Category Archives: Organization

Cleaning Up The Alphabet – Lessons Learned

In December, I started a project to clean up my genealogy database. I chose to look at each person in my database alphabetically and search for missing citations as well as missing records. I made the goal to look at 5 ancestors each day, analyzing what I had and find new information. I was amazed at how many new documents I was able to find, how many photos of tombstones I found and how many missing surnames were within my database.

As the project comes to a close, I’d like to share a few things that I learned:

  • Organizing alphabetically was the right approach for me. I found that I really wanted to get through my main surnames quickly and didn’t spend enough time analyzing everything I had on each person. On the other hand, I spent more time tracking down the missing information about people who had married into my family. Something about the disconnect for everyone else let me focus on the individual and not rush.
  • Sorting through every person gets very confused. I would find people with one of my surnames in books about counties far, far away from where they lived. Looking at everyone made me forget who I was actually seeking. Next time (maybe in a few years) I think I will separate the project into my grandparents or great-grandparents. Then I will be able to focus on the places more than the names.
  • It was a great way to start the day. I knew that every day I needed to look at 5 ancestors. Many days I did more depending on the time frame and how much information I could reasonably expect to find on people. Of course some days I struggled to get it done when I was fortunate enough to hit a gold mine of information. And I didn’t stress when I didn’t have time for my 5 ancestors every so often. But it got me into the habit of doing something small with my genealogy each day (AKA more projects coming).

So what’s next? I was going to take a break, but I found that I like doing something each day. So here are my future projects.

  • Cleaning up place names in my database. I’m really bad about making sure that I have the right county on a certain date in history before I enter it into my database. This is especially true of my colonial New England lines. Probably because I’m not as invested in the research on those families and have used family histories to fill in those lines. So I ran County Check in Roots Magic 5 and am fixing a page of errors a day (about a dozen).
  • 1940 Census. I’m going to wait for the 1940 census to be completely indexed and then go back through my tree alphabetically and (hopefully) find everyone.
  • Husband’s tree. When I started this project, I planned to start organizing my husband’s tree when I finished mine. But I’m going to wait until the 1940 census is indexed before I start his tree. That way I don’t have to go back through it later.

What are you doing to clean up your genealogy database?

Cleaning Up The Letter Z

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

The letter Z left me without any new discoveries. Which is fine since I am still working on all the discoveries when I went through the W surnames.

The alphabet organization is done! So glad that I did this and I plan to do at least one wrap up next week.

Cleaning Up The Letter Y

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

The letter Y gave me no problems. It helps to have only 4 people with a Y surname in your database. I did delete one of them though. I had added a father to Mary Margaret Young based on a cousin’s research. But since it didn’t have any sources, I deleted him.
One more letter to go!

Cleaning Up The Letter W

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

So I thought that the W surnames in my database would be a breeze. For the most part, these people married someone earlier in the alphabet and I had already looked for additional information about them. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It started off by finding a few deaths and marriages for the Warren women in my tree since I had neglected to search for them under their married names in the Massachusetts and Connecticut published vital records.

Then I got to Eleazer Washburn, son of my fifth great grandparents Eleazer Washburn and Rachel Paulk. One of those shaky leaves appeared and I found images of the Springfield, Massachusetts vital records on Ancestry.com. This led to finding the birth records of Eleazer and his brother Roswell along with the marriage of their parents, Eleazer and Rachel. Now that I had a new record set, I searched for more Washburns (didn’t find any), but I found what I presumed to be the Paulk family. Some internet searches on the Paulk family led me to two journal articles detailing the family of Rachel’s mother back to Massachusetts in 1666. I still need to analyze the article and add it to my database.


Then started reviewing the information I had for Harriet Washburn. A family history had told me that she was the daughter of Eleazer and Rachel, born after the migrated to Ohio. Another shaky leaf lead me to census records after her marriage to William Flick/Fleak. Analyzing the tally marks on the 1820 and 1830 census for Eleazer, I realized that she didn’t fit into the family. Some research into the older woman living with her in 1850 showed that she was actually Eleazer’s niece and the daughter of James Washburn. A few searches later and I had found another article detailing the family back 2 generations and leading to another article about the Mayflower. I still need to deal with all of that information.

 
I finally make it through the Washburn family, finding the marriage of Flora Washburn to James Russell on 21 October 1891 in Ross County, Ohio and following them to Lewis County, Washington where she died in 1930.
 
The next find came when I started reviewing the Weiss family in Heimbach, Germany. I realized that I had only found my direct line in the German indexes on FamilySearch. And even those I hadn’t tried very hard to get back another generation. So I found the Weiss family and its collateral lines in the indexes and will at some point order the microfilm and get the original records. Then I realized that I had probably never done the same thing on the Bank family in Bleichheim, Germany. No wonder I could never find them. They were actually the Von Bank family. So there were some more branches added to the tree.
 
I had also neglected the Westrich family in Bruecken, Germany. They got the same treatment with the same results. But then I got shaky leaves telling me that Jacob Westrich and Anna Margaretha Huber immigrated to Ohio. I still need to do the research on this information, but if it’s true, it means that my immigrant ancestor had both sets of grandparents in America when he crossed the Atlantic.
 
