Genealogical Do-Over–Nov 218 Update

I have been scarce on the blog for the last couple of months and did not get the chance to post an update for October due to some serious family business. But, I’m back now and want to update you on how it’s been going.

Population Statistics

The population of my genealogy file has remained largely static over the past two months. Since I’ve primarily focused on adding citations to clippings I had already entered rather than doing new research, not very many people got added or deleted from the database.

Sourcing and Media Items

Unsurprisingly, the addition of citations and sources continues to be the single largest area of growth in my database. I created a list of all the media items I need to properly document and add to the database. And, since I tend to move from thing to thing, I split them into categories (census, headstone photos, marriage records, etc.) and listed them in different tabs of a google sheets document. That way I’m able to set targets to get them entered.

I had nearly 4500 media items. That doesn’t count the dozens that I’ve turned up but not gotten to yet. This is going to be a slow slog. But, I’m getting there. One step at a time.

Events and Locations

I’ve started adding obituaries and newspaper articles as events. And, because Legacy has the ability to create group events at will,  I have created a bunch of shared events that allowed to to delete individual events for the same occasion. Consequently, the number of events and locations has gone up modestly but not precipitously.

Potential Problems

Now that I’ve gotten all the low-hanging fruit, the potential problems are declining more slowly. I pretty much fix them as I come across them. At the rate I’m going right now, it will  probably take two years to get them all addressed. Even so, the number will never drop to zero, because some potential problems are actually research  opportunities.

Actual Statistics As of 15 Sep 2018

Individuals-54822 (-0.1%)
Families-18700  (-0.5%)
Individuals/Family-2.93 (-0.2%)
% Living Individuals-21.9 (-44.1%)
% of Each Gender-51.5% male, 48.1% female, and 0.3% unknown gender (Unchanged)

Marriages-17497 (-0.03%)
Marriages/Individual- 0.319 (-0.2%)

Unique Surnames-6,836 (+3.4%)
Unique Locations-3,954 (+5.1%)
Master Sources-65 (+51.2%)
Total Citations-10,105 (+46.4%)

Master Events-29,511 (+2.1%)
Individual Events-27,178 (+3.9%)
Citations/Event-0.38 (+43.4%).
Individual Events/Individual-0.496 (+4.0%)
Marriage Events-671 (-0.3%)
Marriage Events/Marriage-0.038 (-0.2%)

Media Items-586 (+75.4%)
Media Items/Individual-0.011 (+75.6%)
Potential Problems-6,903 (-5.2%)
Potential Problems/Individual-0.126 (-5.1%)

Plan For the Coming Month

I spent quite a bit of the month of October entering references for newspaper clippings. I even got in a few census pages. But, it’s getting to be a bit of a drag just entering data I’m already somewhat familiar with. So, in the coming month, I’m going to try to do some original work as well as putting in some of my backlog of media files and their corresponding citations.

I’m somewhat stalled on George Fell Fish, because the next set of documents I’m looking for are directories from Jackson County, Indiana. Last weekend I went down to the Jackson County Library in Seymour and found that they had no physical directories dating back to George Fish’s life there. There is one apparently on their website, but it is not publicly visible at the moment. I will have to check out the directories that are available at the Indiana State Library.

So, I need to pick another project to spend some time on. I’ll keep you posted.


George Fell Fish Military Records

After quite a bit of searching, I can find no evidence that George Fell Fish served in the military. However, he still has military records. Since he was an adult male during both world wars, he was registered in both drafts. That’s true of almost all American males during that time. And, it’s why I make it a practice to check the draft cards for any male living in the US in the 1910s or 1940s.

WWI Draft Card

WWI draft cards can be found for free on George Fell Fish’s card can be found here. From it, we learn quite a bit about my cousin, including his middle name. It is the only record of his that I’ve found so far with his middle name and not his initial. [I’m hoping to find his birth record eventually and confirm it.] Here is the abstract of the record:

Registration Card No. 32
George Fell Fish, age 30, res. Route 2, Freetown, Ind, b. 19 Mar 1887, natural born, b. Kurtz, Ind. U.S., farmer working for Keth Setser near Buffalo in Brown Co., wife with two children under 12, married, caucasian, claiming exemption due to dependent wife and children, tall, medium build, gray eyes, dark brown hair, no disabilities
Registrar: Buell Brown
Houston Precinct of Jackson County, Ind.
Date: 5 Jun 1917

