Saturday, November 19, 2011

Georgia Family History Expo

Last Friday and Saturday, I attended Georgia Family History Expo in Duluth. The schedule was a little different this year - instead of starting early Friday morning, the Exhibit Hall opened at 1:00 Friday afternoon and the Opening Session started at 2:00. After spending the previous four days researching in north Georgia, I was happy to have the morning to relax a bit.

The late start meant a late end to the day with the last session ending about 8:40 P.M. Based on the feedback given at the closing session, not everyone loved the new schedule but after hearing that this schedule would keep registration costs down by saving an extra days rent on the facility, it seemed most people agreed it was just fine. I can see why people who were commuting from home might not like getting out later but this schedule also probably saved a good number of people the cost of a Thursday night hotel room and allowed some people to take less time off work.   

I apparently made good choices because the seven sessions I attended were all very good.

Arlene Eakle knows so much more about Georgia Land Records than she can begin to cover in a 50-minute session but luckily she has a new book on the subject. By the time I made it to her booth on Saturday, she was sold out but it will be in my mailbox in a few days.  

In The Clothesline Approach to Documentation and AnalysisDearMYRTLE gave us a visual concept for analyzing sources. If one end of the clothesline is the most reliable source and the other end the least, where would you hang the document you are evaluating? Thinking in those terms can really help you break down the information contained in any source. 

Special Sources for Confederate Research in the National Archives and Records Administration and The Campaigns Forgotten: American Wars after the American Revolution and before the Civil War Records in NARA by Robert S. Davis were both great sessions - informative and entertaining. Did you know that the saying "God willing and the Creek don't rise" was a reference to the Creek Indians, not some creek that was about to flood? 

Lisa Louise Cooke presented three sessions - Ultimate Google Search Strategies, Google Earth for Genealogy-Rock Your Ancestor's World and How to Create Awesome Interactive Family History Tours with Google Earth. I'd heard good things about these presentations so I was very happy when I learned Lisa would be in Georgia. Not to take anything away from her Google search session or any other presentation at Expo but those Google Earth sessions were beyond explanation. No one can tell you how amazing those presentations are. Mind blowing. I bought the book and the DVD's even before I saw the presentations and that turned out to be a good decision. I could just enjoy the show without worrying about taking notes.   

And, of course, one of the best things about any genealogy gathering is socializing with other genealogist. I believe this group of bloggers enjoyed Expo.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Don't I Love My Tablet?

As I explained a few weeks ago, I bought a Toshiba Thrive mainly because of its SD card slot and USB port. Most tablets don't have those features. I especially wanted the SD card slot in order to view and backup photos on vacations. These extra features make the Thrive thicker than other tablets but I decided that the extra features were worth the trade-off.

While on a cruise last month, I was unhappy with the way my pictures looked on the Thrive. I finally figured out that the screen brightness was set on "auto" which probably makes the battery last longer but it sure doesn't make pictures look very good. Turning the brightness all the way up improves the look of pictures although I still think it could be a little sharper, especially when you zoom.

Last week I took the Thrive on a research road trip and to the Georgia Family History Expo. Again, I'm just not feeling the love for the tablet. The main purpose for a tablet, at least as I see it, is the portability. Tablets are much smaller and lighter weight than laptops but have a much bigger screen and virtual keyboard than a smart phone.

Here's the thing. I already had a netbook.

The netbook and tablet are pretty much the same length and width.

With the case, the tablet becomes a little bigger than the netbook.

If the netbook didn't have the extended-life battery, 
the thickness would be about the same with the case.
That battery makes the netbook a little heavier than the tablet
but it also makes them pretty much even in battery life.

See why I'm wavering about loving the tablet? I haven't really gained anything from what I already had. There was not one thing I did with the tablet last week that I couldn't have done with the netbook. Except for typing my notes, I could have done it all with the phone. (Technically, the notes could be typed on the phone too but that much typing on a tiny virtual keyboard is not for me.) 

I fought the urge for a tablet from the time the iPad was released almost two years ago because I already had the netbook. Finally, the feeling that I was missing out on the latest tech toy (and I do love tech toys) got the best of me and I bought the tablet. 

I need to start using the tablet more around the house and find a niche where it beats the laptop, netbook and phone. Maybe if I keep it on my nightstand instead of in the office I'll start using it for reading at bedtime. I want to love it and there is still hope that can happen. Any suggestions?

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Toshiba. All opinions given here are mine alone.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Paperless Research Trip Was Successful

Let me clarify that a bit. I did not find much information that helped with my research goals for this trip but the paperless experiment worked very well, even though there were a couple of glitches in my initial plan. 

When I was prepping for this trip, I realized that the Families app didn't include the "general" to do items from my Legacy Family Tree database. The individual to dos show up but there is no way to access anything not tied to a specific individual in the database. (I ask Families about this. They said they would add it to their next version.) No big problem. I just created a To Do List report from Legacy, loaded it to the tablet and referred to it at each facility. My tablet doesn't have 3G, it's WiFi only, so everything I might need had to be loaded in advance. Frankly, I would have done that even if I had 3G, you never know when a cell signal will fail you.

