Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Most Popular Date: November 20

Nancy over at My Ancestors and Me posted today about a popular date in her database, which just so happened to be today's date, October 9. She had 5 relatives who were either born, married, or died on this date. She asked her readers if they had a popular date as well. I had no idea, so I decided to do a little research.

First, I ran the Birthday and Anniversary List in RootsMagic. I saved it as a text file and then opened it in Excel. To separate the day/month from the year, I did some text-to-column work. Then I did a Pivot Table to see how many names showed up for each date. Of course, this did not have the death information included, so I created a custom report for the death dates of individuals in RootsMagic and then opened that in Excel as well. Creating the report was a little tricky because I had to figure out a way to tell the program to only include people with a full death date (i.e. not just a year). In the Search for Information box, I chose Death value is greater than or equal to 01 Jan. This seemed to do the trick.

My database has 4,149 people in it. The most popular date was....November 20! There were 19 birth, marriage, and death events that occurred on November 20. The second most popular date was March 5, with 14 birth and marriage events.

George HARGRAVE and Anastasie Aspasie TRAHAN were married 20 Nov 1829.
Edmond TRAHAN was born 20 Nov 1832.
Ursin Theomile PREJEAN and Adenysa LEGER were married 20 Nov 1854.
Wesley FINKLE died 20 Nov 1887.
Jules DOMINGUE and Adolphine BEGNAUD were married 20 Nov 1890.
Charles H. CHATTERSON was born 20 Nov 1891.
Lloyd Jay BASNEY was born 20 Nov 1892.
William J. CHATTERSON and Euphemia T. SPABEN were married 20 Nov 1900.
Felix TRAHAN was born 20 Nov 1901.
Jesse WARD and Rosanna Alphonsine PLONKEY were married 20 Nov 1909.
Leon A. CHATTERSON and Alma Albertine PLONKEY were married 20 Nov 1909.
Lillia TRAHAN was born 20 Nov 1912.
Eunice E. PEMBERTON was born 20 Nov 1919.
R.H.G. (living) was born 20 Nov 1945.
Cheryl Lee BERGERON was born 20 Nov 1947.
Chester Franklin FINK and Patricia U. KELLEY were married 20 Nov 1965.
G.A.P. and B.J.A. (living) were married 20 Nov 1971.
G.E.H. (living) was born 20 Nov 1978.
A.J.P. (living) was born 20 Nov 2007.

I will post more on each of these people, at least the non-living ones, at a later date. It will probably be several posts over a period of time. Thanks again, Nancy, for the idea!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Semi-Random Birthday Research

I decided to do some quick random research today by looking for everyone in my database who was born on today's date, October 2, and list all the facts I have so far about them. I found two people. The first was Ruth CARNAHAN. The other was a living person, so I will not post anything about him here.

So, what do I know about Ruth?

1) She was the sister of my great-grandfather's brother-in-law. Ruth's older brother, Leo Clayton CARNAHAN, married Madeline Marion PEMBERTON, the younger sister of my great-grandfather, John Vital PEMBERTON. Ruth and Leo were the children of Joseph Lee CARNAHAN and Anna L. SCHEFFLER.

2) Ruth E. CARNAHAN was listed in the 1930 census in the home of her parents, Lee and Anna L. CARNAHAN, at 1518 Miller St. in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan. Ruth's age was given as 1y 5m in 1930. This would put her birth date roughly around Oct 1928. She was the youngest child of Lee and Anna. Her birthplace was given as Michigan. Her father was a truck driver for an oil refinery. 

3) Her brother Leo's obituary from 1984 lists her as Ruth GARDNER. Her residence was given as Port Huron.

2) I found a Ruth Y. GARDNER in the SSDI who was born 2 Oct 1928 and died 2 Sep 2010. Her last residence was given as Port Huron.

As I wrote this, I decided to see if I could find an obituary for the Ruth in the SSDI to see if she was in fact the same Ruth as the sister of Leo CARNAHAN. Sure enough, I was able to verify this at Her obituary was published in the Times Herald in Port Huron from 3 Sep 2010 to 5 Sep 2010. If you would like to see Ruth's obituary, along with a picture, click here.

If you want further info about Ruth or her siblings, my cousin Steve CARNAHAN, son of Leo and Madeleine, has more info in his online family tree at Happy Hunting!

Monday, September 30, 2013

How To Handle Residence Facts

I have a dilemma. I thought blogging about it might help. From time to time, I struggle with how to include Residence facts in my RootsMagic database. Within the RootsMagic program, there is already a built-in fact type called Residence and one called Residence (Family). It's very helpful to use this fact type because it can help you trace a family from town to town or state to state over a given period of time.

Being able to trace a family's locations helps one to find additional records in a location one might not have already considered. For instance, I was always told that my dad's maternal uncle, Bill Mertena, and wife and children moved from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Washington well before I was born. I knew that he lived in Olympia, Washington, when I was a teenager and up until the time he died in 2001. However, I did not know that in between Lake Charles and Olympia he had actually lived in Seattle, and possibly Spokane, as well. I was reading his obituary and read that he had worked for the Associated Press in Spokane, Seattle, and Olympia between 1963 and 1987. I then found a birth announcement for his youngest daughter in the Seattle Daily Times at GenealogyBank, which gave his address in Seattle in 1966.

So what exactly is my problem? Well, some sources, such as a city directory or the birth announcement, list an exact street address. Some sources, such as a sibling's obituary, list only a city and state as the residence, and some only list the state as a residence. If the source does not specifically give the street address of the residence, but other sources in the same timeframe do, can I use the source that does not give the address as a citation for the residence fact that includes the street address? In other words, can I create a residence fact that states "Person A lived at 123 Main St. in Seattle, Washington" and cite the 1930 and 1935 city directories giving the address, as well as the person's sibling's obituary from 1933, which lists the residence only as Seattle, Washington?

I think it is reasonable to think that if the person lived there in 1930 and 1935, then surely he lived in the same house when his sibling died in 1933. However, we don't know for certain, because there is always a chance that the husband and wife had separated and maybe were living apart temporarily, or that the family owned multiple houses that they moved between frequently.