WWII Draft Card

WWII draft cards are also available on An important thing to remember is that there were multiple registrations, including the one that was done in 1942 for men who were between the ages of 45 and 65. If you are looking in individual databases, make sure you check the correct one. The one for George Fell Fish is with the latter set and can be found here. Again, we are able to gather more pieces for our puzzle. Here’s the abstract:

George F Fish, serial number U2100; residing at Freetown, jackson, IN; mailing address at RR1 Ewing, Indiana; age 55; born 19 Mar 1887 in Jackson County, Indiana; person who will always know where he is–Alta Fish, RR! Ewing, Indiana; self-employed; white, 5’10”, gray eyes and hair, ruddy complexion; 27 Apr 1942

Next on the docket are looking in directories for him and his family. I know there are a few on Ancestry. I also have access to the libraries in Columbus and Seymour. They likely have a fairly complete collection of the directories–at least for the 50s through the present.


Genealogical Do Over–Sep 2018 Update

It’s been a month since I started my genealogical do over, so I figure it’s time for an update on my progress. I’ve added a bit of new research this month in addition to just working on problems. So some of the statistics have changed that you wouldn’t have expected to change. This past month I’ve primarily focused on removing potential problems and entering rigorous citations for newspaper clippings that I’ve collected. Entering events and citations for newspaper clippings is rather time-intensive, so I haven’t made as much progress there as I would have liked. But, there is forward progress, even if it is slow.

Population Statistics

The number of individuals and marriages in my database have grown quite a bit in the past month (nearly 500). This is because I have started entering everybody who appears in a newspaper clipping rather than just the ones I know. The primary reason is that I have found over the years that the same people have a way of turning up multiple times. If I am to be documenting the stories, it helps to have a sense of the important people in the lives of my relatives and ancestors. The secondary reason is that many of these people who seem to be unrelated end up being distant parts of the family. So, I’m saving myself some time by getting them on the first read rather than figuring it out years later. Fortunately, my male/female ratio is holding, which means I’m probably capturing everybody and not biasing against the less prominent people. I’ve already found a few connections between people I hadn’t realized were connected that I had missed the first time around.

The number of individuals/family has gone up very modestly (about 0.2%). I think the reason for this is that I am entering a lot of unconnected individuals right now because of my decision to include everybody found on a source. The number of marriages per person has also declined very slightly, probably also do to my revised practices. It will take some time to see if this decision starts paying off in a way that can be seen in the statistics. If I can start connecting a lot of those people into my tree, it should.

The percentage of living people has declined quite a bit in the past month as I’ve come across people listed as living who could not possibly be living at this point and marked them accordingly.


I’ve added several master sources which means the depth of my sources is getting deeper. I’ve also added well over 1000 citations. Along with the sources have come the media items. Overall, the number of citations and media items have gone up by over 30% in the past month! Of course, that’s easy to do when the number was pretty modest to start.

Events and Locations

So far, the number of events is increasing at a faster pace than the number of individuals is growing. That’s good news for my events/individual metric. And, while events/individual are going up, the events per marriage are going down. I think that is because when I was using FTM, I made residence a joint event between married couples because FTM lacks the ability to share most events with others. I love that aspect of Legacy! I have started creating events in Legacy for weddings and funerals where I add people who I know were there or participated in the rites. I’m hoping to paint a more 3D picture of my relatives’ lives.

Potential Problems

This is the one statistic that I have knocked out of the park in the last month. The single biggest problem in my database was the lack of periods after initials. I was able to do a seek and replace in the name fields to replace individual letters with a letter followed by a period. I then went through and did a seek and replace to change initials with two periods with one that had a single period. I simply love the seek and replace feature! But, beware. It is a powerful tool, and you can screw it up. Make sure to back up before doing it.

I also had a lack of standardization in the naming of places. For instance, I had USA in some places and United States in others. A global seek and replace took care of that. I also had a problem in some places where I included the word ‘County’ for a location in one place and didn’t in others. I was able to use the feature where you click on the globe after the place name and set the standard place name. It then fixed it in every location.

Now, I’m left with the usual potential problems that I will have to fix one at a time as I come across them. Progress on this statistic will be slower going forward, but I will persist until I have checked and addressed them all.

