Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sorting Saturday - Tools of the Trade

In preparation for a recent get down and get serious sorting session with Mom, I made a list of things I thought might be helpful.  I figured since we were getting serious about going through over 50 years worth of stuff, I should be prepared for anything.  Remember, my parents are Depression Era Babies - they saved EVERYTHING.  Here's what I came up with as well as some thoughts and notes on what did/didn't work, what I did/didn't need and what I wished I had come prepared with.

Camera - charged
I used it to take pictures of items that I thought were important to our family.  I wish I had come prepared with an extra memory card.  I didn't think I would be able to fill mine up but alas, I forgot I had a ton of family snapshots still on it.

Camcorder - charged

I ended up not using the camcorder.  It turns out the camera and audio recorder worked out fine.

Audio recorder

I picked up a pocket sized recorder at Target for this project.  It's my new best friend!  I just set it out and when mom (or someone else) started talking about something interesting that I would want to remember, I just pushed the record button.  Of course, I let everyone know ahead of time what I was going to be doing.  If anyone had any reservations or didn't want something they were about to say recorded, they could tell me and the recorder would not be turned on.  The audio recorder saved me having to stop and write things down and interupt the train of thought of whoever was talking for clarification on something. A couple of times I let it run for 15 or 20 minutes because little tidbits kept coming up.

Now I can go back, relisten and incorporate all of the important information into my notes, heirloom book, etc.  It should improve accuracy quite a bit.

Extra batteries for all of the above

Fortunately, they weren't needed but they were there just in case.

Spiral notebook & pen

I did use this to make a few notes and list some "To Do" items.

Tags/sticky pads/colored dots

These ended up being used to mark some items with who it belonged to in the past.  A very basic provenance.  We are also using them to mark items that someone in the family would like to have someday.

Boxes to put things in to be donated or given to someone and a wastebasket

These were handy to have as it saved the extra step of packing things up later.  Besides once the decision was made - the item was outta there!

That was the preparation.  Next week I'll talk about the adventure and the sorting.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Friday, February 26, 2010

Geneabloggers Winter Games final status

Today for Go Back and Cite Your Sources! I entered 10 citations in my data base for a Bronze Medal.
I also was able to do Expand Your Knowledge by doing Task B-Create a timeline. 

So, drumroll please!  My final tally:

Go Back and Cite Your Sources!
10 citations for a Bronze Medal

Back Up Your Data
Completed Task C for a Gold Medal

Organize Your Research
Completed Tasks A, B, C and D for a Diamond Medal

Expand Your Knowledge
Completed Task B for a Bronze Medal

Write, Write, Write!
Completed Tasks A, B, C and E for a Diamond Medal

Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness!
Completed Tasks A, F and G for a Gold Medal

So the final tally is:
2 Bronze
2 Gold
2 Diamond

I am really glad I participated in these Games.  Not only did I get some things done that needed to be done but I also got started on some projects that I will continue to work on.  Best of all, I had the opportunity to "meet" fellow GeneaBloggers and read about some of the really awesome and interesting projects they are working on!

I wish I had time for more but I'm off to the ballgames.

Timeline - William Harrison Ballinger

While reading Miriam Ridkiff's posting, Using Timelines, on her AnceStories blog, I was struck by a comment she made regarding what her timeline format does for her.  She said, "it gave me a visual of the years where there are blanks."  I've put together timelines for some of my ancestors but they haven't done that for me.  So I decided to try her method.

Miriam uses a line for each year of the person's life and fills in whatever she can for that person's lifespan.  She says she has heard that "professional genealogists state that good family research will account for an ancestor's whereabouts with gaps no more than two years apart!" 

Here's a timeline for my brick wall ancestor, William Harrison Ballinger, who I wrote about for a previous Madness Monday.  William was born in 1821 and died in 1909.  You don't need to study the timeline in detail to see where the gaps are. 

