Sunday, July 30, 2017

Jesse Joe's Letter

This week, I thought I would go back to revisit my first post and highlight the relationship between my grandparents. A few years ago, I was at my grandmother's house looking for writing samples to add to my family tree. I love seeing how different people write, and seeing signatures in particular. My grandmother showed me recipe cards her mother had written. She showed me letters between my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. Then, she gave me a letter my grandfather had written her while he was away on duty for the Coast Guard.

He started writing on 13th of July 1987, and he writes a little bit at a time so that it ends 23 July 1987. He is traveling across the Atlantic Ocean during the trip headed towards Thule, Greenland (which he writes as Tule Greendland.) All spelling is as he wrote it, except that he writes in mostly all capital letters, and I capitalized as I saw necessary instead.
Photograph of letter and envelope, taken 2017
It was written on standard yellow notepaper. (I say "standard" because I always remember it being at the house growing up, but it is larger than your typical 8.5"x11" paper. It's even longer than A4 paper.) It is written in pencil (except for the LOVE YOU DEAN at the top of the first page which is written in a pen or marker), and it's four pages single-sided.

13 July 87 
Hey Dean, 
Well today is Monday evening, just a few lines to let you know how things are going. We are off New York about hundred miles or so, it has cool off nice now--when we departed Norfolk it was really hot. In my forward engine-room it was 127*F--the sea's have be flat, and a little foggy. Hope your operation will go ok for you. So far the engines are running fine. it was good to hear your voice Sat. befor we departed. How is David do-ing now? Throught I write you a little each day if I have time, and let you know what going on. Well untill later, miss you. 
It's now Thu. 16th. All this week it been really foggey. This morning is the first time it's been clear no fog. We are about 1 1/2 days behine our schedule due to operating slow in fog. Other than the fog the weather and sea's have been good. The temp is cooling off 50 and 60*F now. Well today you go to the doctor, I hope and pray everything will go well for you. Miss you alot Dean, I be so glad when you and I retire so we can be together and do all the thing we want to do together. How is the house floor support job coming along? So far all the engines and propulsion system's are operating good, no real problem's. I am go-ing to try to loose some weight this patrol if I can. I would sure like to get down to about 180 lbs. instead of 195 to 200 lbs. range. Sure wish I were back home, so I could do all the things I want to do. But I just have to wait. Well Dean, I write you more later on. Miss you and love you. 
Well, it's Saterday now, this morning the first iceberg was slicated. The sea's are picking up and it is raining. We got about 1,200 miles of open water untill we get to greed-land. My engines are operating good. Well that about all that is happening out hear. I hope and pray this letter will fine you doing ok. Sure wish I was back home instead of being out hear. There so much I want to do around the house, and be with you. I miss you alot's. As Brittany spend the night with you in our big bed? I bet she will be walking when I get back in Sept. We should be back sometime the first week of Sept. and are scheduled to go yard's for three month's Oct. and should be finish in the yards befor X-mas. Don't know where the yards will be, or what the ship will do after the yard's. Boy sure hope I can get the Gentian out of Ft. Macon Mar. 89. That would wipe my 30 years up. I sure going start putting the wheels in motion to get the Gential after the Northwind, I should be able to get it. How is David doing? I hope he got over his cold. Sure glad he got that state road job. Well Dean, don't know what all to say at this time, other than I love you and miss you. I write you tomorrow on Sunday. 
Hey Dean, it's Sunday evening, we are back operating in the fog real slow, it's raining out and it's getting colder in the 30's now and the rain is turning to ice on the deck's. Nice and warm in the engine-rooms. We are now schedule to get to Tule, next Sunday the 26th. There are alreadly two icebreaker up there from Canada. Really don't know why we are still going. If the Coast Guard alreadly got two icebreaker, other than to show the U.S. flag and say the North-wind made it to Tule Greedland. I hope it's asn't been too hot, like it was befor we departed on patrol. If I could send you some of this cold wether I would. Don't know what all to write about, other than to let you know I am thinking about you, and wish I was there with you. Sure do miss you a lots. I bet you have been staying busy around the house, cutting class, going to Jacksonville seeing my mama, taking your mama shoping, going to work in Morehead, ect. Try and take it easy some, and maybe take a weekend off and go see Frank and Fay, you need to get away some. Well Dean I close for now and write you more later on the week before we get to Tule, so you have a long letter from me. Miss you. 
Hello again, it's now Wednesday 22nd. We are operating real slow due to heave for and ice berg's. The temp. is in 30's & 40's. It now staying daylight almost 24 hrs aday. I been busy standing underway watches and doing paper work. The time seems to be going by petty fast. I know I be glad to get back home and see you. Then I got to drive my new truck some, sure have nice truck when I get that body put on. I miss you alots and think about us alots. Dean I love you. Well almost at end of this page, so I say buy for now. Write you a little more later. 
Hello again it's Tue 23th, we are schedule to get to Tule tomorrow evening or Saturday morning, and turn right around and escort a ship back out to sea. Then back to Tule and do it again. Hope we get mail call each time in Tule. Well Death as it now stand's will should be back in Wilmington Labor Day weekend sometime. But it don't look like we will have bery much time in our homeport, for we are schedule to be in the yard by 21st of Sept. and we won't know where the yard period will be untill first part of Sept. What little time we do have in our homeport should be maximum liberty time off. I talked to the EO today about taking 3 wk's off in October during the yard period, for I wanted to build another building. He said it should not be any problem taking leave in the yard's. So maybe Jr. and I can get started and have the foundation all done before the ship depart's for the yard's. Dean I sure will be glad when I can retire and stay home, and then when we want to go somewhere, we can do it together. Only 3 1/2 more year's. You think we can make it untill then? Looking forward of getting to Tule for mail call, and sending this letter. I hope everyone is doing ok, and thing's are going good for you. I know you have a lot on you. Dean take care of your-self, for I don't want anything to happen to you. Well Dean I close this letter for it's 4 pages long. And start another letter. Write when you have time, for as always getting mail from you makes my day brighter. 
Love always

