Friday, March 5, 2010

Researching an Illegitimate Line

My Grandmother's family line brings me to Scotland.  I have been having good luck in collecting the first few generations birth, marriage and death records from ScotlandsPeople.  But I am finding I have to figure out how to be a super sleuth in records I have little experience with.

My great-great-grandfather of the maternal side was John ANDERSON.  His birth record shows him as Illegitimate, his marriage record shows William Cameron being his father.  The first mystery to solve is to identify his mother, Margaret Anderson.
John Anderson's birth record reads as follows:

John Anderson, (present), Male, 1855 June Third, 4h 0m A.M.
Greystone, Parish of Monikie, Forfarshire
Margaret Anderson, Widow, Her 3rd Child, 29 years, Brechin

Margaret Anderson, her X mark, mother
John Sturrock, Witness
James Cowper Witness
1855, July 13th At Monikie
(Signed) W.M. Alexander, Registar

His Marriage Record:

1879 on the Twenty Seventh day of June at Laurel Bank, Dundee
After Banns, according to the forms of the Free Church of Scotland
(signed) John Anderson, Railway Pointsman, Bachelor; 24, Victoria Street Carnoustie
(signed) Elizabeth Spalding, Jute Winder, Spinster; 23, 24 Dallfield Walk
William Cameron, Ploughman; Margaret Anderson afterwards Nicoll
James Spalding, Yarn Bleacher (deceased); Elizabeth Spalding, M.S. Dewar (Deceased)

(signed) James Ewing, Officiating Minister
(Signed) William Lindsay Johnson, Witness; (Signed) Maria Spalding, Witness
1879 June 30 at Dundee; Dav(?) Scott, Registar

So, Margaret "should" be findable but I am having a hard time tracking her down.  The Marriage Register shows she was afterward Nicoll so she did re-marry after John was born?  Did she re-marry after John was grown and gone?  And as far as her name when John was born.  Is Anderson her maiden surname?  Would she have given her deceased husband name to another mans son's name?  I have her approximate birth date of 1826 as she was 29 when John was born but was she born an Anderson or another surname?  Searching a Margaret in Brechin comes up with a lot of Margaret's!  And how do I figure out for sure that William Cameron is truly his father?  I expect that is something I will never know.   I have been searching the 1861 census for her as Anderson with a 5-6 year old son named John and two older children.  I have been searching for her as Nicoll with three children, one being John Anderson.  I have been searching for a death record for Margaret Nicoll.  I feel like I have enough clues to crack the mystery but so far I am not having any luck.  In the last week I have burned through at least 60 credits at ScotslandsPeople and have birth records for a couple Margaret's and a death certificate that could almost be her but by the age 10 years off, and a few census' that are not even close to being her.  So tonight I have been poking around through Ancestry's Scottish census' looking for a clue in 1861 but I think I am going to move into 1871 and see if I can find her and her Nicoll's husband there!

It feels like it should be so easy.......

((Bloggers note:  And gosh, not even an hour later I found her in someone's family tree on Ancestry.  Major clues to identify her as my Margaret Anderson!  An ahhhh moment!  *and happy dance*.)) 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Great "Do-Over" Adventure??

I love RootsMagic 4, I love everything about it but I messed up a file - - big time. Bruce Buzbee and a few others were so nice by posting to my panicked questions in GenealgyWise and I was all ready with info on how to fix my error. It was totally operator error by the way, I think everyone should use RM4.

Long ago and far away in time (like 18 months ago) I accidently imported someones family tree into my family tree on Ancestry. (Note: I no longer use the tree seriously on Ancestry, I really don't like the idea of all this information sharing that isn't proven). After that "Erk, crap, what the heck did I just do?" moment, I thought I could fix it by downloading my now messed up file and fix it in RM3 and now you see where this is going? So all "my" stuff, that I am questioning again and will be discussed next in this post, and "their" stuff is now all in one file but hey! I can fix it! Famous last words.

I got busy deleting family links and realized there is a way to do this properly and not the way I did it. Unlink doesn't mean delete and vice versa so looking at the people list down the left side of my program, there are about 1000 people that "may" belong to me but no one is going on my family tree until proven by me. So anyway.. a month or so of dabbling at the file to get rid of all these people and doing the troubleshooting reports to find out I had about a hundred duplicates. Truly, I am pretty good with computers and figure out programs quickly but somehow this was like a raging fire out of control! I even had to laugh at how absurb my perdicament was with, to me, what should be easy (and is easy!). So, I merged.. and merged and merged again. And I will say this file mess was a good teaching tool of just what you can do with RM4, lol. So now I realize that "Mr. So and SO" who was record 6 once upon a time is now record number 1934 or something like that. Clearly I have to work on the merging feature.

So finally I had the file fixed!


A family I didn't even have trouble with, the Fenders... George Fenders father was George and his father was George. They are from Scotland and must have all been first sons to name after the grandfather. Anyway, my first George ended up being generation 1, 3, 5, AND 7 and when looking for problems it says something about George couldn't be married to "Miss So and So" because he was 143 years old. Hands were thrown up in the air in defeat. The file wins. And sadly, all along I thought it just might but I was focused on perserverence!

So now it was time to make some serious decisions. The problem started when I merged my entire family tree (Four surname files into one big Master file was the plan) and picked up that other tree by accident. And in the meantime I kept adding new information I found, yes, I compounded the problem! Lol. So I am back to four files, one for each of my grandparents surnames. As of this writing one has been created and almost finished.

The next major decision.

My Duncan-Baldwin lines. My mothers Cousin, Patsy Crox Underhill, did a tremendous amount of work over a lot of years to assemble the family tree to enable her and now our acceptance into the DAR. She is also in the Colonial Dames and my Great Grandmother was an Eastern Star. So this family history is documented enough for these organizations but I don't have any of the documentation. I have the book that Patsy put together and it is also in the DAR Library but that is my "source" for much of my famiy history. Over the years I have collected some documentation on my own but I decided to make these new RootsMagic files my major overhauling "Do-Over" project. My reasoning is that after 20 years past Patsy's research there is a lot more information available and new sources could be found and personally I want to see the documents and there is a lot of the family not done but I just don't know what has been found and what hasn't. So the "book" will be my reference. And the rule is..."If you don't have a document in your hand, the info does not go into the new RM4 surname file!" I am the WORST at following my own rules, btw.

So here is my list of rules...

1. Must have a document in my hot little hand to enter anything into that file. The notes feature will be used for a lot of this information I have until proof is in my hand.

2. Source! If I can not take the time to source right there, do not enter the document until I do.

3. At the same time, make a pin in Google Earth! (Well, I was good for the first 10 records I think but will go back on Individual summarys and use collected addresses from there. Told ya, I am the worst at my own rules.)

4. Transcribe into the source as they are entered. So far I think this was the best rule, admittedly, the longer documents have not been done. (I just love that source text button!)

5. Scan and attach image to source as I go. Well, I haven't done this yet, it became a rule after I took a break on Sunday so I do have to go back and do those before I start the next surname file.

6. USE the to-do list feature. I am so lazy and always assume I remember everything and I remember nothing. Sad but true.

7. Stamp the back of the document with the date I put it in RM4 so I don't keep going back when I get disorganized to do the same thing over and over.

8. Do a happy dance when I see the progress at my detailed files!!!

So it is a major overhaul but I think I will be much happier and starting fresh and organized will help me focus on what I really need to do.

Admittedly, I did the easy Surname first, the Scotland line. I haven't collected a lot of documents yet or really delved into the research other than birth, marriage, death and census. The Duncan-Baldwin line will take a few days at least to make a usable file but I am up for the challenge!