Thursday, September 3, 2015

Genealogy experiments with indirect evidence

That's the title of my article just published in the September issue of On Board, the newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. It's about how indirect evidence worked in my earlier article about the family of Indiana natives John H. and his wife Elizabeth (Smith) Smith, who ended up in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

On Board appears three times a year and anyone with $15 to spare can subscribe here. Or you can read selected article from past issues for free on the BCG's website here. The NGS Quarterly is a benefit of membership in the National Genealogical Society.

“Genealogy Experiments: Indirect Evidence Up Close,” On Board vol. 21, issue 3 (September 2015): 21-22.

“Crossing the Continent with Common Names: Indiana Natives John and Elizabeth (Smith) Smith,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (March 2015): 29-35.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fall 2015 talks

In between the sloth of summer and the hibernation of winter are the seasons where it's actually fun to get things done. This fall I have five speaking engagements coming up.

Tuesday evening September 8, La Porte County Genealogical Society, La Porte, Indiana:
"Probate Will Not Be the Death of You" (digest version).

Saturday September 19, Willard Library, Evansville, Indiana:
"Why We Don't Write and How We Can"
"Indirect Evidence: When Perry Mason Isn't on Your Side"
"Probate Will Not Be the Death of You"
" 'Are We There Yet?' Proof and the Genealogy Police," a case study

Saturday October 17, Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society, Valparaiso, Indiana:
"Land and Property: The Records No Genealogist Can Do Without"

Tuesday evening October 20, Marshall County Genealogical Society, Plymouth, Indiana:
"Ten Commandments for Being a Good Genealogy Client"

Tuesday evening November 17, Board for Certification of Genealogists public online webinar:
"Do You Have the Reflexes You Need to Become Certified? Fifteen Things Your Grandfather Would Tell You . . . If I Were Your Grandfather"



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Did you hear the latest genealogist joke?

Philip Freeman's August 26 article in JSTOR Daily, "Did You Hear the Joke about the Lawyer?", made me laugh out loud, and think about genealogy, which is trying to become a profession at a time when the professions we used to look up to are shrinking in power, numbers, and satisfaction.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

She went to Texas too

I have more Texas relatives than I thought,
but few this early. This book looks like it could be both a page-turner and a fine resource for those researching people -- not just men -- in the early Texas borderlands.

Amy M. Porter, Their Lives, Their Wills: Women in the Borderlands 1750-1846 (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2015).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Find your secret genealogy weapon -- manuscripts!

(I'll never forget the day I found an original mortgage document, with my four research targets' original signatures in different colors of ink, in an archived collection of unpublished papers.)


Diamonds in the Rough: 
Finding and Using Manuscript Collections

Manuscript collections can be a genealogist’s secret weapon. Learn to find and use them!

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (“BCG”) will present a webinar on this subject free to the public at 8:00 PM EDT 21 July 2015. Shellee A. Morehead, Ph.D., CG, will describe collections of unique unpublished materials that may be hiding in plain sight, and how to access them online and in person -- including maps, photographs, diaries, letters, scrapbooks, genealogists’ research notes, unpublished histories, business ledgers, journals, vertical files, and other one-of-a-kind documents and objects that may provide insight into our families’ lives and neighborhoods.

Seating is limited for this webinar. Please register early and sign in early to avoid disappointment.

The BCG is an independent certifying body and author of the 2014 Genealogy Standards.

Shellee Morehead, CG, has a Ph.D. in evolutionary ecology and she has extensive research, writing, and teaching experience. She researches, writes, and lectures on family history. Her most recent article is “Thomas Hamilton -- Progenitor of a Colonial American Family: His Ulster Origins Revealed using DNA” in the Ulster Historical Foundation’s annual Directory of Irish Family History Research. Her recent speaking events include The Genealogy Event in New York. Her specialties include Rhode Island, Italian, and French-Canadian research and genetic genealogy. Shellee is a member of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society, the American-French Genealogical Society, and the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG).

“We are pleased to offer this informative webinar,” said BCG president Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG. “The Board for Certification of Genealogists strives to foster public confidence in genealogy by promoting an attainable, uniform standard of competence and ethics. Educating all family historians is part of this mission.”

There is no charge, but space is limited. Please register for Shellee A. Morehead, “Diamonds in the Rough: Finding and Using Manuscript Collections” before 21 July 2015 at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. For more information contact:

Please visit to learn about BCG's previous webinars.

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluations. The board name is a trademark registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Lennon on Temple in the Revolution

Genealogists talk a lot about historical context, but Rachal Mills Lennon does something about it. Her 19-page article on John Temple, a Virginian, in the March 2015 NGS Quarterly uses it as a major pillar of her research and analysis and correlation of the scanty evidence available on Temple's Revolutionary War career and pension. (Also, don't miss footnote 67.)

Having read this article, I hope that something similar will help with my Pennsylvania patriot problem.

Rachal Mills Lennon, "Context and Comrades Illuminate a Silent Southerner: John Temple (1758-1838), Revolutionary War Pensioner," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (March 2015): 49-67.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Randolph County (Indiana) Relatives: Ina (Smith) Burdick

In the March National Genealogical Society Quarterly I traced a Smith family from central Iowa in 1870 back to eastern Indiana in 1850. It turned out that the parents of Ina (Smith) Burdick (1862-1932) were John Smith of Wayne County and Elizabeth (Smith) Smith of Randolph County, who were near neighbors.

(Ina married in Kansas City, Missouri, my wife's maternal grandfather's second cousin, Frank Burdick. He was one of the focus persons in the first portfolio I submitted to BCG for certification. So for those who are working on their own portfolios, remember that you may be able to reuse this material later on!)

Ina's relatives on both sides were crucial to identifying her parents and making a convincing case for their relationship, but it's in the nature of proof arguments that they only get mentioned, not described. The new (June) Indiana Genealogist fills in the picture by telling some of the stories of Ina's mother's extended Randolph County family, starting with Temple (1806-1885) and Priscilla (Crossley) Smith (1808-1890), who came up from Adair County, Kentucky, in the early days. Next issue will describe John's somewhat smaller family.

Together their descendants married into more than forty families:
Adams, Addington, Bias, Brake, Burdick, Chapman, Cox, Elliott, Engle (twice), Escher, Fetters, Getter, Hathaway, Hiatt, Hicks, Hildreth, Hill, Jennings, Johnson, Kinert, King, Kolp, Martin, Mason, McCurdy, Miller, Mundhenk, Newman, Pearson, Phillips, Piper, Ramsey, Ranson, Schwepe, Smith (again!), Summers, Swangle, Weaver, West, and Woodcock.

Members of the Indiana Genealogical Society can read it on line.

“Randolph County Relatives: Ina (Smith) Burdick’s Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins, Part One,” Indiana Genealogist 26(2) (June 2015): 5-29.

“Crossing the Continent with Common Names: Indiana Natives John and Elizabeth (Smith) Smith,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 105 (March 2015): 29-35.