22 May 2015

Mom's Membership, Complete

     Mom's application for DAR membership was received in DC on April 5th.  Today, May 22nd, her application was verified - much to everyone's relief.  As opposed to my application, which went through my dad's line, hers was pretty difficult.  All of her family lines are complicated, many of them being "red-lined" in the DAR database (meaning there's a problem with the prior applications).  I thought that the line we chose, which traced back to Samuel Armstrong of South Carolina, and before that, Ireland, would be the simplest one.... Yeah, not so much.  And it the trouble wasn't even about the Revolutionary War Patriot!

     First of all, with the DAR, you really have to prove every fact that you put on your pedigree chart. If you "know" that someone's name was John James Doe, you need to prove it.  If you records only ever give the middle initial of 'J,' well, that's what you'll have to put on the form.  So the fact that mom's grandmother, Auline, was called Arlene by her 2nd husband, complete with a Death Certificate and Headstone that read Arlene, created issues.  In order to have her name properly recorded on Mom's application and in the DAR database, I transcribed an interview I'd previously recorded with my great-aunt where she discussed her mom's name.  We then had my mom, who conducted the interview, get the the transcription notarized.

     Moving back through her tree, we had a few places where the documents that I had needed to be reviewed and evaluated to see if they were good enough.  I discovered a few places where I didn't have the documents that I thought I had, though I had others that served as proof.  For example, I don't have the death certificate of my Great-Great Grandmother, Nina Sprouse Albea.  I do have her obit and social security application, but was surprised to not have her DC.

     Possibly the most uncertain aspect of Mom's application was the son of the Patriot.  Previously, all DAR applicants had gone through Samuel's son, William, who also served and had a pension.  We were going through Samuel's son, John.  John is listed in Samuel's will as John Armstrong. However, in all other documents he is listed as John H Armstrong.  Since there was a name variation, our registrar felt that we would need to show that John and John H were the same person.  She wrote an analysis, evaluating all John Armstrongs in the area and detailed a theory on the addition of the middle initial after our John became guardian to a younger John Armstrong.

     In another couple weeks, Mom will have her membership number and her lineage will be added to the database.  She's very happy to be a full member and to take part in this fantastic service organization.

11 May 2015

The Lottery Winners

     I have some Georgia ancestors who, for some reason, up and moved late in life.  Or who had random land half-way across the state in their estate records. Why on earth would they move like that or have than random land?  Because they won the lottery.

     In the early 1800s, Georgia was expanding.  In 1802 the western boundary of the state was established, though much of it was land belong to the Cherokee and Creek Native Americans.  As we all know, this land was taken piece by piece.  Once it was taken, the state government wanted to fill it with white settlers.... or cannon fodder.  Depends how you want to look at it, I guess. And of course, there were a ton of young families looking for land to building their lives on.

     The easiest way to settle Americans in the newly acquired land was to simply give it away.  Georgia used a lottery system and in 1805, 1907, 1820, 1821, 1827, 1832 (twice) and 1833, citizens received land.  You could purchase a ticket in the lottery if you met certain criteria, which changed each time.

    Searching for your ancestors in the lottery is a great way to find out if they fought in a war, were a widow, an orphan, or of a certain age.  Also, if you have an ancestor who lived in Georgia and simply disappeared around this period, it might be that they won some land and moved.  If you suspect that your John Smith from Elbert County is the John Smith who is suddenly living in Gwinnett County in the 1830 census, that might be because he won land there during the 1820 lottery.  Lottery records can help confirm your theory.

     Researching these records can be a bit confusing.  There were a lot of lotteries and a ton of records created through the process.  I highly recommend the book, "Georgia Land Lottery Research" by Paul  K Graham, to help figure things out.  It's on the shelf at the Georgia Archives, next to the books that index the winners.  The book has information on requirements for each lottery, maps of the land given away and, best of all, tells you the exact drawer and box of the microfilm you need.  And for each person you want to look up, you'll need to pull a series of four different films.  See why you need the book?

     One last hint, which I picked up from a fellow researcher while a friend and I were trying to figure out the lotteries: some books just list the winners.  If you can find it, look for indexes of eligible drawers, not just fortunate winners.  Even if you ancestor didn't win, you'll find out a bit about then simply knowing that they were eligible.

29 April 2015

The War of 1812 at the Georgia Archives

     Last weekend I attended a symposium on the War of 1812 hosted at the Georgia Archives, along with some of my fellow DAR ladies.  First off, a shout out to the Friends of the Georgia Archives for the yummy snacks and all that they do for the Archives.  Also, thanks as well to all of the wonderful speakers.  I didn't realize that I really didn't know anything about the War of 1812, but now I have a good understanding of the events, the causes and the longterm repercussions of the war.

     One of the main reason I went was to find out how I could find out more about my ancestors and their participation in the war.  The Archives staff gave an overview of the resources that they hold that would be of interest to genealogists.

     They started off by talking about the history of the collection and how much of the provenance of the holdings are lost.  Back in the early days, the original organization of collections was not important.  If a researcher requested a certain record, the archivist pulled it and the record was never returned to its original location.  Many of these loose records have been reorganized into a collect called File II.  These documents are organized by names, subjects and counties.  They consist of both primary and secondary records.  Those files organized by name are searchable online.

     Other records include:

     And they're not part of the Georgia Archives, but don't forget about the free War of 1812 Pensions that are available online at Fold3.com.  They've gotten partially through the 'M's so far.  

13 April 2015

Skipping Page Two

     Thanks Lewis, for living to an elderly age.  Not that you didn't accomplish a whole lot in your life, but I appreciate that you lived long enough to be enumerated on the 1840 census.  You provided me with an ancestor that utilized the "Revolutionary War Pension" and exact "age" column.   Of course, if I'd skipped page two, I never would have seen that little fact anyway.

     There's so much information that can be found on the 2nd page of many documents.  Unfortunately it's often not clear that there is a page two.

     You do your search and come up with a document.  You get your information, download a copy, attach it to your tree, etc, and move on.  But in reality, there was a gold mine of information on the second page that you missed.  Such as the fact that Lewis Stowers wasn't just age "70 and under 80;" he was 76.  And by the way, he has a Revolutionary War Pension that you need to go looking for.

     Here's a short list of documents that you should always flip to the next page on - and sometimes keep flipping.

  • 1840 & 1830 Federal Census Records
  • Census Non-Population Schedules
  • Military Service Records
  • Military Pension Records
  • WWII Draft Cards
  • Veterans Headstone Applications
  • Ship Passenger Records
  • Naturalization Records
  • Estates & Deeds
     In general, it's always a good idea to check the page before and after the record that you've found. Even if the information doesn't pertain to your ancestor, you might find family, acquaintances or neighbors (FAN) that can help you.

     It can also help to learn more about the record collection that you're looking at.  Both Ancestry and FamilySearch will have a link to "more about this collection."  This will sometimes include a list of the enumerated information or questions asked, or even a blank form that is more legible than the actual document.  If you know what information should be there, you'll know to keep looking if you don't see it right away.

     So remember to check the 2nd page and just maybe you'll learn someone's exact age from the 1840 census too.


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