Monday, July 24, 2017

Amanuensis Monday - Reading 18th or 19th Century Documents

Amanuensis Monday
Reading 18th or 19th Census Documents

I have often used this following document as an example of reading an 18th or 19th century document. It can be difficult to read. It is a copy, of a copy, of a copy. Not the best example in the world, but something you will, given enough time, have to utilize, in order to get the information you choose to find.

Indenture Contract of William Bean
Dated 15 Sept 1804

When you receive a document like this, you will need to transcribe it into something legible, or readable. There are a few rules you need to follow:

NUMBER ONE: ALWAYS TRANSCRIBE THE DOCUMENT EXACTLY AS IT IS WRITTEN. Meaning that, all spelling and grammatical errors, including punctuation errors, are to be kept intact. What may seem a mistake, a date that doesn't make sense, a misspelled name, etc. are very important in proving the document that you transcribed is real. Also, be sure to add to the transcription where you received the copy from. An individual, a courthouse record, or the website where you copied it from. (If you don't know how to find the exact location of a document, or a photograph, you can simply copy the URL of the page. But the best way is to copy the properties of the document or image. To get that, you need to simply right-click on the image, click on Properties or Property and copy the unique URL of the document. Each imageon the web has its own URL that is different from the website URL. We will discuss this in a later lesson, in more detail.)

NUMBER TWO: If you know the relationships of the individuals listed in the document, make sure you add an addendum that describes the relationships.

Now, you will note that the document above uses some flowery handwriting, at least that's what I call it. It is an elaborate handwriting with a lot of curlicues, and flourishes. While this may seem hard to understand at first, with practice, you will be able to read this better, and better.

So, let me interpret the document above for you:

"This indenture made this 18th of Sept 1804 one thousand eight hundred and four between Jas. Christy owen Neal Robt Johnston and henry McDaniel of the one part overseers of the poor for monroe County and henry Smith of the other part witnesseth that the so overssers doth bind an orphan boy named William Bean aged twelfth years to the said henry Smith of the county aforesaid and State of virginia to Serve the said henry Smith until he arrives at the age of twenty one years, during all which time the Said William Bean Shall faithfully Serve his Master and all his lawful Commands obay he Sall not suffer any Damage to be done to his Said Masters goods without giving him notice thereof he Shall not frequent Still houses or taverns he shall not play at Cards dice or any unlawful game or at any time abscond himself from his masters business without his Masters leave he Shall not commit fornication nor Contract matrimony during said term but as a true and faithful servant shall truely and diligently Serve his Said Master until he arrives at the age aforesaid and the henry Smith in Consideration thereof doth Covenant and agree to have the so William Bean taught the art trade or Mastery of a Black Smith and provide for him a sufficiency of everyt thing thats requiset for an aprentice during the term of his aprenticeship likewise he is to have him taught to read the holy Scriptures planely to write a plane hand and arithmatic through te rule of three which Education he is to be thoroughly acquainted with at the Expiration of his time and also to give him Such freedom dues as the law direct taking Care to have Said aprentice instructed in the Principals and duties of the Christian religion as far as Said Master is Capable In writing whereof the partys have interchangeably set their hands inscribed this day and year above writen Signed Sealed ad delivered in the presents of  - John Hinchman - Owen Neal - Henry Smith - Jas. Christy"

You will note a lot of misspelled words, grammatical errors, and punctuation errors, as well as abbreviated words used. However, this is a true copy of the document. 

Once you have transcribed the document, you might also want to add a note that says :The above transcription is a true and intact copy of the original document as translated (name)  on 
(date) , followed by your initials. (initials) This just makes it more official that you are the one that transcribed the document. If you really want to be official, you can even have this copy notarized. (I have done that for clients, who have had documents questioned by other relatives and wanted proof that the documentation was real.) But that really isn't necessary, unless you want proof that is unarguable, which serves no real purpose, unless the proof must be taken into a court of law.

I do hope this helps you in deciphering your 17th or 18th century documents. While the information will not change, the handwriting, and the way it is written, is much different than that of today. 

