Saturday, August 18, 2007

Searching for Water

This summer has been exceptional for the weather we have experienced. Heavy rains in the southwest, while remaining hot and dry in the southeast. Many crops are damaged and the leaves of trees are falling off early.
As my Mom and I were driving to the FGS Conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana this week, we passed a gaggle of geese trying to cross the road. My Mom commented, "They are probably trying to find some water."
Her statement reminded me of one of the major reasons our ancestors might have uprooted the family -- the need for clean, running water. Imagine moving your family across the frontier and finding a lack of water. Consider the following questions: Could the land produce enough to support the family? Were the weather conditions conducive to quality life for the family?
I have always believed that solving a difficult family history problem starts with asking the right question. After this summer, I will add a new question to my list... "Where's the water?" This may help you solve some of your brick-wall problems as well.
Keeping the story alive

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Learning Something New Each Day

I am amazed at how much we can learn each day. Considering how much I don't know, it seems that the ability to learn becomes more important each day. As a genealogical and historical researcher the ability to absorb new facts, opinions, and trends is critical to my understanding of people. It has always been helpful for me to read contemporary accounts of historical events. That is one of my favorite uses of Google Books.

Google Books is an effort to digitize the images along with searchable text. According to their site:

"Our project is to include library collections in Google Book Search and make these books searchable and discoverable. We show useful information about the book, and in many cases, a few snippets – a few sentences to display your search term in context. When a book is out of copyright, you can view or download it in its entirety."

Try this example yourself.

Search for "oklahoma territory" and click Search Books. You will find over 1000 books listed. If you click on Full View at the top of the page, the list will show only those books found in the public domain. Notice the wonderful titles and descriptions. If you select any of the titles, the image will appear and allow you to page through the book, check an index, or search through the title.

Select The American Settler's Guide: A Popular Exposition of the Public Land System of the U.S. Once the image appears, choose Table of Contents from the list on the right of the image. Notice that Chapter 1 of this book details the types of land, while Chapter 2 goes through the process step-by-step. This provides a great tool for researchers to follow the same instructions our ancestors were reading in 1895 or 1884 or earlier.

We may go to specific pages in the book by entering a page number or forwards/backwards arrows at the top of the image or scrolling with the mouse. We may also download a PDF copy of this document to our computer by selecting Download PDF near the top right of the image.

Okay, I've shared the sight and few short tips - So go learn something new today.

Keeping the Story Alive - Mark

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sharing Information in a Fast-paced World

It appears that sharing information through a blog has become an effective way to communicate. Well-- at least to modern tech fans. As I travel throughout the country, I hear about great records, tools and techniques that will enhance our research.
I'm hoping to share those thoughts with you via this blog. I hope that you will share your comments regarding my posts. I might also share some of the great stories I hear about family members.

Here's one about Joseph W. Byrns - Speaker of the House of Representative during the FDR administration.

Mrs. B.W. Worley
"The tall, sharp-eyed woman who recalls the difficulty Byrns had remembering the letter “Q” as he learned the alphabet said he was an “affectional, lazy little fellow” when he attended her school in 1875 at the age of six. She was quick to add, however, that he had an inherited gift for study and acquired willingness to work before he was many years older. Later he earned his college tuition by working in the tobacco fields.“Joe Wellie - I always call him that because his full name is Joseph Wellington - was naturally endowed.” Mrs. Worley declared. She said he inherited a love of books from his grandfather and grandmother. The latter, she said, frequently read a book or paper while churning on the farm near Cedar Hill, Tennessee.The little school was near the farm where Byrns spent his boyhood. “We taught the letters to each little newcomer then,” Mrs. Worley said, adding that “I remember well how Joe Wellie kept stalling when he would get to the letter Q.”“One day,” she continued, trying to impress on him the sequence of letters, said: 'Joe Wellie, when you get to that place you must remember q. Now you know what cucumbers are don't you. You've eaten cucumbers and like them. Well, just remember that after the letter P you can recall cucumbers and know that Q with the same sound is the next letter.'
“The next day he was saying his letters to me again and sure enough he stalled again at the same old place. 'Joe Wellie, I said, remember what I told you was nice to eat that would help you to remember the next letter?' Well, the little fellow looked at me with his eyes round with concentration. 'Yes'm,' he said, 'pickles.'”

To see the full article:

Until next time - Keep the story alive - Mark
J. Mark Lowe
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