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Vaclav Hruby

I'm back! School is over, and I've finally had the time to work on genealogy again, so here I am!

We'll start back again with a married-in uncle on my mom's side of the family: Vaclav Hruby.

Vaclav Hruby was born 2 March 1851 in Bohemia to John Hruby and Anna Kostner. According to the 1900 and 1910 censuses, Vaclav immigrated in 1870. I have yet to find him listed on a passenger list this early, but I'm still searching.

Vaclav married Marie Rybar (as you know, many different spellings and variations for this last name) on 19 February 1882 in Cook County, Illinois. Marie was born 12 May 1863 in Pilsen, in what is now the Czech Republic. According to the 1910 census, Marie immigrated in 1880. (Same as Vaclav, no luck on finding her on a passenger list this early yet, but I have found a few of her siblings in 1880. She may have just come on a different boat.) Together, they had at least eleven children:
  • Marie Hruby, born May 1876
  • Anna Hruby, born March 1880
  • Emily M Hruby, born 17 December 1882
  • Lizzie M Hruby, born 24 November 1884
  • Joseph Hruby, born June 1887
  • Jennie Hruby, born 8 March 1889
  • Frank Joseph Hruby, born 8 February 1891
  • Anezka Hruby, born about 1891
  • Vaclav Hruby, born about 1893
  • James Hruby, born March 1895
  • Bohumil Hruby, born December 1896
Now, they didn't get married until 1882, and there are children listed in 1876. Also, she is not supposed to have come until 1880, so that means I should be looking for her to probably be traveling with at least one child. That may help me find her a little easier, but still no luck yet.

I have found another potential child that seems to be a little too squished in the timeline even though a late-1885 to mid-1886 child would fit in perfectly, so the dates may be just a little off for a couple of the kids:
  • Fanny Hruby, born 28 December 1886
Jennie Hruby's death certificate references a sister "the late Mrs. Mamie Faber." I wonder if Mamie is "Marie."

