Genealogy Do-Over: Week 1, Cycle 2 (3-9 April 2015)

After my re-entry to the blogosphere in February, it wasn’t long before I came across the Genealogy Do Over. The initial read-thru told me it was something I probably needed to do — at some point. After all, I needed to set up my blog, write some posts, KC_Do-Over copyresume my research . . . Yet, whenever I opened the (RSS) Reader, there was a blogger talking about the Do-Over. Well guess who’s sporting the big red button this week? And I’m “all in” — for the most part — which means I’ll reserve the “modified” approach for only a few of the assignments.

Do-Over Creator Thomas MacEntee gives bloggers a wide berth to review and refine their research strategies. The main objective of the 13-week project is “to improve genealogy research skills.” My first encounter with the Do-Over was during about Week 3 of Cycle 1. I thought about just digging in and, either trying to catch up or resolving myself to being three weeks behind. The first option was self-defeating. The latter would have left me with no peer support because my focus would not have been on the current assignment. I finally resolved to focus on launching my blog and pacing myself through the Do-Over later. And I’m so glad I waited. So this is Week 1 of Cycle 2. And I’m rarin’ to go.

Thomas has developed the following starting points which set the tone for the remainder of the project. The format is simple. For each focus area, he states:

  • What he’s doing
  • Suggestions for the “all-in” participant
  • Suggestions for the “modified” participant


Focus of Week 1, Cycle 2

Setting Previous Research Aside: (All-In)     I’ve begun to use Evidentia; so this is a given. What I’ve gathered so far is no one should be added to a pedigree chart until Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is established. I’ll leave my current Legacy Family Tree (LFT) database intact and create a fresh one that’s based solely on GPS. I’m sure all of my entries can, at least, be found on a census form. And I have vital records for many of them. So, I’m really expecting my new database to be a close replica of the original.

  • Binders, folders and papers:     My vital records are already secured in a binder and encased in archival-quality sheet protectors. The original naming conventions I set up for them are still relevant. I also have separate binders for pedigree charts and family group sheets — both of which I’m constantly rummaging through; so they could stand some work. But I’ll set them aside for now.
  • Reserving specific items:     I’ve finally gotten around to scanning my vital records. This means Evidentia will work better for me. Things are already falling into place; because then they will be added to my . . .
  • Digital holdings:     I didn’t realize the big part Evidentia would play in this stage of the project. Most of my census and other records are already digitized. Photos are already in folders according to my patriarchal and matriarchal lines. I’ll leave them where they are in case I need them for a blog post. But I will create a holding folder specifically earmarked for the Do Over. That will ensure that the other files are off-limits for the duration of the project.

Preparing to Research: (Modified)     Because I work during the day, sometimes my research is done at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. The main thing I want to do here is leave off in a way that makes it easy to resume. That means developing a solid Research Log and To Do List for each ancestor. I have an analog one that worked well. But digital will enable me to access my data whenever I need it. I know both are available as reports in Legacy Family Tree. I just have to determine if the features I want are available. I’m already using Evernote for Genealogy.

I’ve come up with a name for my “must have” items: E3 for Evernote, Evidence Explained, and Evidentia. I don’t have Evidence Explained yet. But I will have it soon.

Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines: (All-In) This, as my former pastor says, is where the rubber meets the road. Honestly, my outline of procedures and best practices may carry over and demand part of my focus for the next assignment. But I’m sure I can come up with at least five solid procedures that I can incorporate over the 13-week period of the project.

  1. Incorporate GPS principles into research procedure.
  2. Document each new item of evidence before it is added to my LFT database.
  3. Strive for proficiency at citing sources until it becomes second nature.
  4. Become more proficient at attribution before sharing photos and/or documents.
  5. To be determined (it has to be something that will not be improvised).

Okay — now it’s back to learning Evidentia. I may as well make my GDO posts into a series. Just look for the feature image on the *Front Page with the updated week number.

Seeking Thacker 2: 1867

I finally cracked the 1870 brick wall! With the help of author, lecturer, and librarian, Franklin Smith. He got me out of my 1870 brick wall rut when we found an entry for my Great-grandfather, Thacker MABLE, in the 1867 Return of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Book for Cobb County, GA. At his lecture on African American genealogy, I took a lot of notes; but came away with two things that I could put into practice immediately with respect to Thacker:

  1. Frank’s Rule of 70: Look at everything very closely in 1870 (lose the tunnel vision); and
  2. Pay attention to given names.

Afterwards, I became reacquainted with the facility; but I couldn’t wait to talk to him about Thack. Sure enough, the following weekend, he spent all of ten minutes with me; and I was looking at the document below. I am still amazed. I thought I had seen every possible misspelling of Thacker’s name. But, as I scanned the index — seeking Thacker — there he was in all his misspelled glory: “Shack MABLE.” I knew that was him. A careful handwriting comparison — not only of his entry, but of the one above his — indicated he signed with an “X.” Two areas of the document include handwritten notes of his race: simply, “(Col” (Colored). Then I finally deciphered the words above and below the “X” as, “his mark.”

