Developing a Research Plan for the New Year

A Genealogy Tip By Joan Young

Genealogists have been commenting as long as I’ve been online that activity always drops off dramatically near the end of the year as the holiday season approaches. Each new year brings with it renewed interest in posting on mailing lists and message boards and updating family trees. Families traditionally gather over the holidays. This instills renewed interest for many family historians. Researchers receive holiday gifts of new computers and software and become eager to make use of it. This year will, undoubtedly, be no different. We can all benefit by approaching this new year with a plan of action rather than diving in unprepared.

Developing a Plan
First, take inventory. Make an outline of what you know and have learned over the past year (or decade) and what you hope to learn this year. Make a list of all documents you have obtained (wills, vital records, deeds, for example).

Next, make a list of your goals for the new year. What are you looking for and what do you hope to accomplish? Be specific when writing down your plans. Make note of the online resources at your disposal to help you reach your goals. Web sites such as Cyndi’s List and Linkpendium can prove invaluable for locating online resources.

Finally, do a search for your previous archived mailing list and message board posts as well as any family trees and data you have placed online. You may use a site such as Google or search the specific archives or board systems. If you have a genealogy Web site, review your pages and pinpoint corrections and additions you need to incorporate. Review posts and existing trees. Is your e-mail contact information still valid and is your online data still accurate and complete in view of what you learned over the past year? Make a list of necessary updates and corrections.

Getting Started
For posts and submissions that are still current but have outdated contact information, edit your e-mail address where possible. Even the most complete and well-written list or board post or family tree will serve no purpose to help you connect with your cousins if your e-mail address is invalid. You can update your e-mail address for the RootsWeb/Ancestry message boards and WorldConnect trees at: (http://email.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin13/DM/y/nBEN80WKNnf0HQR0zHg0GQ ) or by following the masthead links at the top of the main Ancestry page . Click on COLLABORATE, then PUBLIC PROFILE, and then MY SITE PREFERENCES. You will see a link for changing your e-mail address on the MY SITE PREFERENCES page as well as options for its display.

For mailing list archives where editing your address isn’t possible, post a new message with your current contact information. Remember that mailing list archives such as those at RootsWeb are merely a record of what took place on a given date. You can provide updated information and queries as well as a current e-mail address in your new posts.

If an online tree needs attention, download a GEDCOM file of the old tree and import it into your genealogy program on your computer. After you have made all necessary additions and corrections, create a new GEDCOM and upload it to replace your outdated tree.

If you have gathered public documents, perhaps a pension file or deed, over the past year consider transcribing them and placing the data online. RootsWeb/Ancestry message boards are a perfect place to post your finds. Choose the appropriate data classification when posting so that others may easily find the documents.

Get the new year off on the right foot by making a resolution to establish a plan. Follow through with your plan and your efforts will surely be rewarded.

Reprints
Permission to reprint articles from RootsWeb Review is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, provided:
the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and
the following notice appears at the end of the article:

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 13 January 2010, Vol. 13, No. 1

Caution About Census Records

Kathy Gunter Sullivan of the Rootsweb North Carolina Lincoln County Mailing List in describing errors she found in listing in an online census database provided a caution we all should think about in our census research.

Unfortunately, the original Lincoln County 1810 census returns were
recopied into an “official” version. So what we have today is a
third-hand derivative source for Lincoln County’s 1810 census. The first
version was in original order by household visitation. The second
version was rewritten into semi-alphabetical order by the census
enumerator. The third version was rewritten by the Lincoln County Clerk
of Court as a final “official” record. Obviously, the final version,
having passed through many reincarnations, reflects human error. The
result today is at least a third-hand derivative source for Lincoln
County’s 1810 census. The bottom line is that we are long way removed from the original 1810 census information.

We should all question whether such things might have happened in our own counties of research interest.

There were other concerns she found in her research concerning the census of that county. The full posting is available for reading at the Rootsweb Archives at http://news.rootsweb.com/th/read/NCLINCOL/2009-12/1261365253.

Some Genealogical Education Opportunities

Here are some opportunities for study and workshops that have come in this week — one in March and one in the fall of this year.

***** The 10th Annual Family History Fair sponsored by the East Texas Genealogical Society and the Tyler Family History Center is Saturday, March 13 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 1617 Shiloh Road in Tyler.

Morning sessions will be presented by David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch. One morning session will be on “What FamilySearch can do for you” and the other on “Effective Use of the Family History Library Catalog.” Both of these are free online resources.

Like the morning and afternoon sessions, the lunch provided at 11:30 a.m. is free. There will also be displays during lunch.

