What do you see?

I wrote in an earlier post about the importance of skepticism when doing genealogy/family history research.  Here’s a good example.  This is a death certificate I found yesterday while doing some research for a new cousin.  What do you see recorded as the full name for the subject of this official death certificate?  How would you transcribe this name?

1901 Drury, Edith Victoria death certificate

The indexer for this collection saw this name as “Edith Van Connie Drury”.  What did you see?  Here’s what the indexer should have seen and recorded:   Edith Victoria Drury.

Be cautious and tenacious when doing your research.  A future fellow researcher will rise up and call you “blessed!”

The Family Addiction We ALWAYS Talk About

The sun is shining again.  The birds are singing.  Hope springs eternal.  Baseball is back!

Grown men are playing a child’s game and loving ever minute on the field.  Baseball is the greatest game and sport ever contrived.  It’s a “thinking man’s game” and you have to be mentored into the intricacies of it, but when you are, when you know, it’s magical.

Our family enjoys baseball.  No, let’s be honest.  Our family loves baseball!  Some of the Gary Astros headshotgirls love it more than the boys.  (And know it better too)  The opening of Major League baseball is bigger than New Years and the Fourth of July rolled together.  It’s cause for celebration and we celebrate!

In the interest of family’s history, I thought I would take a few minutes to trace the origins of this fanaticism.  It’s time I take responsibility for the “mess” I’ve made and explain the origin of the disease.

I honestly can’t remember which came first.  Was it watching Saturday baseball with my big brother on Television? Or, was it looking at the baseball cards he got out of bubble gum packages?  Or, was it watching him play little league baseball while I chased foul balls to be traded for free snow cones at the concession stand?  Hey, come to think of it, I’ve found a new scapegoat for my addiction.  David did it!

By the time I was 7 I was fully hooked.  I listened to the St. Louis Cardinals on clear channel KMOX radio.  Only they were not always so clear in North Texas.  In 1965 the Houston Colt 45s changed their name to the Astros and moved into the Astrodome.  They also signed a new radio contract that brought them to KDNT in Denton, Texas.  I was in business!

Now I could hear the entire game without interruptions.  Except for my mom, who was telling me to go to bed.  That’s when my first transistor radio became my favorite all-time gift.  The little beauty had an ear piece.  I could plug it in, turn on the Astros’ game and appear to be sleeping.  I really was in business!  (Don’t tell my mom.)

And so the disease was well established at an early age.  The more I learned the game, the more I loved it.  I even played the game for a few years and had wonderful coaches and teammates.  But I must have been born to love the game because I was certainly not born to play it!  And so I talked it, taught it, watched it, took my kids to it and exposed them all to this wonderful game of baseball.  All of them caught the bug.  Some are in remission but most are still as ill as their father and infecting their kids.

The Astros played their way into the World Series in 2005.  It was their first and only time in their now 52 years they made it to the biggest of baseball stages.  I had tickets to game 4 of the Series!   But they were high up and a great distance from the field.  I managed to trade them in for box seats for game 5!  Only the game never happened.  The Chicago White Sox swept the Astros in 4 games.

Hope springs eternal.  The Astros are going to the World Series this year!  (Ok, that’s a little too hopeful and I know the game a little too well to be that hopeful, but they will be more competitive and they will return to the baseball biggest stage soon.)  They opened the season last night by beating last year’s Cy Young Award winner and the Cleveland Indians 2 – 0.  Hey, this could be their year!

Tip #5: Good Genealogists Are Skeptics

Good Monday morning!  Here’s your Backtracking the Common tip for today.  Enjoy!

All good genealogists are skeptics. They have to be. Grandpa Jones “improved” the family’s history. Aunt Sally miss-remembered. Aunt Polly covered up the date of a child’s birth to better match a wedding date. Paw Paw embellished his military record. And the beat goes on. The wrong information was recorded on records at the local, state and/or federal levels. Names are misspelled. Handwritten copies are inaccurate copies. Census takers wrote it down wrong. Informants on census records told it wrong. Informants on death records didn’t know the correct answer. How could they possibly provide it? And the beat goes on…

“I read it on the internet. It must be true.” That’s supposed to be a joke and everyone’s supposed to already know it. But I see many new (and some not so new) would be genealogists/family historians who don’t seem to get it. It’s as if we want to control the narrative of our family’s history instead of uncovering, recording, and reporting it.

