Genealogy Do Over Cycle 1

Thank You
Thank You
Thank You

It was serendipity.

Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over arrived in December 2014. Just when I had bedded down using Legacy Family Tree‘s To-Do Lists, my tablet, my camera and a USB drive instead of my trusty pen and notebook. When I was despondent. When all I seemed to have were insurmountable brick walls. Just when I was considering my projects for 2015.

Thank you Thomas MacEntee for addressing a gaping hole in my genealogical research practices. More than 6,000 Facebook members suggests I am not alone.

So are you considering doing the Genealogy Do Over in Cycle 2? I know that many of you who I spoke to at Congress 2015 were watching from the sidelines. Here are three suggestions:

  •  Just go for it. A job started is a job half finished. You don’t have to set aside the next thirteen weeks for the Genealogy Do Over. It is a matter of personal judgement whether time away is absolutely necessary for your peace of mind and well being or whether you are being distracted by some Bright Shiny Object.
  • Set your own pace. By the end of Week 4 my mind was in a whirl. This was exciting stuff. I needed time out to take stock (I had another time out at the end of Week 9).
  • The Genealogy Do Over doesn’t need to be completed in just the one 13 week block. In Cycle 2, now that I have the flavour of the Genealogy Do Over, I hope to tweak my new work practices and consolidate my new work practices. I set aside implementing any use of spreadsheets in Cycle 1 but in Cycle 2 I shall give more consideration to using some of Thomas’s spreadsheets – particularly for project management (I still employ the student mentality of doing all the project the night before the deadline date). I shall also look further at the role of social media in my genealogy research. The social media aspect totalled overwhelmed me in Cycle 1. And consideration of my Research Toolbox might creep into Cycle 2.

Thank you Thomas for identifying that my genealogical work practices should no longer be confined to remembering those stories spoken of whenever and wherever my family gathers. These days my work practices should focus on managing my time economically while maximising my chances of extracting family stories from the overabundance of information available in newspapers, books, archives and online. That is, I should be focusing not on the WHAT I find but on the HOW I go about finding my family stories. It is there at the beginning of the Genealogy Do Over:

“Research is the course of action I undertake in order to find and gather my family stories. Research is the process I use to find Sources from which I extract my family stories.”

Now just in case you think applying a new set of work practices has brought all those brick walls tumbling down and all my family stories have been revealed let me assure you that this hasn’t been the case. Yes, when I set aside my previous results for my three greats grandfather George Watts and started over I found that accepting a death certificate I had previously rejected was far more relevant than the Census results I had been relying on for so many years. No wonder I had a brick wall! While I still know nothing about his wife I now have George’s Army life to pursue. I see lots of seemingly tedious searching ahead of me. But I have a plan. The possibility of understanding why George joined the Army and what life in his home town of Nottingham was like at the time the leaders in the Luddite rioters were tried and transported to Tasmania.

Just like searching in those pre computer days really.

My enthusiasm for genealogy research has returned.

Thank you Thomas.

Genealogy Do Over – DNA (1)

