Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What did that really say? Revisiting a transcription

In my time doing my family tree, I have had a number of documents that I have transcribed. Amongst them were copies of two letters written by my mum’s cousin to my cousin some years ago. I had taken care and tried to transcribe them just as they were.

Recently my mum was wondering about her cousins, who she had not had a lot of contact with, and whether they had any children.

I looked again at my transcription to see if there were any clues, and not only were there clues, my mum’s cousin had named her children and also those of her brother. I had typed a question mark next to the name of her brother’s wife. Wondering why I had done that, I revisited my copy of the original letter.

I had put a question mark because I couldn’t quite make out the name. Then I noticed that there were some numbers in brackets next to each of the children’s names that were not on the transcription at all. What were they? Only the ages of the children at the time the letter was written! When I did the transcription I had completely overlooked these numbers; I was looking for specific information, and was so focused on looking for anything about earlier generations that I skipped straight past those numbers.

That’s why it is a good idea to go back once in a while and revisit the information and documents we have gathered. Seen from a fresh perspective, we may pick up on details that did not seem significant at the time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday Summary, 20 Nov 2011

These are my recent genealogy related activities


I used Find A Grave’s cemetery search to find cemeteries in Newcastle upon Tyne, and then browsed through the names. I had used Find A Grave a long time ago, but had never tried the cemetery search – I got the idea from watching the Legacy Webinar Watch Geoff live: Cemeteries. I noticed that many were military people. They had been uploaded by the International Wargraves Photography Project (although there were no images for the people I looked at on Find A Grave).

Found two Gilroy names, John Soulsby GILROY and John Robertson GILROY. I recognized both middle names, checked my database, and sure enough they were mine. John Robertson was the brother of my great grandmother Elizabeth Robertson CROSBY (nee GILROY), and the other was the son of her cousin, also named John Soulsby GILROY.

Next stop was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. I was aware of this site but had never used it, as I wasn’t sure I had ancestors who died in war. Both my grandfathers served in WWI, and both survived it. I was able to find both of these Gilroys there, as well as William GILROY, another of my Great Grandmother’s brothers.

Finally on to Ancestry taking advantage of the free access to WWI records. I did not find the service record for John Robertson GILROY, but did find one for John Soulsby GILROY, cousin of my great grandmother.

In remembrance of my Grandad Harold Harrison Berry who served in and survived WWI, I completed the transcription of his WWI service record that I started a while back. Reading every line as I transcribed, I was able to make much more sense of it. The next step will be to get a better understanding of what was going on in the places he served.

Through the military board at Rootschat, I found a link to the Long trail website, which has a great deal of information on lots of aspects of the First World War and the soldiers who fought.


I watched 3 of the webinars at Legacy Family Tree.

Watch Geoff live: Cemeteries, by Geoff Rasmussen. It was his examples using Find a Grave of searching for a cemetery that led me to the discoveries of Gilroy ancestors.

Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown’s Parents, by Marian Pierre-Louis.

Marian demonstrated how she tracked down the parents of Nathan Brown using indirect evidence. I thought this was excellent, presented clearly and very interesting to follow. It felt like a detective on a case.

She followed up, beginning with this post at her blog Marian’s Roots and Rambles.

It Is Well With My Soul: Finding Ancestors Amid the Rubble of Disaster and Misfortune, by Thomas MacEntee. Thomas looked at the sort of records that are available for searching for people who were involved in disasters of various sorts.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tips for census searching

I recently listened to a podcast from The National Archives, Solving Census Problems by David Annal, which was worth a listen.

It contains useful tips about census searching including

  • Spelling variants
  • Use of wildcards
  • Searching using the more unusual names in the family to produce more relevant results
  • Searching for children as their ages may be more exact than adults

Happy searching.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Summary, 6 Nov 2011

Recent genealogy related activities:

I am reviewing my research beginning with my grandparents and working backwards, in preparation for beginning to write the stories of my ancestors. I had the wedding certificates for both couples, but only one birth certificate, so I sent for and received the other three. I have yet to transcribe them and enter them into my database.

I had some notes that I made when visiting my Mum and Dad a while back, they are now mostly transcribed.

Watched the Legacy Webinar The three Cs of Irish Research:
Civil Registration, Church Records, and Census. I haven’t done any Irish research yet, and I found this a good overview and I will use the information when I am ready to start with Irish research.

I listened to two podcasts on blogging from Lisa Louise Cooke. They were from her series Family History: Genealogy Made Easy, episodes 40 and 42. They contain some useful information on setting up a blog, and adding gadgets. Some of them I have done, and some I have yet to try.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Census searching - when less was more

The first searches I did when starting out were on the 1901 census for England and Wales, for my grandparents.

I had followed the advice given to all beginners, to talk to living relatives. I had asked my Mum about my grandparents, what their full names were, and exactly when and where they were born, so I felt well-prepared. I was excited and a little nervous. Would they be there? What would I find out?

I filled in the search boxes for the 1901 England and Wales census for Harold Harrison Berry, born 1896 exactly and living in Sadberge in County Durham. I hit the button, waited, and ... Nothing, he wasn't there. I was so disappointed.

Never mind, I had the details for my other Grandad. In go the details again, William Murray Crosby, born 1895 exactly, in Newcastle upon Tyne. Again, nothing, and more disappointment.

After a few permutations, I found Harold Berry when I put in only his first name, surname, year of birth, and put place of birth as Sadberge, leaving out the county. (Sadberge is in the county of Durham, but on the 1901 census the place of residence it was shown to be Sadberge, Yorkshire (North Riding), and that was why I was unable to find him when I added a residence showing Durham as the county. On every other census record that I have found since then, Sadberge is shown as being in Durham; not sure why it is different for 1901.)

For William Crosby, I had to put only his first name and surname. I also had to add +/- 1 year for year of birth (he was born in June of 1895, so his birth year for census showed as 1896 in the transcription), and for place of birth and residence, fill in only the County box as Northumberland. This gave a number of results, and I was able to identify the correct entry when I found a family that included the names of his sisters (that my Mum had given me).

It took a bit of juggling around to get the combination of information to produce the result, and in the end, success came by stripping down the information to some bare essentials. This was my first indication that this family tree stuff was not always as straightforward as expected.