Practice reading some early documents that you come across. This will prepare you for reading more documents of the era.

As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let us know!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Singing - Time for Church Ya'all!

It's time to put on our Sunday duds, and walk down the lane to that little church in the woods.
Here we'll congregate, and when the singing starts, we'll feel the excitement as the Spirit moves over us, and we just can't help but Praise the Lord!

Some come on in, I've got you a seat saved right here!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sorting Saturday - What To Do With All That Paperwork?

Okay, be honest. Is this what your genealogy research looks like?

Yes, that's my honest-to-goodness "needs to organized" pile of research that needs to be tackled. Now, you are probably wondering why someone who does this for a living would allow it to get so out of control. And the answer is simple.

When I get going with a case, I lose all interest in getting the papers filed away neatly! Most of these are simply forms that I use when I am doing the research. The originals are all digitized. I find this makes it so much easier to handle. Then the original documents (birth,death, marriage, or other purchased records) are put into archival sleeves, and placed in binders under the individuals name,

Here's what the final files look like:
And I have about 12 of these 6-inch, super wide, binders. These are archival quality binders. I have one for each of my major research lines for my family. And then I have one for ancillary research (let's say that I find out I'm related to Queen Elizabeth, then I'd add her and our common ancestry into that one). The others are reserved for direct ancestors, and their children. I sometimes, not always, but sometimes will follow a cousin down to the 3rd or 4th removed, but seldom past there, unless I find that there's something unusual or interesting further down the line. So, for instance, I have a notebook marked BEAN, for my Dad's family. This goes back to the 1790's. And there is one marked DREHER for my Mother's family. Now, when it comes to my Dad's mother, she is mentioned in the BEAN notebook, but is cross-referenced to another notebook with her birth surname, FAUDREE. Then we go further back and my Dad's grandmother in the BEAN notebook is Margaret Smith PERKINS. So, then, there is a PERKINS notebook. And Dad's great-grandfather, William,'s wife is listed in the BEAN notebook, but then there is a separate notebook for her maiden name of WISEMAN. And so on. So, how do I organize the interiors? Well, the first page will start with the earliest noted ancestor. There will be an individual record sheet for him, and then a family record sheet. This will go under a tab marked WILLIAM BEAN. I use gold colored tabs for my direct ancestor's. And then that person's children will be in blue tabs. Their children will be in red tabs, and so on. This allows me to go directly to an ancestor without much effort. Again, these are all original documents. They are kept much the same way in files on my computer once they have been digitized.

I usually go through my paperwork about once a month and digitize any originals. I then make sure that they, and their information, got properly placed into my genealogy program before sliding the document into an archival sleeve and placing into the archival notebooks. This process has been known to take 3 days when I've had a particularly good month! But usually takes but a few hours any more.

These large six-inch notebooks completely fill one of my 6-foot tall bookcases. But they are readily available should I need to see them for clarification at any time. As are the digitized versions on the computer. When we have family reunions, I usually bring a few notebooks, and then set up a slide show on my laptop of just photographs. Everyone loves that! You'll see large groups of people gathered around the display table just watching the slide show! Or groups going through the notebooks,. And you know they're enjoying all of it because of the "oohs" and "ahhs", and the "I remember that!" comments heard.

The forms that have piled up? Once they are put into proper perspective in my genealogy program, and digitized, I then discard them. I still have the digitized versions, and can easily print one out if I need to for clarification.

What do you do with all of the paperwork that tends to build up with your research? Do you keep all of it? Or just the documents you've had to pay for? Or if you digitize, do you keep any of it? Let us know! We'd love to hear what you do with it all!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Follow Friday - The National Genealogical Society (NGS)

National Genealogical Society

While there is a yearly Membership fee of $65 to receive all benefits, this is one of those sites that I feel is well worth the membership fee! If you are serious about learning how to perform an analytical research of your family tree (not just copying someone elses research), and really finding out all that you possibly can regarding your ancestors, then this is the place to go and learn it.