The results of my first foray into DNA testing arrived in time for consideration as part of GDO Week 10 DNA considerations. My first request was not for myself nor for my brother but for a cousin of my father’s as she is a direct maternal descendant of my two greats grandmother Lydia Watts.
I have over the past three weeks paused to reflect again on my Genealogy Do Over so far. I have come to the conclusion that until the Do Over I have been beguiled by the ease of access electronically to many sources. This has caused me to churn my research. To do the same searches over and over again. With the same results. I may not have brick walls at these places at all. I have been trapped into looking at the sources that are easy to access rather than those that are most likely to give me some results.
Way back in Week 1 of the Genealogy Do Over we were advised to set aside our genealogical research so far, to abandon our bad habits and start over. What good advice! My perceived brick walls may not be brick walls at all. I have been just too lazy to put together a research plan that, while it may involve some actual work by me, is more likely to yield my hoped for results.
I was particularly struck by this when I asked for a review of where I was at with my Ralston ancestors at the recent Glasgow and Strathclyde region library research day at the Genealogical Society of Victoria. All that is lacking is a little actual work on my part. Something that I would have done years ago before the advent of personal computers and online databases. I should be searching a little further afield than just at Ralston, Renfrewshire. Not churning through the Paisley registers again and again. The information contained therein is exactly the same as what was there last time I looked.
Sure, there is a lot of planning and there is some actual research to do. Sure most of the information may only be available in various repositories and not online. Yet isn’t this now I went about my family research before the 1990s?
Similarly, I have doubts about the Charles, son of Roger Baulch and Elizabeth Gaylard, who was baptised on 25 Jan 1767 in Muchelney, Somerset, being my ancestor for a Charles Baulch was buried just over a month later on 8 Mar 1767 at Muchelney (see http://www.freereg.org.uk/). But have I searched those surrounding parishes not yet indexed on either FreeREG, FamilySearch or Somerset Online Parish Clerks (http://wsom-opc.org.uk/)? No. I just took fright at the number of parishes yet to be searched.
On the other hand at least I have started gathering information about John Bourke Ryan. So easy to search for as he always used his full name. I have found some rich archival material which I have transcribed. Nevertheless before I start churning my online research here I do need to stop and think about the information so far gathered. And how that all fits in with the economic and political climate at the time.
Which brings me to Mary McCade or McCord, the mother of Lydia and Lazarus Watts.
The 1841 and 1851 England Censuses indicate that Mary was born in Foreign Parts (that is, she wasn’t born in the British Isles) although, as I have found, that information isn’t necessarily correct.
The question now is – was Mary of British ethnicity or was she of the ethnic background of wherever she was born? Or someplace else for that matter.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to daughter. The test results I have just received yielded an mtDNA haplogroup of J1c9 – a classification that is confined to the United Kingdom. This haplogroup had been passed to my father’s grandmother, Eliza Ann Porter by her mother Lydia Watts. Lydia Watts would have received this haplogroup from her mother Mary McCade or McCord.
While Mary may have been born in foreign parts it is possible that she and perhaps her family returned to the United Kingdom and, as their children didn’t arrive until after George Watts was pensioned out of the British Army, it is also possible that George Watts and Mary McCade married, not in foreign parts, but in England.
Another brick wall for which I must stop churning and start creating a research plan that may actually yield some results.

Genealogy Do Over – Week 10

Victor Hallett's 1954 Letter
Victor Hallett’s 1954 Letter

Firstly, I was really proud to receive an invitation to include the GeneaBloggers badge on my blog site. It is nice to have this recognition as part of the Genealogy Do Over.

Because it is well overdue to do so and because it is preparation for DNA next week here is my Charles Baulch Family Tree created about four years ago. I include it here for the benefit of our Baulch family and because my sister Kathy suggested that I should.

It is so overdue. In 1954 when Victor Hallett asked his Baulch family for information he promised to share his results. Unfortunately, the task took a little longer than he expected and has only been put together with the help of many other members of the Baulch family. In particular a lot of the work has been done by my sister Kathy Baulch.

With many of us now five generation or more descendants of Charles Baulch and Ann Biddlecombe some of our relationships are more distant than can be found with any certainty using an autosomal test. Indeed why undertake an autosomal test when we already have a family tree? Firstly, it is a nice conformation that the autosomal test does provide valid results. Secondly, my family tree does contain more family than just Baulchs believe it or not.

I can’t emphasise enough the necessity to check sources and information should you use our tree.

My tree contains information I’ve not necessarily checked in recent years so may contain errors. Indeed, two particular errors are shared with the 326 Baulch family trees I found on Ancestry.com this evening for Charles Baulch and Ann Biddlecombe who married in Muchelney, Somerset in 1799.

The errors related to this Charles Baulch at the top of the tree. Certainly there was a Charles Baulch, the son Roger and Betsey Baulch baptised in Muchelney, Somerset on 25 January 1767 and as advised by the Somerset Record Office to a family member many, many years ago. However, two entries further down in the parish register the burial of a Charles Baulch is recorded on 8 March 1767. The infant Charles?

We found no burial for Charles Baulch in the civil records. So, as a marker for this research, it was recorded that Charles Baulch died BEFORE 1837. But no burial for Charles has been found in the Pitney parish registers either. However, there are two entries in the Pitney churchwarden records that suggest that Charles may have died about 1816 – a period when no burials at all were recorded in Pitney.

