Friday, March 31, 2017

Ignatius Grantham again

I told you a little bit about Ignatius Grantham in "Hide and seek with records from burned counties." Since Ignatius was a cad I of course want to know more about him. On 08 January 1820 he claimed 401.72 acres in Jackson County, Mississippi. The Pascagoula River runs right through the middle so this was prime real estate. Ignatius didn’t hang on to it though.  He assigned it to John Williams on 18 February 1820 and then Williams turned around and assigned it to Robert Carr Lane on 20 February 1820. Here the original survey:

ss2Screenshot taken from the Bureau of Land Management’s online Plat Image files
Section 2, Township 4S, Range 7W, St. Stephens

I received the land entry file today and it is 47 pages long.1 Over the years this piece of land had some title issues. Apparently after it was assigned the patent was never filed so it looked like Ignatius still owned it.  What was interesting was a “motion for decree pro confesso” filed 11 Aug 1902 in the case of R. Roberts vs. Ignatius Grantham et als. [sic]. I had to look that up (thank you Black’s Law Dictionary). It means the defendant (Ignatius Grantham) had not answered the complaint so the court treated it as though he confessed to the charges. In that motion it states,

“That said Ignatus [sic] Grantham cannot be found in the State of Mississippi after diligent inquiry and complainant does not know and cannot ascertain or diligent inquiry of Ignatus Grantham is alive or dead, and if he left any heirs.”

This is kind of funny because in 1902 Ignatius would have been about 113 years old. I guess it was a legal thing that they had to do and they did mention possible heirs. 

This little tidbit was in the file too.  Talk about a seriously burned county! I knew about the fire in 1875 but I didn’t know it had burned two times prior to that.


The moral of the story is, if you find a patent or warrant on the Bureau of Land Management’s website you need to order the land entry file to get the “rest of the story.”
I will tell you that it is A LOT cheaper and faster if you have someone pull the records for you at the National Archives than it is to order the records from NARA.

1 Survey of 23 October 1827, Ignatius Grantham claim, Mississippi no, 135; Private Land Claim Files, 1789-1908; Record Group 49; Records of the Bureau of Land Management; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ancestry’s “Genetic Communities”

For those of you that have tested your DNA through Ancestry, most are seeing Ancestry’s new Genetic Communities.  It is still in beta so there are a few of you that can’t see this yet. It popped up on my screen the day before yesterday.  HERE is a definition of what Genetic Communities are.

The Genetic Communities are only picking up my dad’s side of the family which is perfectly understandable.  My mother is a first generation immigrant. All of her family lines are from Germany/Poland/Alsace (Prussia) and are still there. Very few people there have tested.

What I see on my screen is VERY accurate for my dad’s side. I was able to do a close-up because 100% of his dots are right here.



What was most interesting to me is the migration patterns for both communities, again, they are spot on. Here is the migration pattern for the Early Settlers of Mississippi & Louisiana. Most of my known lines follow the migration from NC to SC, AL, GA and MS.


Here is the migration pattern for the Early Settlers of the Deep South.  Notice that the point of origin is Virginia. Right now Simmons yDNA through FTDNA is leading us to Virginia for the common ancestor with migration patterns to SC, GA, TN and MS.



Here are the two big picture migrations.  The first is from the Early Settlers of Mississippi & Louisiana and the second is from the Early Settlers of the Deep South (you can tell which is which by the colors and you can match them to the above screenshots).



I am waiting for my LivingDNA results which I am hoping will pinpoint the UK connections better.

The screenshots I have shown you are only a small number of what I could have taken. The migrations are broken up by time period and I only snapped one time period.

Did I learn anything new? Not really but this did strengthen a lot of my theories. I am looking forward to Blaine Bettinger’s webinar on Genetic Communities today at 2:00 pm ET. I am hoping Blaine will show me some other things I can do with this data.

Exploring AncestryDNA’s New Genetic Communities

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Newspapers are a funny thing (spinoff two)

On Monday I posted about a 1825 divorce case.  You can read the post HERE. You can also read Spinoff one HERE. One of the sources I used was:

"Burning of the Scranton Court House," New Orleans Times, 02 March 1875, p. 4, col. 4; digital images, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 24 March 2017).