At some point, it seems the family went back to Europe because they are seen together coming back from Pavlov, Breclav District, Moravia in what is now the Czech Republic. They are listed as being Osterreich, which is German for Austrian. They were sailing for Southampton, Cherbourg, New York on the Furst Bismarck on 18 May 1899.
Clipping from Hamburg passenger list
The Furst Bismark was built for the Hamburg American Line. It was an 8,430 gross ton ship. It was 502.6' long. It had three funnels, two masts, twin screw, and a speed of 19 knots. It could hold 420 first-class passengers, 172 second-class passengers, and 700 third-class passengers.
Image from
Now... at this point, I seem to hit a snag. Vaclav died 23 May 1916. He is buried in Saint Boniface Cemetery in Chicago. The problem is... I find another Vaclav on a ship manifest in 1923 and he has a daughter Anezka and a daughter Marie. Everything seems to match up except for the fact that he's supposed to be dead and buried. Further research into this matter is definitely needed. I'll leave the "other" Vaclav for another post though.

  • 1900 Chicago, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1910 Chicago, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1940 Chicago, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Find-A-Grave Memorial, Jennie Hruby
  • Find-A-Grave Memorial, Vaclav Hruby
  • Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Death Certificate, Frank J Hruby (accessed on Ancestry)
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Passenger Lists (accessed on The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.)
  • The Ships List

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Life has been a little crazy!

I haven't forgotten about you! I know it's been a little over a month since I last posted, but I started a new job the week after my last post, so things have been a little hectic. I will return soon though with more family stories and research. (In fact, I've been able to add some new records recently with the new Mexican records on Ancestry!)

In the meantime, I will leave you with this photo of my great-grandfather who served in the US Navy as a precursor to the upcoming Veterans' Day holiday.

Gilberto Cardenas Ortega
  • Photo provided by Thomas Cardenas who obtained it from Amalia Cardenas Tristan.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

John Thomas Stephens

John Thomas Stephens is one of my brick wall ancestors. I seem to be having an unusually hard time finding him. (I blame the 1890 census!) Following is what I know about him.

I have found conflicting information on his birth so far. The 1900 census lists John's birth as being in July 1866 in Ohio. The 1910 census lists his birth as being in about 1868 in Iowa. The 1910 census for his son, Grover, lists his birthplace as Virginia. The 1920 census lists his birth as being in about 1867 in Iowa. The 1920 and 1930 census for Grover both list his father's birthplace as Missouri. The 1920 census for his son, Charles, lists his birthplace as Indiana. The 1930 census for Charles lists his father's birthplace as Missouri.

I'm leaning towards Iowa as the actual state. It was the most consistent I've found in the early years. (I think Cora thought his birthplace was Iowa too because his children still at home list their father as being born in Iowa in the 1930 census.)

I have found a Thomas Stephens, age 13, living a Norton family in 1880 in Prairie City, Jasper County, Iowa. I don't know if this is John Thomas or not.
Clipping from 1880 Prairie City, IA Census
The census shows Thomas Stephens' parents as being born in Pennsylvania. This is consistent with a few of the other censuses that I have found for John Thomas (1900-1920).
Clipping from 1900 Clear Creek, MO Census
Clipping from 1910 Lebanon, MO Census
Clipping from 1920 Richland, MO Census

John married Maggie Parkhurst. (I got her name from Charles Oliver's death certificate.) Together, they had at least the following children:
  • Grover Stephens, born November 1888
  • Charlottie Stephens, born October 1889
  • Charles Oliver Stephens, born 14 February 1894
Maggie died before the 1900 census, and I haven't found a death certificate yet for her. I saw on Find-A-Grave that there is a Maggie Stephens buried in Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana. She is recorded as being born in 1859 and dying in 1894. I'm not sure if this is the right person, but it's the closest I have found so far. If she died in 1894, I wonder if it was due to complications of childbirth.