Thack - 1867 RQVRO Book Georgia, Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1869 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original Data: Georgia, Office of the Governor. Reconstruction registration oath books, 1867, Georgia State Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

State of Georgia                                                                                         No. 80 County of Cobb PERSONALLY APPEARED before me this 17th day of July, 1867 Thack Mable (Col who states that he resides in the 895 Election Precinct of Cobb COUNTY, GEORGIA, and who makes oath as follows:”I, Thack Mable do solemnly swear

in the presence of Almighty God, that I am a citizen of the STATE OF GEORGIA; that I have resided in said state for 12 months next preceding this day, and now reside in County of Cobb Coxes Prect in said State; that I am 21 years old; that I have not been disfranchised for participation in any rebellion or civil war against the United States, nor for felony committed against the laws of any state or the United States; that I have never been a member of any State Legislature, nor held any executive or judicial office in any State and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof; that I have never taken oath as a member of Congress of the United States, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State to support the Constitution of the United States and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States or given aid and comfort to the members thereof; that I will faithfully support the Constitution of the United States and will to the best of my ability encourage others to do so. So help me God. The said Thack Mable further swears that he has not been previously registered under the provisions of “An Act supplementary to ‘an act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States’ passed March 2, 1867–and to facilitate restoration,” under this or any other Election District; and further, that he was born in ___ and naturalized by ____ on the ____ day of ____________ in the ____________. /s/ Thack X Mable [The notation, “his mark” written above and below X ] (Col SWORN AND SUBSCRIBED before me [undecipherable] Spalding Register of the 35th Registration District

Green font denotes handwritten text

It’s unfortunate that the birth, residency, and naturalization spaces are vacant for Thacker and Mr. Jordan. I’m going back over the book to see if a pattern exists for all “colored” registrants. I’m the optimist; so it could be that way for everyone. We’ll see.

So, even though I still haven’t found Thacker in the 1870 Census, I’m thankful for Frank’s knowledge and experience.  He asked the key questions that led me to this document.

My next step will be to learn more about Mr. Jordan who signed his “X” mark on the entry above Thack’s. I suspect he’s Thack’s in-law because, reviewing my Legacy Family Tree database this weekend, I was reminded that Susan Jordan is probably Seuk.

I recently learned that Sook, Sookie, and Sukey are all nicknames for Susan. I knew her name was pronounced, “Sook” — and that she was sometimes called by the above variations. But, having limited knowledge of slave nicknames, I didn’t think it was spelled that way. I’ve also seen it spelled, “Seuk”; and accepted that spelling because I thought she may have been the Cherokee that I’ve heard about from my mother and aunts. And I imagined the spelling would have been along those lines. Honestly, I was probably going for the more ethnic spelling. Thackers_Mark copy

Follow the series:

Seeking Thacker 1: Born on This Day in 1844

My Introduction to Genealogy

Today’s beginning family history researcher has many web references at his disposal — some of which I will likely add to my collection of family research tools. But, when I began my family history research back in the 1990’s, it was completely analog. I learned to start with what I knew. In my case, it was the birthdates (including year) of both parents — as well as the names of the city or town of their birth.

Constructing my first pedigree chart was easy because it included my parents in position 1. The family group sheet proved to be another useful reference. I quickly learned the importance of keeping both of these reports updated as soon as new data was discovered. After I had wrestled every shred of information from the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) entries of all my known ancestors, I began working my way back through the generations with the help of pedigree charts and family group sheets.

Wilhelmina, Ella Mae, and Floretta MABLE (circa 1920; Mound City, IL)  Compliments of Jay Evans; Gary, IN

Wilhelmina, Ella Mae, and Floretta MABLE
(circa 1920; Mound City, IL)
Compliments of Jay Evans; Gary, IN

Before long, I added another tool to my ancestor detective arsenal: the US Census. I silently gazed into many a microfiche screen, scrolling to find a PALMER or MABLE surname. And when I found my mother (Floreta [sic] MABLE) at age 4 on the 1920 census (extract), that silence was grotesquely broken by the loudest gasp I’ve ever made. All eyes on the second floor of the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research turned to me. Of course I was embarrassed at making such a noise in the library. But that embarrassment quickly subsided as the looks of amusement on the patrons’ and staff’s faces assured me that I was not the first to pierce the quietness in such a manner. I can’t help but wonder if my grandparents dressed their little girls up for the census. Taking care to make a good presentation is consistent with the customs of the era (1920) — when children were “to be seen and not heard”. It could also be a “Sunday Best” portrait.

The way I found out about all these tools was from the genealogy books I purchased. Many of them remain in my collection today. I quickly learned that many of the references mentioned in the first books I used did not apply to African-American genealogy. Because our history includes obstacles that are not covered in mainstream genealogy books, I found two books in particular to be of tremendous help in getting me started — to the point of finding the first slaveholder of my maternal line. They are Black Roots by Tony Burroughs and Finding a Place Called Home by Dee Parmer Woodtor. AA genealogy continues to be an exciting discovery.

Early on, I selected a genealogy software program which I still use today. I’m happy with my selection of Legacy Family Tree as the software to manage my research. With each upgrade (or discovery of a new type of data to track) I have taken advantage of software comparisons; and I’ve come away with LFT every time.

The web has many useful tools that will compliment my documented research. I have identified a few sites with reliability potential. But I am grateful to have learned genealogy before it became a popular past-time in cyberspace. Care must be taken before adding online findings in with documented data you have painstakingly obtained from county records. My aim is to make online researchers aware of offline resources. I believe them to be more reliable.