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...