This story is about a Mississippi event but I cited a Louisiana newspaper.  Why?  GenealogyBank is my favorite newspaper site because I like their interface best. I searched GenealogyBank and found the article in the New Orleans Times but no articles from a Mississippi newspaper.  This is not surprising because GenealogyBank (nor any other online newspaper provider) has all of the newspapers that were in publication. I could have searched the other online providers to see if I could find something in Mississippi but would that have made the story more accurate?  Probably not. Just for fun I just now searched Google news, Chronicling America, Newspaper Archive (through the Boyd County Library), and Ancestry.  I didn’t find anything better than what I already had.

To give my New Orleans story a little more credibility, at the end of the article there is this notation:

—Scranton (Miss.) Star.

They got their story from the local paper (which is not online).


For those that have DNA tested with Ancestry, most of you are now seeing your “Genetic Communities.”  I am going to post my results tomorrow as well as my opinion of what I am seeing but I wanted to let you know that Blaine Bettinger is doing a Legacy Family Tree Webinar TOMORROW, Thursday at 2:00 pm ET on Exploring AncestryDNA’s New Genetic Communities. If you want to watch it live, I suggest you register early and sign in early because this one will be packed. It is free to watch live and for 7 days after it is archived.  After that you will need to be a Legacy Family Tree Webinar Subscriber.

I found an interesting Ancestry database this morning, “NARA Collections on” You can type in a NARA microfilm series number or the NARA collection title and Ancestry will see if they have the microfilm as an index, database, or database with images. Many times the Ancestry title doesn’t match the NARA title so you might not readily see that they have the title in their collection.  I have the book Guide to the Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States (3rd edition) which has all of the NARA numbers in it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

When “late” doesn’t mean dead (spinoff one)

Yesterday I posted about a 1825 divorce case.  You can read the post HERE.  There is some wording in the divorce that is interesting and it could trip someone up.

“To the Sheriff of Jackson County Greeting: We command you, that of the goods and chattels, Lands and Tenements of Wm C. Seaman for Catherine Grantham late of your county…” [emphasis mine]

late of your county sounds like Catherine is dead, especially since someone else, William Seaman, is acting on her behalf. In this case “late of your county” simply means that she used to live in Jackson County, Mississippi where the order was being served. Catherine was now living in Marion County where the divorce was filed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Hide and seek with records from burned counties

If you need to find a marriage record in Jackson County, Mississippi dated 11 January 1832, where do you look?  You look in the Wayne County, Georgia probate records of course!   

Catherine Sheffield married her first husband Ignatius Grantham in Wayne County, Georgia on 09 October 1810.1 Ignatius was a bit of a scoundrel so Catherine filed for divorce in 1825 in the Marion County, Mississippi Chancery Court.3 They had been living apart for some time because Ignatius is enumerated by himself in 1820.2 Of interest is that Catherine’s soon to be second husband William Seaman was listed as her “next friend” in the court papers and acted as her representative.

Back in Wayne County, Georgia, Catherine’s father West Sheffield died leaving behind an informative estate file. Catherine’s now second husband William was getting some serious payouts from the estate and not only is there an affidavit from Catherine Seaman attesting that she is in fact the daughter of West Sheffield there is a marriage record from Jackson County, Mississippi copied into the Wayne County, Georgia book proving that William is Catherine’s husband.4

William C. Seaman had married Catherine (Sheffield) Grantham on 11 January 1832 in Jackson County, Mississippi but the Jackson County courthouse in Scranton [now part of Pascagoula] burned in 1875. The papers that were in the safe (deeds and money) were spared but the marriage records were not.5 If William and Catherine’s marriage record had not been copied into West Sheffield’s estate papers to there would have been no record of it.

I still need to find out why Catherine moved to Marion County and filed for divorce there. She ended up going back to Jackson County to marry William. I also don’t know where Catherine was in 1820 when Ignatius was enumerated alone. 

