20151227_165455The holidays are a (mostly lovely) distraction from my research, writing, etc. but they also lead to so many questions. Are you still doing genealogy? How far back have you gone? Are we really Irish?

Yes, I’m still doing genealogy.  Yes, I’m still working on your part of the family. If I could work on all of them at once I probably would, but I do tend to jump around in the branches. How far back depends on the line. And, yes, the Packers and Sheas are definitely part Irish but with a healthy dose of English and Scottish… you know those Packers came straight from Kent, people—you can’t be all Irish.

But as the dust settles, I find myself reviewing the years’ work and, yes, trying to formulate goals for the new year.  Here on the blog I was relatively quiet but it was a good research year for me. My only real research trip ended up being a big one—my first trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah where I happily immersed myself in British records to deepen my understanding of my Alison family and slave and Reconstruction era Arkansas in hopes of breaking down a few more brick walls surrounding my Bradley County families.  But the release of large digital collections at places like SeekingMichigan.org and Ancestry.com  gave me more than enough to do from home.

Throughout the year I connected with fellow researchers and distant family. I took a number of great classes, and taught a few too. I donated research time for a local Family Center’s annual auction and had a blast working with the winner. I continued to work as a volunteer indexer for one of my societies and “consulting librarian” for another. And I took a little time for crafting to share some of my findings with the family. All and all 2015 was a good year.

So, what will this year bring? Hopefully more of the same with a little more travel. New York and Arkansas are on my radar, though the latter might have to coincide with the next reunions in 2017. Salt Lake is a definite possibility.  We’ll have to see. Regardless, I’m starting the year right with a lot of ideas, leads, and friends and family.

Happy New Year and happy hunting!

Jess

JuneRuss1975There’s nothing quite so moving as the slow salute of an honor guard to a fallen comrade or that final verse of Taps… November has been a month of ups and downs culminating in my Uncle Russ‘s funeral this morning. He was a gifted mechanic, veteran, father, uncle, friend and, from my perspective, utterly devoted to my Aunt June. So, perhaps it’s no surprise…

We’ll miss them both.

 

Happy hunting,

Jess

O0019I forget how interesting it is to look through a newspaper like The Chicago Defender, a current and historic African American newspaper, because it’s not something I have normal access to. I spent most of the first day of a recent WMGS bus trip to Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center, searching Proquest’s African American Historical Newspapers (available for on-site use) for news of Bradley County, Arkansas. The Chicago Defender had fairly regular columns sharing news from Arkansas including a column specifically on Warren. It featured the comings and goings of many of my collateral and direct line families, society news, the occasional obituary, etc. My favorite finds include those related to my Great Aunt Rachel C. (York) Elliott. A few examples include:

Mar 30, 1957

Mrs. Henrietta Moman and Mrs. R. C. [Elliott] motored to Little Rock to visit Mrs. Elliot’s brother, Fred York, who is ill in the University hospital. We hope he gets well soon.

Immediately followed by…

The Usher board sponsored a tea in the home of R. C. Elliott. Union Hill Baptist Church usher board was co-sponsor. It was a great success.

Sep 27, 1958

Mrs. T. R. Alexander and Mrs. R. C. Eliott motored to Little Rock on business last week and reported that the trip was very successful.

Fellow Bradley county researchers, if you’re looking for a little more color to your family stories and haven’t dived into this resource there are entries on Mount Olive and Union Hill families in particular with heavy coverage of the Feaster, Wilfong, Webb, Steppes, Terry, Phillips and related families and I definitely didn’t go through everything available–mostly focusing on Mrs. Mattie M. Burnett’s run as columnist (very) roughly from 1952-1962. There’s definitely earlier runs with different columnists as well.

Happy hunting,

Jess

SheaPatrickNatStLawNY1850p1

New York, County Naturalization Records, 1791-1980, FamilySearch.org

It was a nice moment of synchronicity to go from services for Aunt June into the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Fall Seminar this past weekend featuring Paul Milner who spoke on British Isles Research. Inspired by Uncle Bob’s question, “Am I an O’Shea?” (Short answer: Yes), I spent the Friday night Lock-in at the Archives of Michigan focusing on Michael and Patrick O’Shea (probably related, but definitely brother-in-laws by way of sisters, Amy Alvina Conchessa McUmber and Melissa Teresa McUmber). I didn’t find a lot of new information but I do have a line on naturalization records in Jefferson County, New York that might shed more light on their move to the United States. Many thanks to the Archives staff for hosting us all!

Saturday’s seminar was great as well. I would highly suggest Paul Milner as a speaker. I spent my day in the Michigan Historical Center’s Forum for his presentations: Finding Your English Ancestors, A New Location, Finding your Scottish Ancestors, and Irish Immigrants to North America. The talks were chalk full of information to apply to our Packer, Massy, Alison, and Shea lines. It was a particular treat to realize most of his Scottish examples were from Perthshire, Scotland in the same parishes that the Alison, Inglis, and Maxton families called home.

