Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Paperless" Step 1: Print to PDF

Print to PDF for Genealogists
Yesterday Dick Eastman published an interesting article about going paperless, or more specifically, "paperlite." If you'd love to reduce the paper in your house but aren't sure where to get started I'd really recommend it. It talks about reducing paper in your home, not just in your genealogy life. "Going Nearly Paperless - How to Get Started" is available on the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (EOGN) website.

There are several links in Eastman's article including one to a post on How to Geek and this was what I was interested in sharing, specifically. There are a number of ways to prevent paper from arriving at your home and the EOGN article covers many of the first steps to take. Sometimes we're causing our own problem, though. There are times when you need to "print" something for your records. The paperless solution? "Print to PDF."
I have been using this solution for years but I know many people have problems figuring out how to do this. It is actually extremely simple and may already be set-up on your computer. If it isn't, you can get free software to allow you to print to PDF.
And if you're wondering, yes, all you have to do is "print" the document but instead of selecting your paper printer, you choose the PDF printer. How to Geek has a post about installing a PDF printer on a Windows computer with several options presented. This isn't a direct link in the EOGN post but a link from one of those links.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bounty Land Warrant Applications: Why Bother?

Bounty Land Warrant Applications: Why Bother?
This post is for those of you who know bounty land warrant (BLW) applications exist and probably even know you should try and get a copy.
If you don't know what bounty land is you can learn more by simply googling the topic. [If you want a handy reference and more info, try Christine Rose's book Military Bounty Land 1776-1855. This is my favorite "refresher" every time I need to order or identify bounty land for a time period I haven't worked in for a while. Note: This is an affiliate link.] This post is specifically about federal bounty land, there is also state bounty land.
Unfortunately, most bounty land is "unindexed" making it much more difficult to identify than pensions. As a complication, you must know the ancestor's name and service for the unindexed land to be found by the National Archives (NARA) search staff and sometimes slight variations in spelling may result in the request being returned as "not found" even though it exists. Having the BLW number (or application no. in the case of rejected applications) helps.
NARA is creating an index to the unindexed BLW applications but it currently covers surnames starting with A through part of K but is only available on a single computer in the microfilm reading room at NARA I in Washington, D.C. [Update: This index is now available at Fold3. It is "Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Index." It covers A to Ki surnames as of the end of December 2015 and surnames listed as "[Blank]." Here's the catch, everyone is listed as serving in 1812. However, these are volunteers from all eligible wars. Soldiers from 1812 were NOT explicitly picked out for the Fold3 index so don't be confused. You can not verify the war from this index. You can use the BLM GLO website to find an image of the patent which should list the correct service details which you will need to request the file.] The index also leaves a lot to be desired if you want to use it to identify multiple applications (either all variations of a surname or all applications for a unit, which is currently impossible). In other words, when it comes to BLW applications many genealogist ask "why bother?" when it is so difficult to identify.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Platting Deeds

Did you see yesterday's post on Upfront with NGS? "Mapping Deeds -- some options for family historians!" caught my eye. I love using maps in genealogy. I'm lucky (for once) because my family mainly lived in parts of Georgia where land was distributed by land lottery. This results in nice square lots (mostly) that are even easier to map or plat than township/range. If you have Georgia ancestors buying or selling land lottery land, you should become familiar with the available online land lottery maps as they simplify platting, enormously. You can see an example of where I identified ancestors land with Google Earth in this post from my personal blog.  That doesn't really help the rest of you working anywhere else!
I was familiar with DeedMapper software although I had not used it. It's low on my list of things to learn given how much I work in Georgia deeds. However, I've started on a project in Pendleton District, South Carolina land which of course involves metes and bounds. This project isn't exactly standard either as the records already show a drawing of the plot, I just need to get them all onto a map!
Yesterday I took a few minutes to try out one of the tools linked in the Upfront with NGS post. The Deed Platter from GenealogyTools.net is free and simple to use. Since I already had a drawing this was a good test to see if the results would match. Below are the original and the results.
Nice match. There are two measurements where the number is a little unclear and I could never get the plat to close perfectly but this was an easy way to test out different possibilities for those hard to read numbers. Also, this is just the image result from the Deed Platter. A full page is generated where you can enter notes from the deed you're using as well as the citation. I saved my result to Evernote using Evernote's Web Clipper which worked out great and is one way to have searchable results. This would be one way to manage a project involving multiple plats and the neighbors and associates represented in those deeds.
This tool doesn't help place the plat on a map but it is free. I will hopefully be trying out the software I wasn't familiar with from the Upfront with NGS post, Metes and Bounds.

