Carol Sanderson, Editor
Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor
With summer coming soon, the néed to prepare for the vacation is here. What will it be this year? A new library? A new cemetery? A new courthouse? A new historical society? A reunion?
Before the Internet, we would go to the library or the Family History Center and find The Source or The Genealogical Handy Book and find where the courthouses were located, what records they held and what was available. We would check put the Family History Library catalog to see what records had been filmed and order those that looked interesting. We would check out libraries, and historical societies. Now , with the Internet we can go to our Community Pages, Cindy's List, GenWeb sites, and county message boards to see when the library, courthouse, or historical society in the area to which we are thinking of going is open, what records they have and even directions on how to get there.
What should you take with you? Well, today most genealogists seem to have a laptop computer with them. A few have the handheld computer but there are still a lot with lots of notebooks.
Several years ago my sister, my Dad and I were going to a reunion of Pop's Army unit. As we would be close to where my Mom and both of her parents were born and where her grandparents were buried we decided to go and do some research there. My sister and I had never been there. I prepared and had pages and pages of research ready for the trip. It was all laid out on the bed to be packed.
When we got there I looked everywhere for all those sheets of paper which were still on the bed at home. We headed for the library in Trenton, Missouri and found most of what I had left at home plus obituaries for all the people of interest to us buried there. We then left for the cemetery. We could not find any markers for our Kelly family although we found the brother of my great grandfather and his family, but nothing on our family. The obits said they were buried there so back to the library. The librarian said to call Noel, as he was the caretaker of the cemetery. We did that and found that he had my great grandfather listed as buying a plot of eight graves and that he was buried there. But he didn't know if the other seven graves had been used or who was buried there. He gave us the location and we went back to find a large grassy area.
The obits showed that Robert Forsyth Kelly was there along with all three of his wives whom he had outlived. His mother's obituary indicated she was in the first grave in this new cemetery and as soon as the ground thawed her husband, Thomas Kelly would be moved to be next to her. That accounted for six people buried there. We could not prove it, but we think my grandfather's brother who died at about four years of age may be there also.
We then contacted Noel and he arranged to have stones for all seven graves. We are hoping to get back there soon to see them. We made sure all the ladies have their maiden names too. All those extra names were expensive, but it was well worth it.
A couple of years later Pop's Army group had another reunion and it was close to where his parents were married and where his grandparents were buried. We called the library and to find the hours.
So while Pop was reminiscing, my sister and I headed for the library. About an hour later after getting lost several times, we found the closed library but it was to open at 9:00 a.m. the next day. This trip instead of a bunch of loose papers, I had printed a book of all the people we had in this area from a computer program I had. I put this in a three-ring binder so had all the information of the people in this area. I did remember to put it in the suitcase this time. We found the obits and also an article on the marriage of Pop's parents. Since I have all the information in the book already, we donated the book to the library there. Inside I put directions on how to contact me if anyone is related. The people at the library were thrilled to have it. I had more room in my suitcase for the trip home.
Next off to the Union Cemetery. Just inside the entrance is a large statue of an Illinois Civil War soldier. On the base below the statue is a list of all the battles Illinois soldiers fought in during the Civil War. We drove all around the cemetery and then stopped in a shady spot. We got out and started looking for a Dillingham gravestone. We were parked about twenty feet from the stone. I guess Hank Jones is correct, our ancestors do want to be found.
This summer my sister, my Pop and I will be heading for a family reunion a few miles from where Pop was born in Minnesota. I will again be running copies of the book of the this area. The reason for this is so that those attending can make corrections, and maybe one for the library also.
In the previous article, Charles Hansen describes some research trips illustrating some of the things one can do in preparation for such a trip. I would like to perhaps suggest some also. These may be in addition to what he has suggested and some may be the same. Reinforcement never hurts.
I read an article, three or four weeks ago about this subject.1 While this is mainly focused on getting ready for research trips it can and probably should be used with your everyday research too. When we are searching we néed to stay focused on what we were looking for. I tend to go off on a tangent very easily and this is to help all of us to stay with what we want to find.
This article was in Ancestry Daily News on May 2 2002. The article by Patricia Law Hatcher, a professional genealogist is about doing just what we should be doing but so frequently don't. She says that this is a secret professionals don't share. They don't do that on purpose but it is something that is so natural to their success that they don't think about it. This tool is called a research report. You can find examples in books and manuals and in syllabus material at conferences. It is not necessarily the style that is important but the typical sections that they contain. These are:
If you do this sort of thing you will have a good list of what you want to do and you will make a list of what you want to look at in the various repositories. Don't expect to get it all at once. By being organized you will accomplish much more that you might expect. HAPPY HUNTING!