Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 28 Feb 2016.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Leesburg, Florida Genealogical Conference of the Ohio Genealogical Society, Florida Chapter Debbie Mieszala, CG, presented on 3 topics: Newspaper Research in the Midwest, Land Records in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Pulling Evidence from Beneath a Record’s Surface. I was especially interested in the Pennsylvania land records for the Kinship Determination Project I’m working on for my genealogical portfolio.
Having a horrible time locating a deed – I’ve checked with the county, actually two since one was split from the other, called and emailed the local historical society, public library, local genweb contact and genealogical society. Had found a genealogist who told me the probate records don’t exist, after I spent $78.00 and gave her precisely what microfilm to look up in the courthouse. Worst part was she laughed when she told me it wasn’t there and didn’t credit me for the time left I had paid for. She did ask if there was another record she could look up while she was at the courthouse but that was all I needed at the time. Then she didn’t write a report of her findings; I asked her to send me her non finding and she sent one line via email. Found her on the Association of Professional Genealogist site so I assumed she’d be like the other APG members I’ve worked with. Did she do anything unethical? No, she just lacked the level of professionalism that I’m accustomed to in this field.
I’ve blogged before about the experience my 2nd cousin had when he hired a genealogist across the pond. Not wanting to admit his hire had done less than quality work he accused me of having wrong info. When I showed him my proof he contacted his genealogist who was happy to charge him more to recheck her work. When he balked she admitted she had only checked records 1900 forward and the children I had listed were born in the 1890’s. I’m not sure who was at fault there: Did he tell her to start with 1900? Did she inform him she had only looked beginning with 1900? (The records for the 1800’s were available as she later went back and verified my information). Was there a language barrier that impeded communication? Beats me! Clearly she hadn’t performed a reasonably exhaustive search, especially since the records were available in the same respository that she had found some of her data.
But back to the conference….
If you never attended a presentation by Debbie you must – she shares her personal stories in a way that is both inviting and instructional. I love how she laughs at the frustrations she encounters, such as illegible handwriting, missing sources and records not where they should be.
Now I have some new places to search and met some wonderful attendees from Pennsylvania who gave me additional advice. One gentleman has volunteered to send a cd he compiled of a valuable resource to anyone interested in Pennsylvania research. That alone was worth the drive! I’ll be spending part of today checking further and will make one last sweep through the areas I’m writing about in the summer so I can feel confident I performed a reasonably exhausted search.
My latest portfolio plan is to finish the KDP mid March, put it away for a month, check out the successfully submitted portfolios at the upcoming National Genealogical Society Ft. Lauderdale conference in May, edit the rest of the month and then visit the two areas I write about the most to make sure I’ve mined every available piece, do a last edit in August and submit in September – 1 month before my deadline. We’ll see how this works out!
The absolute best part of yesterday, however, was two events that were, well, weird. The first occurred at the conference. During introductions I mentioned that I was interested in Mercer County, Ohio as that was where my Leininger, Duer, and Kuhn families had resided. A woman sitting right in front of me turned and said, “My mother was a Leininger.” Yep, we’re cousins who had never met. At break I brought up my tree and found her line. She had never heard of the Leininger Family History books written in the early 1970’s so I gave her my email address and when I hear from her, I’ll forward her to the author. That’s the 2nd time in two months I’ve met a cousin face to face on my dad’s side! I would never have met either of these lovely ladies had I not been working on my portfolio. Oddly, I’m not even writing about my family. I’ve selected clients and my husband’s lines to submit. Hubby jokes that my dad’s side must feel a tad left out so the living keep popping up.
When I arrived home my husband was all smiles and said I had to look at the mail right away. Did I win something?! Yep, I won the genealogy lottery! A package had arrived from a former church historian in Indiana who had sent me copies of diaries from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s that had been donated to a church. The diaries were written by the sister of the wife of the 1st generation gentleman that is the focus of my KDP. I couldn’t eat dinner – I had to begin reading. I’m only up to 1890 (so my 3rd generation hadn’t even been born yet) but the diaries contain information that I was told no longer existed. Wow. Double Wow.
What’s really strange is that I had contacted the pastor who had forwarded my email to this wonderful woman. She had sent a few pictures back to him. He didn’t forward her email to me, instead, he sent me a new email with the pictures attached. As I reviewed them I noticed that one was missing. I hated to be a pest and recontact him as I didn’t think the missing picture of unidentified children who had attended the church in the early 1900’s would be very helpful but I wanted to be thorough so I did email him again. He forwarded my email to the historian who resent the picture directly to me. I was correct that the picture wasn’t helpful, however, she mentioned the diaries and asked if the pastor had informed me about them. Nope, guess he “forgot” that part. I’m so glad I am a pest, otherwise I would never have known about this valuable resource. The diaries quote scripture frequently; although I haven’t come across this line yet, all I keep thinking is Matthew 7:7 “Ask and you shall receive.” Works for me! Happy Hunting…