Newspaper Indexes

One day I will figure it out – I promise! I have decided yet again to switch up how I am doing my newspaper projects. I am optimistic that the third time’s a charm :-)

Trial #1 – My experience using the Browning Genealogy Database of Evansville, IN to research Kalonji’s family was so positive, that I decided I was going to build a newspaper database just like it! However, that one is so complex, that when I created my initial site, my structure was complex and I found it taking too long to enter information about each article. I quickly became discouraged.

Trial #2 – I then looked to the structure of a blog for transcribing content. I felt that since blogs get picked up by search engines, it would help keep the information readily available for a long time to come. Moving to a blog format meant losing some of the flexibility in searching that I’d ideally prefer, but I thought it would be an easier and quicker endeavor. I was wrong. Doing transcriptions of all the articles has proven to be very, very time consuming and more than I expected. So, I was getting discouraged again.

Trial #3 – So, I decided to go back to the database structure. However, this time, my philosophy is keep it simple. My “database” consists of one table with seven fields and information in it that is not “normalized” – i.e. follow convention database design principles. However, my goal is not to be exact in how I structure the data, but to get it in a format that can be searched in several ways and gets me to get the information out there quickly. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been doing this and so far I am sated. :-) In two nights, I have indexed content from 9 issues of the Roanoke Beacon. If I continue at this rate, I could feasibly do three-four months in a weekend’s worth of work and within a year, could have several years of data online. With this approach, I will continue to have the blogs specific to each newspaper, but I will use them instead as a means to post additional information that does not fit within the scope of the index. I think this will be best. I am deciding not to publicize the exact links for awhile until I build up some content, so you can expect that the transcription blogs will not see much activity for the next few months…..

Ambitious Goal

Why am I plagued with huge, ambitious goals! It seems that for my hobbies, I tend to develop grand schemas for things I want to accomplish. With my stitching, it was to create a database of cross-stitch patterns that appear in magazines. I did start one, but now that my interests have varied, I find that I really just don’t have the time to dedicate to is as I used to. (well, that and having a 2 year old to run after!).

Now that I’m into genealogy, I am starting to develop grand ideas for this hobby as well. There are so many areas in which I see room for possible contributions that it just paralyzes me sometimes. For example, right now, I am into newspaper transcriptions. I currently have two actively going, and a third one that I have decided I will do, but just need to order additional microfilm. I have a fourth order for microfilm that should arrive to me within the next few weeks, and I’ll start a new transcription blog for that. I find my newspaper transcription to be slow going work, but that’s okay – I enjoy reading the history of the place and even in the short time I’ve been doing it, I find that it is already helping others.

But, just this weekend, I started envisioning another project – creating a community genealogy web site, set up in structure very similar to my own personal family history site. For example, Plymouth, Washington County, NC is where my maternal grandmother is from. I think it would be so cool to create a community genealogy site for the county – that would have gedcom’s and compilation of information from a variety of sources. But, this would be a tremendous undertaking! Of course there would be people who would want to contribute information but still, it would be a huge project. Wouldn’t it be ideal though to be able to get a broader sense of the community of a whole for an area in which you had roots? Genealogy 2.0 apps would be perfect for this.

Just me thinking…..

UPDATE: I think I may have found something for this. I just took a quick look at WeRelate, and I am already amazed by it! I didn’t talk about it in my previous post on technology apps, but I like it already and I see that it has much potential. I plan to spend the next few days testing it out. Stay tuned.

Online Genealogy Programs

Seems I have a lot to post about these days! Well, today I’ve been reading various posts on other genealogy blogs about online genealogy programs (Eastman has a post, Randy has a post, as does Jasia), so I thought I would contribute as well.

