Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking Down Brick Walls: Part Two

Part One

Two Mondays ago, I transcribed the decision letter written by The Dawes Commission concerning my Hartley ancestors.  This letter mentioned the parents of my second great grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster, as provided in the testimony of her brother, Samuel:  George W Hartley and Eliza Beasley.  However, the letter also mentioned another possible mother - Ann Fisher.
It also appears that all of said applicants claim rights in the Choctaw lands under article fourteen of the treaty between the United States and the Choctaw Nation, concluded September twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and thirty, by reason of being descendants of one George W. Hartley, and from Eliza Hartley (nee Beasley) (or Ann Hartley nee Fisher) who are alleged to have been three quarter blood Choctaw Indians and to have resided in Mississippi in eighteen hundred and thirty.
I said in my notes that followed the transcription I would devote a post to this conundrum.   I also said that Ann Fisher's name appears in only one other location in the documents I downloaded from Footnote for all eight related applications. A genealogy chart that appeared in Samuel T Hartley's application, but with no indication where/who it came from.  (click on the below images to see a larger version)


Samuel T. Hartley clearly states in his testimony that his mother was Eliza.

One assumption that could be made is that if there was a second mother for George Hartley's children, Ann Fisher was likely the mother of Sarah.  But that would be an assumption.  It's also possible Samuel may have said his mother was Eliza, but later admitted in some document I don't have, that his mother was actually Ann.  Or perhaps this chart was drawn up by the commission, and Ann's name got added there accidentally by some strange unknown series of events.

Is there any evidence that might support the theory that Sarah's mother was Ann?  Any evidence that might suggest otherwise?  Yes, and Yes.

1) Sarah's full name at birth, as far as family records are concerned, was Sarah Ann Hartley.  (circumstantial, but shouldn't be ignored.)
2) Sarah's second daughter was named Eliza.  (also circumstantial, but shouldn't be ignored either.)

3) One might ask who was the older child -- Samuel or Sarah -- and whether there is any evidence of which wife/mother came first.

Let's take a look at the evidence provided by the census.  The first census of any use is 1850.  (Prior to 1850, only the head of the household was named.)

1850  Census

In Houston, Texas, there is an Eliza Hartley (32) living with two sons, Samuel (18)  and William (6).  They are in the same household as the family of  "Elijah and Margaret Wheeler."  Samuel claims in his testimony to have been born in 1830, so this isn't too far off.  However, there is no Sarah.

There is a Sarah Hartley (14), in another Houston, Texas household.  Working as a farmhand for Hardey and Sarah Ware.  Her birth year would be 1836.

1854

Sarah Hartley married Ebenezer Denyer (I have a copy of the marriage certificate)  There are no ages given.

1860 Census

Sarah is recorded as age 32.  Her birth year would be 1828.  (Her brother Samuel is in the same household, and is recorded as age 26.  This is the only census where Samuel is recorded as a younger age than Sarah.)

1870 Census

Sarah is recorded as age 30.  Ten years later, and she's 2 years younger!  But because of her husband, I know she's the same woman.

1872: Ebenezer Denyer dies
1874: Sarah marries George W. Foster

1880 Census

Sarah is recorded as age 44, putting her birth year back to 1836.  Her daughter Eliza Caroline Foster Reeves testifies to the Dawes Commission that Sarah was 66 years old when she died in 1898, suggesting she was born in 1832.

While her exact birth year is open to question, I am fairly certain that Sarah was younger than her brother Samuel.  If that is their mother, Eliza (Beasley) Hartley in Houston, Texas in 1850.  And if Ann Fisher and Eliza Beasley were both wives of George Hartley, that means Ann was the first wife.  Of course, either Ann or Eliza could have been a mistress.

So this conundrum isn't solved.  If Ann Fisher's appearance in the Dawes Commission documents isn't a mistake, she could be the mother of either Samuel or Sarah.  Since her name doesn't appear in any of the testimony, and I have no idea how her name got introduced into the documents, I have recorded Eliza Beasley as the mother of all three children (including the William who appears in the 1850 census), and relegated Ann Fisher to the notes section of my database until I learn more about her.

