Time For A Refresher

Although I have been researching my family for over 10 years I cannot honestly say that I am completely comfortable navigating any of the repositories I have used.

I am lucky in that on this side of “the pond”, most of my research is contained in a couple counties in Maryland, as well as Baltimore City and York County in Pennsylvania.  My family apparently saw no reason to venture outside of this small corner of the world once they got here.  I haven’t either as I live in the same area as my ancestors.

Because my research is so concentrated in Maryland, I should be an “expert” at searching Maryland repositories.  However, I feel my knowledge is woefully inadequate.
I am a member of several local societies and groups but have not taken advantage of their services.
I am relatively comfortable with the library system and knowing what library branches have what material.
I am comfortable with finding records for various local cemeteries.
I have been to the Maryland State Archives numerous times (although not as many times as I would like), mostly for death, marriage and church records.  I know that there is a lot more available there and I have not yet explored all of it.
I have not done any courthouse research, honestly it intimidates me.  I need to get over this and become more familiar with the records available at local courthouses.
There are a lot of records (or at least indexes) available on-line for Maryland and I am pretty familiar with those resources.

One set of records that has been available on-line and I need to delve into more are Land Records.  I have had accounts to access these records for quite a few years and have done a few searches (admittedly, mostly on myself). 

So I decided to take a stab at improving my skills this year and since this year is almost halfway over I need to get cracking!
What luck that the Maryland Genealogical Society is holding a Basics+ Workshop on Maryland Land Records and Resources this Saturday, May 31!!
I am all registered and am looking forward to attending.  This will be the first genealogical event I have attended (sad, I know…but you gotta start somewhere) but certainly not my last.


Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are

While at my local public library the other week I stumbled upon a tidbit of information on my 4th great-grandfather Charles Henry.  I have Henrys on both sides of my tree and Charles in in my maternal line.  I have no reason to believe that my paternal and maternal Henrys are related and have never found any evidence to dispute that theory.  The DNA results from my mother’s test seem to support this as well since she is not matched to any of my paternal Henry matches.
Also, the Henry surname is more common now but I have found that in the 1800s it hasn’t been all that difficult to track the different “groups” of Henrys.

The information I had about Charles before my library find was mostly derived from the U.S. Federal census.  No information on him was mentioned by any family members, bible records, pictures, etc.
I originally found him in 2003 by finding his son, my 3rd great-grandfather John Baker Henry in several U.S. Federal censuses and working backwards.

  • Charles does not appear in the 1900 U.S. Federal census, neither does his son John.  I did locate a death date for John of 1896 and Charles does not seem to appear in any other households in the 1900 census.  I assumed he was deceased by 1900.
  • Charles appears in the 1880 U.S. Federal census in Waverly, Baltimore County, Maryland as the widowed, 78 year old father of John B. Henry.  He is listed as a wheelwright who was born in Maryland and both his parents were born in Maryland.  He has dropsy.
  • He appears in the 1870 U.S. Federal census in the 8th District (Ellen Gowan Post Office) of Baltimore County, Maryland as a 66 year old living in the household of John B. Henry.  His occupation is listed as “as of family” and he was born in Maryland.
  • He appears in the 1860 U.S. Federal census 8th District (Cockeysville Post Office) of Baltimore County, Maryland as a 56 year old Wheelwright born in Maryland.  In this census he is the first person listed in the household, the others being his son John Baker and John’s wife, 3 children and a 13 year old black female whose name is hard to read.
  • He appears in the 1850 U.S. Federal census 1st District of Baltimore County, Maryland as a 48 year old Wheelwright born in Maryland. He is the first listed in the household, the others being his son John Baker and a 24 year old black female named Malinda Howard.
  • He appears in the 1840 U.S. Federal census 2nd Collection District of Baltimore County, Maryland.  Since only the head of household is listed I estimate that this is the correct Charles Henry based on the other heads of household on the page compared to the same in the 1850 census.  Listed in the household is a white free male between 10-15 (I assume his son John), a white free male between 30-40 (I assume Charles), a white free male between 40-50 (unknown), a black free male under 10 (unknown) and a black free female between 24-35 (unknown).
  • He appears in the 1830 U.S. Federal census 2nd Collection District of Baltimore County, Maryland. Again, I am assuming it is him based on the other heads enumerated on the page.  I do not think that Charles has a “tick mark” because although he is named, listed in the household is a white free male under 5 (I assume his son John), a white free female between 10-15 (unknown), and a white free female between 20-30 (unknown but maybe Charles’ wife?).
  • I did not find Charles in the 1820 U.S. Federal census but I didn’t expect to.  He would have been a little young to be head of household in 1820.  I did find a John Henry in the same area as the later censuses for Charles.  Since Charles’ son was named John, could this be Charles’ father?  I noted that but haven’t gone any further,

