Monday, October 24, 2011

Genealogy - One Thing Leads to Another, sharing with others

Twice in the same week the posts by Ancestry Insider lead me to important information about my ancestors. On Saturday, after a very busy week preparing for and giving four lectures in a one-day event, I was very ready to relax and recover. When I work on presentations it can get rather intense. Last week a good genealogy friend contacted me in a bit of a panic. She was due to give the lectures for a one-day event, and there had been a death in the family and she would not be able to attend the event. As I was on my way out the door to present at another event some distance from my home, I looked at my calendar, which just happened to be open for that day. She was very relieved that I was willing to take her place.



On Monday after I had returned home I had a phone call from the group planner wondering what I would be able to present. While I could not replicate my friend's work, I did have presentations that would be of interest to them. I spoke to the group in March, doing two presentations then. Considering I only have sixteen classes there were only a few to choose from. One was created in the last couple of weeks and I was still working on another one to present at our FH Fair in a couple of weeks. With the four lectures selected, I went to work on completing the last one on Religious Affiliations.

For this class I was very focused on my own family history and what I knew of their religious affiliations. Of course while I am working, I always get a little sidetracked in learning about supporting information such as where the church was located, are there pictures or church histories online, clergy information, any document that might provide insight to their religious life, etc. It is amazing what can be found on the Internet. As the basis for the lecture I used wikipedia and the familysearch.org wiki. Then I turned to books from my family history center, Shaking Your Family Tree by Dr. Ralph Crandall, Survey of American Church Records by E. Kay Kirkham, and Genealogical Research Standards by Derek Harland. While these are rather dated materials, they hold a wealth of information. By the time I finished I had a presentation of 120 slides.

In the process of working on the updating of the other presentations I printed out a new pedigree chart of my family. In doing this work I also did a review of the documents I have for my four generations. The most important missing documents were the death certificate for my grandfather on my father's side and the marriage record for my grandparents on my mother's side.

The post by Ancestry Insider discussed newly added vital records at ancestry.com. So late Saturday night as I was decompressing from a very busy day, I turned to the new vital records collections. To my amazement I found the death information posted for the Oregon Death Index 1971-1980. My grandfather died in 1979. I do believe the actual certificate lies in the collection of my grandmother's belongings stored in my office closet and I will search there before ordering another copy.

The next amazing find was my other grandparent's marriage record, found by using a search of her name. There it pops up on the screen indexed with digital copies of the original records. Interestingly enough earlier in the week I made copies of the order forms for ordering this record. To order this record it would cost $15. I immediately called my mother and told her of the discovery. My grandmother was not always very accurate in how she shared life's details, sometimes fudging a little in details that she felt should be different. This marriage record confirmed for me her birth year and that of my grandfather. The marriage occurred across the state line and the county judge married them. According to grandma her parents did not know about her marriage until a neighbor much later mentioned they had read about it in the newspaper. At the time of marriage she was Catholic and he was not, which she felt her parents would not approve.

The availability of new records online is expanding so quickly that for us long time researchers it is unbelievable. When compared to the ordering of records at times costing extreme amounts of money, or viewing the records on microfilms that took weeks to arrive, the ease of finding records today is astronomical. My goal to acquire documented records for my ancestors is more realistic. I only lack one record for my grandparents and then I will move on to my great grandparents for whom I lack fifteen records. Up until now it was not financially a part of my budget to order them, and I will wait a little before I do as more are coming online every day. Oh, what fun this genealogy work is. Be sure and share the good news with others who may not get the email notices announcing the new releases. Remember one thing leads to another as we journey down our paths of discovery.

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