Breaking Down Brick Walls: Part One

The theme for the 98th Carnival of Genealogy is: "Document Analysis! Show us a document that helped you break down a brick wall on your family tree. Discuss the information that appears on the document and how it contributes to your family history."

The term "brick wall" can be used to define almost any barrier we arrive at in our research, but is often used in genealogy circles to describe those ancestors for whom we know nothing about their parents.  There might as well be a brick wall beyond this ancestor, because we can see nothing beyond them.  Since we don't know their parents, it usually means we also are uncertain about when they were born.

Every branch of every family tree reaches a brick wall ancestor.  (Note: I'm going to ignore any comments from people who claim to have traced a branch of their tree back to 'Adam.'  We likely have different standards of reliable 'evidence,' so there's no use even trying to have a discussion.)  As I said, every branch.  Every time a wall is broken down, we have two more brick walls, because everyone has two parents.  It's a hydra.  (Pedigree Collapse is the only thing that can decrease your number of brick wall ancestors.)

Using this definition of "brick wall," I, personally, have only managed to knock down parts of three on my family tree.  I have found the research of other genealogists online, and in libraries, that helped extend the generations my immediate family knew about.  However, I didn't break down these walls, someone else did before me; thankfully, they wrote the information down for me to find.  These walls are mostly on my maternal side, as my paternal brick walls mostly lay in countries where English is not the spoken language, and the online records are sparse.

One brick wall I may have knocked down half-way, is that of Jane Goldfinch.  As I blogged about in July, I found the will of a Barnard Goldfinch, who looks very likely to be Jane's father.  I still don't know her mother, though, so the wall isn't completely cleared away.

Here's what the will looks like:


And here's the transcription.

Another half-wall toppled does reside on my paternal branches.  My paternal great great grandfather Selig Dudelsack arrived in the US in 1890.  My family knew the name of his mother, Gertrude, or Gitel.  We believe her surname was, "Slupsky," though this hasn't been verified.

In this case, finding the name of Gitel's father was the most simple of my genealogical breakthroughs.  All it took was a trip to a cemetery.  Some documents are carved in stone.  It turned out Gitel made the trip to America with her son, and is buried next to him.


Translation of Hebrew: Gitel daughter of Reb Simcha Zelig died on the 16th of Av 5666. [August 6, 1906]

The tombstone doesn't provide a surname for the father.  The family came from Poland or Russia, and may not have had a surname until sometime between 1821 and 1844.  It's possible neither her father, nor Gitel, were born with one.

I did learn that Gitel named her son, Selig, after his grandfather. Selig's tombstone indicates his full Hebrew name was, "Simcha Zelig," too.



I will devote an entire post to the other wall I have chiseled away at.

Part Two

Monday, September 27, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: A Letter from the Hospital - November 25, 1936

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

This week I transcribe a letter my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch, sent to his sister, Bert, in November of 1936, while he was recovering from an appendicitis attack and surgery.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- September 19th to 25th
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere
  • Daniel Hubbard at Personal Past Meditations was recently visited by a physicist friend - and he found some similarities.  Particles leave paper trails.  We can't see or hear the particles, just like we can't see or hear our distant ancestors.  Read more in Building An Ancestor.
Blogging/Social Networking/Technology
Press Releases
(In some cases multiple blogs have posted these press releases, but I have chosen one representative.)
Other Weekly Lists
The genealogy bloggers below provide their selections for the week - many different from my own. 
Amanuensis Monday: September 20th participants
[Amanuensis Monday is a weekly blogging theme I began in February of 2009, where participants transcribe letters, audio, and other documents.  Why I do this.]

If you participated, but don't appear on this list, please, let me know.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What would happen if Coke acquired Pepsi?

This just happened -metaphorically - in the genealogy universe.  Ancestry.com acquired Footnote.com's parent iArchive.  The two websites are basically #1 and #2 with respect to fee-based historical/genealogical databases.

The modifier is necessary, since some might nominate FamilySearch for #2, but for religious reasons they give away all their information for free. 

And that may just be one of the reasons for the acquisition.  It can be difficult for for-profits to compete with not-for-profits on the same playing field.