What I learned:
  • I knew there was a big gap in the early years of William's life up until his marriage.  It's bigger than I realized!
  • I have more information than I thought for the time period from the mid 1850's through about 1880. 
  • I thought I had more data from the mid 1890's through William's death.  In fact, I think if I were to revisit my files, I could glean more information for that time period.  Who knows what it could lead to!
  • Finally, I am reminded that I do have some Mahaska County, Iowa land records for the 1850's that I obtained on a trip to the Family History Library a year or two ago.  I am embarrassed to say, it's in one of those piles I meant to organize and process but life got in the way.  I need to dig those out and at the very least put them in my "To Be Processed" filing system.  Who knows what a review and processing of those papers will lead to!
Thanks Miriam for inspiring me to try a new angle on a tried and true research method!  And in the process, it helped me to earn a Bronze Medal for completing Task B in the Expand Your Knowledge category of the GeneaBloggers Winter Games.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Make an Heirloom Book

Since there are so many heirloom type treasures in our home, it seemed like an heirloom book to record the important information and stories about these items was a good idea.  I can safely say in our family, I am, in most cases, the only one who really knows the "story" of these types of items in our home.  Since I would hate to see many of our heirlooms disposed of without any thought or realization of what they mean, I started an "heirloom book."

I did this a number of years ago, by typing or handwriting the information about our heirloom items on a piece of paper and attached a photo with archival safe photo corners. Now that we are in the digital age, I have started a much nicer one that is not only on paper but backed up on my computer.  I can also share copies of it via CD.  As for the pages in the original book.  I've scanned them and inserted the resulting jpeg into the Word document that is the "master copy."

Here's the basic format of my book.  You will find an example below. 
  • Title which describes the item and who it belonged to
  • Photo of the item
  • When and where the picture was taken
  • Digital file name of the picture (in a tiny font)
  • Provenance
  • Stories related to the item if applicable
I'd like to elaborate a little on the last 2 items.


Most of the definitions I've read state that provenance is the history of ownership of an item.  In this section, I've just tried to write down what I know about who owned the treasure and when.  I've also included who told what to who and when.


This has the potential to be the really interesting section if you have stories attached to your heirloom.  Ask around the family to see what they know.  Don't just ask the senior members either.  I've found out some really interesting things from my brother that I had never heard before! It's funny, you grow up in the same house, at the same time, but we all remember different things.

Right now I'm using a 3 ring binder with each page in it's own page protector.  This way we can easily add new pages and reorder them.  Since it's in a "draft" form, there is no hesitation about having someone write their additions on any of the pages.  I can put the information into Word later and reprint the page.

I've also included pages for items that another member of the family now has.  That way the stories and information is preserved.  Also, if I don't physically have an item, I figure the next best thing is to have a picture!

Here's an example:

Just for fun, I printed a copy of this page and put it inside the butter churn.  When my children look at it in the future, the story will be inside waiting for them.
In summary, I hope you decide to make an "Heirloom Book."  If you do, I'd love to hear about your ideas and what you've done.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Geneabloggers Winter Games Update

I've made some significant progress in the last couple of days.

In the Organize Your Research category, I completed Tasks B, C, and D. 

My dining room table desperately needs to be cleared off so Task C was the perfect activity.  I put several dozen photos into albums.

Since I'm still trying to get my "new" laptop organized with all of my genealogy "stuff" that is spread between two older computers, Tasks B and D were the perfect activities.  I don't know how many hundreds of digital files and photos I organized into folders but I made significant progress.  I also was able to add tags and descriptions to many of them although there is always more work to be done there.

So now I have completed Tasks A, B, C and D giving me a Diamond Medal!

In the Write, Write Write! category, I completed Task B by participating in the First Edition of the Carnival of Genealogical Societies, Doin' Things Right

Since I have completed Tasks A, B, C and E in this category I am up to a Diamond Medal.

Only a few more days to go and so much to do!

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boulder Genealogical Society - Doin' Things Right

My choice for the First Edition of the Carnival of Genealogical Societies, Doin' Things Right, was an easy one. 

Among the many activities and services the Boulder Genealogical Society provides is a wonderful website - specificially their Online Archives page.  I came upon their Columbia Cemetery Index a number of years ago where I found my Ballinger, Robinson and Lowe families.  This site proved to be the chink in my Ballinger brick wall that I have been blogging about for Madness Monday.  I have been so impressed with this organization that I joined even though I don't even live in Colorado.