Actual Statistics As of 15 Sep 2018

Basic Statistics
Individuals-54871 (+0.7%)
Families-18579 (18679 (+0.5%)
Individuals/Family-2.94 (+0.2%)
% Living Individuals-39.2 (-8.1%)
% of Each Gender-51.5% male, 48.2% female, and 0.3% unknown gender (Unchanged)
Marriages-17518 (+0.5)
Marriages/Individual- 0.319 (-0.2%)

Unique Surnames-6751 (-2.1%)
Unique Locations-3763 (-1.9%)
Master Sources-43 (+16.2%)
Total Citations-6903 (+32.9%)
Master Events-25975 (+1.9%)
Individual Events-26161 (+3.2%)
Citations/Event–0.266 (+30.4%).
Individual Events/Individual-0.477 (+2.5%)
Marriage Events-673 (+2.6%)
Marriage Events/Marriage-0.038 (-0.2%)
Media Items-334 (+34.7%)
Media Items/Individual-0.006 (+33.7%)

Potential Problems-7280 (-64.8%)
Potential Problems/Individual-0.133 (-65.1%)

Plan For the Coming Month

My approach to doing genealogy has been akin to that of  a hamster on meth, but I am working on developing a little more discipline in seeing a project through to the end. As you can tell, I have stuck with George Fell Fish. Soon I will be able to post that biography I promised months ago. And, thanks to this genealogical do-over, all the facts will be documented thoroughly and completely.

I think this next month I will continue my focus on the newspaper clippings (there are still over 600 of them!) and finish up my work with George Fell Fish. Then, it’ll be time to pick a new project. I welcome any suggestions from my cousins on who to tackle next.


Lester Albert Cummings Newspaper Clippings

I very recently posted a picture of Lester and Bessie Cummings and thought you might be interested in some newspaper clippings about them. Enjoy.

Lester Cummings To Attend Indiana University

Cummings, Lester Jackson County Banner 19220614_03_2Cummings, Lester Jackson County Banner 19220614_03_2 Wed, Jun 14, 1922 – Page 3 · Jackson County Banner (Brownstown, Indiana) ·


Headline: ECLIPSE Owen Township

Lester Cummings went to Bloomington Wednesday, where he will attend school. Quite a number of relatives gathered at his home Tuesday and had a party for him. The evening was spent in music and games.

Lester Cummings Returns from Attending Indiana University

Cummings, Lester Jackson County Banner 19220830_03_3Cummings, Lester Jackson County Banner 19220830_03_3 Wed, Aug 30, 1922 – Page 3 · Jackson County Banner (Brownstown, Indiana) · Newspapers.comLink

Headline: Eclipse. Owen Township.
Lester Cummings, who has been attending school at Bloomington, returned home Tuesday.

Lester Albert Cummings Takes Out a Marriage License with Bessie Marguerite Gray

Marriage License Jackson County Banner 19250520_01_4Marriage License Jackson County Banner 19250520_01_4 Wed, May 20, 1925 – Page 1 · Jackson County Banner (Brownstown, Indiana) · Newspapers.comLink

Arnold M. Collier, 23, switchman, Bedford son of T. W. Collier, Indianapolis, to Carolyn Rosella Rhoda, 24, telephone operator, daughter of Wm. Rhoda, both of Bedford.
Lester Albert Cummings, 22, mail carrier, son of Geo. W. Cummings, both of Norman Station, to Bessie Marguerite Gray, 21, teacher, daughter of Allen Gray, both of Ewuing.
Ralph Hicks, 21, farmer, son of John H. Hicks, both of Jonesville, to Maude Lee Ferguson, 20, domestic work, daughter of John Ferguson, both of Seymour.

Lester Albert Cummings Marries Bessie Marguerite Gray

Gray, Bessie Marguerite Jackson County Banner 19250520_05_3Gray, Bessie Marguerite Jackson County Banner 19250520_05_3 Wed, May 20, 1925 – Page 5 · Jackson County Banner (Brownstown, Indiana) ·
Headline: Local News

Miss Bessie Marguerite Gray, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Allen Gray, of Brownstown, and Lester Albert Cummings, son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. W. Cummings, of Norman Station, were married at the Presbyterian manse Saturday, the Rev. F. M. Moore officiating.

