Saturday, October 31, 2009

Searching For Downers (Part 2)

Before I search for specific information, I want to find something to serve as a guide, because I want to narrow down my research on this rather unknown line.

So I began to do a Google Book Search in hopes of finding some published books that would serve as a guide to me. So I searched for Zaccheus Downer 1799 in hopes that this would distinguish him from other Zaccheus Downers.

The first book I found was "The Downers of America: with genealogical record" by David Robinson Downer. The book was published in 1900 by the Baker Print Company. On pages 87-88, my Zaccheus Downer is listed. Here is what the book says on page 88 about Zaccheus Downer:

"Zaccheus, b[orn] at Springfield or New Lisbon, 8 Mar, 1799. Rem.[oved]
(1st) to Perrysburg, N.Y. and in Nov, 1864, to Sullivan, Ind., where he d[ied]
in Sept., 1876."

This book looks pretty favorable to me since a lot of the facts that it stated are things that I have already proven or that fit into my theories. The only thing that doesn't fit, is that Zaccheus was born in Springfield or New Lisbon because New Lisbon was not created until 1808 (from a town named Pittsfield). Springfield makes more sense as a place of birth for Zaccheus, since Springfield was created in 1797.

This book also gives me a look at who Zaccheus' parents and siblings are. However, I have nothing to prove or contradict the book with Zaccheus' parents and siblings - so I'll need to do more searching.

Using this book as a guide, I have decided to make a to-do list of what I want to find for Zaccheus, along with some ideas as to where I can find each item. Below is what I came up with

  • Possible Baptism Record: I searched the Family History Library Catalog and found a church record book for Otsego County, New York - the county in which Springfield and New Lisbon are located. My hope is that a possible baptism will be listed for Zaccheus, which would hopefully support my birth year theory. The title of the film is Record book of Rev. Daniel Nash and the film number is "FHL US/CAN Film 17137 Item 13"
  • Possible Marriage Record: I searched Family History Library Catalog and found a microfilm reel that includes marriage information that has been extracted from local newspapers. The title of the film is Marriages taken from the Otsego Herald and Western Advertiser and Freeman's Journal, Otsego County, N. Y., newspapers from 1795-1850 and the film number is "FHL US/CAN Film 924751 Item 2". This could lead me to a marriage record for Zaccheus.
  • Possible Probate Record: I searched Family History Library Catalog and found microfilm that could have Zaccheus' probate records, such as a will. The title of the film is Will records, Circuit Court, Sullivan County, Indiana, v. 2, Dec 31, 1874-Oct 14, 1891 and the film number is "FHL US/CAN Film 1392994 Item 1"

Final Thoughts

Of course, my final thoughts are that I have a lot of work ahead of me. This line is proving to be a more difficult, frustrating, and yet all the more interesting. I am excited for the things that I will be learning as I research this line and I'm even more excited about the possibilities this line could provide for me.

Since my main frustration with this line is a lack of source citations in the many trees that list Zaccheus, I've decided to make it more of my mission to pay extra close attention to sourcing this line. I also plan on sharing all of my successes with this line in hopes of helping other genealogists with this line and giving them something concrete that they can follow. So expect to see a lot of postings on message boards and to this blog with those successes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Searching For Downers (Part 1)

For the last two weeks or so, I have been actively researching my Downer line. This line has been extra exciting for me, because I've never researched in the New England states before (like New York, Vermont, and Connecticut) and this would be the farthest generation I've ever gotten to.

But with the excitement, I am also trying to learn as much as I can from this area and time period. Up until now, I haven't been interested in New England since I haven't had ancestors from there and I never bothered learning too much about the time period because I didn't need to.

So how does my Downer line fit into my family tree? Well, it starts with my great-great-great grandmother, Julia Ann Downer. Julia was born in February of 1831. She married William Morris (born January 1827 in Virginia) in abt. 1856, probably in Ohio.

But Julia isn't the focus of my research right now. My focus is on Julia's parents, Zaccheus Downer and Harriet (Thatcher?) Downer.

Zaccheus and family are found in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census in Belpre Township, Washington County, Ohio. Below is a description of the household:

Zacheus Downer ---- Age: 51 ---- Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ---- Age: 48 ---- Birthplace: Canada
Sanford Downer ---- Age: 22 ---- Birthplace: New York
Julia Downer ---- Age: 19 ---- Birthplace: New York
Augustus Downer ---- Age: 16 ---- Birthplace: New York
Asa Downer ---- Age: 8 ---- Birthplace: New York

The 1850 census gives me an approximate year of birth: 1799. But the census also provides other clues. Since each of the children were born in New York, it makes sense to look for Zaccheus in New York for the 1840 census.

