News at 11: Just found out that my “brick wall” may now be a ” black sheep”

October 10, 2013

Don’t you like the Questions and Answer sessions where someone asks a question and the person responding says

So.. blah, blah, blah. Drives me crazy.

So, I get this email response to a question about the Worthington Family History Society DNA Project. Of the group who were tested, 36, I was in a group of 4. The four of use all are in the US, and close to our common ancestors home. In fact, one lives in the SAME TOWN as our 6th Great Grandfather.

Not long ago, I made this Blog Post: New Thoughts on “Brick Walls”. I still think that is true. When I started to do my Family Research I kept running into information that just didn’t look right. When I tried to “cross the pond” there was conflicting information, names and dates that didn’t make any sense. So, I stopped.

Not that long also, I posted a message for a trial “peer review” and one comment was that you don’t have Negative Evidence but Negative Findings. Thank you Elizabeth Shown Mills of fame and author of a book by the same name.

Also, I learned a lot while we did the Mastering Genealogical Proof a book by Dr. Thomas W Jones where we learned how to work with the Genealogical Proof Standard. I have blogged about that, and won’t talk about it here now.

I changed my thought process about the term BRICK WALL.

I had stopped for 10+ years about trying to find Who were the Parents of Capt John Worthington (1650 – 1701).

At least i have a specific Question to answer. Didn’t even know about that until a couple of months ago, thanks to Dr Jones. I followed a Shaky Leaf and actually saw a Baptismal Record from the early 1600’s in the right location. Wow, I can start to look for Capt John. But life got in the way. I have been working with a lot of data from the Worthington Family History Society 17th Century Project where a team of Worthington researchers at look at gathering, verifying information and creating 17th Century Pedigree Views.

I am still not making a connection. One of my US based cousins put together a very credible view of the ancestry of Capt John. Resolved conflicting information after putting his research together, lots of great documentation. However, some of his conclusions were part of what I had looked at a very long time ago. I wasn’t uncomfortable with what his conclusion was as there was nothing to argue about. Totally credible information.

Every once in a while, I would check the FamilyTreeDNA project status. No change: Y-DNA Haplagroup numbers:

  • Haplagroup E – 2 people
  • Haplagroup G – 1 person
  • Haplagroup I – 13 people
  • Haplagroup R1b1b2 – 16 people
  • Haplagroup J2 – 4

J2 is what my results are. All 4 are in the vicinity of Maryland.

So, I sent an email to the Worthington Family History Society for a Status Update on the Larger Project hoping the someone from the United Kingdom had been or will be tested. Hoping someone from across the pond would be  a J2. No such luck.

Just as I was loading the car for a 3 hour drive to Baltimore, I did a quick, final check of my Email. A RE: (reply) to my email question. OK, here comes the answer, gotta read it.

As I read it, I see:

 If a distant relative cannot be found to confirm this there are two possibilities: one, that your line is from a founding family in the 14th century and we have not discovered a matching line or two, that you should match another known W(orthington) line but that there has been “Non Paternal Event” (illegitimacy, adoption etc) sometime before Capt John resulting in a different Haplagroup.

So, my “brick wall” may have become a Black Sheep. OK, that sort of backs up my earlier concern about the relationships that I had seen early on; the stuff that didn’t quite make sense to me.

Elizabeth Shown Mills was right, I haven’t looked in the right place. But thinking about what Dr Jones brought up, maybe I haven’t asked the Right Question.

Driving down all of the information that I could remember was running through my mind. What did I miss? What do I want to go back to look at again. I thought about the term FAN Club (Family, Acquaintance, and Neighbors). (Wish I could note who presented us with that term). I have followed some of the FAN Club, but who did I not look at close enough?

I am going to re-look at the FAN club and change my research Question. I have a couple of thoughts on both. I have had a couple of Why questions that have been around from the beginning.

It would appear that today’s DNA Technology may disprove a number of conclusions that I have seen all over, if these DNA results are right.

Off to go chase a Sheep

Re-Read what you have

October 4, 2013

I have made a family connection that came as a surprise. Some of you know that DearMYRTLE and I are cousins. That came about by some computer screen sharing during a couple of presentations. The new cousin, Crista Cowan, The Barefoot Genealogist was giving a presentation on livestream/ancestry, and like Myrt saw a name, location, and timeframe that I knew.

Now, this IS a challenge. Related to someone at Ancestry?

What a golden opportunity to try to demonstrate how I use a connection, through an Ancestry Member Tree (AMT), to collaborate. I live within 2 hours of the “common place”. It was a Quaker Meeting, had hoped with an attached Burial Ground, so I started to see if we had a connection. I certainly knew the Surname that got my attention, found it very quickly in my genealogy database. We shared our links to our AMTs, sure enough, not just one surname but several.

