refined 2019 goals:

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Continue paper & digital file clean-up.  Timeline:  January 2019. 
  2. Defer remainder of work as needed.

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

  1. Purchase notebooks for Ellerbee-Simmons & Johnson-Reed certificates, photographs and other memorabilia.
  2. Send in husband’s DNA test.
  3. Begin paper & digital file clean-up for father-in-law’s and/or mother-in-law’s family.
  4. Plan field trip to Alabama and Georgia to trace Ellerbee family migration. If time and geography permit, follow migration of Johnson-Reed family.

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Copy paper BMD certificates from Posten relative to digital files. Place originals in Posten BMD notebook.
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Priority: Use information from 2010 Posten family history (continued from 2018). 
  3. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (continued from 2018).
  4. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options for  2020.  (One chapter done in 2018).

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.
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Add at least 2 family trees to blog.
  5. Address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports/ posts.

General items:

  1. Create master lists of To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family. Begin with  Tucker-Maurer and Ellerbee families.
  2. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
  3. Add to Research Toolbox: Book about “Dating Vintage Photographs”; possibly Dragon software.
  4. Continue volunteer genealogy work with Daughters of the American Revolution.
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.  
  6. Review Genealogy Proof Standard. Buy book on this topic.  https://www.genealogyexplained.com/basics/genealogica

Budget:

Printer & ink             $  60.00
Paper/ Notebooks $ 10.00
Books $ 50.00
BMD Certificates $ 120.00
Personal education $ 150.00
Subscriptions $ 600.00
TOTAL $1040.00   

Want more information about research goals? Look at these websites:  

Thomas MacAntee, Genealogy Do-Over, Month 2:  https://abundantgenealogy.com/genealogy-month-2-february-2018/  

Legacy Tree Genealogists:  https://www.legacytree.com/blog/setting-smart-genealogy-research-goals

Family Tree Magazine:  https://www.familytreemagazine.com/articles/news-blogs/family-tree-university/genealogy-goal-setting/

REFLECTION:

I have learned so much in the past two years from the Genealogy Do-Over. My file clean-up efforts will eventually pay off although progress sometimes seems very slow. My research habits continue to improve. My family feels a little neglected at times. I need to balance my genealogy and family time better.  

My husband suggested that I can earn money with genealogy. To do that, I need to pursue certification. I am not adding that to my goals for 2019 but will keep it in mind.

What I learned:  Define broad interest/ research areas.  Some of my blog posts meet the ‘reasonably exhaustive research’ standard and some do not. I use the blog as a sounding board for questions and brick walls.  The work doesn’t have to be complete for posting here.

What helped: Finding blog post about Setting Research Goals from The Occasional Genealogist. I reformatted my initial scattered list into broad interest areas/ categories. I believe this organization will help me to focus in 2019.

What didn’t help:  My background as a teacher wanting to separate goals and objectives. Not everyone needs to make that distinction! It’s a matter of semantics.

To-Do:  See my 2019 goals.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


[1] Jennifer Patterson Dondero, “Setting Genealogy Goals”, The Occasional Genealogist, December 2017 (https://www.theoccasionalgenealogist.com/2017/12/genealogy-goals-new-year.html   : accessed 20 December 2018).

End of Year Review–2018 Genealogy Goals

December, a time to remember our blessings through the giving of gifts and family celebrations. One of my gifts has been time for Genealogy Do-Over.  How did I spend that gift?  In this post, I reflect on the year and present my 2018 goals and activities.

Overall, I am pleased with my genealogical research this year.  Contact with 4 cousins includes sharing information and asking for opinions about questionable data or conclusions drawn by others.  I was pleasantly surprised when one cousin sent me a box of old family pictures. Another cousin shared pictures digitally. My mother’s album of similar pictures has been lost so this was a wonderful gift!

I routinely use Genealogy Do-Over principles as new research directions appear.  I talked to my oldest son about preserving the legacy.  Daily computer time was limited for several weeks due to a painful shoulder.  Shoulder problem is now resolved as long as I work in short bursts.  Maybe Santa Claus will bring Dragon software? 

I hoped to complete digital clean-up of Mom’s family tree by the end of the year.  Did progress on Genealogy Do-Over interfere with conducting new research and following new leads?  In some ways, yes.  However, I did follow new leads.  Developing more efficient research habits meant slowing down a little. Specifically, I renamed digital documents immediately after downloading to my computer and  before saving the document to genealogy software.  I cited the source right then, too. This practice will ultimately save time later. Thorough documentation helped me to find insights that I would probably have missed before.  And, I wrote down those insights including  how I came to a specific conclusion!   

Writing blog posts took more time than I expected each week.  Some posts are really long and potentiallydifficult to follow.  At the end of theyear, I set a goal of 1500 words or less for each post. This goal will continuefor 2019. As I wrote, I gained new perspectives about each person or family. Gaps and questions seemed more clear.   

