30 August 2016

September President's Column in its Entirety

 As we promised in the issue of News 'n Notes that went out this morning, here is the entire "President's Column." To those of you who aren't StLGS members, a reminder that the electronic edition of each month's newsletter is always just a click away. Just use the News 'n Notes button on the home page of our website to access it.

“One day you turn around and it’s summer. Next day you turn around and it’s fall. And the springs and the winters of a lifetime, whatever happened to them all?” (lyrics by Sammy Cahn, recorded by Frank Sinatra) Well, yes, here we are in the fall and where is this year of 2016 going? Are we preserving the memories of our lifetime? I think as genealogists that is exactly what we are doing.
I always think of September as the transitional month––getting back to the routine of settling in for the shorter days, the anticipation of the leaves turning, and the changing of greens to yellows, oranges, and browns.
So much about September can also be related to our memories of returning to school. I remember well setting off for my first day of school proud of my brand new box of crayons and my freshly sharpened #2 yellow pencil and lined tablet. Well, times they are not only “a changing” but have changed. The tools of the trade today are laptops. Where my pencil had an eraser, my computer has a delete button! But we change with the times and keep moving forward. I am sure like me you are reminded that staying busy and taking on new challenges keeps us in the game, our minds active, the aging process slowed. Well, we who are doing genealogy are very much keeping our minds active.
Our group of researchers who are going to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City this fall has had their pre-departure group meeting and should be, as I write this, in the throes of preparation. Getting prepared to go on a research trip, whether it be a day or a week, is essential. You have to know what you are looking for and where you will find it. It is wonderful to be able to sit at home and just log on to the Family Search website and search their catalog.
Researching is what we love about genealogy, but I have always loved puzzles. My grandmother loved doing jigsaw puzzles, and during the winter, there would always be a puzzle on the dining room table where you could sit and work while listening to the radio. Yes, remember radio?
My recent endeavors have taken me to researching South Carolina. Now as you have probably discovered in your own research, when you get back to the early 1800s and before, finding actual records gets to be an even greater challenge. No census before 1790, but thank goodness for land records, tax records, and court records.
When at the St. Louis County Library History and Genealogy Dept. the other day, I found a marvelous book with a detailed map inside where I was able to pinpoint the exact location of the earliest land record for my ancestor. It turned out that even though it was a South Carolina record, the land was actually in what was then North Carolina. This discovery has thrown a new light on this research.
Maps are wonderful in so many ways and another essential resource for genealogists. There is a very useful book, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790–1920, by Thorndale and Dollarhide, that if you haven’t used, you might want to refer to when researching county and state boundaries. (Coincidentally, this book, which until recently was out of print, is now available at the StLGS store in case you might like to buy a copy for yourself.)
The society has come into possession of an 1873 Atlas of the United States that is so extremely detailed and full of valuable information. A professional photographer has scanned it for us and we hope to get the images up on our website for you, our members, in the near future as another research tool for your benefit.
I hope that you are being successful in your pursuits. When I get to a place in my research where I just seem to be bogged down and I am not getting anyplace, I lay that particular line aside for a bit and pick up another to work on. As there is never going to be an actual “finish,” I find it a better method for me.
            No matter whether you are working alone or with a partner or a group, the experience of solving the puzzle and the satisfaction of success are the tangible rewards but there are to me so many other rewards that seem to come with this hobby. One of the best rewards for me is the people whom I meet and the experiences and stories that are shared. We often think of genealogy as a quiet, studious endeavor but to me it is wrought with serendipitous moments that can be shared and enjoyed with others.
      Please know that we are here not only to assist but we want to hear your stories of discovery. 
      Happy hunting,
      Fran Behrman, StLGS president