Friday, August 31, 2012

On The Job Training

As I often say here, I'm a relative newbie to this genealogy thing. Mom get me started and has filled me in on a lot of methods as well as tips and tricks. I've been very lucky to be handed a gigantic tree and lots of research. And I've learned from work that wasted her time or things she wishes she'd done differently. But I'm such a beginner! Bottom line: I have so very much to learn. And I learn as I go so it's on the job training.

I've been a tad dismissive of the seeming obsession with citing sources and the form that takes. Truth told, rolled on the floor laughing at one of Randy Seaver's post to his excellent and enlightening blog Genea-Musings at that dealt with a particular citation, perhaps a census as I try to remember. In his post he gave a couple of different versions according to various accepted forms. I had a fit of laughter because, A) I could hardly see the difference because I'm so untrained, and B) I was at that moment lucky to remember where I got a particular document let alone how to properly cite a source according to such high genealogy standards.

I have an academic background and am not totally ignorant about the need to cite sources or proper form. I have a working understanding of the Chicago Style Manual. But I have to say that my initial impression of citing sources and the seeming obsession about it in the hard-core genealogy community (read: professionals) was one of amusement. I'm changing my tune.

OK, sure I'll never have Randy's dedication or mastery of source citation, - or probably anything else - but I get it as to why it's important and why one needs to be consistent about how one does it. How did this shift in attitude come about? A little book, just a hundred twenty-something pages long called, "Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian," by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her big book shares the socks off me! At least right now;)

Every day I read and think about the next item she presents. The organization of the book is efficient enough such that I can wade into it and be "safe" without getting bogged down or overwhelmed. One concept at a time starting with the most basic so as to lay a proper foundation and build upon it. And I stick with each concept until I'm comfortable with that. It's a slow process but for me it makes sense:)

Photo of the day from The Archive:

Charles William Zeller,
1829 - 1901
Born in Germany and died in Chicago.
Date of photo unknown.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

SNGF: Ancestor Roulette!

Randy Seaver's bolg post for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is called Ancestor Name Roulette. (find it at: )  Now doesn't that sound cool?! Sign me up!

Here's part of Randy's SNGF post for Ancestor Name Roulette:
1) What year was one of your great-grandfathers born? Divide this number by 50 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."
2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel"). Who is that person, and what are his/her vital information?
3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."

OK, so here we go:) First step: pick a GGF. I picked my paternal GGF, Gustav Zeller born in Frostburg, Maryland in 1858. 1858 divided by 50 is 37, and that's my roulette number.

Second step: Using my Family Tree Maker software I ran an Ahnentafel report and checked out number 37. It's Delilah Porter! Delilah Porter was born 1812 in the general area of Eckhart, Maryland and died 1881 in that same place. She married Jacob Eckhart, born 1812 who died 1836, also in Eckhart.

Now, Delilah Porter has been a brick wall for Mom and I. Mom has investigated every nook and cranny containing records in Western Maryland, gone to every repository looking for her. Believe me, Mom knows this territory... and all the people at the front desk:) She came up empty for poor Delilah.

What we did know is pretty skimpy: birth and death year. Luckily she married a prominent resident of the area who left a pretty good paper trail and a dandy probate record. In it Josiah Porter was named the guardian of Jacob Eckhart and Delilah's children. This Josiah Porter was a thin thread linking Delilah to her family but it was just about all we had to go on.

So here are three facts about Delilah Porter of which we are sure:
1. Her husband was Jacob Eckhart (1812 - 1836, son of John Eckhart (1768 - 1835) and grandson of George Adam Eckhart (1729 - 1806).
2. Delilah Porter Eckhart and Jacob Eckhart had two children, a son John Eckhart (1831 - 1917) from which I'm descended, and a daughter Rachael Eckhart Anderson (1829 - 1895).
3. After Delilah's husband Jacob died she married for a second time to James Anderson (1818 - 1860). They had an additional 8 children.

For extra credit and to win the trivia prize (in my head), Delilah's presumed father Gabriel MacKenzie Porter (1776- 1842) married a second time to Sarah Anderson... and that's a whole bunch of Andersons right there, if you ask me!

Below you'll find a previous blog post about how Mom and I narrowed down possible family connections for Delilah using information contained in the book, "A genealogy of the Porter family of Maryland, West Virginia, Michigan," by Samuel Doak Porter. We each worked on our own and came to the exact same conclusion. Now as a relative newbie, I don't trust my results but I  sure trust Moms, not just because she's Mom but because she's been doing this since the early 1970s:)

In a nutshell, we think that Josiah Porter named in the will was her brother. And if so that gives us a whole other window into the Porter clan and more family connections.

