Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Negative search vs. negative evidence

Last Friday I told you how important it is to record your Negative Searches but what is the different between a negative search and negative evidence? Here is an example:

You are tracking John Doe like a bloodhound and this is what you find.

John Doe appears on the 1830 census in Jones County
John Doe appears on the 1840 census in Smith County (but not in Jones County)

John Doe appears on the 1846 tax list in Jones County
John Doe appears on the 1850 census in Jones County

So is not finding John in Jones County in 1840 a negative search or negative evidence?  It depends.

If you are trying to make the case that the man in Smith County is in fact your John (you would certainly need additional evidence to support this) then the fact that John does not appear on the 1840 Jones County census would be negative evidence supporting your case. Your hypothesis might be that John moved to Smith County for a five year period but then moved back to Jones County.  However, if you think that these two are different Johns and you have no reason whatsoever to believe that your John might have been living in another county in 1840 then this is a negative search, not negative evidence.

In this case the difference is this….

Negative search – Your John should have been living in Jones County and there is no evidence at all to support that he had moved away. The John in Smith County is a different man.  John isn’t on the Jones County census because he was overlooked by the census taker, the census taker accidentally forgot to include John when he recopied the census, or a census page(s) is missing.

Negative evidence – The fact that there were no John Doe enumerated in Jones County in 1840 makes your case stronger that the John that was enumerated in Smith County is the John you am looking for. Again, this one piece of evidence would not be enough to put together a proof argument that this was the same man but not finding John in Jones County is evidence you need.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, April 27, 2015

Well duh!

Marian Pierre-Louis and I work together at Legacy. She just wrote a GREAT article for our Legacy News blog.  When I read it I was a bit embarrassed because I had never thought to create a form to take with me to a repository.  Her article, Navigate Local Town Hall Research, focuses on town records (it’s a New England thing) but you can easily adapt this to any other repository.  I live four miles from the Columbia County courthouse and I see great potential here.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, April 24, 2015

Negative search

Here is a great reason why you want to document your negative searches.   Images of the record set Mississippi, Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957 are on FamilySearch but the records are not indexed.  I just visually scanned every name on 370 images one by one for Marion County 1892. Believe it or not, that is actually a small image set.   I don’t want to do that again.  I ALWAYS document any negative search so that I don’t accidentally redo what I have already done.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


There are three people in my file that are supposedly named “Angerone” but so far I can’t find this exact spelling for any of them.

It starts with Silas Simmons and his wife Janet who had a daughter named “Mary Jane Angerone Simmons”  (abt 1820-aft. 1870). This name was documented in a family history written in the 1950s (no source).  Family Lore is that Silas Simmons had a Bible that named all of his children but no one that I have spoken to in the past 22 years has every seen this Bible nor have they actually spoken to anyone that has seen this Bible. They only “heard” about it. A lot of people have this complete name in their file but no evidence to support it.  All I can prove is that her name was Mary and she was my 2nd great-grandaunt.  Here are the records I have.

1830 census no name, listed as a white female age 5 to 9
1840 census no name, listed as a white female age 20 to 29
1850 census Mary Simmons
1860 census Mary Simmons
1870 census Mary Simmons

In 1870 Mary was 50, unmarried, and living with one of her brothers. I can’t find her in the 1880 census.  It is more likely that she had died and not married.  I haven’t been able to find a grave marker for her though I am guessing she is buried in the Simmons Family Cemetery in Baylis, Marion County, Mississippi since she was last known to be living with her brother John and that is where he and his family are buried.  With the available data it is a pretty big leap of faith to say that her full name was Mary Jane Angerone Simmons.

Mary had a sister named Nancy who married John Gillespie.  They had a daughter named Angerone Alice Gillespie (1848-1922).  Though I don’t have her name as “Angerone” I am certainly a lot closer than I was with Mary.  Nancy could have easily named her daughter after her sister so it is still possible.