Here is another example of finding a record from a burned county:

On 08 November 1851, Silas Simmons applied for bounty land based on his service in the War of 1812.6   In the bounty land file there were Perry County court documents dated 03 March 1855 and 31 January 1856.  Silas had to appear in court to prove that he was in fact the same Silas Simmons that fought in the 10&20 Consolidated Louisiana Militia before he could be awarded his land. So what is so special about that?  The Perry County Courthouse burned on 14 November 1877 with a complete records loss.7  The 1855 and 1856 court documents shouldn’t even exist. If I had merely looked at the information on the Bureau of Land Management website and not ordered the actual bounty land file I would have never discovered this.

1 Wayne County, Georgia, Marriage Book 1809-1869: 8, Grantham-Sheffield, 1810; Probate Court, Jesup.

2 1820 U.S. census, Jackson County, Mississippi population schedule, p. 45 (penned), line 15, Ignatius Grantham; digital images, ( : accessed 25 March 2017); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M33, roll 58. 

3 Mississippi High Court of Errors and Appeals, Drawer no. 65, Case no. 15, Catherine Grantham vs. Ignatius Grantham, 21 February 1825; Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson. The case was originally filed in Marion County.

4 "Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 March 2017), West Sheffield estate, 1831-1833, Wayne County Court of Ordinary, Wills & Estates Records 1824-1855, p. 199-205.

5 "Burning of the Scranton Court House," New Orleans Times, 02 March 1875, p. 4, col. 4; digital images, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 24 March 2017). 

6 Silas Simmons (Pvt. 10&20 Consolidated Louisiana Militia, War of 1812), bounty land warrant file 64098 (Act of 1855, 40 acres); Military Bounty Land Warrants and Related Papers; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

7 Martha F. Clark, Perry County, Mississippi Circuit Court Clerk to Michele Simmons Lewis, e-mail, 10 Jan 2012, “Courthouse Records,” Lewis Research Files; privately held by Lewis, Harlem, Georgia, 2012.


The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) has updated their Code of Ethics. I encourage ALL genealogists to use the code of ethics as a guideline for their own conduct while doing research.  You can also read the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Code of Ethics and the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Guidelines for Sharing Information with Others.

If you are not following Randy Seaver’s series on the “We’re Related” app by Ancestry on his Genea-Musings blog you are missing out. Every week Randy goes through his new matches and determines how likely the relationship is. I am having a lot of fun reading these. I am working on a little project of my own using the We’re Related app which you will read about later.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The joys of volunteering and pro bono work

Genealogists are a pretty generous lot and most do quite a bit of volunteer and pro bono work, even the professionals. I think it is important for genealogists to get involved in projects that benefit the community as a whole. Here are some ideas.

So what volunteer/pro bono endeavors are you involved in?


Here is an interesting blog post from The Ancestry Insider about some upcoming changes to the Find a Grave website.  You can read the blog post HERE. I think this will be a good thing.

I just can’t turn my brain off from genealogy mode. As soon as I saw that the general manager for Find a Grave is a man named Peter Drinkwater all I could think about was whether or not he could possibly be related to the Drinkwaters of Robeson County, North Carolina in the late 1700s. Sigh…

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Yesterday I asked a fellow genealogist for permission to download a form he created and tweak it for my own use. He was fine with it. There are a lot of things I ask permission for. The most common is permission to use a photograph. I have told you before that I always ask permission to download and use photos from Find a Grave.  I ask for blanket permission explaining that though I am downloading the photo for my personal file I am also a writer (blogs, newspapers, periodicals/journals) and that I might want to use the photograph sometime in the future. I assure them that full credit will be given to them as the photographer.

Not too long ago I had to ask permission to use photographs from both the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Alabama Department of Archives and History. These photos are in their online collections but that doesn’t mean you can use them without permission.  Both agencies had me fill out a pretty comprehensive form to include exactly what I would be using the photo for. I wonder how many people just download the photos without asking. After seeing these forms it is very clear that these agencies are serious about this. 

For my own protection I keep copies of the emails/snail mail letters I have received granting me permission to use something. I looked and I have permission letters dating back to 1991.


