Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FamilyTree Maker Software

Greatest software . . . EVER! Okay, probably not, but it is a nifty software program put out by Ancestry.

So, the other day, I bit the bullet and bought the software. It arrived this past Saturday. Woo-hoo!

Great stuff, people. Great stuff.

Descendant Charts - these are the greatest. I can click on an ancestor, click generate and voila . . . I have the descendant chart for my 12th Great Grandfather and . . .

. . . I can click another button and change the number of generations revealed.

So, if I don't want to include myself (or my siblings on the chart), I can just alter the number of generations and stop with mom/dad, or my grandparents, or whatever! Woo-hoo! This ability is coming in handy as I create the charts for the documents I'm working on for the Sweat, Boone, Mitchell, Smith . . . and all the other branches of the family tree.

This program also links to my Ancestry account, so it pulled all the family tree information I compiled directly into the software, as well as all pictures I had uploaded, and any other information - death certificates, marriage records, census records, and, well, whatever - I added over the past few months.

Place Charts - these will detail the various places all, or some, of the ancestors have lived throughout the generations. It's pretty awesome to see the places displayed in a chart, and on a map as well.

So, if you're considering doing ancestor research, you might consider this software, or some other software, which will help in compiling/organizing the information you find out there.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Great Grandma Lane . . .

. . . and the many spellings of her last name! This is on the paternal side of my family tree.

Bear with me on this one, because we have . . .

. . . and a few more to boot! Geesh!

Talk about variations of a last name, let alone her first name . . .

E. C.

Woo-hoo for variations . . . NOT!

So, if ancestor research wasn't hard enough to begin with, there are all these freaking variations! Geesh!

But . . .

The variations in spelling is only one of the issues when dancing with the ancestors. You see, the more you dig, the more likely a mystery will unfold . . . or at least that's been my experience so far.

Let's take dear old Great Great Grandma Emmaline Halterman (Holtman, Holdman, Etc.) Lane.

When using FamilySearch, I came across my Great Grandmother's (Martha Lane Smith's) death certificate, which was witnessed by her daughter, my Great Aunt Clara Smith who - in a fit of pique, or perhaps with just a lack of knowledge - decided to throw a wrench into my (her great-nephew, and most likely favorite great-nephew - just sayin' - ha) research.

How did Aunt Clara do this? Well, let me tell you . . .

You see, Aunt Clara witnessed the death certificate and filled out the pertinent information, such as: deceased's date of birth, deceased's mother's name, deceased's father's name, etc. Fine, dandy, all is right with the world, except . . .

Dear, dear Great Aunt Clara filled out the following about her mother's (Martha Lane Smith) parents: Emaline Holdman and Franklin Pierce Lane.


Emaline C. Holdman (Holtman, Haltman, Haldeman, Etc.) married Hardin Smith Lane on December 30, 1855 . . . and I have the marriage records to prove that little event. Emaline and Hardin had four children: Mary, Martha (my great-grandmother), Franklin Pierce, and Hardin Smith Jr., who was born in March 1863, three months after his father was killed in December 1862 during the Battle of Murfreesboro during the little event known as the Civil War.

So, who in the heck is Franklin Pierce Lane . . . and when, if, did Great-Great Grandma Lane marry him?

I don't think she did. I think, as often happens, information is misconstrued.

I'm guessing that Franklin Pierce Smith, the son of Emmaline and Hardin, as the oldest male, at some point assumed head-of-household duties. In fact, Emmaline - according to census records - lived with Franklin, his wife and children, for many years, before moving in with her oldest daughter Mary Lane-Winnett.

There aren't any records of an Emmaline and Franklin P. Smith marrying. In fact, other than her marriage record to Hardin Smith, there aren't any other marriage records out there on her. Then again, remarrying a Lane would have been highly possible, since the Lane family was quite numerous (Hardin had 11 brothers/sisters) in Warren County, TN during that time.

However . . . all census records indicate that Emmaline never remarried. I think poor Aunt Clara was just a bit confused and listed Franklin as Martha's father since he, at some point, had taken on the role of head-of-household.

See, isn't dancing with the ancestors fun?

So, always remember, and never forget, when dancing with the ancestors . . . Perseverance, Patience, and Persistence.

Also remember that human error plays a large part. The younger generations often do not have a clue what Mamaw and Papaw's last name is, or whether Grandpa Smith is the first or second husband of Grandma Smith.

So, as you dance with the ancestors, remember to dig, dig, and dig some more. Sooner or later you'll, hopefully, find the truth of the matter.


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Name Game

No, not banana, fanana, bo . . .

. . . but rather the multiple spellings of a single name.

