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!!!

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