Taking a look at IDG’s newest In-Brief Research Guide: “Turning Your Family Tree into a Family Treasure”

I was cleaning off my desk after the holidays. With all the baking, gift buying and decorating my genealogy research and a lot of life took a back seat. Everything got stacked on my desk to make room for holiday merriment.

Now that life has returned to a normal schedule I began to sort through the piles of papers on my desk.  A lot of it was research related and I realized I have a lot of family history information. Also a lot of it is stacked in piles. I really should do something with all this material. Try to compile it or share it somehow.

Then in one of those weird life coincidences I got the chance to review IDG’s newest In-Brief Research Guide: “Turning Your Family Tree into a Family Treasure.” This In-Brief Guide spoke to me in a big way.

Christine Woodcock is the author of the guide and outlines the situation. “As the family historian, you have collected a cornucopia of research documents: bits of scrap paper, newspaper clippings, photos, obits, e-mails and other assorted bits of research. What can you do to preserve these documents and the stories they tell for future generations?”

That’s exactly what I had been thinking!

Christine goes on to say, “Turn your family tree information into a treasured family heirloom, a family history book.”

Hmmm, I’m less enthusiastic now. I love the idea of a family history book but that’s a pretty big project. Where do I start? What family do I choose? How much of my info do I include? I don’t know how to lay out a book. I nearly talked myself out of the project before I got to the guide’s second paragraph.

Woodcock knows her stuff and answered my questions and lots more. She gives the reader detailed steps on how to put your family history book together.  Starting with choosing who the book is going to be about like, “One ancestor, one branch, one line,” to gathering the material for your book. She touches on tender subjects like “Dealing with the skeletons and scandals.”

Christine is precise and thorough taking the reader through all the steps needed to put together a valuable family history. She breaks each section down to manageable, workable segments. As I continue to read the guide I’m thinking I can do this.

The author finishes by covering publishing. She discusses hard cover books, ebooks, or photo books and how to go about using each method. There are also additional resources listed. The reader gets even more insights on writing and publishing. By the time I finished the guide I knew if I followed this outline I could put together a family history book. My own family history book. No excuses, and if I pulled out the I don’t have time cop-out, Christine provided the perfect answer in a quote from J. Jackson Brown.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

Well, if you put it that way, I can and should put together a family history book. With the help of “Turning Your Family Tree into a Family Treasure” it’s doable. You can find the In-Brief Reasearch Guide at http://theindepthgenealogist.com/product/brief-guide-turning-family-tree-family-treasure/ I think you’ll find it exceptionally helpful too.

IDG Introduces their Newest In-Brief Research Guide: “Turning Your Family Tree into a Family Treasure” By Christine Woodcock

The In-Depth Genealogist (IDG) is pleased to present their newest in-brief research guide in the research series by writer, Christine Woodcock, entitled “An In-Brief Guide to Turning Your Family Tree into a Family Treasure”. Christine wrote the column “In Search of Your Scottish Roots” for The In-Depth Genealogist’s digital magazine, Going In-Depth. Scottish born, Canadian raised, she is a genealogy educator with an expertise in Scottish records. She enjoys sharing new resources to assist others in their quest to find and document their heritage. Christine is also a lecturer, author and blogger. She is the Director of Genealogy Tours of Scotland
and enjoys taking fellow Scots “home” to do onsite genealogy research and to discover their own Scottish heritage.

As the family historian, you have collected a cornucopia of research documents: bits of scrap paper, newspaper clippings, photos, obits, e-mails and other assorted bits of “research”. What can you do to preserve these documents and the stories they tell for future generations? Turn your family tree information into a treasured family heirloom, a family history book. In this In-Brief, Christine shares tips on how to start, develop the content, interview relatives, share your own story, and determine your book format. There are also recommended websites, publishers, and resource books within the guide.

“An In-Brief Guide to Turning Your Family Tree into a Family Treasure” is available now as a PDF ($2.75). Pre-orders of the printed laminated guide, 8.5” x 11” ($9.95 + shipping) are through The In-Depth Genealogist Store (http://theindepthgenealogist.com/shop-idg/idg-products/).  IDG has published fifteen guides which are all available as 4-page PDFs and laminated print versions. Subscribers to the digital magazine, Going In-Depth, receive a 10% discount on purchase of each guide.

Sultana: An Unimaginable Tragedy 152 Years Ago Today

Sultana taken at Helena, AR, on April 26, 1865, a day before she was destroyed. The view captures a large crowd of paroled Union prisoners packed tightly together on the steamboat’s decks.
Photo Credit: Bankes, Thomas W. Photographer, 26 Apr 1865. Sultana [digital image]. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultana_(steamboat)#/media/File:Civil_War_Steamer_Sultana_tintype,_1865.png

 

By April 1865 citizens had grown accustomed to big news events but this month was filled with even more outstanding headlines than usual.

On April 9th, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, signaling the first step in the end of the Civil War.