To be a good genealogist we have to be truth seekers. We know we’re not bound by the past, so we’re not afraid to reveal it. We may not want to repeat it, but we look for tactful, compassionate ways to tell the true family story. We have to decide. Do we want to be myth tellers or historians?

Good genealogists are skeptics.
Collect all of the family stories you can. Be respectful of family members but be skeptical. The facts have to support the stories or they’re only stories.
• In your skepticism, remember, some stories will prove to be completely accurate and almost all stories have clues in them you need to follow.
Don’t be afraid of conflicting information. Determine to know the truth.
• Use multiple sources and work toward a preponderance of evidence.
• Once you have settled the issue in your own mind, be prepared to change it. Be open to reconsidering old and new facts.
Don’t “break up” with others over a difference of opinion.

Happy hunting!

The New Book on My Coffee Table

My new coffee Table bookDavid Lee Roberts did something many of us talk about – but most of us never get around to doing.  He wrote his life story.  He put it all down in a book.  And, he has a PDF version on disc.  (Available for my children)

David is a decorated Navy veteran.  He served 27 years active duty and 3 years reserve for a total of 30 years service to the United States.  He has now “retired” to serve as a patrol officer at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.  He and his wife Cheryl live in Keller, Texas and have three grown children with growing families of their own.  Daughter Amy and her husband Matt serve overseas in Dubai.   Son Bryan, now retired from the Air Force, is launching a second “tour of duty” in the ministry.  He and his wife Lori are presently in seminary in the St. Louis area.  Son Matthew also serves as a DFW patrol officer.  He, his wife Mandy and their children live in Keller, Texas.  David and Cheryl’s children and their children’s children will enjoy this book for generations to come.  It will be a family treasure.

David’s my older brother of whom I am rightfully proud.  God has been good to both of us and given us wives “way above our pay grades”.  I remember wondering when David went off to basic training in 1971 (Uncle Sam would finish raising him) what would happen to him.  He seemed so lost and adrift on life’s sea.  Well, God and Cheryl are what happened to him and I know for a fact he’s grateful.  He writes about it in his book!

Kingsville Air Station
Gary, Bob and David Roberts in David’s Kingsville Air Statiion quarters

David’s first duty station out of air traffic control school was the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas.  My dad and I visited him there on my 16th birthday.  I enjoyed watching him work and hone his tower skills.  It wasn’t my first time in a control tower.  Our uncle Ralph Reed retired from the FAA.  He used to allow us in the control towers when we were just little squirts.  Watching David work in the same environment, I began to think of him as a “traffic cop” for pilots.  Much later in his career as Senior Chief on base at Meridian Air Station in Mississippi, he would serve as the traffic judge for the entire base.  I tell him now he’s just a cop.

The book is large.  270 8 ½ x 11 pages.  Lots of pictures.   A good look and a good read.  A PDF version is available.My Journey book cover

Thanks David for the treasure you have given our family.

Why Genealogy?

Why Genealogy?

If…

  • you enjoy a good mystery
  • solving difficult research problems
  • the thrill of the chase
  • history, or
  • unraveling puzzles

You’ll probably be a sucker for the hobby (obsession) of genealogy.  If you don’t want to be trapped, back away.  Leave now and don’t ever look back!

Genealogy is like filling in the blanks I didn’t know I had.

I wish I could remember who said that.  I would love to give them credit.

There are many reasons we enjoy genealogy and family history.  Each family historian or would be genealogist will have their own explanation or perhaps not be able to explain it at all.  I recently came across one person’s take on genealogy and I wanted to share it with you.

Kris Williams has loved history since her childhood.  She “blames” her father.  She was a sucker for genealogy and was hooked by a school class assignment when she was 11 Kris Williamsyears old.  Her love for family history and background in research helped her land a job as the historical researcher for Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.  She’s also served as a contributor to Ancestry.com for over a year.  You can follow Kris and gain from her knowledge at The Key to You Tree.  The link is in our blog favorites list to the right.

I’ve asked Kim’s permission to link to a recent blog post she wrote on the “why” of genealogy.  I like her “take”.  Check it out.  Genealogy:  What’s the Point?  Thanks Kris!