  • The Book List has been updated
  • I am not longer formatting the blog using justified alignment because the text doesn’t look good on mobile devices. I like justified text because I am a former newspaper columnist. It looks good on the internet but since many people read the blog on their phones I changed over to left justified
  • Since today’s post was about permissions, make sure you watch “Picture This: Images You Can Freely Use” by Judy G. Russell, CG. This webinar will be free to watch through 29 March 2017. After that it will archived for Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers only
  • National Geographic now has free printable topography maps that you can download as PDFs

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Going forward

The BCG certification process curtailed my blog posting over the last year but now I am back in the swing of things. I am doing some much needed maintenance and updates to the blog and I am also going to start posting again on a regular basis.  If there is a particular topic you would like me to address just send me an E-Mail.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

So you want to pursue certification

You can read the background for this post HERE.  I wanted to give you a little bit of advice based on a failed portfolio and a successful portfolio.

  • Read The BCG Application Guide
    This is easier than it sounds. You need to understand exactly what they are asking you to do for each component. If you don’t follow the directions you will get seriously dinged, possibly to the point of instant failure.
  • Compare each section of your portfolio to the BCG Rubrics
    The Judges use the BCG rubrics to evaluate your portfolio so you need to make sure your portfolio passes each rubric before you submit it.  You are lucky to have the rubrics up front.

  • Pay attention to the Standards listed in each Rubric
    The BCG has listed each standard that applies to that rubric which you can look up in the
    Genealogy Standards manual.  This book is essential. When you look up the standard you will see expanded information. You should be familiar with ALL of the standards in this book but pay special attention to the ones listed in the rubrics.

  • Take advantage of the helps the BCG offers
    Visit their Skillbuilding page as well as the Sample Work Products page to see samples of the different components of the portfolio and helpful articles from OnBoard, their educational newsletter. All applicants are subscribed to OnBoard when they submit their initial application. I would also follow the BCG’s Springboard News and Notes blog to keep up to date with the latest news.
    They have a page with their recommendations for Educational Preparation which you should review.  

    The BCG now contracts with Legacy Family Tree Webinars to host the BCG Webinars Series. You can register for these ahead of time and they are free to watch live and for 7 days after they have been archived. After that you will need a webinar subscription to view them. A benefit of having a webinar subscription is that you can go back and watch any of the webinars whenever you want and you will have access to the syllabuses.

  • Enroll in a ProGen Study Group
    The study group is 19 months long and it is based on the book, Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CGSM. I think this is the best prep for the portfolio because each component of the portfolio is addressed (and more). I signed up right after my failed portfolio. I was in ProGen 18 with Laurel Baty, CGSM as my coordinator and Beverly Rice (former CG) as my mentor. The members of my group still stay in touch via a secret Facebook group.

  • Read peer reviewed journals
    The National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), The New England Historic Genealogical Society Register (The Register), and
    The American Genealogist (TAG) are at the top of the list. I also recommend that you join one of the NGSQ Study Groups. Each month you evaluate an article against the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). Being able to apply the GPS to the work of others will help you apply it to yourself. I have been in a couple of different groups because my work schedule changed. I am now in Study Group A which meets on Google+ for an asynchronous chat with Leslie Karr moderating.

  • Read Mastering Genealogical Proof by Dr. Thomas W. Jones, CGSM
    I recommend that you join one of the
    GenProof Study Groups which is based on this book. This study group is only 8 weeks long and is fast paced so you might want to go through more than once. Understanding the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is essential for your portfolio. I was in GenProof 2 with Harold Henderson, CGSM as my mentor and then I went through the special mentors’ training group with Dr. Jones himself. I have been a mentor for GenProof for two years and I am mentoring a group now (GenProof 50).  

  • Be aware that no one can give you specific help/advice on your projects nor can anyone proofread your work
    There is a special mailing list for those that are “on the clock” and you can get answers to procedural type questions there. You can also see answers to the most common questions on BCG’s Frequently Asked Questions page. As far as the portfolio work itself, you are on your own. You also can’t use any material that has been previously peer-reviewed such as a
    ProGen assignment.

  • However, proofreading is important
    When you are ready to submit set your portfolio aside for at least 24 hours (a week would be better) and then proofread it for the last time. I recommend reading it out loud. You are apt to catch something that you didn’t see before because when you read something over and over again you tend to skim. Grammar and punctuation are important as are good editing skills. More words doesn’t mean it’s a better report. Once you have done your final read through, don’t start second guessing yourself and try to go back and “fix” things. There comes a point when you just need to let it go.

