Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014

I know it's cliché, but I can't believe how quickly 2013 slipped by. It just seems like yesterday that I was saying the same thing about 2012. There's something about the passage of time that makes me want to set New Year's Resolutions. I think it's the idea of a fresh start or clean slate.

I made only a few resolutions this year, most of them centered around genealogy. I've decided that 2014 is the year I go digital. I took the scary step of going paperless for all my banking, credit card and other household invoices. My current system relies on receiving paper invoices and bills. I started paying bills online some time ago, but never took that next step. I took some time and figured out a system to keep track of my paperless bills, scan all my documents and reciepts and then file (store) them. Going paperless has extended to my genealogy, too. If my document is already in digital format, I just save it, name it and file it. When I get a hard copy of a document, it will go through the same treatment, but I will also scan it and save it in digital form.

Another resolution is to make sure all my citations are complete and accurate. I've just switched programs from Family Tree Maker to Legacy, and I'm loving Legacy. It has a wonderful SourceWriter feature built in that makes keeping this resolution a breeze. I find it so much easier to come up with the correct citation format. Legacy's tagging system helps me keep track of whose citations I've already cleaned up.

Following on the heels of that resolution is one for continuing education. I'm looking forward to deepening my knowledge of all things genealogical. I joined a study group to study the tome, Mastering Genealogical Proof. The group starts mid-January, so look for some blogs about that. Once the study group is complete, I plan to take the National Genealogical Society's Family History Skills course. I figure brushing up on my skills can only help me become a better genealogist. I have left the option of a third (and maybe a fourth) course of study open depending on where my interests are mid-year. If you have a favorite course, let me know in the comment section below.

Although I have a tendancy to make too many resolutions, I'm stopping at these three. It's a doable list, and, given my passion for genealogy, should be easy to keep. So what's on your list? Tell me about your New Year's resolutions. Oh, and if you can recommend a good genealogy book, tell me about that below as well.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Boxful of Memories

One of the first things I learned when beginning to research my family history is to begin by collecting all the information you can from your living relatives. I started gathering information from them what I was twelve, and I'm glad I did. As I grew older, other pursuits got in the way of my research. Life became more complicated as I went to college, got married, and raised a family. My research was put on hold; my files gathering dust. Now, as I'm reaching the half-century mark, I find that I have more time to devote to research, but most of those family members are gone. The information I gathered years ago is helpful, but now with an adult perspective, there is so much more I would like to ask.

The holiday time is a perfect time to reminisce and talk about family. I like to ask open-ended questions, such as, "What was she like when you were growing up?" Family photos are also a great memory jogger and are usually an enjoyable way to learn little family details. It's amazing how much a person will recall about the circumstances behind the taking of that photograph. My mother could remember the color of every single item of clothing in every photo. It's also a great time to find out how Cousin Allen is related to you. "Is he Grandpa's or Grandma's nephew?" "Who were his parents?" "Whose house is that in the background?" "What street was it on?" Not only is it fun to learn these tidbits, all the answers give clues for research as well as enriching the family history.

I have learned to keep asking the same questions; each time I learn a little something new. Over the years, I can't tell you how many times my dad and I spoke about his father, who had died when my dad was a boy. I'd update him on what new bit of information my research revealed. Only recently during one such conversation did my dad mention that he had his father's Boatswain's pipe from World War 1. All those times talking and something I said that time sparked a memory so he could remember to tell me that he had that pipe!

Sometimes a sad event, such as a funeral, will prompt family stories. Recently, my maternal grandmother died. Although I had seen photos of my dad as a child, I didn't have any of my mother. After attending the funeral, my mother came home with a box full of photos. After going through them with her and learning about the other family members in the photos, she revealed that she's had her baby book all along. Amazing! Inside that baby book is a list of people who visited and gave gifts, as well as a small family tree.

So, a lesson I've learned — keep asking questions about family. Sometimes, something you talk about will make that memory connection in your relative; you may wind up with a box full of memories to serve as clues for research, as well as wonderful stories that will make your family history come alive.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Catharine Conklin, wife of Jacob Lamb?

