Ancestors and Halloween

On my soap box: I was kind of put off today by a story in the Dallas Morning News that they are preparing for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Somehow commemorating his assassination is unseemly to me. His birth, okay. His WWII exploit, okay. His election, okay. His role in civil rights, okay. His murder, nope.
That coincides with my idea that we need to stop commemorating the death of people we love, honor, or miss and commemorate something else in their lives: birth, some achievement, some remarkable good life event.
The link is Halloween. I have gone from seeing Halloween as a child as a dress-up, make believe, candy getting time to a time to remember those ancestors and friends who past on before that particular Halloween date.
I remember in my family my sister, LaNell, my Dad, Deason Sr., and my mother, Ozie Mae or Koko to her grandkids, who lived until age 96 and died last November. And, should I add the two grandparents I knew, the two who died before I was born, and generations of their ancestors known to me by names, places, and a few life events.
It seems that we in genealogy are missing something on this the scariest night of the year which I think we could make into one of the most poignant nights of the year.

Obituary Documentation

When citing an obituary for your research or when fulfilling a research request from another person, the source and date lends credibility to the obituary or information from it which you present. It is particularly important to note the name of the publication and the date of publication. When preparing obituaries to go into a collection such as the one in the Wood County Texas Genealogical Society research room, it is important to add the publication name and date to the clipping.

Why Genealogy Has Changed

For now and the future, this video shows why genealogy has changed and why methods must change to bring younger generations into the fold. Deason Hunt

Why Should A Genealogy Society Give Records Away?

By Jeffrey A. Bockman, Naperville, IL
Originally published in the FGS FORUM, Winter 1997, page 25
Now available for viewing at Genealogy According to Jeff at .
Reprinted here with permission.

There is a vast amount of family history currently available on the Internet and on CDROM that is incorrect, undocumented, or fictitious. Yet, with the growing interest in family history many searchers will stop with these easy-to-find “instant families.” David E. Rencher stated in “Where In Cyberspace Are We?” (FORUM 9:2 (Summer 1997) page 3), that presently the Internet offers a search environment but “the field of electronic genealogy… has yet to create a research environment.” Genealogy societies should be leading the way in creating a research environment by providing information so that verifying an “instant family” is as convenient as finding the family in the first place. But how?

One way in which societies can help to create a research environment is to rethink traditional ways of distributing and sharing the information that they compile. The traditional method of sharing is to publish and the process is:

1. Compile information from vital records, cemeteries, ledger books and other sources and enter into a word or data processing program; then format and proofread.

2. Take the manuscript to a printer and have it published.

3. Store, advertise, and hopefully sell the resulting publication.

A closer look at this process shows while step 1 is critical in getting the information in a form that can be shared with others, the dissemination, steps 2 and 3, is open to question. Step 2 benefits a printer/publisher while step 3 benefits a society-but only if sales are good and income exceeds expenses.

This traditional procedure has other flaws. First, distribution potential is limited. A user benefits if he or she can find the publication, but it may only be available from the society by mail or at local workshops. If it is advertised in national genealogical publications, it competes with hundreds, perhaps thousands of similar titles. Even library use is limited: users may find the book only in a local, regional or national library which specializes in genealogy. Thus, a researcher could spend more time and money trying to locate the information than in actually using the information.

The market is limited, too. Few people want to purchase a publication to look up only one or two events. They have other options. They can ask the county clerk or the cemetery office to find one or two entries. Or, they may write to the genealogical society who offers searches as a courtesy or for a slight fee.

A third drawback is the risk involved. The society takes all of the risk. It has to determine print quantity based upon printer volume costs, anticipated demand, and storage facilities. The society must advertise and give free copies to some libraries or for book reviews. Society volunteers must retrieve books from storage, haul, unpack, and display them at conferences, then box and return unsold books to storage. If publishing, storage and advertising costs, and the wear and tear on volunteers exceed profits, the risk has been too great.

This traditional distribution channel, with its flaws, should cause societies to reexamine their ultimate goal in compiling and distributing information. If society goals are to a) preserve and make available genealogical information; b) promote an interest in genealogy; and c) encourage proper research techniques; there may be a better way to achieve them.

Why Not Share With Everybody?

The target audience for the dissemination of information in published form are the society members, people doing research in the jurisdiction, and patrons of selected libraries. This is really a very small audience. If a society seeks to share information with the widest possible audience, why not share with everybody?

The Internet is the new communications frontier. Anyplace in the world is only nano-seconds away. If every society and county government put their records on-line a researcher who only needs information about a single event would be able look it up from home or the local library with internet access or at an “Internet coffee shop.”

Ideally, if the person found the desired event from a detailed on-line index, they could order a copy of the certified record by entering credit card information or obtaining an invoice number. Further down the Internet road, the actual certificate could be scanned and stored on-line and viewed or transmitted automatically. Authenticity or a means of preventing manipulation of the image would need to be established.


