Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Mining Genealogical History in Kansas" with Ruth Himan

Chula Vista Genealogical Society member Ruth Himan presented her program about finding her Hayley ancestors in Kansas records on Wednesday, 26 January at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library to 40 attendees.  Ruth's CV is here.

Ruth's presentation started with the story of her great-grandfather, John Christopher Hayley, born in Tennessee in 1871 who died in 1931; the story is that he ran away from home when he was age 14, and family information indicated that he resided in Kansas.  In the effort to document his life, Ruth used six tools - pedigree charts, family group sheets, migration maps, timelines, networking and library searches.  On the migration map, she entered the known birth and death locations for family members (children and grandchildren).

In mining for genealogical history, she kept the CGSL Tip of the Iceberg chart in mind - it notes that only a small percentage of genealogical records are online.  Ruth knew that much of the information on the Internet  is inaccurate and unsourced, and she referred to the chart often to make her points.  Her research steps included doing preliminary searching on the Internet, collecting evidence, verifying and validating her data with sources, using a research log, keeping a daily journal, and hiring researchers to do courthouse, library and cemetery work.

Ruth took her father and step-mother on a trip to Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee in search of their Hayley ancestors in 2010.  She described her travel toolkit - a laptop, camera, phone, recorder, chargers, magnifying glass, comfy shoes, tourbook and door hanger. 

Their first stop was in Reno County, Kansas where they met extended family.  Then to Hutchinson, Kansas, her father's birthplace.  She tracked down several addresses where the family lived, using a gazetteer and and newspaper articles at the library, and they took pictures in front of them.  At the courthouse, she found that she needed a lot number rather than an address, so at the library she found the lot number on a Sanborn map.  The courthouse archives were in the underground "salt mines" and she visited them. 

Ruth also did some pro bono research for her CVGS colleague, Jaye, who wanted to know how her grandfather died in Hutchinson in the 1930s.  Ruth found several newspaper articles, an obituary, and a death record - she found that he was run over by a young man driving a street cleaner. 

Ruth's presentation was interesting, humorous and made the point that you have to get out to the libraries, courthouses and family homes to put the jigsaw puzzle of a life together.

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