Next I checked the Baltimore City Directories for the years between 1870 and 1900.  I started with 1870 because the 1870 census had Charles living in the Cockeysville area of Baltimore County (therefore not listed in the Baltimore City directory) and the 1880 census had him living in Waverly (listed in the Baltimore City directory).

  • I found the first listing for these Henrys (John B.) in the directory in 1879.  So I assume it was around this time that the family moved from Cockeysville to Waverly.  However, Charles was not listed in the directory until 1882. 
  • Charles is listed in the directories for 1882 through 1884 as a Wheelwright in Waverly.  John B. Henry, Charles D. and William R. Henry (John’s sons) are listed as Blacksmiths in Waverly.

Based on that I figured, Charles was born about 1803 in Maryland and probably died in the mid 1880s.
Cursory searches in the Land Records (at the time not so easy to navigate) did not turn up any records for Charles.
Searches in the Baltimore Sun archives (through the library) were tedious and yielded nothing on Charles.
Searches in the State archives for Baltimore City yielded nothing on Charles.

So, that is what I had until my library visit.  I was not there to do family research but I decided to take a look in the Maryland room on my way out.  I perused the books, mostly the same ones I have looked at in the past. Then I spotted a new looking book “Index of Obituaries and Marriages in the (Baltimore) Sun  1881-1885”.  I thought to myself, “Well, I had already searched the Sun and not found anything so this is probably useless”.  But, I had to take a look anyway.  It was published in 2009, so I am pretty sure I haven’t looked at this book.
I searched my typical surnames and then got to the Henrys on page 224.
Charles D. Henry married Charlotte V. Blatchley in 1882.  I know that, this is my 2nd great-grandparents, nothing new. 
I almost missed the entry right above that line:
“Henry, Charles (81 yrs.) d. on 83-Jan-4 [83-Jan-6: 2B, 4E].”
Wait, 1883 – 81 = 1802.  That is close.  I quickly logged into the Sun archive, pulled up the Jan. 6, 1883 edition and turned to page 2.

HENRY-On Thursday, 4th inst., CHAS. HENRY, in the 81st year of his age.  
His friends and relatives are requested to attend his funeral, from his late residence, Waverly, Baltimore county, at 10 A.M., this Saturday, 6th instant.

Promising, right age, right place.  On to the second article on page 4.

Mr. Charles Henry, who died at Waverly on Thursday at the age of 81 years, was one of the oldest citizens of Baltimore county. He formerly resided in the vicinity of Cockeysville, but he removed to Waverly some seven or eight years ago, where he carried on a blacksmith and wheelwright business up to the time of his death.  He was highly esteemed by his neighbors as an honest and useful citizen.

Wooooohoooooo!  I am 99% sure that this is him, I have to leave that 1% just in case.
Temporary exhilaration.  I am so happy to have found his obit, but a little sad that there was no burial location listed.  Grrrr.
But, now that I have a death date it is time to do some more searches.  Off to another library to search some more local newspapers that are not available on-line, another check for a death certificate and some more cemetery searches.

So far my new searches haven’t given me any new information but I’m refreshed by this new lead.  Hopefully I will have a good update on this ancestor to blog about soon!

More DNA

As mentioned in my previous post I’m a…Viking?, I was a bit confused when I got my AncestryDNA results.
Because of this, I decided to have my mother and my father’s brother take the test to try to “separate” the maternal and paternal ethnicity.
My mother took her test, I sent it back and within 2 weeks I received the results last Saturday.  It was a busy weekend and I really didn’t have the chance to look at her results in any detail.

Our results are as follows:

My results are above                     My mother’s results are above

One of the first things that caught my eye is the Italy/Greece percentage.  Through my research, I expect all of this region to come from my maternal line.  So, to see my mother has 20% and I have more at 24% is a little surprising.
The rest is about what I expected I guess, my research has supported much of her result, a lot more diversity.

