Archive for ‘Cornerstone: Collecting’

December 19, 2010

Step by Step #7: Roy S. Teague’s Parents, Part 2

In Roy S. Teague’s Parents, Part 1, we began to explore census records in the hopes of determining the names of Roy’s parents. Today’s post is a continuation of that discussion.

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September 7, 2010

Step by Step #6: Roy S. Teague’s Parents, Part 1

After a long break to make ready for the FGS 2010 conference in Knoxville, and then to recover from the trip and catch up on other work, it’s time to resume our study of the ancestry of Roy S. Teague and Hattie (James) Teague Watkins. We’ll begin with Roy’s parents. To summarize what we know about Roy’s parents and siblings to date:

  • Roy was enumerated in the 1930 US census, Clayton, Rabun Co., GA, next to Lina S. Teague (a widow, born about 1875), and four of her children, namely Faye C. Teague, Lucy Teague, Louie Teague (who was divorced), and Reba Teague.1
  • Roy was buried in the same plot as Lina H. Teague, C. C. and Faye T. Barron, Paul C. Teague (Roy’s known son), and Louie and Fannie Q. Teague.2
  • Roy’s obituary does not name his parents, but it does give his brothers as Louie Teague of Clayton and Grady Teague of Pontiac, Michigan; his half-brothers as Ulyus Teague of Rabun Gap and Melvin Teague of Canton, North Carolina; and his sisters as Mrs. Faye Barron and Mrs. Lucy P. Ramey of Clayton, and Mrs. Felton Sullivan of Tallulah Falls.3

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August 2, 2010

Step by Step #5: Hattie (James) Teague Watkins

Our previous research on the Roy and Hattie (James) Teague family revealed very little about the female half of this couple. To date, we know the following:

  1. Hattie James was born about 1906 in Georgia; both of her parents were also born in Georgia1
  2. She married Roy S. Teague in 1924 in Rabun Co., GA; the marriage was performed by M. H. James, a Justice of the Peace2
  3. She and Roy were living in Clayton, Rabun Co., GA, with three children in 19303
  4. They had probably seven children during the late 1920s through the 1930s4
  5. Between 1937 and 1967, Hattie remarried to a Watkins; she was still living as of the latter date5

What we haven’t found in our research is any record connecting her to her parents and possible siblings. While she and Roy were married by M. H. James, we have no clue who that person was or how he might otherwise be connected to Hattie. We don’t know when she died, or who her second husband might have been, nor can we even say for certain that she was the mother of all of Roy’s children. With so little to go on, how can we learn more about Hattie, and in the process extend her lineage backwards?

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July 27, 2010

Step by Step #4: Roy and Hattie’s Children

The first three posts in this series focused primarily on our target couple, Roy and Hattie (James) Teague. Today, we’re going to try to reconstruct their family with the records available to us.

First, let’s summarize what we know about Roy’s children.

  1. The 1930 US census gives us the names of three children, who we know to be Roy’s because they are named as such, and who Hattie was probably the mother of, given Roy and Hattie’s marriage date.1 In order of birth, they are:
    • Susie J. Teague
    • Clifford J. Teague
    • Claud R. Teague
  2. Roy’s obituary gave the names and residences of six children:2
    • Jack Teague of Clarkston, Michigan
    • Ray Teague of Pontiac, Michigan
    • Dewey Teague of Titusville, Florida
    • Mrs. Roosevelt Coffey of Clayton, GA
    • Mrs. Red Dixon of Clayton, GA
    • Mrs. Sherman Martindale of Van Buren, Arkansas
  3. Additionally, a Paul C. Teague was buried between Roy and his brother Louie at Pickett Cemetery.3 Paul died in 1967, and so if he were Roy’s son, he would not have been mentioned in Roy’s 1969 obituary, which mentioned only surviving relatives.4 However, it is also possible that he was Louie’s son, or in some other way related to the family.

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July 13, 2010

Step by Step #3: Pickett Cemetery, Clayton, GA

In our first two looks at the Roy and Hattie (James) Teague family, we examined their 1930 US census enumeration, their marriage certificate, and Roy’s obituary. In today’s post, we will visit Pickett Cemetery, where Roy was buried1.

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February 20, 2010

The East Tennessee Historical Society

In August, I will be attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies‘ annual conference, held this year in Knoxville, TN. While I am looking forward to this event in general, I am especially excited about visiting the East Tennessee Historical Society, home to the McClung Historical Collection, a virtual cornucopia of manuscript collections, rare books, city directories, newspapers, and microfilm. The primary focus of the collection is, of course, the eastern Tennessee counties, but other areas of Tennessee and other states are also represented.