So, I’ve added to my (never-ending) to do list:

  • Making sure I’ve gone through the available BMD indexes
  • Start using Scotlands People
  • Try to figure out where in Ireland Patrick & Michael O’Shea came from in Ireland
  • Confirm where the Byrnes and Cunninghams came from in Ireland
  • Explore more information about the parts of Limerick, Ireland that the Massy family hails from.

So much searching to do and so little time!

Happy hunting,

Jess

June06When I talk about Henry Massy, it always starts with a request made by my Grandmother and Great Aunt to find his story. And all along the way they were fabulous cheerleaders, attentive in hearing what I uncovered and appreciative of the time and efforts and I was honored to be able to give them back some of the story lost to them. My Great Aunt died this past weekend. She was one of the nicest people you could meet, stubbornly independent, and a beautiful soul.

Jess

Family History Month has turned out to be an eventful and fun one for me. I never followed up on my experiences at Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s Got Ancestors?! program but it was yet another success for WMGS with great presentations by D. Joshua Taylor. I’d recommend any of his talks but the Friday night presentation “Genealogy in Prime Time,” while giving a lot of fun and interesting information about Josh’s work on Who Do You think You Are? and Genealogy Roadshow, really resonated with me when it came to the message of providing the story—that’s what gets people hooked on, not the long lists of names and dates. Saturday’s presentations were equally informative and entertaining. As an Archivist I wanted to get up and cheer when Josh presented on researching in archives. And in his presentation, “Census, Vital Records and Locality Searching,” I was reminded that I haven’t spent nearly enough time exploring the census non-population schedules.

Additionally, I had a lot of fun at Family Tree Talk at Capital Area District Libraries South Lansing Branch. The group had great questions and I’m really hoping to visit again as more of a participant.  They meet on the third Saturday of the month at 2 pm.

I also had a great experience presenting for the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society last night. They normally meet on the fourth Wednesdays, February-June and September-November (with November’s date bumped earlier to stay away from the Thanksgiving holiday).  Their next meeting will be November 18th featuring a speaker on Scottish Ancestry.

I have also learned from another project that I really wish I had French Canadian Catholic ancestry! What beautifully detailed records in the Drouin Collection! In baptismal record alone you get: Name, parents name with mother’s maiden name, father’s job, birth date, baptism, godparents, godfather’s occupation, and sometimes explanations of how they are related to the child. Combine that and the marriage records and if you’re careful (and the handwriting is legible) you actually may be able to go back in a straight line on your ancestors.

SampleDrouinThe sample document is a baptismal records for Rose Anna Herminise Plamondon, naming her the legitimate child of Louis Plamondon, shoemaker, and Adelina Lapierre of St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Montréal, Quebec Canada. It also names her godparents as Jean Baptiste and Rose Anna Plamondon, brother and sister of the infant.

Happy hunting,

Jess

It’s Family History Month and I’m trying to fit in all sorts of fun to celebrate. Including an annual trek to Grand Rapids for Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s Got Ancestors! Seminar (tonight and tomorrow)—this year featuring D. Joshua Taylor (more about that later), a couple of talks, and whole lot of research.  This post is mostly me checking in with you all and highlighting some of the things I am planning and looking forward to.

TreeTalkOct2015I have a couple of presentations I’m prepping for in the Lansing area this month:

  • I’ll be speaking at Tree Talk, CADL South Lansing’s new monthly genealogy discussion group on October 17th at 2 pm, about my experiences with DNA testing for genealogy research. Future topics for the group include: Census Quirks & Hidden Surprises on Nov 21st and Genealogy Toys for Your Holidays on Dec 19th.
  • PitfallsI’ll also be presenting, “Pitfalls, Mistakes, and Strokes of Insight”—in which I expose some of my biggest research mistakes in the hopes that you won’t have to make them too—for the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society on Wednesday, October 28th at 7 pm, for their monthly meeting at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lansing.

I’m also focusing pretty solidly on my Bradley County, Arkansas families while waiting for the arrival of a new photo book from MacArthur and Princella Davis (Thanks for the heads up, Kelly!!!). I’m also taking the time to go back through the first book Afro American’s of Bradley County Arkansas 1800-1930, simply because I’ve made so much progress on these lines—not so much backwards in time, but unraveling the various connections throughout the community—that I think that more will make sense this time around.  Additionally, I had a lovely conversation with Mr. Davis after I ordered my book, who wanted to figure out how I fit into the family—he is my 3rd cousin once removed by way of Sam Trotter’s brother Matt and Mrs. Davis is the grand-niece of the husband of my 2nd great-aunt Cora Trotter Steppes.

I have a new fun project that I might be able to talk about later, plus at CADL Downtown Lansing we’re plotting and planning for our National Genealogy Day Family History Open House in March! Oh, and yes, I’m also eyeing a list of roadtrips and trying to decide how many are feasible in the next year. There’s so much I want to do!

Happy hunting,

Jess

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