Sunday, March 3, 2024

Testing the Full Text Search in FamilySearch Labs - An Immediate Success!!

 I watched the FamilySearch Tech Forum presentation on Thursday at RootsTech 2024 and then read Kimberly Powell's blog post 12 Strategies for Using FamilySearch Full-Text Search.  Kimberly's article discusses how to effectively search this collection of records.  Judy G. Russell posted GAMECHANGER!! to her blog.  I highly commend them to your reading list.

1)  Immediately, I had the thought "...finally, I may be able to find more records for Cornelius Feather and his wife, Stephen Feather and his wife, Devier Smith and his biological parents, Hannah Smith's parents, and many more mysterious ancestors..."

Why did I have that thought?  Because I knew that once we had a search of Land Deed and Probate Records - I would be happy with just the indexes!! - we would be able to solve many thorny research problems with those records. I've said this for decades now!

Another thought:  "I have been waiting for this genealogy moment in my time - I'm so happy it came before my next, or last, heart or other health problem!!  Now calm down...and blog about it!"

But with Full Text searches of these records, we have the possibility of finding more records with our ancestors names - deed and probate witnesses, neighbors, associates, etc.  In other words- the FAN CLUB (Family, Friends, Associates, Neighbors).  Indeed, it is a GameChanger!!

2)  My goal today was to try to find deed and probate records for my 4th great-grandfather Cornelius Feather (1777-1853), and to demonstrate the process in a blog post. If I succeed, great, hallelujah!  If I fail, so be it, it can always be bad luck.  But I want my friends, colleagues and readers to know about this capability at FamilySearch.

The names could be Corny, Corn's, and/or Fether, Fetter, Feathers, etc. He resided in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania from birth to about 1804 when he married an unnamed wife, then resided in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio until about 1823, and then resided in Salem township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania until his death there, with a widow named Mary --?-- (c1792-1855).

My hope was that I would find some record that actually named his wife (who is named "."  in all of my family trees, and "Mrs. Cornelius Feather" in FamilySearch Family Tree, both against all naming conventions).  Perhaps I can find a record  of his wife's father giving or sell land to Cornelius and his wife, or named them in a probate record, or who knows what.  I'll settle for just a given name if that's all I get.

I carefully plunged into this today thinking about using given names, surnames, town names, county names, etc., plus using wild cards for names.  I honed my search skills using it in Mercer County and Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, selecting date ranges, county ranges, record types, and the deed and probate record collections.  I only found deeds and a Mercer County probate file that I already had found by manually searching FamilySearch microfilm about 15 to 20 years ago.

Then I moved on to Trumbull County, Ohio, my last hope.

3)  Here is the Full Text Search page ( -- BOOKMARK IT!):

Note that I used his full name.  Here are the results when I searched without filters:

Only 6,657,251 records to search (that would probably take more than this afternoon, or week, or month, or year).  So I filtered it down to the 1800s, Trumbull County, Ohio, And here are the filtered results:
Well, only 3,132,157 results (still too many.  I could search 20 items at a time, and did for several pages filled with links to feather beds, corners, etc., but very few mention of Cornelius and Feather together)   But the same two items are shown - probably Cornelius and Feather were close together on the same page.  I clicked on the first match:

The search terms on the page are highlighted in yellow.  Note the "Full Transcript": on the right-hand side of the page.  And I can "Attach To Tree" (the profile in FamilySearch Family Tree) this record.  

The record above started on the prior page, and extended over two more pages, so I downloaded them to my computer (note the "Download" icon below "Attach to Tree") four pages for this particular deed.

4)  How do I determine the Source?  I know it's in "[Deed Record] Trumbull. Deeds 1831" as shown at the top of the page.  What FamilySearch microfilm was it on?  What volume, what page number, what image number?  The image above tells me page 126, the image number is 439 of 522, but I don't know the whole bread crumb trail to the image.  

I looked on the FamilySearch Catalog for Trumbull County, Ohio land records and found them, but could not find the exact record without a whole lot of searching through several film sets.  

Aha!  I could attach it to the FamilySearch Family Tree and the source will come with it!  What a concept (thank you, FamilySearch!).  Clicking "Attach to Tree" leads to a form to complete on the right side of the screen (there are several items to fill out):

I tried to be accurate and the completed Source citation on Cornelius Feather's profile (KZ1Y-8DC) on FamilySearch Family Tree is:

Here is the source citation for image 438 (the first page of the deed):

"Ohio, Trumbull County Records, 1795-2010," images, FamilySearch ( : 25 November 2015), Land and property records > Deed record, vol 26 1831 > pages 125-128 (images 438 to 441 of 522), George W. Patridge and others to David Patridge deed, 1831; citing County Deed books in Trumbull County Courthouse, Warren.

It gives me a Volume number (vol 26), and a bread crumb trail, and a link to the record.  I added the deed information, page number range and the image page range).

5)  The next step in my process here is to transcribe this deed (wait, they've already done it!!)  But I will compare the FamilySearch Full Text transcription to the actual record).  Note that this is a County Clerk's transcription of the original deed so the signatures are not of the persons in the deed.  Since this is a transcription of a handwritten copy of the original deed, there may be errors in every step from the clerk's file to the Full Text transcription.  The handwriting in this deed is very clear so the Full Text transcription should be very good.  

Then I will analyze the deed and how it applies to my Cornelius Feather mystery.  

I can hardly restrain my enthusiasm!  I will transcribe it tonight for my Amanuensis Monday post on Monday morning.  

6)  My lessons learned and advice: 

*  Make a list of your research questions that might be solved by this Full Text Search feature at -- BOOKMARK IT!

*  Go watch the FamilySearch Tech Forum presentation at RootsTech 2024, especially for the Full Text Search feature. It is by Michelle Barber and starts at 22:26 of the video.

*  Read Kimberly Powell's blog post at 12 Strategies for Using FamilySearch Full-Text Search.

*  The Full Text Search Filters are very efficient when combined with names and places.  Use the Filters to reduce the number of search results.  

*  Practice using Full Text Search with information you know about - can you find the will or deed record that you found on FamilySearch microfilms before?  

*  Plunge in!!  It may take days to get proficient at searching and filtering.  I guarantee that you won't find what you're looking for the first time, unless you luck out like I did above!   As always, I'd rather be lucky than good!

Thank you to FamilySearch for fulfilling one of my genealogy dreams.  I hope it works for all of my readers!


Copyright (c) 2024, Randall J. Seaver

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