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My family prides itself as being very musical. Nearly everyone plays at least one musical instrument, and most of us play more. This tradition goes back a long way, and I can tell you my 3rd Great Grandfather, Benjamin Elam, was known to be quite a flutist.
One relative who has a reputation for standing out in this regard is a cousin of my grandmother through both her father and her mother named Charles Sidney Andrews.
Fiddling Charlie, the fiddlin’ tornado. Won Fiddler’s contest in 44 states of the Union. Had a large family, 11 I think he told me at the 1930 Carroll Reunion. Charlie’s mother died when he was young and he was raised by his grandmother, Jane Andrews.
– Juno Evans Pierce, “The Carroll Family”
Charles Sidney Andrews was born 19 July, 1870 in Ozark, Arkansas to John Jernigan Andrews and Sarah Stubblefield. Charlie was a travelling musician who lived at various times in Fayette Co., IL, Arkansas, and Jasper, MO. Charlie was renowned in the family for his musical gifts. I don’t have independent confirmation of any of the family assertions about him, but he certainly inspired generations of his kin to be musicians nevertheless.
Here’s to you, Fiddler Charlie. You still are a family legend, inspiring generations never thought of in your time.
Today on this chilly Saturday morning I thought I would share how I organize my genealogical research in hopes of providing insight and ideas to anyone interested in the subject.
For my genealogical research, I have one main 4-drawer filing cabinet. This filing cabinet was one that my grandfather used and had in his office until he died in the early 90s. It’s no ordinary flimsy filing cabinet like the sorts they make today. This thing is built to last. It’s extremely tough, weighs more than a volkswagon, has the sorts of doors that automatically lock in a shut position, etc. Yes, it’s serious, just like Grandpa.
The top shelf has mostly office supplies in it. I’ll use this drawer to expand my holding of organized records. The second drawer has mainly what I consider personal important papers. These include things like my own birth certificate and other things of that nature that I have yet to put into any other organized form other than their prominent place in my filing cabinet. They’re stored sort of like what you might find in a vertical file, except, well, they’re horizontal. More of a pile, really, at the moment, but enclosed and contained nicely by the second drawer of the filing cabinet.
The third drawer contains all my oldest files and papers organized in file folders by surname. I have a very sophisticated method for storing information that pertains to more than one family: I put the information in a file folder for the surname to which it primarily pertains, then I use a complicated system of “remembering” which other families the information might pertain to. When I come to one of those families for which I have remembered information, I use my “remembering” system to guide me back to the information labeled under the primary surname of the information.
Within each surname I maintain a very flexible system for ordering my surname information. This system allows me to order my information in a number of ways depending on how the organization of my information can best facilitate my research on that surname at any given time. For example, if one file contains more currently applicable information, I might put it at the front of the files for that surname. If I know the information I’m looking for is something I’ve had for a really long time, it might be more towards the back of the listing for that surname, unless I had recently added information for that surname and shuffled things around in the process, as often happens. Also, some information I have planned to include in this collection is in three other boxes in various states of readiness for inclusion, but drawer 3 of my filing cabinet is full, and I haven’t wanted to redesign the storage for the other things I have stored in this cabinet. Unfortunately, since these other three boxes are more or less, sort of ready to be included in my highly organized filing system, I sort of keep them in quarantine frmo my other boxes and piles and heaps of records, because I don’t want them to get any bad ideas and fall into any old, bad habits, so I mostly don’t get into them much. This can be a bit problematic, but I make it work. Where was I?
Oh, drawer 4 of my filing cabinet actually is busting full with, I know it sounds a little odd, old genealogical society issues from the Fayette County (Illinois) Genealogical Society. These issues of Fayette Facts weren’t bound too well, and they tend to be fragile as a result. These are really unbelievable gems, as this society has published about 100-120 pages of transcribed records, cemetery listings, local genealogies every single quarter for what will be 40 years next year. Amazing material, really. I even wrote some articles for them in the 1980s. This collection is very important to me, and while perhaps boxing them up might serve the same purpose, unfortunately I don’t have any boxes because most of my other records already are in boxes, and I don’t have any more.