Again, I thought I could sail through the rest of the Ws. But I was wrong again. I found the 1810 and 1820 censuses for Andrew Works. Not sure why I never looked for these before. I also found the probate for his probable father, Joseph, in Owen County, Kentucky. Andrew reportedly died in 1824, but I didn’t find any probate for him. It looks like I’ll be having some more fun in deed records to make sure I have the right guy.
 
And finally I was done with the W surnames. I can’t believe how much I found and it will take me all summer to finished analyzing everything I found. No X names, so just 2 letters left.
 

Cleaning Up The Letter V

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

5 names that have a V surname makes for quick work and unfortunately no finds. But I do have an idea about one of them. We’ll see what the books at ACPL can do for me.

Next up is the letter W. It will take a 2-3 weeks to get through.

Cleaning Up The Letter U

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

 

I love quick letters. The only thing I found with the U surnames in my database (all 8 names) was that I had never recorded the place of birth and place of marriage for Louis Ulsamer. I had the records that told me where he was born and married, but I never filled in that field in my database. 

Look for the letter V cleanup tomorrow.

Letter L

Letter R

Letter S

Cleaning Up The Letter T

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

After a great week at the NGS conference, I was able to finish up the T surnames in my database. Not many names, but I did find one new thing. I found Mary Elizabeth Thompson, widow of Melancthon Eleazar Washburn, living with her married daughter in 1910 in Indianapolis. 

Look for the letter U and V cleanups coming very quickly.

Letter L

Cleaning Up The Letter S

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

 

I didn’t think I would finish the letter S before heading to NGS this week, but somehow I did. The list of S surnames in my database was the longest and it held a few hidden gems.

  • Found Johann Diabold Schilling and wife Maria Kym in the 1850 US census. The census lists Susquehanna Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania as their residence, but I think there was a boundary problem with the census. I have found many of my Limestone Township relatives in the 1850 Susquehanna Township pages.
  • Found a photo of Leslie Merritt Stull on his naturalization papers…that I entered into my genealogy database 2 years ago. Not sure how I missed that one.
  • Found William Stull living in Halton County, Ontario where his wife had received a land patent. Crazy.
  • Found Peter Lampman Stull in California in 1870 and Denver, Colorado in 1880. He’s another one of my Canadians that immigrated.
  • Found John Franklin Swoyer and wife Sarah Ann Eck in records for the Kelchner Funeral Home in Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Now I just need to find a transcription of that cemetery to see if Franklin’s brother was also buried there.

I’m taking a break from cleaning up my genealogy database to spend time learning and hanging out with my friends at the NGS conference. I don’t have many surnames that begin with T, U or V, so I’ll be starting the Ws by then end of the month. Hopefully this cleanup will be done by the end of June.

 

Cleaning Up The Letter R

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

 
After a batch of boring letter cleanups, the letter R was hiding some interesting goodies. 
 
Once again, I had to remember that lost Canadian ancestors might have crossed the border (not just my great grandparents). 
  • Edgar D Rogers lived in Burlington, Buffalo, and Elmira, New York. He was a hat and glove merchant. He died on 18 Oct 1911 in Elmira.
  • Edgar’s obituary led me to his sister, Euretta Rogers Field, in Buffalo, New York. I had her death registration in Lincoln County, Ontario in 1921, but I couldn’t find her in the 1901 and 1911 Canadian censuses. That’s because after he husband’s death, she moved to New York with her 2 daughters. I found them in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, but not the 1920 census. So she probably returned to Ontario in the 1910s.
  • Edgar’s obituary also told me that his sister Elizabeth was unmarried and living in Canada at the time of his death. I found her death on 1 Jul 1913 in Toronto, Ontario. I still can’t find her in the Canadian censuses (or US).
  • Using FamilySearch, I was able to find the death registration of another Rogers sibling. Mary Ann Rogers Miller died in 1878. I went back to Ancestry to find the image and found her mistranscribed at Mitter.

 And if all the Rogers family findings were not enough, I also was able to find the marriage of George Michael Eiswerth and Esther Anna Russell on 1 Oct 1919 in Batavia, Genesse County, New York. I’m not sure why I never looked for George in Genesse County since that was where he registered for the WWI draft. I was then able to find them in the 1920 census. Esther died in 1926 and I lose George until his WWII draft registration back in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

 
Good thing the letter R re-energized my organization because I’m going to need it for all the letter S surnames in my database.
 

Cleaning Up The Letter P

I’ve started a project cleaning up my database. Whenever I finish a letter of the alphabet, I’ll write a blog post to report about what I learned about the surnames that start with that letter.

I finished cleaning up the P surnames in my genealogy database today (although I would have much rather been working on the brick wall that I smashed yesterday. More to come on that.)

I was able to have one new finding. Dwight Washburn married Nancy Paulk in 1833 in Athens County, Ohio. I lost them after the 1850 census when they resided in Lee County, Iowa. But another search for Dwight pulled up his entry in the 1860 mortality schedule for Bourbon County, Kansas. Then I was able to find Nancy and their children and track her to Missouri.

Now on to the letter R (with one less brick wall).