I am currently compiling a list of my eastern Tennessee families so that I can plan my on-site research. Included will be:

  • Mansfield and Harriet (Black) Anderson, who moved from Blount and Sevier Counties (TN) into Macon Co., NC
  • Miranda (Fletcher) Curtis and several of her children, who moved from Macon Co., NC, to Monroe Co., TN
  • Samuel Hopper, who possibly lived for a short time in Claiborne and Giles Counties, TN
  • Various children of William Morgan, who died in 1809 in Jackson Co., GA

The FGS 2010 Conference theme is “Rediscovering America’s First Frontier.” The conference runs from August 18 to August 21. For more information, see the FGS conference web site.

January 8, 2010

The Importance of Local Research

Many professional genealogists are located in and around major research centers. Here in Georgia, for instance, of the four Certified Genealogists listed on the Board for Certification of Genealogists‘ web site, three are located in the Greater Atlanta area, and one is just north of there in Jasper. Similarly, a search of researchers for hire through the Association of Professional Genealogists‘ web site gives a long list of researchers, most of whom live in or around the Metro Atlanta region.

When reading research guides, the general consensus seems to be this: use the larger repositories first, the local ones as a last resort.

I’m not sure why the vast majority of researchers feel this way. It has long been my experience that research on the local level is vastly superior to research in other places. Yes, there are many important collections held outside of local areas, but there are also many important and often overlooked records held locally.

One record set I’ve used recently here in Rabun County is the early Writ Records, bound volumes held at the local courthouse that describe early court actions (expanding upon the legal actions detailed in the corresponding minute books). These books have never been microfilmed; no copy exists outside of the original volumes held here, that I know of. Most researchers might overlook them as being genealogically insignificant, yet I have found, in the most cursory of searches, several instances of genealogical “proof” not found elsewhere.

In North Carolina, beginning researchers are told that most of the original county level records have been removed to the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. This is true, to an extent. Yes, many of the bound volumes of court records, including will books, have been moved, but there are many other records of significant genealogical and historical value remaining in the hands of local repositories. Of the three North Carolina counties in which I have conducted research over the past six months (Clay, Jackson, and Macon), I have found on the local level several unmicrofilmed record sets (either bound volumes or loose records) not found at the State Archives.

The hard truth of the matter is this: different record sets, documents, and collections are held at different locations. Concentrating all one’s time at one repository, even a large one such as a state archives, is a short-sighted practice. While it is true that local researchers need to expand their searches into non-local repositories, it is equally true that non-local researchers will never have a full grasp of an area’s records unless they are willing to visit that area’s local repositories.

November 16, 2009

An Island Unto Itself

A few months ago, I was searching the Internet for information on a certain family I was researching for a friend. I came across an interesting article on a related family in which the author attempted to prove a lineage based almost solely on federal census records from 1830 through 1850, and on one man’s date of birth, source not given.

It was evident from the author’s presentation that he did not understand how to use the federal census records from that time period. No census from 1790 through 1870 provides direct proof of a relationship; the 1880 U.S. census was the first to provide relationship indicators, and then only to the head of the household. The population schedules from 1850 through 1870 suggest relationships, but they do not prove them. The early federal censuses do not even suggest relationships; they are merely an enumeration of the number and ages of persons living within a household at a certain time.

A better argument could have been made if the author had used several record sets in tandem with one another. There was no mention in this “proof” argument, for instance, of probate records, although they are one of the more obvious and well-known record sets, even amongst beginning genealogists. Nor was any mention made of a search through local land records, which often corroborate or suggest relationships not evident in other contemporary documents. And so forth. For the area and time period in question, there are several record sets other than federal censuses this researcher could have used to provide better support for his argument, but these were all neglected.

This leads me to the point of this post, via a paraphrased truism: No record (or record set) is an island unto itself. Whenever possible, we should always seek further information to corroborate relationships, especially where records might provide indirect evidence but no concrete “proof”. Even where such proof is directly stated, we should examine other records when and where ever possible in order to provide the most well-rounded and solid argument we can based on the most exhaustive search possible.

November 9, 2009

Conducting a Literature Survey, Part 2

See Conducting a Literature Survey, Part 1 for the beginning portion of this discussion.

Conducting a literature survey can be an overwhelming task, especially to the beginning genealogist, but it doesn’t have to be. Following are some tips to make the process both manageable and fruitful.

One of the best helps for managing genealogical research is in the creation and maintenance of lists of published works available for the localities in which we research. These lists are a go-by for conducting a literature survey, and provide information at a glance about the histories and transcribed or abstracted records available within the area under focus. Best of all, they’re highly useful: since our ancestors tended to “lump” into clusters, several related families with different surnames might be located within each locality; thus, the lists can be used over and over again without having to duplicate the creation process when moving from one research project to the next within a given locale.

Such lists are easy to create, but somewhat harder to maintain. To start, search WorldCat for the locality. Write down every relevant hit the search returns, being sure to include the full title of the work, the author, publisher, the copyright date, and other identifying data. If the book is available in a nearby library, include that information as well.

As with family histories, many records abstracts may be available in leaflet or folder form or otherwise published in a very limited manner, in which case the researcher has three options: 1) ask other researchers in the target locality about the availability of published works; 2) read articles about families who lived in the target locality, being sure to search source citations for possible helpful publications; or 3) obtain a thorough knowledge of the unpublished “primary” records available for the locality. These are all steps one should take when researching in a new locality.

Many records abstracts are also published in genealogical and historical periodicals, such as those mentioned in Part 1 of this discussion. When conducting searches in PERSI and periodical indices, search not only for the target surname, but also for the locality in which those ancestors lived. Doing so will turn up a broader array of useful articles than a simple name or surname search. Include records abstracts published in periodicals when creating lists of published works for the area under study. Back issues of periodicals can often be purchased from the publisher, or are generally available at libraries in or around the locality they cover.

Online book sellers and auction houses (Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and eBay, for instance) are excellent places to search for copies of publications, as are the many genealogy-specific publishing houses. Genealogical Publishing Company and Heritage Books are two popular companies with large selections, but there are also many smaller publishing companies that may deal only with works pertaining to a certain region or county (e.g. Teresita Press).

Many histories and published records abstracts are out of print. Some have been reprinted and may be available through the sellers mentioned previously, but there are still many other useful histories and genealogies that have not been reprinted. The latter may be available through, for instance, Google Books or the Library of Congress, but they may also languish uncatalogued in the Special Collections section of larger repositories, making published, documented genealogies of other area families a necessary addition to one’s reading list.

Be creative when searching for published works. Mailing lists and message boards are excellent ways to learn of useful material, new or old, as is networking with other local genealogists. Keep in mind that new histories and records abstracts are being published all the time. One way to keep up with this is to order catalogues from publishing companies, but another way is to stay in touch with authors who continually publish about a locality of interest. In this way, one may more easily maintain lists of published works.

The key to keeping the literature survey in hand is to be methodical and remain organized. Do not hapharzardly slosh through the literature. Rather, systematically search each work, recording the results in a research log, making copies when necessary, and checking each item off of the compiled list as it is searched. Promptly file any information found, being certain to note any clues or inconsistencies which need follow-up work. Include negative search results as well so that there is no question whether a work was searched for information on that project. In this way, the survey becomes a useful tool in the research process, rather than generating an overload of information.

This discussion will be continued in part 3, Conducting a Literature Survey: The Internet.

November 8, 2009

Conducting a Literature Survey, Part 1

One of the first steps every genealogist should take when researching a new ancestor or surname is to conduct a literature survey. The purposes of a literature survey are simple: 1) to avoid the unnecessary duplication of another’s work; 2) to find transcribed works leading to extant records; 3) to get a “feel” for the time period and locale in which the target ancestor(s) lived.

Conducting a literature survey is relatively easy and painless, depending on the resources at one’s disposal, and should cover the following, at a minimum:

  • Biographies, compiled or individual
  • Family histories
  • Local histories
  • Transcribed and abstracted records
  • Periodicals, except for newspapers (which are searched during the research phase)
  • The Internet

Most biographies, histories, and published transcriptions can be located through WorldCat (see WorldCat for more information on the contents of its online catalogue). Once a copy of a needed item is found, the researcher may request the item through their own library or directly from the lending library, depending on the lending policies of each institution. If copies are not available for circulation, the researcher may wish to travel to the lending library to search the item. If such travel is not possible, the researcher may opt to find a volunteer (see RAOGK) or hire a researcher who can visit the library and search the work in question.

Unfortunately, many compiled genealogies are only available as leaflets or folders in the local public library or historical society, but such entities are usually willing to answer questions about their uncatalogued material when queried respectfully via mail or telephone. They may also be willing to conduct a search within these items, if the search is brief and concisely stated.

The periodical search should include:

  • newsletters produced by local historical and genealogical societies, and by family associations or surname study groups
  • local and regional magazines, especially those with a focus on history
  • field-specific magazines, such as Everton’s Genealogical Helper
  • quarterlies and journals produced by lineage societies (e.g. the DAR), and state, regional, and national genealogical and historical societies

Many of the these periodicals have been indexed by the Allen County Public Library and compiled into a database known as the Periodical Source Index, PERSI for short. Some important journals are not indexed in PERSI (the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, for example), but they are well worth the added effort and money needed to track down indexes or to join the societies in question so that one has access to the members-only indices.

The Internet is one entity which is treated with both respect and disdain by seasoned researchers: respect because of the sheer capabilities of the Web, and disdain because much of the genealogical information disseminated online is virtually worthless, either because it’s poorly documented, poorly reasoned, or out-and-out untrue. Nevertheless, the Internet should still be searched for information on the target ancestor or surname, not only for the reasons mentioned at the outlay of this post, but also to find others interested in the sought-after ancestor.

See Conducting a Literature Survey, Part 2 for a continuation of this discussion, including tips on managing a literature survey without becoming overwhelmed.

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