Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lineage Society - Ferguson line

John B. Ferguson - Olive Branch Cemetery

Well, I've finally succumbed! I always looked upon Lineage Societies as a waste of my time. I saw no benefit in it to me as a genealogist. Now I'm going to go through the application process for the main purpose of getting my family published at least in the local Genealogy Society. I have one family line that I can say is one of my more favorite familys to do research on. My Ferguson line from Jefferson County, Indiana was one of my real research ventures and I learned a lot in the process. I also think that going through this application process, compiling my records, and putting together my presentation will be another good learning experience. It will be a good test to see if I have been doing my documentation the way it should be done. I already have most of my records together when I did the research on my Ferguson a few years ago. Now when I start reviewing all my records I'll soon be able to tell if I really am prepared or if I'll have to start over.

The Jefferson County Genealogical Society offers a program called "The First Families Program" for those who want to prove that their ancestors was one of the early settlers to that county. They have three options and the first of which I'm going to try for is 'Frontier Family. I have shared with other Ferguson researchers my research on the Fergusons over the years. I have most of my documentation already collected on the earliest ancestors in that line. Now all I have to do is go back and get together records on my later ones such as my father and his father; something I had neglected to do in my great hurry to see how far back I could go. My line of ascent past my dad goes as such: my grandfather - George Dunn, my greatgrandmother - Rose Etta Ferguson, my gg grandfather - John B. Ferguson, my ggg grandfather - Joel Ferguson.

Joel Ferguson was born abt. 1772 in Virginia, died Sept. 21, 1869 in Jefferson Co., Indiana and is buried in the Demaree Cemetery. He came to Jefferson County via Shelby County, Kentucky abt. 1815. I need to prove that Joel Ferguson was in Jefferson County by 1820 - that will be the thing I need to prove. He is in Switzerland County, Indiana in the 1820 census. All I need to find out is if that part of Switzerland County later became a part of Jefferson County. Joel Ferguson first married in 1815 to Peggy Hannis, a widow of Charles Rogers. Then by 1816 they were supposedly in Switzerland County when their son, James was born. Joel hadn't purchased any land so I don't have a deed to fall back on. Peggy died sometime around 1820-21. On January 6, 1822 Joel Ferguson married a second time to Mary Ann 'Polly' Booth. They had nine children. It was with this second marriage that Joel and Polly got their land grant.

Unfortunately that is too late to use as proof of residence before 1820. The second option that the "First Families Program" offers is the category 'Founding Family' which you only need to prove residency by 1860. at the very least I will try for that one with the intent on going all the way back to 1820. This is going to be a lot of work, but it might be fun! You can check on the program at their website:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Investigating an Incorrect Obituary - George M. Dunn

George Monroe Dunn

An obituary is only as correct as the information that was reported by a third party. If you ever have to write an obituary please don't forget every member of the family even if you don't particularly like the person. What you put in writing will be there for an eternity. With the recent passing of my father an incorrect obituary was printed in one of our local newspapers. The paper did print a correct one a few days later, but that first information that was put out is still in everyone's mind that first read it. It named me and my sister as stepdaughters to our father, when in reality we were both adopted by both our parents. Also, his wife of 50 years was completely omitted. This is especially harmful for genealogists - we need the correct information. Maybe in 20 years or more when we are both gone, someone will find this obituary and wonder "who was his wife?" Then they'll have to go through all the trouble to look for a marriage record. Then they'll see the marriage date and wonder again "how did these girls become stepdaughters to this man?"

This problem also came about a few years ago when I found my great-grandfather's obit.
“January 9, 1933 - Noblesville Daily Courier.
ANOTHER CIVIL WAR VETERAN DIED SUNDAY - George M. Dunn, one of the last civil war veterans of Hamilton county, died Sunday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Mary Hatfield, in Cicero., with whom he had been living for several months, at the age of eighty-seven . . . He served three years in the civil war . . . his death leaves less than thirty-five of these veterans still living in the county . . . The deceased spent most of his early life in the vicinity of Boxleytown. His wife died many years ago. He is survived by the following children: Mrs. Mary Hatfield, Mrs. Maggie Scott Miller both of Cicero, Mrs. Josephine Adair of Riverside, Calif.; Fred Dunn, of Maywood, Calif.; and Charles Dunn, of Indianapolis.”

I had heard stories from family members that George had outlived three wives. So here it was - his obit, great grandpa George had been married before and here were the names of his other children. I know I had the right family from all the other evidence I had collected. I relayed all this information to my father and he said he remembered having an uncle Charles. Dad used to go visit him in the summers when he maintained a vegetable stand at the old Farmer’s Market in Indianapolis. But I don’t know why his family back in Johnson county had been left out of the obituary like they were never a part of George’s life. The obit never named the other wife that he had survived either.

There were clues here, but a lot of work had to be done to fill in all the holes. There were birth records to be found on all the children - whose names were given as their parents? There were marriage records to be collected - maybe they would help fill in some of the gaps? Where were these other people buried, where did they live, did any of them keep in contact with their half brothers and sisters? Then there would be questions that would probably never be answered such as why were all the other children and other wives omitted? This one took a while to investigate, but at least the few clues that it left gave me something to start on. Omissions are the hardest to find and correct. So if you find yourself in a position to create an obituary please make it correct to the best of your ability.