28 April 2013

A New Respect

     Maybe your grandmother was known for her quilting or your grandfather for his fishing.  Or vice versa.  And then one day, you decide to try your hand to your ancestor's hobby.  Then, at the end of the day, you end up with a brand new respect for what they could accomplish.

     That was my experience yesterday, when I tried my hand at baking and decorating a cake for my sister's baby shower.  It took four hours!  Before I got started, I hadn't really understood what I'd gotten myself into.  Normally when I bake a cake I get some cake mix and a tub of icing and I'm done.  This was a lot more complicated.

     The cake was easy, but the icing was made from a mix, with dye added to create the different colors.  Then it was put into a piping bag, each one with a plastic spacer which would hold the metal tips.  After getting all the icing prepped (including a trip to the store for my icing an dye colors), I was ready to be done.  When I finally started icing the cake, I had to work on my technique and it was never perfect.  After a while of constantly squeezing the piping bag, I found it hard to open my hand!

     Eventually, after four hours of work, the cake was done and I had a new respect for the cakes my Grandmama used to make for us when we were kids.  And she would do two or even three in a day!

24 April 2013

The Annoyance of Misleading Collection Titles

     It happens often, yet it's a disappointing surprise every time: you see a new data collection show up online at FamilySearch or Ancestry.com and you get excited.  Ancestry has added "Georgia, Deed Indexes, 1927-1979."  This is going to be great!  Click, type in a surname, click... No results.  Ok, let me try some other names.  No results.  What?  I scroll down some to the "About" section and I see it:

"This is a collection of deed indexes from Troup County, Georgia, for the years 1927-1979"

     WHAT?  Seriously?  There are 159 counties in Georgia and this collection contains deeds from only one of them, yet it's titled for the entire state.   It only represents 0.62% of the state; talk about a misleading title.

     This happens a lot, though not usually to this extreme.  Take another Georgia collection for example: "Georgia Marriages, 1699-1944."  It has records for 81 of Georgia's 159 counties, only 50% of the counties in the state are in the collection.  Also, the years for many of the counties are much more limited than the dates given in the title.  Take a look at the screenshot to the right.  Do you think the title is really accurate?

     If a researcher isn't looking at the details of the collection, they might think the record they're looking for doesn't exist.  Ancestry.com sticks these details at the bottom of the page, under the search box.  FamilySearch is both better and worse. They put a notice at the top, but they don't give as detailed a list of the contents.

     I've got a pretty simple solution for Ancestry, FamilySearch and other genealogy companies: add "Select" to the title.  In situations such as these, in which there are entire counties missing, the title should reflect this.  This would be a signal to researchers to check the fine print.  This might result in a large amount of the collections having "Select" in the title, but it would be much less misleading.

    Another great feature would be a note to indicate whether or not more records are pending, like they did with the 1940 census.  I know it would be more work, but if the Georgia Deeds collection is eventually intended to represent all 159 counties, a list of "coming soon" counties could be added.  Or they could create an icon (an hour-glass, under construction) to indicate the collection is growing.

     For me, it's about being honest in naming collections.  Every time this happens, I'm disappointed.  I suppose I should know better, and in the end I really do, but that doesn't stop me from being frustrated by misleading collection titles.

23 April 2013

Upgrades at Gedmatch.com

     I saw on Facebook today where Stephanie, fellow blogger and DNA cousin, commented about improvements to Gedmatch.com.  I just checked it out and all I can say is Yay!  The site went down recently due to server problems, and and it isn't fully back up yet, but there is already one major improvement.

     Previously, you uploaded your raw data files from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and, very recently, AncestryDNA.  You received a kit number for each upload, and could plug that number into the different tools to get results. The system wasn't very efficient and I had a long list of numbers to keep track of.

     With the upgrades, Gedmatch now requires users to set up accounts.  When you set up an account using the same email address you used when you originally uploaded your kits, all of those kits are automatically added to your account.  Now, when you go to run a report, such as Admixture, you still have to type in your kit number - but now they are listed on your main login page for you.  I would love to see another upgrade that puts your kit numbers into a drop-down list for more efficiency. They do say that the creation of accounts will allow them to "add some new functionality," so I'm looking forward to the future.

