Saturday, June 25, 2016
Something Old for Something New
The dates are set, the tickets bought. We're heading back east to visit family and attend to some research business.
Among the goals for this trip is one to finish old business: identify through solid documentation the link from my husband's two sisters back to John Jay Jackson's father, Patriot Lyman Jackson. I've been working on this process for quite some time, but now that the travel dates are set, the deadline seems to be rushing toward me faster than I'd like.
To insure I'm not retracing steps I've already taken, I've been spending a lot of time sifting through all my files stored on my dinosaur computer. Yes, the old fossil still works, though I try not to boot it up too often. One never knows when that switch will click on for its very last time.
This week, though, I've been putting the thing through its paces. It's amazing how many digital files one can accumulate over the years. Unlike tangible files like the twenty-something-year-old paper folders stored away in boxes, these electronic files can be gone—poof!—with a mere glitch of the operating system. Even though, yes I've got that whole system backed up, that tenuous situation makes me nervous.
Systematically going through each of these folders, I've come upon some references to old websites which I once found useful. Curious to see whether these sites were still in existence, I entered some of the addresses in my new computer. To my surprise, some of them actually came up.
One site, listed as "Geneocity" and appearing to be the work of someone calling himself Rick, included a composite readout of headstones from the old sections of the Saint Joseph's cemetery near Somerset in Perry County. This, of course, is a record of transcriptions which will come in handy for me, once we arrive back in Ohio.
The listing on this website was actually the blending of four separate sets of records. The oldest among them, presumably, was the actual Saint Joseph burial register. That was augmented by the transcriptions by Monsignor Herman E. Mattingly during the late 1970s. An 1986 reading of "stones in a pile"—an ominous indicator—was provided via the Catholic Record Society of the Columbus Diocese. In addition, two other resources were credited: the notes of Donald Schlegel and Rick Jackson (perhaps the same Rick as the one behind the website).
The discouraging thing about records is that old things crumble, get weathered and worn, and eventually cease to reveal the aged secrets we seek. While we may not consider the notes of researchers in the 1970s or 1980s to be from a bygone era, they do preserve what may have since disintegrated in the last thirty five or forty years, leaving us at least that one step ahead. Every little bit helps in this research race against time.
While this website provides only one snapshot of information I need from this region—Perry County in Ohio, childhood home of my mother in law and generations of her ancestors—there are, or at least were, several other such sites scattered throughout the vast universe encompassed by the Internet. These little genealogical gems tucked away hither and yon were likely the impetus for the success of genealogy go-to sites like Cyndi's List, which catalogs their existence and location.
In my Fibber McGee's digital closet, there's no telling where such genealogical delights will come tumbling out. I've been tucking away these genealogy URLs for decades, now. Now that I'm resolved to clean out that old clunker of a computer, though, I'm unpacking and rechecking every single lead I've parked in the Perry County folder in my genealogy file. There are, surprisingly, still some keepers which can yet be used.