20 March 2009

Madness Monday

I would like to start a new meme for those of us researching our ancestors. This is for every Monday. Let's call it Madness Monday for, as Thomas MacEntee put it "mad ancestors or elusive ancestors who drive US mad."

For mad ancestors, maybe you had a black sheep in the family that drove everyone else mad. How about the ancestors that were called mad because of their eccentric personality? Maybe you had an ancestor that lived through the horrors of the old insane asylums. Maybe you have a funny one about an ancestor that just went off on a rampage because someone inflicted temporary insanity. I'm sure you can come up with other stories of madness. The more creative the better.

Now of course there are those ancestors who drive "us made." These are the ones that the family lost contact with. No one knows anything about them or where they disappeared to. Or maybe you know the last part of their lives, but not where it began. Tell us about your ancestors that are a triple layer brick wall. Post what you know, what you've heard from family, and what you suspect may be the truth. But please differentiate each category
because what you've been told may not be fact, or what you suspect may not pan out either. So help your readers to help you separate fact from fiction in order to solve your puzzle. Posting about our brick walls may help bring some sanity back to our research.

I would like to ad a bit more to this post, so I hope some of you come back to read this. Ambar was the first person to respond to this post when I launched this and she pointed me to a fabulous fellow genealogist and blogger. I had the previlidge of meeting Miriam Midkiff about two years ago. I try to follow her work, but since I have had to go back to work I often don't get around to reading her posts. I only visit on occation, and I'm sad to say I missed this one. So thank you Ambar for bringing this to my attention.

Miriam is a genealogist blogger and one of her blogs is AnceStories: The Stories of my Ancestors. In this blog she wrote a wonderful article,
Who Are Our Brickwall Ancestors, and Why Aren't We Blogging About Them Regularly? The reason I want to direct your attention to her blog is not only does she ask a very relivant question that has brought me to launch this meme, but she goes much further than I did and writes a template that will be very helpful to all of us to use when posting each of our article about our brick wall ancestors.

Here is part of her post:

1. A title [in this case "Madness Monday", but you can follow it with] "My Brickwall Ancestor: [Name], [dates, if known]"

2. List what we want to know: "I want to discover solid evidence of who Levi E. McCLELLAN's parents and siblings were, and when and where he died and was buried."

3. A chronological list (timeline) of known information. For instance:
1850 Federal Census - living in China Twp., St. Clair Co., Michigan as the head of the household. Levi "McCLENAN," age 27, laborer, born in New York.

The following were also living with him:

Probable wife Clary McCLENAN [Clarissa Mary CLEVELAND], age 18, born New York

Unknown household member Elizabeth FISH, age 14, born Canada

Probable mother Rachel McCLENAN, age 53, widow, born Ohio

Probable niece Emy McCLENAN, age 5, born Ohio, attended school within the year

Probable brother Rubin [sic - Reuben] McCLENAN age 28, laborer, born Ohio

I could then go on to list other census information (1860, 1870, 1880 Federal Census; he's deceased in 1890 Union Veterans Census) or documents (1862 Enlistment in Co. C, 27th Michigan Infantry; 1866 Civil War Veteran's Pension Index Card; 1880 Detroit City Directory) in which I've found Levi, in chronological order and with details.

4. List positive and negative searches in detail. Obviously, any information in the timeline would be from a positive search. But we could list where we've searched and found no information, or our attempts to trace collateral lines. In this example, I would say the following:

I've attempted to obtain Levi's death record (I know he was deceased by the time the 1890 Union Veteran's Census was taken) in the following places, with no results:

Michigan State Death Records 1867 - 1897 on FamilySearch's Record Search, using Levi as a first name and McClellan, McLellan, McCollum, McClenan, McLennan as surnames. I've also used the "Exact & close match" and "Exact, close & partial" filters. I've searched for deaths for all Levis in Michigan between 1880, when he was last known to be alive, and 1890, as well as all those with the initial L.

I would then go on to tell how I've searched online obituary and cemetery transcriptions for the area.

5. List any possible resources you can think of that you haven't checked. In the above example, I've ordered Levi's Civil War Pension Record, which I hope will provide me with more information. You can also list your suspicions. In the same Army company in which Levi served during the Civil War, there was a man named William J. McCLELLAN. I would then describe my attempts to find out more about this individual, whom I suspect is a brother or cousin to Levi.

I spoke to Miriam by email this week and she is excited about this new meme. At this time though she knew she wouldn't have the time or ability to keep something like this going. To tell you the truth....I hope I can keep this going. Miriam thanks for the input on this and allowing me to use some of your work to get this launch in the right direction. I hope you get to feeling better soon.

I'm looking forward to reading all of your posts and putting this together on Monday. Sorry for such short notice on this first one, but I just had one of those quick thoughts that took off like a wild fire.


Ambar said...

On the subject of well-hidden ancestors who drive US crazy, I'd like to point to Miriam's wonderful template for brick wall postings

Untangled Family Roots said...


Thank you. I never saw that post of hers, but I just looked at it. It is a great template for posting information on our brick walls.

I've sent her an email. Maybe I can tie into her post to help us out.

Family Curator said...

This is one that could "leave us hopping. . ."

Sounds like great fun!

Linda Hughes Hiser said...

I have both....ancestors that are driving me mad and one who actually was determined to be mad!!! Great idea.

Susan said...

Good idea Amy... Already some people are coming to my mind to post.. Sue E.

Untangled Family Roots said...

Wow I am excited to see such a response I can't wait to read all your stories.

Untangled Family Roots said...

I just wanted to let all of you know that I did change this post some to include Miriam's template for posting our brick wall ancestors. Thank Ambar for pointing out the post to me.

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