This cemetery index is far more than it's name implies.  If you take a look under the R's and scroll down to Daniel A. Robinson, you will see his age, date of death and the Section/Lot where he is buried.  In the far right column is a clickable link which brings up a much more detailed page for Daniel which you can view by clicking here.

On this page, in addition to the information I listed above there are sections for the following:
  • Biographical Information
  • Grave monuments in that section
  • Lot map and other information
  • 3 links that take you to the City of Boulder, Parks & Recreation maps of the cemetery
  • List of other people buried in that Lot/Section with clickable links to their individual pages
Among the many tidbits of information included in Daniel's biography are:
  • His spouse, Nancy Ballinger, who I previously wrote about and their marriage date of 25 April 1870, in Boulder.
  • Daniel's occupations: Former Boulder County Treasurer, JP, deputy sheriff.
  • Biographical information which includes, in part, that he was one of Boulder's earliest pioneers and that he'd been living in Columbus, MT in the years prior to his death.
  • References.  This is one of the most important sections that has been included.  It refers to all the newspapers used in compiling Daniel's biography, the date and page of the article!
As I said, this cemetery index is much more than it's name implies.  I can't even imagine the time and effort required to do this for all of the approximately 6500 people buried in Columbia Cemetery.  This is a job that has truly been done right!

How I benefited

Aside from having lots of really great genealogical data and some cemetery tombstone photos for my family handed to me on a silver platter, this discovery opened my eyes to the vast resources available in this county, many of which have been tapped and made available by the Boulder Genealogical Society.  Boulder area newspapers, marriage records, the BGS library, the resources of the Carnegie Branch Library and the excellent BGS Quarterly publication are but a few examples of Boulder area resources I have learned about or accessed through the BGS.

The information and resources in the cemetery index are what I used to prepare for a visit to Boulder and the Columbia Cemetery several years ago.  It was a very pleasant and efficient visit thanks to the preparation I was able to do using this index.

In summary, the Boulder Genealogical Society is one organization that is "Doin' Things Right" and their online Columbia Cemetery Index is but one example of the many outstanding projects and services this society provides and that this writer has benefited from.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Monday, February 22, 2010

Madness Monday - Mary Ann Ballenger Woods - continued

Last week for I introduced one of the oldest children of William and Lucinda Ballenger - Mary Ann Ballenger who was initially identified from an article in the Boulder Daily Camera, December 1893.

The next step I took in looking for answers to my questions about Mary, was to look in the 1900 Census where I found her with her husband and 3 children.  After some more census research the following timeline has been compiled.

Circa 1855 - Mary Ann is born - see 1856.

1856 - Mary Ann Ballinger is living with her parents William and Lucinda and siblings Nancy and John in Black Oak, Mahaska County, Iowa. She is one year old and listed as residing in Iowa for 0 years. Go figure. (Iowa State Census 1856 -

November 1866-February 1867 - She is listed as attending Central School in Boulder, Colorado with her sister Nancy Ballenger ("Items About Boulder's Early Schools," Boulder Genealogical Society Quarterly, February 1975).

Circa late 1870s - Mary Ann moves to the southern part of Colorado. One wonders why? (Boulder Daily Camera, 7 December 1893, front page).

1880 - A Mary Ballinger is listed in the Federal Census in Rico, Ouray County, Colorado.  She is living with the Walter Higgins family.  I can't be sure if this is my Mary or not.  Her age is 22 putting her birth year around 1858 and her birthplace is listed as Illinois.  This Mary is living in the part of Colorado that would be consistent with the Boulder Daily Camera article and at the right time.  Her birth year is close.  The state is not the same but close.

December 1893 - Mrs. Milton Y. Woods and her 3 children visit her sister, Mrs. Dan (Nancy Ballenger) Robinson, in Boulder. The article states that Mrs. Woods in her "girlhood" was known as Mary Ballinger. (Boulder Daily Camera, 7 December 1893, front page).

