Bad Boys and Girls of Genealogy

Recently, I went “shopping” in the genealogy section of the Decatur Library and came across the book, Finding you Famous {& Infamous} Ancestors by Rhonda R. McClure.  Being that to my knowledge I’m not related to any celebrities, the part that caused me to pick up the book was the mention of the Infamous.

When I began my journey to find information about my ancestors, the thought of them being trouble makers or bad boys (or girls) who may have had run ins with the law never crossed my mind.  Now after a few years, I’ve discovered some very interesting tidbits of information about my family that I’m not going to share here but I found that information using a database on the local African American newspaper.  Being a native of Atlanta, the Atlanta Daily World, one of the more recent African American newspapers for the city, is a valuable resource for my research journey.  I’m not sure of any other institutions who has it but the Auburn Avenue Research Library offers access to the collection of ProQuest Historical Black Newspapers from the AARL Online Databases page which includes Atlanta Daily World newspaper database covering 1932-2003.  I even found an article about me in there! (No, I wasn’t in trouble with the law!!)

But I digress.  You have to be at the library to use the database.  Just like any other database, simply enter the name of the person you’re researching in the search box in quotes and see what comes up.  I created a list of names of relatives who I knew lived in Atlanta at that time and was rewarded with quite a few articles, including a few that mentioned some infamous activities of my relatives.  So if you haven’t already, make sure to look at the archives of the local paper in the area where you are researching to see if your people show up.  Newspapers from many of the urban areas have been digitized and can be found through various means.  But don’t be dismayed if your people lived in a rural area or the suburbs.  You never know, the newspaper covering that area may have been digitized as well.  Check with your local repositories, Digital Public Library of America, newspapers included in the Digital Library of Georgia (because its all about GA!) or Google the name of the newspaper to see if it has been digitized.  Not sure of the name of a newspaper in your area?  Take a look at the U. S. Newspaper Directory at Chronicling America sponsored by the Library of Congress. There you can search for newspapers by state, county, and even ethnicity.  If you haven’t visited the site, click the link.  You won’t be disappointed.

Now, back to the bad boys and girls of genealogy.  When I saw the title of the book, it reminded me of a question one of our genealogy group members asked one night about prison records.  I did not have any experience with the records and have not had a reason in my research efforts to seek them out but when I saw the book, I knew I had to write a blog about it with the hopes that this may help him and others.  Another book that deals with the topic of infamous ancestors specific to Georgia is Robert S. Davis’s book, The Georgia Black Book: Morbid, Macabre & Sometimes Disgusting Records of Genealogical Value.  I haven’t really looked at this book but I will make a point of looking at it the next time I’m at the Decatur Library.

I figured why stop at the two books, so I did a Google search for prison records and received the links below.

And there are others but I think this is a good start.  Hopefully this was helpful and if you know of other resources, comment below.  Also, let me know what you think by dropping me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Maps and Boundaries

Like most resources, maps were created for a different purpose but as genealogists, we utilize them to help put our people in their geographic context.

There are many resources on maps and how they interact with our ancestors.  Workshops on land resources and plotting maps can last for weeks and for some people, this is their genealogical niche.  But for the majority of us, we just need to know enough to find the places where our ancestors walked.  Since there is a great deal out there on these resources, I figure I would use the topic as a way to connecting you to a few of them.

And it all begins with an address or location.  There are quite a few resources that will provide you with the address/location.  You are one of them.  I’m sure you could probably find an old address book and find addresses of some of your peeps.  You can also take a trip down memory lane and remember all of the addresses where you and your family lived.

Additionally, you can look at some of the documents we commonly use for our research including birth certificates, death certificates, applications, i.e. social security app, marriage license app, and military records.  Then there’s the census records and city directories.

