Monday, February 3, 2014

CVGS Program Review - "Following the Path" by Susi Pentico

The January 29th Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting featured CVGS member Susi Pentico's presentation on "Following the Path."  There were about 40 attendees for this program. 

Susi said that there are Known Paths (documented by records you have), Unknown Paths (there may be records you don't have), and Hidden Paths (clues in records for other families and locations).  She also noted that Indian Trails often lead the way, since many current highways are along those old trails.  Early families followed the trails as they migrated south, and west over the decades.  Learn the trails and study the tribes. 

A researcher needs to make research plans and set goals, including;

*  Be organized by using and keeping updated pedigree charts, family group sheets, research logs, to-do lists, etc.

*  Learn and understand the proper research "ways" - methods, analysis, etc. Use books, websites, tutorials, etc. to learn methodology and available resources.  Read every sentence in a record to make sure that you capture everything the record offers.

*  Go back and study what your parents, grandparents and other relatives told you.  Are there clues there?  Are there unfinished questions left by them?  Find descendants of siblings of ancestors to see if they have family information.

*  Collect evidence to support or refute family stories.  Find records and information about your persons by searching in the available resources, both online and in libraries or archives.

*  Ask the questions: What names did they use? Where did they come from? When did they come? Why did they come?  Where did they go?  What happened to them during their lives?

*  Use a timeline - note the date, names, and location of events that happened in your ancestor's family and lifespan.  Consider associations, local and regional historical events, disasters, etc. 

*  Is what you know correct?  It may look right, it may fit, but is it right?  You need to review your information for a person or family occasionally. 

*  Genealogy research has changed - it's not the same now as it was 10 years ago, or 50 years ago.  Many records are now available in online databases and websites.  However, not everyone has computers, smart phones or tablets.  Don't go too fast or you may lose track of what you have found.

Susi noted many different record types that may help you follow your ancestor's path, including;

*  Family records, such as Bibles, papers, scrapbooks, clippings, vital records, photos, books, etc.

*  The work of other researchers in books, periodicals, websites, and files in repositories and archives.

*  Historical records, such as census, vital, church, military, immigration, newspapers, cemeteries, probate, land, etc. that can be obtained online, in county offices and courthouses, and in local, regional or national archives or libraries.

Susi used her ancestor Henry Huffman as an example of following the path.  He received land in Virginia in 1752 from his brother George, moved to Pennsylvania at some time, had four children in Greene County, Pennsylvania between 1800 and 1810, and died before his will was proved in 1812 there.  

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