1900 - Mary A. Woods is living with her husband, Milton, and their 3 children, Blanche, Walter and Hazel in California Mesa, Montrose County, Colorado.  The federal census lists Mary's birthplace as Iowa and her birthdate as August 1860 which is slightly different from the 1856 Iowa Census.  It also states she is the mother of 4 children 3 of whom are living.  This is consistent with the Boulder Daily Camera article in 1893 which stated she was visiting Boulder with her 3 children.  The census also states Mary and Milton have been married for 18 years which gives me a time frame to go on when I look for a marriage record.

1910 - Mary, Milton and their daughter Hazel are listed in the federal census in Montrose County, Colorado.  Mary does not seem to be aging properly - her age is listed as 47 which would put her birth year at about 1863.  This is both Milton and Mary's first marriage and they have been married 30 years.  Again she is listed as mother of 4 children 3 of whom are living.

1920 - Mary and her daughter, Hazel, are living in Ouray County, Colorado.  Her age is listed as 58 and birthplace of Iowa.  She is widowed according to the census.  Mary works as a cook in a "mine boarding house." Hazel is a waitress in the same place.

I need to find Mary and Milton's marriage record and death certificates for both.  At least now I have more clues to guide me in that search.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Sunday, February 21, 2010

GeneaBloggers Winter Games Update

Last night I finished Task A of Organize Your Research! by organizing over 20 "ancestral items".  Most of these are items that are being displayed in my home but it occurred to me that I am the only one who knows the story behind the item.  So I put a label on the item or a card in or with the artifact telling who it belonged to and any other really important/interesting facts.  A couple of the truly older items and those with extensive stories, I photographed for the "Heirloom Book" I have started.  Their information is included on it's own page.  I'll write more on that in a future post.  Bronze Medal.

In the Back Up Your Data! category, I made a complete backup of all the genealogy data and files that have been migrated to my "new" laptop by backing up to MyBookWorld and to an online resource.  Bronze Medal.

Total updated medal count:
1. Go Back and City Your Sources! Nothing yet but I WILL be doing something soon.
2. Back Up Your Data! Bronze Medal for completing Task C.
3. Organize Your Research! Bronze Medal for completing Task A.
4. Expand Your Knowledge! Nothing yet
5. Write, Write, Write! Gold Medal for completing Tasks A, C, and E
6. Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness! Gold Medal for completing Tasks A, F, and G.

You know the great thing about these Games?  Since some of these tasks can be done over and over, it's a great way to get into a new habit.  For example, pre-publishing posts and commenting on new (to me) blogs.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sorting Saturday

Since I'm constantly sorting through items at home, I've decided to start a new weekly theme, Sorting Saturday.  I'll cover all kinds of sorting topics from how to go about sorting through a closet or box of stuff,  what to do with what you find, organizing, supplies and tools you might need, etc.  I can even see delving into sorting through files on the computer.  I might even cover a few things not to do that I have, unfortunately, learned from experience.  Any ideas or suggestions are always welcome.

Check back next Saturday when I will talk about some tools I used on a recent sorting session with Mom and a couple I thought I might use but didn't.

I'm trying to keep this week short since it's Olympics season!

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Thursday, February 18, 2010

GeneaBloggers Winter Games Update

The last few days I have managed to tear myself away from the Vancouver Games on TV to participate.

In the Write, Write, Write! category:
Task E: I created a page on the blog of a tab of the Surnames I am researching using the New Pages Feature in Blogger.  I also added another tab listing the Societies and Organizations I belong to with links to their web pages.

This moves me up to a Gold Medal since I have already completed Tasks A and C.

So my medal count is as follows:
Write, Write Write - Gold Medal
Reach Out and Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness - Gold Medal

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Treasure Chest Thursday - All That's Left of the Family Fortune

Recently, I was sorting through some old letters and photos when I ran across a letter to my mother from her grandmother on the occassion of Mom's college graduation many years ago.  It reads, in part:
These antique napkins rings are the remnant of your Great Grandfather and Great grandmother’s fortune. The silver in the rings were part of a silver brick given to them by a friend and my father had six napkin rings made out of same and when their three daughters were married they gave each of us two napkin rings. They are over Seventy-five years old.
The great grandparents she writes of are Daniel Robinson and Nancy Ballenger Robinson (I wrote about Nancy in my February 8 Madness Monday and February 10 Wordless Wednesday posts).  The three daughters are Frances Lowe (author of the letter), Julia Eckwortzel, and Georgie Williams.  The silver brick would have been given to them in Boulder, Colorado.

