Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Feeding my Family Tree - Massachusetts Folks

I reported in early March, in Feeding and Pruning my Genealogy Database, that I was deleting extraneous folks in my database and trying to add useful content (dates, places, sources) to persons without them.

As an example, I have hundreds (thousands?) of persons in my database with only a name.  Usually these are parents of someone who married a person in one of my ancestral families.  For instance, just at random, I have the birth, marriage and death information for Emma Clough (1847-1929), who married Charles Edson Seaver (1843-1881).  The marriage record in the Massachusetts Vital Record, 1841-1910 collection (now online on the NEHGS American Ancestors site), told me that her parents were Joseph and Lucy (Humphrey) Clough.  I added them to the database years ago.  Now I want to add their birth, marriage and death information if I can find it.

My first choice is to find their marriage record in the Massachusetts VRs, but it is probably before 1847.  I can use the Massachusetts Vital Records collection at American Ancestors (subscription required).  I decided to search for marriages of Lucy Humphrey with no year restrictions.  Here is the Search form on American Ancestors:

There were eight matches for my search terms:

The fourth one down the list tells me that she married Joseph Clough in 1832 in Pelham.  Here is the page from the online Pelham VR book:

I can add this marriage record (24 May 1832 in Pelham) to my database, along with the Reference Note source citation (citing where I found it!):

"Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850," online database, New England Historic Genealogical Society (http://www.AmericanAncestors.org : accessed 10 April 2012); citing Vital records of Pelham, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 (Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1902), Pelham, Mass. Marriages, Page 120, Lucy Humphrey and Joseph Clough entry.

What about their death records?  I easily found:

*  Lucy Clough, wife of Joseph Clough, died 2 August 1890 in Chicopee, Mass, aged 81-5-6, in Boylston to Benjamin and ??? Humphrey (difficult to read).
*  Joseph Clough died 8 July 1883 in Chicopee, Mass., aged 72-11, born in Chicopee to Joseph and Frances Clough.  Here is his death record:

And the source for Joseph's death record:

"Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," online database, New England Historic Genealogical Society, American Ancestors (http://www.AmericanAncestors.org : accessed 10 April 2012), citing original data at Massachusetts State Archives, Deaths, Volume 346, Page 354, Chicopee: Joseph Clough entry.

Those death records give me two more Events to add to my database with sources.  They also give me birth Events to find.  I found:

*  Joseph Clough, born 14 August 1810 in Springfield, Mass., parents Joseph and Frances Clough.
*  Lucy Humphrey - I did not find a birth record in the VR books for Lucy.  However, I can calculate her birth date from her death record as 27 February 1809.  I will source this to the Death record, and add the calculation details to the source detail text field.

I added five more Events, with source citations, to my database in about ten minutes time.  While these are derivative sources, they are taken from original sources and are "good enough" for me to use in my database.  Before the Internet, it would have taken me about a day to find these four records using the microfilms at NEHGS or the FHL, and about a month to find them if I had to order microfilms at the FHC.

My purpose in adding these Events to my database are to help other researchers find their ancestral families using my database events and sources as finding aids.  I don't care that much about this Clough family (note that I did not search for siblings of Emma Clough, nor did I add the parents and siblings of Joseph and Lucy (Humphrey) Clough to the database).  It also gives the parents some event information in my database so that if someone searches and finds them in my online family tree, they may find the event data and should be able to take it from there.  Lastly, it fills up some blank Events in my database!  I really hate blank BMD events!

What if I was unable to find some or any of this information?  Well, then I would have resorted to searching the U.S. Census records (or other records) for the family with Emma as a child and entered the approximate birth year and birth place in my database for the parents, with the census record as the source.  For other states, I use the record collections on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.  My last recourse is usually the online family trees at Ancestry.com and the Rootsweb WorldConnect sites.  I don't like to add those, but they are "better than having a blank field" for a birth date and place.  I have found that I can find some information for almost everyone in my database, but I know that I should not trust anything found in the online family trees.

Finding records like this to fill empty fields in my database has become the "fun" work for me in the afternoon and evening hours - I love the challenge of the hunt, and love to enrich my database.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/04/feeding-my-family-tree-massachusetts.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


CarmenMJ said...

I have done a lot of the same things...then things get really interesting when I find out that I have the same set of parents for three individuals. In essence I had the siblings already under their parents names...so I ended up joining them, so they appear in one family. So, I have merged the parents and even though I had not intended on adding the siblings - I had. This is especially true with my New England families...so many intermarriages.

WyoSpring said...

Randy this is my first post to you and have been wanting to write to you for a long time--don't see where I can just post a note to you about your blog as a whole which I REALLY LIKE. Tell me where I can do that. This posting today on adding people to your data base and why you do it was so timely. Last night I did this EXACT THING for the EXACT REASON, which I thought makes me "a little off" in the genealogy world, but I am obsessed. I am copying photos from my ancestors and ancestors siblings for whom?? Many of the people are not related, so I am putting them on Findagrave if they are on there, because I sure can't find them to add them by knowing where they died, etc. I am adding the photos they had for friends, in-laws, etc. I feel exactly like you do. I want someone researching these people to find them and know what their ancestors looked like.