2019 Resolution Updates

This is a place where I will update my progress against my 2019 genealogy resolutions. Please keep me accountable on these. I have tried to make these S.M.A.R.T. goals. (See the original post for more on that.)

Update Summary

  • 30 Dec 2018 – Updated 2.1 – Inventory of Archival Supplies

1. Community Participation

  1. Participate in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2019. My schedule is to publish these blogs on Fridays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  2. Participate in Wordless Wednesdays. My schedule is to publish these on Wednesdays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  3. Start attending a local genealogical society’s meetings and find a way to get more involved.  Cobb County Genealogy Society may be a good fit. They meet the 4th Tuesday of the month. Timeframe: Attend first meeting in January or February.

2. Archives and Organization

  1. Inventory archival supplies on hand. I know I have a lot of sheet protectors and folders and maybe some empty archival boxes. Timeframe: by 1 Jan 2019
    • Update 30 December 2018
    • Flip top boxes – 2 empty, several only partially full
    • Archival folders – ~70 letter, 100 legal
    • Archival paper envelopes – ~20 5×7, ~50 9×12
    • Sheet protectors – ~200 letter, ~50 legal
    • Photo sheets (assorted) – ~60
    • Archival poly envelopes – 85 4×6, 75 5×7
    • Archival pages – ~60
    • 3 boxes mounting corners
  2. Make sure all documents are in archive folders to protect them. Label folders. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January.
  3. Sort photos and documents into boxes grouped by family line. Most are grouped already, but there are several boxes labeled just “Incoming”. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January. Concurrent with folders.
  4. Finally scan wedding pictures. It’s only been 22 years. Timeframe: Complete before 28 April 2019 (the anniversary of our engagement).
  5. Settle on an organizational scheme for digital and scanned photos and documents.  I have thus far mostly grouped photos by large family groups, or by who gave them to me.  This isn’t working for many anymore as some of these groups have grown to nearly 2000 images.  This is going to have several sub-steps:
    • Determine folder organization. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine naming scheme. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine scheme for tagging photos and documents for easier searching. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Select one group for a test and copy it into the new scheme. Timeframe: by 31 May
    • Test for two months to see if it works. Timeframe: by 31 July
    • If successful, apply the scheme to the rest of the documents. Timeframe: by 31 December 2019
  6. Be sure all documents and photos in the closet are actually scanned. This includes rescanning things scanned at low resolutions. Identify people in photos or determine that their identity needs to be researched. Even if the whole workflow isn’t finalized, they can go into the incoming queue. Timeframe: one box per month, starting in April.
  7. Scan Grandmother’s photo album that I never scanned. Timeframe: complete by 28 Feb 2019

3. Research Goals

  1. Secret Project #1 – Timeframe: 31 January
  2. Secret Project #2 – Timeframe: 28 February
  3. Connect with Sartain DNA match from Ancestry to try to find out about Mary J. Sartain. Timeframe: 1 May
  4. Identify lineage societies that I or my family could join. Detail necessary descent. Select one and apply. Timeframe: 30 June
  5. Document and prioritize current list of open research questions. Timeframe: 1 April
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Resolution – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This is week 52 in our 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project for 2018. Time to look back on the year and to look forward into next year.

Resolution is our theme. I thought about taking this as a chance to talk about someone who demonstrated resolve and stalwartness.  I think instead, I will stick to the idea of a Resolution for myself in the new year.

Even though I began this project partway through the year, it has been a great experience.  I look forward each week to putting together a short piece about some ancestor.  But, this has helped me see what in my research needs some attention.  So, I am going to make a few Genealogy Resolutions for the New Year.

I am counting on all of you to help keep me accountable on these and helping me to track my progress. But, I will try to use some of the project management tools we use at work. I just went to Scaled Agile training and thought about that, but it’s too much trouble. I took a look at Trello and am not feeling that, either. So, technology isn’t the way to make this happen. Just Resolve, I guess.