Thanks, Randy! That was fun:)

The Old Porter Cemetery.

A view from the Rose Hill, the Porter Property of old.
The site of old house (pictured below) sits to the right of this view.
"Independance (Squire Jack Porter)"
a painting by Frank Blackwell Mayer,
Now in the Smithsonian.
Squire Jack at home in Rose Hill.
Squire Jack was Gabriel's brother.
Gabriel is our most likely candidate for Delilah's father.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Picture This

So I'm talking to Mom this morning as we do most days and we came up with an idea that we both thought might shed some light on that "mystery photo" of Daniel Williams, my GGGF and his family, especially his mother Jane James Williams. How about comparing that image of Daniel with other photos of him that we know the date of? So off to PhotoShop I want and here's what I came up with. See for yourself.

From "mystery photo" family group,
Towne Photographers, Troy New York,
Date unknown and driving us nuts!




I'm thinking that Daniel looks to be maybe 10 years younger in the "mystery photo". Look, he seems to have some color in his hair... it's not turned all white yet. And his face looks younger, but maybe that's the photographer's flattery? What do you think?

And here's that group photo again for comparison. If anyone has a guess about when it was taken - and we think it might be about 1890 to 1900-ish - we'd love to hear your thoughts!! Really love to hear them!!

Tombstone Tuesday

On to another Tombstone Tuesday, a challenge put out there by Geneabloggers at where they always offer fun and interesting daily blogging prompts. I jumped on board this train two weeks ago but couldn't follow through last week because of internet problems, which I won't bore you with:)

Again this week I'm back at the Cherry Orchard Cemetery in lovely and almost gone, Magnolia West Virginia, only accessible by dirt roads in pretty rough condition. It is on Find A Grave at
But as you can see, there are only four folks listed.

Mom went to Cherry Orchard Cemetery a number of years ago when she talked Dad into taking here there, and I really don't know how she pulled off that trick! On my last trip to see Mom she navigated us there while brother heroically drove. But for this Tombstone Tuesday, I'm working with Mom's old photos of the stones taken a number of years ago.

SNIDER, James, CO. C, 2nd MD. INF.
(1840 - 1861)

MANNING, John H. 1891 - 1945
MANNING, Missouri 1902 - 1979

SHAMBAUGH, Samuel A. 1854 - 1936

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Looking For The Widow Jane: Passenger Lists

Am looking for my maternal GGGM, Jane James Williams (1815 - ?). Just to recap, she was born in Wales in 1815, married Thomas Williams there in 1841. They had six children but he died in 1868. We find her in the Wales Census of 1871, and Census records before that. But try as I might - and believe me I've done nothing but try to find her in US records - I come up empty. So either I'm way off base and don't know beans about doing genealogy (and that's quite possible;) or something is wrong with what we assume to be true about her.

The only solid evidence we have of her after the Wales Census of 1871 is the photo taken in Troy New York with five of her six adult children, date unknown. My GGF, Daniel Williams (1852 - 1920) is in it on the right. His mother, Jane is to the left of him. Both are seated. So there she was in a photo taken in New York, big as life! And I ought to be able to find her in US records, right? You'd think!

This exercise in hunting Jane is testing my resolve... and what few powers of genealogy know-how that might have rubbed off from Mom on to this relative newbie are not adequate. I've looked in US and New York State Census records and come up empty with no solid conclusions but lots of speculations... can you even guess how common the name Jane Williams is?! I've looked for an obit with no luck at finding my Jane Williams.

My latest exercise is to look in passenger lists. We can safely presume that if she was born in Wales and is in the census there in 1841 to 1871, and then she makes an appearance in that New York photo, she probably came on a ship. So far, so good.

I've perused the passenger lists on Ancestry but this morning I was anxious to dig deeper so went to the Steve Morse 1Step web portal at It's a powerhouse of access and has super search engines built in. (Thanks again, Steve!)

I found that the less I enter in the way of data, as we hear many a time, the more results I get. Just to see what might happen I did the exact same search on Ancestry as well as the 1Step and the results were similar but slightly different, and that was curious and instructive. The 1Step results yielded 121 very reasonable responses. Ancestry just about couldn't stop bringing me stuff... 12 full 50 entry pages... like a young dog trying to please:) But out of all that dog pile of returns only 70 were appropriate matches for the search terms.

Interesting. That said, I'm sifting through the results and still looking for Jane!

Today's photo from The Archive:

My GF, Cambria "Camey" Williams, 1897 - 1960

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

SNGF: What's Your Number?

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings posts a challenge every Saturday, and even though I usually don't check it out until Sunday, it's a treat whenever I get there to see his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun! Find this weeks challenge at:

In a nut shell, Randy's challenge this week is to do a total count on ancestors going back in a direct fashion and then a count by generation. Randy referred to Crista Cowan's post on the blog at
She has a handy chart that totals up the number of individuals possible in each of the generations. Cool. Sounds like fun.

So off I go to Mom's big chart on Family Tree Maker to see what her totals are for the 60,000+ ancestors she's identified. If you remember, Mom has been working on genealogy since the early 1970s, and me, well I'm a complete newbie, still after a couple of years:)

Now as luck would have it, I just saw Randy speak yesterday at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego's meeting. (Find them at: ) They always offer an excellent speaker so I go as often as life allows. Randy was super good and I was reminded once again that he's an engineer by vocation with that sharp analytical engineer's mind! Charts, graphs, critical thinking! It's all there. So I can see why this SNGF appeals to Randy. Go to his blog and take a look at his analysis of the challenge! Woah, Nellie! I'm impressed:)

Me, I'm more the liberal arts and humanities gal... and kinda dyslexic. So after making a chart by hand and counting back a couple of generations I started looking for a way to let Family Tree Maker do the work. Think I might have found it.

Open FTM and get yourself as the Home Person, which you probably are anyway. Then click on Publish in the bar at the top. BTW, I'm using FTM 2012. Look at Charts and Reports to find Relationship Reports. Then select the Kinship Report and click on Create Report on the right panel. When it opens, look on the right and find Individuals to Include. Click on the Select Individuals bar and that pops up a box where you can select the ancestors to include.

It ran the report for me and after printing it out and spending some time with it over a cuppa, I find that Mom has identified 264 out of a possible 1023 direct line ancestors back 10 generations to 7x great-grandparents... if I did it right and there are no guarantees there;)

Now if you go look at Randy's challenge and his analysis of his own ancestral situation he has it broken down by number of ancestors in each generation. I could sit with my report and count them up right now but I don't even trust myself to do that... so unless it's a report feature on FTM 2012 that's not gonna happen today! But I want to do it because I can see that it shows you in real numbers where your ancestors on your tree evaporate into the miasma of the past.

How interesting to do this!

Photo of the day from The Archive:

Catherine Elizabeth House Whetstone (1865 - 1947)
My Maternal GG Mother and Mom's Grandmother,
Photo taken 1932.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

The Widow Jane Comes To American: Yeah, But Where?

Have been looking in earnest my GGM, Jane James Williams (1815 - ?) born in Wales and making an appearance in a photo taken in Troy, New York about 1900. She's found easily enough in Welsh records but once on US soil, she's hiding from me!

I need a place name for her - a city or county - before I can dig deep, so I started looking for an obituary for her. Searched, Old Fulton, and Also checked FindAGrave. There are a lot of Jane Williams out there! But not mine, at least as far as I can tell. Then I rummaged around cemeteries in and around Utica and Troy NY where there were a lot of Welsh immigrants.

And I've tried the US Census for 1880 and 1900. Sure could use that 1890 census, but who hasn't said that?! Then on to look at the New York state census for 1892. She doesn't show up in any of these.

Either I'm simply looking right at her and not recognizing her or something else happened to her. Maybe she died right after coming to the US after her husband died in 1868? But then why is she in that photo taken presumably about 1900? Did she remarry when she landed here and acquired a new last name... and if so I'll probably never find her? Is she not in Upstate New York at all?

I remember a lecture Joel Weintraub (no relation that we know of) gave on the 1940 US Census. At some point or other he said something like, all genealogy is geography. That stuck with me and I'm guessing that the missing Widow Jane is just such a case. I really do need to locate her geography!

Jane, oh Jane: come out, come out, wherever you are!

Photo of the day from the Archive:

Jane James Williams (1815 - ?)
Photo taken by Towne Studio, Troy NY

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When It Goes Bad All At Once

Daily life now has challenges mundane and special, just as the lives of our ancestors did. Life here at the Nut Farm has been rocky of late!