After the death of Maggie, John remarried. He married Cora E. about 1901 according to the 1910 census. Cora was born about 1881 in Missouri. I do not know the names of her parents yet. According to family researchers, Cora's maiden name was Ferguson. I have found a Cora Ferguson listed in Forest City, Holt County, Missouri with her parents James M. and Sarah Ferguson. I'm not sure if this is her though.
Clipping from 1900 Forest City, MO Census
Also, in the 1910 census, Cora is listed as having been the mother of three children, only one of which was still alive in 1910. John is listed as being Cora's first marriage, so these unknown children are assumed to be the children of John and Cora.
Clipping from 1910 Lebanon, MO Census
John and Cora had at least the following children:
  • Irven Stephens, born about 1903
  • Unknown Stephens, born between 1900 and 1910, died before 1910
  • Unknown Stephens, born between 1900 and 1910, died before 1910
  • Hornine Stephens, born about 1911
  • Edgar Stephens, born about 1914
  • Inez Stephens, born about 1918
Clipping of second half of the household from 1920 Richland, MO Census
John died some time before the 1930 census. Cora shows up in Richland, Morgan County, Missouri as a widow living with her two youngest children, Edgar and Inez.
Clipping from 1930 Richland, MO Census
That's about all I know. It seems like a lot at first glance, but everything I know seems to be after his first wife's death. If you descend from this man or know anything about him, I would be very interested in hearing from you! Send me a message or leave a comment on here.

  • 1880 Prairie City, Jasper County, Iowa U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1900 Clear Creek, Cooper County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1900 Forest City, Holt County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1910 Clear Creek, Cooper County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1910 Lebanon, Cooper County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1920 Otterville, Cooper County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1930 Otterville, Cooper County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1920 Richland, Morgan County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1930 Richland, Morgan County, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Death Certificate, Charles Oliver Stephens (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Find-A-Grave Memorial, Maggie Stephens

Saturday, September 26, 2015


I attended my fourth naturalization ceremony this past week as a representative of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I love going to the ceremonies because it makes me feel closer to some of my ancestors that I know went through similar processes. The ancestors I know underwent the process are my great-great-grandparents, Josef Reaber and Christine Konecny.

The 1920 census lists naturalization years as well as immigration years for everyone. Both Christine and Joseph appear in the census as having been naturalized just a few years after arriving in America. The two arrived independent of one another in the late 1880s to early 1890s. In the 1920 census, they are both listed as being naturalized in 1894.
Clipping from 1920 Census
The couple did not get married until 1908, so I assume they did this individually on their own, perhaps even before meeting each other. I do not know if they were in fact naturalized the same year or if they just guesstimated, as Josef often seemed to do with his immigration year, but it's the only reference I have to go on.

According to my great-great-granduncle Josef Konecny, the Bohemian Virtuoso, his father got naturalized after arriving in the States. I believe this is how he and Christine achieved their status as Americans. Children under 18 in the household of a naturalized American also become citizens at the same time.

Unfortunately, there were several John Konecnys who were naturalized in the early 1890s in Cook County, Illinois! Thanks to the passport application of Josef, I have it pinpointed to one who was naturalized on 21 Oct 1896.
Clipping from Josef Konency's Passport Application
I would like to travel to Chicago at some point to see if I can find any additional records (or perhaps even a photograph!) for him at the immigration department or archives. In the meantime, this is all I have.
Naturalization Record Index for Johann Konecny
The other thing in Josef's passport application I found, which is a little upsetting to me, is the relationship between him and his sister, my great-great-grandmother Christine (my namesake). It seems she was not very nice to her brother for whatever reason, and I'm not very proud to share a name with her because of it. Hopefully there is more to this story than what he shares, but this is what I have to go on.
Clipping from Josef Konecny's Passport Application
  • 1920 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Naturalization Record Index, Johann Konecny (accessed on Ancestry)
  • Passport Applications for Josef Konecny (accessed on Ancestry)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Update on the Harris Family Problem

I had my DAR Fall Forum this weekend, so I wasn't able to prepare a post again this week, but I did want to give a little update on the family I mentioned last week. I went to our local genealogy library on Friday with the rest of the State's DAR members. My one goal was to find information about this Harris line.

Long story short: I found information about the family, but I'm not sure how helpful it is yet.

I found a lot of records for my "son" Patriot, John, and his second wife. I even found where he adopted his wife's children from her first marriage. I have a sneaky suspicion though that the service currently linked to John may not be for John. The source of John's service is the fact that his wife Lavinia received land through a land lottery for being the "widow of a Revolutionary War soldier."

