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Genealogy Gazette

Volume 6, Number 1
Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369
January 1, 2014

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Author's Notes

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to go back and review all your genealogy notes. Sometimes in reviewing your notes, you will find a connection that you didn't see before. Reviewing will help you remember what you have learned and where you need to focus your efforts in the new year. Happy New Year!

As always, we love hearing your stories after each newsletter. Please email me at jimd@mountainpress.com if you have any comments or questions.

Thank you,
James L. Douthat
Mountain Press

 

What's Next?

 

As we start a New Year, it is time to think about what is next in our genealogy search. For many of us the snow, rain and fog sets in daily and we are “house bound” at least in our minds. I personally just don’t want to get out in all of that stuff and track down parts of my family tree. Then it hits me, “I have so many brick walls!” Don’t we all!! What do we do with it all?

At this time of the year, I just sit back and review all my notes. I even pull out all of those scraps of paper, backs of envelopes where I have jotted down a date or a name and even those index cards with notes on them. It is time to look over them and do something with them. Please don’t leave these to someone else to sort them out.

Several year ago, I was an executor of a friend’s estate who had been researching for over seventy-five years. Delivered to my home were two twenty foot box trucks filled with all of her stuff from the nursing home. Inside these materials were a number of boxes of scraps of paper she had hoarded over the years - a name on one - a date on another or a note on a cemetery plot. Nothing was connected or referenced, just a scrap of paper. After several days of sorting these and getting nowhere, I just sent them all to recycle. There was nothing more I could do with them. Such a shame, all those years and efforts down the drain. Some sort of organization could have saved all her genealogy knowledge.

During this time of the year, take the time to sort through your notes. You might just find one of those missing links you needed or the direction that you need to go with your research. I always go back on my own family and review all of the information that I have collect through the years. Even if they do not all fit anywhere after fifty years or more, I still hang on to them - “Some day!!!” I keep saying.

In doing all of this there are a few points of good research that you still have to keep in mind. Never forget the need to be accurate. Each one of these tidbits came from somewhere. Do you remember where you got it? If not, remember that you still have to verify the information and where it came from. We can never pull information out of thin air and call it correct without some sort of reference. Not all Smiths are related to all other Smiths. I became aware of this in my early beginnings when I discovered three different Robert Douthats in Augusta County Virginia at the same time in the late eighteenth century. Each one came from a totally different background. Now I know that maybe back in Europe they might have a connection, but we cannot prove it even down to today. It took years to separate them completely, but they and their off spring were not a part of our clan.

The major source of our accuracy begins with the original material. I know that we do not always have access to those records, but when we can view them, do it. We all have to understand that even the original records can be questioned, but at least we are aware of those that are correct and those that are not. I was helping a friend several years ago to learn more about his family. I told him on the way to the court house that we would look for various spellings of the name. He said that the name is spelled one way and only one way. I certainly did not argue with him at the moment. At the court house, we found a deed of his Grandfather’s and he knew the property and the names and agreed that this was his Grandfather’s deed. I hated to do it, but then I pointed out to him that the clerk had spelled his Grandfather’s name three different ways in that one single document.

We all are responsible for the work we are doing with accuracy and references, but there is still just a little more that has to be done. We have to educate ourselves to the time and place that our ancestors lived. They did not all live to the 21st century, but most lived in centuries past. Where were they? What was the living conditions at the time? What was going on in the world around them during this time period? How much did a loaf of bread cost? This may sound silly, but there were many centuries when bread had to be made and bought. You need to study old maps, old newspapers, old histories and anything else that gives you a clue to the time in which your ancestors lived. Immerse yourself in their lives and you will discover many sides of them in a very real way.

Take time this winter to fully understand what you have on hand and where you are going in the future.

Happy Hunting!!!

 


 

New Books and CDs

 

 

McKenzie's Fighting Fifth - CD
Includes five volumes detailing the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry Regiment of the Confederate States of America. It is over 1,200 pages of information for this Regiment.

 

Special Presidential Pardons - CD
Includes over 15,000 Confederate soldiers that had to ask the President for general amnesty since they were excluded after the end of Civil War.

 

Early Georgia Records - CD
Includes 1840 Georgia Census Index and the early Colonial Georgia Marriages from 1760-1810.

 

Van Buren County, TN Marriages Volume A

 

Roster of War of 1812 - West Virginia

 


If you have any questions or suggestions for future editions, please email us at jimd@mountainpress.com.