My next category of recordkeeping probably houses the bulk of my records: Boxes. I have many, many stacks of boxed records. Some of the boxes are closed and some are open. The closed boxes usually represent something I feel is more for safe keeping more than immediate reference, although, as always, there is a lot of flexibility built into this system. The boxes that are open tend to have records sorted into what might be called “piles,” or “heaps” for the larger boxes, but these piles and heaps are nicely contained by the box itself, so they don’t mix or get confused with the other materials in my other boxes or the heaps or pile I have on any of the various workspaces I use, unless I actually take the records out of the boxes to look at them.
My last category of storage for records is a little unusual, as it was something I came up with after I ran out of boxes. This is my collection of records in plastic grocery sacks. The last 2 or 3 times I have moved or significantly shifted my records I had already run out of good boxes, as I mentioned above. In these cases, I decided to use plastic grocery sacks, because hey, who doesn’t have those?
My records in plastic grocery sacks are records I was working on or I had out on a workspace at my last two or three places of residence or rooms of the house I was using for genealogy at that time. These tend to be smaller collections of information, obviously, and since these storage methods are considered to be more temporary, I have only used them when I plan to only temporarily move the records then start right back up and work on those same areas, freeing the records from their temporary enclosures that have little other organization. The last couple of times I moved genealogy rooms I didn’t actually add to these collections, so I know anything in plastic paper sacks is probably from a move at least six years ago, probably. All I have to do is remember what I was working on 6 years ago to know what’s in these sacks.
Now we get into my organization system for the things I have on my various workspaces. You might call these piles or heaps. Before I recently moved my genealogy room, I had one group of records on a particularly big workspace that was (how shall I say) structurally unsound. It acted more like a glacier, or on bad days, a mudslide. This hampered my organizational methodologies from working optimally. However, I solved this problem during my last move of my genealogy by using one of the methods above: boxes.
Right now my workspace areas are mostly under control. My piles and heaps aren’t more than about 6 inches high, so I’m feeling pretty good about them. Should the Big Earthquake hit, I don’t feel I would be in personal danger from the piles. The boxes might get me, but boxes move with more predictability than do heaps, so I think I could make it.
One other critical aspect of my system is that of chronological stratification. I use this a lot, so it’s important to mention. This is so simple, it’s easy to miss its genius: The stuff I’ve placed on top is my newest stuff. (This also makes it easy to get to.) The farther you go down into my piles on my workspaces, the longer ago I was working on it! I know! Genius! So all I have to do to find something is go back to the area where I was working on it, then go down in my piles to the right level, and presto! There it is. Sometimes. Obviously, lots of times I walk around or work on things in different places or the phone rings or the dog wants out or someone has something they want em to help with that will only take a couple of minutes that takes all day, and, well, in those cases finding things I was working on can be a challenge.
Well, anyway, this is how I organize my genealogy. If any of these methods can help you, please feel free to use them. However, I cannot be held responsible for any injury, whether physical or mental, of the use of these methods. Please use them at your own risk.
Thanks for the National Library of Sweden’s Online Digitized Swedish newspapers collection, which is fully text searchable, I found a newspaper advertisement of the exact voyage my ancestors took to America! This from the Gotlands tidning (Gotland Journal) published July 9, 1869, Visby, page 4:
Here’s the translation:
North American Lloyd
fast steamship between Copenhagen and New York with the high-speed American steamer Santiago de Cuba departing 1 August.
Price from Copenhagen 140 Riksdollars
Children under 12 years of age pay half price. With every ship is a Danish doctor and a Swedish interpreter, escorting the passengers to Chicago.
The ship will be provisioned in Copenhagen and enter no English or any other European port between.
Passengers should arrive in Copenhagen at least 3 days before ship departure.
You should report for the passage to NP Frederiksen, St. Anne Place 24, Copenhagen.
Main agent for southern Sweden, Alfred Malmström, 48 North Wall Street, Malmo.
