Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over Update: My Paternal Grandparents

I have been participating in Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over since early February. I have been lagging behind, not making it much farther than Month 2, even though we are technically on Month 5. But I am okay with that because I have been making great strides with the research and organization I have done thus far.

I have gotten all of the documents for my myself, my parents, and my siblings all organized into OneNote notebooks with source citations, document transcriptions, and analysis. I've also entered the documents into Evidentia and produced source analysis reports from there that I've copied and pasted into OneNote. The documents were already cited in my RootsMagic program, as part of a previous do-over of my own initiative, so I did not change too much there. I also created timelines, record search checklists, and source logs for my parents.

After I finished with my parents, I moved on to my paternal grandparents, Benford Maurice TRAHAN and Merlene Golda MERTENA. I thought I had done pretty well researching them as part of my previous do-over, but this time around, I have slowed down considerably (which is why I have not made it to Month 5 yet). I am noticing holes in my previous research. This time around, I am taking more time to research events and places to better understand their lives. Some of the things I've noticed this time around or that I've expanded with further research are the following:
  1. I took the time to mine the online catalog at Calcasieu Parish Public Library to find local history resources. My grandparents spent all of their married life in Calcasieu Parish. I found that there were several books at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library about various topics of interest, including:
    1. the history of the Lake Charles Diocese of the Catholic Church
    2. the history of Citgo Refinery (where my dad and great-uncle worked for many years) 
    3. the history of education in Calcasieu Parish
    4. the history of Maplewood (the town where they spent the first few years of their married life together)
    5. several books published on the Trahan family
    6. Yearbooks from Vinton High and Sulphur High, where both of my grandparents attended high school
  2.  I also did research on the naval ships and units that my grandfather served on from 1954-1957. From his military personnel file, I know that he served on the USS Plymouth Rock, USS Washtenaw County, and the Beach Jumper Unit 2 at Norfolk, Virginia. I had no idea that beach jumper units were an intelligence unit of the U.S. Navy. I found out that he was on the first crew to ever be aboard the USS Plymouth Rock. I even reached out to someone who had posted on a USS Plymouth Rock reunion message board to see if her husband knew my grandfather. They were both in the Navigational division, which was a pretty small division of only about 6 men. Sadly, her husband had passed away and she did not know my grandfather.
  3. According to my Grandma, she met my Grandpa at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where they both attended school. She needed help with a word for the French Club float for the Homecoming parade, and someone directed her to my grandpa because he spoke Cajun French. I looked up the website of the McNeese State University Archives and found it to be a valuable resource. I plan to call them to see if they have issues of the Contraband newspaper from 1954-55, when my grandmother was editor. I also ordered a pictorial book on McNeese State University from
  4. I finally started doing research on my dad's godparents. They were listed as James Edward Guidry and Kathryn Coleman on his baptismal record from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Vinton, Louisiana. My dad did not know much about them, except that James had some kind of Navy connection to my grandpa. I have not quite identified James yet, but I did find from newspapers and city directories that Kathryn Coleman was also on the Contraband newspaper staff with my grandmother and lived a few houses down from her in Maplewood. Kathryn lived a very interesting life, and her obituary can be found on her Find A Grave memorial.
As you can see, I've added a lot more depth to my previous research and opened up new avenues to research. I plan to visit the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library soon. Before I run off to visit, I have plans to search the yearbooks for Vinton High and Sulphur High online at the library's website. How cool is that? There are even yearbooks for the time that my dad and his brothers attended school in the 1970s at Vinton High.