These are just my initial thoughts.  We will of course have to wait and see what happens.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: The Dawes Commission Decision

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

This week I return to the documents I began Amanuensis Monday with - back in February of 2009: The testimony given by my ancestral kin on their Choctaw ancestry.  Below is the official decision letter from the Dawes Commission.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- September 12 to 18
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star explains why There Are No Absolutes in Genealogy

M. Diane Rogers at CanadaGenealogy shares some frustrations with and praises for British Columbia Historical Vital Statistics

Dear Myrtle raises a question about Political Correctness, and whether or not we transcribe a document word-for-word, or whether we (leave out/edit) parts that may be misunderstood out of context.  James Tanner at Genealogy's Star shares his thoughts on the topic.

Tana L Pederson at the Ancestry.com Blog answers some questions on FamilyTreeMaker 2011.  I was excited to learn that the Mac version is slated for release within the next two months.

GovGab writes about the Penning of the Star Bangled Banner 196 years ago.

Thomas MacEntee at GeneaBloggers has introduced on his blog a daily Genealogy Blogging Beat, with multiple blogging themes each day to help inspire those seeking ideas for posts.

The annual Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) fast ended last night at sunset for Jews around the world.  The Velveteen Rabbi shared a list of resources for the holiday (video, liturgy and song.)

Blogging/Social Networking/Technology
MyHeritage Blog lists their choices for the "10 weirdest, funniest, most intriguing genealogy tweets"

Other Weekly Lists
The genealogy bloggers below provide their selections for the week - many different from my own. 
Amanuensis Monday: September 13th participants
[Amanuensis Monday is a weekly blogging theme I began in February of 2009, where participants transcribe letters, audio, and other documents.  Why I do this.]

I'd like to welcome all newcomers (and oldcomers) to this weekly blogging theme.  I suspect participants have increased this week in part due to Amanuensis Monday being included in Monday's Genealogy Blogging Beat at GeneaBloggers.

If you participated, but don't appear on this list, please, let me know.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Pearl Feinstein's 18th Birthday Party

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

This week I transcribe some "Society Notes" from the January 10, 1909 St. Louis Post Dispatch

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- September 5 to 11
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings shows where you can look to see what databases may be upcoming in future weeks and months at Ancestry.com.

A video at NARAtions asks Are You a Citizen Archivist? Their definition focuses on Independent Researchers at the National Archives, but I can't help responding with a, "yes!" Of course, my research isn't yet in a local, state, federal, or private archive. 

Martin Hollick at The Slovak Yankee wonders how to leave his research for the next generation, and whether or not they will be interested in it at all.

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star has done a lot of scanning over the years.  He calculates that he has scanned 70,000 documents, and he is only half way done with what he has now.  Some of this work has been archived at the Family History Library.

Robert at MyHeritage Blog discusses Chinese Naming Conventions

On Open Thread Thursday at Geneabloggers Thomas MacEntee asked for input on Daily Blogging Themes, and as a result Geneabloggers.com will be promoting more of them.

In several posts this week, Tamura Jones at Modern Software Experience discusses Verbogen Verleden -- the Dutch version of Who Do You Think You Are - as well as StamboomNederland (Family Tree Netherlands)

Carol at Reflections from the Fence reminds us about the importance of geography in genealogy.

GovGab reminds us that September is National Library Card Sign Up month.  And hopefully every genealogist knows how important the local library can be to our research.

On the sixth anniversary of his blog, Geneablogie, blogger Craig Manson sorts his selections for the Major Leaguers of the Geneablogosphere into teams and divisions, ala Major League Baseball.

Press Releases
(In some cases multiple blogs have posted these press releases, but I have chosen one representative.)

Scotland's People, a genealogy site produced by the Scottish government, has been revamped. (Eastern Washington Genealogical Society)

The Association of Professional Genealogists Welcomes Two New Chapters to Support Real and Virtual Communities (Upfront with NGS)

Blogging/Social Networking/Technology

For those using the Bloglines news reader, which is closing down on October 1,  Dear Myrtle provides instructions on how to export your list of feeds to Google Reader

Those who conduct searches at Google (actually going to the website, instead of entering search terms in the box in the upper right of your browser) likely noticed a major change this week.  Instant Google provides results as you type - predicting what you're going to type.  Levi Sumagaysay at Good Morning Silicon Valley looks at whether or not this is a "Game changer," "SEO killer," or something else.