Their storefront offers a ton of informational books and pamphlets, most of which, are downloadable pdf format documents, so it's instant gratification when it comes to waiting for that genealogy information in the mail! And they have a super fine blog, which is always full of information that you don't want to miss!

Upfront,  the NGS blog can be found by clicking here.  And you don't have to be a member to read it. Which is super cool!

The NGS sets the "Standard" to which all genealogists hold themselves to. Or should hold themselves to.

They can be found on Facebook, You Tube (Although, there are no recent uploads located here, you can find all kinds of recent videos uploaded on its other venues, all for free.) Google+, and Twitter (again the Twitter posts are not as up ton date as some of the other, but you can look back through and still get some great insight.)

When I have the time for a relaxing day of just reading for pleasure, this is the place I go to. I enjoy reading about the conferences, and new announcements. And I enjoy watching the videos. And I nearly always come away with having learned something new!

So I hope you'll give the National Genealogical Society a look, and maybe even consider becoming a member yourself. It will be money well spent. Let us know if you're a member, or plan to become one!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Those Places Thursday - Don't Overlook State Parks!

So, you're probably wondering how a State Park can figure into finding out more about your ancestry. Am I right?

Well, I found out a lot about what happened to two of my ancestors, on a particular date, by walking through a State Park!

To be exact, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, located at Droop Mountain, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

This is the tower overlook at the top of the mountain.
From here, you can look down the steep slope where the climb can easily be seen.

Let's allow Wikipedia to give us more on the battle:

"The Battle of Droop Mountain was a battle in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, that occurred November 6, 1863, during the American Civil WarConfederate forces engaged, but failed to prevent Union forces under Brigadier General W.W. Averell from a rendezvous with other Federal troops in a joint raid on Confederate railways. Droop Mountain was one of the largest engagements in West Virginia during the war. As a result of the Union victory, Confederate resistance in the state essentially collapsed.


Assigned command of one of two brigades involved in the planned raid on the railroads, Averell moved toward southwestern Virginia with the purpose of disputing movement on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. The second column, under Brigadier General Alfred N. Duffié, destroyed enemy military property en route, while Averell probed for Confederate defenders.


Map of Droop Mountain Battlefield core and study areas by the American Battlefield Protection Program.
On November 5, 1863, Averell attacked Confederates at Mill Point in Pocahontas County, driving the Southerners from their position back to the summit of Droop Mountain, where they were reinforced by a force under Brig. Gen. John Echolsconsisting of Patton's Brigade and one regiment from Albert G. Jenkins's command. The Confederate position was a relatively strong one, reinforced by breastworks commanding the road.
The following day, Averell elected to attack. Throughout the morning, Echols' smaller Confederate force held the high ground and blocked the highway with artillery. However, in the early afternoon, Averell turned Echols' left with his infantry, and then sent dismounted cavalry in a frontal assault on the main Confederate lines. After a brief yet violent battle, many Confederates fled, throwing away their arms and scattering for safety. Averell's cavalry pursued until dark, capturing several prisoners and a large quantity of arms, ammunition, and materiel. Echols rallied much of his force, but was forced to retreat into Virginia.


Averell's victorious force rejoined Duffié's brigade at Lewisburg on November 7. The reunited Union columns, burdened with prisoners and captured livestock, were in no condition to continue their raid, but they had effectively ended Confederate resistance in West Virginia.
The battlefield site is preserved and administered by West Virginia as a state park.
The unknown Confederate dead are buried in the Confederate Cemetery at Lewisburg, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987."

As you walk the battlefields, you are in awe that you are walking where so many men died.

There are two Memorial markers on the field:



For me, at least, there is a reverence there, in that place, much as there is when you visit the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas. So many died there that day. And the feelings of bravery, and death, still haunt those places.

A lone cannon, of the era, marks the edges of the battlefield.

A tiny museum sits next to the battlefield. A log cabin that was added after the Civil War.

It's three room interior is filled with memento's of the Civil War, and the bloody battle of Droop Mountain.