In January 2006, I found the best thing that ever happened to me for my genealogy hobby – Darrin Lythgoe’s web-based genealogy software, The Next Generation (TNG). For the past several months prior, I had been looking for the perfect program to host my genealogy information online. My personal philosophy to data management over the past couple of years has been to transition to web-based products as much as possible, so that I could reduce my dependency upon any one personal computer. Therefore, I was looking to do this with my genealogy data as well. TNG is a great program in my personal experience, and I use it for my own family tree (and I used RootsMagic to do reports, PDF files, etc.) It has so many features that I have found it hard to beat as far as my personal preferences go. The one thing that I would say is lacking is a calendar view to the dates in my files that could be sent to me automatically via email like Google Calendar does. Other than that, I could hardly ask for more!

Other programs I have looked into are:

Tribal Pages – I did actually create a site, but I felt the views to the trees were limited as not enough information could be displayed about an individual. I was looking for something that would allow me to link in documents, photos, and more and TNG provides that.

With the recent announcement of PHPGedView, I looked at it briefly, but honestly have not taken the time to truly investigate it. PHPGedView does have a calendar view to dates like I only wish TNG had. However, at this point, I don’t feel the need to switch, so I’m not likely to investigate it further.

Geni - I looked at this briefly too. I did not like the approach of having to enter data individually and that it was a “private” community. I like open access as much as possible, with restrictions on living individuals. While that may appeal to some, it does not appeal to me. Mabye b/c I’m a librarian :-)

Ancestry Family Tree – I love Ancestry Trees! However, there are features that I wish it had, but for the mere fact that Ancestry is one of the MAJOR resources for genealogy, and that the data entered into the Family Tree becomes searcheable in both Ancestry and RootsWeb within a matter of days, this is an ideal option for other varied genealogies I work on. For example, I use Ancestry Family Trees for the tree of a co-worker of mine so that she too can log in and edit and work on the tree; for my step-mother’s sister-in-law’s tree, for the tree of someone whom I suspect may be the slaveowner of one of my ancestors, and for a couple of African-American former slaves that I’ve come across in my transcription work – I do this to help increase the chances that someone from any of these lines may find the information I’ve posted to it.

Another aspect that I’d like to mention are applications on the horizon in light of the Web 2.0 movement. Ben Crowder, a BYU student, has conceptualized a program he names Beyond. His ideas excite me and though he is a student and busy and may not get to develop this “soon”, I hope that he does continue to work on it and hopefully produce it one day. What excites me about his approach is that he is very well-tuned to the concepts of Web 2.0 and collaboration technologies and he hopes to build these into his program, while at the same time keeping it clean and simple. Also, he’s considering the idea of linking individuals with non-familial relationships (friend, co-worker, slave-owner, etc) – wouldn’t that be cool! Talk about community genealogy! Check him out.

One Word

Today I asked my mother how she would describe her grandmothers with one word:
- paternal grandmother, Lucinda — “sweet”
- maternal grandmother, Martha — “bossy”

Then, I asked Kalonji the same question:
- his paternal grandmother — “sage”
- his maternal grandmother — “gangsta”

So then, he asked me the same question:
-my paternal grandmother — “kind-hearted”
-my maternal grandmother — “adamant”

And then, I asked my father:
- his paternal grandmother – “mean”
- his maternal grandmother – he couldn’t say as she was bed-ridden most of his life and there was not much interaction.

Update: Today, Feb 16, 2007, I asked Kalonji’s grandmother, Frances the same questions. She described both of her grandmothers as “great grandmothers”, very loving, very caring and easy-going. Her grandmother Matilda was particularly so and she said she always wanted to go live with her b/c she would let the grandkids “get away with stuff”.

Lewis "Christopher Columbus" Robinson

Today while reading some information related to my job, I learned of a new resource that explains the environmental hazards of working/living near a major water port. That prompted me to do a blog post about my great-grandfather, Lewis Robinson. We don’t know much about Lewis, as he died when my grandfather was just three years old. He is described as being short (and my grandfather and many of his brothers were tall, so where did the height come from?) In fact, his WWI Draft Enlistment Card has his height as 5 feet, 5 inches tall – cool to see this fact confirmed by documentation! There is a whole story around his middle name being “Christopher Columbus,” but that is a post for another day. What I do want to post about right now is his job, apparently, he was a longshoreman for at least the last 8 years of his life.

Both the 1920 census and his death certificate from 1928 indicate that this was his occupation. As I know absolutely nothing about what it means to be a longshoreman, this is my opportunity to learn and a chance to get some of this in writing.

What is a longshoreman? According to a Wikipedia entry, a longshoreman is generally responsible for loading and unloading ships. Longshoremen should know the proper techniques for lifting and loading equipment and be physically strong. It seems that in the early days, most cargo was tied down with rope tied with Stevedore knots. This picture, from 1912, shows some longshoreman on the docks of the Hudson River in New York (very likely where Lewis worked given that he lived in Manhattan.)

His employer: Lewis worked for the Panama Lines, and while I plan to do more extensive research into the Panama Lines, I have done some quick looking online. Panama Lines was a steamship line operated by Panama Railroad Company. There is a 1991 article from the Journal of the Steamship Historical Society that talks about the history of the Panama Railroad Company and the steamships they operated. The Line was established as a connection between ports in US and the Panama Canal. I am interested in learning about the ships that Lewis may have loaded/unloaded and thus far, it seems that ones in operation while he was working may have included the ADVANCE, the PANAMA, the COLON, the CRISTOBAL, the ANCON, the ALLIANCA, LAKE FLATTERY, LAKE FANQUIER, the BUENVENTURA, and the GUAYAQUIL.

This image from one of the Lines’ 1949 brochures’ aims to showcase the experience.

The ship in the brochure appears to be the Cristobal, as best as I can tell from other pictures of the ship on that same website. These two flags were also used by the company.


How cool! I would love to find some books that can provide me with even more details about the longshoreman work habits and the history of the Panama Lines. Given Lewis’ work on the docks, I find it cool that his sons (at least 3 of them) would all go on to serve in the US Navy.

Inspiration

From reading Eastman’s blog over the weekend, I found a new website that I had not previously been aware of – the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Eastman reports that they added a skill building section to their website, so I wandered over and was very thrilled with what I found.

On the site are examples of how to publish a family history. I am so glad I found this b/c this is exactly what I would like to do one day, but the task appears so daunting to me. While I would love to do the narrative style, I think I will need to begin with the register style. So, I am hereby declaring that by the end of 2007 I aim to do a published register style history for the first three generations of at least one of my lines. (my top two candidates so far are the McNair and Kilpatrick lines as I am currently trying to research slaveowners and I think that would be an interesting thing to include.)

Thanks BCG for the examples!

Barfield’s mother!

I think I have finally found Barfield Koonce’s mother! Barfield was my great grandfather and the beginning of my interest in my family genealogy. When my aunt died back in 1984 (I was 9 at the time), she was buried in Mitchell Cemetery – where I would then learn that we had a lot of family buried there. Her burial is my first recollection of knowing/learning of my father’s family tree. In the same cemetery, his father is buried, along with his father’s father. Barfield was his father’s father and he never knew him. I remember looking at Barfield’s headstone and wondering about who he was.

Well, since I started gung-ho again on my genealogy last year, I have been trying to find out more about Barfield. Problem was, I couldn’t find his parents! Though, I knew who his grandfather was from census records. But tonight, I received the death certificate of whom I think is his brother (Richard Koonce) and on Richard’s death certificate, parents are listed.

As I sort through things, I decided it would be helpful to compile a list of my “preoponderance of evidence” for tying Richard & Barfield together.

Evidence for:

  • My father’s aunt told me that her father (Barfield) had a brother named Richard.
  • I can only locate one Richard Koonce in that county throughout the 1900-1930 censuses. This Richard that is listed is a few years older than Barfield.
  • In the 1910 census, Richard is listed 5 families away from James & Mariah Koonce. Given this close proxmity, in my experience so far from looking at census records, this leads me to believe Richard is related to James.
  • There is only one James Koonce in Craven County in the 1870-1910 census records for Craven County.
  • In the 1900 census, Barfield is living with James & Mariah Koonce and he is listed as their grandson.
  • Richard’s death certificate lists his mother as Caroline Koonce (and his father as Mike Davis).
  • In the 1880 census, James & Mariah have in their household a Charlotte and Caroline Koonce.
  • The Caroline Koonce in that census is of right age to have had Barfield and Richard.

So, from all of this information, I am truly inclined to believe that Caroline is Barfield and Richard’s mother! Who know is this Mike Davis is also Barfield’s father (Barfield’s death certificate does not list any parent). However, I am going to put him as his father for now.

Copyright

Lately, as I’ve been considering my transcription blogs, I’ve been thinking of how to handle copyrighted material. I am a librarian after all and I must adhere to copyright! For the Roanoke Beacon and the Nashville Globe, I am currently okay. The content I’ve posted is public domain as far as I can ascertain from reading the copyright regs at the Library of Congress website.

However, I still want to work though copyrighted material, so for that, I’ve decided to go ahead and create an index, a very simple index. Though I created my own index for my first iteration transcription for the Roanoke Beacon Blog, I found my data entry process too tedious to maintain. This weekend, I found an online service that lets me create an online database for free and I am this time keeping my input EXTREMELY simple. The database is technically not “normalized” but I think it will serve its’ purpose. So, I’m rather excited. I can do it quickly too. More developments to come later…

A New Printer

Yeah! I got a new all-in-one printer this past week. I can now finally scan all my documents that I send away for, so I have been busy doing that these past few days. My other printer developed a short in the power cord, so I’ve been without a scanner/printer for months. Do you know how annoying it is to photograph a document and then turn it into a PDF file? So tedious.

I also this week updated the software for the web program, The Next Generation, that I use for my genealogy site. I love TNG! Once I found this gem last year and started using it, I have been hooked to doing my genealogy as it is very user friendly.

In other news, I was reading my normal blogs and found my name over on The Genealogue! Thanks Chris for the mention of my newspaper transcription blogs. I hope to only do more.

One Step Closer!

I have earlier posted about some information I received from a distant cousin that suggests that our ancestor, Silas Kilpatrick was owned by the white Kilpatrick family in that county. She mentioned to me that she had found a document where a slave named Silas was mentioned in the will of Warre Kilpatrick (d. 1821). Today, I received more information that is helping to support this and I am getting so terribly excited at the thought that I may actually get real evidence of one of my family slaveowners!

Here is my list of evidence thus far:

  • Thru census records, I guestimate that my ancestor, Silas Kilpatrick lived from approx. 1930 to sometime between 1880-1900. His wife, Mimi, was widowed by 1900.
  • A family member told me that members of our family resemble the white Kilpatricks in that area
  • My great-grandmother’s brother, informed me that the family knew they belonged to the white Kilpatrick’s and a Kilpatrick who’s first name began with a “Z” had papers showing that Silas was their slave. My grand-uncle could not remember the name other than it began with a Z.
  • In the 1880 census, I find a Zeph Kilpatrick who was the son of John Kiklpatrick. From looking at several online gedcoms and websites, it seems to be the case that Zeph is a great-grandson of Warre Kilpatrick
  • A distant cousin informed me that she had located a will record for Warre Kilpatrick (d. 1821) and in it, he will a boy slave named Silas to his son Wiley.
  • A response from the New Bern-Craven County Public Library informed me that papers for Willie Kilpatrick’s estate in 1838 show a slave named Silas (along with some other slave names that are mentioned in Warre’s will).

I am still trying to clearly define and verify for myself the white Kilpatrick lineage, but all of these factors above lead me to believe that they are the probable slaveowners of my Silas. I am now going to pursue the microfilm records of the estate files. I am going to go to my local LDS center on Saturday to try and order them.