Monday, April 27, 2015

Been busy

Well I haven't been here in a while!! True confession: just popped in to see if anyone is still finding this blog and whatta ya know, yes!

I've been very busy working on DAR prospective member applications. Just at the first of the year, I took the DAR online course and it was incredible. Oh, sure, there are other worthy courses out there but only the DAR GEP is slanted toward what needs to be done to prepare an application that will stand the test of scrutiny by the verifying genealogists at DAR HQ in Washington DC. The standards are high and you must submit a proof document for every fact you state on the application. Really, it's just genealogy the way it should be.

I've helped about a dozen or more ladies get their application ready, including my Mom. I'm sure the day will come when we'll get a Have Written or letter asking to prove something that was left unproven. But so far, so good! I've learned a lot about things and I'd like to share a few of them here.

The big lesson for me, and maybe you too, was that I need to slow the heck down and look into a document. I know that I rush things too much. Life is busy and on some days I don't feel as though I can slow down due to the pressure of a long To-Do list. Silly me! I found that out while taking the GEP course online. I'd think I was doing a thorough job of it but when it came to the quizzes the only ones I missed were when I rushed through and didn't pay the utmost attention. In the forums, it was a common complaint so I know that I'm not alone. The thing is that I now wonder how much really good stuff I've missed because I just wasn't paying attention! UGH! Always work to do, not only on the tree but on ourselves.

Speaking of trees, no one is "finished" with their tree. Quite often, when working with a prospective member, and after they've given me a link or invite to their tree online, they'll offer that "it's not done". Well of course! Never seen one that was! There's always more to find, and good stuff too, really fascinating stuff. And that, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is why we are addicted to doing it! No surprise there. So maybe we all should stop feeling guilty and get over feeling like our trees should be "done", and just go get a cuppa and enjoy the process. It will never be DONE. And good for that thought!

Here's a tip: look in old books online. The last three applications I've worked on got to generation 7, usually the child of the patriot ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, and because vital records are few and far between, it's all but impossible to connect them to their parents. So there I am temptingly close to proving her direct line all the way from her back to her patriot ancestor, but missing one connection! I can't tell you how frustrating that is! What I learned from a DAR friend is that the best place to look is in old books documenting the history of a town or family.

When I first ran into this I looked on it with skepticism. I'd heard about the so-called vanity books of old written to prove some person's connection to a royal or famous ancestor and had been taught to be very skeptical of those. And I am. But as they say, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater! Look for books published in the later part of the 1800s, and look for those that have a narrow focus such as a town history. Then judge them based on the number of years between the death of the person being written about and the document being written. Is it likely that the subject and the writer knew each other? And lastly, how detailed is the story?

As an example, here a passage from one of the books found online in its entirety. You can see the detail in every sentence. This is from "The History of Edgar County, Illinois, etc." published in 1879.

Rev. William J. Mayo, the father of Col. Mayo, came here in the fall of 1825. He arrived on the 30th of November; the fall had been one of almost unprecedented loveliness, without a drop of rain for weeks, but on that night it set in to rain and continued a day or two. He located near the line between Hunter and Stratton Townships, where he died August 1, 1849, lacking but a few days of being eighty years of age. He had eaten his dinner, shaved himself, chopped some fire-wood at his woodpile, walked to the house, and was scraping his feet at the door, when he dropped dead. Col. Mayo and Mrs. Driskell, wife of Joseph Driskell, are the only survivors of twelve children. Mr. Mayo was a local preacher of the M. E. Church. Joseph Driskell, a son-in-law of his, is from Kentucky, and settled here in 1829, but is living at present in the city of Paris. Rev. John W. McReynolds was from Allen County, Ky., and came here in 1822. He was a brother-in-law of Col. Mayo--having married a sister of Mrs. Mayo.

See what I mean about detail?!

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