So That's Where I Get It From

July 26, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Challenge #29: Practice Reading Handwriting

I’m a few days late for writing this, but I did try to do Challenge #29 and at the beginning of last week added a Will dated 1545 for Jone Reade as it was a perfect example of why I needed to practice reading handwriting such as this.  This particular Will is one that I really can’t decipher anything on so I was hoping that by doing this Challenge I would get to be able to read at least some of it by the end of last week.

Well, I have to say I am none the wiser regarding this Will, even though I checked the links and suggestions I was given in my comments section by very helpful ladies.

I liked the suggestion to go to Staples and have a large copy of the Will done, but our Staples is quite a long way away and because of other things, I wasn’t able to get there to get a large copy!!

Another suggestion was to use Picasa and so I went to use it only to find they had a download only for XP and Vista.  My poor computer died last year, so we now have Windows 7 and there was nowhere I could see to do a download for that.

I did a browse for Windows 7 and Picasa and found some forums that seemed to have people writing in with problems with Windows 7 and Picasa, so thought it best to leave that for now!!

At the Scanfest last night I “met”  Jasia who has the Creative Gene blog and she told me that Picasa is ok with her Windows 7, but although I now will give it a try, it’s a bit late to be included in this Challenge.

OK, there were still the links to tutorials and information about old handwriting.  I gave them a go, but they did not really help at all with my particular Will that I so wanted to decipher.  But, I did find some examples of English Wills of the 1500s and managed to see the alphabet, which is a great help.

I also learned that as well as abbreviations, some of which I already know from other Wills, the people of that time (and later) wrote in a kind of shorthand that they all knew (well, those that could read and write of course).  I had no previous knowledge of this and so knowing that a little squiggle after a certain letter means something and a little squiggle over the end of a word means it’s a longer word and a little squiggle somewhere else means something else is a great help.  I now know to look for the shorthand letters instead of trying to make out a word that I can’t decipher when it might be one of those shorthand words.  Wonderful.

So, although I did not succeed in deciphering the Will in time for the end of the week’s Challenge, I have learned quite a bit that is really going to help and so for me this is an ongoing Challenge and one day you might just see the undecipherable  (indecipherable(?)) Will being featured with a transcript on Amanuensis Monday!!

July 17, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Challenge #29 – Practice Reading Handwriting

Thomas of GeneaBloggers has just invited us to the latest 52 Weeks To Better Genealogy Challenge – the inspiration for these Challenges coming from Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog.  Our Challenge this week is to Practice reading handwriting because as Thomas explains, “Deciphering the penmanship of our ancestors is an exercise in patience, but this is a great skill to have in your genealogy tool box”.

Well, as far as I’m concerned this Challenge couldn’t have come at a better time!  Last week I finally received all the Wills I had ordered from the Buckinghamshire Record Office and one has stumped me completely!

I know from having many other Wills it is not always easy to make out what has been written with the lovely flowy writing they used in the past centuries and with their spelling of the English words etc., but  if I have difficulty reading them, I can usually at least make out names and places.  But, there is this one Will I have now received and all I know is it is the Will of Jone Reade (I think she may be a Widow) of Long Crendon (I think) in Buckinghamshire dated 1545.

I’ve looked and looked at the Will, looked at it with a terrific magnifying sheet my partner Paul bought for me to help with all my Wills.  I’ve scanned it and looked at it on the computer and zoomed in no end of times, but I just can’t make the words out at all.  I can’t really make out names or places.  I think I found the word “bequeath” but I’m not entirely sure as I can’t make out the other words either side of it!!  So, with this one Will I am completely bamboozled. 

This hasn’t happened before so I am delighted to accept Challenge #29 and am hoping that at least by the end of the coming week, I might have been able to look at olde worlde handwriting sites on the internet that just might help me with at least deciphering some of Jone Reade’s Will.

Have a look at the Will and if anyone can make any of it out I would love to know!!!  😉

This copy in my private collection but obtained from Buckinghamshire Record Office - copyright 2010

I think it actually starts with “In the name of God amen”  but I am not completely sure as to me with my eyes it might only be what I think it says!!  I’m trying to focus on some particular letters so that it might help pick them up elsewhere in the Will to help decipher the words.  Now I’ve added it here I can see the words “… beinge fit in bodye …” and I know from other Wills they usually go on to say something like “and of sound mind and memory” or words to that effect, but of course I don’t want to just surmise that has been also included in the Will, so I know I must really try to focus on what has actually been written here.

