Thursday, February 24, 2011

No Slave to Citation

You must read this blog including all the comments. That's the blog in the link, not this one.

Citations are the bane of the average person's genealogy research - needlessly.  You can't skip citations but you don't have to be a slave to them. Elizabeth S. Mills told me years ago the deal is [my paraphrasing] you need to include enough information in your cite so someone can find it in the future. Simple as that. [Ok, maybe not but close.] Despite her fearsome reputation she is not the evil monster of citations, worrying about every comma.

Kerry Scott is so right on, saying what many have said privately for years but didn't dare to say in public out of fear of the cult.

Really, you must read THE BLOG and the comments. If the links don't work here it is again:

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I own two monitors. I finally gave in and set both up on the same computer. For work it has been okay, not worth going out and buying the second one though.

Genealogy is a very different story. Today on one monitor I had my genealogy program open to a family. On the other I had the Illinois Archives databases open. I was able to quickly check the dates for marriages and some deaths, Civil War and other military records where appropriate. I had a book open on the desk which sometimes had a different date than what I had entered probably 20 years ago and I wanted to see what the state said.

Illinois State Archives Databases

Without disturbing the open databases I could easily flip between people and families. Sometimes when they are sharing one screen one gets lost behind another window, accidentally closed, etc. With two monitors everything could stay open, full size, and visible at the same time.

Of course, it doesn't have to be the state archives. It could be ever growing or any other web site with information. On FamilySearch you can open some census records for example.

It is amazing the amount of time saved when you can enter the information directly into the program, enter the source, look back to verify if necessary and move on.

I wish I hadn't waited so long to convert to dual monitors.


Samuel Downing, my ggg grandfather, was second of 16 children. His immediate younger brother Thomas followed him to Illinois and purchased neighboring land.

Thomas had three wives. He apparently had a thing for the number 13 too. [Remember that.] He married Elizabeth Kellison in Pike County, OH, on May 13, 1819. They had five daughters before she died. He married Rebecca Huff in Pike County, OH, on September 13, 1832. They had three children, a daughter and two sons, before she died. He married Loretta Sherman, who was 17 years younger, on October 13, 1842, in Ohio. They had four children, three daughters and a son. Add it up. Thomas had 12 children, nine daughters and three sons.

On June 11, 1865, Thomas Downing died in Logan County, Illinois. The original probate documents leave a blank for his widow, list five daughters [Margaret, Nancy, Susan, Mary and Rebecca] and three sons [George, William, Thomas]. Three daughters [Caroline, Elizabeth and Sarah] had died young or at least without heir. The child of the deceased daughter Hannah Downing French is listed. 12 children, all accounted for. Thomas had no will and probate took some time.

There apparently was a dispute which resulted in a suit to partition and to assign specific land to Loretta as her dower. It was filed September 23, 1867, more than two years after Thomas' death. This suit lists the heirs of Thomas as Loretta, the five daughters, the child of Hannah and his FOUR sons George, William T., Thomas and Samuel W.

Samuel W.??? Where did he come from?

Samuel W. duly got his share of the estate, specific parcels of land which can be found on 1873 plat maps. Since he was not a minor we can assume he was a child of one of the first two marriages. He is not mentioned in any other documents before or after but he is a very real presence in the probate documents.

Samuel, brother of Thomas, died 14 months after Thomas. His son Samuel Wesley inherited a share and controlled more of that estate as guardian for various other heirs.

Did the courts get confused when the names were the same and the lands were all in the same area? Are land records wrong?

Or is the mysterious Samuel W. the 13th child of Thomas? [cue 'Twilight Zone' theme]