Getting to actually walk the grounds, and see the relics, the battle of Droop Mountain became very real for me. And I feel particularly blessed to have been there to see it through the eyes as a descendant of two survivors of the battle.

Pvt. Henry (Gottleib) Dreher, who served in the Union's 47th Ohio Infantry, which fought that bloody day.

And Pvt. William Bean, who served in the 14th Va. Infantry.

Two men. Fighting on opposite sides. Dreher, my gr-gr-grandfather. Bean, my gr-grandfather. Either of the men could have been killed! And if either had been, I would not be the one sitting here this afternoon, in my nice, air-conditioned home, writing this post. But for the grace of God....

Do you have ancestors who fought during the Civil War? If so, do you know any of the battles they might have fought in? And if so, do you know if any of your ancestors fought against other of you ancestors in the same battle?

Let us hear from you below. 

Don't forget to check out museums, battlefields, and yes, even State Parks, for places of interest in your ancestors!

And if you are interested in visiting Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, it is located directly on US 219 between Hillsboro, WV (where the author/missionary Pearl S. Buck was born) and Mill Point, WV. Pack a picnic lunch, because you will want to take your time walking over the site, and going through the museum. There are several picnic areas, which are very nice, and hiking trails to make your outing complete.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Do you have a photograph that is bound to tell a story, all on its own? Have you ever wondered what someone was doing? Or what were they thinking? Why did they pose this way, or that way? I'd love to see them! Be sure to leave your comments!

Here's one of my favorites!

This photograph is of my Grandpa, Henry C. Dreher, Jr.

To the best that I can figure, this photograph was taken in the late 1940's or early 1950's. What he is doing, other than just clowning around, I'll never know. My Mom, who had the photograph, always told me she didn't know what was going on in it. But I suspect this was a photograph she took, using her trusty little Brownie camera.

Miss Grandpa and Mom so much these days! Especially since both could always make me smile and laugh!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Talented Tuesday - Old Time Dulcimer

4-String Appalachian Dulcimer

The other day I was talking to a client about the musical instruments that I can play. One of which, they say they had never heard of before. The Mountain Dulcimer. The above pictured dulcimer is taken from Amazon,and is the very same model that mine is. 

A dulcimer has a long history in the Appalachian mountains, but little is known about it before then. No real records exist of its being built prior to the 16th century. It is believed to have come from the Scots-Irish immigrants who settled the Appalachian mountains. 

Its' build is close in resembling a violin or fiddle, but it has an elongated narrow body. It is played by "plucking" the strings rather than using a bow, or strumming, as in a guitar. One uses a fretboard press to form the notes, and its strings are traditionally plucked with a feather quill. I have used a quill with mine, but find a guitar pick works equally as nice.

Its sound is reminiscent of the zither. And if strummed, you do, indeed, find a sound quite similar, but with less rich tones, as there are traditionally only 3 or 4 strings.

I am, by no means, proficient in playing the instrument, and solely play for my own amusement. I can definitely go back to the very day I decided I wanted a dulcimer. You can laugh, but it's the truth: I first heard and decided I want to learn to play the dulcimer after watching John Boy (Richard Thomas) on the Waltons, about 1972 or 1973, play a love song for his girlfriend. You can see it here:

You can hear the unique sound of the dulcimer in this video. Of course, there are countless other videos of dulcimer playing on You Tube but this is why I own one today. (Golly, I sure do miss John Boy, and Mary Ellen, and Jason, and .....well, you get the idea. That's for another time.)

Do you have a family member who plays a musical instrument? How about recording them for future generations to hear?  You'll want to do that as soon as possible or the time may pass you by!

If it already has, be sure to record that this person played an instrument in your family notes. Record, if known, the kind of music they enjoyed playing. (For instance, my Dad used to play the guitar, and he played mostly songs by the Everly Brothers.) What kind of music was your ancestors favorite if known?

Include a photograph of their instrument, if its still available to photograph. Preferably include a photograph of them playing the instrument, if at all possible!

As always, we don't have all the answers, but if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let us know! We will do our very best to answer your question! And comment below! We love hearing what you have to say!