She had been widowed twice by this point though. Sometimes, widows had to prove they were married to the soldier during the time of service to receive benefits on behalf of the man. She didn't marry John until 1816. Her previous husband died in 1809, and they would have been married during his time (if he did in fact serve) during the War.

AND I still haven't proven his first wife yet (my ancestor's mom). I don't "have" to prove her name, but I feel like it would provide a better argument for my case if I can show the prior applications using Lavinia as Lucy's mom are wrong. (Not to mention proving they were wrong about her dying before they got married!)

Then, for David, my other Patriot -- and John's father -- I was able to figure out through some of the ladies who have higher levels of access to previous applications what the nature of Captain David Harris' service was. I was able to figure out the names of the men he supposedly served under, so that will make proving his service with a new source infinitely easier than trying to figure out who is who amongst all of the David Harrises around Georgia at the time.

I'll keep you updated on the progress with this family in future posts, but that's it for the update for now.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

No Post This Week

I had my first DAR meeting as an officer this week, so I didn't have a chance to prepare a post. I did spend some time working on my first supplemental applications. I thought I had them all figured out and ready to submit. Then, as I was finalizing my lineage worksheet, I noticed two big issues.

My first Patriot's wife was listed as dying before she was listed as marrying. Then, my second Patriot, the first Patriot's father, did not have any source of service listed for him. This means I have to reprove his service in the War.

I stayed up all night when I realized it trying to fix each issue. I can argue that Lavinia Harris didn't die until at least another 20 years after they were married, but I won't be satisfied until I find an actual date of death for her.

David Harris' service is the thing that is bugging me though. I have found a man that could be my ancestor, but I can't prove it's him yet. We have a genealogy event at the local library this Friday. Hopefully I'll be able to clear some of this up then.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Education Levels of My Great-Grandparents

I wanted to look into the education levels of family members. The 1940 census has a column that describes a person's highest level of education. In this post, I will describe the highest level of education for each of my great-grandparents that were enumerated in the 1940 census.

Since my paternal grandfather's parents were Mexican, they were not in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. My paternal grandmother's parents were Rebert Odell Hitchcock and Joy Decimund Stephens. Rebert's highest completed grade was ninth grade; Joy's highest grade was 11th.
Clipping from 1940 Census
My maternal grandfather's parents were Jesse Lee Findley and Rosemary Christine Reaber. Jesse's highest completed grade was eighth grade. (The 1945 Florida State Census listed his highest grade as "grammar school.") Rosemary was the only of my great-grandparents to graduate high school.
Clipping from 1940 Census
My maternal grandmother's parents were Gerald Dean Richerson and Jessie Roberta Ellis. I haven't found Gerald in the 1940 census yet. He is out of his parents' house by 1940, and he isn't married yet, so I don't know where he is. Jessie is still living at home with most of her siblings. Her highest level of education is listed as eighth grade.
Clipping from 1940 Census
So, after analyzing the education levels of my great-grandparents, I realize about half of them followed the "normal" pattern. Eighth grade was a fairly common end point for a child's education. Not only was additional education not viewed as necessary, but by the time the child was out of or in eighth grade, they were expected to be contributing to the household.

I was interested to see, however, that so many of my great-grandparents continued on into at least part of high school. I think that speaks to my love of knowledge and education myself.

I hope to find out more information about my Mexican great-grandparents in hopes of seeing where they fall in the education spectrum, but that will definitely take a little more digging. In the meantime, I think I'll settle with continuing to look for Gerald in the 1940 census.

  • 1940 Charlotte, Mecklenburg, North Carolina U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1940 DeLand, Volusia, Florida U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1940 Fulton, Callaway, Missouri U.S. Federal Census (accessed on Ancestry)
  • 1945 Jacksonville, Duval, Florida State Census (accessed on Ancestry)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Gerald Dean Richerson

One of the perks to having such a "young" family is that I have known more than half of my great-grandparents. I didn't realize how unusual this was until I was in college and had been doing genealogy for a few years already.

