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, historian@ohiomayflower.org
Lee Martin, Deputy Historian, deputyhistorian@ohiomayflower.org

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mayflower Worksheet Tips

Your worksheet is a draft document. It is a tool for you to use to verify that you have all the documents you need to prove your lineage. It is not the final application so it does not have to be perfect. Use the worksheet as a framework. My job as Historian is to turn what you have submitted into a finished application.
When you receive your worksheet, we will have filled in all the citations for events for which the Society already has documentation. You do not need to send copies of any of these documents. We do not need more copies of stuff we already have! If there are weaknesses in the existing documentation, they will be noted, highlighted in yellow. If you are unsure how to abbreviate on your worksheet, please review our document on abbreviations.
Your task is to try to fill in the blanks. You can see that there is a line for each birth, marriage and death event for both the line carrier and the spouse with spaces for place, date and references. In a perfect world, you will be able to fill in the place and date fields for each event and have a source document for each one. In the real world, you will probably still have blanks, particularly in those hard to prove middle generations.
As you start working on the document, start with yourself. Make sure you have a copy of your own birth certificate that lists your mother’s maiden name. Fill in your birth place, date and write B/C in the References field. If you are married, do the same for your wedding date and place and the birth (and death if applicable) of your spouse. Put the name of your spouse’s parents in the designated spot. Hint: I will use the spelling of names that you put here – they are often hard to read on hand-written documents and I don’t want to butcher names that you know.
Next, move on to your parents. You need to record all the applicable birth, marriage and death events with dates and places and provide reference documents that include parents’ names if at all possible. Note the documents you are using as references in the fields provided. Note: if either of your parents was born before civil birth registration was required, a marriage record and/or death record listing parents including mother's maiden name can proxy for a birth record.
Repeat this process as you work backwards through the generations. You may find it helpful to put the documents for each generation in a file folder to keep them straight. Remember, the most important part of this is to clearly link the line carrier in each generation to his/her parents.
As you move backwards, you will find that civil registration for events stop being available. Look at the FamilySearch Wiki (www.familysearch.org/wiki) for detail on when civil registration was required in each state. Some counties kept their own records prior to civil registration, but those are not complete. For example, civil registration in Ohio began in December 1908, but it took some counties several years to comply. Some counties had local records, but if they do exist, they began after the Civil War. We do not expect you to find records that were never created!
As you move back before vital records, you will need to find wills, probate records, land records, family bibles, letters, etc to make the required links between generations. This is often when secondary sources such as published genealogies and county histories come into play. If you do have to dip into secondary sources, you need at least two and one should not have been derived from the other.
Personally, I love census records. I try to find every one that I can for my own family. Census records before 1850 are marginally useful as only the heads of households are listed, and there is not enough information to be sure that you have identified the correct person, particularly for men with common names. Census records from 1850 to 1870 are better because all names in the household are listed, but there are no relationships specified. Marriages and parent/child relationships are implied, but not proved. Several sequential enumerations with the same family group do make that implication stronger. Census records beginning with 1880 do list relationships so they are more useful, but are still secondary sources. The Historian General does not want to see every possible census record – just the ones that provide helpful information that is not found in other documents.
Remember with all these documents, that there can be errors. People lied, particularly about ages, and people made up answers when they did not know what was correct. Any document that is a copy of an original (such as census records) may include transcription errors. If you find documents that show conflicting information, include them all and we will just acknowledge that there are inconsistencies.

