Getting to Know an Ancestor – Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts (1903-1982)

Getting to Know an Ancestor: 

Starting with Ancestry and Family Search

My primary reason for genealogical research is to get to know someone, an ancestor. Often the ancestor is mine or my wife’s but occasionally the ancestor is a friend’s or, not nearly often enough, a client.  Census records are a key starting point to know an ancestor. Census records also situate the individual in time and place, which then provides a context for other searching and getting to know the ancestor.  Information about my presentation, “Getting to Know You: Ancestors through Genealogy” is on my website.
I like to use Ancestry.com as my baseline regarding an individual.  Many of their collections include images, which make validation of the transcriptions easier.  Family Search is also an excellent resource. Because of indexing quirks, sometimes you can find an ancestor on one system and not the other. Family Search also has many of the Census records images available through them at no charge. For census records that they don’t have the image for, Family Search often directs you to the images on Ancestry or Fold3. What is really cool is you can save records you find, when the image is not available from Family Search, to a personal Source Box (you need a free account with Family Search).  Later, you can visit your local library, most of whom have access to the Library Edition of Ancestry.com and/or Library access to Fold 3, access your Family Search account, then access your source box. From there you should be able to select the images you have been wanting, download them to a thumb drive and have the images you desire. Personally, I find having an Ancestry.Com account well worth the expense and I recommend getting one. If you are an AARP member and want an Ancestry.com account, CALL Ancestry and tell them you want the one-time AARP Member discount.  If you haven’t used the discount already, you can use it for a renewal too.
I find it difficult to write about an ancestor I’ve never known, nor met in person, when there are many other people who knew the ancestor in life. With the exception of the photo, the below story of Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts is based almost entirely on what I have found on Ancestry.com. My goal was to follow Essie through all the Censuses during her life and then fill in some details based upon stumble on finds on Ancestry (got to love those shaky leaves). Next time I’ll use what I learned here and use social media, scour newspapers, and search other sources for relevant information to fill in the texture of her life, but here are the basics of Essie’s life.

RB05 – Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts (1903-1982)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 6

Essie Barnes Roberts aka “Gran”
to her many grandchildren.
Photo courtesy of granddaughter.  
Essie Pansy Barnes was born on 15 March 1903 in Graysville (Turman Township, Sullivan County) Indiana.[i] She died on 20 November 1982 in Mount Clemens (Macomb, Michigan), aged 79[ii].
She is the daughter of Joel Clinton Barnes (1857-1921), and Marada Mae Lister, (aka Marady, May, Morady, & Maranda) (1867-1932).
The 1900 Census indicates that before she was born, her mother, Marada, had three children before 1900. One was John Lister, whose father is unknown. One was an older brother, Ray, whose father was Joel Barnes. The third child was born and died before 1900. It is unclear of that child was Joel’s of if he or she had a different father. [iii]
Likewise, her father had three children by another wife, Sarah Josephine Conner. The children were Flora, Flava, and Anna/Alma.  Flava was born in 1881 and died in 1882.  This set the stage for Essie’s birth in 1903.
1910 Census indicates 7-year-old Essie living in Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana with her father, mother, paternal half-sister Anna, maternal half-brother John A, Lister, older brother Ray, and younger sister Mabel. Essie was attending school. The 1910 Census also indicates that her mother had six children, four of which were living. The implication of this is that Marada had another child between 1900 and 1910 that had died.[iv] 
1920 Census indicates the 16-year-old Essie living in Turman Township, Indiana with father, mother, brother Ray, and sister Mabel Bessie. Essie was attending school.[v]
In May, 1922, Essie married Bert Allen Roberts (1903-1949), son of Hugh Ellis  Roberts (1884-1908) and  Clora D  Scott [roberts] [adams] (1884-?) in Sullivan County, Indiana[vi]. Her marriage registration indicates that her father was dead. Subsequent research found that her father, Joel, died in 1921. The registration also indicates she was living in Graysville, which is an unincorporated community in Turman Township, Sullivan County, Indiana, the same place she was born.
The 1930 Census finds the young couple thirty miles to the north renting a home at 613 North 15th Street in Terre Haute, Indiana. Bert is working in construction as a plumber’s helper. Their oldest child Pansy is attending school. Their oldest son, Bert and their twins, Hugh and Helen, and Essie’s 63-year-old mother, Marada (“May” in the Census) round out the household.[vii] Marada died in 1932.
Ancestry.Com’s City Directories for Terre Haute show the Bert and Essie living at 354 Chestnut in 1934 and 1936. [viii] [ix]
The 1940 Census finds the family living at 1719 Chestnut Street, Terre Haute. Because they are living at the “same place” as in 1935, it appears that they moved up Chestnut Street and didn’t have the street renumbered. 
Their oldest daughter is listed in the 1940 Census as “Penny” and not Pansy. She is 17 years old and attending high school.
Bert Junior is 15 years old and also attending high school.
The twins, Helen & Hugh, are 13-years-old and are attending grade school (7th grade)
Finally, 11-year-old John is in the 5th grade.[x]
Sometime in the 1940’s the Roberts’ moved to the Detroit, Michigan area.  Essie’s husband, Bert, died in a fiery motor vehicle accident in 1949.

