Well, here I am again at the beginning of a new year writing about not getting much genealogy done last year and hoping this year will be different. There is one major difference between 2018 and the past three or four years. I don’t have a major volunteer project that will eat up big chunks of my time and energy. So, if I don’t make some progress with my genealogy this year, I’ll only have myself to blame.
This is when you realize just how true that phrase “so many ancestors, so little time” is. I can’t do everything, especially at once. Identifying the questions I most want to answer and then prioritizing them seemed like the place to start. I came up with six projects.
Why six? Once my list was prioritized, that just seemed like the right cut-off point. I’m not saying I’ll finish all of these projects this year. It’s unlikely that will happen. Heck, I may not “finish” any of them but the goal is to work on them.
Top Six Projects
(1) The Book
If you know me, you likely know what that means. I’m not ready to get into details here, but it’s a long, complicated story that will take a book to fully explain. I’m not sure I’m up to the task, but I have to give it a shot. Revising the outline I started several years ago, finishing additional research needed (mostly secondary characters and locations), fully analyzing DNA results, and starting to write are at the top of the to-do list for this project.
(2) Bennett Family
This project encompasses several research questions, but the research overlaps in the same locations and records so I’m considering it one project. DNA will play a big role in answering some of these questions.
- John T. Bennett and Martha Gamble (2nd great-grandparents) had nine children but I’ve only located four of them after they left their parent’s household. What happened to the other five children?
- John’s parents Lewis H. Bennett and Teresa (3rd great-grandparents) had around 13 children but some aren’t clearly identified. Who were Lewis and Teresa’s children? The large number of Lewis and Teresa’s descendants that have already been identified in my family’s DNA results should prove helpful.
- Who were the parents of Lewis H. Bennett? I have serious doubts that the couple listed in a number of SAR applications were his parents. Lewis and Teresa migrated from South Carolina to Troup County, Georgia in the 1830s. The distance two 111 marker Y-DNA match to one of Lewis’ descendants may hold the answer.
- What was Teresa’s maiden name and who were her parents? Lots of people seem to think her name was Garrett, but I haven’t seen proof or even an indication of why anyone thinks that was her name.
(3) Hopkins/Wolfenbarger Story
The family story is that my great-grandfather, James Arton Hopkins, was the son of Stephen Wolfenbarger. Is that true? The details about this story are here. DNA results appear (on the surface) to have answered this question, but I need to do a thorough analysis of those results and write the conclusion.
(4) Thomas Family
This is another case where the research for multiple questions overlaps to make one big project. DNA will also play a role in this project.
- I’ve identified six children for 3rd great-grandparents Jesse Thomas and Rebecca, but the 1840 census indicates there may be three more. Who were the three unidentified children?
- Who were the parents of Jesse Thomas? Jesse was born in South Carolina but was living in Georgia by the time he married Rebecca.
- Who were the parents of Rebecca? I have a lead on that and a couple of DNA matches that my help prove it.
(5) Petty Family
This is the third project that includes more than one question requiring research in the same locations and records and using DNA results.
- Who was the first wife of John Petty (3rd great-grandfather) and the mother of his children? I’m not sure this question will ever be answered. There isn’t so much as one clue to date, but a number of John and the unknown wife’s descendants have done autosomal DNA tests so it’s possible the answer is out there somewhere.
- Who were the parents of John Petty? In addition to all those autosomal DNA results, we also have 111 marker Y-DNA tests for two of John’s descendants. To date their only matches are a distance 1 at 37 markers and a distance 5 at 111 markers.
(6) William Taylor
Who were the parents of William Taylor (3rd great-grandfather)? Many people say he was the son of a Revolutionary War soldier from Rockbridge County, Virginia named Willam Taylor and his wife Jean Guffey, but I have doubts about that. Details about this question are here.
These projects will require some travel, which I’m anxious to do. My first trip of the year will be 11 days in Salt Lake City. The research plan for that trip isn’t finished but it will include work on several of these projects.
Also on the agenda but not yet scheduled are trips to Alabama (Birmingham and Montgomery), Georgia (Lagrange), Kentucky (Greenville, Lancaster, Madisonville), Mississippi (Aberdeen and Jackson), and South Carolina (Columbia, Laurens, and possibly other locations). Oh, and I need to spend some time in the courthouse in Mt. Vernon that is a mile from my house, too. I don’t anticipate getting all of these trips in during 2018.
Genealogy events are educational and also motivating. With this list of projects, I need to stay motivated. I’ve enjoyed genealogy conferences since I attended my first Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference in 2010. Smaller seminars and society programs can also fill that need while the more focused institutes are the ultimate educational/motivational experience.
This year, several events are on my “want-to-go” list. I will definitely attend the Kentucky Genealogical Society (KGS) Annual Seminar on August 4 in Frankfort and the FGS Conference August 22–25 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I’ll also work in as many of the KGS 2nd Saturday programs as possible throughout the year.
Other possibilities include the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference April 11–14 in Columbus, the National Genealogical Society Conference May 2–5 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research June 2–7 in Athens, Georgia.
Happy New Year!
Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, genealogically prosperous new year. If I can make a dent in this list, it’s going to be a busy year.