26 May 2015

Library of Virginia, how I view chanceries


I cannot say how much I love to visit the Library of Virginia! LVA is the Virginia State Archives. Most of the research I do is right there on the second floor, in this picture, on the left. On the other side of the bookshelves is the microfilm readers were you can view and save images to a thumb drive. Also in the corner farthest from the steps, is where I go to the reading room to view old chanceries. Some counties are digitized and even online at LVA's site. Mecklenburg and Brunswick, you still need to view the original cases. When I first started going to LVA I loved going up the big staircase. Now I can't do stairs, so I take the elevator. This building is very handicap accessible. It's also really nice that there's a parking garage below the library, free for patrons. You get your ticket validated in the library at the information desk.

I could not find hardly anything for my family in Mecklenburg, Virginia, until I started looking at chanceries which had copies of wills, plats etc. Those copies are often the only surviving documents now. I used to copy the chancery pages and pay 75 cents a copy, which went towards other projects and technology updates. I have several legal binders holding those cases. I signed a photo release, stating my reason for photographing. Now I photograph the whole chancery case and view it more at home. If I have friends wanting to see the case too, I put the file in my Google Drive and share the folder with them. It's pretty neat to see it in color, from pictures. It shows the different colors of ink, types of paper, seals (which I do close up pictures of), etc. You have to turn flash off to take pictures. I shoot in RAW format. My camera takes a RAW image and JPEG at the same time. The lighting is pretty good in the room, from the high ceiling and table lamps. Also, by taking pictures, I have a digitized copy, I can zoom in etc.

In Virginia, older divorce cases, which were circuit court, are now kept with chancery records. If one died without a will, the estate was settled in chancery case. If a plat is referenced, or the estate being divided and sold, a plat is often included. If the will was not being fulfilled, it was brought to chancery, with a copy of the will included. This happened a lot just after the civil war, because the estates lost all their money if run by slave income or backed by Confederate dollars. Those in charge of the estate who were being sued, often answer the chancery "complaint" by telling the court the heirs are correct, but heirs haven't been paid because there wasn't any money left. One of my favorite parts about chanceries is that relationships are explained and women are often referred to with their maiden name stated.

Below is an example from a chancery. It's a stamp, and on the inside is a seal imprint. I talked to the archivist about this and was told this is similar to, but not a postage stamp. It showed payment for copying the will and that it was official. In this case I viewed, Martha Gregg, who married Thomas Bracey had a brother named Samuel. When Samuel Gregg, the youngest, turned 21, they could all inherit their estate from their father William Gregg. This chancery case is listed as: Mecklenburg, VA chancery 1873:009-Bracey vs Bracey
Here's a link to LVA's chancery index page: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/

05 May 2015

New Irish record resource coming

Some Irish immigrants came to farm in Mecklenburg, and Brunswick, VA. The few people that I am aware of, like Gray and a few Purdy families, came from Armagh, Ireland, in Northern Ireland. I have two records for relatives, which were in Church of Ireland, not the Catholic church. (Even thought Armagh is famous for St. Patrick, and there is a church built where he originally dedicated a church.http://www.stpatricks-cathedral.org/cathedral-history/) Armagh is considered Northern Ireland, and Church of Ireland was predominant the time my family left (1838), with some Methodists' starting churches then. 

Eastman wrote an article I found of interest, which applies to Irish Catholics. I'm just so happy more Irish records are becoming accessible. Hoping more comes soon for Northern Ireland too. Here's a link to Eastman's news article with press release links, and information about the new records.

