News Stories and Blog Posts for Genealogists, February 28, 2014

28 Feb 2014

This week’s roundup includes news stories, blog posts for genealogists, and a podcast. You can read about an eighteenth-century biracial woman who was the founder of a large family, how prisoners are helping genealogy, caveats about using vital records, the origins of some fraternal organizations, and interviews conducted at RootsTech.  I hope you find them as interesting and informative as I do.

Dominique Bass of Kings Mountain, North Carolina has spent a great deal of time researching the Brooks Family History. He combed many records, including court documents, to piece together the story of Sarah Brooks. Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth, was a white woman from Ireland whose relationship with a black man in Baltimore resulted in Sarah’s birth. Elizabeth gave Sarah to another family to raise, with the understanding that she would be free upon adulthood. This didn’t happen, and Sarah was transported to North Carolina. She was eventually freed and became the matriarch of a huge family that includes Arthur Ashe, the first African-American tennis player to be ranked number one in the world. Read the full story in Family Ties: Man Traces Family History 200 Years to a Slave.

Utah prisons are participating in an interesting program with the LDS church. Church volunteers are teaching inmates how to index records through the FamilySearch indexing system. In 2013, almost 175,000 names were indexed. This year they expect to have about 2 million names indexed. Read about the experience of the Davis County jail in Davis County Inmates Keep Busy with Genealogy Work.

Randy Seaver had an interesting post this week about recordkeeping. A reader had forwarded an 1842 death record from Massachusetts. At the bottom of the record the town clerk went on a rant  about the difficulty in registering records. Especially difficult in this instance was that this was the town of Southbridge, which lies on the border with Connecticut. The clerk estimated that as many as 33% of couples went to Connecticut to be married, making his job much more difficult. Randy sums up this and several other lessons to be learned from the rant in Dear Randy: Check Out This Town Clerk’s Lament.


The Week Elks Shriners Masons


In the 1860s, a group of actors and entertainers created The Jolly Corks, a group to help them be able to escape paying higher taxes for drinking on Sundays in New York. In 1868, they decided to become a formal fraternal order focused on benevolence and charity and chose a new name. An interesting post in The Week discussed the origins of this and several other fraternal organizations. Find out the current, well-known name of The Jolly Corks, and other origins in Elks, Shriners, and Masons: How ‘Old Man’ Frats Got Their Names and Symbols.

Finally this week we have the Genealogy Guys Podcast. During the RootsTech conference a few weeks ago, Drew Smith recorded a number of interviews. This week the podcast features the first group of interviews. Drew’s guests this week are Dennis Brimhall, the CEO of FamilySearch; Ed Thompson, developer of Evidentia; and Michael J. Leclerc, Mocavo’s Chief Genealogist. I had a wonderful time chatting with Drew, and you can enjoy our discussion as well as the others in The Genealogy Guys Podcast #261 – 2014 February 23.