Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A year in Review

This time last year I set 5 goals for myself. They were really only supposed to run for the month of January, because I could never imagine setting a WHOLE YEARS WORTH of GOALS for myself like many of you diligent genealogy people out there. But of course, they ended up running for the entire year, so no harm done. Here was my list from Jan 2011 and my progress to date (along with any future goals I might add to each):

1) To scan all of the genealogy documents that my cousin Richard sent me on the Binns and Brooks sides of my family and enter the information into my genealogy database:

I scanned all 95 pages he sent me. Most of it was genealogy his Aunt Rubye (Binns) Brashears had compiled back in the 1950s and then his own additions from the 80s. These were scanned in .tif format and pages from the same group were also saved as a .pdf file for easier reading. Much of this information I already had in my database. I didn’t find any new information in what he sent me. One of the files was a type-written genealogy of the Binns surname and information about the family coming from England compiled by “The Media Research Bureau” – whatever that is. This compilation did mention my particular line. It had a very short bibliography, but no references cited in the text, so it would be hard to determine what information came from what source, but I might be able to use them as a future guide, especially for research in England. A future goal might include typing up a transcript of this text (or finding an online version of it which is searcheable; or possibly converting the scan to OCR text – something I’ve never done before).

2) To enter all of the Binns, Anthony, and Pye names references from the Wilkes County Georgia books I copied from the Library into my excel spreadsheet. Determine the major Binns family lines in Wilkes Co. GA

Ok first of all, let me say that I didn’t even know I had a spreadsheet! But alas I see that I did, in fact, start one in Jan of 2010!!! I don’t see anything with a 2011 date, so it doesn’t look like I added anything from 2011. In fact, I think most of this stuff in on my “To SCAN” list. So chances are this was not even started. Guess it will be marked as a future goal.

Oh and guess what? I bought one of the books from a genealogy conference I went to (NGS in Charleston) which mentions my Binns family in VA! Reviewing that deed book will be added to a future goal.

3) To read Christine Rose's Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures book

Yeah, I read this off and on throughout the first 6 months of the year and then I got bored with it. I didn’t learn anything new. So I ordered myself 3 new books – Helen Leary’s North Carolina Research book, Val Greenwoods, The Researcher’s Guide, and something else, probably Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained (the big one) that would probably be more interesting. Add those to goals for 2012, especially since it sounded like the bookclub in Second Life was really good this year with “The Researcher’s Guide.

4) Get back to working with some cousins on James Godwin Sr and Jr (not necessarily father and son) of North Carolina, including putting all relevant documents online on the Wiki site

This was our best accomplishment. I worked with 5 other researchers on this project throughout the year. We pulled land grants, deeds, wills, and estate files from Sampson and Johnston Counties (North Carolina) and abstracted them. I created an online abstract form using Google Docs (thanks to Thomas MacEntee’s webinar on Google Forms), which saved the information into an online, shared spreadsheet. And then I created a Word Doc which pulled the information from the online spreadsheet into an abstract Word Doc (automatically) which we then were able to save to our Godwin wiki site. As it turns out the Sampson County (North Carolina) deeds are now online at the Sampson County Register of Deeds.  Whoo hooo     !!! That was a big help. So far we have over 100 deeds transcribed.

My colleagues on this project are all descendants of this line except for me and Lori – to me it is worth it to work with excellent researchers such as Lori, Sara, Tracy, Charlie and Ashley even if I am not related to this line because by finding records and Godwins who belong to their line, we are finding ones that do NOT belong to ours!

One of them started mapping land grants and deeds with a Deed-Mapper like software. We also incorporated Google Earth to see where the land would sit in modern day. We also managed to sort out who all of the progenitor’s (James Godwin who died in 1801, Sampson Co., NC and who married to Elizabeth Dawson?) children were. I thought this was a huge accomplishment. We challenged each other in all sorts of aspects. And it was a joy to work with them and I hope it continues. Oh yeah and we’ve incorporated DNA into the mix as well. That’s how we know that Lori and I are not related to their lines.

5) Continue evaluating some Family Finder DNA test results of some Godwin relatives.

It has proven to be quite a challenge to keep up with some of my Godwin Family Finder testers. I actually took the test myself in July, thinking I would have more time to “play” with it while I was on summer break from school. Boy was I in for a big surprise! I caught on pretty quick though and figured out how to work with it. Unfortunately I wasn’t very proactive with blogging about my experiences, so that will definitely be high on the priority list for 2012!  There were also a lot of challenges because ftDNA kept making changes to its site and things “stopped working.” Fortunately as a project administrator I was only helping 1 person with their results and she caught on pretty quickly with how to deal with her brother’s results; she also caught on to when things “stopped working.”

I’m going to leave my goals for 2012 for the next post. Oh and as a side note, did you know that when I write a post and set a goal in it, I tag that post with the label of “goal?” That way I can easily find all the goals that I posted and shared with you, my readers. You can see the label on the right side of the page under the “Other Misc Items” category. Speaking of, that reminds me, one of my goals for next year is definitely going to be to create a very cool family history / genealogy related blog header!!!

What about you?

Did you set some genealogy goals for yourself in 2011?
How did you do in working towards them?
What worked well for you in achieving them?
What didn’t work well for you?
Did you work with a genea-buddy?
Please feel free to write your own blog post and link back to it in a comment below or tell me about it in a comment below.
I look forward to hearing about your goals!

Photo - Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on (This is what the website told me to write. It is copyrighted, but the website says I can use it as long as I link back to their site). 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Rooted Technology (a Meme)

With the RootsTech2012 Conference quickly approaching, Jill Ball of Geniaus started the following meme “My Rooted Technology” to share all of the technology we currently use, would like to know more about, or have no use or interest in. She has invited her readers to share their thoughts. Here is my technological profile:

Here are the rules:
·         Technology you already use: bold face type
·         Technology you would like to use or learn more about: italicize (color optional)
·         Technology you don’t use, have no interest in using or no longer use: plain type
·         Explain or give opinions in brackets [  ] at the end of each bullet point.

Here are my answers:
1.       I have a tablet computer such as an iPad that I use for genealogy [I wouldn’t mind giving an iPad a spin for genealogy applications].
2.       I have downloaded one or more apps to a Smart Phone or similar device. [I downloaded them onto my first android phone, but not to the 2nd one as I was running close to going over my 2GB data plan limit.]
3.       I belong to a genealogy society that uses social media. [I am the one who brought my society to terms with social media.]
4.       I use GEDCOM files and understand the various compatibility issues involved. [These have especially come in handy with trying to find paper trail connections to my Family Finder DNA matches.]
5.       I have added metadata to some of my files and digital photos. [I would love to do more of this, but I fear it will disappear or not transfer.]
6.       I have utilized an API from a genealogy-related application or website.
7.       I have taken a DNA test related to my genealogy research. [Both of my Grandfathers have taken the Y-DNA test and I have taken the Family Finder DNA test and I just recently purchased kits for my parents.]
8.       I have used the FamilySearch Research Wiki.
9.       I have a Facebook account and use it regularly for genealogy.
10.   I use tech tools to help me cite my sources in genealogy research. [Probably not in the way you are referring, but I have my methods ;-)]
11.   I have developed a genealogy-related app for a Smart Phone or similar device.
12.   I use a genealogy database program. [Rootsmagic]
13.   I use cloud computer resources to store my genealogy data. [some of it is stored in the cloud – I try to keep my tree updated in and I use Dropbox a lot.]
14.   I have made one or more contributions to the FamilySearch Research Wiki.
15.   I have attended a genealogy webinar.
16.   I have organized and administered a DNA testing group related to my genealogy.
17.   I use apps involving GPS and Geo-caching for my genealogy research.
18.   I have a Google+ account and use it regularly for genealogy.
19.   I have created and published a family history e-book.
20.   I have created a wiki related to my genealogy research.
21.   I have conducted a genealogy webinar as a presenter.
22.   I read genealogy-related blogs to help improve my own research. [Yes, I love reading about new technologies and how people solve problems.]
23.   I have one or more genealogy-related blogs to help improve my own research. [I have 3.]
24.   I have a Twitter account and use it regularly for genealogy.
25.   I have one or more genealogy-related websites which I run and administer. [Sounds like too much work! – I know the wiki is enough for me!]
26.   I have created a screencast or video related to genealogy and posted it at a video sharing site (Vimeo, YouTube, etc.).
27.   I use one or more digital tools to capture and record my family history. [I have used the video feature on my camera. I do not use my phone because I don’t know how to get them out of my phone.]

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reverting back to Blogger Profile

Yesterday I wrote about the option to switch your Blogger Profile over to your Google+ Profile. I found the major disadvantage to this being that when I left a comment on someone else's blog, the comment linked back to my Google+ profile instead of linking directly back to my blog. This kind of defeats the purpose of blogging which is to attract readers. Actually the link from comments was going back to my blogger profile and from there you could click on the link to my blog. This still seems better than going out to Google+, then having to come back to blogger?

The seamless or automatic updating of my Google+ profile with my new blog post did work well. When I clicked the "Publish" button, I was prompted with a dialog box and asked for a description or comment of the blog I was about to post. And it showed me a preview of the blog post (text). What showed up on my Google+ profile was a brief snippet of my most recent post and the comment I had written in the dialog box prior to posting.

Dialog box prior to posting on profile

Previously, manually pasting a link to my most recent blog post would not include a brief snippet of the post, but rather a snippet of the blog itself and was always the same no matter what new post I had written. It always said "I was researching Godwin and related families, etc..." I could probably fix this problem on my own just by removing the text from the header of my blog. I just hadn't gotten around to it. This is what my posts used to look like when I manually posted the links to Google+:

Manually updated link to my blog post

This is what my automatic post looks like on Google+:

Automatically updated blog post

Even though the new automatic posting process includes the post snippet, no where does it say that it comes from my Genealogy By Ginger blog! In fact, this "link" looks just like any other link I've shared on my Google+ Profile. How will people reading my news feed know if this is a post *I* made or if it is one that I shared?

And what about scheduled posts? How do you think Google+ will handle those? I had this post scheduled for Tuesday morning at 9 am. We will see what happens.
**Update Tues 9:32 am: This scheduled post did NOT automatically update to Google+. It did, however, automatically update to Facebook!

1) When I leave comments on other blogs, readers are directed back to my Google+ page instead of my blog or blog profile, where they have to look for and find my blog address
2) Automatic posting of new blog posts is nice because it gives my most recent post snippet and allows me to write a comment; but it doesn't even say the name of my blog and makes it hard to discern between my blog post and other peoples' posts I've shared; Also, it does not automatically post scheduled posts.
3) I can alleviate the problem of manual posting not adding a snippet by removing text from my header
4) Last, but I'm sure not least, another reader told me that she didn't like that with the switch, the entire contents of the Google+ "Introduction" section of the "About" page were reproduced on her blog(s)' sidebar.

So what do you think? Is this really a choice or do you think we will all be forced to switch over to our Google+ profiles in the near future?

Oh and what if you want to revert back to your blogger profile? You do have 30 days to do so. Here's how you do it. Go to your Blogger dashboard (or whatever you call it). And click on the gear symbol below your name. There should be a link that says "Revert to Blogger Profile." See screenshot below (click on image to make it bigger).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blogger Profile Switch to Google+ Profile

Back in October, Blogger started allowing us to connect our blogger profile to our Google+ accounts (See the news here). This was supposed to offer a seamless approach to automatically post our new blog posts to our Google + profiles much like Networked Blogs does on Facebook.

Well today I finally took the plunge and converted my blogger profile over to my Google + profile. From what I've read, most people were excited to do this because now their photo will show up next to their blog page when it comes up from a Google search. Well that's not news to me, as my photo has been coming up with my blog all over the internet. Except it does get confused when I change my photo sometimes.

When I created a Google+ account, blogger got really confused because I posted a different photo than what was on my blogger profile. It started showing a black box with the outline of a triangle in the photo that was supposed to stand beside my name when I left comments on other people's blogs.

Speaking of leaving comments. The first thing I noticed is that now that my blog is connected to my Google + account, when I leave a comment on someone else's blog, it shows my photo and my name, however, now when people click on my name, they are taken to my Google+ profile. Prior to switching to Google+, doing so would take them directly to my blogger profile which had my blog link directly on it. I think I like the former way better. And to be honest, this is how I visit many of my readers' blogs - by clicking on their names when they leave comments on my page. I'm not really interested in their Google+ profiles, but I am interested in their blogs!

So I think I might like to switch back to my blogger profile. After all, it did say that I have 30 days to do so. The purpose of this post is to try out the automatic posting feature that Google+ is promoting. I would also like to see if it actually gives a description of my blog post rather than just repeating the text that is in the header of my blog every time. That was the complaint I had with manually posting the link to each new blog post to Google+. I didn't have that problem with Facebook.

So here goes!
What will YOU decide to do?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Looking for *Estates* in all the Right Places...

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how the North and South Carolina wills and probate record images have been scanned and placed online for users to browse on the website.

Today I was trying to find the probate record for Susan McCoy in Greenville County, SC (1847-1850) and grew increasingly frustrated when I realized that the index (if one existed) was not posted to the site. Without an index, I could not figure out what "apartment," "file," or "no." her probate records were filed in. I looked through a bunch of the images to see if I could determine if they were filed by date or by surname, but they were not. I simply needed an index.

On a whim, I went to the Greenville Co., SC USGenWeb site thinking they MUST have an index posted somewhere. Although I didn't find an index I did find a link to the Greenville County Governement Online - with a page dedicated to historical records and there I found an Index to Estate Papers, 1787-1976. I clicked on the "M" link for "McCoy" and it brought up the browsable image index for all the "Ms." This is what I found:

McCoy, David - Apartment No. 5, File No. 339, Year filed 1822, Robert Cox, Admr.
McCoy, Susan - Apartment No. 11, File No. 74, Year filed 1847, Robert Cox, Exor.

Here's what the scanned image looks like:

This is exactly what I was looking for!

Now I have TWO - actually THREE Options: 1) I can go back to and look for these probate records in the browsable images 2) I can stay on this site and look for these records or 3) I can do BOTH!

Option #1: 
Searching for Estate Records at

Now I can go back to the browsable images posted on the website:

South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964

Click on the link for Greenville, click the "Probate Court, Probate Records" link, the "1787-1868" date range.

A list of file numbers come up. Since I am looking for file no. 5, I click the link for "Files 04-06, Nos. 215-420."  (Although the link has been included here, I cannot guarantee it will continue to work longterm, so please follow my description of how I found the files.) 

This is the hard part. This set of images only contains file nos. 4, 5, and 6. I have to find file no. 5 in there somehow. I know no. 5 is in the middle somewhere. At the top, it says I am on image 1 of 730. So there are 730 images in this set. That means the middle is probably about image no. 375. I can type in 375 into the Image No. box and press enter to go directly to that image.  This gives me the estate record for Jesse Moody. Going back one page brings up the first page of his estate record which says it is file no. 338. So all I need to do is fast forward until the end and that should take me to David McCoy's file no. 339.

I only had to go 2 more pages to get to David McCoy's file. The first page was missing, however, so I might want to order the entire record from the South Carolina State Archives if I feel as if it is not complete.


Option #2: 
Stay on the Greenville County Government Site and Searching for Estate Records:

Click on the Estate Records link

Start going through images as above. This is system is much slower and the images are of poorer quality. 
HOWEVER, I retrieved only 9 images from the site and I retrieved 22 images from the Greenville County Government site!!! 

So my recommendation is... 

Option #3:
DO BOTH!!! - This just goes to show you that even in the realm of genealogy, things really are changing relatively quickly. Sometimes we have to check several places before we give up and then check them again because new things are being added all the time. 

A word of caution: **If** you do pull records from both, please make sure you cite them properly. If you found one loose piece of paper listing all of the children of the deceased off of one site, but that same piece of paper is NOT uploaded to the other site, then it is YOUR responsibility to note that. 

Now if you have ancestors from Greenville, South Carolina, be sure to check out the Greenville County, SC Government Online Historical Records page !!!