For the Directorate: Duhrssen & Lubbers
I had previously blogged about my Swedish ancestors, Nils Peter Andersson and Maria Lotta Persdotter, making note of their gravesite. Also, I have an article about them on my main website detailing a little more of their actual immigration story and their lives in America.
The Santiago de Cuba was a very fast steamship that was built in the late 1850s that was commandeered by the army during the civil war. During the Civil War it served as a premier blockade enforcer. Here is a photo of the Santiago de Cuba during the civil war. Make note of the added gun turrets:
The Santiago de Cuba was not a ship with a regular passenger route between Copenhagen and New York. Its journey between these two ports was one of only a few it made in its approximately 30 years of serving as a passenger ship. The Santiago de Cuba much more commonly sailed to ports in central America. Apparently this lone trip it took during this time wasn’t particularly profitable, so this journey was not repeated right away.
I’m rushing this post due to other commitments, but isn’t this just plain neat!?
The much-anticipated public opening of the SAR Genealogical Research Library occurred Monday, 01 November. If you’re anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky, go over to the SAR website, get directions and check it out! How often does a library dedicated to genealogical research open, particularly in middle America!?
One of the great things about genealogy is that you can leave a part of your research alone for years then come back to it and start discovering new things as if it were completely new territory. A family that previously seemed devoid of further secrets to reveal can spring forth anew as if you’ve never even heard of them before.
Right now, the Henderson family is one such family that seems to be revealing new and exciting possibilities. For at least a decade I have known a rough sketch of the Hendersons that traces them back to about 1720-1740 in Massachusetts that can be verified and another 50 years back into Northern Ireland and Scotland that has been roughly related to me but that I haven’t been able to verify.
William Henderson was reputed to be born in County Down, Ireland, about 1718 to John Henderson. I can’t say I have complete confidence in this information, but it has been related to me. Nevertheless, William Henderson did marry Sarah Smith 13 Mar., 1740 in Woburn, MA. This couple them proceeded to move to Lunenburg, MA, and have a large family, all of whom are nicely recorded in the Worcester County, MA, records. The descendants of William include at least two Revolutionary War soldiers, a scoundrel, a rascal, several gunsmiths, and a plethora of extremely reputable and upright Hendersons (who tend to live to the age of Methuselah).
Being an amateur genealogist with neither the time nor the resources to travel to Massachusetts or Ireland or Scotland to explore the various rumors, possibilities, theories and anecdotes that have been passed down to me, I haven’t held out much hope of getting very much further with this line. However, in looking lately, I am starting to think a breakthrough is not only possible but likely.
It turns out that in 1890 a Reverend Perry, History Professor at Williams College of Williamstown, MA, lectured on the Scotch-Irish in New England, and he actually brought up the Hendersons in the exact town in the exact time that my Hendersons were there. He also indicated that they had come over in 1718 with Boyd, which again corresponds exactly to the year with unsubstantiated information I have received but have not been able to verify or find any basis for whatsoever.
Further investigation of this Scotch-Irish migration shows in fact only one Henderson family was recorded as signing the 1718 petition which Boyd carried with him in coming to Boston. This was James Henderson, however, not my John or John’s reputed father, also believed to be John.
Nevertheless, I’m excited.
Yes, it’s possible that someone in the past just latched on to this Scotch-Irish migration as the one with no basis in fact, and I have been the unfortunate recipient of bad information. However, my Hendersons have few (or no other) likely paths to migration to Massachusetts during this time. Besides, I have faith in my family as well, and I believe that the information passed to me through family is right whether I can point to records to prove it or not (but I’m still looking for those records!)
Anyway, like many of my family posts lately, this is more anecdotal than fact. This is what I’ve been up to in my limited time devoted to my own genealogy. Wish me luck as I continue to explore this first of the Scotch-Irish mass migrations to Massachusetts for my Hendersons.
In recognition of the upcoming Halloween celebrations, Geneabloggers has suggested writing about Genealogical Nightmares. What are my genealogical nightmares? Ancestors with common names and locations with a dearth available records.