Of course, I immediately asked Mom if she still had the rings and if she knows where they are.  She remembered them and described the box they were in to me and the fact that they were tied together with a ribbon.  Unfortunately, they were not in the location Mom thought they were, so we will have to keep looking.  I am confident they will turn up and will keep you, my readers posted.....

I wonder if the descendants of the Eckwortzel and Williams families still have theirs?

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Geneabloggers Winter Games Status #2

Day 4.  Today I worked on the Write, Write, Write! category and completed the following:
Task A: Write a summary of what your blog is about and post it on your blog.
I used the new Pages feature in blogger as suggested and was glad I did.  I suspect I will be adding more tabs to the blog in the near future!
Task C: Prepare several posts in draft mode and pre-publish them.
I love this feature and have used it before.  If you haven't tried it, you should.  It's easy and a great time management tool.

This puts me at the Silver Medal  level in this category.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Monday, February 15, 2010

GeneaBloggers Winter Games Status #1

I'm off to a bit of a slow start since it's already day 3 but that's OK. 

I started off with the Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness category by completing:
Task A: Comment on a new (to you) genealogy blog.
I commented on 2 today
Task F: Join a genealogical, historical, heritage or lineage society.
I've had a post it note on my computer for quite a while now to join the East Tennessee Historical Society.  Done.
Task G: Use the Follow feature on a Blogger-based genealogy blog and follow one or more blogs.
I lost track of how many I started to follow today but it was at least 2 or 3.

That was easy and fun!

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Winter 2010 Geneabloggers Games

Well, I've decided to take the plunge and participate in the Winter 2010 Geneabloggers Games.

I plan on participating and medalling in 4 of the 6 categories.  If I have time, I'll attempt the other 2 as well.

1. Go Back and Cite Your Sources!

I am going to attempt at least a Bronze medal by going back and correctly citing 10 sources.  When I changed genealogy programs a few years back, some of the citations didn't transfer over.  I've been slowly going in and re-adding the missing ones.  There's plenty of work to be done in this area.

2.  Organize Your Research!

I am shooting for a Gold medal on this one by completing at least 3 of the organizing tasks.

3.  Write, write, write!

Since the whole purpose of my blog is to write, I figure I might as well go for Gold and complete 3 of the tasks.

4.  Reach Out and Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness!

It's time for a little payback after all the help I've received over the years.  I'm attempting a Bronze but I can see myself getting wrapped up in this one.  So who knows....

So, I've designed my flag which is a combination of the American, New Zealand and Greek flags.  American for my country of which I am proud.  New Zealand because I really would like to go there some day.  Their flag also includes Great Britian which is a country I also am enthralled with.  To me the Southern Cross on their flag is calling me to visit the southern hemisphere.  Finally, the Greek flag because I visited Greece a few years ago and was drawn in by the ancient history that is everywhere.

Madness Monday - Elusive Mary Ann Ballenger

This Ballenger daughter has been a bit on the elusive side. If it wasn't for the Boulder Genealogical Society website, Colorado Historical Newspapers and, I would have absolutely no information on Mary Ann. She is a great illustration of how a little piece of information here and another bit there can get you started in researching an individual. So I want to talk about some of these sources and the methodology you can use to get going on a project.

The Boulder Genealogical Society, among the many ambitious projects they have taken on over the years, has published abstracts from the local newspapers in their Quarterly. This has proven to be a goldmine of information on my various Boulder families. While the abstract itself is usually immensely helpful, I like to get a copy of the entire article.

What I have done is searched the BGS Quarterly's annual surname index for the names I am interested in. That takes me to the appropriate article or abstract in the BGS Quarterly. My local Family History Library has the Quarterlies on microfiche. You can also check local libraries with genealogical collections for items like these.

The Colorado Historical Newspapers has been the next stop in my searches. Once I find an abstract, the first place I check is this website. They don't always have the article I want but it's worth a try since it's quick and I don't have to physically go anywhere. I have also spent quite a bit of time searching and browsing for my Boulder families on this site with great results.

