Resolving Conflicts

Resolving Conflicts

I don’t work on my husband’s side of the family all that much because he has absolutely no interest in genealogy whatsoever but he does tolerate my obsession with it so I guess that’s something. I decided to work on his family a bit and he told me that his great-uncle Jimmy died in a car wreck. He said he remembers it clearly. I found Jimmy’s obituary and this is what it says:

James W. Young
APPLING, Ga. - James William Young, 69, died in an Augusta hospital Sunday after an extended illness
[emphasis mine]. Funeral services will be conducted at Lewis Memorial Methodist Church in Columbia County Wednesday at 3 p.m. with the Rev. Robert Boyd officiating assisted by the Rev. W.L. Buffington. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. Young was a native of Columbia County. He was retired and a member of the Hollow Creek Baptist Church in Aiken, S.C. Survivors include one sister, Mrs. G. S. Lewis, Martinez and a number of nieces and nephews.[1]

Well that posed a bit of a problem. There is a big difference between dying in a car wreck and dying after an extended illness. My husband was a kid at the time so maybe he remembered it wrong. I ordered Jimmy’s death certificate to find out.

James William Young Death Certificate [2]

Well there you go. My non-genealogist husband did remember the events correctly. No clue why the paper got it wrong. This is why we do exhaustive (re)search and we resolve conflicts. I knew that Jimmy Young would have death certificate so there was no reason for me not to obtain it. It would have been a mistake for me to automatically believe the newspaper over my husband just because the newspaper is more "official." 

[1] "James W. Young," The Augusta Chronicle, 06 December 1966, p. 5, col. 2. 

[2] Georgia Department of Public Health, death certificate no. 37828 (1966), James William Young; State Vital Records, Atlanta.  

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.

Don't Rely on Indexes


I was searching for George Patton in the 1820 census and I found him in an index which made me happy. Here is an image of what was listed in the index as George Patton.

1820 Census Lydia Patton entry
(click image to enlarge)

On this very same page there was another person by the name of George.  You can clearly see what the name George should look like as written by this enumerator. The first image, showing the man indexed as "George" Patton, clearly isn't the name George based on the second entry.

1820 Census George Tilley entry
(click image to enlarge)

1820 U.S. census, Wilkes County, Georgia, p. 162, lines 4, 20, Lydia Patton and Georgia Tilley; digital image, ( : accessed 27 December 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication M33, roll 9.

Luckily I know who the first entry is. It is George’s stepmother Lydia (Orr) Patton. So here is the problem. Lydia and George are very different words so no matter how fuzzy you make this search these two will not be picked up as a possibility for the other unless I searched for the name Patton only. Let’s say I did search just for the name Patton. If you were looking for a Lydia Patton would you click on the name George in the index? Or, if you were looking for someone named George would you click on Lydia? This is just an example. Lydia wasn’t in the index at all since she was indexed as George.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that the handwriting is hard to read and it is always easier for someone who is familiar with the names to spot them. My point is, don’t rely on indexes. The indexers are human and they make mistakes. Sometimes you need to hand search the images.
All of the online repositories have this indexed incorrectly and I have sent corrections to all of them. This is how you can make the index better. If you see something like this let them know.
So where is George? No clue. I haven't found him yet.

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.

The Abstract Trap

The Abstract Trap

A derivative source is defined as:

"materials that offer alternate versions of the original—typically transcripts, translations, abstracts, extracts, nutshells, indexes, and database entries. The best derivatives will preserve all the essential details of the original. Still, errors are frequent." (emphasis mine) [1]

Some of the common derivative works are cemetery surveys, marriage abstracts, deed abstracts and will abstracts. These can be in book form, published in a periodical, or in some sort of online database. I want to alert you to a specific trap that I don't want to you fall into when working with these types of sources. This trap usually involves books. It is easier to explain by giving an example.

