Sunday, April 26, 2009

CVGS Spring Saturday Seminar Review - Part 2: "Solving Your Brickwall Problems" Panel

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society held the fourth annual Spring Saturday Seminar on 25 April at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The "Finding Your Elusive Ancestors" program announcement is here. There were 40 genealogists in attendance, including 12 non-members of CVGS.

After lunch in the park, the second part of the seminar, titled "Solving Your Brickwall Problems," was a panel discussion moderated by Gary Brock, with panel members Shirley Becker, John Finch, Susi Pentico and Randy Seaver (all CVGS members and past-Presidents) analyzing research problems submitted by members. Before the seminar, CVGS members were asked to submit one of their brickwall research problems on a form for review and comment, with the goal that the panel would suggest new research avenues for the member to use to attack their brickwalls. The member was asked to describe their research problem and the summary of the problem was shown on the screen while the panel discussed them.

There were six research problems analyzed and commented upon:

1) Nancy's problem was James Matthew Peace (1843 TX - after 1870 TX); she is trying to find his death date and location. The last known record is the 1870 US census in Shelby County TX, living with an uncle while his wife and children are in Indiana. The panel suggested checking the county USGenWeb site, the Shelby County TX FHLC entries, a local genealogy society, deeds, church records and cemetery records. It was suggested that perhaps he "went west."

2) Marcia and Pat's problem was Timothy Leahy (1809-Ireland - ca. 1860 Ireland); they are looking for Timothy's parents names, siblings, etc. for this man apparently lived in Tipperary. His widow (Mary O'Dwyer) came to the USA with several children after his death and settled in Iowa. The panel suggested checking Irish genealogy research books, the Tipperary Family History Research Center which has church records, and Griffith's Valuation for residency records. There may be passenger list, naturalization and obituary records for his wife and children that may help also.

3) Alice's problem was Samuel and Anne (Tisdale) Geddes (Samuel 1786 Scotland to ??? in New Brunswick, Anne 1800 England to 1889 New Brunswick). She wants to know when and where they married and when they immigration to Canada. Alice has already checked Canada census records for 1861 to 1911, cemetery records in Kent County NB, and the New Brunswick Archives. She has an earliest record date of 1830 for a Canadian land grant in NB. The panel suggested checking all available surname books, look for manuscripts and records in NB societies, check databases at and other Canadian databases, and check database for baptism and marriage records in the Old Parish Records.

4) Pam's problem was Benjamin Sherman (1787 CT to 1853 CT). She wants to find a birth record and ancestors. Pam thinks his parents are Benjamin and Lydia (Ray) Sherman who lived in Haddam and Chatham CT in the 1790 to 1810 time frame, this Benjamin being a RevWar soldier. She has checked the Barbour Collection, many town,land,probate and online records. The panel suggested church records (there are some on FHL film), probate records for the parents or other Shermans in the area, and to contact Rick Sherman at CGSL for help.

5) Susan's problem was Rachael Gastron (or Whittenberg?) (ca 1791 to ??? in IL) who married Matthew Whittenberg in 1817 in Greene County, Tennessee, and had five children. She has looked for records in Blount and Greene counties TN and Washington and Jefferson counties IL, but has found no other Gaston families in these records. The panel suggested following the children, finding county history books, contacting local societies, and checking probate, land, tax and church records.

6) John's problem is Johann Carl Schultz (born 1801 in Danzig, Westpreussen, Germany, died 1873 there), married Carolina Grothe, and had 8 children, some of whom came to the USA. He wants to know this man's parents and ancestors. John has quite a bit of biographical data on Johann, because he was a famous artist. He has checked the church records from Danzig in the 1800-1870 time frame, and thinks his parents were Martin and Jacobina (Rohr) Schultz, but can find nothing more about them. Due to the effects of war, there are very few records of this area other than the church records. The panel suggested following the children who came to the USA to see if they left information about him (and John is from one of those lines and has no more info), check Germany and Poland message boards and mailing lists for other descendants.

Each of these problems appears unsolvable at first glance, and may never be solved due to a lack of records or erroneous records. However, the panel was able to suggest research avenues for the researcher to follow in their "reasonably exhaustive" search.

After the six problems, there were several general research questions and answers about books, web sites, repositories, etc. which were answered by the panel. The session ended on schedule at 3 p.m.

The exhausted attendees, and the panel, enjoyed talking more after the session while enjoying some desserts in the conference room. The seminar was judged to be informative and successful by many of the attendees and the panel.

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