Some of the other items added to my to-do list are as follows:
  • Search for birth announcements in the local newspapers for me, my siblings, and my first cousins, as well as my dad and his brothers. This can be done here in Baton Rouge at the LSU Main Library and Hill Memorial Library (LSU's archives), as they have several newspapers from Lake Charles, Sulphur, and Vinton, Louisiana.
  • Search for my parents and grandparents in the city directories for Calcasieu Parish at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library. Some of them are online at, but they cut off at 1960. I want to find out when my grandparents moved from Maplewood to Vinton, and where my parents lived when they first moved to Vinton from Port Huron, Michigan.
  • Search for the publication date and page of my grandfather's obituary. I just have a copy that came from the funeral home, but I know it was published in the Vinton News and the American Press in Lake Charles. I can do this here in Baton Rouge as well.
  • Check to see if I have a copy of my grandfather's SS-5 form. I thought I had one, but I need to check my paper To Be Entered files.
  • Search Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, city directories to find where my grandparents lived while my grandfather was stationed there in the U.S. Navy. I found that they are located at the public library in Norfolk and at the Library of Virginia.
  • Search the Lake Charles American Press at for any articles about my grandparents.
  • Search for a marriage announcement for my grandparents in the Vinton and Sulphur newspapers. I can do this here in Baton Rouge.
  • Search for baptismal records for my dad's brothers at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Vinton.
Anyhow, I just wanted to some up some of the new findings for my paternal grandparents and motivate myself to get started on my to-do list. Off to search those online yearbooks...

Wordless Wednesday: Benford and Merlene c. 1980

Since I am focusing on my paternal grandparents (Benford Maurice Trahan and Merlene Golda Mertena) right now in my Genealogy Do-Over, here are pictures of them around 1980. I found these attached to my grandmother's memorial at Hixson Funeral Home's website. By this time, they had been married about 25 years and had raised four sons to young adulthood. I sure do miss them these days!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

SNGF: The Homes I've Lived In

Randy's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission is to blog about the homes we've lived in. I thought that might be a fun little trip down memory lane.

My first home was a trailer located in Bahnsen Trailer Park at 2000 Center St. in Vinton, Louisiana. I know I have a picture of it somewhere, but it's not scanned. I can remember a pic of me as a toddler sitting on the steps outside on an old rotary dial phone (it might have been one of those play phones that all kids from the 1980s had). Here is a pic of my parents in September 1985 in the living room with the kitchen in the background.

In May 1987, just after I finished kindergarten, we moved to the house where my parents still live. It is also in Vinton.

During my senior year of college in 2002, I moved into my first apartment at the Park Villa Apartments after living in the dorms at Centenary College for three years. I shared it with my friend, Emily. We had a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor. The apartments are located at 1215 Captain Shreve Dr. in Shreveport, Louisiana, and still look the same today. I was so excited to have my first apartment.

Source: Google Maps
After I graduated, I moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to be closer to my family. I moved into a three bedroom apartment in Chateau Lafitte Apartments at 4202 Lake Street with my sister and a college friend of her's from McNeese State University. It was very spacious and was located along the Contraband Bayou. We even had a balcony overlooking the bayou. I paid more rent since I was working full-time, and I got the very spacious master bedroom with its own master bath. I remember our apartment manager being very "hot."

Source: Google Maps

For some reason, we only lived here for 6 months. I think it was because our roommate wanted to move out, and we never could find a good third roommate for the third bedroom. We moved to downtown Lake Charles into a 2-bedroom four-plex located at 731 Kirby Lane. It was in a really cute older neighborhood. The owner was crazy. He lived in the apartment next to our's. We were in the far left apartment on the first floor.

Source: Google Maps

We only lasted here 6 months as well. We got tired of living downtown because it was so far away from everything in south Lake Charles. And the owner was kind of crazy. So we moved to a 2-bedroom townhouse at 912 Shady Lane, which was also located on Contraband Bayou. Our townhouse was the one of the far left. My bedroom was where that big window is on the second floor.

Source: Google Maps
I only stayed here about another 6 months because I decided to go off to graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin. Lucky I did because this apartment was completely flooded during Hurricane Rita. My sister and a roommate lived in it at the time. In Austin, I moved to The Breakers on the Lake Apartments. They were located at 1500 E. Riverside, just a few miles from campus. I initially had a studio, and then after Hurricane Rita, my boyfriend (now husband) moved in, and we got a 2-bedroom in the same complex.They were nice apartments located on Town Lake with a pool that overlooked the lake. The bad thing was that we had mice in our 2-bedroom apartment.