For example: my mother's maiden name is Sweat, but once upon a time it was spelled Swett, and even Swete! Woo-hoo, makes digging for ancestors quite the challenge.

Then, there's my Great-Great Grandma Emmaline Halterman or . . . is it Holdman . . . or Holtman . . . or . . .

ARRRRRGGGGHHHH! Talk about making a descendant's life miserable.

Dear old, Great-Great Grandma Emmaline had quite the variations in her last name, and that's even before I go way back into the history banks researching her ancestors.

Some examples . . .
  • Marriage Record = Halterman
  • Her daughter's death certificate, Great Grandma Martha Lane Smith, mother's last name = Holdman
  • Her death certificate, father's last name = Haltman
  • A story about her husband, who died in the Civil War, lists her last name as . . . Holdman
So, four variations on a single name. Plus, there's a book about Warren County, TN that lists the last name as Halterman. Ah, the joys of variations. Joy, Joy, Joy . . . NOT!

So, when researching your ancestors, understand that name variations will play a big part in finding, or not finding, the information you are looking for. Don't give up, just use variants of the last name and - fingers crossed - hope for the best. It's worked for me. Woo-hoo!!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

The More You Dig . . .

. . . the bigger the skeleton you find! Ha! Kidding.

. . . the bigger the mystery you might discover.

Case in point: Great-Great Grandpa Alexander Sweat, son of Israel Sweat and ??????

Yeah . . . ??????

According to what my grandfather (Papaw, for those in the know) knew, Alexander Sweat was the son of Israel Sweat and Lotty Hare (more on her in a later post - boy, do I have more about her in a later post).

Well, fine, dandy, and all that jazz. Except . . .

. . . Great-Great-Great Grandpa Israel Sweat was married . . . multiple times.

First to Sally Russell who died after the birth of her sixth child, John Wesley Sweat, in May 1823.

Fine, dandy, no problem.

Alexander Sweat was allegedly born July 2, 1822 . . . or is it 1824 . . . or is it 1832. Well, therein lies the mystery my digging into records discovered.

First - ancestry lists his birth as 1822. Ancestry is suspect, so . . .

Second - A census record, showing Charlotte (aka Lotty aka . . . just wait until you read the post on her), Israel was deceased by this time, and some others, Alex included, lists his birth date as 1832.

Third - Alexander's death certificate lists his birth as July 2, 1824.

So, now I have three potential dates-of-birth for Alexander Sweat.

Find, dandy . . . CRAP!

Now, if he was born in 1822, then Sally Russell and not Lotty Hare was most likely his mother.

But . . .

If he was born in 1824, well . . . Israel and Charlotte didn't marry until October 1827.

Uh, huh, you do the math.

Now, if he was born in 1832 . . . fine, dandy, no problem, except . . .

. . . his death certificate lists his birth as 1824.

Fine, dandy . . . CRAP!

So who in the heck is Alexander Sweat's mommy dearest? Sally? Charlotte? Some unknown woman?

I don't have a clue, but . . .

My best guess is that Israel, with an infant on hand, married the first available woman to a) care for the infant and b) care for his other children who were all of a young age.

Hey, trust me, from the research I've done, multiple marriages way back when were the norm. Heck, Great-Great Grandpa Miles Nicholas Boone only waited 2 1/2 months after his wife's death during childbirth to remarry. Eeeewwww! But, seriously, it's what seemed to happen a lot back then.

So, it's highly likely he remarried, got his wife with child, and then she died either in childbirth, or some time soon after, and definitely (well, hopefully) before he married Charlotte, who was already a widow and had a young child of her own, in 1827).

So, as you dance with your ancestors, prepare to run into roadblocks and find mystery after mystery.

Fun times, people, fun times!!!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Death Certificates

Okay, yeah, the title's a bit morbid, but . . . death certificates, when you can find them, are a great source of information . . .

. . . sometimes! Ha!

Sometimes, they don't help at all.

Death certificates often, but not always, list the parents of the deceased, as well as the parents birthplace. Woo-hoo, more verification of information.

Not always . . .

Case in point: Great-Grandpa Charles A. Mitchell - the mysterious man who seems to have appeared out of thin air. Okay, not really, I know he was born in Dekalb County, Alabama on October 4, 1858. I know - or knew, but still really know, nothing much else about him. I don't have his parents names - the Mitchell Family Bible was no help at all. What the heck, people? Still, I was determined to learn his parents names.

Oh, the false presumptions people have when they first begin dancing with their ancestors. I journeyed to the State Archives here in Nashville, scrolled through the microfiche and . . . voila, found his death certificate. Back to the microfiche cabinet to get the roll containing his death record . . .

