Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking Back on 2010

As the year 2010 lumbers to a close, I look back on what I've accomplished this year. I didn't accomplish as much as I had hoped, but that's the problem with being an overachiever. Rome wasn't built in a day and I shouldn't expect to get everything done in a day.

Of course, when it comes to genealogy, you never really are done. It's an ongoing process. Even with those individuals in my family tree which I was sure had no further information to share, I've been surprised. I found records in places that I hadn't even considered. I'm sure I will continue to find references to these individuals as my research continues.

I've made progress on multiple lines this year. Rather than cover everything, I'll just hit the highlights.

1) My first big accomplishment came thanks to one of the volunteers at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, RAOGK for short. I got the marriage license and return for my husband's great grandparents, Elizabeth Scheuerman and Joseph Koch Jr. My main goal in getting the license was to determine the exact spelling of his great grandmother's maiden name since I had three different spellings. One spelling was from her passenger record when she came to the United States; the other two spellings both came from my mother-in-law's Bible, which she had copied from her mother-in-law's Bible. This mother-in-law was married to a son from the marriage.

The marriage license ended up yielding even more information than I had hoped. With that single document, I was able to learn the names of both Elizabeth's and Joseph Jr's parents, including the maiden name of both of their mothers.

2) My second big accomplishment came about in an odd way. In October, my grandfather and his sister passed away the same week. Since I was in the area and don't often get down to south Georgia, I decided to visit some of the local cemeteries where I knew family had been buried so I could get pictures. I also like to look at nearby graves since they are sometimes family members as well.

While visiting one church cemetery, I spoke to a gentleman that went to the church. He mentioned his grandparents were buried in the cemetery and pointed to their grave. My jaw dropped. It turns out the gentleman from the church was my double second cousin twice removed. His grandfather and my great great grandfather were brothers and his grandmother and my great great grandmother were sisters.

3) My third big accomplishment had to do with my great great grandfather James Thomas Hayes. I didn't know much about him. I knew he had married Minnie L Rice, fathered eight children with her and lived with my great grandparents after their marriage until he remarried. I had no information on him prior to his marriage to my great great grandmother. I was beginning to think he had appeared out of thin air at the time of his first marriage.

After returning from my trip to Georgia, I got an email that one of my message board queries had a response. It turned out to be a cousin, a double cousin at that. Her father and my great grandmother were siblings. Her mother was the niece of my great grandfather. Like me, she didn't know a lot about out mutual ancestor. However, she did know two facts that I didn't-that he had a brother named Lee and that his second wife was named Jane.

With the additional information of the brother's name, I was finally able to locate him in the 1910 census. As it turns out, the census enumerator had made a mistake when writing his name and gave him the surname of the family he was living with. He had tried to correct the mistake by crossing out the wrong surname and writing in the correct one.

However, the person indexing the census page only caught part of the correction so it was indexed as Tom Hayes Bennett. If I hadn't been looking for his brother, I wouldn't have found the entry unless I went through the entire census for that area page by page. The brother's name was written correctly on the following page.

I've had various other discoveries throughout the year, but these three were my top ones. Hopefully in the coming year, I'll be able to expand on the genealogy finds and add more discoveries about these families and more.

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