Source: Google Maps
After graduate school, I got a big girl accounting job in Houston. I was so excited because my apartment was brand new. It was called Ravello at Tuscan Lakes and was located at 1750 E. League City Pkwy. in League City (about 20 minutes outside Houston). It was very fancy and had a resort style pool. We even got engaged at this apartment, so I always think very fondly of it.

Source: Google Maps
The only problem with Ravello and Houston was that my fiance (now husband) was going to graduate school 4 hours away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Again, I only lasted about 6 months because I missed him so much. I ended up moving to Baton Rouge and living with him at the Embassy Apartments at 3928 Gourrier Ave. across from LSU. They were far from my fancy apartment in Houston, but I did not care because I was now reunited with my fiance.

Source: Google Maps
We actually stayed here about 1 1/2 years. Then when he graduated, we moved into the Evergreen Apartments (now called Coursey Place) at 13675 Coursey Blvd in Baton Rouge. We were tired of not having a washer and dryer. These came with washers and dryers. We got a 2-bedroom with a screened in porch that overlooked the pond. This is where I found my cat, Boo.

Source: Google Maps
We lived here for two years until I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. The company I worked for was moving their company headquarters and offered me a job there. I moved into the Ashley Park Apartments at Brier Creek. It was just a few miles from my new job, located in the Research Triangle Park. (My apartment was not one of the fancy ones with a garage). It was a very spacious one-bedroom and had a balcony that overlooked a wooded area.

Source: google maps

I lived in North Carolina for about 6 months before we decided to finally get married. The problem was that he was still in Baton Rouge. Another 6 months passed, we got married, and I moved back to Louisiana. In Louisiana, we got a 2-bedroom apartment at the Bristol Apartments located at 5960 Siegen Lane. I would put a picture, but Google Maps does not have a good one, since they are located so far back from the street. They have a long palm-tree lined entrance.

We stayed at the Bristol for 2 years until we finally decided to buy a house. This is a picture of our current house (not far from our old apartment on Coursey Blvd.). We love it here and hope to stay for many more years.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How Many Trees?

About two weeks ago, Randy Seaver over at GeneaMusings posted a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post about counting the number of trees in your database. I wanted to participate, but I got busy doing some other things, so I'm finally catching up on it now.

1) How many different "trees" do you have in your genealogy management program (i.e., RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, reunion, etc.) or online tree (e.g. Ancestry Member Tree, MyHeritage tree)? 

 I use RootsMagic 7. I went to the Tools>Count Trees function and found that I only have 2 trees. I didn't think I would have too many, as I am usually hesitant about adding new branches to my tree unless I know where they belong. 

2)  How many trees do you have, and how big is your biggest tree?  Do you have some smaller "bushes" or "twigs?"

Obviously, my largest tree is my tree, which has all of my maternal and paternal ancestors (at least those entered since my do-over began a few years ago), many descendants of my ancestors, some collateral relatives and their ancestors, and some of my husband's ancestors (still working on that one).

I believe the tree for Eugene TRAHAN exists because I mistook his mother, Ursule TRAHAN, as being the daughter of Don Louis TRAHAN and Julienne MONTET. Don Louis is my 4x great-granduncle. It seems that Eugene's mother had him out of wedlock 1 Dec 1891 in Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana, according to an abstraction of his baptismal record from St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Lafayette. 

Don Louis also had a daughter named Ursule, born 23 Sep 1854 in St. Martinville, St. Martin, Louisiana. But Don Louis's Ursule married Eugene TRAHAN, son of Delphin Stainville TRAHAN and Marie Cidalise TRAHAN, 8 Feb 1875 in Breaux Bridge, St. Martin, Louisiana. I know, this is too many Trahan's marrying Trahan's and too many people named Eugene and Ursule. This Eugene and Ursule were first cousins. Eugene's mother and Ursule's father were siblings. See why I got confused?

I'm still not entirely certain that the two Ursule's are not the same, but until I know for sure, I unlinked that branch of the family for now. Since all Trahan's in North America descend from Guillaume TRAHAN, I hope that one day I will be able to link them back up to my tree.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Benford and Merlene Trahan

I have been focusing on my paternal grandparents, Benford and Merlene (Mertena) Trahan, in my Genealogy Do-Over. When I was adding my source documents to their section in my Trahan OneNote Notebook, I added a link to my grandmother's online obituary at Hixson Funeral Home's website. I realized that there were 34 photos attached to her online memorial. I did not notice this before. I downloaded all of them to my computer.

