Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May 28th CVGS Program Review - “Stump the Chumps”

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society program meeting on Wednesday, 28 May was a research panel that discussed possible solutions to CVGS member research questions.  

This was the CVGS version of a Genealogy Roadshow program - eight to ten minutes to describe the research performed in response to a member's research problem or question.  

The nine "elusive ancestor" problems were reviewed by four experienced researchers (Shirley, John, Diane and Randy) were:

*  Who were the parents of Margaret (Armstrong) Tompkins (ca 1765-ca 1815) of Ontario and Westchester County, New York, wife of Nehemiah Tompkins (married 1787)?  

*  Birth place/occupation of Zacarias Guerra (ca 1817 to ????) of El Paso, Texas, married 1852 to Tomasa Bermudes, and where were his parents from?

*  Who were the parents of David Dickinson (1806-1879), born in Green County, Kentucky, husband of Mary Louise McKibben?

*  Find out more about Gaetano (or Thomas?) Del Vecchio (1839-????), married to Columba Buccini (1839-????), and his ancestors. They immigrated in 1899 to New York and resided in Troy, New York.

*  What is birth date, name of wife, marriage date and children of John Bellwood, Jr. (ca 1797 in Ohio -????), father of James Bellwood?  

*  Confirm parents of John Wesley Akers (1839 Kentucky - 1888 California), who married 1866 Sarah Ellen Hughes.

*  Was Margaret (Fleming?) Wilson (1803 S.C. - after 1880 Mississippi), wife of Francis Wilson, a Native-American?

*  Who were parents and siblings of William Francis Greene (ca 1835 N.Y. - 1897 Nebraska), married 1873 to Mary Jane Pollard?

*  Was Eliza (Gailor) Ward (ca 1847 N.Y. - 1876 N.Y.), married 1867 to David Ward, the daughter of Samuel and Almina (--?--) Gailor?

     The members/researchers who posed these "elusive ancestor" problems range in experience from beginner to very experienced, and all were stuck - they wanted confirmation of what they knew and suggestions for further research.  None of the researchers are professional genealogists, and I don't think any of them pursue research more than 10 to 20 hours a week, if that.  All had  done extensive online searching, and most had done some research in repositories or visited the localities in question.  However, none of the researchers had really tried to find probate or land records to help solve their research question.
The four members of the research panel divided up the problems, did some online research and thinking about research opportunities, and presented their findings to the members at the meeting.  I spent six to eight hours on each of my problems to try to answer the research question at hand.  Each panel member prepared a short (6 to 10 slides) presentation to summarize what they found in 10 minutes, with text, record images, and maps, plus conclusions relative to the question at hand, and suggestions for further research.  In every case, there were no firm answers to the "elusive ancestor" questions. 
In summary, it seemed to me that the researchers with the problems had done a pretty good job of getting to the present state.  However, they were stuck, at a "brick wall" point, and needed suggestions to help them further their research.

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