Other Weekly/Monthly Lists
The genealogy bloggers below provide their selections for the week - many different from my own. 
Amanuensis Monday: September 6th participants
[Amanuensis Monday is a weekly blogging theme I began in February of 2009, where participants transcribe letters, audio, and other documents.  Why I do this.]

(Lighter participation than recent weeks, perhaps due to the Labor Day holiday in the US and Canada)

If you participated, but don't appear on this list, please, let me know.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Words of Peace

Whenever I come across a quotation I like, I tend to record it in one of several files on my computer.  One of these files is named: Words of Peace.

I thought today, on the anniversary of September 11, 2001, it would be appropriate to share a few of these quotes.
And I go on believing in the possibility of love. I am convinced that there will be mutual understanding among human beings, achieved in spite of all the suffering, the blood, the broken glass.
-- Pablo Neruda, Memoirs
Citizens, in the future there shall be neither darkness nor thunderbolts, neither ferocious ignorance nor blood for blood...In the future no man will slay his fellow, the earth will be radiant, the human race will love. It will come, citizens, that day when all shall be concord, harmony, light, joy, and life.
-- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables (character: Enjolras)
When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken--it may be fair words shall prevail.
...
When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.

-- Rudyard Kipling, “The Law of the Jungle”
I have heard talk and talk, but nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.
-- Chief Joseph
If people wish to draw near to God, they must seek Him in the hearts of others. They should speak well of all people, whether present or absent, and if they themselves seek to be a light to guide others, then like the sun, they must show the same face to all. To bring joy to a single heart is better than to build many shrines for worship, and to enslave one soul by kindness is worth more than the setting free of a thousand slaves.
-- Sufi Abu Sa’id b. Abi ‘l-Khayr
I said it in Hebrew--I said it in Dutch--
I said it in German and Greek:
But I wholly forgot (and it vexes me much)
That English is what you speak!
-- Lewis Carroll, Hunting of the Snark (Fit the Fourth)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Amanuensis Takes a Holiday

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

In observation of Labor Day, I am taking a holiday from my personal Amanuensis project. Next Monday I will continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.

If you choose to participate in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions today, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Labo(u)r Day - Five Videos

In Canada and the U.S., Labo(u)r Day is tomorrow, Monday, Sept 6th.  For all celebrating:

Happy Labo(u)r Day!

(Note: If you don't support the working man and woman - this isn't your holiday)

Evan Greer - Never Walk Across a Picket Line



Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie - Union Maid



Pete Seeger - Solidarity Forever



Billy Bragg - There is Power in a Union



Dropkick Murphys - Worker's Song

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks --August 27 to September 4
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Kimberly Powell at About.com Genealogy reminds us Don't Always Believe What You Read in the Newspaper.

Sherry Lindsay at ProGenealogists discusses the importance of remembering the reason a record was created.  As much as we may wish it were otherwise, most documents weren't created with genealogists in mind.

Pam Schaffner at Digging Down East discovers and illustrates a useful Excel timeline template.

Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings explores The Learning Center, one of AmericanAncestors.org's free offerings.

On Open Thread Thursday at Geneabloggers Thomas MacEntee asked some questions regarding The Content Wars.  The discussion that followed in the comments is worth reading.

NARAtions announces that the National Archives has over 300,000 Alien Case Files - indexed at the ARC and searchable, but you will still need to order the copies.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe discusses Disney's upcoming genealogy tv show for kids

The National Genealogical Society's YouTube Channel has posted a five minute video by genealogist, Elizabeth Shown Mills, discussing in part how we should never assume our ancestry is limited to 1 or 2 ethnicities: We Are All Cousins




Press Releases
(In some cases multiple blogs have posted these press releases, but I have chosen one representative.)

FamilyTreeDNA pours some water on recent news stories discussing Hitler's Black/Jewish ancestry.   (Tracing The Tribe)

The National Genealogical Society announces a new Education Manager.  I am proud to say that the new Education Manager is from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.  (Upfront with NGS)

Life Stories of Ellis Island Immigrants available at Ancestry.  (MoSGA Messenger)

Ancestry's Immigration Collection is available for Free Access through Monday. (Dear Myrtle)

FamilyTreeMaker 2011 is introduced (Heritage Happens)

Genealogy Carnivals

The 97th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy has been published.  Nine participants chronicled what they were able to find in 2-3 hours online for a person they hadn't researched previously.  Details for the 98th edition are revealed.