Having started doing genealogical research when I was nine years old and currently sporting gray hair, I’ve been at this racket awhile. For the most part, the families that make up my heritage have names that are familiar enough to be spelled relatively few ways but uncommon enough to be easily distinguishable from their neighbors.
However, there are exceptions. Of course.
Isaiah Moore. Nancy Henderson. Daniel Harris. These are some of my ancestors who sit at dead ends on my family tree. These are the ones who make me wish to be related to the mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper.
What’s more, all three of these ancestors live in areas with large, large families of the same name. In one case I can’t prove it, but in the other two the families who are colocated are absolutely not closely related. This means that in searching for my family members, I have a steady, discouraging stream of people contacting me from that other family. I politely refer them to the other side of the message board, indicating, “There’s your party. Over there. That big, fun group. Cheers.” (Sigh.)
These ancestors have caused me fits, sleepless nights (for upwards of forty five minutes) and all sorts of other trouble. Imagine my embarrassment at genealogy get-togethers when I have to admit I have ancestral lines only traced back to the 1820s! (gasp!) (gulp!) … I know. Horrible.
My other research nemesis is the Location of Doooom. You know the ones: Those locations where they kept no records, used the records for kindling (ok, not aware of this actually happening, but I do have nightmares about it), were shortsighted enough to have had a war or flood or courthouse-swallowing earthquake. Something like that.
My personal nightmare in this category is Rensselaer County, New York. (-shakes fist towards northeast-)
Rensselaer County, New York appears to be normal, but I know the truth. Obviously, they put in place a plan, long long ago, to stop researchers like me (or maybe just me) from figuring out anything about their families from this location. This has to be it. Nothing else explains it. I mean, just try to find out anything about someone there from, oh, I don’t know, 1840.
OK, so maybe there are wills, and newspaper records nearby, and ok, maybe there are people with local area expertise I just haven’t run into, or maybe I just haven’t become familiar enough with the location. Well, maybe you couldn’t cite your way out of an Elizabeth Shown Mills-made paper bag!
OK, sorry about that. I just get a little crazy (or crazier) when discussing these topics. They may seem benign enough to you, but believe me, once you spend years alone, locked up in a little room with them and piles of records and notes proving they’re not related to ANYONE but you, it gets a little… nightmarish.
For my part, I know what I’m going as this Halloween:
A ghost named Daniel Harris from Rensselaer County, New York!
Well, I’m scared.
WOMAN DIES, ILL 4 WEEKS FUNERAL FOR MRS. ADA ANDERSON TO BE HELD TUESDAY Following four weeks’ illness, Mrs. Ada Marian Anderson, widow of Charles P. Anderson, 1915 Chestnut street, passed away in Levering hospital at 9:50 o’clock Saturday night. The remains were removed to Smith’s funeral home and at 10 o’clock this morning were taken to the family residence. Funeral services will be held Tuesday afternoon at two o’clock from the Bethany Baptist church, west of Philadelphia, with the funeral cortege leaving the home at 12:30 o’clock for the church. The Rev. E. C. Abernathy, pastor of Calvary Baptist church, assisted by the Rev. A. A. Braungardt, will have the service. Burial will be in the Bethany cemetery. A native of Hannibal, Mrs. Anderson was born December 23, 1875. She was well and favorably known to many people in this city. Her husband passed away March 10, 1934: – Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Ralph Lamberson of this city; three stepsons, J. B. Anderson of Hannibal, Wayne Anderson of Pocahontas, Ia., and Carter Anderson of Alamosa, Cola.; four grandchildren and other relatives.