One of the books I have in my private library is Marion County, Mississippi Miscellaneous Records. I like this book because it has all kinds of court abstracts. I especially like it because each entry has the book and page number of the court book it was abstracted out of. For example, on page 53 of this book you will see a will abstract for John Barnes, Sr. The compiler (E. Russ Williams) also documented that this will is in Marion County Will Book A, page 70-71. This will gives me all kinds of goodies; the name of his wife, his children, his grandchildren as well as "It is not the desire of John Barnes for Edmund Lowe to get any of his estate." (Ouch!)

So what is my source for the evidence contained in this will? Some researchers will cite Marion County, Mississippi Will Book A, page 70-71 and that is the trap. Your source is not the original will book but rather it is the book of abstracts, Marion County, Mississippi Miscellaneous Records. You can't cite the Will Book unless you actually viewed it yourself. The best-case scenario is to obtain a copy of the will from the will book so that you can analyze it yourself. If you do, you can then cite the will. If not, you need to cite the abstract book. This is what my citation would look like.

E. Russ Williams, compiler, Marion County Mississippi Miscellaneous Records (1986; reprint, Greenville, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 2002), 53; citing Marion County, Mississippi Will Book A:70-71, John Barnes, Sr. will, signed 11 August 1838.

Did you notice that I snuck in the information about the will book? I did this so that my readers can have the benefit of knowing exactly where to go to get a copy of the will for themselves. They can see that I didn't actually consult the will but I am using an abstract book. 

In tomorrow's Tuesday's Tip I am going to relate this to something you will see specifically in Legacy so stay tuned. 


[1] Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Quick Lesson 17: The Evidence Analysis Process Map," Evidence Explained ( : accessed 12 December 2017).

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.

Writing a Biography

Writing a Biography

In my previous article, "Bringing an Ancestor to Life," I explained the importance of putting your ancestor in the context of his time and place in history and not relegating him to a simple laundry list of vital statistics. Now that you have gathered all of this interesting background information what do you do next?

At the minimum you should have biographies for your direct line ancestor couples. You can then expand out from there. You are bound to run across a relation that is so interesting you can't help but want to write about him. The black sheep of the family are my favorites.

Admittedly, writing a narrative is much harder than simply recording facts but once you get into the habit of writing them it gets much easier. As you do the research you will get to “know” your ancestor better and you will want to tell others about him or her. Here are my favorite books on the subject. They will teach you how to write a biography that is interesting, informative, and historically accurate:

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. Tell it Short: A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief. Salt Lake City: Scattered Leaves Press, 2016.

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. You Can Write Your Family History. 2003. Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2008.

Finley, Carmen J. Creating a Winning Family History. Revised edition. Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2010.

If you ever get the chance to hear John Colletta lecture you won't want to miss that. John is a master storyteller and will give you many tips on how to find interesting background information. He is also quite funny. If you are a Legacy Webinar subscriber you can watch John's "The Germanic French - Researching Alsatian and Lorrainian Families" lecture.

When you are writing a narrative keep in mind that you are writing for others as much as you are writing for yourself. I will expand on that in just a bit. Here are a few tips.

Clear and concise writing is a must 
More words does not mean better content and punctuation and grammar are important. Now is the time to dust off your old English handbooks.  Here are my three favorite style guides:

Ross-Larson, Bruce. Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works With Words. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1996.

Strunk, William Jr. and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. Fourth edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. Seventh edition. New York: Harper Perennial, 2006.

And here are my favorite grammar/punctuation handbooks:

Chapman, James A. Handbook of Grammar and Composition. Third edition. Pensacola, Fla.: ABeka Book, 1996.

Rod and Staff English Handbook. Crockett, Ky.: Rod and Staff Publishers, 1983.

And here is my favorite thesaurus:

Urdang, Laurence, editor. The Synonym Finder. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Press, 1978.