Currently, this is what I have as residence facts and source citations in my RM database for Uncle Bill (as both of his spouses are still living, their names have been removed to protect privacy):

1956: 102 East Beech St, Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory) (This was the home of his parents)

1957: Westfork Rd., Westlake, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory)

1958: 102 East Beech St, Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory)

1959-60: 914 S. Division St., Lake Charles, Calcasieu, Louisiana (Source: Lake Charles City Directory)

1963-2001: Washington (Sources: 1) 2001 obituary published in The Olympian, which listed three cities of residence in Washington from 1963 until 1987; and 2) his brother Tony's obituary published in the Lake Charles American Press in 1998, which listed his residence simply as Washington state)

Jan 1966: 637 N.W. 84th St, Seattle, Washington (source: daughter's birth announcement published in the Seattle Daily Times)

1967-2001: Thurston County, Washington (Sources: 1) Death certificate listing his length of stay in Thurston County as 34 years; 2) His mother's obituary published in the Lake Charles American Press in 1986, which specifically lists his residence as Olympia; and  3) His father's obituary published in the Lake Charles American Press in 1989, which specifically lists his residence as Olympia)

Oct 1986: 113 E. 18th, Olympia, Thurston, Washington (Source: Divorce certificate)

Oct 2001: 4931 Sunrise Beach Rd. NW, Olympia, Thurston, Washington (source: Death certificate)

It looks like I have been using separate facts to cite each event more precisely, but that causes a little bit of clogging on the Edit Person screen and Individual Report. As you can see, lots of these dates overlap with other dates. Hmm...what to do?

I think the facts for 1957-1960 are fine, since there is a one-to-one correlation between the fact and the source. Each source lists the exact street address. When we get to 1963, it gets a bit more complicated. We know from his obituary that he worked for the Associated Press in Spokane, Seattle, and Olympia from 1963-1987. However, we don't know exactly what years he lived in each city. He likely moved to Olympia around 1967 and stayed there until his death, according to the death certificate. This means that he likely lived in Seattle and Spokane between 1963 and 1966. We know he lived in Seattle in January 1966 when his daughter was born.

One option would be to delete the facts that do not list specific addresses, but then we lose a lot of quality information that may get buried in the source documents. It's good information to know that he moved to Washington in 1963. It's also good information to know that he moved to Thurston County around 1967. It's good information because it helps narrow down the search for other types of sources, such as vital records, newspapers, city directories, church records, etc. My plan is to delete the fact types for the general residences, but then put the information about dates moved to Washington and specifically to Thurston County in the Notes section of the fact types listing specific addresses.

This is what I have added to the notes of the residence fact from January 1966:
His obituary states, "From 1963 to 1987 he wrote for the Associated Press in Spokane, Seattle, and Olympia, with most of that time spent reporting from Olympia on state government." This means that he likely moved to Washington in 1963. It is not clear exactly what city he moved to in 1963. His daughter's birth announcement states that he lived in Seattle in January 1966.
 This is what I have added to the notes of the residence fact from Oct 2001:
His death certificate lists his length of stay in Thurston County as 34 years, which would suggest that he moved there in 1967. This makes sense, as his son's marriage license lists his birthplace as Olympia, Thurston, Washington. His son was born in March 1967. His daughter's birth announcement published in the Seattle Daily Times in January 1966 lists his residence as Seattle. Therefore, it makes sense that he moved to Olympia sometime between his daughter's birth in 1966 and his son's birth in 1967. His divorce certificate from 1986 lists his residence as Olympia, as do both his parents' obituaries from 1986 and 1989. His brother's obituary from 1998 lists his residence only as Washington state, though it is likely that he lived in Olympia, since he still lived there at the time of his death in 2001.
 I think this will work for me for now, but I am open to other suggestions. Please let me know if you have any ideas!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

SNGF: How Many Children/Grandchildren in Your Birth Surname Line?

Randy over at GeneaMusings has given us another Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Challenge.

1)  Consider your Birth Surname families - the ones from your father back through his father all the way back to the first of that surname in your family group sheets or genealogy database.  List the father's name, and lifespan years.

2)  Use your paper charts or genealogy software program to create a Descendants chart (dropline or graphical) that provide the children and their children (i.e., up to the grandchildren of each father in the surname list).

3)  Count how many children they had (with all spouses), and the children of those children in your records and/or database.  Add those numbers to the list.  See my example below!  [Note: Do not count the spouses of the children]

4)  What does this list of children and grandchildren tell you about these persons in your birth surname line?  Does this task indicate areas that you need to do more research to fill out families and find potential cousins?

5)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, or in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

1) My TRAHAN surname line is:
  • Michael David Trahan (1955- ) has 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
  • Benford Maurice Trahan (1935-2009) had 4 children and 7 grandchildren.
  • Bienvenue Trahan (1908-2006) had 1 child and 4 grandchildren.
  • Oscar Trahan (1889-1962) had 1 child and 1 grandchild. 
  • Theoville Trahan (1852-1915) had 22 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Delphin Stainville Trahan (1826-1865) had 10 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Michel Trahan (1785-????) had 13 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Athanese Trahan (1753-1835) had 11 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Michel Trahan (1728-1784) had 4 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Rene Trahan (1693-1733) had 7 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Jean Charles Trahan (1668-1727) had 12 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Guillaume Trahan (1611-1682) had 7 children and ??? grandchildren.
  • Nicolas Trahan (1570-1669) had 8 children and ??? grandchildren. 
 2) See my Descendant List below for Nicolas Trahan. I created it using RootsMagic 6. You can see that I do have some grandchildren for Nicolas listed, but I did not include grandchildren in my counts in the list above beyond those of my gr-gr-grandfather. This is because I have not fully completed research on the extended branches of my TRAHAN ancestors.

3)  See counts of children/grandchildren in list above.
4) The person with the most children is my 3x gr-grandfather, Theoville. He had 2 wives and one mistress. The list really shows me that I have a lot of research to do on the siblings of my direct line TRAHAN ancestors. I do not know all the grandchildren of many of my direct line ancestors. They did not seem to start slowing down with the number of children until the early 1900s with my gr-gr-grandfather, Oscar, who only had one child, who only had one child. I believe that my 7x great-grandfather, Michel, probably had more than 4 children, but the Acadian deportation makes it hard to follow family lines during this time period.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

SNGF: Semi-Random Research

It's time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun! This works out well for me, as my husband is with his best friend and goddaughter at the LSU vs. Kent State game across town. I'm hanging out here at the house catching up on genealogy research. Randy Seaver's mission over at Genea-Musings is to do semi-random research. His instructions are as follows:

1)  We're going to do a little bit of Semi-Random Research tonight...what is your first name? [This is the easy part!] My first name is Jennifer.

2)  Go to your family tree database of choice (you know, like RootsMagic, Reunion, Ancestry Member Tree), and determine who the first person in your alphabetical name index is with a surname starting with the first two letters of your first name (e.g., my first name is RAndall, so I'm looking for the first person with a surname starting with RA).  [If there are no surnames with those first two letters, take the surname after that letter combination.] The first person in my alphabetical name index who has a surname starting with the first two letters of my first name is August JEAN.

3)  What do you know about this person based on your research?  It's OK to do more if you need to - in fact, it's encouraged! All I know about August JEAN is that he was the father of Leo Ralph JEAN and husband of Mary RALPH and that he was possibly born in Canada.