Shocking the nation, President Abraham Lincoln was shot April 14th and died April 15th from the assassin’s bullet. His murderer John Wilkes Booth was shot and killed on April 26th.

April 27th saw Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrender his army to Gen. William T. Sherman and his Union troops in North Carolina. Yet buried in the backs of most newspapers would be one of the single most tragic events of the Civil War. The explosion of the riverboat Sultana.

For a little background, the Sultana was built in Cincinnati in 1863. She ran in the most southern part of the Mississippi River, used mainly for transporting cotton but she was also known to carry U.S. Army officers and soldiers between ports along the river.

On April 21, 1865 the Sultana was docked in New Orleans. She was being loaded with sugar and livestock. There were a few passengers boarded in the 100 cabins of the steamer. By law the Sultana could carry 376 persons which included the crew. Leaving New Orleans on April 24th the Sultana headed for Vicksburg, Mississippi which was a regular stop on her route. While docked in Vicksburg the ship’s captain discovered the Sultana’s boilers were leaking. The repair normally should have taken three to four days yet was completed in a single day. The rush to finish the repair was easy to figure out. In a single word – money.

Ship lines were paid five dollars a head by the government to transport Union soldiers back north. The men about to aboard the Sultana we’re headed to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio where they would be mustered out of the army. If the Sultana stayed in dock a couple extra days soldiers anxious to make the trip home would find other ships to make the journey. The repair crew rushed to fix the Sultana’s boilers to get the ship back en route and not lose out on this easy cash.

It’s estimated that 2,300 people were aboard the Sultana when it left Vicksburg. This was six times the number of people it was supposed to carry. In fact crew members had to bolster the second floor deck to keep it from caving in from the weight of so many people.

Recently released Union prisoners of war comprised most of the passengers. Liberated from Cahaba, Alabama and Andersonville, Georgia prisons they were being housed at Union Camp Fisk outside of Vicksburg. From there they would board ships heading north on the Mississippi River. Finally these POWs, recently released from their hellish prison experience would be headed home. After enduring so much in prison camps, being overcrowded on a steamer going home didn’t seem so bad. Many of the men were weakened, ill and in such bad shape their only thought was to get home.

The exact number of soldiers on the Sultana was never known. The ship was so crammed with passengers that it was decided not to make out muster rolls in advance. Roll would be taken once the ship was underway.

Once the Sultana left Vicksburg she made her way north on the Mississippi River, stopping at several smaller ports unloading cargo. The river was high for this time of year with a fast moving current. There had been a lot of rain recently. The steamer, with the extraordinary number of passengers strained to get through the churning waters.

It was late afternoon on April 26th when the Sultana docked at Memphis. Here some of the soldiers, went ashore to get off the overcrowded ship and do some sightseeing. The recently repaired boilers started leaking again and were quickly patched once more so the steamer could get underway. Some of the soldiers who got off the ship did not get back in time and missed boarding the Sultana as it pulled out of Memphis around 7 pm. These men would soon learn that being late probably saved their lives.

It was about 2 am April 27, 1865. The Sultana was just a few miles north of Memphis, straining against the powerful river currents with hastily repaired boilers when the unthinkable happened. The boilers, stretched to their limit, with the extra weight and churning waters, burst. With unbelievable force the explosion, escaping steam and fire tore the mid section out of the ship. The blast was so loud and flames shot so high in the sky it was seen and heard back in Memphis.

Soldiers, presumably sleeping at that early morning hour, were blasted into the air, then plummeted into the cold April waters of the Mississippi. Some were scalded by the boilers hot steam, others burned by fiery debris. Still others clung to the ship’s remnants or were trapped aboard as the disaster continued to unfold. They too were forced to jump into the river as fire consumed the part of ship they clung to. The Mississippi was littered with the bobbing heads of passengers as they desperately tried to stay afloat. These soldiers were weak from their POW experience. The effort it took to swim, if they knew how or to hang on to whatever they could find floating was too much for most. Battered, burned and scalded they slipped beneath the water’s surface drowning in the Mississippi River. Tragically they were only a few days from reaching home.

By morning, ships of all sizes had arrived at the scene from Memphis, pulling survivors from the river and picking up those who made it to shore. It was estimated that somewhere between 500 and 600 men were taken to Memphis hospitals. About 200 of those survivors died soon afterward either from their injuries, exposure or their weakened condition. It really isn’t known how many people died in the explosion since their wasn’t an accurate list of passengers but it’s generally accepted 1,700 perished although some published accounts put the number at 1,800. To put this horrible incident into perspective 1,754 Union soldiers died at Shiloh.

The Sultana, alarmingly overcrowded with passengers, struggling against unusually high waters, with hastily repaired boilers, exploded and caught fire in the worst maritime tragedy of our country’s history. More passengers died in the Sultana explosion than the sinking of the Titanic. Making it even more heartbreaking is the fact that most of the dead were Union prisoners of war. Men who had survived Andersonville and Cahaba prisons and were finally headed home to their families. May they always be remembered and rest in peace.

