Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drudge Work After Hunting-Gathering in the Family History Library

Just some of the hundreds of images I hunt and gather as a PORTAS researcher in the
Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
One of the 500 plus images I brought home from this year's trip. On the left side, you can see one of the Post-It arrows I use to mark "John Portas & Elizabeth Baldock married Feb: 1st 1780." Spending a week looking at film, it starts to get easier to spot a PORTAS on a page with so many names on it.
I'm not doing any fun research. I'm not finding anything new. I'm not looking for anything either. I'm doing some drudge-work research. You know what that is... I come home from my 10-day trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City with several hundred images from parish registers along with many notes to match those images and now I have to enter my findings. I'm a "hunter-gatherer" type of researcher and that means a lot of grunt work when I come home.

It has to be done. Checking all the PORTAS names I've gathered against what I already have entered in my family tree program, is a long, dull, job that only I can get satisfaction from. No one can help me. It would be nice if someone could, but would they know all the nuances and connections, or for that matter, catch a person entered into the wrong family and set him right? Would someone not connected to my extensive research of over 20 years be able to make the necessary corrections like I could? Many times as my research progresses, I have had to switch various people around to another family... it's those similar names, dates, and places that throw one off. It's easy to get mixed up, yet it is easy to correct, too. Taking the time to do the grunt work is the hard part.

I try to do a lot of the preliminary grunt work while I'm in SLC, but this year for some reason, I was afraid I hadn't put the current tree program on Dropbox, my cloud storage. For some reason the file date didn't match up with when I put it up in the cloud at the last minute before I left for SLC. Once I saw the date it didn't seem right, I didn't want to enter new information and then have to do it over again once I was home. This now has caused me extra effort and time to get everything into my main program.

Just a sample of my notebook pages with my entries of what was written on the parish
pages for baptism, marriage, burial. I also record the raw image file name for quick
referencing when I get back home to do the grunt work.
So you can see, I still use paper, but this is about all I carry when I'm go to SLC.
There might be an easier way, but I'm used to this and sometimes it is nice to have
that tried and true paper copy when I get home.
So after I enter all the information I need for a couple hundred PORTASes, I have to fix the images, catalog them, take pictures of the note pages which correspond to the images and then upload to my computer and the "cloud." Because I am doing this in between non-genealogical projects, it will take a little longer to complete, even though this last trip to Salt Lake City was one of the least productive of all. I only came home with a little over 500 images. In previous years I've exceeded that substantially. I guess I've gathered as many as I can in the parishes I have prioritized to hunt in.

I still have some of those past year's images to go through, too. I usually enter my direct lineage ancestors and their images first and leave the collaterals for later. Well, now it has caught up with me. If you remember, I connected to cousin Margaret's lineage which I am currently entering data also. What I had left for later far exceeds what I have to do now! 

Most of what I found this year is "fill-in" or to verify information I already had; some information in my program also needed sourcing because many years ago my program deleted all my sources and I'm still finding information I have no idea where it came from. This happened when I was first starting out. I think my problem is a combination of the technical glitch and of my naivety to sourcing genealogical research. In other words, I am cleaning up my act!

I receive information from so many people from all over. Can I trust their information? Most of the time yes. But, there is a saying "Trust but verify" which we should all adhere to. I verify everything I get -- eventually. I have to prioritize my information to do the direct lineage first and collaterals after that. I also like to correct as many mistakes I have made which could mean having a person in a family they don't belong in or just a plain typo.

Basically my research is a one name study. Researching this way, so many families are being put together and hopefully they will eventually connect to mine. I can follow them from parish to parish. I get a feeling of joy when a couple gets married and then I see their first child baptized. I am saddened when that first child is soon buried. I'm overwhelmed when I see a couple in the same parish baptizing 18 or more children through 20 or so years of marriage...and I wonder how that would play out with some couples nowadays with a comparable job and stay-at-home mom. How many couples can afford that many children. Life is so different now.

I have found that nothing comes to me easily if I don't work at it. Drudge work is a necessary part of working on family history. I do get rewarded in the end. Now I have to stop writing on my blog and get back to work on those entries!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

WWII German Soldiers Buried in North Cotes, Lincolnshire, England Churchyard

In July of this year, the fields of poppies were still in full bloom.
What a beautiful sight as we drove through the Lincolnshire Wolds countryside. 

With this Tuesday being Veteran's Day (Armistice Day) I thought about all the fallen soldiers, the hundred of thousands of graves around the world. I thought of the poppy as the symbol which has been worn singularly on the lapel or amassed into a wreath to be laid on a loved one's grave. I thought about the parish churches in Lincolnshire, England, with all their memorials and lists of names of their soldiers who died serving their country. How proud these people were of their soldiers. Both world wars hit England hard.

I thought of North Cotes (St. Nicholas) parish church graveyard in particular. In and earlier post, I mentioned visiting this churchyard this past July and not getting pictures of my ancestor's headstones. I'd like to forget that blunder, but it is hard to forget the unassuming site of soldiers' headstones lined up, row by row. I was struck at the time seeing a couple German soldiers' headstones mixed into the rows of the local boys who had fallen during WWII. 

These German soldiers -- the enemy -- seemed to have received the same burial rights and headstones as the others. How striking that was to me. I could only think of a common American phrase to describe this plot of graves as "equal opportunity burial." I can only wonder what the loved ones of these German soldiers felt when they learned about where their son or husband was buried and how their honor was being preserved by people they were at war with. I was moved speechless.

This site was marked off by a neatly trimmed hedge. The graves were very well kept and there were flowers planted around the headstones. Even the German soldiers' graves had flowers. 

Peaking above the front hedge are some of the roses planted by the soldiers' graves.

The hedge zig-zags marking the war graves of local soldiers and a few German soldiers.

The pictures above were taken last July. As I'm writing this, it is a week past coming home from my annual trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. During my time down on the British Isles floor cranking away at microfilm I came across the entries for many of these soldiers. It was an emotional feeling seeing all the actual burial entries. I was most moved when I saw a couple of the German soldiers' names. They were written on the pages in the same respectful fashion as the English soldiers'. They all became a little more real to me as I read through each line.

Unknown German; Ober ? No. 147/57357; buried 26 Aug 1943; age unknown 

Helmutt Kress, Sergeant German Air Force, buried 5 Oct 1940, age 22

Both sides in war lose loved ones. May they all rest in peace. Lest we forget.