Lester Cummings Takes A New Rural Route

Cummings, Lester Jackson County Banner 19370714_03_1Cummings, Lester Jackson County Banner 19370714_03_1 Wed, Jul 14, 1937 – Page 3 · Jackson County Banner (Brownstown, Indiana) · Newspapers.comLink

Headline: Norman Owen Township

Lester Cummings is filling the vacancy on rural mail route one on account of the retirement of Jimmie Henderson and Ralph Fish is taking over route two.

Lester Cummings Kills a Large Rattlesnake
Lester Cummings Kills RattlesnakeLester Cummings Kills Rattlesnake Wed, Jul 9, 1958 – Page 1 · Jackson County Banner (Brownstown, Indiana) ·


Lester Cummings, rural mail carrier out of the Norman Post Office, killed a large rattle snake north of Maumee last week. The snake had ten rattlers and a button. This is the fifth rattler Mr. Cummings has killed since he has been on the mail route.

Lester Cummings Retires as a Rural Mail Carrier


Headline: Lester Cummings To Retire As Rural Carrier
After serving forty years and fifteen days, Lester A. Cummings will retire, as of January 31, 1964, as rural mail carrier out of the Norman Post Office.
Mr. Cummings was appointed in 1924 to a vacancy on Route No. 2. caused by the transfer of Roswell Zaring to the railway mail service.
This route was twenty-four miles jn length, sixteen of which were dirt roads with no bridges. It was a horse and buggy route the year around and, much of the time, during muddy weather, it had to be made on horseback.
In 1925 Mr. Cummings began using a Model T Ford for the summer, but had to go back to buggy and horseback about four month each winter.
In 1937 he transferred to Route No. 1 upon the retirement of James Henderson, now deceased. At that time Route No. 1 covered seventy-two miles but since has been increased to eighty miles. The roads on this route are all graveled and twenty miles are black-topped. However, sometimes, after a bad winter, during the spring thaw, they get bad and requires the use of a Jeep.
During his years with the postal service, Mr. Cummings has worn out two Model T Fords, two Model A Fords and twenty-three V-8 models in delivering the mail.
He has served under four postmasters and worked with five other carriers on the other route. Three of these postmasters, three of the carriers and two of his substitute carriers now are deceased.
During his forty years as a carrier, Mr. Cummings has served the last thirty-eight years without a day’s sick leave.
He began his service under Postmaster Landon Fish and also has served under Alta Fish, Claude Bowman and the present postmaster. Gene Davis.
A native of Jackson county, Mr. Cummings has lived in the Norman community all of his life, is a member of the Norman Christian Church and Clearspring Lodge No. 323, F. and A. M., at Kurtz.
Mr, and Mrs. Cummings are the parents of one daughter, Mrs. Ray Smith, the former Marilyn Cummings. Mr. Smith is a member of the Clearspring High School faculty.
They also have four grand children. Mr. Cummings, in speaking of his years as a rural carrier, says he could not have found a more agreeable group of patrons than the ones he has had the privilege to serve.

Photos of My Relatives Who Have Passed #002


This is a photo of Lester Albert and Bessie Marguerite (Gray) Cummings taken some time in the 1980s.

Lester Albert Cummings was a son of George Washington and Anna Carrie (Edwards} Cummings and a brother to Ruby Nell Cummings, my grandmother. That would make them my great-uncle and great-aunt.

Lester was born 5 Feb 1903 in Jackson County, Indiana, the third of five children. He graduated high school and even took a year of college (at IU)–an impressive feat when an 8th grade education was considered complete for the average working guy. Grandma Fisher used to tell of how she would ride with him to high school on a horse when the weather was bad. Once he finished his education, he took a job as a rural mail carrier, which he continued until he retired.

Bessie was born 24 Jul 1903 in Ewing, Indiana, the daughter of Allen and Lucy (Goss) Gray. She completed high school and then became a school teacher.

They were married 16 May 1925 in Jackson County by Francis M. Moore, a minister of the gospel. They had two children. The first, Robert Edwin, died at birth. Their daughter was Marilyn Faye Cummings (1928-2002).

He died the day after Christmas in 1990, and she passed on 26 Oct 1993.

Marriage Records for George Fell Fish and His Relatives

Fortunately for my search, George Fish and his family lived in Indiana for most of their lives. That means that their marriage records are very likely online, at least if they were married before 2007. Even better, they are free. Family Search’s Indiana Marriages database is here.

