Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Doce Abuelos en dos dias

Or, to translate that "12 Grandparents in Two Days"

My great-grandparents, Ma. Dolores Orozco
and her husband Jose Jimenez de Jimenez, c. 1928
(my 12 new ancestors are in Jose's tree)
Am I thrilled about the digitized parish records from Mexico now available online at FamilySearch.org? You betcha! And the title for this blog post sums up why. But if you want the whole story, you'll need to read on.

First, some background on how I got started researching my (and now also my husband's) family history. When I was a kid, my mom would let us look at our baby books and in them she had filled in the family tree pages. I was a bit fascinated by the idea of grandparents that went back further than the ones that I was acquainted with and the idea that there were so many more beyond the few generations recorded in these memory books.

When I got into high school, I decided to try to find out more about these mysterious ancestors. I was about 16 years old when I interviewed my four living grandparents (one was a step-grandfather). I dutifully recorded all that they told me (in an original 1977 Star Wars notepad, no less). But after gathering these leads I had no clue how to really proceed. I remember drawing out some family trees, taping notebook paper together and using different color crayons to identify how the various aunts, uncles and cousins were connected

Frankly, I was immediately overwhelmed. The info went into a file that I never did anything with, but held on to for twenty years.

Fast forward to 1997. My in-laws came to visit with us and help us get ready for the impending birth of our second child. This wasn't our first extended visit with them, but in the course of spending so much time together, painting and building furniture and such, I found myself doing what I'd done quite often on our previous visits: I asked them a lot of questions about the origins of the Fahrbach family.

See, despite my limited knowledge of my own predecessors, my hubby's knowledge of his own current, living family was practically non-existent. And as for his ancestors, well he could barely name all his grandparents and didn't recall ever meeting any of them.

Before the in-laws left us that hot, muggy August, they gifted me with my first copy of Family Tree Maker, and it wasn't long before I was really hooked on research.

The timing of when I got the program couldn't have been better because it coincided with our family's early access to the internet (on dial-up with AOL - yikes!) I was off and running. My in-laws also pointed a (previously unheard of) cousin my way who was a wealth of knowledge about my father-in-law's family history. She was the keeper of her family's history having inherited her father's research, files and rare books and letters.

We corresponded for some time and she shared lots of details and precious family photos. I was able to share with her some of the newer information that was becoming available online. In no time, I was also able to expand the research to include hubby's maternal line and then I finally came back to my own lines.

Despite a preconceived notion that my lines were unsearchable, I was able to build a very strong, well sourced tree on my father's lines. I was pleasantly surprised at this because I was under the misconception that due to the location (new mexico territory) and the socio-economic status of these ancestors (farmers, not wealthy), that there would be no records. Wrong! Not only are they there in census enumerations taken in that NM territory which had yet to become a state, they are also found in court and land records. They are found in newspapers. And best of all, they are found in many, many church records.

So I had made progress on both hubby's paternal and maternal lines. I had made progress on my paternal lines. But until last week, I'd made almost zero progress on my mom's lines. Her parents were both born in Mexico and not in a small town but in Guadalajara the capital of Jalisco. (As I often say, like trying to find a needle in a haystack.) Over and over again throughout the years my dilemma has been "where do I start and what do I do?" The dilemma is coupled with another problem: I'm not fluent in Spanish. So, for what seems like forever I have never been able to get past these hurdles.

I'd decided recently to JUST DO IT. So, I've done with all the books and experts tell you to do - start with what you know. I've got the details from those early 1977 interviews and gathered a few more details interviewing my mom's mom shortly before she died. I've put it all into my software. I've made timelines. I've done sideways research. I've printed maps of Mexico and learned a little more about its history. I've made lists of questions to focus my research efforts. I've been cleaning up my software files and my physical files. I've visited the local Family History Library to see what microfilms are on permanent loan. And that's where things started to fall into place.

I overheard a couple of patrons discussing research in Mexico and they casually mentioned the digitized images. How did I not know about this? I decided to go back and revisit some of the baptismal index records I'd added as sources and lo and behold there are now digital images to view.

1888 Baptismal record for Jose Jimenes de Jimenes,
son of Anastacio Jimenes and Maria Ysabel Jimenes

Little did I know how rich these records are in detail. Unlike the baptismal records I'd reviewed for New Mexico, these Jalisco records not only include parents names but they also include names for both paternal and maternal grandparents. What a boon to my research! In addition the baptism records often gives the birth date (sometimes including time of birth) and birthplace. I won't say how late I stayed up the night I made this discovery. Or how hard it was to get to sleep after poring over the images and finding so many ancestors. I was just too excited to sleep! The next day I got back online and started pulling baptismal records for children of all the new grandparents to hopefully help me with more sideways research.

I still have a few brick walls to break down on my mom's lines but it looks like I now have some great tools for doing that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our "living" history

Let me start off by saying once again, I'm a woman with more interests than time. It's frustrating because there are just SO many things I want to do and I have to remind myself to be realistic and recognize that there is simply no way to delve into everything all at once.

So, my method instead is to try to keep some semblance of order in the things that must be done on the homefront and content myself by immersing myself in the non-essentials on a sort of  "hobby-of-the-moment" basis. It means shelving some things I love doing, in favor of others. However, thankfully, because I do love all my "hobbies" they do roll back around in time.

And, of course, family history research is one of these.

So, lately in anticipation of getting back DNA results for my hubby and daughter I've dusted off the genealogy research. It's been awhile, so my files were definitely in need of some housekeeping. While waiting on the results, I decided to post a "direct ancestry" tree online for my husband, just as I'd done for myself when I had my DNA analyzed. (By "direct ancestry" what I mean is that the tree does not branch out for aunts/uncles/cousins. It is primarily a chain of ancestors.)