City directories are great resources, especially if you wanted to find where a person lived and their neighbors. I’ve been successful in finding a number of relatives in the city directories but that’s only because my family lived in a big city.  Most rural areas didn’t have them but that’s doesn’t mean you don’t look for them. The Allen County Public Library has a room filled with city directories.  Its amazing to see.  City directories are online in a variety of places, including Ancestry.com (the paid subscription version for sure but I’m not sure about the Library Edition) and other places including the Internet Archive and Miriam Robbins‘ site.

Now that you have the address, now you can use resources like MapQuest and Google Maps to map it.  Google Maps is fabulous because it gives you a street level view of the address, meaning you get to see what’s at that address now or when Google’s car took the picture.  The searching feature in this resource is great. You can search by the name of something, look at businesses and landmarks nearby and you can even search by longitude and latitude (you will see why I mention this later)

But what about older addresses, you ask?  For those you may want to still look at Google Maps but maps that can be found at county history centers, historical societies, state archives and federal archives can be used.  Additionally, there are a few resources that will help those trying to find ancestors during the time with counties were being formed.  There are two books that address this.

Map Guide to Federal CensusThe Map to the U. S. Federal Censuses 1790 – 1930 provide a map of the states for each census year and their counties.

Another book, specific to Georgia is, Georgia Counties, Their Changing Boundaries. Copyrighted in 1983, changing boundaries include information on the county creations, an index to county line disputes and a list of the counties showing which have headright grants, land lottery grants or both.

Another Georgia resource is the Digital Library of Georgia.  This resource has several collections of maps in its Land and Resources category.  There is the County Maps, District Plats of Survey, and the Sanborn Fire Maps.

But what happens if the place you are looking for no longer exists?  Try GNIS.

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, contains information about physical and cultural geographic features in the United States and associated areas, both current and historical (not including roads and highways). The database holds the Federally recognized name of each feature and defines the location of the feature by state, county, USGS topographic map, and geographic coordinates.(source: http://nhd.usgs.gov/gnis.html)  

The link to search is somewhat hidden so here’s a direct link – http://geonames.usgs.gov/apex/f?p=gnispq. You can use the resource to find all of a specific institution or landmark, i.e. cemeteries, in a particular state and/or county.  Once you pull the record up, you can copy the longitude and latitude and pull that information into Google maps to pull up the map to see where it was/is located.

So that’s about it. I hope this post was helpful for those interested in using maps with their genealogy research.  I know you really can’t talk about maps and boundaries without talking about land resources so here’s a link to the Land Records section of the Source on the Ancestry.com wiki. Now I can say that I covered it. ;-).

Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

Death Notices in AJC – Daily Statistics May 21, 23 – 31, 1906

Saturday was a Genealogy Saturday, the term I give to the days where I’m attending a genealogy related event.  The presentation was very good and I walked away with some tips on online searching that I plan to try out.  Afterward, being the library lover that I am, I left one library and headed to the one where my husband works so I can work on an indexing project.

Did I get to work on it?  Nope.  Instead, I spent the afternoon looking at microfilms trying to track down an obituary for a library patron who submitted the request via the Library’s Email A Librarian account that my hubby had the pleasure of being assigned to that day.  So being the genealogy nut that I am (on occasion), I figured I would try my hand at it.  The death date was 23 May 1906 and the person died in Decatur, GA. Armed with that information I headed to the Atlanta Constitution and when I didn’t find anything there, I turned to the Atlanta Journal.

After looking at a few issues, I learned that in the issues of the Atlanta Constitution and the Journal that I perused, they didn’t have the table of contents that they had in later years.  And let me tell you, I was definitely missing it.  Amazing how you don’t realize how helpful something is until you don’t have it!  So I started reading through the paper and after a while, a pattern emerged and I noticed that there weren’t many death or funeral notices in the papers.  I’m sure more people were passing away so I’m guessing only the people with money was able to put a notice in the paper.  I also noticed that none of the death notices I saw were for African Americans.  I came to this conclusion based on the cemeteries where the people were interred because remember, this is 1906 Atlanta.