Breakout sessions after lunch include presentations on Newspaper Researching, Dating and Preserving Old Photos, Irish Research, Organizing Research, Deciphering Old Handwriting, Family History Center Tour, Displaying Your Family Tree, Artifacts of By-Gone eras, Cemetery Research, and Virtual World Researching.

Contact for more information: June Everhart at 903-877-4501 or 1stvp@etgs.org or TylerFamHist@aol.com.

This might make a fun group field trip for members living in East Texas near Tyler.

***** The annual meeting of the Texas Genealogical Society, our state-affiliated association, is November 4-6 in Waco. Start saving your loose change in your old Mason jar because this one is not free. It would make a cool group field trip, also.

New Daily Feature Added To WCGS Bulletin

A feature, Thought For The Day, has been added to the Bulletin at http://woodtxgene.com/. Look for it each day in the upper left column of the page. To get you started, the first TFTD is this: It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. . . . There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. — Alan Cohen

This is an attempt to get more members checking out the Bulletin web page on a regular basis, so this will not be delivered to your email box like regular posts (if you have signed up for that automatic service).

February Meeting To Be About Spain

Member Nita Munoz will present the program for the February 15 meeting at the Shamburger Room at the Quitman Public Library at 7 p.m. Be sure to mark your calendars for what should be a very interesting program.

Family Histories In Genealogy Research Room

The listing of Family Histories available in the Genealogy Research Center at the Quitman Public Library has been uploaded. They are found on the Quitman – Family Histories page. Follow the link there from this post or in the pages listing in the left hand column of this Bulletin page.

Thanks to many who have donated family histories over the years and those who have made lists of our holdings. Member Sally Allcorn provided the latest and up-to-date list which she worked on last year while volunteering in the Genealogy Research Center.

C & D Surnames In Vertical Files Added

Surnames beginning with the letters C and D are now listed on the page: Surnames In Vertical Files.

Queries: Cave, Wilder, Ramey, Willingham, Potter, Bellomy, Shirey, Minshew

These researchers are seeking information on the following surnames:

Violet Shirey is researching Potter, Bellomy, Shirey, and Minshew in Wood County, Texas. Violet can be contacted at 361-729-5283 or at vshirey@sbcglobal.net.

Shirley Navarro is researching Cave, Wilder, Ramey, and Willingham. Shirley can be contacted at navarro6@swbell.net.

Mae Etta Johnson

Mae Etta Johnson of Quitman, Texas 1958

Mae Etta Johnson

During her presentation to the society’s January meeting, Leatrice Mason paid tribute to her sister Mae Etta Johnson. A part of it is printed here to share with all members and the public in general.

“… Instead, I chose to tell you about – My Hero – a Quitman Hometown Hero that not many people know about.
As Martin Luther King, Jr., died fighting for equality and justice throughout America, so did my baby sister Mattie Mae Etta Johnson.

“My mother and father (Woodie & Erie Johnson) became proud parents of a baby girl that they named Mattie Mae Etta Johnson on December 17, 1940, in the Muddy Creek Community in Quitman. She was the youngest of the four children, three girls and one boy. My older sister and I are the only two living children today.

“She was known as Mae Etta to everyone who knew her well. She attended Sunday School and church services at the Muddy Creek Baptist Church here in Quitman and united with the church at the age of six (1946) under the pasturage of Rev. J. H. Harrington.

“As a small child, her favorite place to play was under, up and in a tree in the backyard of our house. Her favorite story on the radio was “Uncle Ben”. Her favorite books were the Bible Story Book in Pictures and a book of poems titled, “Pearls along Life’s Sea Shore.” We didn’t have a television and of course no computers back then, so we all read a lot as children. Mae Etta purchased these books with money she saved from her weekly allowance. She realized at a young age that saving money was important as well as studying the Bible. She used some of her savings to purchase her first bible. She loved going to church and was active in the Sunshine Band, YWA, BTU, youth choir and usher board.Mae Etta worked faithfully on 4-H projects and her good-natured disposition made her an idol of her time. One of her greatest anticipations was being a delegate to the district board meetings. She became a regular delegate to the Cypress District Sunday school and BTU Congress and Cypress District Association.If our mother was unable to attend with her, because she had to work, our Aunt Irene Hunter would gladly take her.

“Mae Etta attended W.B. Clark School in Quitman and graduated with honors from high school in 1958. While she was in high school, she began to make preparation to enroll in Bishop College in Marshall, Texas. Bishop College was founded by the Baptist Home Mission Society in 1881. Their drive was to establish a Texas college for black Baptists.

“Mae Etta was well accepted in the Bishop College family. One of her dearest friends and classmates was Thomasine Parker Cleaver who was also a Quitman native. They both entered Bishop at the same time and continued their friendship. Mae Etta maintained her high academic standing throughout her stay at Bishop.