I haven’t altogether dismissed the notion that our Charles Baulch was a son of Roger Baulch. Roger had a son Henry and a Henry Baulch was a witness to the marriage of Charles Baulch and Ann Biddlecombe. Coincidence?

Just because I haven’t found the information yet doesn’t mean that it isn’t there to be found. There are still registers for parishes close to Pitney and Muchelney for which we have found no online indexes – including FreeREG, and the Somerset Online Parish Clerk indexes – so there is still quite a deal of sources to be searched.

Genealogy Do Over and Legacy

Ancestors of Donald George Baulch

Thank you to those of you who asked how I envisage using Legacy’s To-Do Items as part of my Genealogy Do Over research log.

Here is my view of my April Article for VicGUM’s newsletter. The article was written in response to questions I have been asked about how I use Legacy’s To-Do List as my research log. For this month only my mailing list version of the article is given here with screenshots. Next month I shall revert to m

Legacy mailing list. As usual, a version with screen shots will be published in VicGUM’s newsletter.

In looking back on my Genealogy Do Over experience so far I have included some consideration of how I envisage using Legacy’s To-Do List for recording my research plan or goals as well as use Legacy’s To-Do List after the manner of Geoff Rasmussen in his book Legacy Family Tree Unlocked!

For some I hope it answers your questions. For others I hope that it encourages you to look at Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over.

y usual practice of publishing a text only version on the Aus-

Genealogy Do Over – Reflection

 

Reflection
Reflection

Great success requires long term patience
Gideon Haigh about successful Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglu,
ABC Offsiders 1 Feb 2015.

BACKGROUND
I had such plans for my retirement. Or so I thought. Finally, I would be able to tell some of the family stories I have gathered over the years.
No so. It just hasn’t happened. My family database is a mess. And I continue to be beguiled by every bright shiny object that passes before me.
So what can I do? How can I optimize my ability to gather and tell my family stories? I started last year by jettisoning my pen and notebook in favour of a tablet, camera and USB drive. But that wasn’t enough. I hadn’t considered applying to my quest for family stories the research model I had honed in my studies and practiced in my employment.
I hadn’t considered a comprehensive review of my research model until I read of Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over.
Now, in Week 6 it’s not the results of my research that I have set aside but the methodology I have used for my genealogical research. If I ever had one that is. After a lifetime of gathering family stories, it is only now, as part of the Genealogy Do Over, that I am having a serious look at tweaking my trusty research methodology and incorporating the Genealogy Do Over principles to build a genealogy research methodology for myself. A genealogy research methodology that, hopefully, optimizes the chances of achieving my goal of writing my family stories.
I am looking for better ways of storing my family stories in the one place –with their associated sources included and the relevant media files linked. And let’s hope that the bad habits have already been banished forever.
MY GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH MODEL
INTRODUCTION
We all want to belong one way or another. I belong to the Geelong Football Club. I also belong to my Baulch family. And just as I listened to stories my father and grandparents told me I want to share my family stories with those who shared their stories with me as well as with those to come.
But how can I share my family stories if I haven’t been able to over the past few years? This is where the Genealogy do Over is helping – particularly in showing me how to create my Genealogical Research Model with the aim of optimizing my chances of gathering family stories and helping me find time to focus on telling those stories.
On reflection my Genealogy Do Over began well with the consideration of my Genealogy Golden Rules.
From my Genealogy Golden Rules everything seems to have fallen into place. So far. Articulating and, more importantly, writing down my Research Goals for the period of the Do Over is helping me keep those Bright Shiny Objects parked and in abeyance for possible consideration later on.
I have also given some more thought about managing my projects or Research Goals. About recording my Research Goals in my genealogy software. For, as my sister agreed, keeping everything in the one place is preferable to having numerous documents, spreadsheets and the like elsewhere. I just lose track of anything not linked to my family database.
I have been revisiting my use of Legacy’s To-Do List as a research log. Now, as part of the Genealogy Do Over, I think there is more I can do with it – Including exporting it as a CSV file should I ever wish to look at it in spreadsheet form!
I have had considerable trouble distinguishing between conducting the research and tracking searches only to realise that, for me, they are one and the same. However, the improvement I can make is to ensure that information for both is captured completely in the relevant To-Do Item in my family database.
A little tweaking of the naming of my master Sources, the naming of my top level media folder and the naming of my research log categories has resulted in an unexpected concordance between the three based on subject.
I prefer to evaluate evidence with my Legacy Events (Disproved or Not Proven for example) and, finally, I have consigned investigating further education options to Bright Shiny Objects for the time being.
MY REVISED GENEALOGY GOLDEN RULES
Right at the top of my genealogy model are my Genealogy Golden Rules. These define the landscape, the environment or the paddock in which my genealogy model operates.

