Friday, July 29, 2005 - Family Project Website

Am really excited about the Pitman DNA testing. We have a male who is a descendant from Daniel & Comfort Hatfield Pitman's line(my line) who is testing. I wonder what the results will show and what direction they will point us in.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I had heard about an episode of History Detectives, a show broadcast on PBS which was going to be focused on Genealogy. It aired Monday July 25th and I watched it. While I really enjoyed hearing the stories I was a bit disappointed at how simple they made the research look. As a researcher I know it is not. However to keep within the amount of time alloted and not to bore the typical viewer I guess they couldn't have included everything I"d like to have seen. Really interesting stuff though.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


1a. Editor's Desk: Who's the Head of Household?

Marie Beckman writes, "While checking several possibilities in the U.S. census records for a lookup request I had received I came across an entry that struck me as odd. It listed R. E. MORRIS as "Head of Household" -- nothing shocking about that, but the listings which followed were that of six sons. What was odd about the sons was that none of them had the surname MORRIS and some were even older than the R. E. MORRIS who was listed as head of household.

"The census went on to list a daughter and nine more sons. The entries that followed was just as odd. Upon checking the top of the census form, I found that these were entries from the Tennessee State Penitentiary. Obviously the census taker didn't follow the instructions he was given. These entries are located in the 1900 U.S. Census of Davidson County Tennessee, 13th Civil District, on pages 158-168 (T623_1566)."

The instructions to the enumerators for the 1900 census were rather specific in this regard, but obviously not everyone followed them.

They were:

"Wherever an institution, such as a prison, jail, almshouse, hospital, asylum, college, convent, or other establishment containing a resident population, is to be enumerated, the full name and title of the institution should be written on the line provided therefore at the head of the sheet, and all persons having their usual places of abode in such institution, whether officers, attendants, inmates, or persons in confinement, should then be entered consecutively on the schedules.

"If, as sometimes may be the case, a sheriff, warden, or other official lives in one end of the institution building, but separated by a partition wall from the building proper, his family (including himself as its head) should be returned as a separate family, and should not be returned as part of the 'census family' to which the inmates are credited. In such case the officer in immediate charge should head the institution schedule.

"When the officers or attendants, or any of them, do not reside in the institution buildings, but live with their families in detached dwellings located in the institution grounds, they should be reported as separate families, but should be included as a part of the institution population. The families of officers or attendants who reside wholly outside the institution precincts, either in houses rented or owned by the institution, or by themselves, should not be enumerated as a part of the population of the institution.

"When an institution is enumerated, write on each sheet in parenthesis, immediately following the name of the institution at the head of the sheet, the numbers of the lines upon which the inmates thereof have been entered, as for example, 'East Side Mission (lines 6 to 69, inclusive).' In all such cases, however, give in the proper place of entry the name of the township or other division of county and also the name of the city, village, or borough, etc., in which the institution is situated. "Special enumerators will be appointed to canvass many of the larger institutions, and in such cases the tour of duty of the special institution enumerator will not extend beyond the boundaries of the institution grounds, but should include all those persons and inmates whose usual places of abode are clearly within the institution territory."

See "Instructions to the Enumerators" for 1880, 1910, 1920, and 1930:

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 20 April 2005, Vol. 8, No. 16.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The last six weeks or so have been strange ones for me as it concerns my genealogy research/obsession. From these I have learned several things.

The RW mailing lists which I admin 40+ were out of service several times. Thankfully it was a fixable thing although it did leave me with free time that I wasn't used to having. I was able to use that time to catch up on a few things around the house and also in my research. From this I learned.

1. $hit happens.
2. When life gives you lemons make lemonade.

AOL announced that they will no longer be supporting newsgroups feed for their customers. A genealogy "columnist" took that statement and passed it on to her readers--unfortunately she thought that newsgroups were the same as Mailing lists...and (they are not--mailing lists are delivered to subscribers via email). It strikes me as ironic that a person who is so deep in genealogy AND considers herself a writer would not at least check her sources without first acting. This columnist even went so far as to write a four part series on her take of this "news". What's really sad is that there were some who believed her. When several persons contacted her about her error she refused to admit the error and has yet to pull the false information from her website(Feb 23rd). Journalists owe it to their readers to print a retraction when they make an error. Yet she buries her head in the sand and denies that she said what she said even though her statement is plastered all over the net(on her own sites and msg boards) is just (for lack of a better word) "stupid'.

1. Always check your sources.
2. Misinformation travels faster than truth.
3. To err is refuse to admit that you made an error and denying yourself the wisdom of learning from that error takes a real "flake".
4. There is none so blind as (s)he who will not see.
5. Don't believe everything you read.

Monday, January 17, 2005