Thursday, September 14, 2023

Rabbit Holes With Randy - a Genea-Whiff! and Google Saves!

 It was a deep rabbit hole that took two hours to sort out.

1)  Some history:  By the year 2000, I had made a lot of xerox copies of book and periodical pages and had filled up three-hole binders with all of the paper sorted by surnames (e.g., "Auble") or groups of surnames (e.g., "Medfield families" with tabs for each surname).  My book cases were full.  The tops of the bookcases had periodicals on them.  There was no more room in the genealogy cave for more bookcases.  

But my research at libraries, including the Family History Library/Center and local libraries, did not stop.  I continued to make xerox copies of useful books and periodical articles and records but I didn't add them to the already packed binders.  The loose papers (stapled as needed) were then stacked up on the floor or put in the open space between the top of the binders and the top of the bookcase frame.  

Over time, I entered the information from the binders and the loose papers into Family Tree Maker and, after 2008, into RootsMagic.  On the papers, I noted if I had entered the data to the programs, and added source citations in RootsMagic.  

And then we could find information in books, periodicals, records, digital microfilm, etc. online and save it on the genealogy computer.  So I also have computer file folders with digital information for each surname and each ancestral family, plus localities and repositories.  Some of it duplicates the stuff in the three-hole binders.  

2)  The Rabbit Hole:  Every week I try to write a genealogical sketch for the 52 Ancestors theme on Genea-Musings (see the list at I consult the Notes and Sources I've made for my target person in RootsMagic.  If I lack information to fill out the sketch, I go looking for my source in the computer file folders and the binders/loose papers, and then search online (Ancestry, FamilySearch, American Ancestors, MyHeritage, Google, Internet Archive, Find A Grave, etc.) to check all of the information boxes I need for the sketch.

This week's 52 Ancestor sketch is for  Joseph Kelsey (1673-1742) and I could not find a three-ring binder with information for him or his ancestry.  So I looked through my computer file folders for Kelsey, and then all of the loose papers (about 6 linear feet of paper) and found two articles about his ancestry, but not the pages of the book that I had sourced in RootsMagic.  Apparently, when I found the book in the Family History Library years ago, I entered the name/date/place material into RootsMagic without capturing the text within the book.

Plan B was to search the online record providers.  A search for my Joseph Kelsey on Ancestry revealed very little - not a book or periodical and no birth, marriage or death records.  Same with the other providers.

So I went to Plan C - I searched for the book title (A Genealogy of the Descendants of William Kelsey, written in 1928) on Google.  And the first match was a digitized book on Ancestry:  

I entered the name of Joseph Kelsey and easily found his family sketch on page 65.  

3)  Huh???  I searched Ancestry for him.  I went back and looked again on Ancestry - I missed the entry (there were 4,413 matches) - his family sketch was the 3rd entry on the list in "Public Member Stories" and I flat out missed it.  Perhaps I was distracted?  Or had a senior moment?  

No excuses - a genea-whiff!!  It's good to have a multi-pronged search, I guess. 

I downloaded the cover pages and the pertinent pages of the book that cover the three generations of ancestor Kelseys in the book and saved them to my Kelsey surname file folder on my computer.  

So "no harm, no foul" as they say in basketball - Google Saves!  I have what I needed, but I spent two hours finding it (but it was a "fun" two hours finding stuff I had forgotten about!).  I found out (again!) that I have a lot of loose papers not in the binders!  And I made this blog post about it.

Are any of my readers or other researchers this messed up?  I could revamp my whole file system and digitize everything, put it all in the computer files, but it would take years to do it.  Frankly, I'd rather explore for new ancestors and new information about my ancestors than do what I should have done over 35 years of research.  Genealogy stuff happens.  My bad.  But it's been fun!

I need some carrots to reward myself for this success!


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