My uncle took the test last Saturday, the same day I got my mother’s result.  So, I’ve mailed it back, activated his test and am now in the unbearable waiting stage.  My paternal line was the most confusing since I thought there would be a lot more of the Europe West region in my results.

Admittedly, I need to read a little more about DNA in general.  I know that DNA isn’t the only answer and that as more people get tested the results will be adjusted, but I’m fascinated by the results I’ve gotten so far.  I’m so interested in seeing my uncle’s results!

Part Three of Computer Upgrade – Software Audit

Continuing my preparation and evaluation before upgrading my laptop, here is Part 3 – Software Audit.

As part of evaluating what I need to upgrade my laptop, software is my next consideration.  Not only the software itself but also any customization or configuration that may need to be copied to the new computer.  Since I typically only use my home computer for social networking sites and genealogy, I don’t have a lot of software that I use.  But what I use is important and deserves some thought and planning.

Genealogy Software
Database – For my genealogy database, I use Legacy Family Tree.  When I first started I used a couple different programs.  I finally settled on Legacy.  I don’t remember specifically what it was that made the decision for me but I have been a Legacy user for around 10 years and I have been very happy with it and don’t plan on changing.  The only thing that has ever made me slightly consider changing is that I have a tree on ancestry.com and Legacy is not “syncable” with my ancestry tree.  Since I don’t use my ancestry tree as my “working tree” but more for “cousin bait”.  Definitely a keeper.

Utility – I also use Clooz, which is a document analysis program.  It is a little hard to explain and it was a little hard to get started with but I really like it and will definitely carry it forward.  As part of my electronic file organizing I have some documents that I also need to get entered into Clooz.  I have found it a great resource for helping with brick walls, and I have a few that Clooz may help be break through.  Definitely a keeper.

Utility – Another utility that I use quite often is a little freeware program called Transcript.  It is basically a split screen that allows you to load an image file in the top screen and transcribe the text in the bottom screen.  Sounds simple but boy is it a nice utility!  Definitely a keeper.

App Interface – I use the Families app to view my database on my iPad and my iPhone.  The app does not read the Legacy file directly but has a program that is installed on the computer that syncs the database file with the app.  Definitely a keeper.

Cloud Software
As I discussed in Part One, I use both Dropbox and Google Drive to manage my cloud storage.  Both of these will need to be installed on the new computer.

Office Suite Software
I definitely need office suite software on my new computer.  My current laptop came with the Starter Edition of Microsoft Office.  I find it hard to use, but at the time I assumed that between that and Google Docs would get me through.  Not the case.  I even tried Open Office but it really didn’t fit my needs.  For the new laptop I will need a full blown office suite.  This preference probably comes from the fact that I use Microsoft Office quite heavily at work, so I’m used to having it at my fingertips.  I don’t want to pay for a version that will be out of date in a few years so I am considering Microsoft Office 365, which will also give me access to Office on my mobile devices.  

PDF Software
Just as with the Microsoft Office software, I am used to using Adobe Acrobat Standard daily.  Although many programs and websites allow you to save files as PDFs without having the Standard version, I also combine multiple types of files to create PDfs and like to do page numbering, etc.  I will continue to use this going forward.

Image Software
I use image software all the time.  I tag, crop and edit photos and documents.  I currently use Picasa but it can sometimes be a little quirky.  I am considering purchasing something along the lines of Adobe Photoshop Elements.  I can probably have that added to my new laptop configuration at a discount.  I am going to plan on working this into a new laptop.

One thing that I currently do not have installed is a mapping software.  This would be used, for example, to query county boundaries during different years.  I should probably take a look at something like AniMap.  I have also recently seen a couple webinars covering using KMZ files from The Newberry Library.  This also deserves a look, more research and feedback is needed here.

Although bookmarks do not really fit into software, I am going to eliminate using bookmarks within my browser(s).  Without some user exporting and importing bookmarks are not shared between browsers or devices.  I “lose” bookmarks all the time.  Going forward I am going to have a links file.  This will be just a text document with all my links that will be saved in the cloud.  So I’ll be able to access my links from anywhere.

I’m sure I missed something but these items are my major concerns when upgrading.  Looks like I have a pretty clear path on most items, I just need to decide on what I’m going to use for mapping and imaging.  That seems pretty manageable.

