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.