I expect many of us who have ever had to do goal-setting have heard that we need to have S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Take a look here for more information on S.M.A.R.T. goals. I’m going to stick with that method. I also think that the closer the time horizon is, the more specific the goal needs to be. As you get farther out, you can be a little more nebulous.

I’m going to group these goals into categories. So, here we go:

Community Participation

  • Participate in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2019. My schedule is to publish these blogs on Fridays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  • Participate in Wordless Wednesdays. My schedule is to publish these on Wednesdays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  • Start attending a local genealogical society’s meetings and find a way to get more involved.  Cobb County Genealogy Society may be a good fit. They meet the 4th Tuesday of the month. Timeframe: Attend first meeting in January or February.

Archives and Organization

My archives closet

Just for context, here’s my archive closet. I also have a lateral file in my office, another couple of shelves of books, and another big stack hidden in a window seat. All of the chaos is hidden, but it’s there.

  • Inventory archival supplies on hand. I know I have a lot of sheet protectors and folders and maybe some empty archival boxes. Timeframe: by 1 Jan 2019
  • Make sure all documents are in archive folders to protect them. Label folders. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January.
  • Sort photos and documents into boxes grouped by family line. Most are grouped already, but there are several boxes labeled just “Incoming”. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January. Concurrent with folders.
  • Finally scan wedding pictures. It’s only been 22 years. Timeframe: Complete before 28 April 2019 (the anniversary of our engagement).
  • Settle on an organizational scheme for digital and scanned photos and documents.  I have thus far mostly grouped photos by large family groups, or by who gave them to me.  This isn’t working for many anymore as some of these groups have grown to nearly 2000 images.  This is going to have several sub-steps:
    • Determine folder organization. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine naming scheme. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine scheme for tagging photos and documents for easier searching. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Select one group for a test and copy it into the new scheme. Timeframe: by 31 May
    • Test for two months to see if it works. Timeframe: by 31 July
    • If successful, apply the scheme to the rest of the documents. Timeframe: by 31 December 2019
  • Be sure all documents and photos in the closet are actually scanned. This includes rescanning things scanned at low resolutions. Identify people in photos or determine that their identity needs to be researched. Even if the whole workflow isn’t finalized, they can go into the incoming queue. Timeframe: one box per month, starting in April.
  • Scan Grandmother’s photo album that I never scanned. Timeframe: complete by 28 Feb 2019

Research Goals

This is actually the hard part. All the rest of my goals are organizational or about participating. These are the hard research questions. You have to keep doing research in order to have interest in the rest. I think this might be more modest. I have to decide what walls to bang my head against. After thirty years, all you have left are brick walls, I think.

  • Secret Project #1 – Timeframe: 31 January
  • Secret Project #2 – Timeframe: 28 February
  • Connect with Sartain DNA match from Ancestry to try to find out about Mary J. Sartain. Timeframe: 1 May
  • Identify lineage societies that I or my family could join. Detail necessary descent. Select one and apply. Timeframe: 30 June
  • Document and prioritize current list of open research questions. Timeframe: 1 April

So, there it is. Seems sort of aggressive, but it’s time to get things under control. I have been thinking of pursuing certification as a Certified Genealogist in a few years. To do that, I need to get better about my organization and methodology. I am counting on all of you to keep me accountable to these goals. I’ll post updates as I go along as to how I am doing.

Here’s to a great 2019! Happy New Year!
–SCott

Better than TV!

I get so frustrated with TV. So many channels and nothing to watch! I’m not much of a story-show guy. I tend to lean toward what Kathleen calls “Scary Fish” shows – things like River Monsters, Expedition Unknown, The Curse of Oak Island, etc.

But even better than reruns of TV shows are webinars! Legacy Family Tree Webinars is one of my favorites. You can find them at http://familytreewebinars.com You can subscribe to their service or you can take advantage of their free webinars. With a subscription, you get on-demand access to their entire library of webinars, along with notes and other materials. For free, you get to watch the webinar live or on a replay for a few days afterward, but you don’t get the handouts or other materials.

