Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Family History Book

Dancing with the ancestors is NOT all about the research. Okay, it's 95% about the research, but . . .

. . . when all the researching is done, there's . . .

. . . the Family History Book!

But, why wait until all the research is done? Why not start . . .

. . . NOW!

Well, that's what I've done. I've begun to compile the Mitchell and Allied Families family history book.

Why? Well, I've done quite a bit of research and confirmed quite a bit of information, so why not NOW instead of LATER? NOW makes much more sense. I could wait of course . . . years and years, maybe decades, fine tuning my research, discovering more and more and more, but . . .

. . . it makes more sense to take what I have already confirmed and start putting it into a family history document. Yes, I'll make additions throughout the years as I continue dancing with the ancestors, but by doing it NOW, I'll also have a record of what I have confirmed, as well as a document my family can flip through as they have time and discover our shared past. 

So, don't put off writing that family history document. Do it NOW, as you research. Don't wait until tomorrow, when you can do it today. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Importance of Last Wills and Testaments

When dancing with the ancestors, don't discard the importance of the last wills and testaments of . . . your direct ancestors siblings. 

Last Wills and Testaments, when you can find them, are treasure troves of information. In many cases, they'll list the spouse/children of your ancestors which will help confirm whatever information you already have, or add information that you didn't have about spouses/children of your direct ancestors.

The last wills and testaments of the siblings of your direct ancestors can do the same thing. Case in point: Mary Eliza Masterson, my 2 x great grandmother Julia Amanda Masterson-Watson's sister. In her will, Mary Eliza listed the following siblings: Helen, Washington, Robert, Hilary, Green, Meridy (short for Meredith), James, Ann Thomas, Lucinda Smith, Julia Watson, and Elizabeth Hicks. These names all jived with what I had, but . . .

. . . it gave me some other important information which helped me correct my family tree.

Based on information I had previously found, but not 100% confirmed, I thought James, Lucinda, and 2 x Great Grandma Julia were deceased prior to 1890. Well, if they were dead, I sure as heck don't know why Mary Eliza Masterson was leaving her dead siblings money in her last will and testament when she wrote it in . . . December 1890.

So, thanks to her will, I know knew that Lucinda, James, and 2 x Great Grandma Julia were still alive in December 1890 and not, unless they came back as zombies (hey, you just never know), when their sister wrote her will. I also found out the married names - which I had, for the most part - of the sisters.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't forget to attempt to find the last wills and testaments of your direct ancestors siblings. You never know what important information you'll discover.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Not The Last . . .

. . . of the Mitchell line!

When dancing with the ancestors it's easy to believe the family stories, such as . . .

. . . two of your great aunts were murdered in New Orleans

. . . your great grandfather was an only child

. . . or many other stories that are passed down through the generations and become fact when, in reality, their either total fiction, or part fact/fiction.

I did have a great aunt that was murdered in . . . Louisiana. Her sister died of natural causes eight years later. No murdered involved.

My Great Grandpa Charles A. Mitchell was one of eleven child so, in fact, he was not an only child, even though that's the story dad told us. 

There's a sense of comfort in knowing that my nephew is not the last of the Mitchell line and that the pressure for him to have three or four sons to carry on the Mitchell name is not so great. Ha! Still, to carry on our direct line, a son or two would be nice. But . . .

. . . there are other male Mitchells out there that can continue the line traced back to my three times Great Grandfather Allen Mitchell.

By his first marriage, he has one known son: William C. Mitchell (my 2 x Great Grandfather). According to Census Records, he had at least three other sons by his first, maybe a second wife, prior to marrying his second, or maybe third wife Sarah Wilson, by which he had seven children, five of them males. So, the line, through those children, and their children, and their children, and so on . . . continues.

The line might also continue through four of the five sons of William C. Mitchell - James, Henry, John, and William - since we know it continues through Great Grandpa Charlie, with added pressure on my nephew to produce Mitchell heirs. I haven't been able to trace James, Henry, or John. From what I've found on William, I don't think he had any children, but I could be wrong on that theory. 

There is the possibility, based on a photograph I have, that James, Henry, or John had at least one son who had two children: a girl and a boy. At this time, the people in the photograph are not identified, but the man is definitely a Mitchell. Hopefully, someone will identify the people in the photo and I can trace back further.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, take those family stories with a grain of salt. They may or may not be true and they may or may not have taken on a life of their own that altered the fact into fiction.