This is one of my favorites. It is Benford and Merlene with their two oldest children, my dad, Michael David Trahan (on the left), and Dale Christopher Trahan (on the right). In the very back is Benford's mother, Beatrice (Boneaux) Trahan. This was taken around 1957 based on the assumed ages of my dad and uncle in the photo. I'm not sure where it was taken, but it kind of looks like the old railroad house where Beatrice lived in 1957. I imagine this may have been right after they returned from Norfolk, Virginia, where my grandfather was stationed in the U.S. Navy from 1955-1957. Thanks to the Do-Over, I was able to find this wonderful photo that I had overlooked the first time I came across her obituary online.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Pemberton One Name Study

I have recently decided to start a one-name study on the Pemberton surname. As many of you know, this is my mother's maiden name. I have always felt a closeness to this side of the family (moreso than others), and have always been curious where the name originated, how many different branches there are in the U.S., etc.

Of course, I'm not really sure that I have time for this one-name study, but I'm going to at least attempt it and see how it goes. I'm trying to focus on my Genealogy Do-Over, but I think I might dedicate certain days of the week to the Do-Over and certain days to the one-name study.

I had been reading Randy Seaver's posts over at GeneaMusings about his Seaver one-name study. That's what gave me the idea to do a Pemberton one-name study. I wasn't quite sure how to get started, so I found a webinar on Legacy Family Tree's website about one-name studies. It's called "Are You a GOON? What is a One-Name Study and Why Do One?" by Kirsty Gray. It focused on the seven principles as established by the Guild of One-Name Studies. The first principle is Data Collection, which is where I decided to start my study.

Kirsty mentioned keeping data organized using programs such as Excel, Word, etc. I decided to start with using Excel. She also said that some one-name studies choose to focus on a geographic area, while some focus on every single occurrence of the surname worldwide. I have decided to start my focus on Pembertons in Michigan, since this is where my family is from, though I plan to branch out later, starting with the neighboring states and eventually going worldwide.

My first data collection exercise was to search the "Michigan Death Index, 1971-1996" database at for all those with a Pemberton surname. I came up with 121 results. I also did a search on P*mb*rt*n and found two additional names (including my great-grandmother). I put all of the info into a spreadsheet.

My second data collection exercise was to search the "Recent Obituaries" database at for all Pemberton surnames in Michigan newspapers. I came up with 79 results, though some were duplicates. There were a total of 41 individuals listed there from 2000-2017. I added a second tab to my spreadsheet for this search and also saved copies of each obituary to a folder on my hard drive.

The death index did not give me any info at all on relationships, but the obituaries were a wealth of information. For the second principle, Data Analysis, I decided to start with the obituaries and focus in on the areas in Michigan where my Pemberton's lived. I began with Bay County, as it was the first alphabetically where I vaguely remembered one of my branches living.

The first obituary in Bay County was for a William J. Pemberton. His obituary was published 21 Mar 2007 in the Bay City Times. He died 19 Mar 2007 in Saginaw and was a resident of Bay City. He was born 8 Nov 1937 in Bay City to Albert W. and Fidelis C. (Toohey) Pemberton. I immediately recognized the name Fidelis, as it is an unusual name. I searched my RootsMagic database and found that I did have William already in my database, with source citations for the 1940 census and some city directories for Bay City. I only had an estimated birth date of 1938 and only the state of birth as Michigan. I also did not have Fidelis's maiden name, nor the name of William's younger sister, who was born after 1940. William is my third cousin twice removed. His father, Albert, was the son of William Henry Pemberton and Elizabeth Agnes "Abbie" Lattrell. William Henry was the son of Samuel Pemberton and Ellen McCoy. Samuel was the younger brother of my 3x-great-grandfather, John C. Pemberton.