 

 

Tip #4 Interview your family

We think we know them.  We think we know them well.  That is, until we go to write their story.  Our families are often mysteries to us.  This is why we must ask questions…lots of questions.

The beginning genealogist/family historian begins with the interview.  I want the oldest family member to answer my questions as soon as possible, but I’ll begin with whomever I have at hand.

I need FACTS to fuel my research.

  • When and where were you born?
  • Who were your parents?  When and where were they born?
  • Who were your grandparents?  When and where were they born?
  • When did you marry?  Where?  What county?
  • In what states and counties have your lived?
  • Did you or anyone in our family serve in the military?  When?  What branch?  Where?
  • What are your siblings’ names and approximate ages?
  • If their parents, grandparents, siblings are deceased, when did they die?  (Approximate dates are better than no dates.)

I need STORIES to flesh out our history.

  • What was your best childhood memory?
  • What was your favorite holiday?
  • Who was your favorite relative, teacher, neighbor, etc.?
  • Tell me about your best friend growing up.
  • What were your mom and dad like?
  • What were your grandparents like?
  • What is the best place you ever lived and why?
  • Where was the best place you ever visited?

Capture the facts and their stories.

  • When possible, send your questions in advance of your visit and interview.
  • If possible, record the interview.
  • Take extensive notes and “flesh” them out while they’re fresh on your mind.

I cannot overstate the importance of family interviews.  You need this information to backtrack your family.  You need this information to tell their story.  You need it first.  When you begin their story, be prepared to reconnect and ask more questions.  And you will have questions.  Every good historian has more questions.

Recognizing one of our own: Congratulations Shelly Grace Williford!

I’m one of the world’s worst when it comes to bragging on my children.  I do it a lot, and I’m especially grateful when they make it easy.Shelly headshot

Four of our seven children work for the third largest property management company in America.  Lincoln Property Company manages residential,  commercial and international properties around the world.  The website Rainmaker describes the company.

Lincoln Property Company was founded in 1965 for the purpose of building and operating quality residential communities. Consistently listed as one of the largest apartment developers in the United States, Lincoln has developed more than 182,000 multifamily residential units. Lincoln is currently ranked, in terms of size, as the third largest property manager in the U.S., with more than 140,000 apartment units under management. In addition, approximately 70% of Lincoln’s apartment management portfolio is comprised of fee management accounts for third-party investors.”

All of our children working for Lincoln have won multiple performance awards.  Our youngest daughter Shelly Grace Roberts Williford becomes the second to win the Gold Medallion Award.  She follows her oldest sister Shannon in winning this prestigious award.  You can only win it once in a career and all of our children know it’s a big deal.  Congratulations Shelly!

I want to express to the middle and upper management of The Lincoln Property Company the appreciation of a grateful parent.  You invited four of our children to join your team.  You trained them and allowed them to advance at their own pace.  You recognize their achievements.  You pay them well.  Thanks!  To those in the company who have had the most “hands on” influence in our children’s professional development, you are the real champions here.  What they have achieved has been done on the shoulders of their managers and supervisors.  They could not have accomplished what they did without your unselfish contributions.  Thanks!

Here’s a copy of the letter read last Friday at the annual award ceremony.  It was held this year in San Antonio, Texas.  (Click on the link below the photo to read the actual letter.  If you know Shelly, you’ll enjoy the read!)

God Medallion Letter

Gold Medallion Letter

 

 

Getting MORE out of your field research…

How do you get the most out of your “on the ground” research time?Binoculars

I previously blogged about a trip Dee and I took to North Texas backtracking my Roberts, Byrd, Horn, Laningham and Ingram family lines.  This was an aggressive agenda of five counties in five days.  If you haven’t seen the post, you may want to read about the scope of our discoveries.

How does the genealogist/family historian get the most done in the least amount of time?  In a word, it takes PREPARATION.

I love being able to research our family in my pajamas.  The internet has made this possible.  There’s nothing like the comfort of my easy chair and laptop for making new discoveries.  But then, there’s nothing like walking the ground on which our ancestors walked.  The fact is it takes both for us to do our “due diligence” in documenting our family histories.  To do it right, you’ll have to get out of the house.

We’ll eventually have to (and want to) take to field in order to backtrack our family’s trail.  Here are some tips to make this time more productive.