Marriage Record for His Parents

A search in the database for Corbin Fish who was married in 1884 to Polly Waskom quickly turned up their marriage record.

Groom: Corbin Fish
Bride: Polly A Waskom
Date of License: 9 Jul 1884
Date of Marriage: 10 July 1884
Officiant: Alfred Osburn, Minister of the Gospel
Clerk: Frank Burrell
Date of Return: 16 Sep 1884

It also turned up one of his daughter Polly’s marriages.

Marriage Records for His Siblings

The marriage record that showed up for his daughter Polly had her surname as Prather and an indication that she had been previously widowed.

Male: Howard L. Perry
Color: W
Born: 25 Sep 1882, Jennings Co, Ind
Present Residence: Seymour, Ind
Present Occupation: Factory worker
Nearer than 2nd cousin to female: No
Father: William E. Perry, W, b. Jennings Co, farmer, deceased
Mother: Mellisa Sheldon, W, b. Wisconsin, deceased
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: No
How Often Married: Once
Dissolved How: Death in 1939
Minor Children: None
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Female: Lottie Prather
Color: W
Born: 11 Feb 1885, Jackson County, Ind
Residence: Seymour, Ind.
Occupation: Domestic
Father: Corbin Fish, W, b. Jackson County, deceased
Mother: Polly Waskom, W, deceased, b. Jackson County, nd.
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: No
Times Married Previously: Once
Dissolved how: Death in 1935
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Date of License application: 17 Sep 1943
Clerk Jackson Circuit Court: Albert H. Horstman
Officiant: B. H. Colen, Minister
Marriage date: 18 Sep 1943

To find the record of her first marriage, I searched for Lottie Mae Fish married to Prather. The search turned up various records for the marriages of her children as well as the record of her first marriage.

Male: Thomas A. Prather
Color: White
Born: 1 May 1864 Jackson Co, Ind
Present Residence: Kurtz, Ind
Present Occupation: Telephone Exchange
Nearer than 2nd cousin to female: No
Father: Silas Prather, White, b. Jackson Co Ind., Farmer, res. Kurtz Ind.
Mother: Sallie Ann Boyatt, White, Housewife, b. Jackson Co, dead
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: No
How often married: twice
Dissolved how: death on 19 Dec 1902 and divorce on 25 Mar 1907
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Deposition by: Silas Prather (for information on both groom and bride)
Female: Lottie May Fish
Color: White
Born: 1 Feb 1885 Jackson Co Ind.
Occupation: Telephone Girl
Father: Corbin Fish, white, b. Jackson Co, Ind., farmer, res. Kurtz Ind.
Mother: Pollie Ann Waskom, white, Farmer’s wife, b. Jackson County, res. Kurtz Ind.
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Date of License application: 9 Jun 1907
Clerk Jackson Circuit Court: John R. Tinder
Officiant: J. W. Maynard, Minister of the Gospel
Marriage date: 10 Jun 1907

Searching for Homer Franklin Fish born in 1886 in Indiana turned up various records for marriages of his children as well as his marriage to Obelia Charles.

Male: Homer Fish
Color: White
Born: 7 Mar 1886 Owen Tpt
Present Residence: Owen Tpt
Present Occupation: farmer
Nearer than 2nd cousin to female: No
Father: Corbin Fish, white, b. Larence Co Ind., farmer, res. Owen Tpt
Mother: Polly Waskom, white, Housewife, b. Owen Tpt, res. Owen Tpt
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Deposition by: Homer Fish
Female: Obela Charles
Color: White
Born: 12 May 1900 Owen Tpt
Residence: Kurtz Ind.
Occupation: House Keeper
Father: David K Charles, white, b. Jackson, farmer, dead
Mother: Maggie Callahan, white, Housewife, b. Owen Tpt, res. Kurtz
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Deposition by: Obela Charles
Date of License application: 28 Mch 1908
Clerk Jackson Circuit Court: John R. Tinder
Officiant: J. S. Washburn, Minister
Marriage date: 28 Mch 1908

His Own Marriage Record

Searching for George Fell Fish born in 1887 in Indiana and married to Alta Charles turned up his own marriage record as well as those of two of his children.