The lineup for 2019 was published this week for Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Take a look at the lineup and see what looks good to you. My suggestion is to use their multi-session signup tool here. With it, you check off all the webinars for the year that you are interested in and you get confirmation emails for them all. Each one has a calendar appointment that can click to add this to your calendar to remind you. And a few days before the seminar, they will remind you, too.

These cover the whole gamut from beginner to advanced, from US to Australia, and all sorts of records.

Additionally, as a part of this series, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) offers more in-depth webinars. These talk about the sorts of topics that would be more intersting to more advanced researchers. But, don’t let that scare you. If you sign in and then find that the webinar is not for you, sign out. No harm, no foul.

Here’s a confession: for daytime webinars, I often start the webinar on my second PC while I am working at home. And while I travel, I would rather watch a webinar than sit in the hotel room and channel-surf. And here’s a tip: sign in a few minutes early to the webinars. Even though these are free, they do have a limited number of attendees for each session, and when it’s full, it’s full. And a last tip: take advantage of the replay for sessions you miss.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars is not the only source for webinars. Many societies offer free webinars, along with software vendors and others. (And I am not even getting started with YouTube channels!). Follow GeneaWebinars for a central clearinghouse of Genealogy Webinars.

Expand your knowledge this year! Sign up and attend some webinars!

Nice – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Nice. Some people are just naturally nice – optimistic, caring, considerate, polite, and full of an inner joy. Others know how to make their way through, doing and saying the right things. But it’s just not the same. I think the key to “nice” is the inner glow and sense of caring that you can feel from a nice person.

Bettie Higgs Finney (b. 24 Nov 1903, Arkansas, d. 2000, Oklahoma) – Be sure to zoom on that cute face.

When you think about your ancestors, “nice” is likely lost a lot sooner than “naughty”. We just don’t spend as much time passing down the stories of the person who, day in and day out, cared about folks in very ordinary ways. But, the naughty ancestor? There are *always* stories about them that come down the years.

Maybe we need to do a better job of telling the stories of the nice people in our families.

One of my nicest ancestors is my great-aunt Bettie. Bettie Higgs was born 24 Nov 1903 in Dequeen, Sevier County, Arkansas. In 1911, her family moved the 50 or so miles to Idabel in the new state of Oklahoma where her father was editor of a newspaper. And there, she stayed.

Bettie married Thomas Dunn Finney on 15 Mar 1924 in Idabel. Uncle Tom was an attorney in Idabel. He served for a time as the assistant Attorney General for state of Oklahoma in the 1930s. And in the 1940s, he served for several years as a state senator in Oklahoma. And then, they came back to Idabel.

Aunt Bettie and Uncle Tom had a single son, Tom Jr., who followed in his father’s footsteps and became an attorney, active on the national stage. They had four grandchildren, three of whom are still living.

Of course, my experience of Aunt Bettie came later in her life. I barely remember Uncle Tom. He died in 1968, while Aunt Bettie lived another 32 years. She died in 2000. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long.

But, Aunt Bettie was always cheerful and nice when I was around her. “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul! And forget not all His benefits” was something I heard her say over and over. That and “Oh, foot” as her multi-purpose punctuation mark saying.

Aunt Bettie lost her father when she was a teenager. Her mother worked as a teacher and things were not very easy for them in those days. Living in southeastern Oklahoma wasn’t easy for anyone, especially not then, and especially not for a widowed mother with five children. But Aunt Bettie, by my experience, always had an inner joy about her that allowed her to persevere.

Bettie Higgs Finney, 1989

Aunt Bettie lost her father when she was a teenager. Her mother worked as a teacher and things were not very easy for them in those days. Living in southeastern Oklahoma wasn’t easy for anyone, especially not then, and especially not for a widowed mother with five children. But Aunt Bettie, by my experience, always had an inner joy about her that allowed her to persevere.

In the 1980s, Bettie had a stroke while visiting her sister, Mary. She worked hard to regain all of her mobility. She would carry her cane around and forget it places since she really didn’t need it.

I remember driving Aunt Bettie from Idabel, Oklahoma down to Plano, Texas to visit my mother. As we crossed over the Red River in to Texas, Aunt Bettie exclaimed, “There’s old Red!” and said that that was what they always said in her family as they got to the river and crossed over. She told me stories along the way of being a young person in that part of the country years ago. Very cool day.

It’s funny, though. When we think about how someone is, and our experience of someone, everybody knows a person in different ways. Last January (I think), I was in New York City and was able to have dinner with Deedie, one of Aunt Bettie’s grandchildren and my second cousin. After dinner, Jenny, Deedie’s spouse of thirty years, met us for dessert. Jenny asked what memories of Aunt Bettie we had in our side of the family that might be different than the experience of their part of the family. I said how she was so nice and positive. Both Jenny and Deedie laughed a bit at that, I guess Aunt Bettie had a bit of fire in her, too. The niceness only would go so far! That’s certainly the case with her younger sister, Mary, my grandmother, too.

Aunt Bettie had a great letter that her grandfather sent her the day she was born, but more about that another day. I think that this is a good place to stop. Part of being nice is not overstaying your welcome! I hope we can all remember to share our stories of Nice ancestors instead of just the naughty ones.

Until next time, Merry Christmas!
–SCott

Naughty – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

I have to admit that this is a retread blog post.  But, it’s for a good reason.  This picture is, at least to me, a great one for our theme of “Naughty”.  I’ve focused thus far on my family.  This week, we’re going to take a side track into my wife’s family.

boyle-0050-f-v00-AlmaBowling-2.JPG
Alma Ross Boyle at the bowling alley

Kathleen’s grandmother, Alma Ross Boyle was quite the character.  I never knew her really well since she died not too long after we married, but I always enjoyed being around her.  Alma was born Alma Beatrice Ross in 1905 in Brockton, Mass.  She had two older sisters, Edna and Rotha.  I get the impression that the three of them were all full of spunk. 

One thing I remember about Alma is that she loved to bowl.  She would drive to the bowling alley and play candlepins every week.  After she could no longer drive, she tried to walk to the bowling alley for a few weeks before the folks in her apartment building made her use the shuttle.  Alma died in 2001 at 96 years old, after fainting at the bowling alley.  Of course.

But, what I really laugh at is the picture of Alma, Edna, Rotha, and all of their friends in their bloomers and underclothes and “unmentionables” out behind the school.  What in the world are they up to!  This would have been maybe 1920.  The era of the flapper and all, I guess.  I have never figured it out.  And who took the picture?  Did their parents find out about it?  What did they think?  I am sure that we will never know.  Alma, Rotha, and Edna are all gone and I am pretty sure that they never told their kids about that afternoon behind the school house.  Shame.

Someone once told me that girls at that point might take phys ed in their underwear.  Seems kind of sketchy and unlikely to me.  These girls are all mugging for the camera and making faces like they are up to something.

The Ross Sisters and their classmates

I believe the three sisters are all just to the right of the window.  Rotha is kneeling in the front row with the headband.  Edna is immediately behind her, to the left a bit.  And Alma is behind her.  Standing next to Alma, with her camisole strap off her shoulder, wearing boots, with her knee up, is a good friend, Barbara,  who appears in many pictures with Alma.  She and her husband and Alma and her husband, Joseph Francis Boyle, remained good friends, went to the beach together, and traveled together.   My father-in-law remembered her name as Barbara Mossier, but I am not certain if that spelling is correct or if that’s her married or maiden name.  I am not able to find her in the 1920 Census in Whitman, Massachusetts, where Alma lived.  If they were in school together, I would have expected to find her.  So, mystery.

The Ross Sisters – Edna, Rotha, and Alma

All three of the Ross sisters were long-lived.  Edna, the oldest, was born in 1902 and died in 2003 at the age of 101.  Rotha, born in 1903, moved to New York City, where she lived until nearly the end of her life.  She lived until 1996.  And Alma was born in 1905 and lived until 2001.  I only knew Alma.  But I am glad to have known her.  I bet that these three could have been the models of Naughty as young girls, when they wanted to.