  1. I shall continue to enjoy searching for family stories. Gathering and sharing stories has been a passion for most of my life. May my search for family stories continue to be a joy.
  2. I shall continue to share my research and stories with others. Many, many more people than I shall ever remember have shared their stories with us. So it’s a delight to share our family stories in return. Moreover, sharing is often a source of many more stories as well.
  3. “Well begun is half done” attributed to Aristotle.
  4. “The secret of success is consistency of purpose” Benjamin Disraeli
  5. Focus on output. The very reason I search for family stories is to share them with others. The corollary to this rules is that Gathering and telling my family stories is an iterative process. When I start a search I don’t know until the end whether I have the information I require to tell a story. I may have to do further research. I may need to reconsider how that information is stored in my family database. Certainly it is my goal to do it right the first time. But that rarely happens. Generally I have to return to the beginning and review what I have gathered. Research is an iterative process.
  6. Sources first. Immediately on finding some family information I shall capture that information into my family database by linking the Source to the relevant Research Log item and by, so I can find the information easily, including the media file name in the relevant Research Log.
  7. My Legacy database contains information I have gathered about my family over the years. In 2015 viewing my family database as a properly and appropriately structured database is cool. There is nothing preventing me using a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet but these documents must be linked to my family database in some way.
  8. Apply the KISS principle. In this instance I am defining this principle as Keep It Small and Simple.
  9. That I haven’t found something doesn’t mean it isn’t to be found at all.

CONCLUSION
I shall omit consideration of my model, together with screenshots as appropriate, for next time but has the Genealogy Do Over been worthwhile?
Yes.
Yes, if for nothing else just in starting over my search for my three greats grandfather George Watts I found his death certificate as well as that of his wife Mary Watts.
Yes, in that I have revised my initially overly ambitious Research Goal into small manageable bits that are achievable and, therefore, should conclude with a sense of achievement.
Yes, for all the improvements to my research process going forward.
Yes, most of all, for alerting me to Bright Shiny Objects. I shall be most mindful of them as I search for the story of my first home in the archives of the Public Record Office of Victoria. PROV is just awash with Bright Shiny Objects.

 

Genealogy Do Over – To-Do Items

doing-research

Yesterday I wrote about using Legacy’s To-Do Lists as a research log for my genealogy research. Thank you for your requests that I give you some screen shots of how I created my To-do Items that shall now make up my research log. So here goes.

In all, I have so far created 12 To-Do Items.

GenealogyDoOver-0

At the top level I have one Item for my Genealogy Do Over Research Goals. This To-Do Item for my Research Goals shows that my Research Goals consist of four elements – George Watts, John Bourke Ryan, Scrapbook of Chart examples and Squattleseamere Pastoral Run.

GenealogyDoOver-7

I haven’t really started as yet on three items. The fourth is for my three greats grandfather George Watts. The To-Do Item for George Watts sits between my overall Research Goals and Individual To-Do Items for a particular piece of research. This To-Do Item explains, in general terms, what I hope to achieve with respect to George Watts over the course of the Genealogy Do Over. The first part is to confirm my connection to George Watts through, for the moment at least, using evidence found on birth, marriage and death certificates.

GenealogyDoOver-6

From George’s To-Do Item I have raised several To-Do Items for specific pieces of research. These Items aren’t necessarily connected to George Watts’s record. For example, to establish my connection to my three greats grandfather, George Watts  I used my Grandpa Baulch’s birth, marriage and death certificates to substantiate his relationship to his mother, Eliza Ann Porter.