4)  How are you related to this person, and why is s/he in your family tree? I am not related to August JEAN. He was the father of Leo Ralph JEAN, who was the second husband of my second cousin 3x removed, Alberta A. BASNEY. Alberta was the daughter of Burton Eugene BASNEY and Essie Anna PHELPS. Essie was the daughter of Joseph Putnam PHELPS and Agnes Emma PEMBERTON. Agnes was the younger sister of my 3x great-grandfather, John PEMBERTON.

Although August is a VERY collateral relative, I will do a little semi-random research at and FamilySearch to see what I can find on him. First, though, I need to evaluate what I already know about him and his associates. His son Leo's marriage record lists Leo's parents as August JEAN and Mary RALPH. The 1920 and 1930 census records list Leo's father's birthplace as Canada. The 1930 census specifically lists his birthplace as Canada French. The 1920 census listed his father's native tongue as English. Leo's mother's birthplace is listed as Michigan in 1920 and Canada French in 1930.
Leo's entries in the "Michigan Death Index, 1971-1996" database at and the SSDI state that he was born 21 Nov 1897. His WWI draft registration states that he was born 21 Nov 1898. His marriage record states that he was born c. 1897 in New York. The 1920-1940 census records all give him an estimated birth date between 1897 and 1898 and a birthplace of New York. All in all, his birth is stated pretty consistently throughout all of his records. He married Alberta A. BASNEY on 25 Oct 1919 in Detroit. They are found in city directories through 1921 in Detroit. In 1930 and 1940, they are found in the northern suburbs of Detroit in Macomb County. Leo died 20 Feb 1971 in Pontiac, Oakland, Michigan. His residence in the death index was listed as Walled Lake, Oakland, Michigan.
Since Leo was born likely born in 1897 in New York, I decided to start looking for August and Mary in the 1900 census.  BINGO! There was an August and Mary A. JEAN living at 268 Lafayette Ave. in Buffalo, New York, in 1900. August was a 43-year-old lake captain who was born Oct 1856 in Canada French. I'm presuming "lake" captain must mean a boat captain on Lake Erie. Mary was listed as age 37 and born April 1863 in Canada English. There were 5 children enumerated: Mary Ethel, age 13, b. Jul 1886; Marie Elvia, age 10, b. May 1890; Augustin E., age 8, b. Jan 1892; Elizabeth A., age 4, b. Mar 1896; and Leo Ralph, age 2, b. Nov 1897. The three oldest children were born in Michigan, while the three youngest were born in New York. There was also a 25-year-old servant in the household named Sophia G. Izemburg. The family rented the home.

In the "Suggested Records" column of the 1900 census page, I clicked on a link for Capt. August Jean at Find A Grave. I discovered that Captain August Jean is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, Erie, New York. A picture of his tombstone shows that he was born 28 Oct 1856 and died 14 Jan 1905. His wife is buried with him. Her name is listed as Mary A. RALPH on the tombstone. She was born 29 Apr 1863 and died 31 Oct 1900. This means she died just four months after the 1900 census was taken. Leo would have been barely 3 years old when his mother died and 7 years old when his father died.

I checked the Buffalo city directories at and found that August moved to 31 Greenwood Place beginning in 1902. He is listed here in all city directories until 1905, when his widow is listed as Mrs. August Jean. In 1906, she is listed at 31 Greenwood Place as Mrs. Mary E. Jean, widow of August. This tells me that August must have remarried sometime between his wife's death in 1900 and his death in 1905. It looks like he married another Mary! How confusing, but at least she has a different middle initial. 

I then remembered that I had been in contact with the spouse of one of Leo and Alberta's descendants about her tree on I visited her public member tree and found several photos of Leo and one photo of his father, August. One of her photos of Leo stated that he was 3 years old and it was taken at a convent where his stepmother sent him to live. Well, that certainly makes the story more interesting. 

At FamilySearch, I found that August JEAN and Mary A. RALPH were married 26 Mar 1883 in West Bay City, Bay, Michigan. I find it interesting that they went from Canada to Michigan to New York. I guess that was the life of a boat captain. Somehow Leo ended back up in Michigan as an adult.

The probate records for Erie County, New York, are available to browse at FamilySearch. In the index, I found that Mary Jean's probate was filed 12 Nov 1900 and her case number is 35604. August Jean's probate was filed 20 Jan 1905 and his case number is 35606. Unfortunately, the full estate case files for August and Mary were not available online, but I did find the letters of administration dated 14 Nov 1900 for Mary's estate appointing August as administrator.

I also found August mentioned in some Bay City newspapers in the 1880s and 1890s at Genealogy Bank. There was a church social held at his home; his cook stole $140 from him; he sold/bought property; he visited friends in Oscoda; and his boat was listed as having an accident near Buffalo in 1905. Oddly enough, it was several months after his death, but the article did not mention that he was dead. It just said the boat was owned by August Jean of this city. Maybe no one was notified that he had died in Buffalo. Or perhaps the boat belonged to his son, Augustin E. Jean.

Well, since August is a collateral, I think I will take a break now from researching him. It's always fun to take a new path, though!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wonderful Find: Church Published Obituaries

I know, I know. It has been two months since my last posting. How time flies! In those two months, I've managed to get a lot of research done. My most recent and exciting find has been the obituaries of my great-great-grandparents, William Harmon Proffitt and Emmer Link (Baker) Proffitt.
Rev. William Harmon Proffitt

Emmer Link (Baker) Proffitt

I read several moons ago about the United Methodist Church's Genealogy Search service provided by the General Commission on Archives and History. For $30, they will do up to one hour of research on any ancestors that were ministers or missionaries of the United Methodist Church (UMC) or any of its predecessor churches. I knew that William Harmon Proffitt was a Methodist Episcopal minister in Oklahoma from about 1900 until sometime between 1930 and 1940. I knew this because a) my grandmother is still living and he was her maternal grandfather that she knew personally during her childhood and b) he is listed as a minister in all census records from 1900 to 1930. In 1940, his employment status is listed as Other. I presumed he had retired from the ministry, as he was approaching 70 years old.

I've been focusing my research on my Proffitt ancestors lately, as part of my efforts to get all sources for my great-great-grandparents into my RootsMagic database and properly organized in my paper files. I'm also trying to make to-do lists for each of my great-great-grandparents and actually accomplish the tasks on the list. One of the tasks for William was to request the research provided by the UMC archives. I figured it couldn't hurt to see what they had in their files. It only took about 2-3 weeks and I received the obituaries via email that were originally published in the West Oklahoma Annual Conference Journals for 1944 (William) and 1950 (Emmer). 

For those of you who don't know the church history, the present-day United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 with a merger of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Prior to that, The Methodist Church was formed in 1939 from a merger between the Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church. The Evangelical United Brethren Church was formed in 1946 from the merger between the Evangelical Church and the United Brethren in Christ. 