1850 census Angerona Guluspie
1860 census Angeroney Galaspie
1870 census Angie Gillespie
1880 census A. A. Helpman
1900 census Angie A. Helpman
1908 Civil War pension index
waiting for actual file to arrive
Angee Helpman
1910 census Angie Helpman
1915 son Irvin’s death certificate A. A. Gillespie
1920 census unable to locate
1922 death certificate Angie Alice Helpman
1922 grave marker Angie Alice Helpman
Angie’s husband and the rest of her children died before death certificates were required so I can’t look for her name there other than one daughter that I haven’t been able to track past 1900.  I am still working on her.
Mary and Nancy had a great niece name “Angerone” Simmons (1884-1960).  This is through their brother James and then his son William.  At least I get something close.
1900 census Anjaronie Simmons
1910 census Angie Nichols
1920 census Angie Nichols
22 Mar 1928 in the Hattiesburg American Angie Nichols
18 Apr 1929 in the Hattiesburg American Angie Nichols
1930 census Angie Nichols
24 May 1930 in the Hattiesburg American Angie Nichols
1940 census Angie Nichols
07 Jul 1948 in the Hattiesburg American Angie Nichols
22 Jul 1959 in the Hattiesburg American Angie Nichols
1960 death certificate Angie Simmons Nichols
1960 obituary Angie Simmons Nichols
1960 grave marker Angie S. Nichols

This Angie only had one child.  I can’t get his death certificate because it is too recent and I am not a direct descendant of his.  His obit doesn’t mention Angie. I have requested a copy of Angie’s delayed birth certificate (I am hoping she has one) from the Mississippi State Department of Health.

So why is this so important to me?  It just is.  I feel as though a person’s name identifies them and I want to get it right.  I know of course that sometimes this isn’t possible but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.

The closest I have to Angerone is Angerona, Angeroney and Anjaronie.  So is Angerone even a valid first name?  When I do an exact name document search (not trees) on and FamilySearch I do get quite a few hits for women named Angerone (along with some variations).

Angerona was the name of a Roman goddess.  I doubt if a family living in rural Mississippi in the 19th century would have named a child directly after a Roman goddess but the name was out there.  Maybe they heard it and liked it, who knows.  There is also a couple of species of butterfly that have Angerona in their name (most likely named after the goddess). 

I will probably never prove Mary’s name but I might have some luck with the two Angies. At this point I am leaning toward Angerona since the second woman in the list had this as a variation.  So do any of you have an Angerona\Angerone in your family tree or any information about this unusual name?

*All sources available upon request.  I was too lazy to type them all.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, April 20, 2015

The blog is back!

I took an entire month off.  I wasn’t planning on taking that much time but it just sort of worked out that way. So what have I been doing?  Well, I work for Legacy full time so that does keep me pretty busy.  I am also in the middle of mentoring GenProof Study Group 40 which is going very well.  I finished Warren Bittner’s Reading German I course and I am in the middle of Reading German II though the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research and I am also taking German: Emigration Records though the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  I am trying to fill in some holes in my German education. 

I am still trying to finish going though my documents and getting everything scanned.  New documents keep coming in and sometimes I feel like I will never get it all done.  I have two more plastic containers to get through.  I took everything out of my binders  and put them in plastic boxes.  After I scan a document, double check what I have entered in my genealogy file, and link the document in Legacy, I put the document back in the correct binder.  I am at about 80% complete which is pretty good.  So far I have been at it for close to a year and a half.  I have been collecting documents for over 20 years so I have a lot.

I am looking forward to finally having a real office.  My daughter Kelly got married a few weeks ago and she will be moving out on May 9th to join her husband in Alabama.  I will be taking over her bedroom.  People post pictures of their offices in the Organized Genealogist Facebook group and I have been getting from inspiration from them.  In 20+ years I have never had an office.  That’s what happens when you have five children.

I took on a client case.  I haven’t done any client research in a while because I just stay so busy with everything else but this one was very intriguing and I couldn’t help myself.  This is a pretty straightforward case so I am hoping to wrap it up in a timely manner.  I am trying to prove or disprove some family lore which is one of my favorite things to do.

Other than that, not much.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis