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, December 15, 2014

The Name Game

Ah, yes – the name game.  Growing up, I heard many names mentioned about people and never really thought of how they relate to me, if at all, until in my later years in the service.  How many times do we remember a name and try to piece together the relationship?  Many times names are recycled through the generations.  With the advent of the internet, a plethora of names cascades off the webpages such as Ancestry.com, Fold3, FamilySearch, and others.  Our job as genealogists is to sift through the names and generations to see where the people fit in our ancestral or correlative puzzle.  Unfortunately, the above named websites, particularly Ancestry.com and FamilySearch, contain much bogus information in the form of mis-keyed entries.

            As a “baby” genealogist I ordered Family Tree Maker 2005 software and I searched for my ancestor, William Barker and came up with several hundred thousand hits.  By the time I finished merging trees, the poor man had15 wives and several hundred kids.  I knew he was born in the 1840s and had one wife.  In extreme frustration, I deleted my great-great grandfather from existence (and yet, I’m still here) and started over.  The story illustrates important points – start with yourself and work back, don’t rely on the internet for all information, and use a variety of records from the courts, libraries, historical societies plus other reputable sources.

            In order to prove each event in our ancestors lives, each record must be cited and verified by cross-referencing with other records.  What do I mean?  For example, my ancestor William Barker entered into this world 6 January 1842, Millwood Township, Guernsey County, Ohio.  The event is precise, but no birth records were kept in Ohio until the late 1860s.  How can it be cross-referenced?  Using a death certificate from the Ohio Department of Health or perhaps a probate record from the court.  I obtained the death certificate that gives his birth date, trouble is the birth is secondary.  I checked the probate court and there is no probate records for William.

            Another way to cross-reference is to use the 1880 census.  The 1880 census gives relationships and an approximate year of birth.  Actually, the more censuses used the better, even if no relationships are stated.  Land records can be used as well because of the transference of property, in addition to a marriage being written into the record.  Tombstone photos in cemeteries will help.

            With amassed records, cite all your sources so that if a person has a question, the sources can be consulted.  Citations show that a person is serious about documenting ancestors using reliable, verifiable data and will show credibility of the researcher.  Another caveat awaits the researcher – just because a person may have the same surname as yourself or the family you work, does not necessarily mean you are related.  I have seen many lineage reviews with Whites and Warrens, along with others.  When I check the first five generations to see if the line is good, I found the opposite to be true because there is no such child belonging to the couple or, perhaps, there is a child, but, the line does not continue.  Check your sources and verify before proceeding to the next generation.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Massachusetts Vital Records, part 2

     Massachusetts vital records exist at the town level and, for the most part, been microfilmed by the Mormon Church.  Images taken from the microfilm have been put on Ancestry.com under the "Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988" database; but, Ancestry.com does not give the full citation of what microfilm is used.  Depending who indexed the image, a volume number may or may not appear and for the same person, there may be multiple references for the same piece of data.  For example, my 7th Great Grandfather, the Honorable Judah Thacher, has three references in the Yarmouth Town Records for his birth 20 August 1693 in Yarmouth (Yarmouth, Massachusetts, Town Records, Births, 1657-1783, 3: 55, Judah Thacher; FHL microfilm 945511; Yarmouth, Massachusetts, Vital Records, Births, 1678-1823, 7: 11, Judah Thacher; FHL microfilm 945511; Yarmouth, Massachusetts, Town Records, 1678-1860, 18: 12, Judah Thacher; FHL microfilm 945513) lists the same person, birth date and parents three different times.

     With the Judah Thacher example, each town clerk at that particular time hand-wrote each entry.  Volumes 3,4 and 7 are on microfilm 945511 while volume 18 dealing with individuals grouped in family units is on microfilm 945513.  For Judah, he is listed with his siblings under John Thacher and Lydia Gorham (my ancestress).  Both of these films are on permanent loan at the OGS library in Bellville, Ohio.  These microfilms are the actual basis of the transcriptions of the records done by the late Robert and Ruth Sherman in two volumes (Vital Records of Yarmouth, Massachusetts to the Year 1850) also found at the OGS library.  The important point to remember is the microfilm records are the original registers and are primary source evidence in proving relationships in colonial Massachusetts versus the Sherman transcripts which are secondary.

     What do I mean by primary and secondary source evidence?  Primary sources deal with recording the event either by an eyewitness to the event or transmitted to someone else to record by the eyewitness.  For example, the birth of a child.  The mother birthed the child and she went to the town clerk along with her husband to register the birth.  When the town clerk entered the information in the register, that would be the "birth certificate" for that child.  The town clerk may or may not hire other clerks to collect the registers and re-copy them into other volumes particularly in cases after a fire or other natural disasters to insure preservation of the record not only for public viewing but also for the government in determining local taxes.