An annual conference is an organizational unit of churches in a given geographical area. Each year, an annual conference is held and attended by both lay members and clergy from that geographical area. The appointments for clergy are announced at the annual conference and various other administrative type topics are discussed. The annual conference journal is published once a year and contains information about clergy, churches, and ministries of the conference. Among other things and lucky for me, it contains obituaries for church clergy and their spouses.

Below is a transcription of William's obit:

William Harmon Proffit was born July 12, 1871 at Chestnut, Sevier County, Tennessee, and departed this life at the Alva, Oklahoma, Hospital July 3, 1944.
In Tennessee he attended school and grew to manhood, entered the Ministry and at the age of 25 married Emmer Link Baker. In 1900 with his young bride he moved to Oklahoma and served a number of pastorates with the United Brethren church. In 1911 he transferred to the Methodist Episcopal Church, serving his first pastorate with the Methodists at Quinlan, in Alva district. For 18 years he served a number of pastorates in Northwest Oklahoma. While serving Quinlan for a second time, because of poor health, he was forced to retire in 1934.
In addition to his wife he is survived by three sons, Foster of Oklahoma City, James of Jenks, Oklahoma and John of Bartlesville, Oklahoma; four daughters, Golda Curtis of Waynoka, Oklahoma; Kathrine Marshall of Omaha, Nebraska; Hassie Mertena of Ponca City, Oklahoma, and Bessie Kruse of Oklahoma City, and one brother, Samuel Proffitt of Longdale, Oklahoma.
Reverend Proffit was an able preacher, studious, and a man fully devoted to the ministry. He faced life's problems cheerfully and courageously.
Funeral services were conducted at the Waynoka Methodist Church by the pastor, George B. Baker.
There were several pieces of info that I did not know prior to this obit, the most noteworthy being that he was actually a United Brethren minister for at least 11 years or so before he became a Methodist minister.  I had no idea. Now I've got it on my to-do list to research the United Brethren churches in Northwest Oklahoma and East Tennessee. I also did not know when he retired. Now I know that my assumption of sometime between 1930 and 1940 was correct. As a side note, his birthplace is likely supposed to read "Chestnut Hill, Jefferson County, Tennessee." It is right near the border of Sevier County.

Emmer's obit provided interesting information as well:

Mrs. William H. Proffitt, nee Emmer Link Baker, was born September 20, 1875, in the state of North Carolina, and passed away at Waynoka, Okla, July 5, 1949.
She was married to Mr. Proffitt in 1896 while he was serving as a local Methodist preacher in Tennessee. Their lives were spent together in parsonages in Tennessee and Oklahoma.
They came to Oklahoma in 1899 and filed on a homestead near Buffalo but later sold the relinquishment and Mr. Proffitt gave his time to the ministry. While the northwest section of the state was developing, Mr. Proffitt worked for some time with the United Brethren Church. Later he became as accepted supply with the Oklahoma Conference and then became a conference member in 1921. He was forced to retire from the active ministry because of ill health in 1935 and he and Mrs. Proffitt settled in Waynoka. He preceded his wife in death in 1945.
Seven children were born to this couple. N.F. Proffitt followed in his father's footsteps and became a Methodist preacher. He also preceded his mother in death. Six children survive: James Proffitt of Gage, Mrs. Golda Curtis of Waynoka, John Proffitt of Bartlesville, Mrs. Katherine Marshall of Omaha, Nebr., Mrs. Hassie Mertena of Ponca City and Mrs. Bessie Kruse of Oklahoma City. Fifteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren also survive.
Both during the years when her husband was in the active ministry and in later years, Mrs. Proffitt's life was given to the service of Christ and His Church. There was no task too humble for her to undertake. She asked only that she might use well the talents which had been entrusted to her. When no car was offered, she walked to do God's errands. She rejoiced to see flowers at the altar of the church on a Sunday morning and planned her garden to this end. These flowers reflected the love in her heart. The gardens around the heavenly mansions and in the parks of God's Kingdom now have another gardener and she is happy there working to maintain the beauty of the better home.
Funeral services were conducted at the Waynoka Methodist Church, July 7, 1949, with Rev. George Parkhurst, district superintendent, Rev. George Baker of Weatherford, and Rev. Henry Morton, pastor, having part.
According to her obit, there was actually a homestead filed for in Buffalo, Harper, Oklahoma in 1899. I have it on my to-do list to request a lookup in the Federal Land Tract books on microfilm at the OK Historical Society. The cost is only $10. This will give me the location of the application and patent that I can then order from the National Archives. One discrepancy, though, is that they were living about 90 miles from Buffalo at the time of the 1900 census. Another interesting point is that is says he worked as an "accepted supply" with the Oklahoma Conference. I've googled this and found out that "supply" is a term to akin to interim pastoring. Between the two obituaries, it sounds like perhaps he pastored churches for short periods of time as an interim pastor for about 10 years before he became a full-time pastor in 1921. This obit makes it sound like he was a Methodist pastor in Tennessee, but worked with the United Brethren in Oklahoma. His obit made it sound like he was a United Brethren pastor in Tennessee. I will need to research this discrepancy as well.

My next stop is the Oklahoma City University Archives, which holds all the records from the Oklahoma Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The records of the annual conference will list the annual appointments of ministers. From 1911 onward, I should be able to find his appointments.

I need to figure out where the United Brethren records are in Oklahoma from 1900-1911. I would like to verify my great-grandmother's supposed birthplace of Crescent, Logan, Oklahoma, in 1908. If I can find out where her father was appointed, then maybe I can confirm her birthplace. I suspect that she was not born in Crescent. This is the birthplace listed on her death certificate, but it was given by her husband, who was obviously not present at her birth. She met my great-grandfather while she was teaching in Crescent, but I don't think that she was born there as well. Her parents moved all over the state because of her father's work as a minister, so I think it would be too much of a coincidence that she was born in the same town where he met her.

Have you tried finding obituaries for your ancestors in church publications? If not, I highly suggest you give it a try. You never know what you may find!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hidden Genealogy Gem: Calcasieu Parish Records Online

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my recent courthouse visit to the Caclasieu Parish Clerk of Court's office in Lake Charles. I mentioned that I had to gone to the website beforehand and tried to learn everything I could about what records were available and which department held what records. I also mentioned a courthouse employee telling me about online access to land records. When he mentioned this, I just assumed he meant online access only while at the courthouse. I did not ask, and he did not mention, anything about online access from home.

Thursday night I was searching for information about the Calcasieu Citizens Tax Protective Services, Inc., which is the agency that purchased my great-great-grandfather's house in Lake Charles when it was put up for auction by the sheriff in 1964. When I searched for the name at Google, one of the results was the IT Services page of the Clerk of Court's website. I had ignored this page during my initial search of the website last month. Why? Well, because I just assumed it was some online resource for courthouse employees  to use if they had computer issues while at work. Basically, I thought it was the page of the IT department, and what does the IT department have to do with records or genealogy?

