Thursday, April 6, 2017

Caring for the Aged

I was introduced to one of the neatest record sets at RootsTech 2017.

I have known Michael Benson for quite awhile.  He lived not far from me, and was one of the microfilmers over areas east of the Mississippi River.
Even with 30,000 people to wade through, we always manage to find each other.

Just as we were saying our goodbyes, he asked me what classes I had taught at RootsTech.  I told him that one of the classes was "Substitutes for Vital Records".  He then asked me if I had ever seen the Old Age Assistance Tax images.

My interest was piqued, and I asked him what they were.  Apparently, they were set in place just before Social Security began.

And, he had just finished filming a set in Iowa.
Look at the information on these cards!  Each one has space for:
1.  The full name of the applicant.
2.  The date and place of birth.
3.  The parents' name, including the mother's maiden name.

Oh, this is good.

Here is the bread crumb trail on how to find them.

Go to the FamilySearch Wiki and look under the state you're researching.  Pay close attention to the taxation links.

Notice that #2 references Old Age Assistance Records, 1934-1936.  There is a clickable link at the end of that line.

This is the landing page.

Here, you'll see a camera at the end of each line.  There are four collections, all alphabetized.

And, there you go!  Many, if not most of these individuals were born in the late 1800's -- before most states began keeping vital records.

So, check the FamilySearch Wiki to see if there are collections available for the states you are researching.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

This Land is My Land!

This evening I finished up teaching a series of classes at a local library that has been hosting me for just over twenty years.

I do believe I taught them something new -- and fun!

It's all about land.

The Bureau of Land Management has a terrific website, if you have ancestry in a state that used the township and range system.  Very few, if any, of my ancestors lived in such a state.  They were generally from states that used the metes and bounds system.  (Beginning at a black oak, hence 13 poles...)

Let me take you through the steps I showed the attendees this evening.

1.  First, you want to go to the BLM site.  Here is the link:

2.  I use Mr. Kerry's relatives as an example. so I began to fill in what I knew about his ancestor, Thomas Oakley.
Notice that I don't have much information other than his name and the county in Ohio.

3.  Soon, I had an image that showed his name, and the township and range numbers of his property.

4.  Under "Image", there is an indicator of a document, which I clicked.
Look at that!  I can download the Land Patent!

5.  And, if I go back to the home page, I can see who his neighbors were.

Thomas appears three names up from the bottom.

6.  Here comes the fun part!  

Open another window in your browser, and go to Earth Point.  Here is the address:

You will see the space in the center of the page where you are to fill in the Principal Meridian, Township, Range, and Section.  Those are items you can obtain from the BLM window that you still have open.

7.  Once you fill them in, tell it to "Go Fly..."

Is that the coolest thing ever?  

When I added a layer of roads to the image, I discovered that we drive past this area all the time.  Just last year, we decided to turn down one of the roads that surrounded the property.

We were looking at the land Thomas Oakley owned!

8.  GoogleEarth allowed us to see it from a street view, too.   It's more fun to actually visit the area, but this can be the next best thing.

By combining the sites of the Bureau of Land Management and EarthPoint, you can visit the land of your ancestors and see what they saw.

Go ahead and give it a try!  

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Faithful Two

Last Monday evening I had the opportunity to see the love of genealogy in action.

I also saw the dedication of an Ohio Genealogical Society trustee in action.

I happened to be talking with Sunda Peters at OGS on Monday afternoon, and she had mentioned how they are trying to help a struggling county genealogical society stay afloat.  She was driving to their meeting that very evening.  It was cold, it would be dark and a bit rainy, so I volunteered to go along with her.  Cheryl Abernathy would be meeting her there.

Sunda is past President of the Ohio Genealogical Society.
Cheryl is a trustee on the board.

Sunda picked me up, and we laughed and talked all the way to Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  We located the building and walked in to wait on Cheryl.

This is the beautiful big older home where the society meets.

Dick and Jim were already there and welcomed us right in.

Jim is on the right, and is the President and the Treasurer.  Dick is on the left, and proudly showed us their collection.  Each month, Jim draws up an agenda for their meeting.  They are the only two who attend.

I want you to look at the faces of Sunda and Cheryl as they listen intently to the problems these two men face in keeping the society alive.

Some of those problems include:
1.  Having an historical society and a genealogy room in the public library that appeals to people more than the tiny space they have.
2.  An out-of-state membership.
3.  An aging local membership, many of whom are in nursing homes or the cemetery.

Take a careful look at Ohio in 1810.  We had just become a state seven years earlier.  The red arrow points to where I now live in Richland County.  The parent county is Knox County, right where I was Monday evening.

It's an old county.  And, an important one.

Dick proudly showed me a photo album that had been left in a motel that ended up with them.  I thought of Maureen Taylor as I looked through the pages.  Here's a few for you to look at, too.

