Archives for Natchitoches, LA

Back to the basics: Locality Guides

Don’t you just hate it when you have those “duh” moments?  Maybe you don’t ever have those, but I sure do.  Just this last week I was confronted with how much time I had wasted by not following one of the basic principles of genealogy.  Over and over again I have read that the first step in researching an ancestor in a new place is to study that place, what records are available, where are they, when was the county/state founded and what was it before.  I do practice this now, even writing up a one sheet locality guide when I begin on a new area.  I ran into problems this week because it wasn’t really a “new ” area for me to work on and so I didn’t think to approach it in the same way.  I have been researching the Murphey/Murphy clan in northwestern Louisiana for about 10 years now in an on again- off again type of way.  Since my mother-in-law had moved from her birthplace in the NW Louisiana/ SW Arkansas area in the mid 1940s sometime when she was just a teenager and refused to talk about her family at all I had none of the traditional first step sources of asking relatives that I could turn to to start.  So I began by entering  the names I had into internet search engines.  There were so many families and they moved with such ease back and forth over the borders of states and counties and I didn’t have very clear picture of which families were in which county/parish or even in which state at any period of time.  Several of the families had genealogists who were very knowledgeable and had posted sourced information online so for several years I busied myself with tracking down the originals of those sources and adding to them with my own research.  The Murpheys were one big brickwall.  The only reference that I could even find was an unsourced IGI entry and a rootsweb inquiry from 1998  that said that my husband’s great grandfather was “Coon” Murphey.  There was no “Coon” Murphey on a census record anywhere!  They were firmly situated on the back burner.

In 2011 I managed to track down the poster of that 1998 message and found that he was a grandson of “Coon” Murphey.  With the information and records he provided, the Murphey family jumped back onto my active research list.  With all this history in the area, when I began researching the family in depth in preparation for a trip to DC in November I did not take the time, or honestly even think to do a locality guide at this time.  What I did do was to start trying to place the various locations associated with the family on a map, since I want to particularly do land records research.  I had found an uncle of “Coon” on the 1840 Census, along with a lot of other families that the various brothers married into, but they were all in Claiborne Parish.  Not a single person of interest comes up in 1840 in Bienville Parish, where I know that they were founding members of a church in 1844.  Oh well, I guess they moved…. In 1850, Coon Murphey’s father and mother are in Natchitoches Parish, but Coon’s half siblings from his father’s first marriage were with their maternal grandfather back in Bienville Parish.  Coon’s paternal grandfather was in Bienville also as were his paternal aunts and uncles.  A warrant for military bounty land for service in the War of 1812 was awarded to John Murphey, Coon’s grandfather,  in Bienville in 1851.  I needed to find them all in 1860.  Hours and hours were spent trying every spelling combination possible to turn up anyone in 1860 with no luck.  Where could they all have gone?  

Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place and began to research Bienville Parish.  The first thing that I found was that Bienville was only formed in 1848 from the southern part of Claiborne.  The family was probably right near that church they helped found in 1844 all along.  With that little problem settled I kept reading the Family Search Wiki which had lots of good info, but moving on to the USGenweb site for Bienville Parish I came across this little nugget,  There is no 1860 census for Bienville Parish, which was either lost or destroyed.   

Lesson learned.  I will always begin with developing a locality guide whenever I start  research in a new area OR revisit a previously worked location that I have never developed a Locality Guide.

Why Genealogy Conferences?

FGS blog logo

You may have noticed this emblem on the sidebar of this blog.  It is there to direct your attention to one of the most exciting genealogy events to be held in 2013,  Journey Through Generations, the Federation of Genealogical Societies  annual conference.  It will be held this year in Fort Wayne, Indiana August 21-24.  Those of you who have never been to a major conference might be asking yourselves the question, “Why Genealogy Conferences?”  Those who have attended in the past know why, but that reason might be different for each individual.

My first national conference was last year’s FGS conference in Birmingham, Alabama and my answer to “Why Genealogy Conferences?” was “Elizabeth Shown Mills“.  She is my genealogy hero, and not only for her work on citing sources.  She is the foremost authority on Natchitoches, LA region genealogy where my husband has multiple ancestors. Future blogs will deal with this more. Ms. Mills does not appear at a lot of conferences, at least not out west at my local society,  but I had promised myself that if I saw a conference where she was speaking I would be there if I could.  Last year FGS was my chance and I was not disappointed.  Her talks were informative, but more than that they were fun!  She will once again be a presenter at FGS and I will be there in each of her sessions.   This year’s conference is full of presentations by other amazing genealogists who speak to so many different subjects.  The location of the FGS conference each year lends to the emphasis of one or two of the different tracks and this year’s has many lectures focusing on the Midwest and the groups that tended to settle there.  Most of our ancestors spent some time at least passing through the Midwest and this is the ideal time to focus our learning there.  Many times some of the sessions are recorded and you could possibly listen later to the presentations, but the dynamics of being there in person are not to be missed.  The ability to speak one-on-one to the presenter, to ask questions, to get that little tidbit of advice or direction from an expert in the field that has you stumped….PRICELESS as the commercial would say.

The ability to interact with superstar genealogists is only one facet that comes from attendance at a conference like FGS.  Imagine spending 3 or 4 days with hundreds of people that are just as passionate about genealogy as you are!  The energy that comes from just being able to sit and talk with others that will listen and give suggestions is sometimes enough to blast down those brick walls.  Maybe you will have the key to blast through for someone else?  Maybe you will find the long lost cousin that has the family Bible?  Genealogists are some of the most generous people that I have ever met and this give and take and sharing of strategies is all the answer that is needed for some to answer, “Why Genealogy Conferences?”

The Exhibition Hall is the answer for others.  Are you an “early adapter”?  One of those that always has the newest program, the latest device?  This is where you will find them.  New tools are coming out all the time and the vendors are more than happy to take the time to explain to you how to use them to your advantage.  Even if you aren’t interested in learning new methods or programs, the largest booths are occupied by those tried and true favorites like, FamilySearch, Fold3, NEHGS.  They all have a supply of computers there with staff just waiting to help you perfect your search strategies on their sites.  Who knows the breakthroughs that could be waiting there for you?

One of my reasons for being particularly excited about this year’s FGS is the location.   Fort Wayne, Indiana is the home of the The Genealogy Center of Allen County Library, the second largest genealogy library in the US.    This will be my first visit there and I am really looking forward to exploring the unique resources there.  The Allen County Library is the home to the largest collection of English language genealogy and local history magazines and newsletters.  The PERSI (Periodical Source Index) was developed by the staff there to allow you to find articles of interest to your research.  PERSI can be accessed through HeritageQuest at many libraries, but only in Fort Wayne can you have instant access to the articles of interest once you find one in the index.  Many people journey to Fort Wayne even when there is not a conference going on right there, but travelling there Aug 21-24 for FGS is like getting 2 trips for the price of 1.  How could you pass up a deal like that!

One final group that does not need me to give them a reason for attending FGS 2013 is those that have responsibility for the growth of their local genealogy societies.  FGS does after all stand for “Federation of Genealogical Societies” and the schedule on Wednesday the 21st is dedicated to programs geared to helping societies develop new programs and expand and serve the growing number of genealogists.

See you there!

St. Louis, Missouri

My favorite city for genealogical research is St. Louis. As the home of my ancestors for over 150 years, St Louis is full of treasures. I will bring you a wealth of knowledge in your search for ancestors in St. Louis.

Natchitoches, Louisiana

My husband’s family has taken me to in-depth study of the Natchitoches, Louisiana area from the time when it was the border between French held and Spanish held territory, to the Carolinas, where Bamberg county was named for a relative, and to New York and Holland Land Purchase research.

Early Boston Settlers

Another line led to research in Puritan Boston in the 1630s, to a brother-in-law of both Rev. John Cotton and Rev . Richard Mather. He was numbered among the early Baptists in spite of his relations. Lutheran church planters and New Light Baptists in the Appalachians, LDS pioneers and Catholics, church records yield some of the most interesting insights into their lives.

  • Boston

  • Categories