“In 1960, the struggle for equality, freedom and human dignity was strong on the minds and hearts of many students at Bishop including my sister. She gladly displayed her courage by giving a new dimension to man’s hope that one day segregation would end. and defined the Christian faith and affirmed in an unmistakable manner the dawn of a new day. With God’s help, she believed it could be done as she continued to work on God’s program at Bishop College. She was president of the Wednesday night Bible Band and seemed to gain much strength through studying God’s word.

“As a budding junior at Bishop College in 1960, she participated in a sit in demonstration against lunch counter segregation in Marshall, Texas. Several black colleges all across the South were also active in the lunch counter segregation movements during this time. She and many other students were arrested, charged and fined for picketing stores as well as staging mass demonstrations on the Harrison County courthouse lawn. She was fined $50.

“In a few short years, my baby sister achieved the maturity some never reach in eighty years. She saw clearly and wholly the ultimate implications of the struggle for human dignity and identified her future with it. We, the family, wondered how else could she suffer to be arrested without ever once losing the cheerful smile and the utterly wholesome outlook on life which she always possessed? How else could this letter that I will read to you be explained that she wrote to our mother less than 24 hours after she had spent 26 hours in a Marshall jail at the age of 19?

“Here is the letter:

April 3, 1960,
Bishop College
Marshall, Texas

Dear Mother,
How are you? I am fine. I guess you know by now we were arrested Friday evening. We were carried to jail at 8 p.m. Friday evening and we stayed there about 26 hours. We got out Saturday night about 10 o’clock. There were 27 of us girls in my cell. Our lawyer is from Dallas. We were bonded out by Negro citizens of Marshall. We are under $600 bonds. The night in jail was not too pleasant, but it was a comfort to know we’re in there to serve a good purpose. We were in for a good cause and none of us minded it really. If it takes a few days in jail to get equality, I feel it’s worth it. I feel that’s the least I can do. I know that God is with us because he has the whole wide world in his hands. I hope they haven’t given you a rough time. What has been said? Be sure and write and tell me. Give everyone my love. I am going to class and study now. Tell UNK hello. Be sweet, I love all of you. Forgive me if I’ve caused you worry. I have lifted a burden from my heart because of my stand. In God’s name we are going to get out freedom.

Your Baby, Etta

“Our family had a real togetherness and supported her in her struggle. We were devastated when we received the news on August 16, 1960, while Mae Etta, her attorney and another student were driving back to their boarding house, that a railroad­switching engine struck the car and killed her and the attorney instantly. The other student was seriously injured. The accident stunned the Marshall community and the legal cases against the students were dismissed. Shortly thereafter Marshall’s public facilities were de-segregated. We do not understand all the ways of God. We cannot comprehend the reason this beautiful and promising life was ushered so suddenly from time into eternity. Her Christian faith can be shared with all; that God does have the whole wide world in His hands.

“Remembering those who dedicated their lives for civil rights such as Medger Evers, John F. and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others, Mae Etta dedicated her life for the cause of getting freedom for her people. She would be proud to see President Obama and his family occupying the White House today.

“We may never see a bronze statue of Mae Etta in a hall of fame somewhere or her letter from jail as a required reading as it once was for every student entering Bishop College, but her epitaph is written in the hearts of all who knew her. No tribute can be too much because Mae Etta did not die in vain.
“The people of Quitman should be proud to know that Mattie Mae Etta Johnson is a part of Black History.”

January Meeting Summary

Leatrice Mason of Quitman brought the January meeting program with a remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, a preview of African American History Month (February), and a special tribute to her sister, Mattie Mae Etta Johnson of the Muddy Creek Community of Quitman, who played a memorable role in the 20th Century’s Civil Rights movement. (More about Mae Etta in the next bulletin article)

Speaking on January 21, Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday, Leatrice recalled as a child having memorized his speech and delivered it to the Cypress Distrtict Congress at Naples, Texas. She also told why Dr. Carter G. Woodson chose February as Black History Month because it was the birth month of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Douglass was a prominent Black civil rights spokesman and Lincoln proclaimed freedom for slaves in his Emancipation Proclamation. She also related many contribution by Black inventors to our modern lives.

In the business meeting, members were able to view the new microfilm reader-printer and old and new business was discussed. Details of the meeting will be available on the member’s only area (see upper right on this page for a link to that area) when posted in minutes after the February meeting. The previous (November) meeting minutes and the January treasurer’s report are in the member’s only area now.

Leatrice Mason answers questions after her presentation

Leatrice Mason answers audience questions after her presentation on Dr. Martin Luther King Day

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