The only thing left to consider is the actual make and model of the new laptop. But since I need to get busy organizing my files I won’t even look at that yet.  By the time I have everything filed I’m sure there will be new models out.

Happy 100th Birthday Raymond Eldren Bull

Today would have been my grandfather Bull’s 100th birthday.
Raymond Eldren Bull was born on May 8th 1914 in Parkton, Baltimore County, Maryland to Samuel Jacob (Jake) Bull and Beulah Idell (Ida) Schaeffer.  Raymond was the 7th of Jake and Ida’s nine children.

Please do not reproduce
In the above picture, Raymond is sitting on the step. Sitting in the chair on the porch is Jake’s father John Thomas Bull.  In the rocker is Raymond’s brother Herman Paul Bull and sister Dorothy Pauline Bull.
As a child Raymond earned the nickname “Spigs” because that is how he pronounced the word “pigs”.
After the death of his mother in 1921, some of the younger Bull children were raised by other family members.  Raymond went to live with his older brother Kenneth Elridge Bull.  
Raymond married Margaret Adeline Pisani on 5 Aug 1937 in Cookesville, Howard County, Maryland.  At the time they were expecting their first child, Charles Louis Bull who was born on 21 Nov 1937 and died on 27 Feb 1938.  Raymond and Adelina had 3 more children, Ruth Lorraine, Margaret Ellen and Yvonne Louise.  
Ruth Lorraine, Adelina and Raymond.  Please do not reproduce.
Raymond and Adelina lived in Baltimore City, Maryland, then moving to White Hall, Baltimore County, Maryland.  Raymond worked for the Baltimore Transit Company, as did several of his brothers, first driving streetcars and then buses in Baltimore City.
In 1953, Raymond and Adelina bought about 7 acres in Beckleysville, Carroll County, Maryland at intersection of Beckleysville Road, Foreston Road and Gunpowder Road.  The property included a general store which the Bulls operated.  There were usually card games at the Bull house on Saturday nights.
Saturday night card playing.  Please do not reproduce.
On 7 Dec 1959, Raymond was driving on Beckleysville Road with 4 other passengers when the car skidded on ice and snow and struck the abutment of Beckley’s  bridge.  Raymond and 3 others were killed in the accident.
My mother was 15 years old when her father was killed so I never had a chance to meet my grandfather Bull.  Because of that I never know what to call him.  I mostly refer to him as “Raymond”.  I only know him through stories from my mother and what I imply from pictures.  
Raymond only met 2 of his grandchildren, he had 7 more, plus 13 great-grandchildren.
 Raymond and grandson Leonard Samuel Hare Jr.  Please do not reproduce.
The above picture was on a roll of film that was not developed until June 1960, 6 months after Raymond’s death.
Happy 100th birthday Raymond, I wish I had had the opportunity to meet you and know you better. 

Part Two of Computer Upgrade – Organizing Electronic Files

Continuing my preparation and evaluation before upgrading my laptop, here is Part 2 – Organizing Electronic Files.

As mentioned in my post What did I get myself into? when it comes to my electronic files, THEY ARE A MESS!!  When using my previous computers, I would often copy files from cameras, back up files to CDs, DVDs and flash drives and then just dump them in a random folder on my computer.  This made life very hard when it came to transferring files from an old computer to a new one.  Hard enough that I would get frustrated and decide “I’ll just dump everything here and deal with it later”.

Unfortunately, I also took this approach when I started using cloud storage.  So my cloud folders are a bit messy as well.  I have started reorganizing my cloud and have made a lot of headway on that project but I still have a bunch of files to get through.

Because I know that I can very easily fall into the “I can do this later” philosophy, I’ve decided that I will not purchase a new computer until I deal with the mess I have created.  The new laptop will be my reward for getting organized.

When I first started researching my family in 2002, I jumped in feet first without much consideration of sources and attaching records to my database.  I think that is relatively common.  I downloaded documents that I found, I took pictures of headstones (never correctly recording which cemeteries I took which pictures in), scanned pictures I had.  Most of the time I just accepted the default name that the program or device assigned to the image.  Later, as I realized that I needed to source my stuff and that I could attach records and media to my database, I copied some files from the dumping ground to more organized folders.  SOME FILES.  But which files?  Since the original files are still in the dump folder I know I probably have multiple copies of a lot of files.  This will take weeks to get through.