The September 2010 edition of the Graveyard Rabbit Carnival has been published, with discussions of celebrity graves. 

Blogging/Social Networking/Technology

Blogger introduces Blogger Stats.  (So far, I am preferring Blogger Stats to my Analytics report, even though both are produced by Google.)

A.C. Ivory at FindMyAncestors reviews a mobile flatbed scanner.  It's not available yet, but can be pre-ordered.  (Shipping is said to begin in October.)

WIRED magazine explains the hidden connection between e-readers and sheep. 

Upcoming Holidays

Work in Progress, the official blog of the US Department of Labor, discusses The First Monday of September. (AKA Labor Day)

Tablet Magazine presents the video "Apples and Honey" for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year




The MoSGA Messenger reminds us Talk Like a Pirate Day is approaching! Ahoy!
 
Other Weekly Lists
The genealogy bloggers below provide their selections for the week - many different from my own. 
Amanuensis Monday: August 30th participants
[Amanuensis Monday is a weekly blogging theme I began in February of 2009, where participants transcribe letters, audio, and other documents.  Why I do this.]
If you participated, but don't appear on this list, please, let me know.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Defining the Genealogical Pursuit

Lorine McGinnis Schulze at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog asks if Genealogy is a Hobby.

It's a question that gets asked every so often.  She points out, unless one makes their "living" from it, or it's at least a major source of income, it fits the dictionary definition of 'hobby':
An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.
Some may question whether they do this primarily for pleasure.  Few would undertake the research involved if they didn't find the research pleasurable.  But that doesn't mean we're doing it primarily to receive pleasure.  Many of us, I believe, would argue we're doing it so future (or current) generations will benefit from our work.

I don't read a good book thinking future generations will benefit from me falling asleep each night with a book in my hands.  The primary, if not the only, reason I read is because I receive pleasure from reading.  Reading is a hobby for me.  (Book reviewers get paid to read books, and for them reading isn't a hobby.)

Stepping aside from this argument, the dictionary definition is what linguists call the "denotation."  However, there is also the 'connotation.'
Connotation is a subjective cultural and/or emotional coloration in addition to the explicit or denotative meaning of any specific word or phrase in a language.  (Wikipedia)
 Even those who feel genealogy fits the dictionary denotation of 'hobby', may feel they don't like the 'colorations' society has placed on that word.  So they may seek other choices.  Where to seek them?
Thesaurus: a book of words and their synonyms
So I looked up Hobby at Thesaurus.com

(* indicates an informal usage)
amusement, art, avocation, bag*, ballgame, bit*, craft, craze, deed, distraction, diversion, divertissement, endeavor, enterprise, entertainment, fad*, fancy, favorite occupation, fun, game, interest, job, kick*, labor, labor of love, leisure activity, leisure pursuit, obsession, occupation, pastime, pet topic, play, project, quest, racket, recreation, relaxation, schtick, scheme, scene*, shot, sideline, specialty, sport, stunt, task, thing*, trip, undertaking, vagary, venture, weakness, whim, whimsy, work, zoo
Then I looked up Obsession
attraction, ax to grind, bent, bug in ear, case*, complex, compulsion, concrete idea, craving, craze*, crush, delusion, dependence, enthusiasm, fancy, fascination, fetish, fixation, hang-up, hook, idée fixe, inclination, infatuation, jones, mania, monkey*, must, neurosis, one-track mind, passion, phantom, phobia, preoccupation, something on the brain, sweet tooth, thing*, tiger by the tail
and Quest
adventure, chase, crusade, delving, enterprise, examination, expedition, hunt, inquest, inquiry, inquisition, investigation, journey, mission, pilgrimmage, prey, probe, probing, pursual, pursuit, quarry, race, research, seeking, venery, voyage
Remember: Since the thesaurus doesn't know the exact context for which you are using the word, it will provide you with a list of words/phrases with similar meanings.

My own personal preferences from the above:

Labor of love, Quest, Compulsion, Pursuit, and Adventure all seem to fit for me.

However, I have a joy for puns or wordplay, so the choice of undertaking has a certain appeal.