The second obituary in Bay County was for Estelle (Pemberton) Hebert. She was more of a challenge because it was really more of a death notice than an obituary. It gave her age as 87 and was published 16 Oct 2007 in the Bay City Times. The only other piece of info was that she died 14 Oct 2007 and was a resident of Fairgrove and a former resident of Wisner Township, both in neighboring Tuscola County.

I decided to search for Estelle Hebert who died in 2007 and resided in Michigan on I found an entry in the "U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index" for an Estell Bell Hebert who died 14 Oct 2007. She was born 2 Apr 1920 in Pickford, Chippewa, Michigan, and was the daughter of Wm. H. Pemberton and Abbie Latterl. Bingo! This was the previous William J. Pemberton's aunt and my 2nd cousin 3x removed. I already had Estelle in my database, but I had her married name listed as Herbert rather than Hebert, which may have been why I had trouble finding her in the past. Her married name was spelled Herbert in her younger sister Ellen's obituary. She was the only one of William and Abbie's children for whom I did not have a death date. I also did a search at the Bay City Times website, and found an actual obituary there (not just the death notice), so I added her children and grandchildren to my RootsMagic database.

The last obituary I found for Bay County was actually more of an article about a house fire in neighboring Iosco County. Kayla I. Pemberton, age 23, and her fiance and their two young daughters were killed in the fire in 2014. It was very sad, and I cannot imagine what her family must be going through. At first, I could not place Kayla in my family tree, so I added her as a stand-alone person to my RootsMagic database. I then found her obituary online at the Iosco County News Herald's website, which listed her father's name. After adding him to my database, I realized that I had a man with the same name in my database. This man's mother, Sharon Gail (Kaercher) Pemberton Nowiski, died in 1994 and lived in the same town as Kayla. After doing a little more sleuthing in some public records indexes and marriage indexes published online, I feel comfortable that these two men are one and the same. This would make Kayla my 3rd cousin. Her grandfather, James Edward Pemberton, was the son of Lovell Henry Pemberton and Vera Delores Barnes. Lovell was the younger brother of my great-grandfather, John Vital Pemberton. I will definitely go to bed tonight thinking about the tragic loss of Kayla and her fiance and young children. It all too well reminds me of another house fire in the Pemberton family back in 1952, when the home of Leo C. and Madeline M. (Pemberton) Carnahan caught fire and two children died. Madeline was the sister of Lovell Henry and John Vital Pemberton.

And that's as far as I got today with the one-name study. I need to figure out how many hours a week I will work on this, as I do want to keep my focus on the Genealogy Do-Over. When I do get back to it, I will start with the obituaries from Flint, as I know some of my Pemberton cousins moved to Flint. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Clean Office!

I posted several weeks ago about the need to clean up my office as one of the warm-up exercises for the 2017 Genealogy Do-Over. I am excited to announce that my aunt came to visit this weekend and single-handedly cleaned the office for me! I can now research peacefully without stress about all the boxes sitting to the side. I still need to go through the boxes, as they contain various documents and photos from my paternal grandparents. But at least for now they are stacked neatly in the office closet and I can review the contents when I am ready. The closet is also a safer place for the old photos, as there is less light in the closet. Here are some pics of my new clean office (sorry, did not take any before photos, but just imagine two rows of boxes stacked all along the wall with the window).

The clean desk and the wall with the window are my favorite parts! Let's hope I can keep it this way...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over: Month 2 Goals

Well, considering it's technically Month 4 of the 2017 Genealogy Do-Over, and I am still working on Month 2 goals, I guess it is safe to say that the one thing I have learned from this is SLOOOOOOWWWWW DOOOOOWWWWNNN....and smell the roses. That's one of Thomas's main points of the do-over. He stresses that we often get ahead of ourselves. I am definitely guilty. 

Looking back at Month One, I still have some warm-up exercises that I need to implement. For instance, my desk is still messy. No fear. My auntie will be here in a little over a week to help me get my office organized. I also have not been researching with a glass of water. Oops. I guess that one is not extremely important to the research process itself, but I think I work better with it. And I have not been good at the timer thing. I think once the desk gets cleaned off, I can work with a timer better. But that is really not an excuse. I need to be timing myself to prevent getting too tired and frustrated doing my research.

