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Getting the “Facts” Online

Getting the “Facts” Online

You know those transcriptions on FamilySearch and Ancestry and such? I am thinking they are done by a computer with no brain and they are never proofread. Along comes a collector, adds them to their genealogy and yet another nonsense “fact” is born.

On FamilySearch I found an obituary abstract. You have to go to a pay site to see the actual obituary. The deceased person is Robert William Jr. His father is Robert Thomas. Duh! How does that follow?

His wife is listed twice, by the same name, obviously a duplicate. His mother is correct, even listing her maiden name. And then there is his son, William Thomas Jr. They were obviously junior crazy that day. I note none of the three generations of juniors are “senior” or “III.”

In the obituary I have the deceased’s name and the names of his parents are correct. He has no children at all. He is listed as “junior” even though he clearly is not. It is from a different newspaper, more local.

I have the birth and death certificates of all three of the deceased. They are correct.

He did, of course, have parents. He did have children including a son. He had grandchildren. There were no juniors in any of the generations.

FamilySearch is not the only guilty site, just the one in this example.

As more and more transcriptions make it online free with actual images on pay sites I expect these lovely transcriptions to fill family histories. Will there will be any truthful family histories in 50 years?

 

FamilySearch Family Tree

FamilySearch Family Tree

You’ve been wanting access to FamilySearch Family Tree, right? The link tells you how:
http://broadcast.lds.org/eLearning/fhd/Community/en/FamilySearch/FamilyTree/pdf/familyTreeAccess.pdf

Be careful what you wish for though. I’ve been on it for about a year and, frankly, it’s a major mess. Here’s what James Tanner has to say:
http://genealogysstar.blogspot.com/2012/04/sorting-out-relatives-in-family-tree.html

Huguenot Records at FamilySearch.org

Huguenot Records at FamilySearch.org

The Lucases came to the US in 1710, having fled up the Rhine from Otterberg, Germany. Before that they lived in France. They were Protestants and fled France to Germany. For some reason the records of the French Protestants in Otterberg survived three centuries of war. Now you can look them up on FamilySearch.org. The Otterberg records show up in Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898.  [https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1473000]


Just because I could I checked out France, Protestant Church Records, 1612-1906. [https://familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1582585]

There are Lucases there, haven’t checked those out yet. There are images of the French Protestant records so I can check out nearby names.

William Henry Downing Probate

William Henry Downing Probate

William Henry Downing’s probate file came from the Logan County Circuit Clerk. Parts of it could be found at IRAD and the whole probate would be in the FamilySearch files.


On December 2, 1903, in the typhoid epidemic, William Henry Downing died. He was the only child of William Nelson Downing, who died in the Civil War, ironically of “typhoid pneumonia,” and Delilah Downing Downing. He was 40 years old, not expecting to die and had no will.





His heirs were his widow Eliza Harding Downing, sons Clarence, Charles Ellis, Ennis and Floyd. Clarence was 17 and Floyd was 7. [Floyd isn’t in the picture.]


The widow was named Administrix on December 8, 1903. David Shellhammer, husband of Delilah Downing Downing, and James Shellhammer, Delilah’s first son by her second marriage, stood as sureties. Appointed as appraisers were Lewis Upp, Charles Brooker and William Beckers, all three very close neighbors. Brooker would become the father in law of the eldest son Clarence. Upp was married to a Lincoln, descendant of the same immigrant ancestor as the more famous Lincoln.


They finished up their work promptly and reported on December 28, 1903, valuing the property of the estate at $4,700.25. The list is four pages long and is quite specific at times – “6 rocking chairs, 1 bay mare named Brownie, 1 red steer, 1 gray mare, 66 hogs” – and less specific at others – “1 lot of chickens” [which I first read as “a lot of chickens”]. 


The value of the widow’s property as prescribed by law, which included school books, a sewing machine, beds, one fourth of a cow for every family member [fortunately for the cow there were four members], two sheep for every family member, one horse, etc., was $1,281.50. 


The Administrix reported on March 23, 1907. There was $4,700.25 in receipts which included $599.37 for “property not sold but kept…to make up amount shown on appraisement bill.” In the long list of bills totalling $3,704.76 we learn that funeral expense was $263.75 and the stone cost $1,140. The balance after all bills was $995.49, less than the widows’ amount.





The land apparently passed separately. It is not mentioned. Each son received 80 acres which was farmed by son Ellis until the early 1970s. Most of it is now farmed by his grandson, Roy Downing.