     Gedmatch is not currently fully functioning, due to the server errors, but I'm really excited about this upgrade.  I think it's a good indicator of where Gedmatch is headed: a more user friendly site that's working to make great improvements.

The Many Marriages of Amanda Barfield

     A year or so ago I got in contact with a "new" cousin, Johnny.  He had a lot of information on his grandmother, Amanda Barfield, who was my 3x Great-Aunt.  His family knew that her maiden name was Barfield, her mother was Sarah, she had a sister, Emma S, and a brother, William L (my Great-Great Grandfather).  He was able to provide information on Amanda that I didn't know, but he also had holes in his knowledge.

     The confusion with Amanda is that when she married David Lee Rich in 1911, her surname was Benton.  I was able to find a 1910 census record for Mandy Benton who worked as a servant for the Coleman family.  By this time she was already a widow, so we still didn't know who Mr Benton was and I could not find their marriage record.

     When we met for the first time at the Barfield Family Reunion this past Saturday, Johnny was able to tell me that the Rich family was connected to the Coleman family, which is probably how Amanda and David met.  As he said, "David just brought Amanda home" after the death of his first wife, and no one really knew where she came from.

     After the reunion, I started doing some more research.  I don't know if it was luck or new records being online, but I've finally got Amanda figured out.  Turns out, I couldn't find a marriage record between a Mr Benton and an Amanda Barfield because Benton was Amanda's second marriage!  She had been married three times in quick succession.

     I had seen a marriage between a JW Benton and a Mandy Wells in 1905, but I was looking for Barfield, so I moved on.  But then I saw a record for Maud Barfield and a William Wells in 1904.  Maud...? But the names Benton, Wells, and Barfield all together?  And Amanda's sister had married a Wells....  It made me wonder.  I clicked on the link for Maud Barfield and sure enough, someone had mis-transcribed Mandy to Maud (I don't know how, it was pretty clear)!

     So here's Amanda's timeline:
     • 1900 - living with mother, Sarah, in sister Emma Barfield Well's home in Glascock County, GA
     • 1904 - marriage of Miss Mandy Barfield and William Wells in Glascock County, GA
     • 1905 - marriage of Mrs Mandy Wells and J W Benton in Glascock County, GA
     • 1910 - living with Coleman family as a widowed servant in Glascock County, GA
     • 1911 - marriage of Amanda Benton to D L Rich

     I still don't know who William Wells or J W Benton really were, but at least I have their names.  There are no death records in Georgia for this time, so it might be difficult to learn more about them.  I think it very likely that William Wells was related to Amanda's brother-in-law, John Wells, so that's a place to start.  Yay!

Mandy Barfield and William Wells Marriage JW Benton & Amanda Wells Marriage

22 April 2013

The 2013 Barfield Family Reunion

     We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather for this year's Barfield Family Reunion.  Descendants of Sarah Barfield (1851-1936) met at the Savannah Rapids Park in Augusta, Georgia, last Saturday for our second family reunion.  The first reunion, which was in the fall of 2011, had a little less than 30 attendees. This year we had a little more than 40!

     Last year's reunion was attended only by descendants of Sarah Barfield's son, William, and his wife, Frances Boatright.  This year I was excited to see descendants of Sarah's daughter, Amanda, so the focused moved back a generation to Sarah Barfield.

   To that effect, I made name tags with Sarah's photo and a spot to list your relationship to her. So mine read "3x Great Grandmother."  I was surprised to learn how many people didn't know who Sarah Barfield was.  I took to saying, "You know who William Barfield and Granny Frances were to you, right? Ok, now go back a generation and that was Sarah Barfield."  It did not help that there were also three different Sarah's in attendance (or SAY-rah in the southern vernacular).

     In part, we organized the reunion using a Facebook group.  It allowed me to share information with a large group of people all at once and share photos.  During the reunion I posted photos of the attendees and those who could not attend were able to "follow along at home."  One of the great things about the group is that I can share things on Facebook with people who aren't my "friends," but it's still a controlled environment.

