Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day 1 at the NGS 2013 Conference - Afternoon Report

After lunch on Day One at the NGS 2013 Conference, I actually attended two more education sessions (that makes three today - probably my all-time record!  And two more than I attended at three days of RootsTech 2013).  The highlights of the afternoon time:

I wandered around the Exhibit Hall a bit, and read my blogs and email in the Bloggers media area which had Ethernet service.  Leland Meitzler, Valerie Elkins, Emily Garber, Jen Baldwin, Terri O'Connell and The Ancestry Insider were also there off and on.

1)  I attended Elizabeth Shown Mills' 2:30 p.m. presentation of "The Genealogical Proof Standard in Action! Case Building When No Record States an Answer!"  Elizabeth introduced the Genelaogical Proof Standard, including the modified categories in the Sources, Information and Evidence definitions.  She then summarized the ACTION Plan of: Assess what you have; Complete the research; Trust nobody! Integrate and correlate details; Outline a theory - then try to disprove it! and Now, write a convincing argument.  She said that proof and process are two different things.

Elizabeth then demonstrated the concepts and application using many sources in a case study of a typical problem that many researchers experience - post-1850 U.S. census records don't indicate parents for a person.  Her case was for William Medders of Bibb County, Georgia in the 1850 U.S. Census.  There was a family story that his father was Reuben.  There were several other Medders families in the 1850 and 2860 census records in the county, and by finding marriage records, land records, a guardianship records, expanding the search to neighboring counties, and by working with the Family, Associates and Neighbors, she pieced together the Medders family before 1850, including the mother of William Medders and some of her family.  It went awfully fast, but it was impressive.  At the end, she asked the audience if she had satisfied the GPS; the audience agreed that she had.

2)  I had no time to grab a snack and get to the next session at 4 p.m. - I chose to attend F. Warren Bittner's "Impossible Immigrant! I Know Everything About the Man Except Where He Came From."  Warren briefly introduced the GPS to the audience at the beginning of this session, including a plan to perform a reasonably exhaustive search. This was a case study about finding a German immigrant's place of birth, but required finding many American records of the extended family.  It was also a fascinating tour of New York City records.  Warren's ancestor was Fred Bittner, son of Fred and Margaret Bittner, in the 1870 and 1880 census.  The father died before 1880, but he could find no death record, cemetery record, earlier census record, military record, marriage record, passenger list, naturalization record, land record, probate record, church record of a marriage or children's baptisms, or city directory entries.

At this point he was very frustrated with his unreasonable and exhausting search!  Then he found a marriage record a brother of his ancestor's brother, which said the parents were John and Margaret Buettner (other records said Buttner and Bottner).  The marriage records of another brother and two sisters said the father's name was John.  It turned out that there were three brothers named John, all born in Germany.  All three deaths were in the New York City records.  Warren then pieced together the lives of the three Johns, and eventually found a reference to a village in Bayern in Germany.  The best evidence was the burial record of the oldest John in 1865, which listed the parents names and the birth village.  A search in the village church records revealed the births of all three sons named Johan, plus the other children.

Warren said that "Exhaustive search means to look for all records that might be available for all members of the extended family."  One of the neat things about this presentation was the step-by-step unveiling of the record gathering process and Warren's reaction to the body of available evidence at each step along the way.  Warren noted that many immigrants gave their birthplace in records as the nearest large city, or just a district or state rather than a small village.

3)  It was 5 p.m., so I went back to the Blogger media center and packed up my laptop, and took one more tour of the Exhibit Hall.  I got my picture taken at the SCGS booth and visited at the MyHeritage exhibit with Amanda and Mark.

At 5:30 p.m., I went to my room, and Linda and I enjoyed dinner at TJ's Steakhouse in the Las Vegas Hotel - a bit pricey but it was excellent food (and the hotel gave us a $25 off coupon!).    Then it was blogging time in the room.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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