I started last Monday morning in the Probate Clerk's Office in the Whitfield County, Georgia courthouse with my Android Tablet, Wand Scanner and Android Phone (used to take the photo below). Over three days, I also researched at the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society and the Murray County courthouse. I did not print one piece of paper. I did not write a word on a piece of paper. I copied everything with either the wand scanner or an app on my phone and typed all notes into Evernote on the tablet. 

I have used the CamScanner app on my phone in the past and been very happy with it. It was one of the first apps I loaded to the tablet but I hadn't tried to use it until this trip. Turns out it doesn't really work on the tablet. The image looks extremely distorted even before taking the picture. Apparently, it hasn't been optimized for Honeycomb (the tablet's version of the Android operating system) so my plan to copy things using that app on the tablet didn't work out. Again, no big problem. I could still use the app on the phone and I had the wand scanner.

Since this was a test for going paperless on a research trip, I used both the wand scanner and the CamScanner app to copy most everything in order to compare the results. The above marriage record was copied with the wand scanner. (I reduced the size for this upload but I have a larger size file.) Here is an example of the same record using the app. (I could have cropped it down to look just like the one above but just didn't do it.)  

For individual records, I really prefer the wand (which saves to JPG) over the app (which saves to PDF) but both give very good copies. For multi-page items, I prefer the app because you can save multiple pages to one document. If you are coping pages from a book, start with the title page, or even the cover, and then add the pages you want. You will have the info you need to write a source along with all of the pages in one document. 

The next time I connected the tablet to WiFi, all of the notes I took in Evernote synced with my online account making them accessible from my laptop and other devices.  

Switching back and forth between Evernote, the Families app (my genealogy database) and the To Do report was simple. Since my tablet has a USB port, I could also connect the wand scanner, download the scans to the tablet for backup and ensure I had a good copy before I left the facility. 

So. It is definitely possible to research without creating any paper. From now on, this will be my routine - unless I'm visiting a repository that doesn't allow scanning or photography. There are still some of those around. 

Even though this process worked, I'm still on the fence about the tablet. More about that tomorrow.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this post other than I use the products. I purchased the Families app and Legacy Family Tree Software but use the free version of Evernote.   

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Veteran's Service and Gravesite

Looks like I haven't had any Saturday Night Genealogy Fun in months. My last SNGF post was in July. Time to rectify that. This week's challenge from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings is:

1)  To celebrate Veterans Day, pick one of your ancestors or relatives with a military record and a gravestone.

2)  Tell us about your ancestor's military service.

3)  Tell us about your ancestor's gravestone - where is it, what is the inscription, when were you last there?  Show us a picture of it if you have one available.  

4)  Write your own blog post about this ancestor and his gravestone, or share it in a Comment to this blog post, in a status line on Facebook, or in a Google Plus Stream post. 

My maternal grandfather, Elmer Dennis Hopkins, served in the U. S. Army twice. He enlisted the first time on 4 Dec 1911 at Middlesboro, Kentucky and was discharged 3 Dec 1914 at Ft. Bliss, Texas. He served in Troup E of the 15th Cavalry. 

Elmer on left
According to his discharge papers, he "participated in the internment of the Mexican Federal Army after their evacuation of Ojinaga, Mexico January 10-20, 1914." During the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa led the war in the northern part of Mexico on behalf of the revolution. In January 1914, Pancho Villa and his army drove the Mexican Federal Army out of Ojinaga. To avoid being captured by Villa, the Mexican Army crossed the border into Texas and surrendered to U.S. troops. The Mexicans were interned in Fort Bliss, Texas and Fort Wingate, New Mexico for almost a year. Elmer was involved in the interment at Fort Bliss.

His second enlistment was during World War I. He was inducted 24 May 1918 at Mt. Vernon, Kentucky and was discharged 12 Jun 1919 at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky (near Louisville). He was stationed in France from 6 Aug 1918 to 28 May 1919 with the 315th Infantry Supply Company. 

Elmer is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County, Kentucky beside his wife, Emma. Headstone transcription: HOPKINS, Emma E., Oct. 24, 1900, Jan. 18, 1978; Elmer D., Apr 2, 1894, May 26, 1980.

Elmer's VA marker transcription: Elmer D. Hopkins, Cpl US Army, World War I, Apr 2, 1894, May 26, 1980.

The last time I was at Elmer's grave was a few days before Memorial Day this year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day - Honoring Those Who Served

Pictures of some family members who served in uniform.