I am looking forward to this new Challenge so much and if it helps me with this Will, then any others that I’ve had just a little trouble deciphering will be a doddle!!

I’ll let you know Friday how I get on!!  😉

June 11, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Challenge #23: Create Your Own Challenge

I posted a blog on this subject several days ago and said that my own personal challenge would be that:  “… I have set myself the goal to get things well and truly properly sorted into proper categories in all my files and folders, so if I want to look for a family treasure, like my uncle’s letter, I can put my hands straight on it.  If I want to find a particular parish register transcript I will find it straight away instead of searching through pile after pile of mixed paperwork.  The same with Wills and Certificates and so on.  And if possible to do more than that, maybe I will also separate these things into maternal and paternal sides of the family piles”!!   I added a photo that showed just a fraction of my piles of paperwork!!

Now my Challange is completed for this week and I have managed to sort a lot of things out and found things that have been tucked away in piles since 2001.  Here is the new photo as things are now – the bookcase looks just as full but the difference here is that every single plastic folder has been sorted into different categories with a note informing me what category is in there and what I have to do with it, such as add the info to my family tree programme, or write to certain places for further info and the binders and albums each have their own type of thing in, such as one A3 binder only has photos and photo albums in it, and another only has Wills in it and another only has Birth, Marriage or Death Certificates in it instead of all these things being in different places, on their own.  Now they are all together in their very own category!!

Here is the new organised look:

original photograph taken by me 11th June 2010 and in my private collection - copyright 2010

I even went through everything in all the piles of paperwork that you could not see in my original photo and that has all been sorted into the plastic folders you can now see in their separate categories!!

And just a quick reminder of how it looked at the beginning of this challenge:

original photograph taken by me and in my private collection - copyright 2010

I am pleased I stuck with this because at least now when I am hunting for something, I can go straight to the relevant plastic folder or binder and know that’s where it will be!

I have now also issued myself with an ongoing challenge, which is to take one of the plastic folders, either daily or weekly (depending on how much is in it) and sort it more particularly, depending on what the category is.  I have Parish Register transcripts but need to sort them better into Counties as at the moment they are all mixed up, but they are in place name alphabetical order, so that is not so difficult to find a particular one!

I have enjoyed the Challenge, and this was something that was very much needed to have been done a long time ago.  Hopefully everyone else has had success with their own Challenges.  I went to some of your blogs and thought your Challenges were great and much more interesting than what I have tried to do!!

Onto the next Challenge now!  I received my invitation from Thomas but haven’t dared to look to see what it is yet – well, I was too busy with this Challenge!!  😉

June 5, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Challenge #23: Come up with a personal genealogy challenge of your own

For this latest Challenge we are asked to come up with a personal challenge of our own.  My first thought was to set myself the task of finding the parents of Elizabeth Cosens who is the mother of my 6 x great grandfather Cozens Read.  But then I thought this would be silly to do for the latest challenge, because I have already been searching for Elizabeth’s parents over several years, so I don’t think it likely I will discover them this coming week!!

In that case, I needed a more realistic goal to reach in a week for this challenge and my thoughts turned to how much time I have been spending going through all the papers, documents, Wills and masses of other things that I have collected over the years, just looking for notes, as in my Madness Monday post a couple of weeks ago, and only this week I have been hunting for a letter that I have put safely somewhere in which my uncle is writing to ask my grandfather’s permission to marry his daughter, my aunt.  It’s so safe I can’t find it!!  And I have also been searching for my parish register transcripts that I made for a particular parish in Oxfordshire to double check something, and can I find that in my piles of paperwork, nooooooo!!!!!  I don’t throw any of these things away so I know it is there somewhere!!

So, for my own personal genealogy challenge this week, I have set myself the goal to get things well and truly properly sorted into proper categories in all my files and folders, so if I want to look for a family treasure, like my uncle’s letter, I can put my hands straight on it.  If I want to find a particular parish register transcript I will find it straight away instead of searching through pile after pile of mixed paperwork.  The same with Wills and Certificates and so on.  And if possible to do more than that, maybe I will also separate these things into maternal and paternal sides of the family piles!!

original photograph taken by me and in my private collection - copyright 2010

The photo only shows a tiny fraction of my piles of paperwork so you can imagine how long it takes me to go through it all when searching for a particular something!!  I have been wanting to get properly organised for quite a while now, but just never seemed to get around to it, and now this challenge has been set!!!

So, by the coming Friday, I hope to show a different photo once I get things properly sorted.  As there is so very much stuff, I don’t think I will have all the sorting done completely, but certainly in a week, if I set to with determination, I might surprise myself.  I will let you know how I get on by Friday!!  Wish me luck!!

June 4, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Challenge #22: Find-a-Grave

Filed under: Challenge #22: Find-a-Grave, CHALLENGES — Tags: , — rootsresearcher @ 9:40 pm
This is the first time I have taken part in any of these challenges – not because I didn’t want to, it’s just that I have only very recently discovered them and Thomas MacEntee from GeneaBloggers’ invite to take part has prompted me to have a go!!

So we are asked to have a browse around the Find-a-Grave website, click on the links and study what others have done there. I have never been to Find-a-Grave, but kept meaning to have a look, so this Challenge is the perfect opportunity for me to have a go at a Challenge and visit this particular website.

Although we were asked not to do our own research for this Challenge, I felt as my interests were mainly in the UK that I would have a look at the New Search, England section. I was a little disappointed to find that I could not do a particular county in England search, especially as maybe doing a general surname search would throw up too many names for the whole country. They also had a Birth Date section and a Death Date section but if you did not know one or other of those dates for your ancestors, you would probably get all dates when searching for a particular name. Maybe I have found it too easy at other sites, but it seems to me that with the Birth or Death Date section it could be good to also have a from/to part of that date within 2 years either way, or 5 years, or 10 years.

I then tried Cemetery Search, England and thought I would just have a browse in certain counties to see if any I would be interested in were there. We are asked to put the name of the cemetery in the space and the country/state. I could not put a name of a cemetery as I did not know one without checking my records, so left it blank. I chose England and a message appeared on the screen: “Too many records. This query would return 6,397 records. Please go back and refine the search so that it returns no more than 6,000 records”. So I went back to refine, thinking I could choose a county in England to narrow down the amount of records that would be returned. But, there was no option for me to do that. So, my general cemetery search in England left me with nothing to see unless I had a particular name for one.

Undaunted, I went on to check Add Burial Records. I thought that maybe if this site was so good (and I have seen on various genealogy blogs many people praising the website, then maybe when I wasn’t doing this challenge, I would add some of the burial records I had collected. I chose the section Family and Friends and was then going to click on Quick Submit for adding to the same cemetery. So I first clicked on Family and Friends and saw a Member Login section. A message informed me that “You must be a member of Find-a-Grave to Access the page you requested”. I received the same message for Quick Submit too. I am not a member of this website and only wanted to have a look to see what was required if I wanted to start adding Burial Records. I could not access anything, so I have no idea if this is what I would want to do as I didn’t get the chance to check it over!!

I went to the Help with FAQ section and found the FAQs very easy to follow and they also made everything very clear. There was one question that asked What is a photo volunteer? The answer explained it very well but I thought it such a shame that this is only available in America. Why is it not implemented in the UK or elsewhere yet? I would certainly be willing to be a photo volunteer and would also be grateful to find a photo volunteer in the UK where I can’t get to. I’m sure there must be some UK genealogists and those that like to visit cemeteries who would be happy to be a Photo Volunteer. Anyway, overall, even if this is only available in America at the moment, it is a great idea and must be extremely helpful to many people.

I took a stroll through the Find-a-Grave online cemetery and found it very interesting and it was really nice to see people left messages for some of those that it was clear were not their ancestors at all. Very nice touch.

My next port of call on this website was going to be browsing their Claim to Fame section but as is normally the case, other things have taken my time so I have not been able to dip into that yet, nor a few other places on the site.

If I was actually looking at that website to do my own research instead of looking at it for this latest Challenge, I would have been very unlucky as I did not get a chance to narrow down searches or find particular areas I wanted. But, having said that I am thinking that if I had all my genealogy notes with me as I looked at the site, then I more than likely would be able to narrow my search and maybe find what I wanted. And maybe, if I was a member of the website it would enable me to access other sections.

Although this proved a little disappointing for me, I could see that overall it is a wonderful place for those seeking ancestors’ burial places and also for making a memorial for their loved ones. I will go back and finish trying to look at everything else on that website, and I will become a member, as I would like to help by adding the burial details I have collected over the years and as I am now a Graveyard Rabbit for a couple of churchyards, I would like to add details from those to Find-a-Grave too.

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