On another note, I have been doing well with organizing my research into OneNote surname notebooks. I started with myself and then moved on to my parents and grandparents. Right now I am working on the OneNote folder for my paternal grandparents. I no longer just hop onto and start searching for records and then entering the source citation into RootsMagic. I am actually transcribing my sources and copying images of them into OneNote and doing an analysis of each source document in Evidentia. This is definitely progress. I have even referred to ESM's Evidence Explained once or twice to make sure a citation was correct.

I was debating whether to do a research plan and log for those events that I have already researched and cited in RootsMagic, particularly for the ones that are pretty straightforward. I did a few at first, but then decided that it would be better to just analyze the source document in Evidentia, and then print a proof report for each event. For instance, my paternal grandfather's birth date is consistent among all sources (delayed birth record, death record, marriage record, military record, etc). They are already cited in my RootsMagic program. I will just put all of the records giving his date of birth into Evidentia and then run a proof report on his date of birth. I just don't think it makes sense to go backwards and create a research plan or research log for research already completed. Of course, that doesn't mean I can't continue to look for new documents that would prove his date of birth. For those, I will include them on a research log (and possibly research plan if there are multiple documents that I am still looking for). 

Actually, this kind of leads into Month 2 goals of setting base practices and guidelines. Below is what I came up with:

  1. Start with myself.
  2. Fill out research log and to-do list (or enter source documents into Evidentia and print proof report if research has already been completed and is well documented in RootsMagic).
  3. Use research log to determine who/what to research next.
  4. Use research plan worksheet to develop research plan (if necessary).
  5. Use to-do list to determine what records to search for.
  6. Check To-Be-Entered folders (paper and electronic) for records already obtained.
  7. Record search attempts in research log, even if negative.
  8. Use Evidentia to record and analyze findings for each source document.
  9. Save copy of source image to appropriate folder on computer.
  10. Record clippings, scanned images, and transcripts in surname notebook in OneNote. Follow guidelines of Chronological Surnames notebook (by Erin Williamson Klein).
  11. Print record and place it in paper file folder for couple or parents (if not married).
  12. Use OneNote to record clippings and scanned images of BSO's. Have an Inbox section in each surname notebook. This will be the holding/to be entered area of the notebook.
  13. Add research goals gleaned from BSO to research log.
  14. Add research conclusions gleaned from Evidentia into RootsMagic.

Thomas recommended coming up with 5 base practices and guidelines because more than that may get overwhelming. Obviously, I ignored his recommendation. I am an accountant and like to get very detailed. Some of these steps are only if necessary steps anyway and may not be used every time. A couple of them are steps that will only be used for Bright Shiny Objects (BSO). Actually, Step #1 is a step that I will only use in this do-over. Obviously, I will not start with myself every single time I start to research. Actually, I could probably sum some of these up a bit and make the list a little shorter. I might do that. 

The other goal for Month 2 is to establish research goals. As I have been adding info to my OneNote notebooks, I have added a few items to my to-do list. For instance, I realized that I have no idea where my grandparents lived when my grandfather was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, from 1954-1957 with the U.S. Navy. One of my goals is now to find out where they lived by consulting the city directories for Norfolk and Portsmouth from 1954-1957. I found that the city directories are located at the local library in Norfolk as well as at the Library of Virginia. 

However, I still need to fine tune my research goals. That is probably something I need to slow down and document. I did add the Norfolk city directories to my to-do list, but I don't think I added anything to my research log. I think I might backtrack a little and work on establishing my research goals before moving on to Month 3. Stay tuned for my next blog topic about research goals...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over: Month One Goals

The goals of the first month of the Genealogy Do-Over sound pretty simple: 

1) Set previous research aside.
2) Prepare to research.

Well, some of the work I have done already is actually solid research that has been cited. Remember, I have already done about 3 do-overs or go-overs since 2007. So to set all of it aside does not make sense to me, but I did set aside previous research when I started my last go-over back in 2013. Back then, I labeled four bankers' boxes with the surnames of my four grandparents. I then filed all of my documents by surname and put the surname folders in the applicable bankers box. I still have those bankers boxes sitting in my office. 