Remember too there are numerous commercial websites with digitized newspapers such as, and

Another option would be to request a copy of an article through interlibrary loan which I have also done successfully.

The next stop has been onsite searching of newspapers at the Boulder Public Library and the University of Colorado Archives. Even though I don't live in Colorado, I have been fortunate enough to be in the Boulder area in recent years and have taken advantage of their resources on my trips. This has been particularly helpful since some of the newspaper articles I was interested in, I was unable to get economically through interlibrary loan.

A basic timeline outlines what little I know about Mary Ann Ballenger:

Circa 1855 - Mary Ann is born - see 1856.

1856 - Mary Ann Ballenger is living with her parents William and Lucinda and siblings Nancy and John in Black Oak, Mahaska County, Iowa. She is one year old and listed as residing in Iowa for 0 years. Go figure. (Iowa State Census 1856 -

November 1866-February 1867 - She is listed as attending Central School in Boulder, Colorado with her sister Nancy Ballenger ("Items About Boulder's Early Schools," Boulder Genealogical Society Quarterly, February 1975).

Circa late 1870s - Mary Ann moves to the southern part of Colorado. One wonders why? (Boulder Daily Camera, 7 December 1893, front page).

December 1893 - Mrs. Milton Y. Woods and her 3 children visit her sister, Mrs. Dan (Nancy Ballenger) Robinson, in Boulder. The article states that Mrs. Woods in her "girlhood" was known as Mary Ballinger. (Boulder Daily Camera, 7 December 1893, front page).

So from these 3 tidbits I have been able to link Mary Ann to her parents William and Lucinda and 2 siblings, Nancy and John via a census record. And have linked her to Boulder (the home of the Ballenger family in the 1860's, 70's and possibly early 1880's) and again to her sister Nancy through two newspaper articles.

So, even though I haven't "proven" anything, I do have a very basic outline and lots of questions:

Where in southern Colorado did the Milton Y. Woods family live?
Who were the 3 children that visited Boulder with their mother in 1893?
When and where did Mary Ballenger marry Milton Y. Woods.
When and where did they die?
The list goes on.

Next week we'll look into this case a little deeper.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Monday, February 8, 2010

Madness Monday - A photograph Helps Solve the Question of When Nancy Died

Nancy Ballenger Robinson is my gg grandmother and one of the oldest children of William and Lucinda Ballenger, who I wrote about last week for Madness Monday. She married one of Boulder, Colorado's early pioneers and later in their lives they moved to Montana probably either with their children or to be near them. After Nancy's husband Daniel died, she stayed on in Montana, living off and on with her various children.

My goal was to obtain Nancy's date of death and place of burial. The latest record I had for her was a 1925 homestead file in Stillwater County, Montana. She was not listed in the 1930 Federal Census. It seemed logical that she might have died in Montana, so I sent off to the Montana State Vital Records Office for her death certificate (this was before the index was available online). They were able to search well before 1925 and well after 1930 but she was not in their index. Frustrated, I set her file aside.

At a later point, while looking through some of the family snapshots taken at Alki Beach in Seattle, I notice a woman who looked suspiciously similar to a photo I had of Nancy. Was she visiting her children who had moved on to Seattle? Or had she possibly moved there herself? I was able to check the Washington Death Index and there was a Nancy Robinson with a death date of 7 September 1927. I obtained her death certificate and discovered Nancy had followed 3 of her children when they moved to Seattle and had been living with her daughter Georgie Williams.

I was able to visit the cemetery where she, my great grandparents and my grandparents are buried in Seattle. Sadly, she is buried in an unmarked grave.

So now I have an end to that story and as a result of the research I did trying to find Nancy's death date, I now have names for several more faces that keep showing up in some of the family snapshots.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday-Grandma's personal address book

How can an old beat up address book that had been sitting in a garage for over 30 years possibly be of any value to anyone? Let's find out.

Earlier last year I was contacted by a distant cousin who was trying to identify and locate every descendant of our gg grandparents, Ernest and Elizabeth Haun, who immigrated to the US from Germany, settling in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Mine was the last branch he was working on. He had been working for several years and had located the descendants of all of their children but one.