I live in San Diego and lately our mild climate has heated up. Right, I know that I don't deserve to complain too much as some of you have been sweltering all summer long. But you see, our air conditioner went out last week smack dab in the middle of a heat wave. And when we called to have it fixed, we found our that of course we were not the only ones with problems! Four days of melting later, the AC guy came yesterday afternoon and fixed us up. Don't even want to tell you how much that cost us but we're missing the proverbial arm and leg.

Mom and I chatted this morning about how in 1938 it got to be 98 degrees in little Frostburg up in the cool mountains of Western Maryland known for it's breezy and gentle summers. And of course no one had AC!

Just to test our strength of will, my internet connection went haywire on Sunday... or was that Saturday? It was the heat that made me groggy such that I can't remember the day. Anyway it's a hardwire situation and that is just one other reason to go wireless and replace the 10+ year old modem... about time, wouldn't you say? That will happen Thursday. Meanwhile internet access is dodgy.

Now my computer is making a strange sound and that freaks me out because computers don't have too many parts that actually move! The fan and hard drive. Sounds like the fan. I better go back it all up right this minute!!

Gosh, do break downs really come in sets of three? And thanks for listening... it does help to share:)

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moving From Utica To Troy NY

Have been looking for my great, great grandmother Jane James Williams (1815 - ?) born in Wales and presumably died in upstate New York. (See posts below for the full saga of this search.)

Mom and Aunt Betty mentioned a connection to the Utica area and there were a lot of Welsh immigrants who settled there. But my digging around Utica has come up with nothing. So on to Troy and Renesselear County where that photo was taken of Jane and six of her seven children!

It's kind of funny but when I was browsing around the Utica records of 1880-ish I just couldn't see my Williams ancestors living there, and the more I looked the less connected they seemed to this area, in spite of the big Welsh population. It's a heavy farming area and they weren't farming folks. I know, I know, that's just a feeling and not a fact you can site, but ... well, it's what I have at the moment. And it "feels" pretty strong. That said I won't stop looking for them in Utica 'cause ya never know.

On the other hand from the moment I started reading about Troy there was a connected feeling. My ancestors were miners, carpenters, and engineers (as best I can tell right now.) And as such they would have fit in well and found employment in the Troy area. Nope, they weren't farmers.

I'm obsessed with these people! What happened to them in Upstate New York? Why did they then seem to disappear out of the records? Where did they go? Did they go west just as my GGF went south and west to Western Maryland to work in the coal mines as a supervisor, get married, buy a house, have a bunch of kids? Jane, talk to me!!

Photos of the Day from Aunt Betty's Archive:

That photo taken in Troy NY by
TOWNE, 47 Third Street

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday

Geneabloggers at offers genealogy bloggers daily prompts. I usually have some topic at hand but this morning thought it a nice idea to try for somewhat regular posting on Tuesdays of tombstone, thus joining their Tumbstone Tuesdays.

While visiting Mom last fall I copied over her album (physical) of photos she'd taken at cemeteries. While Dad was still alive and driving she'd always be after him to stop at some old cemetery or other all over Western Maryland, South Western Pennsylvania and of course that little pocket of West Virginia known as Preston and Morgan Counties. She has quite a collection and it's my thought that they are not doing anyone any good sitting in her album on a shelf. So here we go. And if you have any suggestions on how else I should share and handle these images please don't y'all be shy!

This grouping is from the Cherry Orchard Cemetery in Magnolia West Virginia. I'm guessing here but Mom must have taken them 10 or even 20 years ago. I say this because I've just been there the last time I visited Mom in June of this year and it looks different now, what with the passage of time.
See blog post:

SHAMBAUGH, Mary M., 1882 - 1969 and Samuel A. 1887 - 1932.

SHAMBAUGH, Elijah, 1820 - 1859


SHAMBAUGH, Marion A. "Ike", 1910 - 1991

 Here are two "Tombstone Mysteries" found at Cherry Orchard Cemetery. At least they are a total mystery to this newbie. I've never seen anything like them and don't know what to make of them and neither does Mom. Mom took these photos of them whenever she was there and I saw them in June and took photos of them too and I can tell you they look as depicted here! If you have a clue, please relieve us of our confusion!


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Friday, August 3, 2012

I Couldn't Resist!

Was browsing through blog posts this morning in an effort to warm up for the day's work of looking for the family of Jane Williams in the Utica and Troy areas of upstate NY, when, after checking Gennabloggers at to find that it was Grab Some Nuts Day, I spotted something that tickled my fancy. Dick Eastman posted to Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter at that the 1940 US Census was done and had all states available to look at. Whoop!! I had to go take a minute.

