St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Can I Use the Evidence as Proof?

It's a beautiful fall morning and my voice has gone still.  While the weather outside is delightful, I am, well, I am wordless.  Am I quiet after spending a day shouting "Happy Constitution Day" yesterday, or am I just plain stuck?

I have to write a paper to try and prove that my beloved ancestor is who I think he is.  All was well in the world until someone tried to use my dearly departed's information as their own.  To be fair, the imposter descendant of my beloved didn't realize that she was only a cousin to my ancestor.  You think she would have noticed that the odds of him serving in the American Revolution in Connecticut while living in New Jersey was a stretch.  However, in this great world of folks just cutting, pasting and claiming on the internet, my ancestor is now torn in his roots.

I know who he was.  I have followed the evidence.  Now I have to prove it as best I can.

To try and accomplish this, I had to learn how to find all evidence from the Revolutionary War time that exists in New Jersey.  That in itself was enlightening.  After spending a few weeks digging through the web, I also sent off to New Jersey for other information which is not currently found online.  Ah, ha.  I am now thoroughly convinced I have my man.  His was the only family name living in that county at the time, and we have successfully been able to follow the lines from there with primary evidence or very sound secondary evidence.  All except for one generation, but that generation is not the one for which I am trying to prove at the moment.

There is a ton of secondary information to be found and now, I have to try and make sense of it all in writing for a genealogist to review.  I have the sources, the websites, the history book pages, the oaths of allegiance for his dad and uncle, payroll information from the state of NJ for the American Revolution, etc.  I just don't have the date of death, although I know where he was living when he died.  I don't have his final resting place, although one source would lead me to believe it could be in the same family location as his older brother who still has a headstone back in that one county where they were the only family name living there.  Why, oh why, didn't he have the wisdom to apply for a pension so I could find the definitive proof?

What I don't have are the words to put it all down in an understandable format.  What I don't have is a thorough understanding of how to write a genealogical proof standard.

Many of the elements found in the GPS are now in my possession.  I performed a reasonably exhaustive search, found the citations, resolved the conflict of evidence and arrived at a soundly reasoned conclusion.  I just can't seem to get it down on paper.  It is still swirling around in my head. 

Perhaps the first step is just what I have done now.  Put my frustrations down on paper- will that be enough to eliminate this wordless Wednesday?  Words.  I need words.

Ahh, genealogy.  How much indirect evidence can I use?  It's clear as mud.

©AS Eldredge 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Public Tax Returns for Pittsburgh

It's just something you don't see everyday.  Local newspapers printing up the tax returns for your neighbors.  Just in case you've just broken out in a sweat, go on and wipe off your brow.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette published the 1864 Tax Returns for several of its districts.  While some of us may cry out in fear of the newspapers stance that the desire to review tax returns is universal in the neighborhood, we genealogy buffs jump in joy.

These 1864 returns are just another tool to use in our quest for documenting the location of our beloved ancestors, and, in some cases, documenting they were still alive.

So, go on and take a look.  Who knows what you may discover.  How much your family paid in taxes or how little their neighbors did.

These lists can be found on our Pittsburgh Old Newspaper Project:

Ahh, genealogy.  The tax man came and the newspaper let everyone know.  Wonder if that would go over well today?  Hmmmmmmmm......

©AS Eldredge 2013

The American Contract Lives

Our nation has had a contract which we support, defend and protect everyday.  It's something we Americans have done for the last 226 years.  Yep, today is the 226th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution. 

While I don't have any ancestors who signed the Constitution, I do have on both my maternal and paternal bloodlines patriots who have fought and died for America since the Revolution.  I was thinking of today being Constitution Day and it occurred to me that every generation of my family has served America since the founding of our great land.

What do you know about the Constitution?  Have you read it or studied since you were in high school or college?  I am still amazed that the 55 delegates from the newly formed 13 states were able to debate, argue, and compromise over that long, hot summer in Philadelphia so many years ago.  What they penned and what the 39 delegates who signed the Constitution did is so incredible.  We have the longest surviving Constitution and the shortest in the world.  Amazing. 

Since I can't claim any genealogy fame to any signer of the Constitution, I guess I'll just have to thank those men who did sign it.  Perhaps, I'll shout "Happy Constitution Day" to all I see today and then sit down and see what military records I can find on my beloved and brave soldiers and sailors in my bloodline.  Seems fitting.

Just in case you need a fun fact about the Constitution--  The original Constitution (without the 27 amendments added at later dates) had something like 4400 words.  Only one word is misspelled. Can you guess it?  The state it was penned in---  Pennsylvania.

Ahh, genealogy.  Gotta love it while we support, defend and protect our nation-  one generation at a time.

©AS Eldredge, 2013