Look how thick it is!

Who are these people?  They were left behind in a motel, and no one seemed to notice.

Well, Dick noticed.  He turned the back of each photo over and noticed there were names on a few of them.  So, he traced them.

I learned many things that evening.  As we left to drive home in the rain, I felt profound respect for Dick and Jim and their efforts to keep a small, but important piece of Ohio's history alive.

I saw the relief on their faces as Sunda and Cheryl leaned in to listen to their concerns.  I don't know that I have seen a better example of officers, past and present, than what I did that evening.  A "tiger team" that will include other trustees will be assembled by Cheryl to meet again and help these men out.

And, once again, Peggy had another opportunity to learn.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

You know you want to go!!!

Come know you want it.

RootsTech 2017 begins in just over a month, and it's time to get some plans in motion.
Perhaps you will want to take advantage of some of the best "hands-on" opportunities in the genealogy world.
Perhaps you have a "one-of-a-kind" book that you would love to have scanned - for free.
Maybe you can spend a day or two in the Family History Library (love the missionary with the pointer.)
Or, the opportunity to meet some of your favorite bloggers.

Here is probably one of the final contests to help you win a free pass to RootsTech.  It includes:

■ Innovator Summit (Wednesday)
            over 200 classes
        ■    Keynotes
        ■    General sessions
        ■    RootsTech classes
        ■    Getting Started classes
        ■    Expo hall

        ■    Evening events 
This is a $299 value that you may win for free!  And, if you have already registered, your money will be refunded when you contact RootsTech to let them know.
Here is what you need to do:
  • Leave a comment on this blog telling me who you want to meet  or listen to at RootsTech, and what impact they may have had on you.
That's all there is to it!  I'll give you a hint:  I am dying to hear LeVar Burton.  His performance in Roots changed a nation by opening our eyes to what may have seemed impossible.

Find out more about the entire event at:

Let me know by Saturday evening by 11:59 pm EDT, and you may wake up finding some good news in your hands.

Come know you want it!

Disclaimer:  As an Ambassador for RootsTech, we are given the opportunity to offer one certificate for a complete registration.  I am thrilled to be able to offer this!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lessons from my six month sabbatical

It was over a year ago that I realized I was tired.

November 2015 found me looking back over the year and counting up the presentations and webinars I had done.  It amounted to 62 total speaking opportunities, and I was tired.  

I talked it over with Mr. Kerry, and told him I felt I should fulfill all of the commitments I had made through June 2016, but wouldn't accept any more throughout the rest of the year.

It was a wise decision.

I finished out at close to 30 by the end of June, and had a couple of more presentations in August and September, but I was officially done for the year.  I took the last half of the year off.

I needed some research time of my own.  

I needed some learning time of my own.

I needed to not wake up in a hotel wondering what city I was in.

And now, I am back!  I am refreshed and raring to go.  I am busy through mid-September, and have even booked presentations into 2018.

Let me tell you what I learned during these past six months:

1.  I learned that I miss gathering with my genealogy colleagues, whether they be attendees or other speakers.

2.  I learned that it is imperative that I continue to do my own research.  This usually involves a southern trip with my sisters, which includes a lot of laughing!
Sisters Betty, Fern, and me!

3.  I learned that it is extremely important that I continue to connect with the living.  I was born into an old family, so there aren't many of the older generation left.  I have moved into that position.  I recently sat and listened to my aunt teaching her great-granddaughter the old mountain gospel songs.  I could have listened to this torch being passed all day long.
Aunt Betty teaching gospel songs to great-granddaughter Skylan

4.  Though I was not actively teaching any classes, it remained important that I stay connected with the genealogy community -- mostly through Facebook and other social media.

5.  Continuing my own education was vital, and I'm an active learner.  Every opportunity I have to listen in on a class or webinar is another opportunity for growth.

6.  Though I have 35 presentations that are ready to go on a moment's notice (I have filled in for people that couldn't present at the last moment, so I'm glad I have them.), plus about 8 more that are in process.  I spent these past six months updating and tweaking these presentations and the accompanying syllabi.

7.  I began to review some of my older presentations that have been video or audio taped, so that I could critique what I sound and look like.  For those of you who know me well, this is a really big deal, for I can't stand to watch or hear myself.  But, I felt I must do it so that people who are paying to hear me will not feel their money has been wasted.

8.  I found some much-needed spare time that I didn't do a darn thing.  This is when I replenished myself.  I read, I studied.  I did some self-reflecting.  I attended two funerals, which I would not have been able to do if I had accepted two speaking invitations.

9.  I worked on my much-neglected personal history.

10.  I began to prepare for 2017..

These are a few of the things I have not been able to while always being on-the-go.  And, it's not that I dislike what I do.  I love what I do!  But, I had reached a point where I needed to scale back.