A current research conflict I am trying to resolve is in my Lamb line from Westchester County, New York. I am trying to prove or disprove 1) that the wife of Jacob E. Lamb (my 4th great-grandfather) was Catharine Conklin; and 2) that her parents were Francis Conklin and Hester Brown or John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker.
The Unpublished Works of G. MacKenzie, a loosely documented genealogy, states that Catharine Conklin was the daughter of John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker and the wife of Jacob Lamb[1].  This genealogy also states that Francis Conklin and Hester Brown had a daughter named Catharine and she married John Sloat. This is in direct conflict with information on a proven descendant list from The Daughters of the American Revolution which states that Catharine Conklin was the daughter of Francis Conklin and Hester Brown, who married Jacob Lamb in 1807[2].
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (NYG&B Record) has transcripts of baptisms recorded in the Reformed Dutch Church (RDC) of Cortlandtown, and confirmed my suspicion that there were two Catharine Conklins, one (Catharina) was born on 15 Mar 1789 to John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker[3]; the other (Catrina) was born in Sept 1790 to Francis Conklin and Hester Brown[4]. It also verified that Catharine Conklin was the wife of John Sloat[5] and the other Catharine Conklin was the wife of Jacob Lamb[6]. So how am I to distinguish one Catharine from the other and determine which is the wife of Jacob Lamb?
My approach is to create a FAN list from the church, census, probate and land records. In doing so, I’m hoping to see possible family connections that may lead me to additional clues for further research, and maybe provide enough information to determine which Catharine Conklin, if either, is the wife of Jacob Lamb.
Since census records prior to 1850 only list the names of heads of households, Catharine’s name does not appear in the census as Jacob’s wife. The first document where they are named as a couple is from the church records, referenced above, where in 1809 they baptized their daughter, Leah. Locating marriage records for this church will be added to my to-do list.
According to the Journal of Reverend Silas Constant, Francis Conkling and Esther Brown were married in Peekskill, New York, on 20 May 1787[7]. I searched, but there was no entry for Jacob Lamb and Catharine Conklin. The RDC of Cortlandtown church records show that Francis Conklin and Hester Brown had the following children baptized:
  • a daughter, Catrina, born Sept 1790, baptized Sept 1791;
  • a daughter, Elizabeth, born 26 Sept 1792, baptized 30 Jun 1793;
  • a son, Hendrick, born 17 Aug 1795, baptized 22 Nov 1795[8]; and
  • a son, Thomas born 4 Jun 1797, baptized 30 Jul 1797[9].

The MacKenzie genealogy includes an additional daughter, Mary, who was born 5 Apr 1789, but I was unable to find her in the church records I was searching.
John Conklin and Eleanor Hileker baptized the following children in the same church:
  • a daughter, Catharina, born 15 Mar 1789, baptized 1 May 1789;
  • a son, John, born 15 Aug 1791, baptized Sept 1791;
  • a son, Abraham, baptized Jun 1793;
  • a daughter, Weinthe, born 8 May 1796, baptized 22 Nov 1795[10]; and
  • a daughter, Peggy, born 16 Feb 1799, baptized 21 Apr 1799[11].

An error in both transcriptions of the MacKenzie genealogy and of the NYG&B Record regarding Weinthe’s birth and baptism casts doubt on both documents, and I need to locate another source for the original records to verify the information.
I’ve found that probate records can be a rich source of genealogical information and sometimes lists heirs or next of kin by name and relationship to the deceased. FamilySearch has the New York probate records for Westchester County online and I found an Eleanor Conklin as administratrix for the estate of John Conklin, intestate, in 1800[12]. His estate files are a two-page document, signed by Elenor Conklin, Thomas Clarke and Henry C. Varht, but unfortunately lists no heirs or next of kin. I did not find probate records for Francis Conklin or his wife Hester in Westchester County. The one entry for Esther Conklin appears to be an unrelated family.
A look at the 1790 census for Cortlandt, Westchester County, find two John Conklins[13], but neither have household compositions that correlate with the ages of the children in baptismal records. I did not expect to find John Conklin on the 1800 census since it appears he died in 1799. Instead, I find Eleanor Conkling, a widow, enumerated next to Francis Conkling[14]. It is unclear if either of them is from the families I am looking for since neither of their household compositions match those of the children in the baptismal records.  Jacob Lamb doesn’t appear on the census records as head of household until 1810[15], which is what I would expect given his first child was born in 1809. The composition of his household does match with the ages of his children found in the baptismal records, although there are two additional people—an unidentified young man, aged 16-25, which could be a younger brother; and a woman over the age of 45, which could be an older sister, mother, or mother-in-law.
Further research and analysis of these records should be done, as well as a continued search for new ones. I certainly have not exhausted all the available resources; my research so far has been limited to what I have found on the internet. A good place to start is the MacKenzie genealogy which gives a brief bibliography of sorts. I would also like to find others who are researching this family in the hope we may combine our efforts to solve this conflict. I’m open to suggestions, so feel free to leave your ideas or comments below.

10 Jan 2014: In reviewing the original Dutch Reformed Church Records of Cortlandtown, now on Ancestry.com, I confirmed that Weinthe, the child of John Conklin and Lena Heliker, was born on 8 May 1796, but her baptism was 22 Nov 1796 and not 1795.

