Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I want to preface this post by saying I don't make a living performing genealogy research for others, and I don't claim expertise in a particular area of research or technology (although I like to consider myself pretty tech-savvy).  I'm a long-time hobbyist, plain and simple, which probably colors my remarks a little.  

I've seen a lot of Facebook posts and blog entries regarding "sharing."  I'm using that term to cover a lot of scenarios:  you connected with a long-lost cousin who wants your research; you post your tree on a website such as ancestry.com; abstracts that you may have done of original records; etc.  Personally, I am willing to share any piece of information I've been fortunate enough to dig up.  Along the way, I've run into a lot of very nice people who are of the same mind-set:  pay it forward.  I've had cousins send me packets of photographs and copies of original records they dug up through research trips.  I've had perfect strangers take cemetery photographs for me.  I was in contact with the widow of a man my mother corresponded with back in the 1970's, and she graciously sent me a copy of a book he had written.  I've sent letters to small genealogy libraries and had volunteers make copies of obituaries from old newspapers.  I've tried to return the favors, in small part, by volunteering through the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website.

I'm not saying that people who make their living from genealogy should give away their time and fruits of their labor for free.  My point is that if you post information on one of the many websites such as ancestry.com, don't be surprised if someone lifts your research.  Also, remember when others have offered you some small act of genealogical kindness, and try to do the same by paying it forward.

Saturday Field Trip to the National Archives

I had a lovely time this past Saturday with four ladies from the DAR chapter (Prairie Rose - Overland Park, KS) I will be joining in November.  Even though I'm not formally a member, they have graciously invited me to chapter functions, including a field trip to the National Archives in Kansas City.  While there, we attended a seminar on land records research, a subject which can be confusing (at least for me it is!).  

If you live near a National Archives facility, I  highly recommend their free genealogy seminars, as there is something for everyone no matter what research level you are, or what your interests might be!  Topics in July and August included:  Navigating the National Archives Website, Researching African-American Genealogy,  Using Federal Census Records to Find Your Ancestors, Finding Your Family in Federal Court, Ship Passenger Arrival Lists, and Bureau of Indian Affairs Records, to name a few.  On October 6, they are hosting a free day-long Fall Genealogy Symposium, with an in-depth look at records available at the federal level.

At the land records seminar, I did learn that for every land transfer from the government to an individual, a "land case file" was created.  Depending on the time period and the changing government regulations, the land case file could contain a lot of useful genealogical information.  The files exist for land claims that were both approved, and those that may have been cancelled for some reason.  As my great great great grandfather John Gannan (for whom this blog is named) held a land patent in Harrison County, Missouri, in 1855, I was able to order a land case file for his patent.  I'm excited to see what the file might contain, as Grandpa John is one of my longer-term brick walls.

Thanks again to the ladies of the Prairie Rose DAR Chapter for allowing me to tag along on your field trip!