My Take on the Newest IDG Brief – Pennsylvania Genealogy

 

When working on our family history most of us find many of our ancestors lived or passed through the state of Pennsylvania. A good number of my family lines originated or stayed for a generation or two in the Keystone State and I’ll bet that applies to you too. With a large chunk of my research centered on Pennsylvania I’ve found myself trying to remember websites I didn’t bookmark, databases or other research sources I’ve used in the past. You know how it is. You research a family line hard, then put it down for a while and when you come back to it, it’s difficult to pick up where you left off.

Recently I received “Pennsylvania Genealogy” written by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL. It’s an In-Brief from IDG and the newest addition to the collection of The In-Depth Genealogist. Turns out “Pennsylvania Genealogy” is just what I needed as I work on my Pennsylvania families.

This guide is chock full of information. In fact I’m surprised at how much is in this four page guide. There’s very little unused space, with sections on Research Strategies to Vital Record Substitutes, Tax Records to Directories. This guide gave me several new sites to research, many I had no idea existed. There are plenty of hard core, fact filled research sites listed, but Powell also includes Online Communities, Organizations and Societies and Facebook pages related to Pennsylvania research. I especially love digging into these extras as I research. I found the Books, Periodicals & Articles section had titles I wasn’t aware of and am interested in investigating.

I’m really happy with this newest brief from IDG. I like having a list of compiled resources ready for me so I can jump into my research. I used the .pdf version of the guide but I’ll also purchase the laminated version. As much as I’d like to go paperless I find having a hard copy of my research log and IDG brief next to my laptop helps my focus as a researcher. That way I’m not switching between a number of open tabs which is distracting for my monkey brain.

With a good number of my ancestors traveling through Pennsylvania I found “Pennsylvania Genealogy” by Elissa Scalise Powell a great resource. I’ve been researching my Pennsylvania people for a while and found new, really helpful info in this IDG brief.

This guide can be downloaded as a .pdf for just $2.75 or bought in a laminated version for $9.95 at The In-Depth Genealogist.

Disclaimer: A free copy of the guide was provided for review purposes. The writer is not being compensated for her opinions.

James Hayes Marshall Jr – the patriarch of the Marshalls of Monroe Township, Allen County, Ohio

Hays Marshall aka James Hayes Marshall

James Hays Marshall                     aka Hayes Marshall


This is my great-great grandfather James Hayes Marshall Jr. and like the title says, the patriarch of the Marshalls of Monroe Township, Allen County, Ohio.

James was born 9 April 1823 to James Hayes Marshall Sr. and Nancy Jane Patterson. James Sr. was a War of 1812 veteran which would come to have an affect on Jr.’s adult life.

James Jr. was one of seven children who all lived and farmed in Little Beaver Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. He and his twin William were his parent’s fourth and fifth babies. As happened all too often during these times James’ mother Nancy died in 1829 the same year she gave birth to her seventh child. James was only six years old.

James Sr. remarried in 1834. With his new wife Mary Slaven they added three more children to the family. This same scenario would be replayed in James Jr.’s adult life as well.

My great-great grandfather James Jr. married Nancy Painter Steele on 22 January 1826 in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. They had eight children. The first three were born in Lawrence County, PA. The family then moved to Vinton County, Ohio where two more children were born and the last three were born in Allen County, Ohio.

James Jr. and his wife Nancy purchased property in Vinton County along with James’s sister and brother-in-law. The Marshalls stayed in Vinton County long enough to produce two children. Father James Sr. had received land for his service in the War of 1812 and gave these parcels to his five sons. Which is why James Jr. and his family left Vinton County and ended up in Allen County, Ohio.

James Jr. farmed and raised his family of eight in Allen County until tragedy struck in 1863 when his wife Nancy died. Just as his father before him James had a house full of children to raise without their mother and just as his father before him he remarried.

Susannah Van Meter became his new wife on 15 January 1864 and brought her own son into their family as well as bearing four more children. My great grandfather George S Marshall was one of those last four children.

James H Marshall Death card

James H Marshall Death card

James Jr. continued to farm the rest of his life. He died 10 February 1888 at the age of 64 years old. He was buried in Rockport cemetery in Allen County, Ohio next to his first wife Nancy.

Now this is pure speculation on my part but I sense James Jr. and Susannah’s marriage was one of convenience. He needed a woman in his home for his children and Susannah had an out-of-wedlock child making her undesirable to most men. Susannah was 30 yrs old when she married James Jr. I think her prospects of marriage were dimming, so she took what she could get. After James Jr.’s death the older children continued farming and Susannah left the family home and lived with my great grandfather George for nearly the rest of her life.

In many ways there seems to be a disconnect between the older and younger children of James Hayes Marshall Jr. but again that is a feeling I have and not proven fact, although it is something I will continue to research! It really doesn’t matter what I turn up. It’s a good thing James Jr. married Susannah. That union is vital for me being here today!

Thanks for reading the story of my great-great grandfather James Hayes Marshall Jr.