I'm just not sure how detailed I want to get with these online trees for a couple of reasons. First, these aren't really "working" trees. Instead, their purpose is to make it easier for others in the DNA program at Ancestry.com to locate me (whether we are related or researching the same line/s). But not only that, making these trees more elaborate also means more to maintain. Plus they would be parallel to my main tree which seem silly and redundant.

I manage my main tree with Family Tree Maker locally and then I periodically export that file as a gedcom to WorldConnect tree at Rootsweb (at Ancestry.com) It's a super easy process --new files overwrite older ones and other than replacing the file from time-to-time, there's really virtually no other work for me.

Speaking of which, I updated our family file today. You can find it here:

It's gonna need a few more tweaks because for some reason, whenever I upload a new file, I always start to notice little details that need attention. Not only that, today I learned out how to locate all the "post-ems" that viewers have added to my file. Some of them are so old, and I feel terrible that I haven't seen them earlier. It just never occurred to me to try to find a way to view them all at once rather than have them pop up in those rare moments when I was viewing my gedcom online. So added to my ongoing, never-ending list of tasks to work on while genealogy happens to be the favored hobby is going through these "post-em" replies and seeing what other researchers have brought to my attention and possibly take action.

My blog post title says it all -- our family history is "living" in that it is constantly changing and being clarified, corrected and improved.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Short Rant (aka Get Your Facts Straight)

I've just re-subscribed to Ancestry.com - a full year of access to everything. In the past I subscribed to US only documents but I decided to go for the biggie subscription this year thanks to dropping a couple of other monthly subscriptions.

While I know I'm sure to find some useful information there, I've also been reminded of a Very Annoying issue I've run into at their site. It's actually a two-fold problem.

First, there is a ridiculous THING (I don't know what else to call it), known as "One World Tree" that is fraught with the most annoying errors. One World Tree is a compilation of numerous trees, including many from Rootsweb's "World Connect" (Rootsweb was acquired by Ancestry some years back). And while the World Connect trees are still living documents that can be edited by the author as new or more accurate information is found (outsiders can also attach "post-its" to append info), unfortunately the One World Tree cannot. (On a side note, some of the World Connect trees are no longer being curated and have become stagnant.)

In fact, I wouldn't know how or where to begin to try to fix some of the amazing inaccuracies found there. One example that sticks in my mind is my maternal great-grandfather who is listed as married to a woman other than my gr-grandmother at the SAME TIME he was married to my gr-grandmother. I know for a fact he was not a bigamist.

The second part of the problem is that people are actually using and listing the One World Tree as a valid source for facts in their family trees. As you can imagine, all this does is perpetuate mistakes... they multiply like little evil bunnies and create confusion across the internet.

I'm not a professional genealogist, but I'm still interested in including only factual info in my family trees. I mean, isn't the point of searching out our history to see where we came from and who preceded us? Or is it just to grow the tree out as far as we can? (Never mind if the people in it are actually related to us.) Even if a person isn't into digging enough to find accurate source documentation, shouldn't that person at least use some common sense in using what they find? I've seen some people added to trees where simple basic facts like say a birth date, make it clear they couldn't be the person they are believed to be. (For example, one tree lists one of my gr-gr-grandmothers being born in 1866 and then bearing her first child in 1867.)

End of rant. Stepping off my soapbox now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The 1940 Census Has Been Released

Boy is that exciting news to even an amateur genealogist. Even though both my parents were born after that census, it will still give me plenty of details and information that I am eager to have. Both my in-laws had already been born, so looking forward to finding out more about the Fahrbach side of the tree as well.

But for now until the census is fully indexed, it's still a matter of wait and see. While I could slog through the actual records and take my chances on finding what I want, I think I'll wait and take the easy path and search after they've been indexed.

In the meantime, I'm working my way through the Big 16 surname files (the gr-gr-grandparents of both me and my hubby), trying to re-acquaint myself with where I am at in my research. It's been so long since I've done anything with them that very little of the details are in my memory banks, so I have to rely on the written record more than I had to in the past.

Even though I thought I would begin that undertaking when I set up this blog, it never really got anywhere sadly. So, the challenge I'm faced with now is how to stay on top of it without letting it take over my life and overwhelm me. My plan at the moment is to work on one line per month. At this point I may only get a couple of hours per month to actually do any research so that seems quite do-able. It will mean that my progress won't be very speedy, but any progress is better than stagnation with nothing whatsoever to show due to inactivity.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dusting Off My Genealogy Files

After about five years, I'm re-opening my research files and trying to pick up where I left off. I've been wanting to get back into genealogy for awhile now, but there is always so much to do and since my files were all packed away and inaccessible it seemed best to leave them be.

When we recently re-ordered some rooms in our house, my genealogy files had to be moved. Just seeing the old folders and binders and notes warmed my heart (I know... I'm weird). As I peered into some of the files, I was amazed at how unfamiliar a lot of what I had recorded had become to me. I was also surprised at how thorough a lot of my work was and how well organized most of it was. That alone should make it easier to dig back in, although since my time is more limited these days I'm trying to wade in slowly and avoid my habit of jumping in with both feet and getting completely overwhelmed. My schedule, I'm sure, will help make sure this doesn't happen.

I'll be using this blog as a supplement to the online family file which traces roots back from my children (so, includes history for both my lines and hubby David's lines). The online file is referenced in the links section of the navigation. I've also got a blog set up strictly for Banegas research since I've spent so much time on that line and there is much to share (also in the links section).

Happy hunting to my fellow family researchers and I hope you'll visit here from time to time for research updates.