 

  1. Goals, Goals, Goals
    • Have goals for your research trip. Review your work and know what information you’re missing.
    • Know what you want to do on your trip. Be specific.
    • Write it down. Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.
  2. Plan, Plan, Plan
    • Now that you know what you want to do, how will you accomplish these goals?
    • What will be done and when will it be done in order to reach your goals?
    • Where, at what physical location, can you complete each goal?
    • What has to be done before I leave?
    • If you’re not a planner, please invite someone to help you plan. Tell them what you want to accomplish in your research and let them help you.
  3. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
    • Research the resources. What family members need to be contacted?  What interview questions do I want to ask?  What courthouses will be visited?  Cemeteries?  Libraries?  Research Centers?  Have I made my appointments?  Have I checked the open and closed hours?  Will they be closed during lunch?
    • If I’m going to a library, why? Do I know what’s available?  Have I searched the online catalogs?  What about their microfilm holdings?  Have I written down the titles and call numbers of those resources?
    • Have I planned my schedule? Do I know when I’m going where?  Prepared my maps or GPS coordinates?
    • Do I have my notebooks, maps, and cameras, contact information, etc? (I once prepared my camera equipment, had all of my batteries charged, extra memory cards and then left it all!  Dee bailed me out with her IPhone.)
    • Do I know what I want to accomplish at each stop? If I have a research partner, do we know what each other will do at each venue?
  4. Be flexible.
    • Things rarely go exactly as you plan them. This is not a reason not to plan.  It’s simply a realistic expectation.
    • Plan and prepare. Work hard at making the things happen that you want to happen.  When it doesn’t, go with it.  It helps to have a partner to remind you of this outlook.
    • Enjoy your time and space and especially the people in that space!

You can go on a trip and enjoy it without doing all of these things.  But if you want to have a great family research trip, have goals, plan and prepare.

Happy trails!

William Brumley Price 1819 – 1901

William Brumley PriceWilliam Brumley Price was my great great great grandfather.  I only uncovered his name in early February and was able to visit his burial site with my mother, sister and wife this past week.

Here’s how we’re connected.  My mother’s name is Bertha Mae Byrd Roberts (Mamaw to some of you.)  She was born a Byrd.  Her mother was Willie Mae Burns Byrd.  She was born a Burns.  Her mother was Annie Elizabeth Price.  She went by “Bettie” and was born a Price.  Her father’s name was William Henry Price.  His father is the focus of this post.

William Brumley Price was born in Tennessee on March 27, 1819.  He moved with his Grounds Cemetery Historical Sign in Collin Countyfamily to Missouri in 1834 and married Rhoda Brixie in 1843.  They named their first child Francis M. “Frank” Price.  Rhoda may have died giving birth to him or shortly thereafter.  William married Rebecca Eggman in 1846.  They migrated with their 7 children to Texas sometime after 1856 where they settle in Collin County and would go on to have 11 children.together.  He served as a member of a cavalry regiment during the Civil War.  It may have been the same unit in which Pleasant Wesley Byrd served. (researching) There is one piece of evidence that indicates he may have been a lawyer. (researching)

William Brumley Price died July 3, 1901 in the Blue Ridge Community in northeast Collin County.  He is buried in the historic old Grounds Cemetery north of this community.  He and Rebecca’s grave is surrounded by a chain link fence.  Their beautiful engraved stone has been knocked off of its base and was too heavy for our crew to upright.  (We need some big Roberts or Collins boys to make a trip to Collin County.)  There appears to have been a storm through the cemetery.  The engraving on the stone reads:

W. B. husband of Rebecca Price, Born Mar 27, 1819 Died July 8, 1901                                Father let thy grace be much that we may meet in heaven                                                    Rebecca wife of W.B. Price Died Feb. 27, 1906 Aged 82 years old                                        We trust our loss will be her gain,                                                                                             And that with Christ She’s gone to reign

I hope one day to meet the direct descendants of those responsible for erecting the marker and fence.  Thank you…and please contact me.Bertha Mae Byrd Roberts at the burial site of her 2 x great grandfather William and Rebecca Price burial site in Grounds Cemetery, Collin County, TX

Bertha Mae Byrd Roberts visits the grave site of her great great grandparents in March of 2015.  Looks pretty good for 82!