     Like we had done at the last reunion, we took a number of group photos. One of all of the descendants and then photos by family group. For example, William and Frances had nine children. Their daughter, Thelma, had four children, all of whom attended. We took their photo. Click. Then we added their spouses. Click.  Then we took the spouses out and added kids and grandkids. Click.  Then we added the spouses back of all the kids and grandkids. Click.  It took a bit, but in the end it really helps to learn who everyone is.

     If you are a descendant of Sarah Barfield and her children Josephine, William, Emma Susan or Amanda we would love to have you attend the next reunion. Please contact me at valeriesfamilytree@gmail.com or on Facebook.

     Here are some photos from the reunion, starting with a photo of (almost) all of the blood descendants of William and Frances Barfield:

2013 Barfield Family Reunion

2013 Barfield Family Reunion 2013 Barfield Family Reunion

2013 Barfield Family Reunion 2013 Barfield Family Reunion

18 April 2013

I Used To Play Cello

     I was going through a pile of old clothes today and came across this shirt:

     This shirt is from Richards Middle School where I played cello in orchestra.  Originally I wanted to play viola and my sister wanted to play bass, but my parents could only afford one instrument.  We met in the middle and picked the cello.

     I don't remember being very good at it, but I did have fun.  We played things like the theme from The Muppet Show and Forest Gump, as well as Christmas songs and the perennial school classic: Pomp and Circumstance.  We also got to watch movies like the Sound of Music and Mr Holland's Opus and went on field trips to watch other orchestras perform.  And of course, we did concerts.  I don't remember how many we did, but probably between two and four a year.  

     After sixth grade we ditched the blue shirts and wore white button ups and black dress pants.  We stopped playing when we entered high school and I couldn't even begin to try and play anything now.  It was a great experience though, and I'm glad I got the chance to do it.

     Here's the sixth grade orchestra photo from my yearbook. I'm on the second to the back row, all the way to the right and my sister is directly in front of me. 

12 April 2013

Results of February's Family History Writing Challenge

     I can't believe it, but it's been over two months since I last posted anything here!  It's been busy for me, with a birthday, a vacation, work, planning baby showers and family reunions, the start of baseball season, and other hobbies.  I haven't done much in the way of genealogy, since my Ancestry.com and Genealogy Bank memberships expired and FamilySearch is often to buggy too use properly and I haven't gotten any road trips in.

     But I did get one thing done: I finished and published my Family History Writing Challenge project!  I finished my Albea Family History book, which I wrote using Blub.com's BookSmart program.  My goal was to write an overview of one family line, including as many documents as I could.  You can see a few of the pages below, which include census and marriage records, as well as cemetery photos.  I also included birth and death certificates, deeds, wills, voter registration, draft cards and photographs.  In the end, I covered seven generations in 78 pages.  I did this, in part, because I love the original documents, but also as a way to cite my sources without... citing my sources. 

     I love how the book turned out.  The quality is fantastic; my book feels sturdy and tight and the print quality is great.  I tried to make sure that my photos and documents were bright, with even contrast.  Just because it looks good on screen, doesn't mean it will turn out well in print!  But in the case of this book, everything turned out well.  

     The cost set me back a little, but wasn't prohibitive.  This book was created as a Standard Landscape, 10x8 inches.  I had a variety of options for publishing my book: will the cover be a hardcover with imagewrap, hardcover with dust jacket or softcover; will the pages be matte, lustre, standard or an upgraded lustre?  What color will the end sheets be?  Do I want an extra copy of the book in PDF?

     The cheapest option would have been a softcover with standard pages and would have cost $31.59 + shipping.  However, I had a coupon to save 25% (they send out lots of coupons!), so I decided to upgrade.  I chose the ImageWrap with Lustre paper, which cost me $51.21.  I also sprang for the PDF copy for $4.99.  Shipping cost $7.99.  After my 25% coupon, my book ended up costing me $51.39.

     I'm very happy with the end result and highly recommend using Blurb to publish your family history book.


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