I have blogged about this in another Blog, if you are interested:

FTM2014 – Ancestry Member Tree Connection – Part 1

FTM2014 – Ancestry Member Tree Connection – Part 2

FTM2014 – Ancestry Member Tree Connection – Part 3

But, I haven’t looked at that branch for a very long time. I better get to work and clean it up, as I have been doing. So, I thought I would share a lesson, already learned in the past, GO BACK AND LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE, and I have.

I started with about 300 Family Group Sheets from my Dad’s first cousins. I worked with them over 10 years ago. So, I had all of those Family Group Sheets entered into my database.


So, I am taking this time to Scan these Family Group Sheets, putting the Citations into the correct Source Template for this type of document. Then I go back and check that all of the facts / events on these sheets are properly cited. Although done 10 – 12 years go, I hadn’t done too bad of a job.

So, why blog about that ?

Because I also read the notes that I already had in my database. It came from this page of that Family Group Sheet.


I am sure you can’t read that, but this is what it said, that got my attention and the reason for this blog post.

“Sixty or seventy years ago [that would be ca 1800], some of the farmers of Little Egg Harbor, who had not farms for all of their sons, sent the farmless over to Philadelphia to lean the brick layers trade, and especially this was the case among the Willits; and this is the cause of so many of them being residents of that city. Those who were sober and industrious amassed clever fortunes, but those who embarked in the craft of dissipation, went down to the grave in utter destruction, “unhonored and un____”!

“Among the youngsters of Little Egg Harbor who were apprenticed to the brick layer’s trade, was Allan, son of Thomas Ridgeway, 3rd, Eben, John, and James, sons of Thomas Willits, Sr. Jeremiah [18], son of Jeremiah Willits, Sr., [36] and Archelan R., son of Timothy Pharo, Jr., also Job, Nathan and Edmond, sons of Nathan Bartlett, 2nd.”

That little, re-read note, with 10 years of learning under the belt, NOW I have a Hint about why this family left Little Egg Harbor and moved closer to Philadelphia. The family did have a large farm, and I need to go back to Little Egg Harbor to find the farm, but the mentioned children headed to Philadelphia to learn a trade. Sounds like a reasonable reason to relocate.

That last name, Nathan Bartlett, may be connected to The Barefoot Genealogist family.

Lesson Learned: Re-Read what you already have. You may have learned something between the time you entered it, or last looked at it. May have given you new eyes to see what you want to find.

New Thoughts on “Brick Walls”

September 23, 2013



Brick Walls

A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post by James Tanner Analyzing Brick Walls — a genealogical myth or reality? and saw a presentation given by him. It was a video of a live presentation. I couldn’t find a link to that video, for which I am sorry. It was a great presentation.

After working through Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP), DearMYRTLE’s study group on that book, and a dialog with Elizabeth Shown Mills (Evidence Explained) I think I am going to stop using that term. In fact, I rarely use it, but see it a lot on Facebook and other places where Family Historians hang out.

I know that IF I hit my head against a brick wall, I am going to get a headache, or definitely warn out. It’s exhausting just running up to that brick wall, only to be pushed back.

When working with a friend about their “brick wall”, I observed that they were so focused on that brick wall, that they didn’t see the answer, right in front of them.

In Mr Tanner’s August 25, 2011 blog (link above) he said:

“Let me give my definition of a “brick wall.” I consider a brick wall to be a researching situation where records should exist and a person should have been recorded, but for whatever reason is not found and records are not easily located. This rules out the end-of-line situations where you can no longer find records back in the 1500s or so.  “

Isn’t that like Exhaustive Research, that we talked about in the study of the Genealogical Proof Study in Dr. Jone’s book?

It’s like, to me anyway, the difference between Negative Evidence instead of Negative Findings, as Elizabeth Shown Mills taught me.

When I run up to that Brick Wall, I am starting to STOP, and see if there is a way around it. Or, Look somewhere else. Another Genealogy friend, Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist has a category on her Blog on Methodology. I have heard her speak in person, and each time reminded of “other” places to look.

In cleaning up my genealogy database, my clean up is focused on my Sources, putting them into the correct, Evidence Explained!! format. A long project, but so worthwhile. I was doing this clean up for one reason, formatting of the Reference Notes, that what I found was a number of pieces of information that I had over looked the first time (OK, couple of times). Right there in front of me, was the piece of information that I was looking for. It wasn’t a brick wall after-all, I just didn’t look enough. I think that a number of folks in the MGP Study Group had the same experience. Of course, I have learned much about research since that first time I looked at those sources.

In another example, I was trying to prove or disprove that a gentleman served in the Civil War. That’s when I learned about Negative Findings instead of Negative Evidence. I had been looking at this one document, a couple of other helpers looked at it, but missed the one small piece of information that was in the Log Book. To make a long story short, the County was wrong for MY person. Right state, wrong county.

Learned Lesson: I am going to change Brick Wall to Keep Looking and sooner rather than later.

09/11 Flight 93 Memorial

September 11, 2013

Another anniversary is here. We are reminded of what happened in New York and Washington, but not so much about Pennsylvania. Two years ago, Patti and I decided to take a trip to the Flight 93 National Memorial.


When we arrived, there was a delay for our entry into the Memorial area. What we didn’t know, was that President Obama was meeting with the families of those that died 10 years earlier, on that sacred ground.

The presidential choppers took off from a near by field, and we were allowed in. We passed many family members leaving as we walked in.  The press was there, of course, asking questions. but for many of us, it was a time to remember. Not necessarily for our family members, but for those who lost family on that day.


There are family members in the picture above.

Below, is the resting place for Flight 93. We would find out later, that our President put flowers on that sacred place.


The memorial was very plain, but appropriate. On this day, many people were taking pictures.


There were many stories, left behind.



Looking down the wall, which was the actual final flight path, beyond a wooden gate, was the mound of dirt, where the plane rested.


Of course the media was there, as you can tell by the satellite trucks on the hill


And the reporters ….



As with other memorial services, these bells were rung.


And motorcycles, many, many motorcycles, many with American Flags.


The entrance to the Memorial, with the wall just to the right of this picture.


Slide Scanning Project

September 4, 2013

I am working on a Slide Scanning Project. I have 50 years of 35MM Slides. That doesn’t include the same number of years of slides from my Dad. I had started to record my slides, but over the years, my catalog got lost in software updates at some point in time. I had my slides labeled. So, I have started to record my slides.

Here is my Spreadsheet format:


I have all of my slides with a Roll Number, the Slide Number from the slide, I have descriptions, with will include names if I have them. The Category helps me group them by subject and the Date that is marked on the Slide. The Box, Column, and Slot are the Box of slide information so I know where they are. This one is Box 2, Column 2 and 3 (of 6), and 2 slides per slot. 25 Slots per roll. So, 300 slides per box.

As I have been going through them. I have scanned a couple of them, and am labeling the Scanned Slide as the Roll and Slide number. For sorting purposes, I have for the slide filename, I am using three numbers, like 022. At this point, I am NOT scanning all of them. I have been scanning some slides to include in my genealogy database management program. I have a number of photos that need to be there.

Now, I have had a number of Slide Scanners in the past. none really worked well / easy for me. I did a search for slide scanners and found this:

DBTech 35mm Film Slide and Negative Scanner – 10 Mega Pixel Film to Digital Image Converter – with 2.4-Inch LCD and TV-Out

Here is what it looks like:


It’s a USB Connection to my PC. It will also handle a SD Card. Very compact, nice tilting viewing screen. Without a card, this will hold about 10 scans. I want to rename the “generic” filenames to the filenames listed above. It also helps break up the task at hand. So, I’ll transfer the scans to my PC and rename them right there.

Using the sorting and filtering features of my spreadsheet program, I know what slides have been scanned. I can then use my photo editing program to do what I want to, but at a later time.

Here is an example of a photo that was taken in 1963. Looks pretty good for me.


One of the main reason for the above picture, is so that I can scan my pictures of one of my cousin’s who passed away due to cancer. Actually these are my cousins, 2 have passed away, a couple of brothers, a brother and sister are also seen. I posted this one on Facebook, and while I was posting it, and replying to a comment, one of these cousin’s “liked” the picture.

Not bad, huh? The real slide isn’t too much better. Printing also looks pretty good.

Negative Evidence or Negative Findings

August 10, 2013

Lesson Learned: There is a difference.

I have been struggling with my search results for this Mastering Genealogical Proof study. My genealogical question is, Did James A Wake serve in the Civil War?

How can you prove that he did not serve, when you can’t find a positive piece of information that states that.

During the peer review of the Source Analysis I had done, I said that my search on was Negative, as I didn’t find anything. The review by the Evidence Explained team challenged me on this. In fact, the recommendation was that it is INDIRECT evidence. Looking at what that meant, was simply “keep looking”. That indirect term is a warning that you haven’t answered the question yet. All that to say that what I really had was “Negative FINDINGS“.


I have adjusted my search results for to Indirect. Haven’t found the answer.

From the information collected so far, I will only be able to infer that he did not serve and will not be able to prove it. The inference will come from the understanding of the Classification in the Congressional Registration and not being able to find any reference to his serving in any other source that is available.