Abbreviation Paralysis

I have had several applicants lately tell me they were so freaked out by having to abbreviate their source documents on the worksheet that they were essentially paralyzed. If that is you, sit down, take a couple of deep breaths and let the fear go.
The worksheet is a rough draft. It is a framework for you to use to verify that you have all the documents you need to prove your line. Abbreviate on the worksheet however works for you! It is not the final application. It is only a tool that you can use as you need. If you need more space, fine, if the pages don’t print as they should, fine. I can deal with all of that when I prepare the finished application.
We have given you some suggested abbreviations to help you save space, but when I prepare your finished application, I will re-work all the abbreviations to conform to Society standards. I tend to work from the documents themselves, turning to your worksheet mainly to make sure I have everything and to verify spellings. Even then, on many applications, the verifier at the General society will often have different ideas and change the abbreviations again!
You do NOT need to put a full citation on the worksheet because you will be sending photocopies of the documents with your worksheet. All I need is enough so that I know what document you mean. If you want to give a full citation, print it on the back of the document. We are all constantly urged to cite your sources and given great guidance on how to do that, but this is not the place for full source citations since you will be sending photocopies of each document.
Let me give you some examples:
·       For a birth certificate, don’t put “Marion Co, OH birth certificate number 12345” – just put B/C. The place and number are readable on the document itself.
·       For an old ledger style record, you can put the location information on the back of the copy if it is not legible on the front.
·       For digitized documents that you have downloaded, you can write the name of the website and collection on the back. DO NOT print a copy of the index page – I am just going to recycle the extra paper.
·       For a book, you don’t need to put in a full citation such as “Commemorative Biographical Record Rock, Green, Grant, Iowa, LaFayette Co WI, Chicago, JS Beers & Co, 1901” because you are going to include a photocopy of that title page which has all that detail! A decent abbreviation might be “Bio Rec Rock etc.” with the page number you are referencing.
·       A reference that is not the original for the event, such as using a detailed marriage certificate as a proxy for a non-existent birth record should be put in parentheses, e.g. “(M/C)”.
Let me also give you some information on the somewhat cryptic things we put into abbreviations. If you see a number in parentheses it is most likely the age of the person in that document such as a census record or death record. If you see the word “parents,” that means the full names of both parents are written on the document. See the table below for more suggestions and explanations.
Common abbreviations
Mayflower Families through 5 Generations Volume 4 page 125
MF 4: 125
Mayflower Families in Progress, Brewster, person # 100
MFIP Brewster #100
Birth, Marriage or Death Certificate (only a single event is documented)
B/C, M/C, D/C
Birth, Marriage or Death Record (multiple events/people in a single document)
B/R, M/R, D/R
Federal Census Year 1850 North Carolina
1850 FC NC
State Census Year 1855 New York
1855 SC NY
Vital Records of Kingston, MA pg. 161
Kingston VR: 161
Vital Records of Rhode Island (Arnold) Vol. 3, part 1, pg. 10
VR RI 3:1:10
Rhode Island Vital Records (Beaman) Vol. 3, pg. 270
RIVR (Beaman) 3:270
Grave Stone photograph
gs photo
Harlow Family pg. 60
Harlow Fam: 60
New England Historical and Genealogical Register Vol. 3, pg. 30
NEHGR 3:30
Plymouth County Probate Records Vol. 39, pg. 68
PLY Co. PR 39: 68
Plymouth County Deeds Vol. 2, pg. 50
PLY Co. Deeds 2: 50
If B/C, M/C or D/C used as a reference for other than the event itself, place in parenthesis.
(B/C) (M/C) (D/C)
No mother’s maiden name
No given name
No record found
Put dates and places you think are correct but cannot prove in square brackets

Friday, February 9, 2018

More on the FamilySearch catalog

As a follow up to the last post about searching the Catalog at the FamilySearch website, here are a couple more tips.
  • If you are doing a location search, enter the place name in Country,State,County format. For example, search for United States, Ohio, Medina then click the search button. You should get a long list of every collection they have on Medina County.
  • If you are already logged in to your FamilySearch account, you can open the Catalog to search without leaving the main part of the website. To do this, click on Search, then Right-click on the Catalog link and then click on Open in a new Tab on the menu that will display. You can then go back and forth between the Catalog and the indexed records.
  • I have had a hard time finding the link to search for a nearby Family History Center. The best way I have found is at the bottom of the main page, click on the link for Site Map. When the lists display, the link to the Family History Centers is in the Get Help list.
Good luck with your searches! Remember, the Historian General wants to see images of the original record, not an index.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

No more microfilm rentals?? How can I get records now?

You probably know by now that the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is no longer loaning rolls of microfilm. Microfilm is a technology that is rapidly becoming obsolete, and the raw film almost impossible to find. FamilySearch is committed to digitize all the records they have on microfilm over the next few years.

So, what do we do now? FamilySearch has indicated that they have already digitized the most frequently requested rolls of microfilm. However, much of that content has not yet been indexed so it is not available on the main FamilySearch.org website. But, it is available online!

The key is to search for the records you want in the catalog on the FamilySearch website. If you find an index record in a collection such as Ohio Marriages 1800-1958, you should see a microfilm number on the right side of the index record.

From the menu at the top of the website, click on Search and pick Catalog from the list. On the Catalog page, you should see a link for Film/Fiche number. Enter the film number from the index record you found and you should be taken to a page with details of that record. If the record is one you can view from home, you will see a camera icon next to a link for the film. Click on the icon and you will be presented with a digital copy of the film that you can browse to find the record you want.

If you see a camera icon with a key above it, that means you can only view the digitized imates at a Family History Center or affiliate library. Use the website to find the closest FHC to your location, go there and use their computer to repeat the steps above. You should now be able to browse the images and find the one you need.

If you don't have a film number, you can use the other search parameters to see catalog entries for your desired location, surname, etc. You should see both physical holdings and microfilm collections.

What else can you do? Think about participating in indexing records for FamilySearch. The more records get indexed by volunteers like you, the faster the record collections will be available on the main site.

Good luck with your search for records!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Dating Game – Part 2

Today, 4 October 2016 is the 434th anniversary of the Gregorian Calendar.  In an earlier article, I explained the reason for the slash between the last two digits of the year.  In this article, I want to get into a bit of the science and the law in getting the Julian and Gregorian calendars in sync with each other.

            The reason for the discrepancy deals with physics itself.  The rotates once roughly 24 hrs. by our reckoning with the sun, but measured at 23 hrs., 56 min., and 4 sec. by reckoning with the stars.[1]  As the Earth rotates, the planet revolves around the sun 1 sidereal year (by the stars) every 365 days, 6 hrs., 9 min., and 9.76 sec.[2] To add further complications, orbital motion is not uniform.  In essence, the earth’s rotation is slowing down and days are getting longer with respect to its orbit.