Break up your narrative with photos 
Photos not only give interest but they allow your reader to pause during a long narrative. You may not have any actual photos of your ancestor but you can pull in photos that represent the time and place your ancestor lived. There are many copyright free photos available. In the previous article I mentioned my 3rd great-grandfather Mathew Patton who was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. He later died at Buckner Hospital in Gainesville, Alabama. There is a cemetery where Buckner Hospital once stood and Mathew was most assuredly buried there though his grave is unmarked. There are dozens of Confederate markers in this cemetery that just say "Unknown." I included one of these photos (with permission from the photographer) .

The Alabama State Archives has an original flag of Mathew's company in their possession and they had a photograph of it. I asked the Archives for permission to use the photograph which they gave. While Mathew was away, his wife and children were in poverty. Blount County, Alabama did a special inventory of families who were left behind to make sure they had enough provisions. Seeing what provisions his family had and didn't have was sobering. I included an image of that section of the court minute book page. Shortly after Mathew and his wife Charlotta married, they migrated from Madison County, Georgia to Cherokee County, Alabama. I had background documentation showing that the most likely reason was for better farming land. I included a map that I created using Google Earth Pro showing where the two places were relative to each other as well as the actual distance. These are just a few ideas. The possibilities are limitless.

You can also break up the narrative by using section headings 
There are many different ways you can go with this. You can break it up by time periods, seasons of a person's life, by places they lived if they migrated a lot, etc.

Write like you are talking to an audience
You want your writing to be engaging and have a good flow. Conversational style is good but avoid the first person. You don't want statements in your narrative such as, "I then went to the courthouse and found their marriage record." You want the narrative to be about your ancestors and not about you. 

Don't forget to cite your sources
Even though you are writing a narrative that doesn't mean you don't have to cite your sources. The last one I did had 165 footnotes. But it really depends on how much information you've acquired about your ancestor.

 Now that you have a beautifully written biography what do you do with it? You don't want your ancestors to be forgotten so you need to tell their stories to others. There are many ways you can "publish" your biographies. You can send them to relatives, start your own blog, or submit your writings to a local historical society journal. You might even think big and self-publish a book with the history of an entire family group. It is very easy to self-publish using on-demand printing. Two of the most popular companies are Lulu and Blurb.

I hope I have motivated you to dig a little deeper into the lives of your ancestors so that they aren't merely a list of names and dates in your genealogy file. 

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG
® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


Bringing an Ancestor to Life

Bringing an Ancestor to Life

One of my pet peeves is when a researcher reduces a person to a laundry list of vital statistics. I realize that only people from the deep south will understand this analogy but “grits without salt is WORSE than bland.”  That is how I view family trees that don’t include biographical information. Our ancestors were real people who led interesting lives. It is the genealogist's job to tell their stories.

Researching the time period and the location is ESSENTIAL
You must take the time to research what was going on when your ancestor lived. It will help you understand why he did the things that he did. Local history books are a great resource, especially those that were written close to the time period you are working with. You will find these on Google BooksInternet ArchiveHathiTrust Digital Library, Project Gutenberg, and Family History Books (FamilySearch). Many are out of copyright and can be read in their entirety. The newspaper is one of your best resources even if you never find your ancestor's name in print. Not only can you learn about your ancestor's specific community but also what was going on in the country at that time that might have been a concern to him.

Research their personal experiences
If your ancestor was a Union or Confederate soldier, read about the Civil War from their point of view. If you ancestor was a planter or a farmer, read books about what farming was like during that time period. If your family migrated across country read books about what it was like on the trail. Did the family attend church? Religion was an important part of many people’s lives and you want to include that if you can. Read up on their particular denomination and its history. I needed background information about childbearing in the 19th century for a biography I was writing. I read Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America, 1750-1950 by Judith Walzer Leavitt and Lyin-In: A History of Childbirth in America by Richard W. Wertz. I couldn't put these two books down and I have a newfound appreciation for what my female ancestors went through.

One of the best things I ever found was Memories: A Record of Personal Experience and Adventure During Four Years of War by Fannie A. Beers. Fannie was a nurse at Buckner Hospital in Gainesville, Alabama during the Civil War at the very same time my 3rd great-grandfather Mathew Patton was a patient there! She might have even taken care of him. She detailed the horrible conditions there and stated,

"Alas! alas! were these the brave men who had made forever glorious the name of Shiloh?"