. . . scroll . . .

. . . scroll . . .

. . . scroll . . .

VOILA! The death certificate for Charles A. Mitchell. Parents name . . .


Father's name . . . Mitchell.

Double CRAP!

Mother's name . . . Forrest.

Triple CRAP!

So much for helpful information on that death certificate. Back to square one and the belief that dear, old Great-Grandpa Mitchell was beamed down to earth by aliens.

Oh, and then there are the times where the following is inserted, as the case with Great-great Grandpa Alexander Sweat, for parents names: don't know!

Well, gee, could you be any more helpful? Ha!

But, don't dwell in the depths of despair like Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Death certificates are not a lost cause, as evidenced by . . .

Great-great Grandma Mary Catherine Langdon Sweat, Alexander's wife! Her death certificate revealed her parents names . . . which I'd already found using Ancestry, but some other verification is always nice.

So, if possible, go for the death certificates. Hopefully, you'll have better luck, and less mysteries (more on that later - ha!) than I have.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ancestor Research

About a month or so ago, on a whim, I decided to start a family tree using ancestry. Well, that was my first mistake, because . . . this became a sort of obsession consuming huge amounts of time. Who knew?

Now, rather then go into all the gory details, I'm first going to give some tips about doing family research, or, as I like to call it dancing with the ancestors!

  1. BEWARE - this can become an all consuming project that will eat up your time faster than my cat Squeaky - lover her dearly - eats her food . . . and then begs for more.
  2. Ancestry - is a great resource, but . . . the information on Ancestry is suspect (more on this later).
  3. Google - is a source to be reckoned with since they digitized thousands of books, many of them genealogical related (more on this later).
  4. Dig, dig, and dig some more - the information is not always readily available, but . . . some perseverance and patience will do wonders when searching for dead relatives.
  5. State Archives - every state has one. Luckily, the archive for my state is not far from my house. Huge, huge resource - census records, cemetery books, death records, birth records . . . you name it, and they're probably there.
  6. Family Trees - okay, a lot of times you'll find a family tree that doesn't list your relative. Don't despair. Just because your relative isn't listed as a child of so-and-so, doesn't mean your relative wasn't a child of so-and-so (more on this later).
  7. Family Search - this is a wonderful website created/run by the Church of the Latter Day Saints. They have copies of many death certificates, that you don't have to search through microfiche at the State Archives to find. I was able to find my great-grandmother's death certificate this way.
So, those are the basic tips you need if you decide to do family research.

Now, on to the more on this later items:
  • Ancestry - be careful when compiling your family tree using this site. Some of the information is accurate. Some of the information is, well, not so much. People sometimes build their trees without paying attention to the details. Case in point: Edwina Carter was born in 1862, and yet her parents are listed as being born in 1870. Uh, yeah, do you see the problem? Sometimes, people get carried away and don't pay attention to what they're doing, or what they are linking to. The further back you go in your ancestor research, the more iffy the information.
  • Census Records - these are a great source of information, but the census takers were, well, only human, and errors did occur. For example, my great aunt married a man named Hoffman, yet on one census, she and her husband were listed as Mollman. On Ancestry, you can correct the information, which I did. Oh, and birth dates - unless you have a birth certificate, these are going to be suspect on census records. When searching for someone on a census record using Ancestry, always do +/- 2 or more years.
  • Google - ya gotta love Google, especially the digitized books. When I run into bumps in my search, I'll often do a simple search . . . Nathan Swett, son of John Swett . . . and see what happens. Since Google digitized books, I've actually been able to find books related to the Swett side of my family.
  • Relative Not Found - okay, this is a biggie, but . . . a lot of times, when people are compiling their family trees, they don't give a flippity-floppity about brothers/sisters of their ancestors. They're only concerned with their direct ancestors, not the ones branching off. Case in point: in one genealogical book, John Swett and Bethia Page have five children listed, Nathan was not one of them, and then there was the line and probably others . . . which meant, they probably had more children, they just weren't mentioned in this book. To that end, I did find a birth record for Nathan Swett listing his parents as John Swett and Bethia! Woo-hoo! So, just because you at first don't find your relative listed, don't give up and think you've hit a dead end. Keep. Searching.
And, that's it for this initial post. I'll be posting a lot more as I continue this research, and I'll also be putting out information on my family line, as well as pictures, copies of death certificates, and other such stuff.

This is an amazing journey I've started. I love the mysteries that surface . . . my great-grandfather on my paternal side seems to have appeared out of thin air. Seriously. More on that later . . . Ha! I hope you follow along with me as I take this journey.