[1] Long Island Genealogy, The Unpublished Works of G. Mackenzie (http://www.longislandgenealogy.com/mackenzie.html : accessed 3 Dec 2013), Catharine Conklin (1789). 
[2] National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, "DAR Genealogical Research System," database, Descendants Database Search (http://www.dar.org : accessed 17 Mar 2013), Francis Conklin (NY service); citing Anna Reynolds Bradley, national member no. 335870, ancestor no. A024989.
[3] Samuel Burhans Jr., "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 73 (Apr 1942); digital images, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (http://cdm15648.contentdm.oclc.org.nygbs.idm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15636coll26/id/364/rec/2 : accessed 23 Sep 2013) 140; Records are accessed through the online eLibrary.
[4] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Apr 1942) 73:142
[5] Burhans, “Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York,” (Oct 1942) 73:281.
[6] Burhans, “Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York,” (July 1942) 73:197.
[7] Josiah Granville Leach L.L.B., editor, The Journal of the Reverend Silas Constant; online book, Open Library (https://openlibrary.org : downloaded 4 Dec 2013), p. 98 and p. 372.
[8] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Apr 1942) 73:142, 143.
[9] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Jul 1942) 73:191.
[10] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Apr 1942) 73:140-143.
[11] Burhans, "Records of Baptisms of the Reformed Dutch Church of Cortlandtown, Westchester County, New York," (Jul 1942) 73:191.
[12] "New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971," database and images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 16 Oct 2013); John Conklin (1800); citing Westchester County Surrogate Court Probate, Administration, Guardian and Estate Tax Files, file no. 3-1800; Westchester County Courthouse, White Plains.
[13] 1790 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, p. 215 (penned), col. 2, line 1, John Conklin Jr; and  p. 218 (penned), col. 1, line 25, John Conklin Sr; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Dec 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M637, roll 2.
[14] 1800 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, Cortlandt Township, Pound Ridge, p. 100 (penned), line 38, Eleanor Conkling; and p. 100 (penned), line 37, Francis Conkling; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Dec 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M32, roll 27.
[15] 1810 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, Cortlandt Township, Pound Ridge, p. 1009 (penned), 182 (stamped), line 29, Jacob Lamb; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Oct 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M252, roll 37.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lambs and the FAN Principle

      One of the common problems in genealogy is finding just where your ancestor is hiding from census to census. Location is important because it determines jurisdiction and tells me where I am most likely to find the paper trails of that ancestor. I’m lucky because for many generations, all of my paternal grandmother’s family have stayed in one location—Westchester County, New York.  Since they’ve lived there for so long, the names of the neighboring families have become quite familiar to me as I search page after page of land deeds and census records. It’s like finding old friends when I see those same names decade after decade. 
      I’ve learned to pay attention to those names and keep a FAN[1] list. FAN stands for Family, Associates and Neighbors. Quite simply, this means that I collect the names of those people who lived near and worked with my ancestors and of those who were witnesses during land transactions, wills, and marriages.
      Lately my research focus has been my Lamb family. They’ve been in Westchester County at least as far back as the American Revolution and probably further. Finding documentation for people during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is difficult enough, and then there is my Lamb family. Neighbors are important as I try to distinguish one Jacob Lamb from another Jacob Lamb. My grandmother’s grandfather was Jacob Lamb, whose father was Abraham Lamb, whose father was Jacob Lamb, whose father was Abraham Lamb. To further complicate matters, two of them married women named Catharine and another two married women whose maiden names were Lent; and they continued to reuse those names for their children. These naming traditions make it difficult to pick out my ancestor from his cousin in documents, and when the document contains just names without dates, sometimes knowing who the neighbors and witnesses are helps determine which Lamb is the subject of the document.
      I have a copy of a land transaction, dated 1867, which is a crucial document because it names Jacob Lamb with his wife, Emily; so I know it is the correct Jacob Lamb, my grandmother’s grandfather. This document also stated he was a son of Abraham Lamb, deceased, and that he was the grandson of the late Jacob Lamb (the elder). It is one of the few documents I’ve found that links the three generations. Comparing the names of the neighbors and witnesses from this transaction to a second transaction helps me determine that the second document is indeed a transaction of my ancestor.
      In 1807, Jacob Lamb (the elder) married Catharine Conklin, but there are two Catharine Conklins born about the same time in the same place to different sets of parents. So I’m now in the process of making that FAN list for them in the hopes of determining which Catharine Conklin married my ancestor. So keep checking back here to keep tabs on my progress.

[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, Quicksheet: The Historical Biographer’s Guide to Cluster Research (The FAN Principle) (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Co., 2012), outside panel 1, “The Principle.”