Saturday, January 22, 2011

Certificates of Confusion

I've been given access recently to some documents and historical materials connected to my wife's ancestry. Some of the documents are certificates transposed from town and city records recording the births, marriages, and deaths of a number of her ancestors. They are like GOLD! as sources for my files on  But as valuable as they are and as grateful as I am to update my genealogy files, they are not a guarantee of 100% accuracy. I think for the most part the dates of certain events are pretty accurate. But where the verifiable information can start to fade is on some of the other information. For instance, most documents call for names of mother and father. If you can find a bride's mother's maiden name you have struck pay dirt, no question about it. But you'd better think twice about going to the bank on the spelling of some names. That's also a concern about the completeness of some information. Here's a case in point. My wife's great grandmother, Mary Ellen Counter. We've got a hat trick of certificates for her:

Mary Ellen was born March 6, 1863. Her father is listed on the birth record as Ezehue Counter.  Mary Ellen was married (her first marriage) on November 28, 1882 but on this record her father's name is Isaac. On the final document certifying Mary Ellen's death on January 29, 1939 her father's name has changed again, this time recorded as Ezekiel Counter.  Which one is right?  Well, my experience has taught me that when it comes to parental information it's normally the death records that are the least reliable. I guess that makes sense because unless it's the deceased party's sibling providing the information for the death record, there may not be an authoritative source of that kind of information.  However, in this particular case that guideline is out the window...From other sources I have pretty much corroborated the fact that Ezekiel is indeed the correct name of Mary Ellen's daddy.  The death certificate has actually turned out to be a rather fortunate record to have (Not so much for Mary Ellen, may she rest in peace, but for my research) because it gave me her mother's maiden name.

I'm very happy to have access to documents like these. Some people like jig-saw puzzles and some people like Sudoku. But me?  I like genealogy and sorting through all the mazes,  navigating all the twists and turns, and finding answers to questions that sometimes turn around  to surprise me with more questions. No matter how much success I have in my research and despite how many dead ends I run into, there are always mysteries left to explore.  Pending the invention of a time machine it's MY way of going back in time to rub elbows a little bit with the folks whose lives blessed me with life.  I feel like I owe them something. Not just something but I owe them the chance to tell their story. To recreate and publish their histories, good and bad, rich and poor, fortune and folly.  Even if nobody else reads it but me my research brings me a great deal of satisfaction.  It brings my ancestors back to life. And I enjoy their company immensely. That's why my search goes on.

Friday, January 14, 2011

By The Numbers

I've been working on our family budget now for about a week. Chompin' at the bit the whole time because for one thing, I hate doing it and for another, it keeps me from working on what I really want to be doing and that, of course, is genealogy.  My wife's sister recently loaned us some documents pertaining to their ancestors from the Prophet and Creran families that I'm eager to start working into our family tree. The file includes birth records, death records, marriage records, military records, and memoirs all resting inside a folder just waiting for me to devour.  It's like a cookie jar sitting on the counter filled with warm fresh chocolate chip cookies calling out my name but I have "homework" to complete before I can give in to the temptation.  I hate accounting.  I hate budgeting. We exceeded our 2010 budget by about 10 %.  I know that's not much compared to the Federal Deficit but it's still not good. So I'm going to get it done, set the goals, and see if we can bring it back in line with our limited income.

What's this got to do with My Search Goes On?  Not much I suppose but it gives me a chance to get away from crunching the numbers. And although this may be a stretch I've got a ledger that my great great grandfather, John Currier of Langdon, New Hampshire used to maintain and you want to talk about an accounting overload? Check out the photo above...  Page 24 of over 400 pages all filled with accounting transactions of one type or another.  John Currier kept some mean records, I wanna' tell 'ya!  There's even a few receipts I found mixed in between some of the pages. Looks like he bought some nursery items for his farm. Anyway, I digress because I'm just avoiding my own obligations. I'll try to follow John Currier's suit and get back to the budget. And when I'm done with that my search goes on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Going Forward

Going forward is the only thing I can do with my genealogy blog, "My Search Goes On" because I wiped out all the previous postings yesterday.  I was doing some editing to my blog site and didn't pay close attention to what I was doing. In the instant it took to click on Enter, my previous entries were history. Lost history. But that's not really true. I just lost my postings describing what I was working on from time to time in my haphazard efforts to build records in my family tree. The tree is what counts and all the sources to document information I've incorporated into the tree. That I've done on's website. Now as long as my pea-brain doesn't come up with a way to sabotage the website I should be able to continue my research. And in that effort, my search goes on.