How am I  organizing my files?

My first step to cleaning up my cloud folders, which I will continue to use for my unsorted files, is developing a folder and file name structure that works for me.
I did some research to try and find a “standard” but there was none that I could find.  I looked at what other people have used and didn’t like anyone’s system in total.  So, since I don’t have enough to do, I am developing my own system.  It is a work in progress but so far I am happy with it and I think it will work.

In order to try and avoid long, drawn out file names I’m trying to use tags in the files.  I know that some programs and sites do not support tags (and also strip out other metadata) so I haven’t gotten deep into this yet, I’m still doing some playing around to see what stays with the files where.
Tagging and metadata can only get better so I think this is the way to go.  This should allow me to do things like add tags for new people that I find on a census page that I didn’t have originally without changing the file name.  I think I can use more generic naming for files other than photos of specific people by tagging the people in the documents instead of including them in the file name.

I have a lot to do, I better get going!

Stay tuned for Part Three – Software Audit…

Part One of Computer Upgrade – Storage and the Cloud

Continuing from yesterday regarding my preparation and evaluation before upgrading my laptop, here is Part 1 – Storage and the Cloud.

The first thing I am considering before upgrading my laptop is storage.  How much space am I using now and how much space will I need going forward?
I started with this one because for me it is the easiest.

My current laptop has a 320 Gb hard drive.  Except for a few downloaded documents that were used temporarily, the hard drive space is occupied by the operating system and installed programs.  I still have 85% of the hard drive space available.

This is because about a year ago I made the decision to put as much of my family information “in the cloud” as I could.  So far this has worked great.

I store my family database in Dropbox.  I open my genealogy program on my laptop and the database file is opened from the local Dropbox folder. Since it is a hard-coded path on my hard drive there is no latency or issues with speed.
My genealogy program allows the program to be installed on a desktop and a laptop (as long as only one is used at a time), and I do have the software installed on my desktop as well.  Typically, I only work from my laptop. However, if I do use the program from my desktop and then later want to take my laptop and visit the library or another remote location, I do make sure all the files are synced before taking my laptop anywhere.  This is because I either may not have an internet connection to sync my database or a s-l-o-w connection that takes forever to sync.  Because I am diligent about this, I have never had an issue with unsynced data.

Another advantage of storing my database (and other files) in the cloud is that it gives me a couple additional backups.  I use Google Drive as a backup location for my most important files.  I physically copy anything I want to backup to my Google Drive service.
I have Dropbox and Google Drive installed on both my desktop and my laptop.  Therefore all my files stored in the cloud get copied to both computers.  I also generate a backup of my database directly from my genealogy software that I store both in the cloud and locally.  Finally, I have backups set up of my desktop and laptop (which includes those local cloud folders) to my WD My Drive Live Duo (set up with mirroring).  This makes me feel comfortable that I am pretty safe from disaster.  Granted, my desktop, laptop and external hard drive are in the same physical location but having the data also stored in two different clouds I think this is enough. Luckily I have never had to test this theory!! 
I have considered a commercial on-line backup but so far have not pulled the trigger.  I have been able to store everything in the free Dropbox and Google Drive clouds. I have earned extra storage through referrals and such and so far cloud storage space has not been an issue…and it is free.  At the point I outgrow the free storage I will pay for extra storage through at least one of the cloud services.

Lastly, I love having all my stuff in the cloud because I can access my genealogy documents from any computer, my iPhone and my iPad.  Although I cannot open my actual family database directly from the cloud remotely, I do use a couple different apps that allow me to see my family trees from anywhere.  I have found many times where this has been extremely helpful to have it all at my fingertips.

I have also been asked if I am scared about having all my stuff out there in the cloud.  Personally, I do not have that concern.  I figure that if my company is storing their data in the cloud, I should feel safe.  My company is very conscientious about security and storage of data.  So when they rolled out Google services to replace email and much of the server storage, I figured it was worth a look to store my personal stuff that way too.

Since I love having everything on-line and I don’t have terabytes of stuff, hardware storage is not as much of a priority for me.  I think I can probably get away with most standard configurations as far as hard drive space (if I can control myself when configuring my new laptop) when I upgrade.

Stay tuned for Part Two – Organizing Electronic Files…