  1. Pendleton District, South Carolina Commissioner of Locations, Plat Book 3, 1809-1820, p. 114, John Shi[cut-off] (8 January 1814), relapsed to William Adair (25 November 1814), Anderson County Courthouse; FHL film no. 22,853, item 4, Salt Lake City.

Monday, October 7, 2013

From My Archive: A Few Automated Tasks in Word Every Genealogist Should Know

If you use MS Word for genealogy in any form here are few automated tasks you should learn. See the start of this post is you're wondering why this is "From My Archive."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

From My Archives: Digital Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

Before J.P. Dondero Genealogy had it's own blog I did a fair amount of posting on my personal blog "Jennifer's Genealogy (a)Musings." Some posts are related to my personal research but some are similar to this blog. Below is a post from 2010 I think provides some (still) relevant information.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

City Directories: Date Unclear?

City directories are great as way to track a family between census records. Sometimes they can be used to narrow a time frame for events such as death or even marriages or moves. I've often wondered when a city directory was compiled, though. Here's one way to find a clue.

This snippet is from the Providence, Rhode Island newspaper of 9 April 1894.1 At least in this case, the 1894 information should reflect the residents in the early part of 1894.

1"Providence Directory, 1894," The News (Providence, Rhode Island), 9 April 1894, p. 1, col. 3; digital images, Google News (http://news.google.com : accessed 10 September 2013).

Friday, July 19, 2013

You never know what you'll find

I've just returned from a marathon of (digitally) copying National Archives (NARA) records in downtown D.C. For once I had time to pull a few records for myself and wanted to share an unusual  (I found it amusing) inclusion in an Indian Wars pension.

(click to enlarge)
To save space I've only shown the statement of Lemuel Tankersly accusing Thomas Highins of killing his dog.1 Below the statement is a warrant for Thomas's arrest. What does this have to do with Jacob's service? Nothing. Here's what happened.
Jacob Deal served with my ancestor in Price's Co., Georgia Volunteers in 1838 during the Cherokee Removal. You may be more familiar with this event as the Trail of Tears. Jacob (and his fellow soldiers) became eligible for bounty land in the 1850s but weren't eligible for pensions until the 1890s. Jacob applied for both but that apparently caused a problem. (FYI, getting the bounty land warrant application is a project for another day, today only yielded the pension.)
In his pension file, Jacob has to address the issue of "Jacob Dale" receiving bounty land for the service in Price's Company. The bounty land warrant application will hopefully reveal more but Jacob was a Justice of the Peace so he submitted the above document as proof of his signature (visible in the image above but also following the warrant). The warrant was accompanied by the following affidavit.
If this image is too small to read on your monitor, Jacob claims he was a "bad scribe" often having others sign for him. This is his explanation for the name discrepancy. He starts with a statement I wish I had for my ancestors, though, "I with Father [sic] came to Habersham county Georgia when about 15 years old..."2
You never know what you'll find in pension files.

1 Warrant on Thomas Highins, Gilmer County, Georgia, issued by Jacob Deal, 2 April 1848, in Sarah Deal widow's pension application no. WA 7095, rejected, service of Jacob Deal (Price's Co. Georgia Vols., Cherokee War), survivor's application no. SO 2058, certificate no. SC 2797, Indian Wars Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
2 General Affidavit by Jacob Deal explaining 1848 Gilmer County warrant's inclusion, 12 January 1893, in ibid.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Using an iPad for Genealogy Conference Note Taking - video

I attended the Fairfax Genealogical Society Annual Spring Conference a couple of weekends ago and attended a lecture by DearMYRTLE and Carrie Keele about using your iPad for genealogy. The lecture was jam packed full of great apps but there was just a brief mention of my favorite note taking app (for handwritten notes), Notability. I've created a short video that highlights just the most basic features that I think make it fantastic for note taking at a genealogy conference.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What are you talking about? DAR-isms for genealogists

Living in the metro Washington, D.C. area can sometimes feel like living in a foreign country when government employees start talking shop. Jargon is always an issue with specialized jobs and DAR employees sometimes have their own language, as well. Following are some of the most basic terms used in the genealogy department at DAR headquarters. Individual chapters or state societies may use slightly different terms and these terms may or may not be used in other lineage societies.