While many societies are beginning to discuss this issue they look at it from a personal or society viewpoint rather than from a global viewpoint. Instead, consider a wider range of benefits:


None – loss of income
Government Agencies:
Time savings from not having to look in book indexes
Faster access by using the electronic index
Only activity would be with paid certificate requests
Possibly less floor space needed for index storage and access
Genealogical Society
No financial risk from over-printing
No handling and storage, save time and costs
Less Income but less need to purchase other indexes
Improved recognition and wider audience with home page link
Requests for hard copy can be automated and printed on demand
Global Audience
Faster, easier access to useful research data from across the country without leaving home
Eliminates need to review on-line library catalogs trying to find the closest copy of a printed index
Information could be annotated to show corrections and the source
Attend sessions and socialize rather than sitting in a hallway selling books
Do not have to wait for replies to letters and the cost of SASEs
Achieve immediate action and results on new clues or ideas
Could actually spend time doing research on their own family
There is already competition to some of the traditional functions done by a society. GenWeb is providing information on area resources and posting queries. Volunteers on the Internet are providing free research. Libraries and counties are putting records on-line to preserve them, and to save storage, viewing, and parking space.

If one of the purposes of a genealogical society is to help make information readily available then what better method is there? Societies are non-profit organizations. What money they do realize from publication sales often goes to purchase other publications for the use of members. But there are other options. Money can be earned through workshop, class, or lecture fees. Profits can be used to disseminate information more widely: by providing additional Internet resources, Internet access at the local library or society library or office, or supporting the storage and access cost of the county GenWeb site, a society home page or on-line vital record storage.

Once a society is convinced of the benefits of this new and more effective way of disseminating information, they can start small and work up to more ambitious projects:

1. Provide the following information on-line:

Places to do research, hours and holdings
Handy guide to the type of historical information that is available
Access instructions to vital records or the indexes
2. Compile indexes and make them easily available.
3. Assist counties and repositories in getting images of the actual records on-line with easy search and retrieval systems.

If everyone would “Do for others as you would like them to do for you,” we could all make electronic genealogy work for us. We could be making verification of information now available in Internet’s search environment quick and easy. We could be establishing research environments to complement and enhance the existing search environment, and we could be turning searchers into researchers.

Yet Another Thing To Think About

The post that follows this one is by Jeffrey A. “Jeff” Bockman. I ran across it over on Google+. It is one of those mindset changing things. I hope you will read it, and we can engage in a discussion in person or online or both. I think it has merit.

While going to Jeff’s site, I ran across a book of his which I think might just make a good Christmas present for someone you are trying to get interested in genealogy or your family’s specific history. You can take a look at it at this link: When you get there, click on the picture of the book, “Give Your Family a Gift Money Can’t buy.”


What is a Genealogical Community?

James Tanner of Genealogy’s Star blog makes me think. A recent blog entry asks what makes a genealogical community. One of the criteria he suggests is “shared values and interest.”

That leads to this question: what are the shared values and interest of the Wood County Genealogical Society both from local members and those who live a distance away in Texas or in other states?

Please share your ideas in the comments below (and be sure to sign up for emails when new comments are posted or comeback here often to see and respond to comments).

Mark Calendars for Oct. 22 Veteran Ceremony

The dedication of the historical cemetery headstone for a Civil War veteran who is an ancestor of WCGSTX member Vi Shirey is scheduled for Oct. 22 this fall.

Vi sent us the following information to share with the membership and the public:

” Just wanted to bring you up-to-date on the dedication of the Civil War stone for John T. Potter, on Oct 22 (his 164th birthday), at Shady Grove Cemetery, Winnsboro, TX, at 10 a.m..”

“The program is set. Participating in the ceremony will be a g granddaughter, a gg granddaughter and a gg grandson, and two ggg grandsons. In addition, the names of the ten Civil War veterans buried in Shady Grove will be read with appropiate gun salute.”

“Probably five veterans’ units will be participating–furnishing honor guards, flag bearers, musketry, and bugler for “Taps.”
American flags will be placed on all veterans’ graves other than the ten Civil War veterans. A Confederate flag will be placed on their graves.”

“We feel this will be an impressive ceremony and would like to invite all of the members of the Wood County Genealogy Society and their relatives and friends to this ceremony. It is a time in history that will probably never be repeated.”

She added she would appreciate us spreading the word about the dedication.

It would be a generous gesture to one of our loyal members who lives away from East Texas for us to attend the ceremony and help honor her ancestor. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend.

54 Subscribers

Fifty-four subscribers and growing. Who will be # 55?


Someone just subscribed to your blog, Wood County, Texas Genealogical Society Bulletin. This means they will be notified every time you publish a post. Congratulations. You now have 54 subscribers.

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We Need Some Help With Queries

We seem to be getting a higher place in search engines for Wood County, Texas genealogy. That means we are seeing more and more queries from people who live too far away to drive or fly to Wood County to research.

This also means those who have subscribed to our website auto email feature are receiving lots of emails. Sorry about that, but it seems to be the price of success.

What we need is more members both living in Wood County and those who live far away who can provide information to queries to start responding to these requests. In the best of all worlds, if we do this for others, we can hope someone will also help us when we are too far away to drive to an area for our own research.

Also, if you contact the person directly when the person provides an email address, please also send a copy (cc or bcc to so that we can share what you have found here for other researchers who might have an interest. A lot of us doing a little share means we can be of more service to more people.

New Subscriber

Someone just subscribed to your blog, Wood County, Texas Genealogical Society Bulletin. This means they will be notified every time you publish a post. Congratulations. You now have 53 subscribers. …and they appear to be from Los Angeles, California, United States


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