We exchanged quite a bit of information and shared photos. He sent me a picture of our mutual gg grandmother Elizabeth Haun. What a thrill to actually see a photo of yet another person whose genes are part of me!

During our exchange of information, it became apparent that there was one more twig on the family tree that might have some as yet unidentified descendants. We both did some research and one day Rob dropped me an email asking if by chance I had any old address books of my grandmothers. He was thinking that maybe it would contain the name and address of the son of my grandmother's youngest brother. The son's name was Donald W. Mitchell. I didn't know if Donald had ever had any children. If he did they would be the last descendants waiting to be found.

I asked Mom if she knew where Grandma's address book might be. All I could remember was that it was blue. Her answer: in one of those boxes in the garage. The garage isn't quite as scary and dangerous a place as it was a few years ago but there were still several dozen boxes that could contain one little blue address book. After much digging, shuffling and restacking, I found it in the last box! Under the Ms was listed Donald W. Mitchell in Seattle! Even better, Grandma had written in his wife's name - Pat and their daughter's name's Dawn Ann and Gennie Lynn. We are still looking for the daughters of Donald Mitchell but at least now there is something concrete to go on.

The little blue address book is now safe and sound in an archival box at my house waiting for the next time it can be of use. I have already noticed several familiar names from my previous research so who knows how it might prove to be of value in the future.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - William & Lucinda Ballenger

This is a photo of my ggg grandparents William Harrison and Lucinda Ballenger (or Ballanger or Ballinger) taken in Boulder, Colorado.

My great grandmother was great about identifying people on the back of pictures. Here she has written:
Grandpa & Grandma Ballenger
Grand Parents of
Frances E. Lowe

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum

Monday, February 1, 2010

Madness Monday-William Harrison Ballenger

When I first started researching William Ballenger, I thought this would be an easy project. My mom and uncle helped me put together their side of the family when I did my pedigree chart for a junior high social studies project years ago . What they found among family papers was that William was born in 1821 in Maysville, Kentucky. He married Lucinda Cambell (or Campbell) and they had 12 children. There also was a picture of William and Lucinda taken in Boulder, Colorado which is where several other branches of the family also lived at one time.

What I most wanted to learn about William was:
1. Who his parents were.
2. Verify his birthplace. As you will see in future postings there is a big question mark on his birthplace.
3. Identify William and Lucinda Ballenger’s children and verify whether they had 12 children.

This is were easy ended. The first thing I discovered was there is no consistency, even within the family, as to how his name was spelled. I have seen Ballanger, Ballenger, Ballinger and many other variations. When I add in all of the potential spelling errors, I am ready to pull out my hair! Even one person would spell Ballenger differently over a period of time.

A logical next step was to check out the US Federal Censuses. Unfortunately, I have yet to find William in one single Federal Census over the course of his life. Through other research I have been able to put together a pretty extensive timeline of William's life. So I know pretty close, if not exactly, where he was living for the various federal censuses. What happened every year when the census taker came along? Did he and the family go into hiding? Did he come out and run the census taker off? Have I somehow missed this family every ten years due to spelling errors? I really believe the man had some "privacy" issues!

The good news is that William and his family are listed in 2 state censuses and this has turned out to be a huge help.
• 1856 - Black Oak, Mahaska County, Iowa he is listed with his wife Lucinda and their three children: Mary, Nancy and John.
• 1885 - Grand County, Colorado. William and Lucinda are listed with 6 of their children Stephen, S., Wm., M., Lewis and John. There were also two boarders in the house: John Gibbons and Henry McGuffey.

I keep holding out hope that William will eventually turn up in a federal census but I am not holding my breath. In the meantime, I keep looking for alternative sources to search and try not to let it drive me to madness.

I will be writing more on this family. I started out with a single photo of William and Lucinda, taken in Boulder, Colorado and the basic information I mentioned. From there I have been working to compile an extensive outline of the family. A photograph is a good home source to illustrate how you can take an item found in the family home (or that of another relative) and tie it in to your family history and come up with a more complete and interesting story.

Copyright 2010, Michelle Goodrum