Welcome Mayflower Cousins

This blog is full of information for applications to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Ohio. Check back often to learn more about producing a successful application. Click the email link at the bottom to be notified of new posts as they happen.

Our contact information is:
Ann Gulbransen, Historian, ohmayflowerhistorian@gmail.com
Lee Martin, Assistant Historian, buckeyemayflower@gmail.com

Monday, October 28, 2013

How many documents should you send? Part 2

When collecting evidence try to get primary sources if possible.  For example, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage records from the probate court with the return at the very bottom which should give the actual marriage date.  Prior to 1908 in Ohio birth, death and marriage records were kept at the probate court.  Depending on the county, ask to see if they will let you take digital photographs of those records.  If allowed, take photographs and include it.  If getting to the courthouse is impractical, try going to the local county chapter of OGS and see if you can examine the records on microfilm.  If there is no microfilm, order it from Salt Lake and have it sent to the local LDS church to view it or send it to the OGS library in Belleville.  If the ancestor in question is not listed in the birth records, use the social security number to obtain a copy of the social security application (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps9/eFOIA-FEWeb/internet/main.jsp).  Other records that can be used are probate records if any exist for the individual.

Once you traced your ancestor to Massachusetts, try to look for vital records by the Town Clerk.  For example, when I found out that my fourth great grandfather came from Yarmouth, Massachusetts, I ordered Town Records by the Town Clerk on microfilm from Salt Lake.  With that I was able to get original birth records and not rely on transcriptions (a two volume set of transcriptions of Yarmouth vital records were done by the Shermans in the 1970s or 1980s).  Many cases I found the same records in different volumes and helps as a cross-check.  I took the images of the Yarmouth records and created  Word document with it to include full source citations and sent them to Ann to include in my file; basically for the source citation, I simply copy-pasted the citation from my RootsMagic software onto the word document.  I used the Town records to supplement the Silver books and the Howland volumes.  By submitting the Word document with the images and source citations to Ann, she could view the record and verify that what is on the application is indeed is the same as what's on the record.  The Sherman transcriptions are accurate; but transcriptions are prone to error (any record is prone to error in reality).

Point being use as many verifiable records as possible to back up your claim - the more, usually the better.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How many documents should you send?

I received a question from an applicant today who wanted to know if she should send obituaries, headstone photos, cemetery records, etc for an ancestor for whom she has a long form death certificate that includes parents' names, spouse name, and all the other information we look for.

The answer is "it depends!" For a person for whom you have not only the long form death certificate but also have a birth certificate and perhaps even a marriage document that includes parents, then the death certificate is sufficient. 

For a person for whom the death certificate is also your main source for birth information, I would include everything you have. In these situations, I also try to find census records that show the person in the household of his/her parents. The 1900 census should always be included if applicable as it gives month and year of birth and can corroborate the birth information on the death certificate.  If you are not sure, then send it all. I may not use it all, but let me make the determination.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What is wrong with an index?

What is wrong with an index?

There are several kinds of indices that you can find online when you are doing genealogical research. Let me explain the issues that we see.

The first problem with almost any index is transcription errors. An index is a secondary source, transcribed from a primary source. Transcription errors are easy to make, but when you cannot see the original to verify, it is impossible to tell if the index is correct.Old handwriting can be difficult so it is always better to have the original to study.

The second problem is that an index almost never includes all the information on the original document. If you have participated in any indexing of records through Ancestry.com or Family Search.org, you know that you key in only selected fields. Those selected fields may not include the information we need to successfully prove a lineage.

Here are some examples:
·         Index of recent documents such as the California Death Index: Generally, if you find an event listed in one of these indices of recent occurrences, you can be certain that an actual certificate for the event exists and can be ordered. These indices are generally databases of the original documents that are on file. We depend on the actual long form certificates for more than just the date and place of the event. Since the most important part of a lineage application is making the link between generations, we depend on having the information on the names of the person’s parents and often the name of the spouse. The original document should always be requested when an event is found in an index like this.
·         Index of historical records such as the Ohio Marriages database on FamilySearch.org: Mose indices of this type are transcriptions of very old records, often from microfilm. The original images will someday be digitized, but they are not yet. As indicated above, only selected fields from the original record have been indexed which may or may not include what you need. For the collections on FamilySearch, the original microfilm number is usually at the bottom of the page. You can use the website to request a copy of the microfilm at your local Family History Center where you can view and print a copy of the original record.
·         Social Security Death Index (SSDI): Not everyone will be included in the SSDI - the deceased person must have collected benefits to be included and not every death gets reported. The only data element that can be reliably collected here is the date of death. The location is where the last check was mailed, not where the person died. For more detailed information, you can send in a request for the original Social Security application, the SS5. That document will include date and place of birth and the names of the person’s parents, all key information for proving a lineage.

Indices can be very useful records, but they should mainly be used as clues to help you find the original records that you need to prove your lineage. There are times that the original records no longer exist and the index is all we have. In such cases, make sure you include the title page of the index book or collection and a copy of the introductory text that explains the circumstances of the transcriptions and the fate of the original records.