Susan’s Genealogy 2018 Goals:

  1. Continue paper and digital file clean-up.  Focus on mom’s family as Dad’s family files are almost done. Results:  Goal met.  Work continues on mom’s tree. 
    • Created research logs for 80 of the 297 persons in mom’s tree, including 28 identified direct line ancestors. The non-direct line persons (N = 52) are siblings of direct line ancestors and the siblings’  spouses.
    • Completed paper records (Individual worksheet, Research checklist, Biographical outline) for direct line ancestors and their siblings.
    • Digitally, renamed media files and rewrote source citations using Roots Magic source templates/ Evidence Explained[1] format.  Approximately 75% complete for Mom’s tree.
    • Refined labelling system for digital files.
    • Used same process of paper and digital file cleanup for a few files in other family trees (Dad, Father-in-law,Mother-in-law).
  2. Submit at least one article to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter. Use information from 2010 Posten family history.
    • Result:  Not met. Presented information to local DAR chapter about Father-in-law’sdistant cousin who lived in Oklahoma before statehood.  Keep same goal for 2019.
  3. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication optionswith expected publication in 2019.
    • Results:  Partially met. Revised one chapter of Posten family history book. Continue same goal for 2019.
  4. Send copies of grandparents’ BMD certificates to cousin.
    • Results: Met. Sent copies of grandparents’ certificates plus other BMD certificates to cousin. Sent print-ready copies of blog posts to another cousin.
  5. Send for at least 6 BMD certificates. If budget permits, request one certificate per month.
    • Results:  Partially met. Requested 5 certificates. One certificate sent to me by another Tucker-Maurer family researcher. Received 2 of 4 certificates requested. Waiting for 2 certificates from New York.  Certificates from State of New York can take 8-9 months. Certificates from New York City usually received within 6-8 weeks.
  6. Blog-related goals:
    • Post on more regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks.  Goal met.
    • Expand to husband’s family, at least 4 stories about his family during the year. Goal met.  Posted 5 stories about husband’s family.
      • Simmons,Ellerbee, Johnson-Reed scrapbooks—posted 29 January 2018
      • Valentine in the family tree: Valentine Creager—posted 14 February 2018
      • Elegy to Elizabeth Hayes Ellerbee – posted 5 March 2018
      • Pre-1850 census records using William Bailey as example – posted 25 September 2018
      • Holcomb family and New Madrid Earthquakes, 1811-1812, posted December 3, 2018.
    • Explore options for posting family trees to blog. Goal partially met.  Option called RootsPersona ( https://rootspersona.com/) is one option. For 2019, post at least two family trees to blog.
  7. Learn more about DNA testing.  Join DNA Do-over Facebook group. Goal met. Joined Facebook group on 4 January 2018. Read posts about once a week.
  8. Post DNA results to GEDmatch.  Goal met. Posted DNA results to GEDmatch on January 7, 2018. Posted family tree to GEDmatch in March 2018.  Helped one DNA match discover biologic grandmother (person and person’s mother had been adopted; person was able to give me possible surnames and a location).
  9. Assist nephew to combine family trees of his parents (his mother is my sister). Goal not met. Talked about family trees during visits to nephew.
  10. Prepare Ellerbee family scrapbook for Papa (Father-in-law). Goal met. Completed 11 January 2018. Presented to him in honor of 80th birthday.

Other activities:

  • Created digital scrapbook of vintage Tucker-Maurer photographs. Includes photos sent to me by two cousins.
  • Consulted books and online resources about preservation of vintage photographs.
  • Purchased archival quality plastic sleeves for preservation of vintage Tucker-Maurer photographs.
  • Purchased notebooks for BMD certificates, photographs and other memorabilia of Posten-Richards and Tucker-Maurer families.
  • Used principles learned in Genealogy Do-Over to research families of two persons who are related to me by marriage.
  • Joined GenealogyBank for access to newspapers.
  • Continued routine scheduled backups to Cloud and external hard drive.
  • Purchased 7 books for Research Toolbox: 
    • Berry, Kenyatta D. The Family Tree Toolkit. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2018.
    • Bettinger, Blaine T. Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. Kindle edition.Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, No date.
    • Crawford,Mark.  Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership,Cruelty, Character, and Kindness. El Dorado Hills, California:  Savas Beatie, 2017.
    • Hendrickson, Nancy. 52 Weeks of Genealogy: Projects for Every Week of the Year. Kindle edition. San Diego, California: Green Pony Press, 2017.
    • Lardas,Mark. Nashville 1864: From the Tennessee to the Cumberland.  New York: Osprey Publishing, 2017.
    • Richards, Amber. Preserve Your Family Pictures: How to Save Photo Heirlooms for Future Generations. Kindle edition. Publication information not listed.
    • Rigdon,John C. Historical Sketch and Roster of the Georgia 25th Infantry Regiment. Kindle edition.Cartersville, Georgia: Easter Digital Resources, 2015.

How much did my hobby cost?  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Archival materials      $ 76.83 (includes scrapbook items)
  • BMD records                $92.00
  • Books                            $74.80
  • Copying                       $    4.20 (forms for paper files)
  • Ink/ printer                  $339.95(New printer July 2018)
  • Online databases        $788.75 (Discontinued 1 due to minimal results)
  • Paper/Scrapbook        $  10.00 (3 reams paperfrom estate sale)

Total                           $1386. 53

Average/ month        $  115.54

Ink/ printer and online database costs should decrease in 2019.  

Next blog post:  2019 goals and budget   


SOURCES

[1] ElizabethShown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015).