Determined to be thorough in my search, I did find something that I thought was interesting.  I found an area called Daily Statistics.  This section provided records of Property Transfers, Building Permits, Court Records and Deaths.  Yeap, Deaths.  So of course, I had to read through it and guess what, I found mention of colored deaths. Now I’m intrigued! And being that I’m interested in pulling out information about people of color, in addition to looking for the obituary of the man, I started looking for the Daily Statistics section and making copies of the Death sections.  My plan, though a possibly tedious one, is to find these sections and transcribe the listings for the people of color.  One reason is to extract the information but also, its a way of demonstrating that though the paper was segregated, people of color were still included on a small scale in the predominately white newspaper.  So the lesson from this post is even if its segregated, still take a look. You never know what you will find.

Information transcribed as listed.

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 21, 1906 pg. 5

  • Promise Nesbit, colored, 60 years, heart failure, rear 237 Butler street. Interment Southview
  • Thomas Monigan, colored, 29 years, cerebrospinal meningitis, Grady hospital. Interment Southview
  • Fannie Brown, colored, 45 years, cancer, 276 Melton avenue. Interment Sunnyside, Ga.

 

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 23, 1906 pg. 15

  • Mary Barfield, colored, 17 years, phthists, 322 Auburn avenue. Interment Cuthbert, Ga.
  • Willie Murphy, colored, 4 years, convulsions, 270 Bass street. Interment Southview.
  • Daisy Lewis, colored, 18 years, heart disease, 10 Boaz street. Interment Southview

 

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 24, 1906 – None found 

 

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 25, 1906 pg. 19

  • Della Moody, colored, 27 years, stomach trouble, Grady hospital. Interment Newnan, Ga.
  • John B. Carmichael, colored, 35 years, consumption, 125 Terry street. Interment Southview
  • Josephine Washington, colored, 32 years, pernicious anaemia, 59 Jeptha street. Interment Southview
  • James Tookes, colored, 28 years, pulmonary tuberculosis, Grady Hospital. Interment Southview

 

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 26, 1906 pg. 13

  • Zelmer Watson, colored, 8 years, gastro-enteritis, 267 Mangum street. Interment Southview
  • Edward B. Rutledge, colored, 2 months, inanition, rear 123 North Butler street. Interment Southview
  • Clarence Singleton, colored, 24 years, gun shot in head, 316 Spring street. Interment Southview
  • L. J. Mayson, colored, 8 months, pneumonia, 23 Gregg street. Interment Southview
  • Jannie Phillips, colored, 65 years, chronic bronchitis, 21 Kennesaw alley. Interment Social Circle, Ga
  • Florence Herrington, colored, 24 years, 175 Houston street. Interment Southview

 

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 28, 1906 pg. 3

  • Gus Cato, colored, 60 years, asthma; 64 North McDaniel street. Interment Southview.
  • Roy Gray, colored, 1 year, gastro-enteritis, 154 Piedmont avenue. Interment Southview.
  • Charley Stevens, colored, 23 years, tuberculosis, 286 Bass street. Interment Southview
  • Dora Travis, colored, 37 years, rear 169 Woodward avenue. Interment Southview
  • Jesse Stewart, colored, 11 months, 134 East Ellis street. Interment Southview

 

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 29, 1906 – No people of color listed

 

Daily Statistics Atlanta Journal May 30, 1906 and May 31, 1906 – None found 

 

Here’s a picture of one of the Daily Statistics sections taken from the May 29, 1906 issue of the Atlanta Journal.

Atl Jrnl May 29 1906 Daily Stats

What’s in a Name

Recently at my crochet group meeting, the ladies and I got on the conversation about names and how we got ours.  The discussion grew out of one where an expecting mother shared that she had not chosen a name for her new addition, who was due to arrive in three months.  The conversation continued with her sharing that she got her name because of a typo.

That conversation was the inspiration for this post and the discussion at the last genealogy group meeting.  How did we get the name we would carry for the rest of our lives?  Unless, of course you decide to change it or it was changed due to a change in your status, like marriage.