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer Will

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer Will

Delilah Downing Downing Shellhammer was the youngest child of Robert Downing whose probate was previously discussed. I had never considered that she had a will or probate but I found it in the probate records posted online at FamilySearch. These probate files are more work to collect, not being word searchable, but they are also free. Help with the records





Delilah died June 22, 1909. She first married William Nelson Downing who died in the Civil War. She then married David Shellhammer. She had a son, William Henry Downing, by her first husband. William Henry died in 1903 leaving four sons. She had two sons, James and Albert, and two daughters, Sarah Jane Shellhammer West and Augusta Shellhammer Park, by her second husband. 


On June 1, 1909, Delilah executed a will. Delilah couldn’t write and had to sign it with her mark. Whether Delilah couldn’t write or was too ill to write at the time is unknown.


Delilah very carefully and specifically divided her property into fifths giving one fifth to each child and the remaining fifth to be equally among the heirs of her deceased son William. Her estate consisted of her personal effects and furniture and land in Section 1, Mt. Pulaski Township. She directed that one heir buy out all the others and that the others cooperate to do that.


Finally she named T. A. Scroggin executor of her will. There were no claims against the estate. Everyone cooperated and probate closed November 1, 1909. 


Some of Delilah’s descendants should have taken a lesson from her will.

Dualies

Dualies

I own two monitors. I finally gave in and set both up on the same computer. For work it has been okay, not worth going out and buying the second one though.

Genealogy is a very different story. Today on one monitor I had my genealogy program open to a family. On the other I had the Illinois Archives databases open. I was able to quickly check the dates for marriages and some deaths, Civil War and other military records where appropriate. I had a book open on the desk which sometimes had a different date than what I had entered probably 20 years ago and I wanted to see what the state said.

Illinois State Archives Databases

Without disturbing the open databases I could easily flip between people and families. Sometimes when they are sharing one screen one gets lost behind another window, accidentally closed, etc. With two monitors everything could stay open, full size, and visible at the same time.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be the state archives. It could be ever growing FamilySearch.org or any other web site with information. On FamilySearch you can open some census records for example.

It is amazing the amount of time saved when you can enter the information directly into the program, enter the source, look back to verify if necessary and move on.

I wish I hadn’t waited so long to convert to dual monitors.

Genealogy Volunteer Opportunity

Genealogy Volunteer Opportunity

All those records in Granite Mountain near Salt Lake City are being digitalized and will eventually be available online free.

As you can imagine, there are millions of records which the LDS Church has collected over the years. They have the digitalizing down to a science and anticipate it will be completed in 10 years. That’s the worldwide collection.

The indexing, which is necessary before you can search these records, is done by volunteers, checked and double checked, will take longer. There’s just one problem. At the current rate the volunteers are working it will take 300 YEARS.

You don’t have to be a member of the LDS Church to volunteer to index. You don’t have to go to a Family History Center. You can do it from the comfort of your home. You need a computer and internet access. You don’t have to have a fast internet access. You can chose to work offline but you will need the connection to download the software, download the projects and upload them when you are done.

There is a time limit for each project but if you can commit an hour over the week after you download a project you are fine. Some projects take less than than that but that’s the time they suggest. And once the project is indexed and goes through the checking process it goes online.

To volunteer go to beta.familysearch.org. Sign up and download the software. I strongly suggest you view the training even if you find it simple. The main reason is there are a few instructions in there on the rules for handling specific situations such as when you can’t read the handwriting [and obviously you will encounter this issue]. At the end you’ll find you can actually download the training file and the “handout” for future reference.

If you need help there are FAQS and resources and a forum. The forums are a separate signup although you can use the same name as your indexing user name if you wish.

If you are reading this I assume you read English but if you read other languages remember this is a worldwide project and records come in all languages.

If every genealogist and historian volunteered for one project – one hour – a week it would have an impact on the timeline for completion. What are you waiting for?

FamilySearch

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is constantly adding searchable records.

I tested their records for Cook County, Illinois. I note you cannot right click and save a section but if you have Windows 7 you can use the snipping tool. If you hover over a name you get more information, perhaps spouse, parents and/or children. And if it is a vital record you can order a copy from the Cook County Clerk.

It produced assorted birth, death and immigration records for the surname. I note they have not done a bang up job with the ethnic names or the foreign birthplaces so you need to be flexible. Needless to say, the document may not have spelled things correctly to begin with.

I then tried their Wisconsin records. Hovering produces information which can be copied.

I could not find a Civil War pension index card for my 2g grandfather – there is a widow’s pension application and a dependent pension record. It’s a work in progress and perhaps they haven’t gotten to them.

You need to check back periodically to see if they have added a database you can use. You can also volunteer to help with the transcribing.