Posts Tagged ‘research’


Double Dating, Genealogy Style

   Posted by: HystoryByts    in Education, Events, Genealogy, History, Research

Genealogists who research far enough back – and it’s not really that far in genealogical terms – will have to learn about the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and how each one affects dates that we recognize today.

“New Years Day” has not always been celebrated on the first of January. Calendars were developed to make sense of the natural cycles of time: days and years are derived from the solar cycle, while months come from the lunar cycle. There are many calendars, as it took some experimentation before we finally settled on the current system of leap years. For our purposes, we’re only concerned with the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

The Julian calendar resulted from Julius Caesar’s changes to conform more closely to the seasons within a year. Started in 45 BC, the Julian calendar held March 25th as the first day of the year, and every year was 365 days and 6 hours long. Pope Gregory XIII determined in 1582 the gradual problem that had developed when using the Julian calendar: over time the calendar was 10 days off the natural solar cycle. So Pope Gregory XIII created the Gregorian calendar, which is the one we use today. To compensate for the days which were out of sync, the Gregorian calendar dropped 10 days from October in 1582. The Pope also had everyone jump ahead by 10 days to make up for the lost days due to the earlier erroneous calendar.

Because of the calendar change in 1752 the calendar changed to a January 1st new year, and accommodations had to be made in the way dates were written to avoid confusion. Dates were designated O.S. (old style) and N.S. (new style). Such dates are usually identified by a slash mark [/] breaking the “Old Style” and “New Style” year, for example, March 19, 1631/2. Occasionally, writers would express the double date with a hyphen, for example, March 19, 1631-32. In general, double dating was more common in civil than church and ecclesiastical records.

Although current genealogical standards have us retain Old Style dates in transcriptions, historians and genealogists need to be aware that some people living at the time converted the date of an event, such as a birthday, from Old Style to New Style. George Washington, for example, was born on February 11, 1731 under the Julian Calendar, but changed the date to February 22, 1732 to reflect the Gregorian Calendar.

There are many pages online with more in depth explanations of the Julian and Gregorian Calendars. Simply search on Julian and Gregorian Calendars, or genealogy double dating.

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On Again, Off Again

   Posted by: HystoryByts    in Genealogy, History, Projects, Research

One of the beautiful things about genealogy is that it’s always there. You can take off a day, a month, a year, and there’s always genealogy. Sometimes life takes you away from your research and that’s okay – your ancestors aren’t going anywhere from where they were before.

It’s actually likely that the increase of information available might make your research easier, faster, or simply provide that one piece of information you couldn’t find before.

On the other hand, stuff happens for the worse, as well. There are plenty of articles about “old, moldy records” having to be destroyed as health hazards. For that matter, buildings burn, taking all the records with them as well. Relatives pass, and their belongings which had rich sentimental value to them, are disposed of, because no one in the family knows that value.

So while you are active in genealogy, take the time to find your relatives, and talk about what’s valuable. Having the family photo album doesn’t do much good if you cannot identify anyone. Do what you can, as you can, and do it thoroughly. The information you save, may well provide that special link to someone in the future.

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Society Saturday: Why Bother To Join?

   Posted by: HystoryByts    in Geneabloggers, Genealogy, Research

Proven information! In a nutshell, there’s a TON of information out there in the societies.

Now, you still need to verify the information, especially if it’s fairly old. Organizations 100 years ago didn’t ask for documents to prove you were descended from somebody – normally you only had a letter from someone saying that Joe’s cousin Sally was your grandmother’s sister.. or something along those lines. So, you have to use a good dose of skepticism when you look.

My paternal grandmother is a line I know little to nothing about. In 1928, her DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) application was hand-written and while it does have her address on it, and it does state that she’s married to my grandfather, it does NOT tell us when she was born or married! The DAR at that time only asked where you were born: “I was born in _______, County of ________, State of ________.” That’s all. Her “proof” for her information consisted of “Family Bible” “Heitman’s Historical Register, page 299″ and “See National Number #145919″ After the application was verified, it was stamped, “Verified By National Number 145918″ Not a lot of information to help us out!

But I had two new applications to look at: numbers 145919 and 145918. 145918 – the ‘earlier’ application – was Rebecca Moore Darden Snow, whose grandmother was Rebecca Moore. Since the patriot for this line is Peter Moore, you can see there may be a naming pattern going on. But, this application does the same thing that my grandmother’s does: it only gives us names and years of birth, death, and marriage – no dates, no places. But certainly not a dead end!

On the later pages of the application, it tells me that Peter Moore was married twice: to Sarah Littleton at Franklin, VA in 1775 and to Mary Ellis at Franklin VA, in 1795. So searching on Sarah Littleton online, I found this information:

Peter Moore. b @1750; d 1820 Southampton County, VA
Married Sarah Littleton: children by her
  Elijah (no wife known)
  Littleton m Margaret Daughtery
Mary Ellis about 1795 in Southampton County, VA
  Sarah, m. Jason Gardner
  Mary, (never married)
  Nancy, (m Joseph Buxton)b @1798; d 1870
  John, (Delilah Edwards)
  James, (no information)

Nancy Moore m Joseph Buxton: children
  Elmina Cephus Buxton m Allen Hardy Cotton (1826; d 1894)
  Lydia Marian Buxton
  Margaret Buxton
  George Edward Buxton
  Joanna Buxton
He has two other wives and 4 more children

So by using the resources available to you through lineage societies, you can often find good leads to help you fill in your own genealogy. I’m off to follow up on this information and see what I can learn about this branch of the family tree.

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Keeping It Simple

   Posted by: HystoryByts    in Genealogy, Research

 “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”

How very true that message from Albert Einstein is! And it applies to genealogy and technology doubly so! Especially if you’re asking someone else or offering to help them. Some very simple rules to follow if you’re asking for help:

First, you need to be very specific about what you’re looking for. “The Adams family went from Connecticut to Virginia and I want to know all about them” is not very specific. Break it down to the important details: “We’ve heard our great-great-great-grandfather John Adams is related to the President of the same name and would like to know if they are, and how.” Better!

Second, share the information you already have. Nothing is more frustrating to a volunteer than to uncover something they believe is new, just to have you person say, “Oh, we already know that!” They are sharing their time and effort with you, so please be considerate of it. Include in your shared information the proof you already have, if any. Is it just family folklore, or do you have some documents that back the story up? (A second benefit of sharing your information is that it requires you to organize it. After years of looking, many times our documentation gets fragmented and we don’t even realize it. Reorganization might just show you a clue that’s been there all along!)

Some people would add the question, “Where have you researched already?” And if you have that information, that’s great. Knowing where the research has already been done can keep duplication of effort to a minimum – BUT – it can also miss important clues that a fresh set of eyes can give. While one person might read a name as “Sharrock” another set of eyes might see “Shadrock” instead. So sometimes a fresh look is in order.

The flip side is approaching someone with an entire box of documents and saying, “Here’s what we have, and we want you to figure it out.” That’s going to take longer, and be much more likely to miss important clues. So try to focus on the goal and use the KISS system – Keep It Simple Silly!

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