Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Was on-site 1907 research any easier?

From: SFontanel
Re: Accessing , I just got off the telephone with a delightful Footnote technician who walked me thru the process. He suggested that rather than using AOL, which I use [to access the internet] that [I minimize AOL once online] and switch to Internet Explorer. Everything is working A-Okay. He also had me go into the "cookie" box and we cleaned that up, too!

I am not a computer guru -- only know the basics.

This young man was so gracious and patient with me in clearing up my problem. M.......I retract my statement about They're right up there with you, now! Thanks for all your help and listening to me when I was so frustrated.


Thanks for the feedback, Ol' Myrt will be sure that the Footnote team receives a copy of this blog entry.

This brings up a good point – doing genealogy in a hi-tech world isn’t easy, but research wasn’t easy 100 years ago either.

Go with me on a little imaginary journey with my real grandmother Myrtle – supposing how things would have been if she had the good fortune of taking a genealogy research trip from Salt Lake to Delaware County, Ohio circa 1907.

It is time consuming to deal with frustrations about our computers, the internet, software, printers, ordering microfilm or microfiche and the like. But, it was even more time consuming one hundred years ago for my grandmother to travel by train to that distant courthouse in search of documents mentioning our ancestors. First she’d need a benefactor to sponsor the trip, so she could afford taking time off from her part-time job during a break from her studies at nursing school.

Grandmother Myrtle would have packed her own meals (fruit, bread and cheese) saving money over buying her meals in the dining car. Once she arrived at the final destination, she’d hire a horse-drawn carriage from the train depot to a respectable boarding house that hopefully had indoor plumbing, though shared with other residents of the facility.

Being exhausted by travel on 3 trains over 36 hours, my grandmother Myrtle would probably decide to take a nap after freshening up a bit. Certainly, the evening in the parlor with the boarding house family would involve pouring over the latest edition of the weekly newspaper and perhaps singing around the piano or old Victrola. (This love of music has passed down 4 generations, but I digress.)

I can imagine that bright and early the next morning Grandmother Myrtle would walk the nine blocks to the county courthouse, soon wishing that she had passed over this new-fangled pair of lace-up shoes, in favor of the comfy old brown pair under her four-poster bed at home in Salt Lake. As she mounts the steps of the courthouse, she is caught in the crush of “pencil & pad-in-hand” reporters attempting to get the latest scoop from the day’s criminal trial docket.

Busy early 20th century metropolitan area courthouses seemed the norm, judging by the volume of surviving records.

It is easy to imagine grandmother Myrtle's frustration when a county clerk asks her to return the following day because he is simply swamped by the sheer number of people on hand for the trial of the city’s notorious crime-spree culprit. The next day, she meets with the same challenge, as the case is held over. By now, the activity has drawn the attention of politicians from throughout the state, who post themselves at various places in the city square, each expounding on how much better things will be when voters elect him as governor.

Running out of time, on the last day before grandmother Myrtle plans to leave, she are granted permission to pose her question to a newly-hired assistant to the Clerk of the Court who is so busy dealing with the current docket that he hasn't been trained as to the whereabouts of the 19th century marriage records grandmother seeks.

What a surprise when he unlocks the storage room door, and grants grandmother Myrtle access to the two centuries of court records on file. Maybe it is her sweet, honest face?

After a three hour review of the dusty books and files with loose papers, grandmother Myrtle succeeds in finding the 11 June 1840 Scotio, Delaware, Ohio marriage entry for her paternal grandparents Dolly & Daniel S. Weiser. She is happy to jot down the date, place, and the bride's elusive maiden name - Yockey. Hurrah! Now it is home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

If my grandmother Myrtle had the good fortune to make such a genealogy research trip, it would have saved me years of struggle and worry to find official documentation of the marriage.

OK, so reality is there is no universal record source with all the answers to life's questions -- genealogical or otherwise. Would that our genealogical questions could be easily resolved by accessing well-preserved files arranged in perfect chronological and then alphabetical order, cross referenced by the wife’s maiden name and next of kin. How we wish!

YES, here are research challenges, on and off the net, but that is what makes our ancestral quest so much fun.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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