Mastering Genealogical Proof – Chapter 2 revisited

August 10, 2013

Chapter 2 – Revisited

Russ Worthington
10 August 2013

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof , (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), p 7-16

Book available from the publisher at

If you have been following my Blog on the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, you may has seen that I put a Source Analysis Report out for Peer Review. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to receive comments from Elizabeth Shown Mills. I have had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of times, in person, but did not expect to have a review of my struggle with this book.

Her comments were very clear AND very helpful. But what it did for me was to cause me to go back are read Chapter 2 again and see what I was missing. Also, I am using the Evidentia software program to help me learn. That is practice what I am learning. (for me)

When I went back at the chapter AND how I was using Evidentia I missed something that was right in front of me, but didn’t see it. The book, and Evidentia are walking me through the steps, I wasn’t DOING the steps in order.

The report I was running, and putting out for peer review was a Source Analysis Report. But what I was missing, I was creating that report with the eye of one who has already done detailed analysis on the data collected. I had already been through the cycle and was returning to document the analysis. Like reading the last chapter of a book, then judging the book by its cover.

Let me try a different way of explaining this. I see a Container of something, then describing the container after I already opened the package that was inside of the container. If I consider a SOURCE as being a Container, for this report, I should be trying to describe the CONTAINER. Is it Round, is it Square, Did it come by truck, by plane or by boat.

I should be trying to describe that its round or not. If its not round, it could get to me by truck or boat. For the topic at hand, is the SOURCE an Authored Work, or is it a Record, and that Record could be original or it could be derived from records.

The container being Round or Source an Authored Work, it might contain someone interpretation of records, but it will never be a record. The Square container or Record, might come in two forms, an original record or derived, but these two records will never be Round.

Evidentia does help me through this step. I just didn’t see it that way. The opening screen:

We start with this screen, then we select Document Source.


I have created a Source using the Template Feature, that walks me through the fields that need to be in a Source Statement that will become a Citation later. I must Classify what this Source is. The options are Original Record, Derived Record, or Authored Work. Is the CONTAINER Round, or Square, and if square did it come by boat or truck. Evidentia helps us with that on this screen in that. It asks if we are looking at an Image Copy, then it would be Original, or is it an Image copy that is derived. Derived from something else. Is it a Clerk’s Copy, a Transcript, and Extract, Abstract or an Index, all of which would be derived.

I got that piece right, in that I made a selection, but I was looking at a Registration book. Just thinking about that, perhaps it really is a Clerk’s Copy, and that is based on the fact that the page had names in alphabetical order and would appear that they were written at the same time. I have now changed my choice from Image Copy (Original) to Clerk’s Copy (Derived). I had to go back to that image and look at the fact that the list was in alphabetical order and written about the same time. It would appear that there was some other record or piece of paper that was then put into this Register in the proper order. My Container was Square but came by boat not by truck (Derived not Original)

The next step is to Catalogue the INFORMATION in the Container. Not analyzing the information, but cataloging the information. We start, in Evidentia, by identifying the Claims from the information that we are presented with. Is it Primary, Secondary, or we can’t determine (Indeterminable).

For a US Census Record, until the 1940 Census, we could NOT tell who the Informant of the information was. All US Census until 1940 would be “Indeterminable”. We just don’t know, nor can we guess.


Can we determine from each claim who gave the information. That’s simple, or is it? Information collected from that container, could be a mixture of Primary or Secondary. Did the Informant give the information directly, from experience, or from someone else or was told about the information being asked.

In the case of my Civil War Registration record, all of the information that was recorded in that book have been concurred in by other records. So, if James A Wake gave the information to the clerk for recording into that register, the informant and Classification would be Primary.

So far, I have classified the Source as Derived, and the Information as Primary, trying not to confuse the content with the container. My peer review document had confused, but my data entry, the content then the container or source.

I didn’t see any signature, nor statement of who the informant was, so I had selected indeterminable. But the information provided would have been answered by someone who knew or witnessed making it Primary information.

The third step, sticking with this first Container or Source is to evaluate the Information Collected or Evidence from This Source. Evidentia helps with that as well.


We have to choices when evaluating the Claims. Direct or Indirect or Negative. The claim makes a clear statement or we have to pull information together or to be able to answer the question.

Lesson Learned: Answer the questions, in Evidentia, in the order asked. Don’t read the last chapter of the book to find out how the story ends, before reading the book.

Lesson Learned:
This experience does NOT mean that the information is correct or incorrect. I won’t find that out until I have followed these steps, in order, several times, before I can analyze ALL of the information that I have collected. That’s the next step AFTER I have found more sources.


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