Happy Turkey Day everyone. This was initially intended to be a response to Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun , but things happen, and the fun for me didn’t begin until tonight. There are many more things I am thankful for this season, but time is short and the list long, so I’ll focus on Randy’s challenge:
1) Think about the answers to these questions:
a. Which ancestor are you most thankful for, and why?
b. Which author (book, periodical, website, etc.) are you most thankful for, and why?
c. Which historical record set (paper or website) are you most thankful for, and why?
a) Everyone has a favorite ancestor or favorite ancestral line in their research. Out of thousands of ancestors, it is probably unfair to single out one for recognition. Often, the honor is bestowed upon an ancestor whose surname they bear. Mine is no exception. However, Staats is not my “real” paternal surname. Staats is actually the maiden name of my ggg grandmother, Edith Staats. I’ve posted about this before, but if not for one random encounter and the strength of my 3rd great grandmother, I wouldn’t be posting this today. In 1838, my grandmother filed a bastardy suit against the father of her child. At the time, he was married with one child, and another on the way. I don’t say this judgmentally, but to highlight the fact that our ancestors weren’t perfect. They, like us, were real people. They had real problems and did things for real reasons. The testimony in the case states that they had only one encounter- one encounter that lead to the birth of my gg grandfather. If not for that solitary instance- just a few minutes one afternoon in 1837, neither I nor any other descendant would be around to write, blog, or in any other way discuss this. So I’m thankful for Edith Staats’ strength and faults alike that ultimately helped form the future of the family.
b) I am most thankful for the internet. Not because I think I can do all my research online (no one can do that), but because I am able to find where it is I DO need to research. There are numerous tools online, too many to mention in the short time I have, but the internet has made it so much easier to find out where to actually find exactly what information is available. The sheer volume of source records being made available online is mind-boggling, and definitely has changed how research, and how MUCH research can be done in your pajamas. However, regardless of whether or not the records you need are online – chances are good that you can at least find whether those sources exist, and discover how to access them. That’s all thanks to the internet. Research in the 21st century seems almost cheating compared to the hoops you had to jump through previously. Sometimes, while we’re impatiently waiting for pages to load in that probate record we’re looking at online, it’s easy to forget how difficult and time consuming finding and getting that record used to be used to be. Props to those who’ve gone before!
c) I’m going to have to go with the thing that people who know me would guess that I would say…and that is deeds. Deeds have been by far the most productive record when other record groups have failed me. As I say in my presentations: “One of the best things you can hope for is that your ancestor died intestate and seized of property.” There is so much more to be gained from these records than simply knowing where you ancestor lived. If you need help, let me know. I love this stuff!