What was interesting about the expecting mother’s story was someone’s mistake has affected her whole life.  It seems so trivial now but that situation was commonplace, especially when most of the people in the country could not read, write or spell.  Isn’t funny how something that seems so trivial now, can affect a person’s life?  Here’s another example – In his pursuit of learning about his family’s history, my husband recalled hearing a story about a grandfather who’s name was just R. T. (yes. That’s not a typo 🙂 )  The story goes that when he arrived to the mill to work, the foreman told him that they already had a R. T. and that he would be known as Robert Thomas.  Funny how a man can know another for all of five minutes and then give him a name.  Just so you know, the relative became known as Artie.  The rest of the tale is a story within itself to be shared later.

Back to names. We all have them (of course) and most of us have a story behind its origins. Some were named for ancestors, while others were named for relatives or friends. Some were charged with the task of carrying on the family’s name while another’s name was derived from the combination of their parent’s name.  The stories of how a person got their name is as varied as the names themselves.

One question for you:  Have you asked the question of where a person’s name came from?  The answer to this question may lead to the breaking down of brick walls…you never know so consider making note of the question and be sure to ask it during your next oral history interview.

So as the members of the Genealogy Group shared their stories about their name and one of relatives, its important to be aware that the name for an individual may have varied from document to document.  One reason could be the person’s use of a nickname, a middle name, or even only their initials (I really dislike this one. It makes researching a tad bit harder!)

So what’s in a name?  The name we have can define us.  It, at times, is all a person has to go on and people can and will judge you on your name.  Like Mercedes?  Or DeBron (think De Bron) Or Bomsheka or even Tamika for that matter.  Some of our names are the creativity of our parent’s or the person given the “honor” of naming us.  Like Demonique.

As genealogists, we know how important names are and how important the spelling of it is.  But do we understand the possible motive behind why a person was name was they were?  We may never know the real answer as to why uncle Leonard was nicknamed Boo-Boo but what we know is he has a nickname that we can make note of and keep in the back of our mind as we look for him in the pages of the past.

So, this post was just a way to ask you to consider a person’s name.  Sometimes, we can miss the tree because we’re focusing on getting through the forest, not realizing that this single tree may be the key to breaking down the wall on the other side of the forest.

All that said to say this:  Names are important and can be great clues to putting your family history puzzle together.  Case in point – I have a stronger case to the identity of my 2nd great grandfather due to my great grandfather naming is daughter after his older sister. Because of this, I was able to confirm the family connection when the names of the family were the same as those listed in the obituary of the namesake when she passed.

Hopefully, this post was encouraging and maybe made you consider something you hadn’t before.  And it wouldn’t be a post without some resources, right?

Here you go.

The Importance of Given Names by Donna Przecha (Genealogy.com)

Common Nicknames – USGenWeb (Thanks DW!)

As always, if you know of other resources, please feel free to share!

Photos: A Few Resources to Consider

Photos show up in some of the weirdest places – in grandmom’s junk drawers in the kitchen, the trunk in the attic or basement and (we all have these) in shoeboxes in the closet!

These items have and will continue to be a link to the past, capturing snapshots of history.  They are used to document historical events or to capture a stolen moment in time.  Anybody else love those candid shots?

Today, in this very technological world we live in, all you need is your cell phone or tablet to capture the moments but what are they doing with the photos after?  Are you leaving them on the device (hopefully not but if you are, hopefully you are backing them up somewhere) or are you doing things the old fashion way, sending them out to be developed?

Either way they are managed, maintained, or saved, they are important resources for your family history research.

I know I just went on a tangent but I promise there is a point to this post.

Recently I was “shopping” in the history section of the library looking for a photo book on Vanishing DeKalb, when I came across a book entitled The Face of Our Past: Images of Black Women from Colonial America to the Present edited by Kathleen Thompson and Hilary Mac Austin.  I picked up the book because I was curious about it.  As I was reading through it, I realized that this could potentially be a resource for genealogists.  I know its a long shot but sometimes we genealogists have to look in strange places to find things, photos included.

