Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 3

by Sheri Fenley
(c) Sheri Fenley, June 2008

As genealogists we are always running into problems and have to use our skills to solve them. Sometimes we collaborate with other genealogists to solve them as I will now demonstrate:I left out a very important event that happened on Sunday.

My roommate had become ill and couldn't make it down to the cafeteria for dinner. I mentioned this to some people on the shuttle bus and a wonderful lady, Katherine Hopkins from Tennessee, offered to drive me into town to get the roommate something to eat. She went above and beyond the call of duty by taking me to Wal-Mart so I could buy a coffee pot. I would not have made it through the week without it. I cannot even get myself dressed without a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I gave the coffee pot to Katherine when it was time to go home so she could donate it to her church.

I had a problem and Katherine helped me solve it. See how nicely that worked out?

(Note to self and pat on the back: Nice job of working that in. Katherine should forgive me for omitting her part of the story and I do not make myself appear quite the strung out, caffeine addicted junkie that I really am).

An aside: I am working hard on my "image" ever since the regent of my DAR chapter popped in at my home to bring me some papers. She found me in the backyard, my hair pulled up in a bun that looked like a rat's nest, in my bathing suit and flip flops, cigarette hanging out of the corner of my mouth, stereo headphones on top of the rat's nest, rocking out to Stevie Ray Vaughan while mowing the lawn. No, please don't even try to picture this in your head. If you do, I cannot be held responsible for any mental health issues that you may develop. I only share this unfortunate event with you because there is a valuable lesson to be learned here and as soon as I figure out what it is, I will get back to you.


Before our first guest speaker, Birdie says that she needs to know who will be giving a presentation on Friday morning. She had emailed us before we arrived and asked us to share a case we have worked on that involves land records with the class. Remember this part of the story; it becomes very important a bit later.

Elissa Powell, from Pennsylvania, is our second guest speaker. She shares one of her own actual case studies to illustrate how to correlate records using the Genealogical Proof Standard. Elissa was not on my "Scary" list. This is because I had already met her online. I participate in an online study group (they do NOT know that I am blonde) that is made up of people who are serious about becoming professional genealogists. Elissa has been very generous and sits in on our discussions whenever time permits. Whenever I see Elissa she is always smiling, she has a great sense of humor and you can tell you that not only does this lady know her stuff, she truly enjoys her job. This is a fairly new concept that is extremely difficult for some people to grasp - having a job that you love.

(Note to self: Need to get a job so I can start the loving)She gave us a great hands on exercise in which the class was divided into groups to solve the case. Deb Deal, Ann Staley, Margo Fariss Brewer and Stacy Anderson and I were Group 4. Our group worked so well together, I could have sworn that we had done it a million times. All of these ladies have been coming to Samford for years as well as many other genealogical events throughout the year. These ladies were great and they even liked my outfits. One of them even told me that not many people can wear that shade of magenta and get away with it.

(Note to self: Magenta does go with orange, keep the outfit)

Each group was given pieces of the problem and then had to report our findings and how those findings tied into the other group's findings. I learn new things best visually. When I cannot picture something in my head, good visual aids are a must for me. Maps are key to finding the answers for a lot of land problems. Looking at pedigree charts fixes a person's place in a lineage in my head. Elissa provided great documents like those above to use as clues to help the groups along. I think the purpose of this assignment was not so much finding an answer to a problem as it was to show us how to interpret the records properly, what records are available and where to find them and the importance of developing a research plan.

Dr. Debbie Abbott was our 3rd guest speaker. If you haven't ever had the opportunity to attend one of Dr. Debbie's Lectures - find a way to make it happen. Her topic was completely new to me - Using land, tax and census records to find the owners of a slave family in Kentucky. Using a real case study that she recently completed for her pastor, she showed us step by step the records she used, why she used them and what that record told her. If you pay close attention and interpret a document correctly, it will tell you where to look next in your search.

Dr. Debbie had us divide into groups and like Elissa, gave each group documents that she used. Each group had different documents to analyze and then report their findings. I am so glad I paid close attention to the background information she gave us before she handed out the documents. All of us have seen a page from a deed book before. It is pretty straightforward: It records a date, grantor, grantee and a reference to where you can find the original documents. I have not had an opportunity to research a case that involved slaves before. Did you know that in the deed books if the grantee was only referred to by their given name (no surname) more than likely is was an owner granting that person their freedom, not land? After Dr. Debbie explained this to me it made perfect sense. Slaves were property and when property is transferred from one person to another it is recorded in a deed book.

I am fully aware that one person cannot "know it all", but the value of knowing a little bit of everything is priceless. Since I was becoming familiar with the time of day known as 10:00 PM, I went to bed and had a smile on my face.


Sheri Fenley is a guest blogger here on Genea-Musings - previous blog entries include:

* An introduction, and a description of the IGHR program at Samford University in Birmingham, were posted 19 June 2008 as "Meet Guest Blogger Sheri Fenley."

* "Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 1" was posted 20 June 2008.

* "Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 2" was posted 21 June 2008.

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