After a hectic 2018 that involved moving from Texas to Michigan, I *will* spend more time on genealogy in 2019. In fact, I already have been!

One of my bad habits is that I research at repositories or online, but then I don't do anything with that information except store it. There are several resolutions related to this:

  • Finish unpacking the box farm in the basement and strive to organize physical papers, letters, and photos related to family history (including scanning to digital)
  • Organize digital files and photographs into a single location with naming conventions, tags, and metadata
  • Transcribe data from both paper copies and digital images (both scanned and photographed)
  • Unpack and organize my books

Each of those bullets is a huge project in and of itself, and it will be a process. A long process...

My next resolution is to *use* the research I've done and make it accessible to others who may be researching the same lines or who are just interested in history. Since we have no children who would be interested in this information, I need to do something with it so it isn't lost.

  • Write an article or post on my paternal great-grandfather, William H. Gay. I also want to register him or, more likely, his father, Lusher Gay, as an Illinois Prairie Pioneer. I mentioned this in an earlier post from June 2018. I made a fair amount of progress last year, but need to finish and submit the paperwork.
  • Complete my application for the Early Texans DNA Project, which "is a geographically-oriented project focused on analyzing the DNA of those with ancestors who settled in Texas before 31 December 1900." Since my maternal great-great-grandmother, Harriet Ellen (Trotti) CADE was born in east Texas in 1848, this is an easy application. I just need to get it done. In fact, her paternal grandfather, James Francis TROTTI, was in Texas by 1844, and I proved into the Daughters of the Republic of Texas through him.
  • Edit my mother's autobiography and share it with relatives. Mom wrote her story out in longhand on a yellow pad when she was about 90 years old. The flow needs some work, and I'd love to add photos as well as some citations and other information. Every time I work on it, I find more questions I wish I could ask her!

Another set of resolutions has to do with tools and applications. Some I need to learn how to use better, some I've bought and never used at all. I do know that I can be more efficient and/or effective once I learn to use them.

  • Legacy Family Tree: I know the basics of the software, but need to learn more tricks, especially the process of citing sources. I've also got a long list of their webinars that I want to watch.
  • Clooz: I still need to find the moving box with the CD so I can install and begin to learn Clooz. I don't think I'll use it for every source, but that's to be determined. I will start by entering census records for a family through the years and see how that works. 
  • Evidentia: I will be learning this from scratch as well, but I expect I will use it primarily for analysis of evidence, resolving conflicts and even creating citations that can transfer into Legacy. I also need to understand when to use Clooz and when to use Evidentia.
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking: I plan to use this for transcription of documents, particularly if I'm unable to scan and OCR them.
  • Scrivener: I've found this very useful in writing my mother's autobiography, but need to review the tutorial and practice.
  • AniMap: County boundaries change, and this software will help track those changes.
  • Charting Companion: I've just bought this primarly to take advantage of their charts for DNA, which takes me to my next set of resolutions...

DNA -- I will admit to being quite overwhelmed. I'm a pretty smart person, but it's going to take me some time and dedicated study to get up to speed on DNA. I won't go into a lot of detail here, but I've tested with several companies and have uploaded to GEDmatch. I've used the data from GEDmatch to join a couple of DNA Matchbox sites on Facebook for Scottish and Irish DNA, and I've made some connections that I need to get back in touch with. I've got so much more to learn, and I need to unpack and study those books on DNA that I've bought and moved to Michigan. 

And finally (OK, probably not *finally*), I have some interrupted conversations with cousins through Ancestry.com messaging that I need to get back to. Boy, they may be surprised to hear from me after so long!

My plate is full for 2019 and beyond.


In preparing for a family history research trip to Newton County, Texas, the two most important stops are the Newton County Historical Commission and the Newton County Clerk's office.  Fortunately, they are within walking distance of one another.  The Historical Commission is housed in the same building as the public library and has about 2,000 square feet of artifact displays, and probably 200 linear feet of bookshelf materials. It is staffed with volunteers who are knowledgeable about the collection, but may not be knowledgeable about the records in the County Clerk's office.

The county clerk's office has land and marriage records along with a variety of court records from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Map of Newton County Family History Sites

Newton County, Texas is a small county but has quite good historical and family history resources, especially for county with a small population base.


CeCe Moore's seminar on DNA drew a full house at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society's Fall Seminar

CeCe Moore on DNA at Western Michigan Genealogical Society

We made an early morning trip to Grand Rapids for CeCe Moore’s October 13, 2018 Seminar “So then what did you do? DNA!” hosted by the Western Michigan Genealogical Society of Grand Rapids. The trip was well worth it with a beautiful fall color drive to bookend the day. At FGS, Rootstech, and Dallas Genealogical Society conferences, we have attended perhaps a half dozen sessions on DNA, and have a pretty good understanding of the various tests and how to use them, but we don’t have a great handle on how to really integrate DNA testing into research. This seminar gave some wonderful case studies that help in figuring out how to proceed.

Although she gave a good overview of the DNA tests and basic uses, most of the audience was already quite familiar with the basics–about 90 percent raised their hands for the opening questions on how many have tested. Most of the day focused on how to figure out which matches to pursue and how to pursue them to prove or disprove particular relationships. Because her specialty has been locating parents of adoptees, there was a lot of material on building out trees of living relatives. For several of the DNA-related proofs that we need, we both have to test some living people with specific probable relationships and these case studies were invaluable in figuring out how to approach this problem.

For society presidents who are looking for a full-day DNA seminar, but are concerned about having a speaker who can effectively present to both beginners and those with some experience with DNA testing, CeCe Moore would be a good speaker. Based upon the number of attendees who have already done tests compared to other seminars that we have attended, the problem of vastly different experience levels is probably not as great as it was a few years ago.

Indiana County History Index of Persons and Firms

Indiana County Indexs of Persons and Firms

While doing research at the Allen County Public Library, I stumbled across the Wabash County Index of Persons and Firms. If doing Indiana research for a particular county, this should be a starting place. In the early 1980's the Indiana Historical Society undertook a massive project to index the county histories of each county in the state. Since many counties, including Wabash have had several history books compiled, each of which is several hundred pages, this was a massive undertaking and can save a researcher much time. Many of the county histories themselves are not indexed, although some reprints from the 1990s include the index prepared by the Indiana Historical Society.

The index has a key at the front that gives the codes for which county history book is referenced; the reference for a person uses the code and the page number within the book.

Example of Code Key to Indiana County History Index of Persons and Firms

Example Entry for Indiana County History Index of Persons and Firms

It is important to note that the quality of the index varies; failure of an individual to appear in the index does not mean that the person does not appear in the history, so it is important to look for the names of individuals who are likely to appear in the same entry.  I encountered several instances where a person appeared in the Miami County history, but not in the index of Miami County histories.

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