As I was doing my go-over in 2013, I gradually pulled documents, such as birth and death certificates, out of those boxes as I went through each person in my tree, beginning with myself. I reviewed the documents, cited them in my RootsMagic file, and then filed them in folders by couple. My couple file folders are in my filing cabinet in alphabetical order by surname and are color coded. The blue folders are for my paternal grandfather's lines, green folders are for my paternal grandmother's lines, red folders are for my maternal grandfather's lines, and purple folders are for my maternal grandmother's lines. I made sure the documents were digitized as well. My digital folders are organized similar to my paper files, using Folder Marker to color code my digital file folders.

So I guess setting aside research was not that hard for me since I have already done it. But I did not bother to go back and set aside research that I had completed during my last go-over I started in 2013. What I have decided to do is to go back over my research I did during that time and look for holes. As I stated in my previous post, I felt like I was rushing through things just to get everything documented. This time around, I am taking my time. I agree with Thomas that getting ahead of ourselves is a common problem in genealogy research. The adrenaline rush of the hunt makes it really easy to get ahead and miss key details.

The second goal is a little more difficult for me. I think preparing to research is where I could have used improvement in my last go-over. I didn't do anything back in 2013 to prepare for research. I just jumped right in. Thomas suggests coming up with some warm-up exercises for research. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Clean off desk in office.
  2. Have a glass of water or beverage available.
  3. Set timer for research (1-2 hours).
  4. Open surname notebook in OneNote, which contains Research Plan/Log and To-Do List.
  5. Open Evidentia.
  6. Open RootsMagic.
  7. Have Evidence Explained available.

Since I am currently in Houston and have been here away from my desk for 6 weeks, I'm not going to get to work on #1 until I get home later this week. But I have already talked to my aunt, who is going to come to my house in a few weeks and help me get started on organizing my office. I also have plans to call the electrician to get the light fixed in my office, hopefully by the end of this week. For some reason, it won't come on ever since we put in a new A/C unit. 

Water seems to help me stay focused and do better work. At work, I typically have a glass of water at my desk. So why not have one when I do my genealogy research?  Makes perfect sense to me.

Setting a timer is important. Sometimes I spend too much time on genealogy research and then get overwhelmed and frustrated. I think one or two hours at a time will keep me more productive. 

I have decided to use OneNote to organize my research digitally. I still have my digital file folders, but I am taking things a step further to document things in OneNote. I found a great webpage called OneNote A to Z by Erin Williamson Klein. She has some great templates for organizing your genealogy research in OneNote. Every time I start my research, I will have my surname notebook opened in OneNote. Each OneNote surname notebook has a page with a research plan and a research log and a section for the to-do list. I will consult these areas of the notebook to decide how to focus my research.

I will also make sure to have Evidentia open. I really like using Evidentia to examine source documents and analyze the evidence. Sometimes I forget that I have Evidentia, so I think making sure it is open every time I start to research will help me remember to use it. I was just blowing and going through my last go-over and did not use this resource when I should have.

Last but not least, I will also have Rootsmagic open and a copy of Evidence Explained handy. I probably need to invest in some of the EE Quicksheets that have been published over the last few years. I think I will buy a digital copy of the latest version of the book as well. That book is pretty hefty to transport around to libraries. I still have the first edition in hardback.

I hope that blogging about this well help keep me accountable. Putting it in writing helps to solidify it and gives me something to look back on to stay on track.I also find the Genealogy Do-Over Group at Facebook to be beneficial. It's a great place to ask questions and collaborate with others who are doing the Do-Over as well. There are also some great resources there, such as OneNote templates, timeline spreadsheets, etc.

Stay tuned for Month 2 goals!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SNGF: The Day Your Grandfather Was Born

The Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission tonight is to blog about the day your grandfather was born. Randy's challenge is as follows:

1)  What day of the week was your Grandfather born (either one)? Tell us how you found out.

My paternal grandfather was Benford Maurice Trahan. He born on March 1, 1935. According to, he was born on a Friday.

