11 May 2012

Friday Funny - You're Supposed to USE What You Learn at #NGS2012?

OK, so it's Friday and I've tried my best to keep everyone posted on what I'm doing at the same time I'm trying to absorb as much of the information as I can while I'm here in Cincinnati. Lots of the people who've been to NGS before warned me that it can be mentally overwhelming, so I tried to plan plenty of time to  take breaks if I needed to. And believe me, I have.

Wednesday started with three terrific sessions and an evening that almost ended in disaster when we had to wait an hour and a half to get food in the Hyatt's bar called Champs. We arrived at 6:30, and by 7:30 we hadn't gotten the food we'd ordered. When a table full of our friends who arrived after us got their food, well, we were rightfully upset. The poor bartendress was doing her best, but we were all surprised that a facility that size would be so poorly staffed. They ended up comping the dinner, which we all felt was the right thing to do on their part. The food was admittedly very good, but sadly the excruciatingly bad service mitigated that. Consider it an FYI for when you're in Cincinnati. 

Thursday morning arrived and we decided to forgo the early sessions. My first session was by Jana Sloan Broglin titled "Ohio: The Great Land Experiment." She explained the manner in which the land in Ohio had been broken up into a variety of chunks and either granted or sold off. I found this presentation interesting mainly because I have Ohio settlers, and in my notes I underlined one of the groups of land she'd mentioned: The Symmes Purchase. This was land purchased by agents of John Cleve Symmes and took up parts of Hamilton, Warren, and Butler counties. I also noted (with an asterisk, I might add) that I should check which tract the Burrows, my Revolutionary War Patriot family, had settle in and work back to find out how they acquired it. 

We ran out for lunch and I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Amy Crow and Marcy of @Ghyxion fame. I'd love to have the chance to spend more time with both of them. 
Linda McCauley, Susan Clark, Becky Wiseman, Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana
Amy Crow, Marcy (@Ghyxion), Tina Lyons
Photo courtesy Linda McCauley 2012
But, sessions called, and off we went...

I attended the session "Navigating the NARA Branches" by Julie Miller. I blush when I admit that yes, I'm an Archivist and yes, I know Doug Bicknese the Director at the Great Lakes NARA location and yes, I've never been in a NARA branch. I was very glad that I sat in on this session if for no other reason than I learned that you can reserve a microfilm machine on-line for the Great Lakes location, and they recommend that you do that. So, when I go, I'll be more prepared. I love that!

And then, I hit the big time. I went to my first Tom Jones presentation, entitled "Inferential Genealogy: Deducing Ancestors Identities Indirectly." I understand why everyone suggested that I had to hear him speak. From start to finish, he filled the hour with ways in which we can use the power of inference to move us toward a conclusion. The best moment? He said this, "Eleanor's not a biblical name. I know. I googled the Bible." The room erupted in laughter.

Last but not least was the "Assumptions: A Genealogical Slippery Slope" by Claire Bettag. As I was sitting waiting for the session to start, I realized the irony of the fact I'd just been listening to someone telling me how I can infer information to move my research forward, and now I was getting ready to listen to someone else tell me not to make assumptions. However, in the end, what she explained is that we need to be aware of the different types of assumptions that can be made, and provided some tools to avoid those assumptions.

After the sessions, we made a beeline for Moerlein Lager House. It's fairly new, and if you're in Cincinnati, I strongly recommend it. If you're looking for a quiet place to eat though, this in not the place for you. It's fairly noisy. We ate upstairs out on the patio; the weather was gorgeous, the food was fabulous, and the beer recommended by our waiter was excellent. We left 'early' because we knew we were going to have to get up very, very early in the morning to make it back down for 8 a.m. sessions.

I can say that starting the morning off with Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Okay, I 'Got the Neighbors': Now What Do I Do with Them?!" will probably be a highlight of the week. Her concept of the FAN club is easy to remember and more importantly an essential tool for those of us who are working to build sound histories of our ancestors. 

Here's where things got a little interesting. There wasn't a session that I was 'dying' to see, and I really wanted the opportunity to go through the exhibit hall. I made the rounds, and at the prior urging of Kathy Reed and Liz Stratton, I headed over to the Hamilton County Genealogical Society booth to become a member. It was a bit crowded, so I started to browse the books. I picked up a copy of a Deeds Index book and started to page through...