GenealogyDoOver-2

Now I expect to have many, many of these specific types of To-Do Items. A bit like rows in a spreadsheet based research log I suppose. So I created a template just to remind myself what matters should be considered here and what issues belong elsewhere in my genealogy database. This is what my template looks like:

GenealogyDoOver-1

One of my goals for Genealogy Do Over is to get into the practice of doing Sources First. So I then added the Sources I would look at for this To-Do Item.

GenealogyDoOver-3 Finally, I have recorded my results under the Results tab. In this instance I simply referred to the Media files of the Sources used.

GenealogyDoOver-4While I was creating my to-Do Items I noticed that the Categories roughly matched the folders the main folders under my Media folder so I have done a little tweaking to get these to match.

I do hope that this helps a little to explain what I have decided to do.

Genealogy Do Over – Week 3

Land Registers at the Public Record Office of Victoria
Land Registers at the Public Record Office of Victoria

TRACKING RESEARCH

Why is it necessary to track my research?

Mainly because I have unwittingly doubled up on my research. More often than I care to admit. Often more than twice for the same information. Also, I have ignored obvious sources of further research. I have frequently been distracted by those Bright Shiny Objects (such as my favourite Land Registers pictured above). So let me just admit it. My research process has just grown haphazardly over the years. And it shows. If I had only taken more care updating my processes for keeping track of my research I would have saved so much time.

Genealogy Research Log

In 2014 I set aside my pen and notebook for a tablet and Legacy’s To-Do List.

So I have been rather dismayed to read of the enthusiasm for using a spreadsheet based research log. Just something else for me to lose track of I thought. My sister agreed. Keep everything in the one place she said.

What in ever was I worried about? In listening to Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do Over webinar for Legacy Family Tree I found my post decision justification.

With very little tweaking I have now created a general Legacy To-Do Item template containing all the elements I wish to include in a research log. Particularly new is the note to remind me to add any relevant file names or links. Thank you Thomas MacEntee for that tip.

Now it’s just a simple matter to copy the template to a new To-Do Item. This is analogous to a creating another line in a spreadsheet based Research Log.

Furthermore, I have done a couple of other things to clean up my research process. First, I have aligned the To-Do Item Categories to the names (or Categories) of my top level Media folders. Well, mostly. If necessary, this adjustment should make it even easier to find my Media files. Next, I have the one place – in Legacy’s To-Do List – for the three levels of my planned research:

  1. The top level To-Do Item will outline my research plan for a three month period. My current research plan, for example, is my plan for the Genealogy Do Over. One element of this plan is to establish my connection to my three greats grandfather, George Watts.
  2. The second level To-Do Item is more specific. For example, the goal here is still to establish my connection to George Watts. But at this level I have listed the birth, marriage and death information I am relying on to establish this connection. These include birth and marriage information for myself and birth, marriage and death information for:
    1. Donald George Baulch,
    2. Parke Egbert Baulch,
    3. Eliza Ann Porter and
    4. Lydia Watts.
  3. The bottom, or more detailed, level of my To-Do Items is creating a To-Do Item that is equivalent to a line in aspreadsheet based Research Log. At this level I have a To-Do Item for each step in establishing my connection to George Watts. These are:
      1. in my record, a To-Do item for establishing my connection to Donald George Baulch,
      2. in the record for Donald George Baulch, a To-Do item for establishing his connection to Parke Egbert Baulch,
      3. in the record for Parke Egbert Baulch a To-Do item for establishing his connection to Eliza Ann Porter,
      4. in the record for Eliza Ann Porter a To-Do item for establishing her connection to Lydia Watts and
      5. in the record for Lydia Watts a To-Do item for establishing her connection to George Watts.

    I like that, at this level, my Individual To-Do Item (or line in my Research Log) is attached to the relevant Individual in my family database for easy access and not in a spreadsheet somewhere else.

Conducting Research

So, with all these To-Do Items created I was ready to conduct my research. New in 2015, and as part of this Genealogy Do Over, is my resolve to apply one of my Genealogy Golden Rules to assign SOURCES to the relevant To-Do Item FIRST. I then assigned Sources and linked Media to the relevant Individual Events. This is done as part of the initial research process and before any further consideration. No more leaving Sources and Media until last. In the past leaving Sources and Media to last has meant that information I am relying upon has been lost somewhere on a computer drive or somewhere in a box of papers! Such a practice is now history.