Also, Arcadia Publishing has a series of books called the Black America series.  This series features books about various aspects of black life in different parts of the United States. For Georgia researchers, you will be happy to know that there are books on black life for the counties and cities listed.  The link will take you to the books bibliographic page on worldcat.org.

Counties

Cities

Other Topics

In addition to those sources, have you considered the photo collections in archives?  Here are few digital collections:

Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (Library of Congress)  – The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) contains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and, in some cases, other units of the Library of Congress.

Vanishing GeorgiaVanishing Georgia comprises nearly 18,000 photographs. Ranging from daguerreotypes to Kodachrome prints, the images span over 100 years of Georgia history. The broad subject matter of these photographs, shot by both amateurs and professionals, includes, but is not limited to, family and business life, street scenes and architecture, agriculture, school and civic activities, important individuals and events in Georgia history, and landscapes. (Excerpted from Vanishing Georgia site)

Hopefully this information will prove helpful for you.  Happy researching!

 

 

Biblical Genealogies

You know how sometimes you can hear or read something one day and it doesn’t affect you but then when you interact with it again, it has a different affect?

After church on Sunday, a thought was planted by the pastor’s sermon to read/listen to the 4 books of the gospel.  So as I listen to Matthew, the first of the four, I sat listening to the genealogy of Jesus, from Abraham on down to King David, King Solomon, down to Joseph and Mary.  Its amazing to hear this and to now understand what the genealogy means.  I had read/listened to it before but back then I wondered what was the relevance of all of the begots (King James Version).

Why a post on biblical genealogies?  It is done to illustrated the idea that information will be revealed to you in due time or at the time when you are ready to receive it.  This thought also applies to genealogy in the sense that we review documents and at the time, are not sure if its relevant to our research only to find later that it was the missing key.

So I say all this to say, take the time to revisit your documents and reread your stories as they may be hiding the key to making that connection in your family history.

Questions – GGSQ Vol. 48, No. 3 & No. 4

Hi.  In an effort to pique your interest in the Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly (GGSQ), I’m highlighting questions from various issues that I found intriguing and thought would be of interest of my readers (If I may call you that!).

The catch is for you to go to your local historical repository or library or visit the Members Only section of the Georgia Genealogical Society (GGS) Website to view the Quarterly to read Robert Davis’ responses.

If you would like to submit a question, send your questions to “Questions and Answers,” GGSQ, P.O. Box 550247, Atlanta, GA 30355-2747.

Volume 48, Number 3, Fall 2012

  • pg. 270
    Q: Where can I go for those old panoramic maps of American
    cities?
  • pg. 271
    Q: The federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1851 created a commission
    in every county to pay bounties to men who captured and returned
    escaped slaves. Does the National Archives have records of these
    payments?
  • pg. 271
    Q: Did the United States government impose the draft in the Confederacy during the Civil War?
  • pg. 272
    Q: Could a slave be a Freemason?
  • pg. 275
    Q: I heard that the compiled service records for Union African-
    American troops during the Civil War have been scanned onto the
    Internet but I failed to find the record of Austin Dabney of the
    84th United States Colored Troops.

Volume 48, Number 4, Winter 2012

  • pg. 370
    Q: Anything new on Washington County, not to be confused
    with the town of Washington (Wilkes County) and the Washington
    Memorial Library (Macon, Bibb County)?

 

Hopefully this will tempt you to find an issue to view the answers.  Happy hunting!

Georgia Archives’s New Website

The Georgia Archives has gone through many changes in the past few months.

There was the threat of closure – see my previous post, Save the Georgia Archives, for more information.

Then the Archives moved from under the Secretary of State’s Office to the University System of Georgia.

Then the days it was open to the public increased from Friday & Saturday to its current offering of Wednesday – Saturday, 8:30am – 5pm.