  • Patriot ancestor - this is the ancestor who performed service during the American Revolution. In other words, this is the ancestor your DAR lineage will end with. It makes no difference what type of service your ancestor performed, they are your patriot.
  • Established patriot - if someone joined the DAR on a patriot ancestor they are "established." This does not mean you are guaranteed to be able to join the DAR on any established patriot. Problems may have been discovered with the service or lineage since someone joined on that patriot. What is important is that the DAR has some information on this person. That information may indicate the person wasn't a patriot but a loyalist but the DAR has a starting point. If you want to join the DAR you should determine if your identified ancestor is established. If they are, you need to know if you don't need to do as much work because the DAR already has the information (use the time you saved to find new information!). You may also need to address a problem or correct information.
  • New ancestor - this term really means "new patriot ancestor" as it is the opposite of established patriot. This means no one has ever joined the DAR on this patriot ancestor and you are responsible for providing all of the required information about their service as well as all the lineage information. Occasionally established patriots have a "notice" in the database saying they should be treated like a new ancestor. This means someone joined on them so long ago they weren't required to provide very much information. You should do what the note says, treat them as a new ancestor.
  • Closed line - this term only applies to established patriots. It means a problem was found with a previously approved patriot or lineage - it could be one, or the other, or both. There are a lot of little issues that can be discussed with closed lines because it is a general term. I can't even think of one universal statement to make about closed lines. Since they can apply to just one lineage, you may not descend from the line with the problem. It is possible to "open" a closed line by correcting the problem but some problems can't be solved. For example, George Washington had no biological children. Clearly there is no problem with his service but this is an unsolvable lineage problem. You can see his closed line in the database here.
  • Code - before the DAR patriot database was made public through the Internet there were a series of in-house codes used to indicate the problem. These codes have been written out in the database where it says "notice." There is no such thing as a problem simply referred to as a "code;" codes are by definition an abbreviation for the problem. Most likely you will not come across this term but if someone tells you there is a code on a line, more details are available.
My video series "Joining the DAR for Genealogists" will address some of the other DAR-isms in future videos but these are the most basic terms.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

Follow-up: Why You Can't Find Your Person Online

Can't Find Your Ancestor Online? Tips for Unindex Records
The article I mentioned in my post last week ("5 Reasons Why You Can't Find Your Person Online" by Michael J. Leclerc) provides five great reasons you might not have found your person in online records. I'd like to add a number six and give you a few suggestions to learn more about overcoming this reason.

"Number 6" the records aren't indexed.

If you know much about online records (genealogical or not) you may easily understand the difference indicated by the terms "online records" and "online databases." If you don't perceive any difference in those terms, learning the difference may help you perform better online research.
Most genealogical records were created offline (obviously). When they are put online there are two main formats, images or databases. The exceptions are usually transcribed or abstracted records posted by individuals on their own websites (including blogs) or on websites like US GenWeb Archives. In some cases, these are still databases but the important thing for this discussion is understanding an image versus information typed online.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Evaluating Evidence

An important tool every genealogist needs is the ability to evaluate the evidence they find. Sometimes the records give you a hint that everything may not be correct.

FamilySearch indexed the "name" of the three year old as "Name not recollected by Father" which appears to be correct although Ancestry.com has indexed the third word as "u cothche." The "name" of the one year old is the same.
I wonder what else he couldn't recollect that day?

11860 U.S. census, Covington County, Alabama, population schedule, [blank], p. 20, dwelling/family 129, John Cooper household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 January 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 7.