Right off the bat I looked for Mom, who was living at home in Frostburg Maryland with her parents in 1940. There's a lot of information at hand in this census. And the interface is easy and extremely helpful. Whereas on the older census records I'd have to remember what the columns were about, here when you mouse over a helpful box pops up to reveal the heading on the column! I like that.

There's Grandma and Grandpa Williams, Emma and Cambria. They are both 41 years old. Mom is 21 and her sister Dorothy is 19 while her brother is 15. But wait! It says that Mom is single!! And she had married Dad on 31 Aug 1939. Did they keep it secret? I do remember offhand that Mom said that after they were married they each lived with their parents so they could save money for an apartment. Have to ask Mom if it was a secret.

I also notice every one's education level and see that my Aunt Dot was in her first year at college. She'd become a teacher. Uncle Camey was in his first year of high school. I also notice that Grandpa Williams was working as a salesman for a wholesaler. Yeah, that's what he did for all his working life. I also take note that he earned $1300 in the previous year and the most of anyone on that page of the census.

Mom was "looking for work"... and as she readily admits, looking more than finding;) A friend's boyfriend was manager at the 5 and 10 cent store and was pressured into giving Mom a job. I think she said she took advantage of the situation by giving friends stuff from the store or some silliness like that, so she got fired:) Ha!

Wow! That was fun. I'll look up Dad later, but now back to work tracking down those elusive ancestors: the Williams family from Wales, moved to upstate New York, with too many other Williams people... and all using the same given names: William, James, Jane, Elizabeth, Thomas and so on. You know my misery, I know you do!

Picture of the day from my Archive:

Mom, sitting on Dad's parents front porch,
Her birthday, 1942.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grasping at Straws?

Am busy looking for and not finding my GGM Jane James Williams (1815 - ?) born in Wales and who, by family oral tradition, died in upstate New York, and Utica is mentioned most often. (See posts below.) Jane is elusive to put it mildly!

Yesterday I got frustrated with all the looking and not finding so I thought I'd change it up to get rid of the boredom. Went on and started searching member trees for my GGF Daniel Williams' (1852 - 1920) brothers. Started by looking for William who was born 23 Jan 1856 and the youngest offspring of Jane and Thomas. By looking at the Williams family group photo taken in Troy NY about 1890 - 1900 you can just about guess which one is William.

I didn't hold out much hope of finding anything useful on Ancestry member trees, so there was no pressure and I had fun browsing. I always learn something when I browse in a relaxed manner because my mind is free to take notice of random items and develop possible patterns. Ever do that? You're just browsing and you think, hey there sure are a ton of Williams people in Marcy, Oneida County, New York... that's super interesting! And there were.

Along the way I noticed a Ancestry member tree with a photo of a William John Williams born in 1859 in Wales. In the 1910 census he's living with Jane Williams age 74, or 72. That means that Jane was born in 1836 or so and for sure is not our Jane Williams born in 1815. But the photo was interesting. OK, so maybe I wanted to see a family resemblance;)

See what happens when I get bored when I'm looking and not finding!

Photo of the day from an Ancestry Member Tree and my Archive:

The two William Williams'.
Ours is on the right.
Am thinking the chins are different.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Data Back-up Day

It's a custom, at least in the genealogy community, to back up your data the first day of every month. It's a really nice idea and it's lovely to see reminders on blogs to do it. It's like neighbors checking in to be sure you put out the garbage on the appointed day when they don't see your bin at the curb.

I use Carbonite for data back up. I have tons of photos and other graphic files so I need lots of storage and that means paying for it. The $60 or so a year is cheap insurance... especially last year after my computer crashed! I've been through a couple of computer crashes - I wait until the computer dies an ugly death, and probably shouldn't do that but maybe I like the thrill of getting every penny out of my computer investment. It's perverse;) When the other older computers died I panicked wondering when the last back-up was. Not now. My online back up service is always busy doing back-up. I like that.

That said, I don't trust anything! So here sits an external terabyte hard drive that also holds my photos, graphics, and genealogy files. And next to it is another external terabyte drive. Redundancy is my middle name;)

Hey, whatever makes you feel safe cause feeling safe with your data is the very best!

Today's photo from the Archive:

This photo is a bit of a mystery to me but
maybe Mom or Aunt Betty can help figure it out.
The back says, "Daniel Williams mother and father"
That would be Thomas Williams who died in Wales in 1865
and Jane James Williams (1815 - ?).
Jane is the one I'm trying to find in upstate New York. (See posts below.)
Can it be that this photo was taken before 1865?