Essie lived Ferndale (Oakland County, Michigan) sometime before 1982 when she died at Mount Clemens, Macomb County, Michigan.[xi]

Further Research

The name, birth, & death of the child born before 1900 that died.
   Ada Barnes was born on 21 March 1898 and died on 19 December 1899.
The name, birth, & death of the child born between 1900 and 1910 that died.
   Nelson Barns was born on 14 April 1901 and died 22 November 1902.
Trace Essie oldest daughter’s name from Pansy to Penny and determine what her name actually was. It may also give insight into Essie’s middle name of Pansy.
Trace the children of Bert & Essie through the school system.

Endnotes
[i] Sources: Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 – Family Search (Other) – 1930 Census / Indiana, Vigo, Terre Haute, Page 9A – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other) – 1940 Census / Terre Haute, Vigo Indiana – Bert Roberts – Ancestry.com  (Other) – 1910 Census / Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 178, Page 8A – Joel C Barnes – Ancestry.Com (Digitizing) – 1920 Census / Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 0270, Sheet 1B – Ancestry.Com (Digitizing) – U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 / Essie Roberts – 384-20-4983 – Ancestry (Other) – Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996 / Essis P Roberts (1903-1982) – Ancestry (Internet)
[ii] Source: Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996 / Essis P Roberts (1903-1982) – Ancestry (Internet)
[iii] Source: 1900 Census, Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, ED 138, Sheet 7B – Joel C Barnes, Ancestry
[iv] Source: 1910 Census, Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 178, Page 8A – Joel C Barnes, Ancestry
[v] Source: 1920 Census / Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 0270, Sheet 1B – Ancestry.com  (Digitizing)
[vi] Sources: Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 – Family Search (Other) – 1930 Census / Indiana, Vigo, Terre Haute, Page 9A – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
[vii] Source: 1930 Census / Indiana, Vigo, Terre Haute, Page 9A – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
[viii] Source: U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 / 1934 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Bert A Roberts. – Ancestry (Other)
[ix] Source: U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 / 1936 – Terre Haute – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
[x] Sources: 1940 Census / Terre Haute, Vigo Indiana – Bert Roberts – Ancestry.com  (Other) – U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 / 1940 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Bert A Roberts – Ancestry (Other)
[xi] Sources: U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 / Essie Roberts – 384-20-4983 – Ancestry (Other) – Michigan Deaths, 1971-1996 / Essis P Roberts (1903-1982) – Ancestry (Internet)
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Review: RootsTech – “What’s New at Family Search”


I try to watch at least one genealogical video every week just to keep up with what is going on. Of course, I get behind a lot, but it is a goal. I’ve been catching up with RootsTech 2015 videos.

They are always among the best genealogy videos out there. If you haven’t seen them, you should. This week I watched, Devin Ashby’s video regarding “What’s New at FamilySearch.” Family Search is my Number 1 free site — I use it regularly (at least weekly) and figured that Devin’s presentation could help me catch me up with new features at FamilySearch. Of course, I was right again – it was an excellent presentation and was able to learn some new things and able to solidify some other capabilities more clearly in my mind.

I felt that Devin started a little slow, but his content improved as the talk went on. Most of what he talked about I already knew or had seen before through other newsletters and blogs that I subscribe to. However, towards the end of the video he mentioned some software/online resources that I hadn’t seen before, most of which work with Family Search.