However, when I clicked on the link to the IT Services page Thursday night, I was utterly shocked. This is what I saw.

Suddenly, it clicked. Those records online that the land record employee was telling me about were actually available from my home computer! In fact, images were available! What??!!! And to top it off, not only are just the land records available, but marriage records too! What??? What/??!!!

Of course, I was initially excited, but then I started to wonder just how affordable this would be. In my past experience, courthouses with online records usually charge a couple hundred dollars for access, only making it affordable to lawyers, title companies, etc. However, I did a little more research, and found out that a one-day pass would cost $5 and a 30-day pass would cost $20. There were also several other options, such as an annual pass and whatnot. The pass would allow me to do all the searching and viewing of documents that I wanted. If I wanted to save a copy of a document or print it, I would have to pay the standard courthouse copy cost of $1/page. I don't know about you, but I can fork over $20 for genealogy anytime. Besides, I'm pretty sure that everything I need to find is findable in one month, since my ancestors have only been in Calcasieu Parish since about 1930.

Of course, as genealogy luck would have it, I had to find that database around 11 PM on Thursday night, so I did not have time to stay up and do research then. It was already past my bedtime. It was hard to stay at work all day yesterday knowing this database was waiting for me when I got home. Needless to say, I have been sleuthing around the database since last night (yes, I did go to sleep for a few hours).

The database is pretty easy to use, especially for records after 1987. You just type in a name and all the results with links to images appear. For the archived marriage and land records prior to 1987, you have to first choose which record type you want to search and then search for the surname. Then a scanned image of the index page will appear. Or, sometimes, multiple selections will come up for index pages, and you can select which one you want. You can also browse the index at this point. Once you find the name you are looking for in the index, you can type in the book and page number into the search engine at the top right hand portion of the screen, and it will bring up an image of that page. You can also browse the actual records from this point.

All in all, I would say that it's pretty neat. I found out some really great information about my modern day relatives. Some of it was the standard deed for the purchase of a home, but others showed juicy information about paternity and child custody cases. I also filled in the blanks for some of my great-aunts and uncles spouse's family information. 

My next step is to check out the Civil Records database. I think the fees are the same, but it requires a separate subscription.

So, don't forget to check out ALL the pages on a Clerk of Court's website. You just never know what genealogy gems you may find hidden.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday FANS: Venita Randall (Part 3)

Ok, I just had to do one more Friday FANS post on Venita Randall. As you'll recall from last week, we found out from living grandmother that Venita was her father's girlfriend. My grandma didn't think too highly of her, of course, but I still wanted to find out more about her. I began my quest at and tried to get beyond the city directories for Ponca City, Oklahoma, where I originally found Venita listed in the same house as my great-grandfather in 1952. I previously had traced Venita back in the city directories of Ponca City to 1946, when she was listed as Mrs. Venita Collins.

Turns out, even with a unique name like Venita, she was still pretty hard to pin down. In fact, I really don't know if either of the two Venita's I've found in census records are her or not. My theory was that Collins was a married name and Randall was a maiden name that she reverted back to using after a divorce. I have searched the online marriage record index at the Pioneer Genealogical Society's website for Kay County, Oklahoma, and I have not found a Collins bride by the name of Venita. If Randall was a second married name, they did not get married in Kay County. Of course, it is possible that Venita Collins' marriage to a Mr. Randall did occur in Kay County and is indexed under her maiden name, which is unknown at this time. The index is a .pdf document and not easily searchable.

Assuming Randall as the maiden name, the closest match I've found is a woman named Venita Randall living in Iowa, Doniphan, Kansas, in the 1930 census. I did some searching and found that Doniphan County is in northeast Kansas, near the Nebraska/Missouri lines. It's a good 300 miles from Ponca City. Venita was age 20, which suggests a birth date of 1910 (same year as my great-grandfather). She was born in Kansas and did not have a job. She lived with her father, Claude E. Randall, and an uncle, Obadiah Harness. Her father was a mail carrier and her uncle a farm laborer. Is this my Venita? Maybe, maybe not.

In 1940, I found a Venita Collins living in Prairie, Wyandotte, Kansas. She was age 30 and born in Kansas, the same age as the Venita Randall from 1930. Prairie is a suburb of Kansas City and 90 miles southeast of Iowa Township in Doniphan County. Venita lived with her husband, John W. Collins, age 32 and born in Kansas. He was a section hand for the railroad. There were no children. Interestingly, when looking back at the 1930 census, there was a John W. Collins living next door to Venita and her father who was about the same age. He was age 23 and a grocery merchant in 1930. Therefore, I'm pretty sure the Venita from 1930 is the same as the one from 1940. Is it my Venita? Still don't know. I'm assuming they must have moved from Doniphan County to the suburbs of Kansas City because of his job with the railroad. Could that have caused them to move to Ponca City as well? And, they lived in Topeka in 1935, according to the 1940 census, so it seems that they did move quite often. I'm no rail expert, but it looks like the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad ran through Ponca City and had connections in Topeka and Kansas City.

I decided to go back and check the Ponca City directories for a John W. Collins between 1942 and 1948, and I did not find one. Oh, well. For now, I think I'll put Venita Randall to rest. I better do that before my great-grandmother comes back to haunt me.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

SNGF: Fun with Mertena

My Saturday Night Genealogy Fun involved my Mertena line. This is the paternal line of my paternal grandmother. I've been working on FINALLY getting all of my sources for the Mertena family into my RootsMagic (RM) database. In fact, I've also been putting in a lot of the members of the Mertena family, since my RM database is my cleaned up database and hardly anyone is in there without any sources. In the last two weeks, I've input both of my great-grandparents' death certificates and obituaries; their marriage record; several of their city directory entries from Ponca City, Oklahoma, and Lake Charles, Louisiana; my great-grandfather's delayed birth certificate; my great-uncle Bill's death certificate, obituary, divorce certificate, marriage announcement, and a few city directory entries for him; my great-uncle Tony's obituary and photo his tombstone; and my great-aunt's marriage license. I've also added several to-do items to my great-grandparents and great aunt and uncles to-do lists.

Tonight I decided to start working on the sources for my great-great-grandparents, John Henry Mertena and Blanche Welden. So far, I've found their marriage record at FamilySearch.