2) What has happened in recorded history on your Grandfather's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

**In 1790, the first United States Census was authorized.
**In 1867, Nebraska became the 37th U.S. state.
**In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the world's first national park.
 **In 1935, the Territory of the Saar Basin was formally returned to Germany. It had been held by France and England due to a League of Nations mandate in the Treaty of Versailles.
**In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps.

I found all of this out from Wikipedia

3)  What famous people have been born on your Grandfather's birth date?  Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

**In 1810, Frederic Chopin, Polish pianist and composer
**In 1914, Ralph Ellison, American novelist and literary critic
**In 1922, Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli general and politician, Nobel Prize laureate
**In 1927, Harry Belafonte, American singer-songwriter and actor
**In 1947, Alan Thicke, Canadian-American actor and composer
**In 1954, Ron Howard, American actor, director, and producer
**In 1974, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, American actor (Zack in Saved by the Bell)
**In 1987, Kesha, American singer-songwriter and actress
**In 1994, Justin Bieber, Canadian singer-songwriter

I found all of this out from the same Wikipedia page as above.

It's been fun getting back into the groove of genealogy blogging! Can't wait until next Saturday! 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over: Taking the Plunge

Well, I've decided to take the plunge and participate in Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over. What is the Genealogy Do-Over? For me, it's a commitment to look at my family tree with a fresh set of eyes and re-evaluate the way I have been doing research for the past 20 or so years. 

As I've posted previously on this blog, I started my research back in 1993 or 1994 with my paternal grandmother. Although everyone I met at the genealogical library told me I should cite my sources, I did not listen. Typical teenager. 

When I was in my early twenties, I decided to finally start citing those sources. I did my own Do-Over back in 2007 or so. I started a brand new family tree file in Legacy Family Tree. I had been using FTM and started to do source citations in there, but then decided I would rather use Legacy. When I switched, I decided just to start over, since most facts were not sourced in FTM. So that was actually my first do-over.

Then in 2010, I went on a cruise with RootsMagic and decided I liked their source templates better than Legacy's. RootsMagic had the ability to create source templates. In Legacy, I could only override each citation. There was not way to change an existing template or create a new template. At that point, I transferred all my data from Legacy to RootsMagic, instead of starting over again, since it was all sourced. However, the problem was that the coding between the two programs did not create pretty source citations upon transfer. I took that opportunity to go-over (rather than do-over) my previous research and correct the source citations. That took quite awhile. And in the meantime, several new record sets came available online at FamilySearch, so I also added new source citations as I fixed my old ones in RootsMagic. I finally finished the go-over in 2013. 

Once I finished that project, I decided to once again do another go-over. I decided to start with myself and review the research I had already done. For example, I made sure I had entered source citations for all the documents I had on myself (birth certificate, baptismal certificate, etc). Then I moved onto my parents, grandparents, etc. after I finished with myself and did the same thing. Also in this go-over, I decided to fully research the siblings and other collateral relatives of my ancestors. Previously, I had mostly researched my direct ancestors. My third goal in this go-over was to get more organized with both digital and paper files. 

Even with this third do-over/go-over, I realized that I still did not like something about the way I was researching. It seemed too rushed and did not feel like I was really keeping a good log of my research. I was doing great with source citations, expanding my research to include non-direct and collateral relatives, and organizing my digital and paper files. But I still felt there was room for improvement. I had made it to my second set of 2x-great-grandparents on my paternal grandmother's side when Thomas came out with the Genealogy Do-Over project. I decided that I might need to start over again. Well...maybe not completely start over, but definitely go-over my research methods again. However, it would be another year or two before I would actually buy the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook and  think seriously about doing another go-over or do-over. I was trying to get to a good stopping point in my current go-over, and my 2x-great-grandparents had 7 children, so that took awhile.

I purchased the workbook last August at the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 National Conference in Springfield, Illinois. That being said, I still did not start getting serious about it until last month. I have been off work for the past 6 weeks due to my husband's medical condition, so I figured I would have plenty of time to get the do-over started. I figured it was now or never.

In my next post, I will blog about what I have been doing so far in my Genealogy Do-Over, particularly as it relates to Thomas' Month One Goals. Stay tuned!