* Earhart project: I received the Civil War pension file for Margaret Earhart applying based on her son Tilford’s death. This record was pulled and scanned for me by Pamela Loos-Noji at Kinwork Connections. I found her by using the Association of Professional Genealogists website’s Find a Professional section. Easy peasy. Pam was very responsive and I had the file of 81 scanned pages in less than a month. I’m still reading through this 81-page gem and getting ready to transcribe at least some of the affidavits, which look like they contain much useful information. Unfortunately, so far I don’t see any reference to my Mary Elizabeth Hockman. But hope springs eternal. Realistically, reading through this file and transcribing is likely to be my major project for this short month.
I see that once again I have a set of goals that mostly aren’t getting accomplished. I will try to do better this month. Honest I will.
* Pick a family group in Evernote that is tagged To-Analyze and enter into my database. The information isn’t going to jump in all by itself (drat!). I actually did get started on this one in January. I got some of the Boothby information transferred and organized but then, as usual, got distracted by searching online for the details to fill out the picture. So now I have images of Boothby certificates or registers sitting on my desktop along with a couple of Earharts and a couple of Justices. So back I go to try again.
* Pick a group of census records and really learn how to enter them in Clooz – a program which I really like my early experience with but which I need to learn to be more proficient using.
* Type notes from Maine trip and file information. Figure out next steps. Since this is my Boothby family line, I will make the family group from my Evernote files to start on the Boothbys. Also since I can travel pretty easily to Maine, even doing a day trip for some places, I need to keep myself focused on this goal.
* I am registered to watch a webinar titled “Find Your 17th-c. New England Ancestors with NEHGS” which I am looking forward to. I recently seem to be reading and listening to books set in the colonial period of the U.S. Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower was a good listen as an audiobook and I’m still listening to Woody Holton’s Abigail Adams. I am addicted to podcasts and audiobooks to make my hour-plus each way commute pleasant. It makes a huge difference.
I’ve been thinking about my Earhart/Hockman question and trying to figure out what difference it makes anyway. Why do I care whether Mary Elizabeth was a Hockman or an Earhart child? I know, from my sister-in-law as well as my professional training, that your adoptive parents and their families are your own, and they have a huge influence on your experiences and tastes and opinions. They play a major role in making you who you turn out to be.
So why is it that I find myself not doing much to trace the families of John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell? (I do actually have some information on each of them and their family lines, a fair amount on the Shotwells, much of it acquired before I focused on Mary;s origins.) Every time I see something that would lure me in the direction of tracing one of those lines I make a decision to postpone doing it, waiting to finally figure out what family my paternal great grandmother really came from.
This leads me to the question: what is it about researching my family tree that gives me such a kick? Why do I do it? One answer is that I *really* want to know where it all began. Where did I come from? What roots anchor me to my particular place in this great big world? For me, these desires mean knowing my direct ancestral roots (along with all the collateral ones). I want to know the stories of each person, and that may well include being part of a family not biologically related (or perhaps biologically related on one side and not the other). However, I have a strong need to know who each of the biological parents was as a starting point.
Thus, for now anyway, my solution is to list Mary as unknown in terms of her relationship to John Earhart and Margaret Shotwell. Given the time period of her life, and the place, I may never be able to tease out the information about her family of origin.
The searching I have done to try to answer my questions about Mary raise intriguing questions about the John Earhart-Margaret Shotwell family. Did they really adopt (at least informally) two children? Was it the middle two (William S. and Mary E.)? If so why the 20+ year gap between their two biological sons? Were either of the adopted children related to one or the other parent’s family? So far I haven’t found any evidence that Mary was related, but I also don’t have any evidence of her birth other than that provided on her death certificate where the information came from Mary’s daughter. Likewise I now have a death certificate for William Samuel Earhart which says that his father was John Earhart, mother was unknown, and that he was born in Bethel, Ohio. The information on this death certificate came from William’s wife who he met once he left his parents’ home and Ohio. So was John Earhart fathering children in the next county west, and then taking them in? Or is this a case of multiple people with the same name (John Earhart was not an uncommon name, there were several in the area during this time period, and they were probably all related in some way.)