First was #MyToday which makes a journal of your Facebook top events, photos, and statuses. I set it up and tried it – Nothing. When I’d hit the start button, something that should “take about a minute” the icon just spin and spin as it was “Processing.” So, I guess the site is not working at this time. After several minutes, my browser (Chrome) goes to a blank screen.

Next was Puzzilla.com. It creates sort of a stick chart of your family tree. It has the ability to take you to other sites to see the information. I wasn’t impressed. Frankly, I felt the stick-chart tree was pretty lame. The chart has a number of features, but I think the fan chart and links within FamilySearch are better. Luckily, disabling the Puzzilla account is easy. Just log into Family Search, click on your name on the top right, then on settings. Click [Revoke Access] twice and you are done.

The next one was “Find a Record.” It looked cool in his presentation, so I was excited to take a closer look. Wow! I was impressed. You use your Family Search login and Find a Record suggests areas of research for you based upon what you have, or don’t have, on Family Search. It also provides immediate links to their partner sites: Ancestry.Com, Billion Graves, Family Search, Find-A-Grave, Find My Past, and My Heritage. Those links auto-fill your key data into the search parameters on those sites to keep you from having to reenter the same information on each site – Very useful. There is also a Chrome extension that is very handy. With the extension, when you view a person in Family Search, there is an icon in your browser address window that, when clicked, brings you to the Find a Record page for that person that provides suggestions for research.

In case you didn’t know, there is also an Ancestry Family Search Extension for Chrome that allows you to click once from an individual’s page on Ancestry and have your browser take you to Family Search with the parameters for the individual auto filled in. Anyway, I think Find a Record can be a really useful tool to facilitate researching an individual efficiently. If you have an Ancestry.Com subscription, find the individual on Ancestry, research the hints there, use the Family Search Chrome Extension to switch to Family Search, search there, then use the Find-a-Record extension to switch there and search Find my Past and My Heritage, etc. if you have accounts there. I like it because it focuses me on one individual and helps keep me from being distracted by BSOs (bright shiny objects).

Finally, Rootsmapper.com was mentioned in Devin’s talk. It is supposed to map out your ancestors and where they are from. I think it has possibilities, but I found the interface confusing and difficult to use. I’ll try it again when I have a better-defined family tree in Family Search.

That brings me to the last point.  In order to use any of these tools (except for #MyToday) you need a tree on Family Search. The better your tree is on Family Search, the better the results will be using these tools.  I currently keep my trees on Ancestry so I’ll need to improve my trees on Family Search in order to really see how useful Rootsmapper, and, possibly Puzzilla, are.

The bottom line:
10 – RootsTech: (In general)
 9 – Family Search (The best free site for research on the internet)

 8 – RootsTech: “What’s New at Family Search” (Slow start but great end.)

 8 – Find-a-Record (I’m planning to incorporate it into my workflow.)
 5 – Rootsmapper (I will revisit it when I have a more substantial tree on FamilySearch in a few weeks.)

 4 – Puzzilla (Family Search itself does a better job.)

 1 – #My Today (Site not working – Maybe I’ll revisit it in a few weeks.)

Future Actions

Revisit #MyToday
Revisit Rootsmapper

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Angley Project – Sarah Jones’ mother’s maiden name was Thomas

Today’s goal was a simple one — determine Sarah Jones’ mother’s surname as a part of my Angley Project.

I started with very little information. Sarah was born in October 1899 to James E and Catherine Jones. They lived in Edwardsville, Luzerne County, PA for many years.

The first step was to begin searching the 1900 Census. I really like the 1900 Census because it shows the month and year for the individual’s birth as well the number of years of the present marriage.  Two important identifying items.

Using Ancestry.com, I quickly found the couple in Edwardsville loving on Slocum Street. Not only did the record show daughter Sarah but also three other siblings, James E (who would be proven to be a Junior in the 1910 Census), Annie and Mary. The census showed James & Catherine were born in November 1869 and June 1872 respectively. It also showed they had been married for 10 years. So now, I had their birthdates and Marriage date.

Marriage Record – James E Jones
& Catherine Thomas – [ii]

Hoping for the easy look, I searched Ancestry.com and didn’t find a record fitting the criteria I had. I then went to Family Search and there they were. James was born on 2 November 1869 and Catherine was born on 22 June 1872. They were married on 21 October 1890[i]. All the pieces fit the and the goal was realized because the marriage record indicated her maiden name was Thomas.

