Tuesday, May 13, 2014

NGS 2014~Day 3

 A little bit of sleep....very little...and it was time to head off to the Marriott for my first session of Day 3.
  J. Mark Lowe gave a great lecture on Inheritance Laws and Estate Settlements in the Carolinas. Understanding the records, the purpose behind them and the laws of the time are all something that we need to know and understand to help us with our research.
  He told us to always follow the land. Family groups can be put together by knowing who could inherit. Just because your ancestor didn't inherit, they could be named in the records of those who did, so we need to make sure to search for lands owned by other members of the family and friends as well.
  A good law book was recommended to be able to look up unfamiliar terms as we read through a record. Never skip over a word or term you don't know. It's meaning could shed a whole new light on the document.
  We looked at the North and South Carolina State Archives web sites to see what was available on line for Land Records. Both states had some that were either in digital or transcribed formats. I was happy to be reminded that the SC Land Records are also on FamilySearch.
  Trying out these recommendation will be a priority. Recently, a clue about land possibly owned by one of my ancestors has been discovered! I will follow the land and see what I can find!

 Disputes and Unhappy Differences: Surprises in Land Records by Sharon Tate Moody was my next class.
  Again, I heard about the importance of using land records in my research. This class dealt with the names on the records and the information about the land itself. Family relationships, good or bad, can be discovered. Her examples were very entertaining!
 We went through a Deed and looked at the wording and format. It was helpful to see what to look for and get a definition of typical words that are in a Deed or Grant.
 I was very interested in the information given about the Metes and Bounds system of measuring land. Most of the land owned by my ancestors was measured in this way. The few land records I have are fun to read with their descriptive borders such as oak trees and streams. Makes it a little harder to plot, but it's great to picture these markers.

 I guess I had a records theme going because my third class was Michael Haite's  Of Sound Mind and Body: Using Probate Records in Your Research. 
  Probate records are something that I have used before but Michael's tips were very helpful.
 One of the tips he gave was to look and see if there was a Bond signed. If there was, he said to take special note of the name of the person who signed the Bond. This person was most likely a very important person to the deceased. Signing the bond would make a person legally responsible of the affairs of the estate, that would be in most cases a trusted member of the family or close friend.
Micheal Haite just before the session started
Picture taken with permission
©Cheri Hudson Passey
  One of my favorite part of a probate record is the Inventory List of all the property belonging to the estate. A wonderful source of information for family, friends and the life of an ancestor.
 Michael took us through an Inventory and looked at the various items owned. A pattern formed and we could see what the occupation may have been and also what life style the family had. Friends and family were listed as buyers and as those who owed money to the estate. These would be good clues to get more information about our ancestors. A second Inventory showed a man who basically had nothing but some clothes and a Bible. No furniture was mentioned. This may have been a clue that the man owned no property but was living with someone or renting a room.
 This was a great class. I am going to go through the probate records that I have found, especially the Inventories. I am sure I have missed a clue or two!

 My choice of the Luncheons today was one given by the Association of Professional Genealogists with a talk by Donn Devine entitled, Why I Belong to APG. Since I have only been a member for a few months, I decided this would be a great way to spend my lunch break. After a tasty Chicken Salad, Mr. Devine spoke to us and gave his reasons for joining and maintaining his membership in the Association of Professional Genealogists. The reason he emphasized the most was the fellowship of like minded people. Being affiliated and socializing with others who love the research process was something that he felt was very important and one that he felt he couldn't do without.
 Sitting with me at my table were several wonderful genealogist who discussed with me some plans that I have been formulating and were very helpful and encouraging to me. That is the reason I joined APG. Like Donn Devine, I would like to take opportunities to be a part of groups who help and support my desire to be become a more rounded Genealogist.
 What better way to start the afternoon than listening to Judy Russell present her lecture, The Seanachie: Linking Life and Law Through Storytelling. Anyone who has ever been to one of Judy's classes knows that she is fun and down to earth. Before the class began, she was talking with all of us and answering questions. Research stories and experiences were shared not only from Judy, but she listened to ours as well. If felt as though we were talking to an old friend.
 The lecture began and Judy explained that a Seanachie is the story teller of the tribe. We, as Genealogists and Family Historians are the Seanachie for our tribes.
 We learned that there are 3 important reasons why Genealogists tell stories.
Judy Russell entertaining us before the start of the session
Photo used with permission
©Cheri Hudson Passey
Those reasons are that genealogy is more than "begats", that context matters and that we learn more and faster through stories.
 Judy gave us examples of these reasons through stories dealing with historical court cases.  It worked! At the end of the lecture, we remembered not only the case, but the who, what, when and why.
  Do you know why children are told "Not to take candy from strangers"? Those of us in the class do, and because of the story shared with us of the 1874 case of a kidnapped little boy, we will probably never forget.
 We need to broaden our reading, learn about the situations and stories surrounding out ancestors lives and tell their stories.

 My last class of the day also dealt with family stories. I attended John Phillip Colletta's class Writing a Narrative Family History, Snares and Pitfalls.
  He is the author of Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and it's Aftermath.  This is the story of the murder mystery surrounding one of Mr. Colletta's ancestors in Mississippi.
 After swearing us to secrecy and getting a good laugh out of that, we were shown some of the mistakes he had made when writing the book. Most dealt with context of history. It was explained that when we write about our ancestors lives we need to make sure that we research the time and place and make sure not to add anything to the story unless it is known to be true.
 A couple examples that he gave were, adding a cash register to the description of his ancestor's store when the cash register hadn't been invented yet, and writing about his ancestor watching the Swallows when Swallows hadn't been introduced to the that particular area of Mississippi yet.
 There was also a warning of assuming that just because historically events happened, your ancestor participated. One example was given of thinking that someone had gone through Ellis Island. Everyone knows that immigrants of a certain time period went through Ellis Island, right? Well, not if it turns out that during your ancestors arrival, there had been a fire and people were being processed elsewhere!
  The lecture was very entertaining and really hit home the importance of getting facts correct for the portrayal of the times our ancestors lived in, both historically and in the wording and phrases we use to describe them.

 A 5:15 consult with Maureen Taylor took me to the Exhibit Hall. I wanted to see what Maureen had to say about a few unnamed  pictures that recently were found and given to me. The belief is that they are from my Maternal Grandfather's side of the family and I needed her expertise to come up with time periods for when they were taken. Maureen pulled out her magnifying glass and went to work. In very little time she was able to tell me, by looking at the type of pictures and the things that were worn, hairdo's and other items in the photos, a good estimation of when the pictures were taken. Now, I just need to compare that information with my data base and see if I have enough clues to possibly indemnify who these people are. Thank you Maureen for looking at not three as was really the limit, but four of my unknown pictures! Another blog post about this is sure to follow!

 Another long, rewarding day. I took the opportunity after the sessions were over to meet up with friends from my local Grand Strand Genealogy Club. Their day had been just as enjoyable and we had a great time discussing the things we had learned.

 Then it was off to bed to rest up for Day 4!



  1. What a busy entertaining educational day, Cheri! Thanks so much for sharing your tips and take-away learning. Very helpful. -- I now turn away to my list of must-search-for-land-records~!!

    1. I am so glad that you found this post helpful! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!