Sunday, September 26, 2010

So here's the story

I rocked the genealogy world Saturday, I really did.
Methods of investigative reporting, Comms 308, is KICKING my derrière, quite honestly. But, as you know, according to Newton's second law of motion (hehe) I'm kicking right back with equal and oppositely directed force :)

So this week, we got not one but TWO assignments. One, not so bad, done in about forty-five minutes. The other: Find 10 data items (such as birth, marriage, death) about one ancestor through Web searches. Write a 100-200 word narrative (life history) about your ancestor. Include a source list. Use as many primary documents as possible. Please note the primary documents.

Yeah, not so easy. I ended up spending the better part of my Saturday cooped up in the genealogy section of the HBLL

I was originally going to look up my aunt Martha (well really she's my great-great-aunt) who had just passed away this month, but I couldn't find ANYTHING about her so after an hour and a half of beating my head against the computer I gave up and decided to research her husband. And then began my adventure. I had to relocate to campus because you have free access to awesome genealogy websites there, and it ended up being a good thing since I actually needed a real book later on. But we'll get to that soon enough...

After some searching around I eventually found him (George Gladwell Shilling, to be precise) in my aunt's family tree. She is a super genealogist and has done tons of research on my mom's side of the family already, so it was a great starting point. There were a few census records, a draft registration card and a New York Passenger List, and that alone was pretty cool. Check this out!

If you look closely, you'll see him, Shilling, George G. This also indicates that he had had schooling at the time and could read and write. He was still single in 1920, at age 21.He actually got married pretty late, at around 36-37 years old.

But now here comes the cool part. The passenger record from New York shows that he traveled from England to New York in 1933, and on those records he listed as his home address "31 chappel rd seat pleasant Md." Hmm, Chappel Road.. sounds like the address of the priest of a congregation right? I knew he was an evangelical priest during his lifetime, so I figured it was possible that he served a congregation in the city of Seat Pleasant. I looked up the city and the website had some useful tidbits about historic Seat Pleasant, including the fact that there are two chapels still standing from his time, and guess what: one of them happened to be an evangelical church! So at this point I'm pretty excited, but it's really all just speculation. After all, he could have just put down his mother's address for all I know. 

But here comes the best part. The chapel is called Addison chapel, and is also known as st Matthew's. I did some google searching and stumbled upon a book called Directory of ministers and the Maryland churches they served, 1634-1990 by Kanely, Edna A. BINGO! of course google book only previewed a few pages, and not the ones I needed, but by this point I'm hot on his trail. 

And this is the part where I am very, very grateful to have access to one of the best campus libraries in the nation: it just so happens BYU has that very book in the library! So at this point I'm really, really excited and I march on down the stairs, into the U.S. historical records department, find the right aisle, kneel down and start from the bottom up, lift my eyes...

There it is! Both volumes! 
Now I'm really nervous that he won't even be in there and I speculated a whole bunch of nothing. Pull the book off the shelf, flip to "s" ... 

Shilling! Served the St Mattthew's/Addison parish from 1931-1934! WOOHOO!!

And some more google searching unearthed these few gems: 

yep, that's it, Addison Chapel, photos archived at the national library of congress.

So a project that started out impossibly difficult was, in fact, terribly difficult, but WOW I found stuff that no one in my family has, I'm pretty sure! HOW COOL IS THAT?! Moral of the story: genealogy is ridiculously hard work, but it is so cool when you do find something you've worked hard to find. I can't wait to get started on my own tree and let me tell ya, I'll be that little old lady who has her genealogy back to Adam in a few decades :) 


Also, on a completely unrelated note, I made this for dinner, and it was awesome. (Served with sour cream, grated cheddar and nachos)

I liked it so much, I'm writing it down immediately for posterity. See, you've just witnessed the birth of a family tradition!

This whole assignment and class has also made me aware of how precious documents are. They are the only things we have that give us clues about our ancestors! And even though all my and Andrew's temple work is done (wow, that's a weird thing to realize), I want to begin indexing all of our information. Social Security cards, birth certificates, photos, important documents, journals, letters, mission call, even some pay stubs and videos I did as a reporter. EVERYTHING. And I want to compile this all in a (private) online database (Picasa is an awesome resource that I think might suit this project quite nicely). Someday, one of my grand-daughters will have a class project, and she will hate it, and then she will find all these documents neatly stored together and praise the day I took investigative journalism in college :)

Documents people! it's all about documents!

Oh and also, I have to note this: I got 100% on my first physical science 100 midterm! That's right, the testing center screen said "perfect score!" and it pretty much made my day. No, my weekend. WOW. What a good week that started out pretty crazy.. And now I'm off to bed to start another week.

I do apologize for the excessive number of exclamation points in this post. Forgive my excitement, but believe it or not genealogy is actually very thrilling.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you there! This assignment took so much work. I looked up my grandpa who served in France during World War II. I actually found his military documents online! It was an amazing feeling and I feel like I know him a little better because of it. I am, however, sick of this class. Hehehe! So much work! I guess we are learning a lot though, so it's worth it!