            The impetus for the conversion came from calculations for the date of Easter were way off.  When Julius Caesar created his calendar, he did not take into account the variability of the orbit.  He took into account of the days, but not the hours, minutes, and seconds.  He shortchanged himself by 11 minutes/day.  As a consequence, the drift between the two calendar systems grew about 10 days at least.  By the time Christianity arrived, the Easter date was tied to the Vernal equinox and before the reforms, the celebrations took place in the heat of Summer, not Spring!

            To compensate, a Jesuit priest Christoph Clavius wrote a tract, Novi Calendarii Romani Apologia[3] in 1588 after the papal bull written by Gregory XIII went into effect, explaining the need to change the way religious holy days were calculated because the Julian year was too long.  Clavius received help from Aloysius Lilius, an astronomer to do the needed computations and reforms.  Clavius wrote the tract to defend Gregory XIII’s papal bull, Inter Gravissimas, announcing the changes suggested by Clavius and Lilius to bring religious and civil time reckoning into sync.  The changes were made during the reign of Elizabeth I of England.  Some European countries switched immediately; however, England made the switch in 1750.  Parliament passed the Calendar Act of 1750 (24 Geo. 2 c. 23) to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, while the American colonies adopted it in 1753.  Yesterday, Saudi Arabia switched to the Gregorian calendar to pay its civil servants.[4]

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Earth’s Rotation,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed October 4, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Earth%27s_rotation&oldid=741935778
[2] “Useful Constants,” accessed October 4, 2016, hpiers.obspm.fr/eop-pc/models/constants.html
[3] Christoph Clavius, Romani Calendarii a Gregorio XIII P. M. Restitvti Explicatio S. D. N. Clementis VIII. P. M. ivssv edita (Rome, Italy: Aloysius Zannettus, 1603); Adobe PDF eBook, Bayerische StaatsBibliotek (http://www.mdz-nbn-resolving.de/urn/resolver.pl?urn=urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb11218179-399757.pdf: accessed 4 October 2016); the work is entirely in Latin with no English translation
[4] Alexandra Sims, “Saudi Arabia switches to ‘Western’ Gregorian calendar so it can pay workers less and save money,” Independent, accessed October 4, 2016,  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-calendar-gregorian-switches-to-pay-workers-less-save-money-a7342331.html

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BIBLE RECORDS - Are they acceptable proof ??? Well, it depends.

Many of you are lucky enough to have family bibles that were kept by your grandparents and previous generations. There is a section in most bibles where births, marriages and deaths can be recorded. For some if these events, the family bible may be the only place they are recorded.

When are these family records considered primary documentation for your Mayflower Society (or other lineage society) application? There are a lot of factors to consider.

First, you need to know who owns the bible today, who owned it originally and how it traveled into the hands of the current owner. The provenance of how it was handed down in the family can add or detract from the credibility of the data.

Next, you need to know how old the physical book is. The best way is to make a copy of the title page that has the date when the book was published. You need to know this so you can judge if the events that were recorded happened after the book was published or years earlier. A bible published in 1850 that records events starting in 1860 is worth a whole lot more genealogically than a bible published in 1950 that records events starting in 1700! Events recorded long after the fact are hearsay and are considered circumstantial evidence at best.

Now, look at the handwriting. Does it look like all the entries were written by the same person at the same time (same hand, same ink)? If so, then this is again hearsay. If the handwriting and ink looks different on the entries, it is much more likely that they were written at the time the events occurred and are genealogically much more credible.

The next thing to look at is the completeness of the data. It is rare that you will find places listed in bible entries, but sometimes you will get lucky. The important thing is to see if relationships are specified. A long list of names and dates with no indication of how the people were related does nothing to help you link the line carriers in your lineage. The best bible records specify relationships. Remember, a document has to say what you are trying to prove!

What about bible transcripts? Often, the original bible cannot be located, but you have a transcript, either handwritten or published. The first thing you need to do is find out who made the transcript and when it was made. That will give it some credibility. You won’t have the clues from the handwriting, but a good transcript will show the date the bible was published and all the details including any recorded relationships. A transcript is never as good as an original, but it is sometimes all we have.

So, having a family bible is a wonderful treasure for your family, but its worth as a genealogical record depends on lots of factors. For Mayflower, if the bible does not meet the above criteria, it will be considered as an unpublished family record and circumstantial evidence only. Is your family bible a good record - maybe - maybe not - it all depends...

Inspired by a post by Gregory Evan Thompson in the Mayflower Descendants Facebook group.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ohio Birth & Death Records, Part Deux

For Ohio birth and death records 1867 to 1908, check out the FamilySearch.org Ohio County Birth, Marriage and Death records.  Some counties started recording deaths in the probate court after the Civil War, although few began earlier.  If no records are found on the microfilm, try going to the probate court in person and ask if the early records can be photographed.  I know in the Huron, Richland, and Ashland Counties allow a person digitally photograph the old records (color is better in my opinion - makes it more real).  Sometimes going through the Ohio probate records.  The images are unindexed, but well worth the search.  That is how I managed to connect an ancestress to her parents through her father's Will in the Ashtabula probate records.