Saturday, December 6, 2008

Searching for Mary's Parents - Post 1

I posted earlier this year about the elusive Mary Magdalena Hoax (ca 1768-1850), who married Martin Carringer before 1785, probably in Westmoreland County PA. That post provided almost everything I knew about Mary - except what I don't yet know, of course.

Ah - that's the key - find out what resources you don't know about and then try to find more information in those resources. I have started the process - in fact I started on the Wholly Genes genealogy cruise in early November with my one-on-one with Sandra Hewlett.

When I got home from the cruise on Wednesday 11/5, we had our monthly ProGen Group homework assignment - which was to create a Research Plan for one of your elusive ancestors. I chose the parents of Mary Magdalena (Hoax) Carringer, of course! In the plan, I gathered what I knew about her, a timeline for her life, the sources already reviewed and the results obtained, and listed questions to be answered. From that, I formulated a research strategy. I shared my Research Plan with my ProGen Group chat colleagues for our monthly chat on Thursday, 11/6.

On Saturday, 11/8, I went off to the Family History Center with my Research Plan in hand, a folder with microfilms to be ordered, and lots of hope in my heart. I scanned the FHC's card catalog, and noted that they had quite a few records from Westmoreland County PA - a German church record book (1772-1791), a Will Index book, and several years of the Old Westmoreland periodical. I had limited time on this day, since I had to present my Genealogy Web Sites You Can Use talk to SDGS at 12 noon, so I ordered the Westmoreland County land records Grantee and Grantor indexes for surnames G-L and left, hoping to get back to the FHC before Thanksgiving.

Of course, the phone call that the films had arrived came on Saturday 11/22, and my granddaughters were here, so I couldn't get to the FHC until today (they were closed all of Thanksgiving week).

The December homework assignment for the ProGen Group was to create a Locality Guide for a place at which I do research - so I chose, what else, Westmoreland County, PA, and specifically Hempfield township. The Guide contains a Historical outline, the available records and their locations (original, digital, etc), published sources, newspapers, useful web sites, maps and repositories. I used web resources and the LDS FHL catalog to help define the history, records, etc. I worked on the guide all of this week, and shared it with my colleagues for our ProGen chat on Thursday night.

Armed with my Research Plan and my Locality Guide, I sprinted off to the Family History Center this morning. My two microfilms of the deed indexes were sitting in the S drawer (very lonesome - not many people are ordering films these days), and I spent an hour on the Microfilm Scanner machine capturing images of the Grantee and Grantor Indexes for names like Haag, Haak, Hack, Haack, Hauck, Hawk, Hoke, Hokes, Hook, Hoock, Houck, Houk, etc. I will explain the Deed Index in a separate post later - it took me a while to figure it out. I was really disappointed that there weren't more early deeds recorded - by early, I mean before 1800.

Then it was back to the Book shelves, and I extracted all of the mentions of the Haag...Houk and Carringer...Geringer names in the book, "The German Church Records of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1772-1791" by Paul Miller Ruff, published 1979. These records provided child's name, birth and baptism dates, parents names and sponsor's names. That took awhile - it's a 178 page book with thousands of entries of birth and baptism dates. The book also has some background material for early Westmoreland County and the German churches in the county. I only checked Volume 1 of this work, up to 1791. I know that there are three more volumes but I haven't found those yet - I may have to order them on microfilm.

Finally, I checked the book "Index to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Wills, 1773-1896" by Bob and Mary Closson, published 1986. There was only one early Haag...Houk will listed - George Hawk in 1799. I guess I will have to order the film for that one. I found a small booklet titled "History of Westmoreland County, History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania" by I.D. Rupp (a reprint of a part of an 1847 book) which had some very interesting and useful historical information in it, but not any biographies. Lastly, I spent some time going through the 1983 issues of Old Westmoreland, a quarterly periodical, looking for records for my Haag...Houk names. The early issues of this periodical has deed and will abstracts from the 1773 to 1800 time frame, so I may not have to order and search deed and will microfilms immediately.

That's the status of my current research project. While I've done a lot of preparation, and have started implementing my plan, I haven't found a whole lot of useful data yet.

It was a fun day - I may go back sometime next week to read more periodicals and order some microfilms. It feels good to be doing some real research - I just wish I had some real fruits from my labor.

1 comment:

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

You have a very detailed plan. I hope it bears fruit!