Friday June 14, 2013
Sitting in my Research in the South class at IGHR this morning, I heard our instructor, Craig Scott, talking about the "Yam-see" indians in lowcountry South Carolina. Yam-see? Did he mean Yemassee (YEM-uh-SEE)? Enter the Parlez-vous Palmetto? The South Carolina Pronunciation Guide. Craig's preference (YAM-uh-see) is actually listed first, but with many generations of ancestors buried in Yemassee area cemeteries, I have always heard it called YEM-uh-SEE. The SC pronunciation guide says we are both correct.
There are times, however, when I've been downright wrong. I still remember the first time I was talking to someone about my ancestors in CHOW-un county in North Carolina and was told the correct pronunciation is actually Sho-WONN. How embarrassing! I bet, however, that some of you have run into similar situations when researching your ancestors in new localities. When it comes to place names, it is generally best to leave all preconceptions at the door. Beaufort, for example, is a place name in both North Carolina and South Carolina, named for proprietor Henry Somerset, the duke of Beaufort. Beaufort (BO-fert), N.C., carries the more historically accurate pronunciation, while in South Carolina they call it BU-fert. Pennsylvania is a state notorious for place names that aren't pronounced the way you might expect--just look at Schuylkill (SKOO-kill), DuBois (doo-BOYZ) and Versailles (ver-SAILS), and you'll understand what I mean. Even simple names like Carnegie create pronunciation controversies (for the record, I pronounce it car-NAY-gee).
If you want people to take you seriously when you're talking about ancestral places, take a little time and learn how to pronounce them like a native. Believe it or not, online pronunciation guides are available for a wide variety of localities. Here are a few to get you started: Read More...
Thursday June 6, 2013
Most of my ancestors were farmers. And by most, I would say at least 90%, which means--at least for my U.S. ancestors--that I make regular use of agricultural census schedules. The first federal agricultural census in the United States was taken in 1840, and continued on a decennial basis until 1925, when the frequency increased to every five years. Unfortunately, however, Congress and the Bureau of the Census didn't feel they had space to store these records, and they were regularly destroyed after the statistical information was extracted. Thankfully, the 1850-1880 agricultural censuses were offered to interested state libraries, historical societies, and other repositories, with the rest sent to the DAR Library for safekeeping, and most have survived to this day. Scattered returns do exist for agricultural censuses after 1880, but unfortunately the majority did not escape destruction.
Portion of 1880 agricultural census schedule for Henry C. Koth, Pocataligo, Hampton, S.C.
What can you learn from an agricultural census record? The questions vary slightly by year, but the types of information you might expect to find includes:
Friday May 31, 2013
If you have an ancestor who lived in a city or even a decent-sized town, then your research plan should absolutely include a search for city directories. Genealogists all know the value of placing an ancestor in a particular time and place, but city directories can also be used to follow an individual's occupation, place of employment, and place of residence, as well as potentially identify life events such as marriages, deaths, and migrations. This list of residents of Hartford, Connecticut who left the area about 1920 includes their destination -- with many headed for nearby towns, and even California, Italy, and China! Looking beyond the names of your ancestors, city directories also provide invaluable insight into your ancestor's community, often including sections on neighborhood churches, cemeteries, and hospitals, plus organizations, clubs, associations, and societies.
Geer's Hartford [CT] 1921 City Directory (Hartford: The Hartford Printing Co., 1921), 809;
digital images, "U.S. City Directories," Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 May 2013).
More: How & Where to Find City Directories Online
Friday May 31, 2013
Genealogy research timelines are not just for publication--they can also be a very valuable tool in the research process to organize and assess the mountain of information you have uncovered for your ancestor. Research timelines can help to examine our ancestor's life in historical perspective, uncover evidence inconsistencies, highlight holes in our research, sort two men of the same name, and organize the evidence necessary to build a solid case. Learn how to best use timelines or chronologies in your research, and explore a variety of tools to help you create them.
Genealogy Research Timelines