I never knew my Mexican great-grandparents; they both passed away before I was born. While I didn't know them well, I did get to meet my dad's other set of grandparents as a child. My maternal grandfather's dad passed away before I was born, but I knew his mom very well. (She's the one that got me started on this crazy genealogy kick in the first place!) And my maternal grandmother's mom lived next door to us growing up.

My maternal grandmother's father, on the other hand, has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Even though he was still alive by the time I went to college, I never knew him. And, actually, it never dawned on me that I hadn't met him until I found out even he existed.

As a kid, you only know what you've been told, and I was told my "Grandma Grimm" was my granny's mom. Since I was never introduced to a person referred to as my granny's "dad," I kind of just assumed she didn't have one.
An excerpt from my Baby Book. (I don't even think my mom asked anybody for information. She put in whom she had met personally and left it at that.)
Then, one day, I can't quite remember if it was when I was in middle school or high school, we drove by a house. I don't even remember where the house was, except I am fairly certain it was still in North Carolina somewhere. When questioning why we were stopped on the side of the street in this seemingly random residential area, I was told my granny's dad lived in the house up ahead of us.

As far as I remember, no one ever approached the house or tried to make contact with him; I just remember driving by the house that day. As if simply knowing he was a real person was enough for my mom and grandmother.

When I started doing genealogy, I asked my grandmother her father's name, but still to this day I haven't asked if she ever knew her father or why he wasn't around when I was a kid. (Honestly, it even took me a while to figure out that her mom had gotten remarried at some point because their last names weren't the same! I never met a "Grandpa Grimm," so again I just assumed there just wasn't one.)

Gerald Dean Richerson was born on 30 June 1921 in Long Lane, Dallas County, Missouri. My grandmother's birth certificate says otherwise. (Not that I hold much stock in what birth certificates say; my dad's says that his dad was born in Texas, instead of Mexico.)

From what I can tell, he was the oldest of eight children born to William Parker Richerson and Cleo Belle Triplett. He married my great-grandmother Jessie Roberta Ellis on 21 December 1942. Together, they had one child, Clara Dean Richerson, in 1943

As I mentioned before, I don't know what happened after my grandmother was born, but by 1947 Gerald was getting married to Hazel Corrine Jenkins in Santa Rosa, Florida. Hazel and Gerald had at least one child together, Barbara Louise Richerson, in 1949.

I don't know if Gerald stayed around long for his second wife and second child, but Gerald remarried a third time to a woman named Marjorie. They had at least the following children:
  • John William Richerson, born 1963
  • Marjorie L Richerson, born 1968
  • Laura Richerson
The only other thing I know about Gerald is that he served as a pilot with the U.S. Navy. He served a year and a half in the military. He enlisted on 19 December 1957 and was released on 6 July 1959. I don't know any specifics on his service, but I do have a picture of him.
Provided by Thomas Cardenas
This was the first photo I saw of my great-grandfather. Since he was 36 when he enlisted in the Navy, and that is relatively old to have joined the service, I wonder what his reasoning was.  Whatever the reason, I think his experiences in the Navy directly affected his feelings about family. I think that's why he found a wife, and kept her, and had a family.

Based on everything I've been able to dig up on him, I don't think Gerald would have been an easy person to know, but I think I would have liked to have known him.
Photo provided by Thomas Cardenas
Gerald died on 28 March 2006 in Missouri. I don't know where he is buried yet, but I assume he is buried in Missouri. If anyone knows anything about Gerald, his second and third spouses, or his other children, please send me a message. I would love to find some answers for this part of the family tree.

  • Birth Certificate, Clara Dean Richerson
  • U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Gerald Dean Richerson

Saturday, August 22, 2015

How I Research, Part III

This is the third and, for now at least, final installment in my how-to mini-series. This also serves as the second part of my organization series. You can read my first and second posts in the series here: Part One and Part Two. In my previous post, I shared with you my ancestor notebook. This time, I thought I would share with you two other systems I utilize the most.