So, in a few short weeks, I will be headed to Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2017, followed by a quick trip to Orlando, followed by another trip to...

I have taken care of me.

And, sometimes life pulls us up short.  I was mowing this past August when I had a tractor accident.  I got stuck on a root. Actually, it was a root and a rock.  I shut everything down and managed to unloose the tractor, only to have it begin to roll and take me with it.  Part of my leg was bruised pretty badly, my arm was torn up, and I fell really hard -- straight down.

Things began to heal, but one area was becoming increasingly worse.  It resulted in having surgery, followed by some pretty limited recuperation.

It was a relief to not have to worry about rearranging a myriad of engagements while taking care of my own self.

So, lessons learned...

*Sometimes, you might feel prompted to do some scaling back.  Listen to that prompting.

*Continue to read and educate yourself.

*Never stop learning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Faces of Volunteerism

I make frequent trips to the Ohio Genealogical Society. 
Many times I'm there on Monday, when the facility is closed.

Each Monday, for at least the past five years, 
a group of volunteers have met to work on probate files from the Richland County, Ohio courthouse.
Volunteers meet each Monday at OGS to work on probate files.

Past-president of OGS, Sunda Peters (seated in green) has been the fearless leader of this group.

They are unfolding, unstapling, and getting massive amounts of folders ready for digitizing.
A small portion of the probate files coming from the Richland County, Ohio courthouse.

These probate files are some of the earliest records in Ohio, beginning in 1813.  That's just ten years after Ohio became a state!

The box in the upper right corner represents the many staples and other items used to attach papers together.

They are currently working on the year 1900, and have about five more years of work to do.

FamilySearch has hired a contractor, who is at the courthouse filming the files that have been taken apart, unstapled, and put into manila folders.
Currently, she is on the year 1847, so Sunda and her staff are trying to keep her from catching up with them.

After they are sent to FamilySearch (weekly, I assume), they will be available for viewing, just like on a microfilm reader.

Then, they will be up for indexing.
That's how this process works.
Eventually, researchers will be able to search for ancestors by name, and bring up the actual image.

The final product will be probate files that cover the years
1813 - 1935.
Then, the project will be finished.

That's how it all comes together.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Kentucky Research Adventures Never End

15 Sep 2016

MissPeggy and her sisters are at it again. This time,we are in eastern Kentucky, where I am speaking at a conference tomorrow.
Conversation in library:
First man: Well, if it's your baby you need to make things right.
Second man: Well, it just might be.
First man: What are you going to do to make it right?
Second man: Well, I can give her a goat right now, maybe another one later.
First man: That's a good start. It will let her know you're not going to leave her without something to get along with.
Second man: I don't want her to think I'm a knucklehead.
(I know. I shouldn't be eavesdropping. My sisters and I are trying to hold our faces together.)
And, our memories when we passed a familiar town...
Betty: Oh, this is where we followed a man on a horse!
Me: That's right. I turned around in a gas station and got behind a man on a horse. We followed him all the way into town.
Fern: It seems like something else happened here.
Me: Yes, we ended up in the middle of a parade.
Betty: I remember that! It seems like it was a noisy one.
Me: Betty, you had the trombone section beside your window.
We all nod our heads in fond and solemn memory.

16 Sep 2016
I'm fixin' on crying.
There is a young man in the library with us. He is trying to reconstruct his life.
First, his house was flooded and filled with mud. They tried to save what they could
When he finally got it all dried out, it caught fire and he lost everything.
Now, he is here with us trying to copy photos out of school yearbooks so he can have some sort of memory of his life. This is one of many things he's using, besides just trying to find any relative that may have a photo of him.
I'm telling you, I'm fixin' on crying.
This is a library like no other I have ever been to.
They have fed us since we walked in the door. We have had grapes, cheddar cheese, bottled water, granola bars, plus pork chops. Yes, pork chops. Someone brought in extras they had fixed for lunch and asked if we all would like somethin' to eat.
Of course!
Then, she opened up this big tray and there were pork chops an inch thick, with mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, and biscuits.
Now, she walks in with a box of donuts.
We don't ever, ever want to leave. Please let us roll out and spend the night, for we want to know what's for breakfast!
Oh, and we have found lots of genealogy, too!