Zaccheus is found in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census in Dayton, Cattaraugus, New York. Below is my analysis of the household:
1 male, age 5 - 10: Augustus Downer (Son)
1 male, age 10 - 15: Sanford Downer (Son)
1 male, age 15 - 20: Albert Downer (Son)
1 male, age 40 - 50: Zaccheus Downer (Head)
1 female, age 5 - 10: Julia Downer (Daughter)
1 female, age 30 - 40: Harriet Downer (wife)

The approximate year of birth for Zaccheus is further supported (although rather broadly supported) in this census, with the approximate range of birth years between 1790 - 1800.

My next step was to locate the family in the 1860 census. I found the family living in Belpre Township, Washington County, Ohio. Below is a description of the household:

Zacheus Downer ----- Age 61 -----Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ----- Age 58 -----Birthplace: Lower Canada
Augustus Downer ---- Age 26 ----- Birthplace: New York
Asa Downer --------- Age 19 ------ Birthplace: New York

The age given for Zaccheus points to him being born in 1799. The last two sons are living with Zacheus in this census. Albert, Sanford, and Julia have married and moved out.

I then began searching for Zacheus in the 1870 census. I found him in Hamilton Township, Sullivan County, Indiana. Below is a description of the household:

Zachus Downer ----- Age 71 ------ Birthplace: New York
Harriet Downer ----- Age 68 ------ Birthplace: Canada
Augustus Downer ----Age 35 ------Birthplace: New York.

Once again, Zaccheus' age points to his birth year being 1799. In this census, Augustus is now the only remaining child living at home.

I haven't be able to find Zaccheus or his son, Augustus in the 1880 census. However, I did find Augustus in the 1900 Census in Belpre Township, Washington, Ohio. Therefore, I believe that either Zaccheus died before 1880, or I just haven't been able to find him in the 1880 census and he really died sometime after the 1880 census.

But these census images don't help me with establishing parents for Zaccheus. I would be content with anything that would lead me closer to his parents or siblings.

So I have a lot of work to do. So stay tuned for part two...

Note: If you would like to see the source citations for the census' that I've listed above, let me know in a comment or through emailing me. I would be happy to privately email you the citations or to post them here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Coolest Statistics Project Ever

This semester I am taking a statistics course that requires that I complete a semester long statistics research study. So as I pondered over possible research questions, I knew it has to relate to genealogy somehow. After discussing some options with my professor, we formulated the following research question:

Are there any differences between beginner, intermediate, and experienced genealogists with regard to the amount of money and types of expenditures they make to research their family tree?

I'm excited because my big semester long project is related to genealogy - and I am actually curious about the results. This project is a fun one to me all because genealogy is included.

So - I am asking all of my genealogy friends to help me out! Please, fill out the two part survey (part 1 and part 2). This survey is entirely anonymous - I never ask for your name. All of your answers are completely confidential, and the only two people who will ever see your individual answers are myself and my professor. However, at the end of my study (at the end of November), I will be posting my conclusions here on my blog. Besides - aren't you a bit curious about the question?

If you know other genealogists - ask them to participate also. The more answers I get, the better the findings.

So thank you to anyone who has already filled the survey out and thank you to everyone who will fill out the survey. Genealogists truly are the nicest people out there!

Update: Thanks to everyone who told me that the survey closed. I long story short, I fixed the problem.

COG 82 - A Youngster's View of Genealogy Societies

Genealogy societies are an important tool for genealogists: It is a way of making this hobby a social one. By talking to other genealogists, you are bound to learn something new or interesting - and you get to make some really great friends too.

While I wish I had unlimited amounts of money to join a TON of societies (oh and I have a loooooooooooong list of societies to join), that is not the case. So I currently only belong to one paid society - which is the Southern California Genealogical Society. The resources this society provides (a gigantic library full of lots and lots of books and materials as seen on this video tour of the society's library). This is also the genealogy society that puts on the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree every year - and that is a FUN conference. I met so many wonderful, nice, helpful people at the conference last year.

However, I am also part of a free genealogy society called the Youth Genealogists Society. This is an online genealogy society specifically for young genealogists. However, young genealogists are not the only members - it is hoped that older genealogists will mentor and guide us youngsters.

Personally, I think more people need to be joining these societies. They are fun, offer a chance to meet new people, and many research opportunities.

Update: I wrote this post when I had a headache. Now that it is gone I just want to clarify a few things.
  1. For anyone that wants to join the Youth Genealogists Association, here is the link that explains how to do that. Remember, this group isn't ONLY for the younger crowd of genealogy, although that is the focus. We could use some mentors and some innovative people to spice up this society and make it better.
  2. For anyone just plain curious about what other genealogy societies I would join if I had a lot of money, here is a quick list: NEHGS, my local genealogical society, East Tennessee Historical Society, and the California Genealogical Society. Mind you, this is a really short, quick list. My actual list is much longer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Review of Family Tree Builder

Family Tree Builder 4.0, the new and free genealogy program from is good choice for genealogists looking for a free program.

