Wednesday, July 3, 2019

it pays to sleep in a dorm !

This is a very quick blog - to register the gift of the universe in serendipity and wonder.   And to say thank-you to many people.

As many of you know (and now all of you) I have been chewing through preparing my portfolio for BCG certification for awhile.  The timetable changed, more than once, but was never abandoned. 

[NB. I am currently on the clock, with my due date 6 May 2020, so I am saying May 1 to myself.  This is an absolutely positively FIRM date.  If I were to renew for another year (which is possible), I would instantly be subject to a new set of requirements, which in turn would require reworking, if not re-doing a number of things.  Not going there, period paragraph.]

Was at June 2019 GRIPitt for a week of learning/honing my skill in writing proofs, a basic building block of genealogists.  A wonderful course, learned much, and still integrating the learning.
           Hence, the sleeping in the dorm.  Note: dorms have come up in the world; this one was ensuite! 

Also... meeting many wonderful people - including Sandy - who told me about an on-line course run by Jill Morelli that goes through portfolio prep with the real deal - not hypotheticals or verbal comparisons of the rubrics.  Fantastic! and my name is on the wait list for the course.  I couldn't be more delighted. (Obviously, my fingers are way big crossed.)

Thank you universe - and all the names you are known by. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

MOVE.....


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
       Write it
       Shoot it
       Publish it
       Crochet it
       Saute it
       Whatever
       Make
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From Josh Whedon, Creator of Firefly

Monday, February 18, 2019

S is for is for Saving... & S is for Surfacing

>> S is for Serendipity

From Miriam-Webster, an official definition of serendipity is, "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for."  I, going shorter, would say that serendipity is between "wow" and "whoopee," and that serendipity makes for some of the best stories to trade.  

If you don't have a collection of these, just keep researching.  



Serendipity #1: A few years ago, I was in McLean, Va., visiting my mother, and went to the local FHL.  The gent tending was not, by his own comment, a genealogist; he did, however, ask what name I was researching.   When I said, “Rentchler, downstate Illinois,” he said, “Rentchler, California.” …. And we realized that we are cousins.  The brother of my Rentchler went to California, and the library tender is a descendent of that person, Marshall Rentchler.  I am a descendent of the son who stayed home in Belleville, Henry L. Rentchler.

Serendipity #2: In the 1980’s I was researching in Ft. Wayne, In. with my mother, and commented to her that “look… Patrick joined Manerva’s church 8 months before they were married.”  A gent at the next table made comment to me that it was common for the beau to join his lady’s church some months before marriage, so they could be married in her church. 

Serendipity #3:  In 1964, an oral history was taken about two very very small Illinois towns, Belle Rive and Dahlgren, resulting in a book titled (no great surprise here) "The History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois" and put in the Mt. Vernon library.  In 1998, to aide my own research, I made an every name index of this book, and published it online.  In 2018, my colleague and friend mentioned that he had people from that area.  It turns out that one of the interviews was given by his great aunt, who he knew, though he had no knowledge of this book!  (ps-the index is still on-line)

Serendipity #4: The first time to Mt. Vernon library (IL), with my mother to research my father's line, we were pointed at a researcher across the room.  The librarian thought that she knew about the Ross’.  Indeed she did!  Her GG and my GGG were sisters – Sarah Nooner & Rebecca Barbee – both originally Comptons, and born Manassas, VA. 

   ... and the "wow" factor continues.  My cousin, a Ross, married a woman born and raised in Manassas, VA, who, though she doesn’t have any Comptons in her line (to her knowledge) did comment that there were many Comptons in her school.  (and GGG gets the line back to the early 1800s!!)

Serendipity, at this point and for me, is genealogy’s four leaf clover.  Keep your eyes (and ears) open, and it may just find you ---
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>> S is for surfacing 
You may notice that my last post was Sept 6, 2018.  On Sept 7, 2018, I was on a plane headed to Va. to tend my mother.  Sitting in a hospital or rehab is not the best place for the creative musing or applied thinking/writing that goes into a blog.  Ta-da.  No writing for 5 months.  The extra time until today, and being able to get “back on the blog” were used arranging her move to Chicago and settling many things. 
       
I am looking forward to months, even years, with much less excitement. 

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2018 began with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on most Tuesdays and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.   2019 continues to finish the alphabet.  Then ??? -- any suggestions?
© 2019, SE Ross

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Q is for Questions: R is for Results


It is the question which propels us.  From our earliest days, to the meaning of life at the end, we ask questions, and, if we are lucky, we have the time and the means to answer at least a few.

Genealogists answer questions regarding an individual's identity, and the relationship of one individual to another.   Along the way, and sometimes in order to substantiate a relationship many "facts" about individuals are discovered.

Results, for a genealogist, is that which answers the asked question (specific or implied) about the relationship and/or identity of a specific individual.


Answering a semi-global question about an individual may require many contributary questions, which will each have their own results - which may in turn spawn more questions before a satisfactory result is developed (rarely just found), to the large question.

My grandfather taught at Keewatin academy.  There is no book or even magazine article about this school.  Through multiple newspaper ads, listings in catalogs of schools, and comments about former students of Keewatin, it was possible to determine specifics about the school.   30 different sources and at least that many footnotes for a paragraph in the final document.

So…. Ask those questions…. And seek results !!!


Till next time,
Liz

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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on most Tuesdays and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

O is for Oh Wow!!!


We've all had them. 

The deed which describes the piece of land bought by your ancestor that fits the space in the map,
The German church book entry which bridges the Atlantic to your great-grandparents and lists 3 more generations
The discovery of stillbirths and suicides and divorces which illuminates family dynamics, and on and on and on. 

Everyone who has done genealogy for more than three minutes knows the joy and the satisfaction of these finds.

(N.B. -- and… so you don't end up having to relive that "oh, wow!" moment way more often than you would wish, strive to develop -- even as that OhWowMoment develops -- a way of recording where the OW was found.  What you record may or may not be ESM, but it should be enough that you can find the OWM document again, even if the "citation" is not enough to write an formal citation without looking at the document a second time.)

O is also for "Oh My…,"  learning/knowing a bit more about the actions of your ancestors.  For good or ill, these people 100+ years ago were people.  Someone comparing philosophy said that the major difference between then and now was electricity.  True enough, but electricity alone had many spin-offs, including how far one could travel in a day, how homes were heated and lit, and how shoes were made…, and where shoes were made.

And so…. I am circled back to one of my beloved themes… Genealogy/history as time travel. 

Till next time
Liz

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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on most Tuesdays and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  

© 2018, SE Ross

Thursday, July 19, 2018

M is for Mitochondrial DNA


Could have tackled this topic right off the bat during "D" as in DNA, but didn't. 

DNA is the new kid on the block in genealogy.  It's even more exciting than the next census.  Ancestry.com started DNA in 1983, according to Google.

I say at the outset that while I understand how the three tests work - autosomal, mitochondrial and Y-chromosome - I have yet to get excited about DNA, though I know lots of people who are very excited, and spending lots of time learning how to construct the science, especially that of autosomal DNA comparisons.

I will say that in the last 2 months I have heard info that leads me to be a bit more interested in autosomal, and I join those who are glad there may be another avenue for cold cases, but so far, the DNA tests that truly intrigue me are mitochondrial and Y-chromosome.

Quick review:
Mitochondrial DNA, the 'x' chromosome,  is passed mother to daughter to daughter to daughter… etc., though the last generation can be either daughter or son.
The incredible thing about the 'x' chromosome is that unlike most of DNA, it does not combine and divide with each child and generation.  It remains, being passed from generation and eon to eon as it is.  Rarely, very very rarely, there is a mutation, and then that mutation stays for the next several eons.

The same is true for the Y-chromosome, the male chromosome, which is passed father to son to son…etc., and ONLY to sons, so even the last generation must be male. 
Repeat:  The incredible thing about the 'x' chromosome is that unlike most of DNA, it does not combine and divide with each child and generation.  It remains, being passed from generation and eon to eon as it is.  Rarely, very very rarely, there is a mutation, and then that mutation stays for the next several eons.

We talk about lines "daughtering out" with reference to the disappearance of the last name, but the Y-chromosome can just as easily daughter out.   Likewise, a family line of all sons ends that line for the X-chromosome.


Looking ahead:  What intrigues me is the vast reaches of time that these two DNA tests,  Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome, have the capability of bridging.  My "Ross" is presumed to come from Scotland, either directly, or by way of Ireland.  The earliest fixed date in the US is 1824/25 figured from the age Patrick Ross gave on his enlistment in 1861 for the Civil War.  Given that he was born in Knox, Tenn, I hold small hope of finding paper to carry him back.  I hold small hope that the Y-chromosome test taken by my brother will link with someone in UK, but after years of searching for paper and finding nothing, my small hope of a DNA link to UK is slightly bigger than my small hope of finding paper.

Three companies do autosomal tests; one does X & Y.  Have a look and save your pennies.

Till next time,
Liz

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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on most Tuesdays and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross

L is for local/regional doings -- take 2


NB - I saw this post in my working basket, and thought it had not been posted.  A few weeks have passed since the CAGGNI conference, and MUCH in my life has happened.  This post was worth a second look, and I hope you think the same.)

A few weeks ago I spoke at the CAGGNI conference.  Held every two years northwest of Chicago, it is a daylong affair run by CAGGNI (Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois). The conference has 4 time slots and 4 topics during each time slot.  Speakers are nationally & regionally known; this year the class lineup included a hands on option for DNA learning.  (and yes, they took walk-in registrants).

NGS, FGS, RootsTech & PMC are the big national conferences, and they are wonderful.  I got to NGS in May, and hope to be at more during 2018.  I do hope that you get to one (or more) every so often.
It's carnival time with all the vendors, many who offer info and answer questions.  (Where else can you get help with RootsMagic or Family Tree Maker or ask the Ancestry folk why something is doing what it is doing?)
It's carnival time meeting people you know from other conferences -- often by chance.  I met a friend/fellow genealogist from Alaska.  We last met January of 2017? or was it 2016? 

At the same time, (returning to the topic) let us not neglect the regional conferences.  Societies put an enormous amount of effort into sponsoring a conference, one day or two.   Speakers are good, and in addition to the day of learning, there are the vendors (jewelry, t-shirts & bumperstickers), the society reps (DAR, SAR), the library reps (Newberry, Mid-Cont), and the social time during coffee breaks and over lunch.

Consider attending a regional conference as part of vacation travel.  Societies generally pull from regional speakers, so you will hear people that rarely (or never) get to your part of the country.  If the conference is where your family came from, some of the people attending may be relatives.  (do your homework?)

My take home in this post is "don't discount the 1-2 day conferences."  Yes, national/huge is lots of fun & has lots to offer, but regional/local, while smaller/shorter, also offers much.  Don't write them off.

Till next time,
Liz

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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on most Tuesdays and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

L is for Local (also Regional) Conferences


This coming weekend I am speaking at the CAGGNI conference.  Held every two years northwest of Chicago, it is a daylong affair run by CAGGNI (Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois). The conference has 4 time slots and 4 topics during each time slot.  Speakers are nationally & regionally known; this year the class lineup includes a hands on option for DNA learning.  (If enchanted, you can be a walk-in for the conference, but not for the DNA classes. Check their website for info)

NGS, FGS, & PMC are the big national conferences, and they are wonderful.  I got to NGS in May, and hope to be at the other two.  I do hope that you get to one (or more) every so often. 

I also hope that you get to one (or more) of local/regional society gatherings.  These smaller groups put a lot of effort into bringing speakers "to you."  and putting together a day of learning.
(It's also lots of fun to go to a conference where a relative lives!  Their local speakers are people you've never heard!)

A few years ago I had the option of hearing a national speaker for a full day at a small regional conference outside of my local area.  Even though I did travel a bit, it was still closer, easier, less expensive in time and housing/etc., and dovetailed wonderfully with a research trip. 

My take home in this post is "don't discount the 1-2 day conferences."  Yes, national/huge is lots of fun & has lots to offer, but regional/local/smaller also offers much.  Don't write them off.

Till next time,
Liz

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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on Tuesday and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

I is for Indexing


This blog is a short and heartfelt encouragement to give back to the folks who have given genealogy so much.

We all know that the records which we use every day were not created for us, though they are so basic to our work that this is sometimes overlooked: census, tax, land, wills, probate, birth, marriage, divorce, death, draft registration, social security, etc., etc.

Some of these records included name indexes at the front of the volume (land, birth(some), wills) and some not so (census for starters).  We (the cloud of genealogists) can use ALL these records so easily because people INDEXED them.  Note that I said "people."   People can read handwriting, and make decisions.  OCR sort of works on newspapers, not so much for court journals.

Ancestry, data base of waving leaves and TV ads, hired people to do the indexing.  No argument with their decisions; they were first off the block with an easily accessible census data base, and got MANY people interested & involved in researching.

Family Search took a different tact on indexing, asking members of their church (Latter Day Saints, aka Mormons) to undertake this task.   That is still the model for records currently being added to the collection, and for the thousands of records previously filmed, but currently only available as a browsable collection. 

While members do indexing, they are delighted to open the door to volunteers with no connection with their church.  I've indexed and will continue to do so.  (Many non-LDS folk volunteer at FHL libraries)

What one indexes is easy to customize.  Records are described; some are typescript; many handwritten; tons are in English.  You ask for a "chunk" which you then read and put info from the records into a grid (also supplied).  When done you hit a button.  Your work goes back to Salt Lake City and you get a brownie point. Indexing any 'chunk' takes roughly 30 minutes (or less).  If you find you have misjudged your abilities in regard to a given 'chunk,' you type the equivalent of "oops" and that record group closes.

Each "chunk" is given to 3 indexers.  If all agree it gets stamped "good" and is added to the data base.  If all doesn't agree, someone very skilled looks at the record in question and solves the problem.  (For me, this cuts down the anxiety factor really big time. Ie. I'm not the only word, nor the final word)

So… I'm encouraging you to give back.  Speaking for myself, but suspecting I have fellow travelers, my schedule is such that I cannot, at this time, volunteer every Tuesday at…, or be a big sister, or run an 'x' for my favorite charity, but I can (and again, suspect many fellow travelers) find an hour or three (or 16) during a month to index.  Each month may be different, and that's ok.  I can index day (or night), do as many chunks at a sitting as I wish, or one and sign off.  It is not taxing, but rather the different that refreshes, and I guarantee you will get a warm glow from helping out (in addition to your brownie points from LDS).

Google FamilySearch.org, and sign in or make an account.  Last time I was on the site the top banner had "indexing" at the right hand end.  Click and go. 
Few surprises, and all good ---

Isn't summer a good time for resolutions?

Till next time,
Liz
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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on Tuesday and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

P is for Penguin Portfolio

Penguin travels with me... as said. 
He decided that it was time to celebrate the staff of VH, where my mother lives.   I totally agree. 


anyone wishing to join this parade -- just let me know !!! 



I always have my phone on me, and I will make it a point to have penguin. 




















Till next time, 
Liz 
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Copyright 2018, SERoss

N is for Names


We live in the 21st century.  We were named by our parents, with the name usually carefully chosen before we were born.  For today's babies, the SS# follows rapidly, I hear that some hospitals arrange for it to be issued while the baby is still in hospital. Our name and that number become our handle, our label, at school, at work, and on into the grave.  It seems that in this computer driven century there is much less use of nicknames, either w/in the family, and little in school or other formal settings.  William may be called Bill, but only if William permits.  And calling William "4-eyes" or "short stuff" wouldn't even be considered.  (Hydra head of slurs?)  

My mother was the youngest of three children: junior (boy named after his father), brother (as in "that's my brother"), and sister (as in "that's my sister").  While they were called by their "real" names in school, when playing on their street, or called by their mother or neighbors, they were junior, brother, and sister.  Their parents ran a store, where customers and friends were also graced with nicknames.  One was "Junkie";  she went weekly to Maxwell St. and dealt in antiques.  Her real name was Gertrude, and I never heard her last name. Another customer was "2 lb. of coffee with the ticket ground," her standard order.  The ticket?  Ala Green Stamps.  But back to nicknames... Would it be possible to broadcast a sitcom using the names used in "Lil' Rascals"?   And even the early Bill Cosby monologues sound dated with "Fat Albert." 

On the other hand, for us genealogists, we need to be very aware that for most of history, even into the early 20th century, you were who you said you were.  Want to REALLY lose a past?  Move far away, and take a menial job, or talk your way into entry level in shop or office, and build from there.  Sort of witness protection without the federal support.

I am continually "charmed" by genealogists with less than 100 weeks under their belts saying, "That couldn’t possibly be my ancestor; their name is spelled with an 'a' not an 'e'"  or "His mother is Tabitha, not Polly.  I have to keep looking."

For this week, consider your favorite ancestor, and think of all the things you know about him or her outside of their name, and how, when the going gets tough and brick walls threaten, that the chink in the wall is undoubtedly found in all the information that is not their name.  

Till next time,
Liz

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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on Tuesday and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

N is for NGS Conference (but mostly the penquin portfolio)_

NGS - aka National Genealogical Society - held their yearly conference in Grand Rapids the beginning of May 2018.  Lots of people, lots of vendors, and lots of lectures with many ideas of all sorts flowing around.  A great time of listening, learning and meeting people, known by face and known by name, and the incredible time of asking questions and having time to explore genealogical situations.  Whew -- and, as always, way too short. 

Penguin (still no first name) travels with me, and I invite people to poise with penguin and join the pengiun portfolio.  (and yes, if the person is pictured, they have given their permission...) 


Enjoy -- whimsy is good. 




Grand Rapids is a beautiful city.  Compact and varied downtown, LOVELY convention center, good and wide ranging restaurants, and the river, with convention center on one side and Gerald Ford Library on the other.   There was so much that I saw around the fringes, that I have put Grand Rapids on my "return and see much more of the town."


Till next time,
Liz




main hall of convention center





one of the many gracious & helpful volunteers -- 








*** notice that everyone holding a penguin is smiling?!! ***




Last Look -- see you next year
8-11 May 2019 - St. Charles, MO
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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on Tuesday and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  © 2018, SE Ross



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

L is for LOCKSS


In the wake of Hurricane Harry*** – L is for LOCKSS.  “lots of copies keep stuff safe.”  Go old school with photo copies sent to your three 2nd cousins living in two different directions.  Go medium tech with scans on a stick.  Go cloud, go “finish the book and send it to Allen County.”

               (I did not invent this saying, but believe the idea should get about, and I would be very happy to credit the person who sparked LOCKSS, but I really don't remember where or from who I heard this.)

In the olden days, documents were one of a kind, as were photos.  Getting copies was time-consuming, often expensive, and often not possible. Not so now.
I do my family research in the vacuum of records lost on both sides of my own family. On one side, two households were basically trashed

I am the descendant (on one side) of two house “explosions” in the same generation.  In the first, the sister of the deceased cleared the house in a weekend.  The car went north with two kids, one suitcase each, and the sterling flatware.  The second was the death of the sister, whose apartment was cleared by daughter in law, flying cross country, and having no room and no interest in family pictures or documents.

So…. Get moving… make copies… send about … you have NO excuse.

Till next time,
Liz

*** and the many other natural disasters since Harry. 
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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published on Tuesday and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross

L is for Lineage Societies


The premise of lineage societies is that an ancestral line can be tracked back to 'x' (a category of people, or someone famous…or someone infamous) through direct ancestors (read blood line).

This is a situation where it is "just the facts m'am," though you may well have to go far (or very far) afield to get the proofs required for the linkage.  For each generation it must be proved that person 'x' was born to parents 'a' & 'b,'  and usually that a & b were married to each other.  All those other things that make interesting tales around the campfire - occupation, migration, other children -- are not necessary for the lineage, though they may be called upon to prove the lineage.
And when one parent child triangle is proved, take the parent who is headed the right direction, treat the parent as the child and form another triangle with parents.  In other words…rinse and repeat.

DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) & Mayflower Society (descendants of the colonists who arrived on the Mayflower) are venerable US lineage societies.  These two, and many others celebrate the history and settling of the US. 
My paternal grandmother was DAR, and I may follow her lead.

I am also aware that many states have a "First Families" designation.  New England goes one step further, offering a First Families of New England designation to all who can prove first family in each New England state.  It's tough. 

Family friends belong to a society that is open to descendants of President's wives.  This society allows collateral connections -- so the potential pool of members is HUGE. 

At the same time, against the serious are a whole raft of "tongue-in-cheek" lineage societies, for which one has to prove descendancy from a pirate, a witch, or a black sheep, to name a few.  I must admit I have a soft spot in my heart for these who honor the diversity of our heritage in this manner … and note my personal favorite, encountered at a Scottish Highland games some years ago.  This is the "Venerable Order of the Flamingo." To join you are required to wear a flamingo hat, and while standing on one leg and flapping one's arms, repeat the oath of the order, vowing to protect and value flamingos forever and always, whether of flesh and blood and feathers or of plastic and wire and paint.   It was a moving ceremony; obviously I have not forgotten it, though I have no idea what happened to my membership parchment.

Till next time,
Liz
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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published usually on Tuesday and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross

J is for "Just," as in "just one more..."


J is for “just,” as in “just one more ….”  This is the cry of the never finished research.  Be brave, take a stand, finish a small bit and distribute it however you intended – to family, to a local genealogical society, to friends who are cheering you on.  Might your conclusions be amended when more records are found in a church attic…perhaps.  But for today, for now, you have done everything “right,” and the world deserves to see (and possibly point out something you didn’t know!).

I may start using a footnote in reports for myself that reads TDL aka "to do later."  A fact found creates a question to be answered, but… answering that question is not central to the story/question that is on the table, and therefore TDL. 


Till next time,
Liz

"things" in April & early May.  I'm back...

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2018 begins with an "ABC-darium," a walk through the alphabet expanding into short comments on matters genealogical.  Published usually on Tuesday and some Fridays, a letter may be visited more than once before moving on.  
© 2018, SE Ross