Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gone to the Family History Center

Whenever I feel stuck researching my British Isles ancestors, I go to the local Family History Center. Am very lucky indeed to have a fine one here in San Diego. On one specific day of the week the British Isles expert is there, delightful, and very willing to help. The strategy for me is to get organized so as not to waste her time shuffling papers, and pinpoint specifics before hand with which she can give some guidance.

My main task for this visit was to get more background on my great great grandmother, Jane James Williams (1815 - ????). I have been spending considerable time look for her coming to America with inconclusive results. Feel like I might not be looking in the right place. Something is wrong because neither Mom, Aunt Betty nor I can find any trace of the family here in the USA, in spite of having a photo of them all together taken in Troy New York. Stepping back from this brick wall, I want to know as much background as possible about their life in Wales leading up to their immigration.

I showed her the photo, proving once again to myself that they all came here, and then gave her the short version of my Welsh findings. She just up and asked what she could do for me right at the moment I was going to tell her what I was after! She's sharp!

What I wanted was her to just talk and tell me whatever came to her mind about life in Wales in the mid-1800s for a mining family in DYFED, South Wales. I'm glad I did it this way because she spilled out way more background information than I might have stumbled into otherwise. Here's a situation when asking an open ended question is way better than asking a closed end question:)

Here's a laundry list of just a few of the gems she brought up.

* The tin mining had dried up in Cornwall and so a lot of the miners went into Wales to work. Mining was mining and it didn't matter what was being mined.

* The miners were used to traveling for work and could easily be missing for census. She reminded me that the census was simply an inventory of who slept there last night, not family units per se.

* Filamore's Atlas and Index is a good source for finding towns and then looking for where the records were kept, the deposited dates, the IGI, and Registration District, all info needed to take the next step in finding the actual record.

* FreeBMD. She gave me an quick introduction to FreeBMD, my new fav toy, and how to find records. We plugged in what we knew and quickly went to Jane and Thomas's marriage record! Then she showed me how to order it online. Cool!

* My ancestors were religious non-conformists and were members of the Congregational Church when they got here. She said to look at Calvinistic-Methodists records as well as Congregational records. Checking it out on WIKIpedia I get a clearer picture of church affairs and notice a Peter Williams playing a roll. Wonder if he fits in to our tree... although Williams is as common as Smith here!

There was so much more in our two hour conversation! Am so glad I went!!

Image from the Archive:

Old Map of South Wales from
Filamore's Atlas and Index

The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2012/09/gone-to-family-history-center.html

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