Archive for March, 2011

March 7, 2011

Genealogy, n. An account of one’s descent from a man who did not particularly care to trace his own.

I have ancestors who popped up out of the dirt.

They came from nowhere, or Ohio, they had no parents, and they died leaving only the land and their best feather bed to their children, whose names were already known. That is, of course, if they left a will. Provided they didn’t burn the place down when they left, well, at least the courthouse. There are no others around them of their surname and they weren’t kind enough to provide the maiden name of their wife in said will. Neither did they provide the relationship they had to their witnesses to said will.

And this is why I love this stuff!

For example, Joshua Case, left a will in Randolph County, Illinois. Bt-dubs, I’m still having a tough time remembering his name’s not Jonathan as he has been Jonathon for almost ten years. He allowed his wife and children the use of his farm as long as his wife Catharine remained his widow. He willed the land to his only son Jackson. Who knew? He had land! The will was witnessed by John C. Crozier and Luther Simmons. These two were brothers-in-law. Nancy Crozier, sister of John C. Crozier, married Luther Simmons. Almost ten years later, Luther Simmons and Samuel G. Thompson witnessed the will of John C. Crozier, again, brothers-in-law as Samuel G. Thompson married Mary Ann Crozier. Joshua’s will did not appoint a guardian for his children, the court appointed Joseph Orr, however, Charlotte, being over fourteen, chose John C. Crozier.

Was Catharine a Crozier? If she were, then she would have most likely have been a sister to John, Mary Ann and Nancy. Were she their sister, then it stands to reason that Samuel Crozier, their father, would have mentioned her in his will. He did not. Still, she could have been a sister left out because he had already covered her in another way. Possible, but not too likely.

The possibility that she was a Simmons or a Thompson or an Orr remains to be investigated.

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March 3, 2011

Concision in Style, Precision in Thought, Decision in Life

Thanks to Victor Hugo, we have a philosophy which sums up how to approach creating genealogical citations. We need to use a concise citation style which tells anyone looking at our data where to get the information. Why? If you don’t know where it came from, how are you going to know where to go to get a copy of it? If you don’t examine a copy of it, how are you going to know if it’s right?

There is no record which is intuitively obvious, so that a reader just knows the origin. There is no person whose memory doesn’t fade. There is no fact, which is included in your database, which can have the source ignored. For example, just because it came from the work of Aunt Emmy Lou, who never cited anything, don’t omit a citation crediting Aunt Emmy Lou’s work. Once you confirm her work add an additional citation or citations. Even if you have pages and pages of paper which back up everything you have in your electronic database, you still need to take the time to include the source of every piece of information in the electronic database.

A good citation tells the reader exactly where to find the document. In my database, there is a record for a marriage which illustrates this very well. The marriage occurred and was recorded in Clark county, Missouri in 1867. It is included in the images, on ancestry.com, for Clark County, Missouri in 1865. Looking at the actual record, transcribed below, and the citation which ancestry.com provides, the latter obviously lacks detail. Suppose one was missing the year, and had only the original information provided by ancestry.com to try to find the marriage record. Could the viewer find the record? Possibly, after going through every film reel at the archives or image on ancestry.com.

Here is the record:

This certifies that the rite of Holy Matrimony was celebrated between James S. Walker of the County of Lee and State of Iowa, Aditha A, Miller of the county of Clark & State of Missouri at the residence of Aditha A. Miller on the 4th of August A.D. 1867. By Thomas J. Musgrove Minister of the Gospel, Filed August 16, 1867 H. M. Hiller, recorder.

and the Citation from Ancestry.com:

Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.
Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.

Finally, my citation:

Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.
Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.
Clark, Record Images for Clark, 1865, image 69. Apparently from Reel C (County) 1718 or 1719, Clark County Marriages 1856 – 1872, Indexed

Keep your citations concise and clear and they will always serve as a road map to good data.