December 2010: Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2011! Some Christmas gift projects are in the process of being completed and we continue to research other "hard to find" ancestors -- ex-slaves, Native Americans, the "westwardly" mobile, the "only stopped" in NC for a generation or less, the "most common of names," Revolutionary War/War of 1812/Civil War service and other projects that continue to keep us challenged. The Upfront with NGS blog keeps us busy as we share news about NGS and the genealogy world at large. We have been reminded by two projects, that though we may have a "specific" birth place (e.g. a city or county) that it was much easier for ancestors to "live under the radar" and not be documented. If they didn't own land -- no deeds, no voting records, etc. If they moved frequently enough -- the tax man might not have found them! And, not all records created, survive -- even if the tax man found them, if those records don't survive, we will never know! And, a lack of extant records does not have to stop your research in it's tracks -- you might never find that one document that proves the relationship and you can often still build a strong circumstantial case as to who your ancestor was. When you create your circumstantial case -- do DOCUMENT the basis for your assertions. We have recently read many colorful narratives about various ancestral lines, none of which can be substantiated. We understand that when you share your research results it is tempting to want to "fill in the gaps" to humanize your ancestors -- please just make it clear what is "fact" and what is "fiction." You can use historical facts and information on a community to provide some context for your ancestor. You can use information on disasters and other circumstances (e.g. economic, religious, etc) to suggest what may have motivated your ancestor and unfortunately, unless your ancestor left a diary, we will "never" truly know what they were thinking or what motivated them. And, we don't have to completely get inside an ancestors head to appreciate the role they have played in the families history. When gathering with family this holiday season, take the opportunity to collect more family lore, pool what the family knows or discuss the merits of DNA testing. Though DNA testing has added another tool to our research arsenal -- a lack of matches, unexpected matches to other surnames, distant matches, etc can challenge us to make the best use of this tool. And, remember, that is you don't match the person you were targeting as a distant ancestor -- that at least helps you know what family to not pursue! That said, we need to finish working on those promised Christmas gifts and see if we can deliver some good news to the other ancestor hunters we are pursuing.
November 2010: Glorious colors of fall -- enjoyable to the eye, though, the much shorter days make it harder to work past 5pm! Busy this month with lineage research and applications -- all off to now be vetted! Several "successful" African-American (ex-slave research projects) with one straddling the NC/VA line -- a marriage here, a census record there, a marriage there, a census record here, etc. Just learned that we have the "cover" article for the now available issue of Internet Genealogy with "25 Obscure Databases You Need to Know About." Busy with the Upfront with NGS blog for NGS and collecting material for the 2011 editions of the NCGS Journal as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Several "born in NC" projects continue to occupy our time -- to show you how challenging these can be, with two of them we have "clues" as to "where" in NC and we still cannot find proof that they came from where was stated or attach the person to parents -- fortunately, not all projects are as challenging as these. Creating some family trees from compiled information to create a "visual" of one's ancestral tree. Reviewing DNA results to see if we can get some leads or end up with more questions than answers (e.g. the results don't match anybody or don't match that "surname"). Many other projects, from document gathering, to proving Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, etc services, to filling in the gaps of known ancestors lives, etc have and will keep us busy. Our trip to NARA II last month was not fruitful for my client (though we will be making one more push into other European records) and it did inspire the identification of more fun records to abstract for the NCGS Journal (previously mentioned). With Thanksgiving just around the corner -- we wish you the best as families far and wide celebrate together. If you are able to join your family this holiday, it is a great opportunity to either listen to the stories of your parents, grandparents etc, or, if you are the elder statesman of your family, be sure to share your memories of your life and what you "know" of your deceased parents, grandparents, etc with the younger generations. If no visits and they will be forced, as we are, to try and reconstruct our lives.
October 2010: October has finally brought cooler weather -- after setting a record of over 90 days of 90+ degree weather, we were more than ready for some nice cool fall weather! October has been busy doing African-American research (both NC and VA), military research (Rev War, War of 1812 and Civil War), writing articles for Internet Genealogy (and we've just learned that the November edition has one of our articles as the cover article -- "30 Top Genealogy Websites!" along with Net Notes, Ulster Historical Foundation and In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience), providing content for the next NCGS Journal and also starting as the blog editor for Upfront with NGS (free news blog of NGS). Also busy trying to turn over all kinds of "rocks" looking for several elusive individuals in NC while also trying to make the "leap" from TN, GA, MS/AL and other states back to NC for those "born in NC" projects. We continue to support WCGS and have agreed to give a talk next spring on Freedman's records -- documents in the Federal collection that most people aren't aware of and that help research "anyone" in post Civil War Confederate states. We also continue to serve as the "legs" for those that can't get to NC to obtain documents to support their research. Later this month we will be visiting NARA II to look at Consular records for France and Germany -- we have been tracking an American citizen arrested in 1908 on the road to Paris from Berlin and we very much want to learn more about his arrest and any information we might glean on his parents, etc -- got our fingers crossed!
September 2010: Hope everyone had a super Labor Day weekend! Writing more articles for Family Chronicle, and just learned that our article "Replacing the Irish Census" has been published in the October issue of Family Chronicle. And, the current copy of Internet Genealogy on the stands has several pieces by us -- Net Notes, "African-American Newspapers," "Researching Your African-American Roots," and "Georgia Digital Archives." Lineage related research and applications abound! Continued research into the ancestors of freed slaves (who often left NC for elsewhere) and those who "were born in NC" and left the state for places west of here. Continuing to look for those who kept a low profile in 19th and 18th century NC -- not mentioned in wills or estates, bought land from strangers ... they just seem to "appear" in a tax record, census, marriage record, etc and so looking into tax records, road records, loose court papers and under many other rocks to try and learn more about them and to also try and connect them to their parents, siblings, etc. And much more though it's now time to actually do the work and not report on it!
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