As I showed you in my previous post, in my ancestor notebook, all of my ancestors are organized by generation. In this next system, I have my ancestors broken up by surname. I found this method in the book "The Weekend Genealogist: Timesaving Techniques for Effective Research" by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk. I have two index card boxes with dividers for the individual letters of the alphabet.
My surname boxes
The idea is that you create an index card for every surname in your specific family and include your line of ancestors for that particular surname as a reference.
My Ellis surname card
You'll see in the card above that it reads bottom-to-top. My great-grandmother, Jessie Roberta Ellis, was married three times: first to Gerald Dean, then to Everett Milroy, then to Dunk. Each of my Ellis' after her were each married once. The "E420" in the top right is the Soundex code for the surname Ellis, so I don't have to think about it when I want to search an index or resource by Soundex.

SIDE NOTE: If you want to start this method, I suggest starting with yourself and your (maiden) surname. Go as far back in your surname as you can before moving on to another surname. For your second card, do your mother's surname. Go as far back in her surname as you can before moving on. I have a rather large tree, so this was a few good days off work spending pretty much all day working on this before I finished. I only filed cards in the box after I had created cards for all of the spouses' family lines listed on that card. Unless you're just starting out your genealogical research, this will take a while. Don't get discouraged if this seems to be a huge undertaking. It is SO worth it in the end.

I just started this method a few months ago, but I have already seen its benefits. My family tree is now easier to sort through. It creates a roll-o-dex of sorts that is portable. I have a lot of different indexes available to me through my family tree software, but when I don't have my computer (or when my computer dies because I forgot to bring my charger!), it is nice to still have an alphabetical list of the names I research most.

The most useful benefit for this method for me is for researching at the library or genealogy center. I take my index cards, and then I can quickly figure out if a family in a book or record is in my direct line.

In the original suggested method in the book, she added locations for the ancestors along with the datespan, but I didn't want to clutter the card too much, especially in my family where everyone is born in a different state than their parents. (If all of my "Smith" family members were from, say, Missouri, it would be much easier, but I didn't luck out like that.)

The second method I use to organize my surnames is in a separate notebook. (I am definitely a "notebook junkie!") I was using a 1-inch, but it was busting at the seams to move to a larger one, so I recently upgraded to a 1-1/2".

In the notebook, I have a set of Avery Alphabetical Dividers. A surname report, which I created in my Family Tree Maker program, serves as my index of names in the front of the notebook. It gives me the "earliest" and "most recent" dates I have for people with each surname.
Surname report created by my Family Tree Maker program
Unlike the other notebook I showed you last week, in this one, I keep information I find related to any surname in my tree, not just my direct ancestors. Also, any lines I think could be related but I haven't proven to be in the tree yet are also kept in this notebook.

This is great for throwing all of those random "I'll figure this mess out later" pages that seem to clutter up your workspace. File it away with the (most) relevant family surname, and hash it out when you have the time.

I also keep surname "notes" sheets or "worksheets" for random families I come across but don't want to spend that moment researching. (It is so easy to get side-tracked while researching! Too many rabbit holes to check, not enough time!!) I print the surname in the top right corner of my paper, and I just create a list of notes or random websites or contacts I find.
My "Random Notes" page for my husband's Ingold family
This is a great way to try to sort out relationships listed in obituaries that you don't have time to tackle. Do a little bit at a time until you get all the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, etc. filed with the appropriate parent.

I do keep separate pages for "Random Notes," "Fellow Researchers/Forum Users," and "Related Websites." I tried keeping them all together at first, but the more prominent and well-researched families tend to get in a little bit of a disarray rather quickly. Rather than highlighting the different categories of information in a different color (my previous method), I figured it would just be quicker to make new sheets. It has worked a lot better that way.

I do use more methods than just the ones I have mentioned. For example, I have another notebook just for locations, and I use a COMPLETELY different method for organizing information in preparation for writing a family history book; but the ones I've covered these past few weeks are the big ones for me. I will describe the other methods some time down the road. I hope you've enjoyed this little "how-to" mini-series. Now, back to the family members!

  • "The Weekend Genealogist: Timesaving Techniques for Effective Research" by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk