Sunday, September 16, 2012

SLC Research Trip

I wrote several weeks ago about a planned trip to Salt Lake City. This is my post-trip follow up...only a week late.

My cousin Linda and I drove to Salt Lake City from Seattle on September 3rd, dropping my husband off in Baker City, OR, to volunteer at the Sumpter Valley Railroad. We stayed at the Plaza hotel, right next door to the Family History Library. We had made a similar trip two years ago and stayed about 1.5 miles from the library; my cousin didn't care for that location. The Plaza had a $99/night special while we were there, so it wasn't a bad deal. No free breakfast and a room rather than a suite, but it worked out OK. And it was nice to be able to walk back to the hotel and put our feet up at lunchtime.

We basically had 4-1/2 days of research time at the Family History Library. Most days we were in the library from about 8:30 AM until 7:30-8:00 PM, with a half hour off for lunch. Both of us had prepared notes on specific items we wanted to find at the library, but mine were much less extensive than for previous visits.

Tuesday morning I dove right into my research on the QUIGG family. I searched Dauphin Co., PA books for marriages, births, deaths, and burials. Didn't find much. Went downstairs to the microfilm area and found the will I needed, then continued to search the probate, orphan court, and deed records for more information. I was quite pleased to find records proving that "John Quigg" who died in 1824 was, in fact, the person we had listed as "Patrick Quigg," husband of Elizabeth Dasher and father of John Wesley Quigg, who settled in Hickory County, MO. Nice to have success the first day at the library.

Unfortunately, when I went to check out a Quigg family history book on the first floor, I was met with empty shelves. Most of the family histories toward the end of the alphabet (Q-Z, but there are a few R books remaining) were removed from the shelves for scanning several months ago. However, since the scanning program is currently on hold, the books have not been returned in a timely manner. In fact, it's not clear if they ever will be returned. And nobody at the library seemed to know when they might be available in either paper or digital form. Very frustrating. Surely FamilySearch could let people know that these important resources aren't available, don't you think?

On Wednesday I worked on my BROOKSHIRE line, proving that my William Brookshire's wife was, in fact, Sarah VARNELL, from deeds related to her father's estate in Sevier Co., TN. Unfortunately, I still can't find any definitive records linking William to his father (supposedly Joseph, "a gentleman from Virginia") or earlier generations.

On Thursday I decided to work up an example for my presentation on Elizabeth Shown Mills' FAN Principle next month. I thought I could track Henry Collins' wifes' family, Levi FEASTER and Margaret REED, and find Henry's parents. No such luck. I spent 11+ hours and ended up with nothing. Aargh. Not a good day. That was also the day that my cousin's laptop died. Not a good day at all, though I was able to get her laptop working again late that night.

Friday and Saturday are a blur. I've got pages of notes and scanned pages to review and make sense out of. Unfortunately, I've got too many other commitments to spend time on them.

We split the return trip up, driving as far as Baker City on Saturday afternoon/evening (arrived at the motel at about 8:30 PM) and then to Seattle on Sunday. Made for a much more relaxing trip. We even took time to stop at a quilt shop in Kimberly, ID, and had a wonderful breakfast at the Geyser Grand in Baker City on Sunday morning.

Other than the frustration of not having access to many of the family histories, it was a good trip. It was also a bit less expensive than in past years, since I scanned virtually everything to my thumb drive. I only printed about 5 pages in 5 days---that's gotta be a record! The only reason I printed those pages was so that I could scribble notes on them. Love those scanners!

I figured out that I looked at 40 or more roles of microfilm and at least as many books, not to mention using the FHL computer databases and CDs. Ordering 40 rolls of microfilm to use at my local Family History Center would cost me $300 at current prices and would take months to work through. Making a pilgrimage to Salt Lake City was definitely worth it.

There was one other frustration. I had hoped to speak with FamilySearch staff involved in record scanning to help with specifications for the Seattle Genealogical Society's scanning project. However, I got a total run-around, shifted from one office to another. Unfortunately, the volunteer staff at the FHL don't even know what offices are there, let alone which ones are located outside of the library.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9-11

Eleven years ago today, my husband and I were about halfway through our first genealogy road trip. We had driven to Montana to search for my great-great-grandfather's 1910 homestead near Galata, between Shelby and Havre. September 10th we had walked over the land, explored the boarded up schoolhouse nearby, and learned that his stepson had homesteaded just across the road. Eureka! Another family to research and follow.
September 10th we stayed overnight in Great Falls, MT and awoke to a nightmare. I flipped on the TV to the TODAY show while my husband was in the shower and sat there, transfixed and horrified, as I witnessed vicariously the nightmare of 911.
We watched the horror unfold through breakfast at the motel, then headed to Fort Benton to follow the path of the step-family. When I entered the County Recorder's office in the courthouse, the staff was watching a small television. I stood and watched as the nightmare kept unfolding. News of the downed plane in Shanksville, PA was frightening, as I knew my boss was flying through Pittsburgh to DC that morning. I stood and watched until learning that the plane hadn't originated in Pittsburgh, then proceeded to dig through the records. The staff was more than happy to let me loose in their vault while they continued to watch the news coverage.
That entire day we kept veering off our planned itinerary to try to keep up with the news. We ended up cutting our trip short and heading home to Seattle early. It's lucky we did, as both our kids were near panic stage, wondering where we were. They knew we were traveling, but had forgotten where and how we were getting there. It was definitely time for a cellphone!
We now drive through Montana almost every year on our way to/from visiting our daughter in Minneapolis and are reminded of that trip 11 years ago. It's one we'll never forget.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preparing for a trip to SLC

I'm heading to Salt Lake City for 4.5 days of uninterrupted research time.
Unfortunately, I haven't had any time to plan for this trip and we're leaving in one week. Yikes!
My normal SLC preparation requires weeks of deciding which specific questions I want to research and then poring over the Family History Library catalog for appropriate resources to answer those questions.
I create one large Word file that contains a numbered list (ranked by priority) of specific research questions, each question followed by resources cut and pasted from the FHL catalog. The catalog entries appear in blue in my Word document; entries for books that have not been microfilmed I change to red, since the ONLY place where I can access them is the FHL and I want to make sure I check them out.
Actually, I do know that my major goal for this trip will be to collect information and documents for a talk I'm giving in mid-October on the FAN [friends/family, acquaintances, neighbors] approach to family history research. I need some good, solid examples to use in this talk.
So, for the next week I'll be madly working through my family files searching for appropriate ancestors to use as examples and pulling up census records. Somehow I almost always end up focusing on dear old Robert Henry Collins, my most frustrating ancestor. I collected quite a lot of information on many of his shirt-tail relatives in Idaho back in June (through the 40+ newspaper articles I obtained), but I still need vital records, deeds, wills, etc. I'm hoping old R H Collins will show up in some of their records.
Wish me luck!

Friday, August 3, 2012


I have to admit that I absolutely LOVE courthouses. On our recent trip home from Minnesota, we detoured to Davenport, WA to check out the Lincoln County Courthouse. Isn't it gorgeous?
I don't have any known relatives in this area, so didn't go inside to check out their records as I often do. But I do also love the insides of courthouses. In my experience, the older the building, the more likely the staff is to let you go into the vault and browse their old record books--a favority pasttime.
Davenport, WA

Monday, July 16, 2012

Comparing 1940 Census Transcriptions

So...dear Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings posted a comparison of some California record transcriptions on his blog this morning (see and its sequel).

Using his methodology, I ran a comparison of QUIGG listings in the state of Washington as indexed by Ancestry and FamilySearch. Ancestry brought up 28 listings when I requested an exact match on "Quigg" and "Washington State." Unfortunately, two of those listings were for people residing in Los Angeles, CA. FamilySearch came up with 28 results also, but they weren't the same ones.

Comparing just Name, birth year and birth place, 17 of the listings were identical.
Ancestry included one family (3 people)--correctly--that FamilySearch did not. I don't know how FamilySearch indexed the surname.
FamilySearch included 2 households (4 people)--correctly--that Ancestry did not. Ancestry indexed the household of 3 people as "Tuigg" and the other individual as "Luigg."
The other 7 differences were as follows:
     Perry Quigg's birthplace listed by Ancestry as "Wisconsin" instead of "Missouri"; FS correct
     James T Quigg listed as "Junior" by Ancestry; "Jr" doesn't show in FS index, but does when you pull up the full transcription.
     Birthplaces for James T Quigg's 3 siblings not given at Ancestry; listed as "Washington" by FS [enumerator entered a long dash; Washington is correct]
     Thomas Quigg's birth year given as 1899 on Ancestry; FS reports as 1896; FS correct.
     Alexina Quigg's birthplace given as "Canada French" on Ancestry; FS reports as "Canada"; Ancestry is correct.

So.....where does that leave us? Each vendor "missed" some Quiggs: Ancestry missed 4 Quigg individuals and FamilySearch missed 3.....that we know of. There certainly could be more that both missed. All but one of the content mis-matches favored FamilySearch's index; the one that didn't was because FamilySearch only indexed the country, not the language spoken. Based on this comparison, FamilySearch's index appears to be more accurate than Ancestry's.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Randy Seaver, of Genea-Musings, set a challenge this week of generating a genealogy news article using The Newspaper Clipping Generator.
I've chosen to create an article that I dearly wish had appeared in a Hickory County, MO, newspaper so I would know who my great-great-grandfather, Robert Collins, dumped his kids (and step-son) on after his wife died in 1882.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Genea-Bucket List

A new first tonight--responding to Randy Seaver's "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" challenge as detailed on his Genea-Musings blog at

What's on my genealogy bucket list?
1. Connect my 3g grandfather, Henry W. COLLINS (1802-1852), to his parents & siblings.
2. Connect my 4g grandfather, Joseph BROOKSHIRE (1764-?) to his parents & siblings.
3. Organize my notes and photos so that they can be easily accessed by my and by others.
4. Publish my genealogy findings in a way that will interest my kids and cousins.
5. Take a leisurely research trip to central and eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia, and southwestern Virginia (NOT during the summer!).
6. Take a trip to Sweden and Finland to visit places both my early ancestors (1600s) and my husband's more recent ancestors (grandparents) lived.
7. Make a presentation at a national or large regional (SCGS Jamboree). So far, my proposals have been totally ignored.

Hmm, that's definitely more than Randy's "3 or more" requirement!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Robert H Collins in Idaho & Oregon

I've been reviewing my notes about dear ol' great-great-grandfather Robert Henry Collins (see previous post) and refining my timeline of his life. I don't have a clue where he was between April 1882 and April 1892, but he wrote back to the local newspaper in Hickory County about once a year from 1902 until about 1914. He moved around a LOT during that period of time, to wit:
12/17/1903     Weiser, Washington Co., Idaho
1/24/1905       Doniphan, Blaine Co., Idaho
1/25/1906       Wood River, Blaine Co., Idaho
9/27/1906       Moscow, Latah Co., Idaho
2/21/1907       Nyssa, Malheur Co., Oregon
1/1/1909         Hailey, Blaine Co., Idaho
1/28/1909 -- 5/?/1909   Hickory Co., Missouri
10/1/1901 -- 1/1/1914   Galata, Toole Co., Montana
11/26/1914      Hailey, Blaine Co., Idaho
11/30/1917      Camas Co., Idaho
3/27/1919 -- 4/6/1924   in or near Weaubleau, Hickory Co., Missouri

I know that his favorite uncle, Jacob BARTSHE (his mother's brother) moved with many family members to Hailey, Blaine Co., Idaho in 1890. In reviewing my BARTSHE records, I see that a number of Susannah Bartshe COLLINS' siblings migrated to the Northwest, including the following:
George Bartshe    died Nov 1916 in Moscow, Latah Co., ID
Jacob Bartshe      died Jan 1918 in Moscow, Latah Co., ID
James Bartshe     died Oct 1919 in Caldwell, Canyon Co., ID
Salma Sarah Bartshe BROOKS     died Sep 1897 in Camas Prairie, Blaine Co., ID
Rebecca Bartshe COOK     died Mar 1931 in Hailey, Blaine Co., ID

In addition, there were many other assorted relatives living in Idaho, including William Early HEARD, whose mother was a sister of R H's first wife's first husband, lived in Hailey and Moscow, Idaho, and married one of Jacob Bartshe's granddaughters. I've found letters between my great-grandmother, Nancy Collins, and William Heard's mother, with Nannie calling her "Aunt Mary", so they were presumably pretty close.

Lots of potential connections! Hopefully I'll find information in the local papers about R H Collins visiting his relatives while looking for work.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tracking Down Robert Henry Collins

I have been researching my great-great grandfather, Robert Henry Collins, for many, many years, but still can't complete a timeline for him. His father died when he was about 4 years old and his mother was left with Robert plus 6 older children. She then married twice more (outliving all her husbands), each time to men with children. And she had 9 children with her second husband (who brought 9 children to their marriage after his first wife died). The families moved around quite a lot during Robert's childhood, living in Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri (at least).
Robert was born in August 1849 in Benton Co., MO. Census records I have for him are as follows:
1850: Alexander township, Benton Co., MO (with parents)
1860: Sulphur Springs township, Benton Co., AR (with mother & stepfather)
1870: NOT FOUND; not living with mother
1880: Montgomery township, Hickory Co., MO (with wife & children)
1900: Joplin, Jasper Co., MO (with 2nd wife & her kids)
1920: Collins, St. Clair Co., MO (living alone)
I've spent years reading the local Hickory Co. newpapers trying to track this guy down. His notes that accompanied his subscription payments were often published, indicating that he spent considerably time in Idaho, Oregon and Montana (homesteaded 1910-1914).
Family stories say that after his first wife died in April 1882, Robert dumped his three surviving children and a stepson on various "kin" in Hickory Co., MO, and took off. He resurfaces in Hickory Co. in 1892 when he signs an affidavit for his stepdaughter's pension file, then disappears again. He returns in 1896 and marries a widow with 4 children, with whom he lives until 1902 in Hickory and Jasper counties, Missouri. Starting in 1903 there are intermittent newspaper reports that Robert Collins was living in Weiser, Doniphan, Wood River, Moscow and Hailey, Idaho; Nyssa, Oregon; back in Hickory Co. (1909), and then homesteading near Galata, Toole Co., Montana (1910-1914). He returned to Hailey, ID in 1914 and was living in Camas Co., ID in 1917. By March 1919 he was back in Hickory Co., MO and apparently stayed near his eldest daughter (who lived in Weaubleau, MO; my great-grandmother) until his death in 1924.
I will be heading to Boise, ID in a couple of weeks for a couple of days and am hoping to find mentions of R H Collins in newspapers for the various localities. Hope springs eternal!