My Mathew was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh and later died of his injuries. This quote from the book gives me goosebumps.

Topography and the community setting can enlighten you even further
Did your ancestor live in a city? A small town? Out in the middle of nowhere? In a valley surrounded by mountains? Was there a river or lake nearby? Knowing more about the area can give you insight on the type of house they may have lived in. You can look for some copyright free photographs of the area and sample houses from that time that you can add to your biography which will add interest.

Go the extra mile
If you see that your ancestor was a farmer on the federal census, try finding him on the agricultural schedule. Here is where you will find information about acreage, types of crops grown, kinds of animals raised etc. That will tell you a lot about his daily life. Construct maps showing where everyone lived in relation to everyone else based on land descriptions. Put together a timeline of your ancestor to make his life easy to follow (but you still need to have a narrative). Look through records that you really don’t think would apply to your family. I was in the Columbia County, Georgia courthouse awhile back and noticed they had arrest records, logs of police encounters, and lunacy books. Just thumbing through I saw people’s names that I knew. I was searching coroner’s reports for a specific person and found another person I wasn’t expecting. These unusual record sets will definitely spice up your narrative.

Read between the lines
Did your person of interest have extended family living with him in the census records?  Elderly parents or newlywed children?  That gives you some insight on the family dynamics. How much property did he own? This can give you a sense of wealth. Always pay attention to who went to school and who didn’t and who is listed as illiterate. This can mean many things. Were there no schools in the area?  (check the other families living nearby). Was the family poor and needed the children to stay home to work?  Did your person of interest have some sort of disability?  Some families simply didn’t see the need for any formal education. When you have multiple possibilities you can discuss them in your narrative. One thing to look out for are children who didn’t go to school in earlier censuses but are listed as being able to read and write in the later ones. This can indicate children who were taught to read and write at home by their parents which was very common.

African-American specific research
If you are doing African-American research one of the best resources for background information are the Slave Narratives. The Federal Works Project (WPA) interviewed over 2300 former slaves in the 1930s. You will read firsthand knowledge which is eye-opening.

In the next article I will help you compile all of this great info into a narrative and then give you some ideas of where to go from there. Stay tuned!

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG
® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.

Using Locality Guides to Help with Your Research

Using Locality Guides to Help with Your Research

When you start researching in a jurisdiction or a time period that is new to you, you will want to keep track of the little bits of helpful information that you find so that you don't have to look up that information again. You can do this is by maintaining Locality Files (now known as Locality Guides). The Family History Library detailed this strategy in their Research Guide on how to organize your paper files. You can see it HERE. These Research Guides are what we used before the FamilySearch Wiki. I think I had every Research Guide they ever published. 

Let's say I have an ancestor who lived in Perry County, Mississippi and I have never done research in Perry County before. I need to learn a lot of things about Perry County before I can even get started. These are the things I will add to my Locality Guide for Perry County. I need to know a basic history of the county such as when it was formed and what the parent counties were as well as a basic timeline of events for that county. I love to find old county history books that are in the public domain. Google Books, Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, and FamilySearch Books are my favorite websites to find these books. I also want to have contact info for the courthouse as well as anything special I need to know about accessing their records. What records do they have onsite? Did they have any record losses due to fire or flood? I would include contact info for the local genealogical and/or historical society, the local libraries, and any other possible repositories. I like to have a current map of the area (though I do use Google Maps a lot now) as well as any old maps I can find.

I keep all of my information electronically which means I can create hyperlinks to things on the internet such as online books, the available databases at the major online repositories, and the FamilySearch card catalog. I can link right to the Perry County page. I love newspapers and I use the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website to find what was in publication and when.  I only have to do the search once and then I can link to it. For example, HERE is the list for Perry County. It saves me a lot of time not having to go back to the website and do repeated searches. Don't forget that if you have never done research in the state of Mississippi you will also need to collect some general resources at the state level and not just at the county level. Besides my Locality Guides I also gather reference material on the major records groups (military, land, probate, etc.).