Orin Edward Taylor
Orin is my only relative (that I know of) who died in service to our country so he gets the top spot in this Veterans Day post. He enlisted at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas on April 1, 1941, was a 1st Lt. with Company E of the 4th Ranger Battalion and died at the age of 24 on January 31, 1944 in Anzio, Italy during WW II. [1st Cousin, once removed]

David Hankins McCauley
WW II - US Navy 1944-1946

Joseph Lee McCauley
WW II - US Army and US Navy

John William McCauley, Jr.
WW II - US Navy

J W Dukes
WW II - US Navy
[1st Cousin]

Marvin Ray Dukes
WW II - US Navy
[1st Cousin]

Jason Gordon Lucas, Jr. (on right, my Dad on left)
WW II - US Navy
[1st Cousin]

Elmer Dennis Hopkins (on left, person on right unknown)
Pre-WW I - US Army 1911-1914
WW I - US Army 1918-1919
[Maternal Grandfather]

John Covey Hopkins
WW I - Career US Army 1905-1935
[Great Uncle]

Howard Doctor "Doc" Hopkins
WW I - US Army
Post WW I - US Navy
[Great Uncle]

Grant Hopkins
Post WW I - US Marines 1921-1924
[Great Uncle]

Jimmy, Elvie and Perry Hankins
in France during WW I
[Great Uncles]

James Bailey Hankins
WW I - US Army 1917-1919

Albert Elvie Hankins
WW I - US Army

William Perry Hankins
WW I - US Army 1916-1920

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Paperless Research Trip

Have you ever gone on a research trip without printing anything to take with you? I'm talking about to do lists, research plans, maps, directions, family group sheets, timelines - all the stuff you need to remind you what you already know, what you want to find and where you need to go. 

I have experimented with this idea a couple of times on day trips to the Kentucky Archives and it worked out just fine. When I went to the archives, I had my Legacy Family Tree database on an Android phone using the Families app and a list of people I wanted to research in a memo app on the phone. From the memo, I knew which people in my database to check for "to do" items. I walked into the archives with a blank legal pad, pencil and my phone and walked out with the records I was looking for each time.

Now I'm ready to go paperless on a four-day research trip out of state. Since my test with the phone, I bought an Android tablet and that is what I'll be using for the most part on this trip.  

Granted, the thoughts of no back-up directions made me a little nervous after Lula (my GPS) got me seriously lost a couple of months ago so I saved Google Maps directions to PDF and loaded them to both devices in advance. That way I'm covered if Lula or cell service fails me in rural Georgia. 

The fun starts this morning. I'll report back later in the week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

John R. Petty Could Have Made Things Easier for Me

Really. All he had to do was serve as surety when his (I'm 95% sure) brother, Joseph, got married in Logan County, Kentucky in 1869. That would have been the smoking gun I'm looking for to prove that John R. (my 2nd great-grandfather) was the son of John Petty of Bradley County, Tennessee and Whitfield County, Georgia. 

I have a ton of indirect and circumstantial evidence that ties John R. to the John Petty family (much of it has been covered here in a variety of posts, see below for the list) but I'd still like something a little more straight forward. 

Today I ran over to the Kentucky Archives (it's just 80 miles and I actually had to be in Lexington anyway so really just about 20 miles away from there) to get a copy of the marriage record for Joseph Petty and Nancy Thomas hoping that there would be some clue in it to help my case. 

The elder John Petty had a son named Joseph. John R. Petty (his wife, Margaret and their children) and Joseph Petty (his wife, Nancy and their son) were all in Logan County, Kentucky in the 1870 census - in the same district with only one household separating them. Both of the Petty men were born in Tennessee - they have to be brothers, don't they? 

I had incorrectly assumed that both Petty families moved to Logan County from Tennessee sometime after the Civil War (when John R. and Joseph along with two other sons of John Petty served in the same Confederate unit). Turns out there was a slight flaw in that theory recently uncovered by a Colorado friend of my Petty research buddy in Oregon. (Fresh eyes are often a very good thing.)

The flaw - Joseph did not actually get married until after he was in Logan County but his wife seems to be a very interesting twist. Joseph married a Nancy Thomas who was born in Georgia. John R.'s wife, Margaret, was a Thomas from Murray and Lumpkin Counties in Georgia, she had a sister named Nancy and Margaret and Nancy's mother, Rebecca Thomas lived in Logan County in 1870. Nancy Thomas who married Joseph appears to be a few years younger than Margaret's sister but it still looks like the Petty brothers married the Thomas sisters. 

If only John R. has served as surety on Joseph and Nancy's marriage bond that would have tied everything together with a nice bow but the surety was E. W. Northington. I didn't find an E. W. Northington in Logan County but Edward O. Northington was listed next to John R. in the 1870 Logan County census. (He is not the household between John R. and Joseph but on the other side of John.) Of the 25 Northingtons in Logan County in 1870, he is the only one with a first initial E. Oh goody, someone else to research. 

While working on this post I noticed another little "situation" - Joseph and Nancy were married in 1869 in Kentucky and were there in 1870 but their apparent child living with them in 1870 named Robert Petty was three years old and born in Georgia. He could be their son born prior to the marriage or he could be either Joseph's or Nancy's child from a previous marriage or relationship.   

Nothing is ever easy with this family.