Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pinball Genealogy - Enriching My Genealogy Database

I posted Pinball Genealogy - My Ancestry.com Hints Practices yesterday, noting my practices for using Ancestry Hints to add content to my genealogy database in RootsMagic 6.  

Another "pinball genealogy" exercise that I frequently use is to find a person in my database for whom I have absolutely no data.  Usually, I do this randomly - I see a blank next to the name in the RootsMagic index, and click on the name to see what I know about him/her.  In many cases, this is a parent of a spouse of a Seaver or Carringer person, or a parent of a spouse of an ancestral family member.  Usually, I have found that person's name in a record, or a book, and entered it into my genealogy database many years ago, thinking that I would find their information "later.".  

Since I use this database as my one-name study database for several surnames, I want to provide other researchers with some information in case they are a descendant of these persons.  Granted, I don't want to do a full genealogy study for these people, I only want to fill in the blanks - I am challenged by having no data in the birth date field and not knowing a spouse's maiden name.

Let me demonstrate this "pinball genealogy" process with this example, selected from my database:

1)  Here is the RootsMagic screen for the Joel and Lucinda (_____) Merriam family, with daughter, Lucinda C. Merriam, who married John W. Seaver in 1851 in Holden, Massachusetts:

I obtained the names Joel Merriam and Lucinda from the marriage record for Lucinda Merriam and John Walker, and entered them into the database years ago.  Who are Joel and Lucinda?  What is Lucinda's maiden name?  When and where were they born, and when and where did they die?  When and where did they marry?  I wanted to find out so that I could enrich my database.

2)  I figured that since the daughter Lucinda married in 1851 in Holden, that perhaps her parents lived and died in Massachusetts at that time.  I went to the Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915 database on FamilySearch.org, and entered Joel Mer*am into the search box:

The first match looks promising:

That Joel Merriam died 15 April 1852 in Holden, Massachusetts, at age 58-4-1, married, born in Westminster to Joseph and Eunice Merriam.  Is that the right Joel Merriam?

3)  I found an entry for Joel and Lucinda Merriam's family in the 1850 U.S. Census in Holden:

The daughter, Lucinda, is not included in that family.  It gives Joel's age as 56, which calculates to about 1794 (and matches the death record).  The mother Lucinda's age is 41 (born in Connecticut), which computes to about 1808.  I also found Lucinda Merriam (age 60) in the 1870 U.S. Census with several of the children listed above residing in Worcester, Massachusetts. I judged that this was the right Joel and Lucinda family, and added Joel's death and birth events to my database, and Lucinda's approximate birth date also.

4)  I went back to the Death records on FamilySearch to look for the mother Lucinda to see if there was a Massachusetts death record for her:

Further down the results page above is an entry for Lucinda Merriam, who died in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1888:

The information for this Lucinda Merriam says she died 17 April 1888 in Worcester, Massachusetts, at age 79-5-24 (computed birth date of 24 October 1808), born in Stafford, Conn. to Rufus and (Warner) Chase.  I added the birth and death event information to my database, and added source citations for them.

5)  There is another entry for a Lucinda C. Merriam on the FamilySearch results page above - for Lucinda C. Merriam, wife of John W. Seaver, daughter of Joel Merriam and Lucinda Chase.  Here is the 1903 death record for Lucinda C. (Merriam) Seaver in Boylston, Mass.:

Although the entry clearly says her name is Lucinda C. Seaver, m.n. Meriam, wife of John W. Seaver, she was not indexed as Seaver for some reason by FamilySearch.  This entry provides a death date, death place, age at death (71-7-10), birthplace and parents names.  That enriches my database also.  I entered the data, and sourced the death and birth events.

6)  Since Lucinda was apparently born in Connecticut, can I find her in Connecticut Marriage Records?  I checked Ancestry.com and found their marriage record in the Barbour Collection in Ellington, Connecticut:

Joel "Mariam" married Lucinda Chase, of Ellington, on 19 June 1823.  I entered that event into my database and sourced it.

I looked on Ancestry and FamilySearch for a Connecticut birth of Lucinda Chase and did not find an entry.  I am concerned that Lucinda appears to be only 14 years old at marriage if the marriage record is correct, if the 1850 US Census record is correct (age 41), and the 1870 U.S. Census is correct (age 60).  I wonder if the marriage date entry was extracted as 1823 in the Barbour collection when it was actually 1828, or even 1832.  I'll leave it to a Merriam/Chase researcher to figure it out.

7)  I've bounced around the databases quite a bit in 30 minutes.  I have found birth, marriage and death date/place data for Joel Merriam, have added a maiden name, a birth date/place and a death date/place for his wife Lucinda, and have added a marriage date and place for Joel and Lucinda.  In addition, I've added a birth date and a death date and place for Lucinda (Merriam) Seaver.

The RootsMagic 6 Family View for this family now looks like:

So this 30 minute "pinball genealogy" effort (it took over an hour to write it!) resulted in enriching information on this couple and their daughter.  I added five events, edited two events, and added seven source citations to the database.  That was FUN!  And productive.  And time efficient.  They are not all this easy, but the vital information for many of these New England persons with no information can be obtained in a relatively short period of time.  I recognize that many states do not have extensive vital records the way New England does for this time period, so your research time and effort will vary.

I could have done more research to identify all of their children, their birth, marriage and death events, but I didn't.  If they were an ancestral family, I would have happily done that. I think that I extracted every bit of data from these sources (except for the parents of Joel and Lucinda).  Of course, they are all derivative sources - but they are all derived from "official" records.  It also helps that I have access to several subscription websites like Ancestry.com and AmericanAncestors.org (although I used FamilySearch for the Massachusetts vital records).

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/01/pinball-genealogy-enriching-my.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

Hi Randy,
I have been reading your posts for over a couple of years and just wanted you to know that you have helped me advance my technology on researching. Thank you for all the knowledge you are producing on your website and to everyone out there.
Pam S.

Mariann Regan said...

Here's my favorite among your sentences: "Of course, they are all derivative sources - but they are all derived from 'official' records." I think that's a very meaningful distinction. There's a vast difference between those cloned public trees on Ancestry and an "official" Immigration record or Death Certificate. We can't double-check everything right away, and we have to start somewhere. As we deepen our searches, we can add sources. I think you're playing Well-Informed Pinball here, and as long as you're not presenting it as final proof, and you aren't, your results are helpful toward finding connections and enriching your information.

Anonymous said...

Hi- I am getting ready to ebay a book that I bought nearly 50 years ago. Book is the Life of Lincoln and it was printed in 1964. It was written inside by Lucinda Chase. Lucinda Crossley November 6, 1878 is written in pencil in the inside cover. Wondering if this can be the same person.