It may seem like a lot of work but this information is essential to be able to thoroughly research your ancestors. It will also save you time in the long run. The next time I have a person of interest in this same county I already have the needed resources. I can always update it if I find any new information. Today most genealogists keep these notes electronically in applications such as Evernote or OneNote instead of using paper files. You can also use a word processing program or a spreadsheet program. These are great because not only can you hyperlink to the resources you find on the internet, you can also scan anything you have that is on paper (pages out of the above referenced books for example) and have those pages readily available instead of having to lug out the books each time. You can even design a template so that all of your guides follow the same format.

I have included an example as a downloadable PDF. This example comes from my friend Eva Goodwin. We were in ProGen together and creating a Locality Guide was one of our assignments. I liked Eva's better than mine so I asked her if I could use hers an an example and she very graciously sent it to me. 

Download Halifax Locality Guide (Goodwin)

My real Locality Guides are not as fancy as what we did for our ProGen assignment but I wanted to give you an idea of the types of things you should include.  I will say that I am working on designing a template so that my guides are more uniform. 

The best way to get started is to create a locality guide for a jurisdiction that you are very familiar with. I'll bet that by the time you are done you will have found some resources that you didn't know about.

 An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
— Benjamin Franklin


Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.

4 Great Collections from American Memory

4 Great Collections from American Memory

American Memory is the digital collection portal for the Library of Congress. The mission of the website is to provide “free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.” For the genealogist, American Memory is an opportunity to read, hear, and view life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  


There’s so much I love about American Memory but let me share four of my favorite collections as an introduction to what can be found.

Panoramic Maps                                                                                           

American Memory features all kinds of maps including transportation, military, and Sanborn maps but my favorites are the panoramic views. These maps, also known as Bird’s Eye View maps, provide a unique look at familiar cities. From an elevated perspective, these maps provide a detailed look at a section of a city, include specific landmarks, services, businesses, and homes. This collection of over 1500 panoramic maps lack the scale accuracy of more familiar maps but they provide a great way to learn more about the lay of the land and what that city looked like in an earlier time.

California, As I Saw It                                                                                       

One of the strengths of American Memory is their collection of first-hand accounts via books and correspondence that tell the story of pioneer lives.

“California as I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900 is the Library of Congress's first digital collection building on the exceptional holdings in the Library's General Collections and Rare Book and Special Collections Division in the area of state and local history.” This collection of first person narratives date from the Gold Rush (1849) to the turn of the 20th century. While it lacks the perspective of the diverse population found in early California, the collection is a starting place for learning more about California’s rich history.

Other regional collections available from American Memory include: Nebraska, the Ohio River Valley, and the Upper Midwest.

Early Virginia Religious Petitions                                         

Not all American Memory collections are housed on the American Memory website. In the case of the Early Virginia Religious Petitions, a link redirects you to the Library of Virginia, Virginia Memory Legislative Petitions Digital Collection web page. Documents spanning 1776 to 1865 include wills, naturalizations, deeds, and manumissions of slaves.  A valuable Tip Sheet on the homepage provides information about finding African American names. 

The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898 to 1906                                

American Memory provides researchers the opportunity to view historic images, read 19th century texts, listen to interviews and watch very early films. Those films help us better visualize life generations ago. The Life of a City: Early Films of New York documents immigrants arrival at Ellis Island, families shopping for fish at an outdoor market, and everyday life along 23rd street in New York City (watch until the end  for an incident  reminiscent of a much later Marilyn Monroe movie). Make sure to click on the Articles and Essays link at the top of the collection to read more about New York and early film making. Other films found on American Memory include America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894 to 1915 and Inside an American Factory: Films of the Westinghouse Works, 1904.