I have several census records, death records, and obituaries to input for them as well. I believe I've even found Blanche's birth record from 1883 at Anyhow, I'd better get back to researching! Happy Hunting!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday FANS: Venita Randall (Part 2)

So last week I posted about Venita Randall, a woman found in the Ponca City, Oklahoma, city directory living with my great-grandfather, Merlen Paris Mertena. I couldn't figure out who this mystery woman was. She was listed as his wife, yet he was still married to my great-grandmother, Hassie Cora Proffitt, at the time. And my great-grandmother was nowhere to be listed in the city directory. The year was 1952, which is the year they moved to Louisiana and the year my grandmother was 17 years old. Lucky for me, Grandma is still living. She is the last one of my grandparents living, so I've realized how important it is to get as much information out of her as possible.

And, double lucky for me, Grandma did have an answer for me. This is one of those perfect examples where the ONLY source of this information is a living, breathing person. The information she gave me would likely not have been stated directly in any original source document. One of my theories was that Venita Randall was a roomer in either my great-grandparents' home or possibly in a house that they rented to her. She appeared to be a single, divorced woman from looking at previous city directories, in which she was listed as Mrs. Venita Collins. Another theory was that there was just some sort of mistake. Maybe since they moved in 1952, she had moved into their home after they moved out. Only problem was that he was listed with her at a new address in 1952; not the address from the previous city directories. Still, maybe they had moved within Ponca City sometime between 1948 (the previous directory available online at and 1952 and then moved to Louisiana. Or, perhaps, she was Merlen's girlfriend (gasp).

So, you probably want to know what Grandma said, right? Well, I'll take away the suspense. The last theory was correct. Grandma said that her dad did have a girlfriend, who, of course, was a fluzy. She said that she was heavy-set and wore her hair in a pompadour. And this said girlfriend worked at the same drug store as her older brother. Guess where Venita Randall worked, according to the 1948 and 1952 city directories? Yep, you guessed it, Crown Drug. She felt bad that her brother had to work with the woman and see their dad come into the store and talk to his girlfriend. Grandma said that one time she was in the store shopping and overheard her dad talking to the woman at the counter. Her dad did not see her in the store. When her dad left, she heard the woman say to her female co-workers that he was her boyfriend and she was bragging about the jewelry he had bought her. When her mother found out that he had also bought his girlfriend the same set of China as her, she broke all of her China out on the sidewalk in front of their house. Grandma said that he even took the girlfriend on a trip out west because her mother refused to go. She did not think they had enough money to travel out west. She said the move to Louisiana in 1952 was supposed to be a fresh start for Merlen and Hassie. I guess it was in a sense, but Grandma said that her parents were ill-suited for one another, and I suppose a move to Louisiana did not change either of them. Merlen was an adventurous soul who liked to drink a little too much, and Hassie was a perfectionist schoolteacher and daughter of a preacher.

Wow, and to think all of this information came to light because of an entry in a city directory....

Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday FANS: Venita Randall

I've decided to start a Friday blogging theme called Friday FANS. As most of you know, FANS stands for friends, associates, and neighbors. There have been a lot of my ancestors' FANS that I've wondering about lately. FANS can often help us figure out the origins of our ancestors, since many people traveled in groups, which were often made up of family AND friends. So, just because someone does not appear to be a family member, it does not mean that you should immediately ignore this person. Looking into the background of a neighbor may lead you to clues about your ancestor and his origins. I figured a series of blog posts on all my ancestors' FANS would help sort them all out.

First up is Venita Randall. I was actually planning on taking a different approach by starting with someone else, but she greatly piqued my interest last night. I was going through the city directories for Ponca City, Oklahoma, where my paternal grandmother lived with her parents from about 1942-1952. My great-grandparents (her parents) were Merlen Paris Mertena and Hassie Cora Proffitt. I did not find the family in 1942 at  (they were probably still living in Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma, where my grandmother was born). The next available directories were for 1946 and 1948, where I did find the family.
Polk's Ponca City Directory (Dallas: R.L. Polk & Co., 1946), 173, Merlen P. Mertena; digital image, ( : accessed 26 May 2013).
Polk's Ponca City Directory (Dallas: R.L. Polk & Co., 1948), 156, Merlen P. Mertena; digital image, ( : accessed 26 May 2013).
Nothing strange there. Both directories stated that Merlen P. and Hassie C. Mertena resided at 105 E. Fresno Ave. and he worked at Continental Oil Co. This corroborates with other sources, including my grandmother herself, who is still living.

The next available directory is for 1952. This is the year the family moved to Louisiana. I found Merlin P. Mertena still residing in Ponca City in 1952. However, Hassie was not listed as his wife, and he was listed at a different address.

Polk's Ponca City Directory (Dallas: R.L. Polk & Co., 1952), 166, Merlin P. Mertena; digital image, ( : accessed 26 May 2013).
He is listed as living at 312 W. Central Ave. with a wife named Venita R. Mertena. What??? My first thought was that maybe this was a mistake. I've seen plenty of mistakes with spouse's names in city directories. I also wondered whether the address was a mistake because the only address ever listed in all other sources was the one on E. Fresno.

This first thing I decided to do was check the street directory for 1952 to see who was listed at 105 E. Fresno and who was listed at 312 W. Central.

Well, Merlin Mertena was listed as the householder at 312 W. Central Ave., making it less likely there was a mistake in the name directory. So what about the other house at 105 E. Fresno?

Well, Merlen P. Mertena is listed as the householder here as well. And that little symbol after his name means that to the best of the directory company's knowledge, a member of the family owned the home.

My next step was to search the directory for all Venita's living in Ponca City in 1952 to see if she had her own entry in the name directory. She didn't have one under Mertena but perhaps she was under another surname, since I was pretty certain my great-grandfather never married her.


Polk's Ponca City Directory (Dallas: R.L. Polk & Co., 1952), 199, Venita Randall; digital image, ( : accessed 26 May 2013).
Venita Randall was listed as a fountain manager at Crown Drug residing at 312 W. Central Ave. She was listed as a roomer. There were no other Randall's with this address. Interesting.

I decided to see if I could find out more about her in previous directories. I started with 1948.

Polk's Ponca City Directory (Dallas: R.L. Polk & Co., 1948), 185, Venita Randall; digital image, ( : accessed 26 May 2013).
There she was again listed as a fountain manager for Crown Drug rooming at 1314 S. 4th. Again, no other Randall's at this address. I decided to take a look at the 1948 street directory to see who was listed as the householder.

In the street directory, it lists Mrs. Venita Collins as living at 1314 1/2 S. 4th. Yes, another clue! She must have been married to a man named Collins at some point. What was Randall? A second married name? Or a maiden name? In the name directory, there was no Venita Collins listed. Nor were there any other Collins located at 1314 S. 4th. There was a Carl V. and Wanda Collins listed at 1325 S. 4th. The householder at 1314 S. 4th was Gilbert M. Whitlow. According to the  name directory, he was married to Sarah M. and was an employee of Jess Whitlow Pipe Line Service.