  • This one was specific to me
    I don’t know if this is something you need to worry about or not but in my first portfolio I chose families for my KDP and for my Case Study that I had been working on for years. I thought that would give me a head start but it didn’t turn out that way. I had to redo everything to make sure that it was up to the current standards (some of this work was 10 years old). Going through old research and trying to fix everything that needed to be fixed made it very easy for me to make a mistake. I would have been better of starting from scratch with lines I hadn’t worked on before so that I could document everything right the first time.

Monday, March 20, 2017

2012 vs. 2016

You now know that my portfolio passed the Board for Certification of Genealogists but what most of you don’t know is this was my second attempt. I submitted my first portfolio in 2012 and it failed. It took me four years to get up the courage to go through the process again.

In 2012 I was confident that I would pass, too confident. That confidence was my downfall. When I received the judges’ comments I was mad, dejected, and embarrassed all rolled into one. It took some time for me to stop feeling sorry for myself. The judges had been right, I wasn’t ready for certification.

From 2012 to 2016 I took advantage of every learning opportunity I could and I made sure that I stayed up to date with current events within the genealogy community. After four years I finally had the courage to go through the process again. For those of you that don’t know, the process can take up to a year (longer if you ask for an extension) and then you wait for up to six months for your results. I wasn’t looking forward to that part of it.  Also, on a second attempt you are not allowed to use your previous work. You have to start over completely from scratch.

I am looking forward to seeing the judges’ comments.  I should be receiving them this week. I will be evaluating my weaknesses and creating an educational plan to address them. Even though I won’t be recertifying for five years you can bet I am already working on it.

Tomorrow I will post my best advice for those of you that are thinking about certification or are already “on the clock.”

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Federal census copies

I am currently mentoring a GenProof Study Group and someone asked an excellent question.  We were talking about how the enumerators made copies of the original forms they had carried from house to house. In some cases you might find the copy that was sent to the state which you can compare to the copy that was sent to the federal government.

The state copies, if they exist, will be in the state archives for that state. When you are looking at a federal census it is difficult to know if you are looking at an original (less likely) or an official copy (more likely). To make things worse, although there was an official number of copies that were required there could have been more (especially true of the 1790-1820). So the question is, why aren’t there state copies of the 1890 federal census which was almost completely destroyed?

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a good home reference library.

original and two copies

original and one copy

original and two copies

original and abbreviated copy

1890-1930 [and I assume beyond]
original only1

And there’s the answer. The 1890 was the first census where official copies were not made. If by chance the enumerator recopied his portion to make it neater he would have simply destroyed the draft. I highly recommend the below referenced book and make sure you read the entire chapter, “Census Media: Handwritten to Electronic.” What I listed above is only a small excerpt from that chapter.

1Kathleen W. Hinckley, Your Guide to the Federal Census for Genealogists, Researchers, and Family Historians (Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2002), 108-111.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

48 hours ago

48 hours ago I received this email:

“Congratulations and welcome! I am delighted to report that your application for BCG's Certified Genealogist® credential has been successful. You are Board-certified genealogist no. 1087, effective 16 March 2017. Your paperwork will be returned to you with a letter of welcome, a wall certificate, and a BCG pin. Please use your new initials — you earned them!”

I am still in overwhelmed mode but eventually I will be posting about the experience. It has been a long road.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

My favorite Facebook Groups

If you know me at all you know that I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I think it’s a great way to communicate with other researchers and keep up to date with what’s going on in the genealogy world.

Here is a list of my favorite Facebook groups. I do belong to more groups than this but these are the ones I am most active in. I would love for you to join in but please don’t add your friends to groups, let them join themselves.  It is okay (and encouraged) to post a general invite to a group on your wall for your friends to see but don’t add them yourself. That violates group etiquette.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

GenProof Study Groups

This past Sunday I started mentoring another GenProof Study Group (GenProof 50). I really enjoy doing this and I always learn something. I was in GenProof 2 with Harold Henderson, CG as mentor and then I was part of a special “mentors” group with Dr. Thomas W. Jones, CG. I am now leading my third group through the program. If you want to take your research to the next level I highly recommend that you sign up.

GenProof Study Groups