MVGS 2016 Writing Contest

The Mount Vernon (Virginia) Genealogical Society recently held a writing contest as part of its 25th anniversary events. Fifteen members submitted stories about their ancestors. A committee of fellow members evaluated all the entries and the winner was Claire Kluskens with a story entitled “Rev. William McCullar Was the Star Witness in a Murder Trial in 1814.”

Second place went to Sharon MacInnes with “Brunswick Tavern” while third was a tie between Sharon Hodges “My Black Sheep and a Wonderful Memory” and Jim Drewry for “A Timely Blue-Grey Friendship.”

Thank you to MVGS for the award, and I hope others will enjoy the story as well. Congratulations also to the other award winners.

Gen-Fed Tales of Discovery, 2016

Malissa Ruffner, Director of Gen-Fed, the unique week-long course on using federal records in the National Archives for genealogical research, recently posted a list of “Tales of Discovery” by members of the Gen-Fed Class of 2016. The discoveries they made were in original paper records that are not online and not on microfilm. Their findings broke through brick walls, shattered erroneous conclusions made by others, and enriched their understanding of their ancestors’ lives and times. Fabulous stuff.

There’s no substitute for going beyond the “easy” online pickings to the harder-to-find or harder-to-access offline material.

There’s not enough time in the day, or in one’s life, to research everything, so one strategy is to focus on those ancestors or family groups that are most dear to you, and learn as much as you can about them. And then publish–or your work will perish.

Stevenson and Stephenson……

As many have said before, it’s no secret that ancestors with common forenames and surnames are challenging to research. The William Stephenson and Thomas Stevenson families of Hubbard Township, Trumbull County, Ohio, exemplified this challenge. This article in the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly, a publication of the Ohio Genealogical Society, presents preliminary results on research into their English origins in County Durham and County Northumberland, England. Although not specifically noted in the article, three factors aided the research: (1) Isabella’s less common forename, (2) family and U.S. record information pointing to County Durham; and (3) two known associate families–Marsh/March and Pringle.

Lewis Miller, Coppersmith

Ancestors with common surnames like Miller can be frustrating and complex to research. Lewis Miller of Painesville, Ohio, had a relatively uncommon given name and an unusual occupation. This combination helped “connect the dots” from his final residence in Painesville, Ohio, to earlier residences in New York City and Ontario/Yates Counties (NY). It also helped link him to other relatives. This article in Lakelines, the newsletter of the Lake County (Ohio) Genealogical Society, discusses some of the newspaper articles and advertisements that made these connections possible.