OK, so what about 1946? I did not find a Venita Randall, but I did find a Mrs. Venita Collins.

Polk's Ponca City Directory (Dallas: R.L. Polk & Co., 1946), 65, Venita Collins; digital image, ( : accessed 26 May 2013).
She was living at 1314 1/2 S. 4th St. No occupation was listed, so perhaps she was recently divorced or still married. No other Collins were listed at the same address. This time Thos. E. Dwyer was listed as the householder at 1314 S. 4th in the street directory.

I then searched 1942 and did not find a Venita Collins or Venita Randall. More research needs to be done to determine her identity and relationship to the family.

There is a possibility that the family moved to 312 W. Central between 1948 and 1952 and was renting a room to her. My grandmother is still living and hopefully would remember if this were the case. However, why was the family still listed at 105 E. Fresno in the 1952 street directory if they had moved? Or, did they own the home at 312 W. Central and merely rent it out to Venita? Maybe they still lived at 105 E. Fresno.

Alas, there is also the possibility that Merlen was shacking up with Venita. Not a pretty picture, but a possibility. Venita does appear to have been a single divorced woman. My grandmother told me that her parents' marriage was a rocky one. Maybe it's a little more than coincidental that they moved to Louisiana in 1952. I always assumed that Merlen just got transferred to the Continental refinery in Louisiana, but maybe there was a reason his wife wanted him to transfer. I think a call to my grandmother is in order. She would have been about 17 in 1952. Maybe she can shed some light. Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Latest Courthouse Visit

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As I've blogged about lately, I've been adding all the sources to my database for my 16 great-great-grandparents. Doing that has inspired me to update my to-do lists for my grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. This, in turn, inspired me to visit the courthouse located where I grew up in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. I realized I had never been there and had no land or succession records for my paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, and my great-great-grandfather who lived in Calcasieu Parish.  And since we were going to be visiting the area for my husband's niece's college graduation, why not go a day early and visit the courthouse?

In preparation for my visit, I watched the Legacy Family Tree webinar "That First Trip To The Courthouse" by Judy G. Russell of The Legal Genealogist. (Technically, this was not my first trip to a courthouse, but it was my first trip to this courthouse and probably my first visit to a courthouse since 2009). Judy always provides sound advice and suggested learning all that one could about the courthouse before actually visiting.

I visited the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court website and first noted the Office Hours & Holidays page. Lucky for me, I found that I was not planning my visit on some obscure local holiday and the normal hours were 8:30 to 4:30 Monday-Friday. I also learned that there were two parking lots behind the courthouse.

I also checked out the pages for the various departments to determine what types of records are there and which department maintains what records. I only had one day, so I decided to narrow my focus to Successions (aka Probates in most states) and Conveyances (aka Deeds in most states). I learned from the departmental pages that Successions were handled by Civil Records and that Conveyances have their own separate department that also includes mortgage records. I also noted that although Conveyances had its own department, the photocopies for Conveyances were handled by Civil Records. In addition, I noted that there was an Archives department housing criminal records, civil records, successions, and marriages from 1910-1994. Photocopy fees were listed as $1.00/page.

Judy also suggested bringing plenty of coins, particularly quarters, for photocopying. However, I really didn't feel like doing this if I didn't have to, so I called ahead and found out that coins were not necessary for photocopy fees. The guy acted like I was crazy for asking and told me I could just do research on the computer. Um, I was asking about photocopies, not research, but okay. Confused at this point, I politely explained to him that I just wanted to verify before visiting because I have experienced this before at other courthouses. Then he explained that they took cash or check for photocopy fees. This just goes to show that Judy is right when she states that "the courthouse employees are there to help modern-day people solve modern-day problems." This guy had no clue what other courthouses do because he's not a traveling courthouse-loving genealogist.

Of course, as all trips to the courthouse go, things NEVER go as expected. You can try your hardest to learn everything you can before you go, but there's always something you don't anticipate. However, my best advice is to try your hardest not to get flustered and give up. My first challenge was figuring out where the Clerk's office was in the massive courthouse building. After circling two or three times, I finally found it at the back of the courthouse, not far from the parking lots.

Once inside, I decided to start with successions. I quickly found a listing showing the location of each department. When I walked into the Civil Records office, I was immediately asked if I needed help.  I told the employee that I wanted to find the succession files of several people and that I had a list of the names and death dates. She asked me what I meant by this. Again, I was confused. I thought I was pretty direct by saying that I had a list of names and dates for which I wanted to find succession files.. Besides, did she really want me to go into my family history spiel? Surely not. Judy warned about not bothering the courthouse employees with the details of your research.

Then I figured out why she asked. She was scared that I had 30 or 40 names. Why was she scared? Because patrons are not allowed to do their own research in successions. I have never experienced this at a courthouse before, so I never thought to call and ask ahead of time. The website did mention that succession research could be requested by mail or fax for a research fee and photocopy costs. However, I just assumed that walk-in patrons could do their own research. Not so. Although I was sad that I could not do my own research, the employee was very nice and she did look up the records for me. She was able to find the three most recent ones and referred me to the Archives department for the older records. Luckily, I only had 6 or 7 total that I needed. What would have happened if I had had 30 or 40? Obviously, once again, it was apparent to me that courthouse rules are made for modern-day people with modern-day problems. Most modern-day people walk in the succession office needing one file.

My next problem was that I did not anticipate how many pages a succession file could be. And at $1.00/page, my costs were quickly adding up. I had only taken $60 out at the ATM and had left my checkbook at my mother-in-law's house. Not a huge problem because Lake Charles is not a huge city and it didn't take me long to run back to the mother-in-law's and grab the checkbook. The courthouse employee agreed to hold the third succession file for me while I left to get more money. Note to self: bring at least $100 next time.

I returned and purchased the pages of the third succession file. I then moved onto Archives to find the older succession files. Before delving into to much information, I asked the employee there if I would be allowed to do my own research in the archived successions. She said that I would not, so I politely thanked her and moved onto Conveyances & Mortgages. Why waste time having them do the research while I wait when I could just mail or fax the request for research? No need to waste time in person.

I was a lot more successful with the land record research. I walked in the office and explained to the employee at the Research desk that I had done research in land records before but never at this courthouse. I asked him to explain where the indexes and records were located. He was very helpful and explained that the index for land records could be researched via computer beginning with the year 1945. The actual land records beginning in 1987 were also on the computer. He pointed out the location of the computers as well as the index books for land records and the location of the mortgage index books as well. Aaahhh, finally, I was able to do my own research. How exciting!

I found all the land records I was expecting and even a few I didn't expect. I searched the vendor indexes for 1934-1981 and vendee indexes for 1920-1981. My great-great-grandfather, Oscar Trahan, first moved to the Lake Charles area between 1930 and 1934, which is how I picked my starting point (the index book containing 1930-1934 began in 1920). I ended with 1981 only because I had limited time (hubby needed the car for his hair appointment).