Every genealogy program has it's pros and cons - just like every genealogist has their preference on genealogy programs. Personally, I don't believe that there is a "one program fits all". So keep that in mind for this review.

The first thing that stands out in using this program is the easy navigation. On the left side is an individual list of everyone in the tree, making it easy to move from one person to another. That list also includes a tab called "Tree", which shows individuals in relation to their parents, siblings, children, and spouses. This is a convenient way to navigate to other families. These lists are also collapsible, which allows for you to have as much work space as needed.

When viewing the tree, you also have some options, such as number of generations visible. What is unusual (at least to me) is that you don't have different "views" of your tree (such as family, pedigree, etc.), instead you vary the number of generations visible.

What I really like about this, is the chance to link pictures to each person. This is a great way to show the link between your tree and the pictures that you've collected. This is also good because you can attach .jpg files of census and other records. These photos can then be easily organized into photo albums.

However, one of my absolute favorite feature of this program is the automatic face tagging (for all of you Facebook users out there, it is very similar to tagging people on Facebook). This is a great feature for identifying who is who in each picture. This program also has the capabilities to recognize faces (although, I must admit as a disclaimer that I don't have a lot of pictures loaded into the program and it has not recognized any faces for me - yet!).

Another thing I really like about this program, is the mapping capabilities. While this certainly is not a requirement, it can put your ancestors locations into perspectives of one another. It is also nice to have a visual representation of where your ancestors are from.

The program also has the ability to create websites (that can be private) - and it is relatively easy to do. This feature is a very useful feature for some, but not exactly required for myself.

Something that I find super important when using a genealogy program is lots and lots of tutorials - and this program has plenty of easy, step-by-step wizards that walk you through creating your family tree.

The only thing I would say that would improve the program is a cleaner feel - the screen can easily get to filled. For someone like me, I find it distracting from the task at hand.

My one major complaint is that this program does not have a good source wizard. I feel that for so many beginning genealogists (and just genealogists in general) this is not properly explained. We've all heard of citing our sources, but as a beginning genealogist it is so easy to get overwhelmed when there is an absence of a wizard that walks you through it. The reason I am particularly hard on this program for this feature is because generally beginning genealogists turn to free programs to experiment with the hobby (or obsession!). But I must admit, I am a huge believer in sources.

All in all, this is a good program choice for those who have small budgets. While it isn't my preference (I use Roots Magic 4), it is certainly a program that is beginning to rival many of the other free programs out there.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

SNGF - Memories From 23rd Street

I remember being 4 and 5 years old living with both my parents on the bottom floor of an apartment building on 23rd Street. I spent a lot of time playing outside in the warm California sun.

Adopting the Neighbor's Cat
At my house we had one cat who would put up with me only to a certain degree before hiding from me. Therefore, I was forced to begin looking for other animals for me to play with. So, when I found a very friendly cat with a scratch underneath her eye, I instantly went into a panic. I begged my parents to help me take care of her. My dad cleaned her scratch and gave me some cat treats to feed her. I was thrilled.
For a long time this cat would come back to me each day and I would feed her food. My young mind determined that she was homeless and I needed to adopt her. So I named her "Sweet Cheeks".
Then one day, I saw my Sweet Cheeks entering a neighbor's house across the street. My heart was crushed - she wasn't really my cat. She belonged to the neighbors.

The Neighbor's Number Tattoo
My upstairs neighbor (also our apartment building owner) was an elderly lady by the name of Maria. Maria knew how to sew very well and often made me costumes to play dress up. Every year for Halloween, she would make my costume.
One year in particular when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old, I went up to her house for a fitting of my princess dress for Halloween. She had me try it on and she realized that she had made it too long. As she was pinning the bottom of the dress, I noticed that her arm was not wrapped in it's usual bandage. As she continued pinning the bottom of my dress, I noticed a tattoo. The tattoo was nothing but numbers.
I innocently remarked that her arm was "healed". She looked at me puzzled for a moment before I pointed out that she was not wearing a bandage on her arm. She then looked nervous and kept her arm close to her body.
Unknowingly, I asked what her tattoo meant. As I asked the question, she poked me with a pin. Then she told me to go home. I began apologizing, although I didn't exactly understand what I had done wrong. I had seen tattoos before - my dad even has one. I had always been told that tatoos meant something to the person who got it.
That night, my parents explained to me that Maria had a very different case. Her tattoo reminded her of something bad and terrible that had happened to her, which is why she always had it covered up.
It wasn't for many years later until I was told more about Maria's story. Maria was only a young girl when she was taken to a Nazi Concentration camp because she was a gypsy. The numbers on her arm were a form of identification to the Nazi's. It was only her and a sister that survived. At the end of the war, they immigrated to the U.S.