American Memory

Genealogy is about telling the stories of our ancestor’s lives and what better way to do that than experiencing materials created during their lifetime? Use American Memory to read and view materials from generations past to better understand your family’s history. To learn more about American Memory make sure to watch Shannon Combs Bennett’s webinar The American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.

Play Ball! Finding Your Baseball Ancestors

Play Ball! Finding Your Baseball Ancestors


Baseball has long been thought of as America's "national pastime." From the sandlots to the major leagues, chances are good that the game influenced your ancestor's life in some way.

Here are a few resources to help you find your baseball-playing ancestors.

General Resources

The National Baseball Hall of Fame offers an amazing digital collection of oral histories, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, cartoons, and images of 3D artifacts. The Giamatti Research Center in Cooperstown, New York, is the library and research facility for the organization. You can visit the library in person by appointment or request research assistance from a staff librarian. You may wish to consult ABNER (American Baseball Network for Electronic Research) for a partial list of holdings before your visit. ($) offers two databases specific to the research of baseball-playing ancestors. "U.S., Professional Baseball Player Profiles, 1876–2004" is an index to over 15,000 professional baseball players who played between 1876 (the year the National League was founded) and 2004. Available information includes birth/death dates and locations, nicknames, college attended, physical characteristics, and game statistics. The second database, "U.S., Professional Baseball Player Photos and Illustrations, 1876–2004," provides nearly identical information, but also may include a photograph or a baseball card for players who played between 1887 and 1938.

The Society for American Baseball Research offers many useful resources, including the Baseball Biography Project. All biographies in the project are written and peer-reviewed by SABR members with the goal of publishing a biography for every major league player in history. Also available are links to players' professional career statistics, a bibliography of research citations from The Baseball Index, as well as interviews, photographs and much more. Additionally, the project is creating pages for ages for ballparks, broadcasters, executives, games, managers, scouts, spouses, and umpires, so be sure to check those out if your ancestor could have been connected to other aspects of the game.

Baseball Almanac has dedicated itself to "preserving the history of our national pastime" with an interactive website containing 500,000+ pages of baseball history, facts, original research, and statistics not found anywhere else online. The website is privately-held and welcomes contributions and suggestions from the public. Research services are available by request.

LA84 Foundation's Sport History Library is a growing digital collection of more than 70,000 documents on Olympic and general sports history. Included in this collection are images of Baseball Magazine from 1908–1920. The LA84 Foundation supports a library in Los Angeles, California, housing a collection of thousands of books, periodicals, other publications, and photos. A staff librarian is available to do research by request.

Specific Resources

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of African-American Baseball. The website offers an eMuseum of resources, including a historical timeline, personal and team profiles, and "Diamond Cuts," which are narratives taken from the history of African-American baseball. The Research Library contains a multimedia archive of oral histories, selections from the Museum's photo archive, and a resource bibliography for further research.

Negro League Baseball offers a trove of historical information, including details about the League, a timeline of events, team profiles, and player biographies. A Frequently Asked Questions section provides answers to inquiries from students, educators, and baseball fans.

If your ancestor played ball as a youngster, be sure to visit Little League® Baseball and Softball. This site offers a unique timeline of the League from its founding in 1939 to its 75th Anniversary in 2014. Various historical articles can be found in the Newsletter, such as this one on "The 18 Girls Who Have Made Little League Baseball® World Series History." The Little League Baseball World Series History Book (which appears to be a forgotten section of the main site) is a browseable database of game scores, team rosters, and tournament brackets for over 50 years of Little League® World Series history.

Did your ancestor play in the College World Series? Then you'll want to check out College World Series History hosted by and the Omaha World-Herald. This site features historical information for each year of the CWS, dating back to 1947. There is a page for every school that has played in the CWS, some with photos, statistics, and players' names. Baseball Reference also has a section of information about the CWS, so be sure to check that one, as well.