Male: George Fish
Color: White
Born: 19 Mar 1887, Owen Tp
Present Residence: Owen Tp
Present Occupation: Farmer
Nearer than 2nd cousin to female: No
Father: Corbin Fish, white, b. Owen Tp, farmer, res. Owen Tp
Mother: Polly Waskom, white, housewife, b. Owen Tp, res. Owen Tp
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, venereal or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Female: Alta Charles
Color: White
Born: 3 Oct 1893 Salt Creek Tp
Occupation: housewife
Father: David W. Charles, white, b. Salt Creek Tp, farmer, dead
Mother: Maggie Callahan, white, housewife, b. Salt Creek Tp, res. Salt Creek Tp
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Date of License application: 27 Jun 1908
Clerk Jackson Circuit Court: John R. Tinder
Officiant: Wm Elmer Payne, Minister Christian Church
Marriage date: 27 Jun 1908

Marriages of His Children

Thelma’s marriage to Donald Will Carter and Paul Loris’ marriage Edna Elizabeth’s Emmons were the ones that showed up in the search for George and Alta’s marriage record.

Male: Donald Will Carter
Color: White
Born: 27 Sep 1912 (Father’s consent) Columbus, Ind.
Present Residence: Columbus, Ind.
Present Occupation: Laborer
Nearer than 2nd cousin to female: No
Father: Willie Carter, white, b. Bartholomew Co, Ind, foreman at Handle Tools Co., res. Columbus, Ind
Mother: Sue May McKain, white, b. Bartholomew Co. Ind., deceased
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Deposition by: Donald Carter
Female: Thelma Jewell Fish
Color: White
Born: 27 Mar 1915 (Father’s consent) Jackson Co., Ind.
Occupation: factory work
Residence: Jackson Co., Ind.t
Father: George Fish, white, b. Jackson Co. Ind., Farmer, res. Jackson Co., Ind.
Mother: Alta Charles, white, Domestic work, b. Jackson Co., Ind., res. Jackson Co., Ind.
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Deposition by: Thelma Fish
Date of License application: 22 Aug 1931
Clerk Jackson Circuit Court: Virgil H. Fountain
Officiant: Leo S. Lovell, Minister
Marriage date: 22 Aug 1931

Male: Paul Loris Fish
Color: White
Born: 11 Jun 1912 (consent of father) Brown Co, Ind.
Present Residence: Columbus, Ind.
Present Occupation: Laborer
Nearer than 2nd cousin to female: No
Father:George Fish, white, b. Jackson Co, Ind., laborer, res. Columbus, Ind.
Mother: Alta Charles, white, Domestic work, b. Jackson Co., Ind., res. Columbus, Ind.
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Deposition by: Paul Fish
Female: Edna Elizabeth Emmons
Color: White
Born: 26 Oct 1912 (consent of Mother) Jackson Co, Ind.
Occupation: Domestic work
Residence: Jackson Co., Ind.
Father: Justus Emmons, white, b. Jackson Co., Ind., farmer, res. Jackson Co., Ind.
Mother: Blanche McMillian, white, domestic work, b. Jackson Co., Ind. res. Jackson Co., Ind.
Inmate at any county asylum or home for the indigent w/i 5 years: No
First Marriage: Yes
Epilepsy, tuberculosis, veneral or other disease: No
Imbecile, feeble-minded, idiotic or insane: No
Deposition by: Edna Emmons
Date of License application: 26 Jul 1930
Clerk Jackson Circuit Court: Virgil H. Fountain
Officiant: Jesse Nichols, Minister
Marriage date: 26 Jul 1930

I searched specifically for Opal Fish born in 1929, but there was no marriage record. So, I searched for just Fish born in 1929. Still no matches. Does not appear she was married in Indiana. But, she was living in Seymour, Indiana, when her father died. So, I thought it was possible that the local paper may have made mention of her marriage when it happened. So, I next used to search for Opal Fish with the keyword McKinney between the years of 1944-1964. While I found some references to her, there was no indication of a marriage for her.

The next option was to look for her obituary. I found it on Fortunately, it gave the date and location of her marriage as 17 Jan 1948 in York, South Carolina. Given that she lived virtually her entire life in the Jackson/Brown County area, it is a bit surprising that she married in South Carolina. It’s a story I would be interested in learning about at some point. She was 18 when she married.

