Genealogy and Social Networking

The past couple of weeks have been busy, exciting, and affirming for me and the use of the technology that we have available to us today.

I have posted a couple of articles here that has told some of the story. But as you may guess, there is “the rest of the story”. But as the story continues to be written, another chapter has been written.

(what’s he talking about ???)

It all started with a phone call. An unknown person, with a surname I know, once I got beyond the Caller ID name, called and asked if I knew the relationship between us, the caller and myself, and a Towsend K. Cheyney, specifically to the Ingram Mills. “Didn’t know, but would do some research” was my answer.

That was Monday a week ago. Fast forward to last night, when I had a chance to listen to Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, of Who Do You Think You Are fame, in a presentation called “Cases That Made My Brain Hurt”

My wife and I had a chance to have coffee with Megan a couple of months ago and have been following her work for a number of years but have not had a chance to hear her speak. This was the talk for me to listen to, in the midst of the ongoing search for Towsend K. Cheyney.

What she described, to me at least, was how she does research in a variety of circumstances. Some of Megan’s examples were what I have been experiencing in my search for Towsend.

She used a different term, but the term I use is “look sideways”. That is, if you can’t find what you are looking for, look for other family members others in a community, but to take the blinders off and look around.

Don’t always take what you see / read and consider it ‘the truth’, but to consider the possibility that the information may be inaccurate. Check it out.

Use other resources. I thought her example of using her network of friends to help with a specific topic was perfect. The term, I guess, that we might use in 2010 is Social Networking, email, use of the Internet in our Family Research.

But clearly , in each of her examples, it was more than collecting and connecting names. It was to find out and tell stories about the people she was researching. Who were these “people”? What was their story? and making connections between people.

What is what these past two weeks have been about. A phone call from a cousin I didn’t know, reconnecting with a cousin I haven’t seen for “too long”, and connecting with new cousins. And at the same time, making the connection to Towsend K. Cheyney.

Within 10 minutes of posting the last message on this blog, I made two “cousin” connections. The first was following a couple of Bloggers on Twitter, Facebook, and the use of Google Reader, where Blogs can be read, letting google sending the blogs to the Google Reader for me to read. I was reading a blog that had, as an example, for this more technical blog, my Dad’s family. All there in black and white. What are they doing on this persons Blog? Followed by another contact asking about the Cheyney Surname. Wow, how cool is that?

An Email at least 10 years old, and two “hits” from a blog message in 10 minutes, is an example, for me, as to the benefit of “putting stuff out there” and patiently waiting.

The first blogger is JLog Simple Computer Technology for Genealogiest

That blog is where I saw my Dad’s family. There is a connection there, and more of a connection between the Blogger and Chester County, PA, which is where Towsend K. Cheyney lived.

The second blogger is Gini Webb at Ginislogy

Gini and I have communicated before on other occasions, but not about family research. The subtitle on her blog, really tells a story. “My place to Honor our Ancestors, Memories, Histories, and our Lives”.

Like JL, Gini has Cheyney in her research as well. Still working on that connection, but the location for us being related is very good, although not Chester County, PA (yet). She has too many surnames in her research not to have a connection somewhere.

The social networking paid off. Finding someone, in the area, willing to do some research or looking around for another researcher.

On Gini’s Facebook page, was a series of photos taken at the Southern Genealogical Genealogy Society’s conference last month. Megan Smolenyak had been there, but so had Gini. When I took Megan’s book, Who Do You Think You Are? up for her to sign (for my daughter) I put that photo inside the book where Megan would sign so that she could see my “new found cousin”.

Most of the week was doing research, looking for Towsend, no luck, but I had put together a pretty good view of the Cheyney family down from the earliest Cheyney in Chester County (PA).

While walking the Old Cheyney Family Burial Ground, I saw Towsend headstones. Not first names, but as a Surname. As usual, I ask the question, “Where did that name come from?”

Knowing that I wouldn’t be researching for a couple of days, I remembered the JLog blog posting, so I sent an email to see if there was a Towsend in their files. Waiting for a reply, I did another Google Search for Towsend K. Cheyney. I ended up on a website with the genealogy report that included our Cheyney’s. Oh, and there was a link to JLog as well. So there was a connection. What that tree gave me was the siblings of Towsend, that was information that I didn’t have. This let me look ‘sideways’.

A quick check in the 1850 Census put the family together. My ancestor was listed as the brother of Towsend K. Cheyney. When looking the census records showed the neighbors, including other Surnames that were in the family.

Haven’t found where “Towsend” came from, yet, but I’ll guess that there is a connection with the surname in the area at the time.

Cousin Barbara has the connection to Towsend that she wanted (I hope), Nancy, the current owner of the Cheyney house, is on the way to get the family story about previous owners of the house, and I have filled in a couple of pieces in the early childhood of my father in the letters that Evie had in a bank deposit box.

Not to mention connection to cousins who blog.

My feet hurt from the “Happy Dance” of the week.

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4 Responses to Genealogy and Social Networking

  1. You have really been doing the happy dance, congratulations! I feel your excitement and dance with you! I had a couple new cousin connections myself this week, although not bloggers. So much excitement makes us look forward to more excitement and what we can find next. You have had a marvelous week! That is awesome!

  2. While some might just chalk this up to Providence, happenstance or even “genealogical serendipity,” your post highlights this fact: these connection don’t just happen without some work on our part. We have to post at our blogs – or even comment on a blog post if we don’t have a blog. Connections just don’t happen – they need a “starter”

  3. Gini Webb says:

    Excellent post cousin! I have been doing the genealogy happy dance since that day!

    When I saw the surnames Cheyney and Worthington, I got the goosebumps and new down deep there was a connection between us, and believe it or not, Ariana was my first gut feeling she was the connection.

    I am so grateful for blogging and social networking, it does pay to participate. Had I not, I wouldn’t have connected with you and met so many wonderful people along with such amazing opportunities. I am so glad we are “family” Russ!

    Glad you had the opportunity to be in one of Megan’s lectures…she is wonderful.

  4. Gini Webb says:

    Congratulations on your many new found connections.

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