As something of a side note, I noticed that the reverend W. D. Thomas married them. I wonder if there is a relationship there. Further research will tell.

The ultimate reason for this project is to find a common ancestor between two people’s trees who share a large segment of DNA. The comparison tree doesn’t have a Catherine Thomas in it, so we don’t have a match, yet. That said, the comparison tree does have other Thomas surnames living in Pennsylvania about 100 miles away at the same time. Therefore, the Thomas surname is definitely an area for further research.

—————

Endnotes
[i] Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950, Family Search, James E Jones – Catherine Thomas. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VF4W-DB7.
[ii] Ibid.

————-  DISCLAIMER  ————-

 

The wife of my Brother-in-Law

Sometimes I just enjoy the search.  I like to take a person, plug them into my
process and see what spits out.  As a
former Project Manager (PMP),  I am all about the process. I thought I’d share a bit of my process here.

Recently, I was talking with my sister
in-law.  Well, I think of her as my sister-in-law,
although in reality she is the “wife of my brother-in-law.” (She is my wifes’s
brother’s wife).  Anyway, we had a delightful
lunch with her and her husband the other day. As is often the case when I’m involved in conversation, talk moved to
genealogy and family history.  As we
chatted, it became clear that she was extremely proud of her parents and their
stories.  She knew that one side had been
in Maine for many generations.  On her paternal
side she had some Greats that “came from away,” one from Ireland and
another from New York.  As we
chatted, I know that I wanted to know much more about her family, and
subsequently more about who her people are and what made the kind of person
that she is. As we chatted she gave her permission to do some research on her
family. 
From discussions long ago, I had a couple tidbits
of information. I knew her parents names and where they lived (Auburn, Androscoggin County, Maine). With that information, I started with my basic “getting to know you” process.
My process begins with
Ancestry.Com. I have a paid
subscription and I highly recommend having one. If you can’t afford a
subscription, the “library edition” is available at most libraries and at all Family History Centers.  I use
Ancestry.Com to “pick the low hanging fruit.” I quickly found her father, her
mother, where they were married and then both of them through the 1930 and 1940
censuses. I found her father’s parents names in the 1930 census but could not,
for the life of me, find them in the 1920 census. I found the grandparents in
the 1910 census, but  still nothing in
1920. I continued my Ancestry.Com
searches and found many city directories that showed where they lived ever
two or three years from after World War II until into the 1950s.  
My next important search location  in my process is Find-a-Grave.  I used to go there second but now Ancestry.Com searches provides links to Find-a-Grave, so used that feature and easily found
the Find-a-Grave memorials for her parents. Looking at markers, I saw
immediately that her father had been a World War II veteran. Good to know — I’ll look into that more late. 
The markers also provided solid evidence for both their birth and
death dates.  All the censuses and other
records I found were consistent with that date. Thanks to Find-a-Grave, I also learned
of a brother that was born before my sister-in-law and died that same year as an infant.  
I then switched to Family Search – an awesome free
resource.  If I didn’t have an
Ancestry.Com account, Family Search would be my first place to look.  Any records that have images through Ancestry
and not Family search I would save to my “Source Box.”  Later at a library or family history center
I’d use that source box records to save image files to my thumb drive. 
Anyway, some kinds of searches work really well on Family
Search.  I searched for her father’s first
name only, and added parents first names only, leaving the surname blank.  I also added the state, Maine; bang there it
was. Severely misspelled surname but the right family, parents the right age,
siblings the right ages, location in the right town and state.  Only the surname was off.  Not much else on Family Search that I found in
a number of quick searches.  A deeper
dive will most likely yield more information.