Katherine Virginia Fish also didn’t appear in the Indiana marriage database. I searched for her at in the Seymour paper between the years of 1940 and 1964 under both her maiden and married names. Given that she also lived in Columbus, I also searched for her in the Columbus paper. I found her obituary under the name of Catherine V. “Jean” Pavey. I don’t have a premium account for, but I got lucky this time. Somebody else had already created a clipping of it which I was able to see. The obituary said that her marriage occurred 16 Jun 1945 in Indianapolis, which was surprising. She had not turned up in my previous search.

So, I went back and searched again with no luck. Then, I searched for her husband using the name on the obituary Marion Pavey. Again, there were no matches. Either they did not get married in Indiana, or they never married at all. There is probably an interesting story here. For now, I will note the marriage date using the obituary as a source, but with a note that no marriage record has been found thus far.


I’ve added to George Fell Fish’s time line by locating sources that detail when all of the close members of his family were married. I’ve also found an inconsistency between a fact claimed in an obituary and the available records. Inconsistencies often point to interesting stories.

Now, I am onto the military records…

Genealogical Do Over

How I Got to Where I Am

In addition to all the other projects I have going on, I have one really big and important project that I’m working on. In order to introduce it, I need to make a confession of my many genealogical sins. There were the indiscretions of my genealogical youth, the many times I said I would get around to it later, and just poor documentation in general.

  1. Back in 2004 when I started my genealogical quest, Ancestry allowed people to upload their family trees and then incorporate the trees of others who had relatives that matched. At the time it seemed like a bonanza. I went from a few dozen individuals to many thousands of individuals very quickly. I naively assumed that everyone who posted trees online had done a good job vetting their information, even though I hadn’t really done that myself. What obvious now is that of course they didn’t. They were all doing the same thing I was.
  2. Another great feature Ancestry has is that they allow you to attach records to your tree–along with some of the information included in them. It’s a handy little feature than when used correctly can really help you learn about your ancestors and make connections that would be very difficult or impossible if you had to find all the records by hand. But…there some pitfalls with it, too.
    • In the early days, the reference that got attached with the records was minimal at best. It usually didn’t point to the original source or even link to the original image or record. Ancestry has gotten a lot better about that now, but I still don’t care for the way they write their references.
    • It’s very easy to attach information for people who have similarities to your ancestors, but there is no guarantee that the information is true for your relative. That requires you to do your own rigorous analysis to verify that any given record is the right one. Now, Ancestry, to their credit has ways of saving records without attaching them to your tree so that they can be evaluated later. It’s on the genealogist to do the work and take the care they need to. Needless to say, in my genealogical youth, I was not so careful all the time.
  3. Sourcing–This is the worst of the sins of my past. All too many times I thought I would get back to properly sourcing later, only to later forget what the source was or just to lose track of what needed to be sourced. When you have thousands of people in your database (reference Sin #1), it’s easy to do.
  4. Sourcing (Part 2)–Given the importance of sourcing, it’s worth having more than one entry dedicated to it. I recently obtained the book “Evidence Explained” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, which is the Bible of genealogical referencing. Reading it brought on a sort of a conversion experience for me. I realized the depth of my genealogical depravity and became aware of my need to change. I began searching my database, looking at my referencing system. It was a mess.
    • I had duplicates of repositories and didn’t even realize it. That was pretty easily fixable, but geeze.
    • Because I didn’t understand exactly how sourcing worked or what was considered to be a repository, I had internet sites listed as repositories. Granted, it’s not a biggie. But when you’re trying to untangle a mess, it gets in the way.
    • Per Sin #3, the quality of the sourcing that was there was pretty terrible.
    • The vast majority of the media files were generically named, giving no indication what they were or for whom they were collected. Further, the media files were not marked with their origin or source. That’s going to be a problem if I ever need to ask permission before publishing one.
    • A lot of events existed for which I know there were sources, but they had not been sourced. An example source might be the 1900 US census. Naturally, I would have captured the birth year and month as well as the birthplace of each person. I probably captured the occupation of everybody. But, I didn’t consistently capture the literacy or schooling for each person listed or what their street address was. Those are seemingly insignificant details that could actually end up being very important when trying to piece together the full story of their lives or verifying that the William Fish in the census was the correct William fish from my database.

So, having confessed these sins, I now need to offer up my penance, er plan for how to fix the issues both retroactively and going forward. I suspect this is going to take me years. but I intend to see this through to the end. I have to keep telling myself that the end result will be so much better than it ever could without.