I made notes in my notebook of all the file numbers, volumes, and page numbers and then brought the information to Civil Records. Patrons do not do their own photocopying either, even in the land records. While waiting for my photocopies, I went across the hall to Archives again and found out that I could actually do my own research in the indexes to the records they had. I just couldn't research the actual records. I started looking at the succession indexes through 1986, but didn't really find what I wanted, so I wandered back over to Civil Records and waited for my photocopies. I was $1 short on my photocopy fees, and I offered to get the quarters out of my car (those ones I was planning on bringing), but the really kind employee there told me not to worry about it.

All in all, I was disappointed that I couldn't do some of my own research, but since the employees were so helpful and kind, it somewhat made up for it. Why can't patrons do their own research in public records? Well, I think it's a space issue and not a records access issue. There did not seem to be a whole lot of space in the Civil Records office where all the succession files were located. The Archives department was even smaller. It was getting a little crowded in the Archives office when I was looking through the succession indexes. There's only room for about 2 researchers (maybe).

Also, an interesting thing I learned is that it takes a LOT of patience to be an employee in the clerk's office. SERIOUSLY. People come in there all day long not really knowing exactly what document they want. The courthouse employees have to ask lots of questions to help them figure out what they really want. In fact, other than the attorneys and title companies, I think I was the only person who knew what I was looking for. So if a courthouse employee ever gets testy with you, it's only because they've been trying to read minds all day and now you are trying to tell them all the details about Grandma Mary's crazy divorce from Grandpa Jim.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Changing the Way I Create Facts in RootsMagic

Now that I am well on my way to organizing my paper files and making sure all my sources for my 16 great-great-grandparents are properly cited in my database, I am changing up the way I create Facts/Events in RootsMagic. Back in February 2012, Randy Seaver over at GeneaMusings started a discussion about evidence-based vs. conclusion-based genealogists. Essentially, Randy defined an evidence-based genealogist as one who would create five different facts for the same event given five difference sources. A conclusion-based genealogist would create one fact for an event and cite one or multiple sources for this one fact. Basically, a conclusion-based genealogist comes to a conclusion based upon all the sources and only records one fact, rather than presenting all five facts as an evidence-based genealogist would.

The discussion started to make me think about whether or not I was evidence-based or conclusion-based. Until now, I was mostly evidence-based. For my great-grandfather Bienvenue Trahan's birth, I have the following sources:

  • Baptismal record dated 12 Dec 1908: Born 26 Oct 1908
  • 1910 U.S. Census: age 1 - born about 1909 in Louisiana (note: age supports birth date of 26 Oct 1908)
  • 1930 U.S. Census: age 20 - born about 1910 in Louisiana (living with in-laws)
  • 1940 U.S. Census: age 33 - born about 1907 in Louisiana; his wife, Beatrice, is marked as the informant
  • Death certificate dated 18 Mar 2006: Born 26 Oct 1908 in Scott, Louisiana; informant is son, Benford M. Trahan
  • Obituary dated 20 Mar 2006 published in Lake Charles American Press: age 97 - born about 1909 (note: age supports birth date of 26 Oct 1908)
  • Gravestone at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Scott, Louisiana - Born 26 Oct 1908
  • SSDI Entry: Born 26 Oct 1908
  • Marriage record of son, Benford, 02 Feb 1955 - Father born in Louisiana
  • Delayed birth record of son, Benford, 08 Nov 1988 - Father born in Louisiana
  • Death certificate of son, Benford, 06 Sep 2009 - Father born in Vatican, Louisiana; informant is Bienvenue's daughter-in-law, Merlene (Mertena) Trahan
  • Interview with Bienvenue published in Vinton News, 04 Jun 1998: listed as age 89 and a "native of Vatican...7 miles north of Scott"
In my genealogy database, I had several facts for Bienvenue's birth (sorry, I did not do screen shots before changing it):

  • Birth: 26 Oct 1908, Vatican, Lafayette, Louisiana (sources: baptismal record, 1910 census, obituary, gravestone, SSDI entry, marriage record of son, delayed birth record of son, newspaper article, death certificate of son)
  • Alt. Birth: 26 Oct 1908 in Scott, Lafayette, Louisiana (source: death certificate)
  • Alt. Birth: abt 1910 in Louisiana (source: 1930 census)
  • Alt. Birth: abt 1907 in Louisiana (source: 1940 census)
Note that when a source only listed a birthplace, such as his son's marriage record, I matched it up with the preferred fact rather than creating a new alternative fact for just the birthplace, provided the birthplace was the same as the one in the preferred fact.

When all of this discussion was going on back in 2012, I read a post over at Genealogy by Ginger's Blog, in which she discussed how she is a hybrid of the evidence and conclusion-based genealogist. She stated that she only puts one fact into her RootsMagic database, but she cites all sources and discusses the alternative facts in the Notes section of the event. This creates less duplication when creating narrative reports in RootsMagic. I really liked Ginger's idea, so I decided to try it on my own. Now for Bienvenue, his screen looks like this:

Now there is only one fact for his Birth and whenever I print a narrative report, I can see the Birth Notes explaining all the discrepancies in his birth information:

Many thanks to Ginger for giving me this wonderful idea!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Mother's Mother's Patrilineal Line

It's time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy over at GeneaMusings.

1) What was your mother's mother's name?  

My mother's mother was Violet Mae Currie. She was born 24 Oct 1930 in Flynn Township, Sanilac, Michigan.

2) What is your mother's mother's patrilineal line? That is, her father's father's father's ... back to the most distant male ancestor in that line?  

Violet's patrilineal line is as follows:

·         Archie Currie (1889-1963) m. Jennie Grace Christina Plaine (1903-1937)
·         Alexander Currie (ca 1837-1909) m. Mary Raymond (1852-1920)
·         James Currie (ca 1816-aft 1881) m. Margaret McGill (ca 1816-1880)

3) Can you identify male sibling(s) of your mother's mother, and any living male descendants from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of the next generation back, or even further.  

Violet did not have any siblings that survived to adulthood. She had one brother, Howard Archibald Currie, but he died as a young child. Her father, Archie, had three known brothers: Alexander, William, and Ervin. Alexander had one son named Theodore Donald Currie, but he had no known children. Not much is known about what happened to William. Violet always said that he was a "hobo" that followed the trains. He left a trunk of stuff at her dad's house that he never returned to get (how I wish I had that trunk now!). Ervin had two sons, Robert J. Currie and Donald Eugene Currie. I have not tried to track down their descendants. I need to check the obituary index online at the Saginaw Public Library. I obtained Ervin's obit from there, and I think his son's obits are probably there as well.