And now there is another change – a newly designed website which can be found here – http://www.georgiaarchives.org/.

I was prompted to visit the site after receiving Genealogy News and Tips from the Heritage Room of the Athens-Clarke County Library.  You can add your email address to their mailing list by going here and filling out the form.  Don’t forget to visit the Heritage Room site for more information about events and resources.

When I navigated to the new Archives website, I was immediately impressed by the clean look of the site and how easy it was to read the information contained on it.  It looks like they put all of the pertinent information front and center, which is great because you don’t have to go hunting for the important links like the Virtual Vault, the Finding Aids, and the Book Catalog (GIL).

I looked around the site and found a few sections that might be of interest to genealogists.

From the home page, I clicked on the link for Historical Organizations Directory and found that I could search for organizations by County, Organization Name, Type of Organization, City, and Keywords.  As a test, I typed in African American just to see what would come up and several organizations and institutions were included in the results, including the Beach Institute, the Morgan County African American Museum, and the Tubman African American Museum.

Under the Research tab, there’s a page entitled Policies That Affect the Public. On this page is a link, Donate Materials.  Here you can find information about what items the Archives will accept, including up to 25 pages of material per family name per contribution could be accepted for the Family History Vertical File.  If you are interested in sharing with the Archives some of the information you have gathered about your family, this looks like a great opportunity for you.  Hopefully you will consider it.

Also, under the Research tab, is the Research Help section which features Online Research Guides on various topics, some of which are listed below.  The Guides are not listed in alphabetical order on the site so you may have to scroll a bit to find some.  Also, some documents are PDFs and are denoted with the Adobe PDF icon.

I don’t know about you but I am definitely going to visit the site often.  Kudos to the Archives web team for providing users with a very user friendly and informative site! I hope you will go and visit it often!

Webinars: More Five Minute Finds

Here are a few more Five Minute Finds:

  • Nosy About the Neighbors – Learn about your ancestor’s neighbors to learn more about them.  This view also includes a link to the spreadsheet demonstrated in the video.

 

Webinars: Ancestry’s Five Minute Finds

We’re all very busy and for some of us, that means that we have very little time to devote to our genealogy research.  That statement describes me to a T because between work, crochet, indexing, home, family and soon school, finding time to do research can be very challenging.

What I have tried to do to combat this is to watch a webinar or web based seminar on various genealogy related topics.  And the best place to find them all in one place is…you guessed it YouTube!

Youtube is a clearing house of videos for instruction and entertainment.  It has something for everyone and a video on nearly every topic under the sun.  Don’t believe me? Just go to the site and type in something your curious about and see what results are returned.

If you have a Google account, i.e. gmail, etc., you have access to your own personal YouTube since its owned by Google.  When you log into your Google account, you can go to YouTube and start watching videos and your account will keep a history of the videos you have watched.  On one hand, this can be very helpful and on the other, a bit scary but that’s the age we live in now.

So back to the webinars.  The big players in the Genealogy world and even the small players have channels in YouTube. These channels, very similar to the channels on TV, provides their viewers access to the content they have created.  For instance, Ancestry.com has a channel that contains videos/webinars that teach people how to use its resources and provides tips to help you with your research.

One of my favorite Ancestry.com series is Five Minute Finds.  Who doesn’t have five minutes to learn a tip or two to help with your research pursuits?  I do.  If you have a smart phone, a tablet, or break at work, I’m sure you can find five minutes to learn a tip to help you with your genealogy research.

With that said, here are a few video’s that I’ve found to be helpful.  And these may make a repeat performance in a later post.

Five Minute Finds:

  • Wife Hunting – Tip on finding the Wife prior to her marriage in the census.
  • Find the Parents (Five Minute Fridays) – Shares quick tips for finding the parents of your ancestor.

So there are five videos to get you started.  If you want to find more, go to the Ancestry.com channel and search for Five Minute Finds or from the main YouTube page, type Five Minute Finds Ancestry.com in the search box.

Good luck and Enjoy!