In this picture, she is shown before her marriage with her brother, Benjamin Winn
A Friend of Friends Friday: Slaves named in Worcester Co., MD, property records, Book AX (incomplete)
The following are transcriptions of records I have found in the Land Records of Worcester County, Maryland, Book AX, related to slaves during the year 1831. I do not believe these are all such records in this book during this time period, but I transcribe such records as I find them…
To all whom it may or doth concern. Be it known that I David Long of Worcester County and State of Maryland for divers good causes and considerations me hereunto moving as
also in further consideration of three hundred dollars current money to me in hand paid have released from Slavery, liberated manumitted and set free the following negro slaves to wit Hannah whom I bought oo Cap. Lev. Henderson now thirty five years old and her children to wit Henry L. Purnell was born October 26th 1826 John W. Purnell was born January 27th 1828 all able to work and gain a sufficint livelyhood and maintenance and thus the said Negroes Hannah and her children to wit
Page 105 Henry L. Purnell and John W. Purnell, I do hereby declare to be free and their spous also to be free manumitted and discharged from all manner of servitude or service to me
my heirs Escro. admis. or assigns forever. the true intent and meaning of these presents is that the said Negros are free. In testimony whereof I have hereto set my hand and affixed my seal this ninth day of May Anno Dom. 1831.Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of Abra. Melvin and James Willis.David Long (SEAL)
Worcester County State of Maryland. Be it remembered that on the day and year first herein before written personally appeared David Long before me the subscriber one of theJustices of the Peace for the County and State aforesaid and acknowledged the within Instrument of writing to be his act and Deed and the negroes therein mentioned to be free and discharfed from all manner of service to him his heirs Escro adms. or assigns
together with their Spe– according to the purport true intent and meaning of the same and the acts of Assembly in such cases made and provided. Acknowledged before Abra. Melvin
May the tenth day Anno Domini Eighteen hundred and thirty one there was delivered unto me the subscriber the foregoing Deed of Manumission in order to be enrolled among the
records of Worcester County, which said Deed of Manumission together with the acknowledgement thereof thereon endorsed are accordingly recorded among the same records in Liber AX folio 104 and 105. John C. Handy, clk
List of Negroes brought from the State of Virginia into Worcester County State of Maryland on the 20th day of March 1831 by Matthias N. Lindsey in right of his wife Ann Hocomb – Negro woman Agness 21 years of age. Negro girl Charity. 2 years 6 months.Tp John C. Handy, clk. Matthias N. Lindsey
May the tenth day Anno Domini Eighteen hundred Thirty one there was delivered unto me the subscriber the foregoing List of importation of Negores in order to be enrolled among the records of Worcester County, which said List of importation of Negroes is accordingly recorded among the same records and Liber AX folio 105. John C. Handy clk.
Page 472A List of Negro man. imported by the subscriber on the Nineteenth day of January one thousand Eight hundred and thirty two from Accomack County in the State of Virginia to
Worcester County in the State of Maryland to wit- a Negro man named George aged 32 years a title to which negro man I acquired by intermarriage with a certain Ann Hocomb of
Accomack County in the State of Virginia. given under my hadn this 17th day of February 1832. Matthias N. LindseyTo the clerk of Worcester County February the Seventeenth day Anno Domini Eighteen hundred and thirty two there was delivered unto me the subscriber the foregoing List of importation of a Negro in order to be Enrolled among the records of Worcester County which said List of Importation of a Negro is accordingly recorded among the same records in Liber AX folio 472. John C.
…Page 472This Indenture made on this eleventh day of February in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred and thirty two between Thomas Johnson of Somerset County and State of Maryland of the one part and John Johnson of Worcester County and State aforesaid of the other part Witnesseth
Page 473that for and in consideration of the sun of one hundered and twenty five Dollars current money by the said John Johnson to the said Thomas Johnson in had paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt of which he doth hereby acknowledge and himself to be therewith fully satisfied counted and paid the said Thomas Johnson hath bargained & sold by these presents doth bargain and sell unto the said John Johnson one Negro Girl called Hanna aged nine years- to have and to hold the said Hanna to him his heirs and assigns forever- which Negro Girl I shall and will warrant and defend forever by these presents against the claims of all persons whomsoever. In testimony whereof the said Thomas Johnson has hereuoto set his hand and seal on the day and year
first above written. Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of Joseph Leonard.
Thomas Johnson (SEAL)