 If your ancestor was one of the athletes who inspired the film A League of Their Own, you will want to visit The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association. This site is a "virtual scrapbook…filled with articles, photographs, interviews, and statistics that give you an up-close-and-personal look at the pioneering women who played professional baseball from 1943 through 1954." The site features player biographies, interviews, and obituaries, league history, and you can even read a section of the players' "charm school guide."

Finally, baseball isn't only popular in America. If your ancestor played ball in Cuba, Japan, or Korea, check out Baseball Reference. This comprehensive site contains team and player information for Japanese and Nippon Pro Baseball, the Korean Baseball Organization, the Cuban National Series, as well as American Major and Minor Leagues and the Negro Leagues.

Elizabeth O’Neal is a freelance writer, educator, and web developer. An avid genealogist for three decades, Elizabeth writes the blog My Descendant’s Ancestors, where she shares family stories, technology and methodology tips, and hosts the monthly "Genealogy Blog Party."

Be Flexible and Don’t Make Assumptions

Be Flexible and Don’t Make Assumptions

After my dad died I started doing more intensive research on his life. He didn't talk about his childhood very much because he had some unhappy memories. He grew up in a family of dirt poor sharecroppers and he had to start picking cotton at a very young age. He was ridiculed in school for not having shoes and for wearing tattered hand-me-down clothes. When he left Mississippi to join the Air Force he pretty much never looked back. 

The Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957 is one of my favorite record sets. My dad did attend school from 1st through 12th grade so I knew I would find him here but I would have missed some records if I had only looked at the years when he was 6 to 18. Sometimes the records don't contain what you think they do.

Thomas Simmons is my dad and he graduated from Purvis High School in 1955. This school census is from 1957. In 1957 my dad was in the Air Force and stationed in Hahn, Germany but the school board still listed him.

Children who were not attending school anymore were still included. They are given a W code with an explanation. This is important information. Always be flexible with your searches and make sure you know exactly what information the particular record can tell you. Did I learn anything about my dad that I didn't know when I saw this page? No but I still wanted to see it. I want to see every record where my dad is mentioned. However, I could have easily learned something that I didn't know.

List of Educable Children
(click image to enlarge)

"Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 31 March 2017), Lamar > image 98 of 157; citing Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Box ID 15134, Series 21.

When you are looking at a record set that you haven't worked with before it is important to take some time to get to know the records. Even if I find a document for my person of interest right away I always look at many examples in the set to get a better feel for the documents. I also check to see if there is any sort of explanatory section.

You can see a good example of this in the federal census records. You should read the instructions the enumerators were given before they were sent out. The United States Census Bureau has this information online. Kathleen W. Hinkley's book, Your Guide to the Federal Census Records is an excellent resource for background information. You also need to look at the pages before and after the page that has your ancestor's family. If you take the time to  understand the records better you will be less likely to miss something.


Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


When "Late" Doesn't Mean Dead

When "Late" Doesn't Mean Dead

I introduced you to Ignatius Grantham in Playing Hide and Seek with Records from Burned Counties. Ignatius was a very interesting man so I did a followup post, Ignatius Grantham and the Land Entry Files. I want to go back to Ignatius and Catherine's 1825 divorce one last time because there is a term that was used in one of the documents that might confuse a researcher. 

“To the Sheriff of Hancock — County Greeting 
We Command you, that of the goods and chattels Lands
and Tenements of Wm C. Seaman for Catherine Grantham —
late of your county…” 
[emphasis mine]

late of your county sounds like Catherine is dead, especially since someone else, William Seaman, is acting on her behalf. In this case “late of your county” simply means that she used to live in Hancock County, Mississippi but no longer resides there.

Appellate court document
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Mississippi High Court of Errors and Appeals, Drawer no. 65, Case no. 15, Catherine Grantham vs. Ignatius Grantham, 21 February 1825; Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson. 

When analyzing your own records be sure to check for words that might have multiple or historical meanings and then make sure you choose the correct contextual meaning. It could mean all the difference in how you interpret a document!

What kind of double meaning words have you come across in your research?


Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.