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Irish Genealogy Resource with 400,000 Catholic Parish Records to go Online

· May 3, 2015  http://blog.eogn.com/2015/05/03/irish-genealogy-resource-with-400000-catholic-parish-records-to-go-online/

09 March 2015

Exciting FamilySearch explanations at Rootstech 2015

Note: This post was written for my Polish blog, more about international things. There are a a number of Virginia records on FamilySearch too. I just saw Danville City Cemetery records are going up. One collection I have found very helpful was Virginia deaths and burials 1853-1912. I have found several Mecklenburg relatives in there. Go to familysearch.org. Click on the word "search" in the top middle of the page. Then underneath the map click on the words "browse all published collections". Scroll down the page to the letter "v" and you can see the collections for Virginia. Or if you prefer, go to "N" for if they were more in North Carolina. Hope you find this post of interest. -Julie
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This month I have been busy enjoying watching Rootstech videos and preparing for our local Family History Day conference, which will be this Saturday. I'm giving a presentation (locally) on how to get around in the FamilySearch Family Tree and how to do searching on FamilySearch. Like using the filters, FamilySearch wiki etc. I really loved watching Dear Myrtle's Ambush cams at Rootstech. They were so fun to watch, I felt like I got to meet people.

One of the first things I loved about FamilySearch is how it's really worldwide oriented. (Not just the United States.) And how we're all connected, the bigger picture. One of the early record collections on FamilySearch was the 1895 Argentina Census, where I saw some Cabitto relatives. Most databases before, were based on the English soundex systems. Which really doesn't help you if you have a Russian (or really any Non-English) surname. On FamilySearch.org, if you type in a residence or birth place outside the United States it searches similar spellings to the that ethnicity. For example, when I searched "Sanetra" and typed "born in Poland", it looked up spellings like Szanetra, Scanetra, and Zanetra.  I got a lot more search results that were real possibilities. Mazurkiwicz and Wandzel had a lot more variations which was very helpful because I never would have thought clerks or other record keepers would spell it those other ways. English soundex spellings and pronunciations would just not work for these types of names!!

Here's some impressive things I learned watching Rootstech videos this week. I watched these sections of the videos a few times to make sure I wrote the numbers down correctly: FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall talked about the benefits of the partnerships with FamilySearch (Thurs keynote). Currently FamilySearch is partnering with: Ancestry.com, Find My Past, My Heritage,  American Ancestors (New England Historical Genealogical Society), family me, and Global Family Reunion. Brimhall told about a project he was excited about, saying this was a great example of benefits to the partnerships and he thanked the CEO of Ancestry.com. FamilySearch did a project of filming 80 million church and civil records for Mexico in 1952. He explained there are not enough Spanish speaking indexers for this project. It would take 40 years for FamilySearch volunteers to complete this project. But Ancestry.com has asked to help do the indexing for this project and they said it will be done and available by the end of this year! FamilySearch and Ancestry.com also made 545 million records available and visible on both sites this year. FamilySearch will always keep their site free, even with their partnerships.

Ron Tanner, a lead developer for FamilySearch gave these amazing numbers in his presentation called: FamilySearch FamilyTree 2014 and Beyond:
  • They do updates 3 times a day.
  • approximately 2.5 million new persons added to the tree every month
  • approximately 2.6 million conclusions that are changed/written every month
  • 4.5 million sources added to the tree each month
  • 1.1 billion persons in the tree with 89 million sources
  • In a year FamilySearch went from 12 million to 89 million sources!
In Feb 2011, a pilot version of FamilySearch was released. I'm happy to say that I was one of the beta testers! In March 2013 it was released to the public. It's really exciting to see all the record collections continuously added from around the world. On 27 Feb 2015, 19.2 million record were added from Canada, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Dennis Brimhall said during the Thursday Keynote address that FamilySearch partnered with Genealogy Bank to do over 100 million names from obituaries last year. 319,000 volunteers worked on these obituaries last year. That was 1.3 million names every day going into Family Search. Pretty amazing things are happening! One thing I liked though, with all this cool hi-tech stuff I was seeing, Joshua Taylor (at RootsTech) talked about the tech things he couldn't live without, yet he said he still needed his library card. A good balance I think. One last partnership with FamilySearch that I'm personally excited about, wasn't actually part of Rootstech. It's a partnership with the country of Italy. Familysearch is indexing and making accessible the Italian civil records. Below is today's status on the familysearch indexing page. (9 March 2015) Also below is 1 of 3 indexing collections our Italian Cabittos need and are looking forward to. No matter your ethnicity or nationality, if it's not there yet, it's coming!