Plan Going Forward

  1. Software–I purchased Legacy 9 Deluxe because after doing a fair bit of research, it had the best ratings with regard to sourcing. In fact, its sourcing is built around “Evidence Explained.” The Source Writer (as they have dubbed it) makes creation of proper and traceable sources almost effortless. You choose the correct template, fill in the fields as best you can, and presto–a good citation.
  2. Create gedcom of my database and import it into Legacy. Then, strip out the references and repositories so I can start from scratch with the referencing. (I still have them intact in my other software whenever I need to look for clues where they came from.)
  3. Media Files–Go into the media folders from my previous software and rename the media files in a way that makes them easier to organize and says what they are. Once that’s done, figure out where they came from so they can be sourced properly in the new software.
  4. Link the renamed media files one at a time to the new database while creating good and consistent citations for each of them. Leave no information or event undocumented. Make sure that each of the records match the person or persons with whom it is linked.
  5. While all that is going on, make sure that every source I find going forward is added and properly cited before going on to the next. No more putting off until later what I can do today.

Statistics As of 21 Aug 2018

Basic Statistics
Unique Surnames-6751
Master Locations-3835
Master Sources-37
Total Citations-5194
Master Events-25479
Individual Events-25342
Marriage Events-656
Media Items-248
Potential Problems-20696

Derivative Statistics
I’ve spent some time thinking about the best way to measure progress as I complete this genealogy do-over. Simply tracking the basic statistics doesn’t tell me much about the quality of information in my database. But, I’ve thought of a several derivative statistics that should help in this area.

  • Individuals/Families–Since my database consists of all sorts of people who I think may be related to the family but I for whom I haven’t made the connections just yet, tracking the average number of individuals per family makes sense. Right now my average is 2.93. That number is pretty low, even by today’s standards. Most couples have more than one child. What I expect to happen is that the number will gradually increase until it levels off at some point.
  • % Living Individuals–How is this an indication of database quality? Well, my hypothesis is that many people in my database are marked as living right now who are not. As I fix the information in my database, I will start marking people with the correct designation. I expect the number to decline gradually until I reach an equilibrium. Right now my percentage of living people is 42.6%
  • % of Each Gender–As we know, females were often left out of the official record in earlier times. Even so, we do try to learn everything we can about them. Therefore, tracking the % of the genders is a good way to make sure we’re doing as well as we can. It looks like my database is pretty good on this account. It is 51.5% male, 48.2% female, and 0.3% unknown gender.
  • Marriages/Individual–Most people get married, some of them multiple times. So, it makes sense that there should be somewhere near 0.5 marriages per individual. Granted, a lot of children did live long enough to marry, so the number could be less. At this point, my ratio is 0.320 marriages/individual. It will be interesting to see how it tracks going forward.
  • Citations/Event–At a very minimum, there should be at least one citation for any event entered into the database. Oftentimes, there will be more than one citation per event. Because I’ve started over writing all fresh citations, my number is quite low at 0.204.
  • Individual Events/Individual–Part of finding out about the lives of our ancestors and relatives is learning about significant events in their lives. As such, there will ideally be many individual events for each person. Right now my number if 0.465. There is a ways to go on this.
  • Marriage Events/Marriage–I’m not sure what the optimal value for this metric is, but I suspect it will be much higher than what it currently is, which is 0.008. Marriage events in my software’s reckoning are marriage licenses, divorces, annulments and other such changes to marriages. It doesn’t include the actual marriages themselves.
  • Media Items/Individual–I like to link any images I have of documents or other records to individuals. So, marriage records would be linked to the bride and the groom. Given that each person should have some kind of record that points to when they were born, when they were married, and when they died, there should be at least 3 media items per person. Likely, there will be far more. Since I’m just getting started on my genealogy do over, the number is at 0.004. I expect this one to rise quickly.
  • Potential Problems/Individual–Legacy software has a cool feature where it looks for data that might be incorrect. For example, children who are born before their parents are married are marked as having a potential problem. But, if you verify that the information you have entered is correct, you can more that it is not a problem. So, I expect this ratio to fall over time as I verify more of the data. The value currently resides at 0.380, meaning that over 1/3 of the people in my database have potential problems.

Plan Going Forward

My plan going forward is to post an update monthly on the blog as a way of forcing myself to stay accountable for doing proper genealogy. I’m also hoping that others may see my story and be inspired to embark on their own do overs.