17 Sep 2016

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Ramada Inn in Paintsville, Kentucky. We enjoyed something we hadn't had since our grandmother was alive -- potato salad made with mashed potatoes.
I know it may sound a bit odd, but one bite into it brought back every memory we had of visiting her during the summers. The restaurant here had the absolute perfect blend of the pickles, two kinds of onions, etc. Oh, it was good!
Opening festivities tonight included a "Meet and Greet", again with all sorts of foods. I can't remember a time when I have grazed every moment since I pulled out of my driveway. (My mom used to get so mad at my dad when we traveled. She would pack it all up, and he would have it gone before we got out of town.)
There was a wonderful man and woman who spent an hour playing Civil War songs. Both of their voices were good and quite clear.
Another conversation I was part of today:
Man (from a county I'm researching in): Ma'am, what are the names of the people you're looking for?
Me: (I rattled off about a dozen from that county)
Man: I know ever (yes, ever) one of them.
Me: How do you know them?
Man: I drive past their graveyard.
Me: I know right where it's at!
Man: I drive a school bus there ever day.
Me: Are you serious? I've been on that road! Your front end meets your hind end comin' around those hairpin turns.
Man: I know, ma'am. I have to get out and pull my mirrors in.
Me: On your bus?
Man: On my bus. I have to squeeze between two trees. If they get much bigger I'm going to have to figure out how I'm going to do it, for I'm tired of getting out and bending those mirrors in.
Me: Which county do you drive for?
Man: Depends on which curve I'm on.
Good grief.
Later on...
Me (talking to an older woman): I think my tooth is flaring up on me.
Woman: Do you have any sheep dung?
Me: Sheep dung?!?! (trying to recall my mom talking about it)
Woman: I can bring you some tomorrow if it's still a-painin' you.
Me: Uh, no. I do believe I brought something with me to help it some.
Woman: Well, you just let me know.
Me: Oh, I will...
Now, I'm not telling you these things to make fun of the conversations I've had. Not at all. This is Appalachia, and sometimes things run at a different speed here.
These are fine, fine people with deep German and Scots/Irish roots. And, if I ever had to live off the land during famine or a depression, this is where I would want to be.
God bless them all.

Speaker at conference giving directions to his bookstore...
Man: It's just around the corner from...
Audience: ?
Man: It's two blocks from ...
Audience: ?
Man: It's just down the road from ___ Gun's Supply.
Audience - all in one voice: Oh! We all know where that is! We'll find your shop!!!

18 Sep 2016

Miss Peggy is reflecting after a whirlwind three days with her sisters.
After my sisters fell asleep Friday evening, I thought I heard someone singing. I went to the door, and went out to the hall (like an indoor courtyard) and followed the singing down to where I looked over an atrium. There was a bunch of people attending a Baptist convention, and they couldn't sleep. So, they got up, went downstairs, and started up singing. I stayed upon the balcony and sang right along with them.
As I got back to the room, I tiptoed back to the side of the bed by the wall and window, and got stuck. Something was sticking down my back in my nightgown holding me hostage. I called for Betty, and she jumped up asking what in the world had happened.
That stupid rod that you pull the curtains back and forth with somehow got wedged down my back, and was holding me like a puppet, not able to move.
She got me out of my fix, only to have the same thing happen about ten minutes later.
The next morning, a couple were standing behind us at breakfast when the woman said, "You look so familiar. Were you the one on the balcony singing with us?"
Me: (Sheepishly) Well, yes it was. I apologize for being in my nightgown.
Woman: Well, looked a heck of a lot better than the folks at Walmart!
I have stepped up.
Breakfast was to die for this morning. It was all of the stuff I grew up on - bacon and eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, fried apples, waffles, etc.
After being interviewed by the local television station, I began my series of talks, beginning with "Following the Money Using Tax Records". I had these people hollerin' and slappin' the legs - over tax records! Probably because so many of mine were listed as "Distillers" on the actual records.
In between classes, a woman came up to me and asked me if I knew much about "those Mormons". I responded that I did, for I am one. She then proceeded to tell me all about "those Mormons" digging up their dead folks. I assured her that WE didn't, emphasizing that she was indeed talking to one. She said a friend of a friend of hers told her they did, so it must be true.
Honey, just go sit back down.
Soon it was time to leave. After eating and talking and laughing and eating some more and laughing some more, we drove with the beautiful moon shining on us through the hills.
We reminisced about an earlier time...
A turkey buzzard swooped down across the windshield, lodging in the front left fender.
Me: (driving Fern's Toyota van) Good grief!
Betty: What in the world was that thing?
Me: I think it was a teradactyl.
Fern: Is the van okay?
Me: I'm going to pull over and check.
Me...pulling feathers and body parts out of the grill. My sisters are freaking out.
I then noticed that the fender was dislodged from the main body. I cleaned out more feathers, snapped everything back together like Legos, got in the car and drove on.
Fern: Are you sure it's okay?
Me: Are we driving?
Fern: Yes
Me: Do you hear anything flopping?
Fern: No
Me: We're fine. Let's keep going and find us a cemetery.
I will miss my sisters when they're gone. Of course, I'm assuming they will go before me, which may not be the case. But, I can tell things are a bit harder for them than they used to be.
Perhaps, just perhaps, that is why I was born so many years after them.