A search of Google News found their marriage
announcement.  In it several other bits
of information were provided. Where her father and mother graduated from High
School. Where her mother went to college, what their occupations were.  Even info about other relatives that attended
the wedding.  Those are really good bits
of info to know and I input everything into my records.  Sometimes just knowing that a person was
alive, still unmarried, and living at a specific city can lead to marriage and
other records.
Then on to my newspaper resources.  My search in Genealogy Bank found a French language article about her father from 1939. Thanks to Google Translate, the
article said:

Two dogs Eskimo, owned by xxxx xxxxxxx, of Fletcher Street,
Kennebunk, harnessed to a sled, made the trip entire Biddeford and Kennebunk in
90 minutes…  

I’ll bet a native French speaker can tell me if “firent le trajet entre” means round
trip or one way – Google’s translation is unclear but it is a good first cut on translating
almost any language into almost any other language.  That the article was in  French was interesting as well. It made me
wonder if he was bilingual. I know his wife spoke both English and  French.   
I didn’t find anything on
Newspapers.Com or through
Elephind.com regarding the family
Because of my findings on Find-a-Grave, I went back to Ancestry
and searched for military records for my sister-in-law’s father. Sure enough,
several documents were there.  I learned he enlisted in early 1941 long before Pearl Harbor. I also found
the document where his widow applied for a veteran’s marker.  That was cool because there was a color copy
on-line and the form was clearly in her mother’s hand.
Bates College students burying a stuffed bobcat to
Commemorate the demise of the Bates humor
magazine: The Bobcat
Photo Courtesy: Bates College
I wondered if the Maine State Archives had a copy of the
wedding certificate on line.  No such luck,
but it did confirm the date and provided instructions on how to order one from
the state. (I think I’ll ask my sister-in-law to do that.) The wedding announcement mentioned that my sister-in-law’s mother had
attended Bates College. Hummm.  I
wondered if a yearbook might be available on line.  Yup. 
Archive.Org had a copy on line. I REALLY love Archive.Org.  They are high on my list of places to search
for people and documents.  Of course
“mom” was there, a graduation photo and it showed her involvement and interests
in school life.  She had earned an
apprenticeship in French, she was a member of the French Club, and the Glee
Club, and much more.
In just a few hours I found 18 sources of information about
my sister-in-law’s father and just a many regarding her mother (there is
substantial overlap).  Actually, I found the information in an hour or two, documenting it took several times longer than finding the information.
I could do a lot more to get to know my sister-in-law’s
parents. But this is a good first beginning to get to know my sister-in-law’s people.
My process includes doing general searches using:

Ancestry.Com(Find the person in
every census they were alive for.)
Find-a-Grave
Family Search and
Genealogy in Time
(which is really Google but more focused)

Then I search newspapers.

Genealogy Bank
Newspapers.Com and
Elephind.Com  

I also check
TheAncestorHunt.Com for any recommendation Kenneth has based on appropriate
states and dates.  His blog/website is an
awesome resource! 

Logo of Archive.Org

Finally I do focused Searches based upon previous findings
which generally include

      Google Books
      Google News
      Archive.Org and various 
      State Resources

That is kind of the start of my process.  I think that it provides enough information to know a bit about a person. Enough to begin to ask more questions and focus my further research.


Note:  Due to privacy
issues, I have intentionally left out names and personally identifying
information in this article/blog. As matter of policy, I do not publicly write about the
specifics of individuals or couples who have been dead less than 25 years.

————Disclaimer ————-

RootsTech: YouTube Your Family History

It seems that I left the best for last of the RootsTech videos (of those I intend to watch).

YouTube Your Family History By Devin Ashby was extremely good.  He spent a short time with background information about You Tube and then gave three ideas for ways to use You Tube.  First was an Ancestor Video.  Creating a life story for an individual can be wonderful.  He does a great job of showing that a video might be much more interesting to family members than the boring trees and charts I love so much.  He suggests some possible software applications that can be used to produce your video.  He has great ideas, some of which will may the “Aunties Project” I’m working on much better.  I think I can also use some of his ideas on some church videos.  So his material was very useful.
He talks some about creating a website tour, where you provide sort of a guide to your website.  I don’t think that is useful to me right now, but I’ll keep the idea in the back of my mind in the event it does become necessary.
Finally, he talked about creating a channel.  He mentioned that having a channel can provide a way to make money from your videos. Of course, he mentions his channel, The Google Genealogist which looks very good.  I’ve subscribed and am looking forward to seeing more of his materials. 
As a side note, in the background portion of his talk he mentions the YouTube Symphony. I had vaguely heard of it but had never seen it. His mention spurred me to looking it up.  It is really good.  I’m playing it as background as I work and am enjoying it immensely.