BAM!!! Wait, what?! Big as you please, there's this entry: BURROWS, Stephen. At the end of the entry it says, Elizabethtown, NJ. That's MY Stephen Burrows! In a deeds index in Hamilton County in 1815! Liz Stratton was standing at the booth and suggested that I go to the Cincinnati History Library & Archives because they have the Deeds on microfilm. I bought the book, got my membership and headed to the next session with my brain spinning.

I got to the room where the next session was and decided that I was going to forgo the later afternoon sessions and head over to the History Library & Archives. The session I sat in on was Tom Jones, "Documentation: The What, Why, and Where." In all seriousness, this was a mini-session on source citations. He made some extremely relevant points, the best of which is that our documentation is communication and that if we don't properly document we're not properly communicating with our audience. Definitely food for thought. 

We grabbed a quick but extremely delicious lunch at the Hilton: pasta buffet! They kindly provided a 15% discount for Conference attendees, so it was even better. But my mind was on that deed.

So, I got to the Cincinnati History Library & Archives, which is in an incredible Art Deco building. I first asked if they would pull the accession from a donation that my 2nd cousin Robert Wersel had made in 1990. I was able to see some, but not all of the assession. I then went into the room where they store the microfilm, and pulled the appropriate rolls. Right there, big as you please on the pages indicated in the index, was my Stephen Burrows Deed. I'd let you guess where the land was, but I couldn't believe it myself. He paid $1547 for 357 acres of SYMMES PURCHASE. How cool is that? If I'd seen this document only a few days before now, that information wouldn't have meant anything to me. But,  because I'd sat in Ms. Broglin's Session on Thursday morning, I knew that the Symmes Purchase was made in 1787, and the first settlers followed in 1788. I also know from the deed that is dated in 1815 that I can infer that Stephen Burrows decided to move because his father passed away in early 1815, and not being the oldest son, he would have been free to do as he chose fit. I pulled not only the deeds on the pages given, but also several pages before and after (I would've pulled more, but I didn't have the time) so that I can look at who else bought land at the same time. I will pull additional records for who purchased the land around them to help me create a broader picture with the Burrows FANs. 

What a phenomenal week this has been. And it's not over yet. There are sessions tomorrow to enjoy, and then I'm going back to my cousin Mary's to finish working with the documents my cousin Nancy was kind enough to loan me so I can do some conservation work on them to stabilize them a bit more and get some clearer scans of them (one is dated 1850). I'll stay Sunday night, then head over to Bloomington, Indiana to visit Mary's uncle Steve, the twin brother of her mom, Nancy. Yes, his name is Stephen. Did I mention Stephen Burrows had a sister Nancy? 

I love genealogy.


  1. Laura,

    What a wonderful post. It made my afternoon. Love that you found Stephen Burrows Deed. I bet you were jumping up and down with joy! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. It was fun reading your post. Enjoy the rest of the NGS2012. Regards, Terri Costa Fraser

    1. Thank you Teresa. If I wasn't so tired, I would be dancing...LOL. This really has been an incredible experience, and I'm very happy that you're enjoying my posts. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Aren't National conferences a blast? I can tell you're having a wonderful time! And, after you get home and have nothing else to do, you can watch the second life webinar that Tom Jones did on inferential genealogy! I'll send you the link when you're ready. You're doing great, keep going!

    1. A blast is an understatement, though it would've been even better if you'd been here! ROFL...I'm pretty sure I'm booked for the next year at this point, but I think I'll make room for Mr. Jones. Wow, just wow. And thanks, Leslie...thank you so very much.

  3. Wow! Laura, you've had some fabulous exciting and informative times - food, people, and sessions! Amazing - and the genealogy serendipity - love it. I'm excited, just reading about your time at NGS2012. Thanks for blogging your experiences.

    1. Celia, I appreciate that you took the time to read it and comment...it's why I do it. And this really has been a rewarding experience.

  4. Laura,
    I really enjoyed this post -- and thanks for the mention. It's now 11:10 and I've got to turn off this computer. See you tomorrow.

  5. Does it get any better??? A great conference and a great find!!


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