Thursday, July 24, 2008

Progress -- part one

One of the reasons I started this blog was to record my progress in genealogical research. That includes recording something about both the process and the findings.

Taking a step back, I was bitten by the genealogical bug about 25 years ago -- when Liz and I first began using this cottage we found it contained a wealth of family history kept by my great aunt Esther Mead. Some of it she got from her mother, my great grandmother Grace Goodrich, who was a member of the DAR.

I also had the model of Liz's mother Margery, who had published two books on her own ancestry -- one on her father's family and one on her mother's. Margery's books tell the stories both of her research and of the families she was tracing. Her results are presented in her own way and do not follow a usual genealogical pattern. In fact, they are more readable than many genealogical books.

As a result of the find in this cottage, most of my work has been on the family of my maternal grandmother, born Ruth Goodrich. I also have some material on the ancestry of my maternal grandfather, Victor Brink -- most of that is second hand.

My father's family presented more problems. Here is what I knew in the early 1980's when I started trying to record genealogy information.
I was always told that my grandfather, Sidney Allen Mellen, was a descendant of Ethan Allen, the Green Mountain Boy. My grandmother certainly belived that, and that is why my father was named Ethan Allen Mellen. I am named after my father.
I knew that my grandfather was raised by his grandmother because his mother had died. I also think I knew then that there had been some kind of a rift between my grandfather and his father. I did not know his father's name, and I thought his mother had been an Allen.
My grandmother, born Jessie Mae Green, had been married very young and had a son, Glenn, from her first marriage, who later took the name Mellen. I knew that my father had been born in Wisconsin, and that he had two younger sisters, Edith and Joyce. I knew one of my grandmother's brothers, my fathers Uncle Oscar Green. I also knew that before the family moved to Binghamton when my father was twelve, he had lived in both Sullivan, Indiana and Dayton, Ohio.

My grandmother lived the last years of her life in my parents' house, but also spent time with my Aunt Edith in Maryland and in Florida both with my Aunt Joyce and visiting her brothers' families. (At that time, I wasn't clear about how many brothers she had.) Her papers and pictures were in my parents' house when she died in 1975, but I didn't get to see them until much later -- some not until Liz and I cleaned out the house last summer.
Sometime not long after my father died in the summer of 1981, I found a note in my handwriting that says:
Gt Gt GM Mary Elizabeth Allen
b Milford Connecticut
m Peter Mellen
b Isle of Man
lived in St. Louis.
I have no recollection of writing this, and I don't know when I wrote it or where the information comes from. However, it was a starting point for my Mellen research.

For my grandmother's family, I was fortunate to find a locket sized picture of her father:
Wrapped around the picture is this note, in my grandmother's handwriting:
This is James Green (son of Ira & Pamela Green,) my father. He died in May 1898 at age about 35 years in Columbus, Ohio. -- Jessie Mae Green Mellen. His brother Will, and wife, Amanda, raised me. He had three other brothers, John and Lew and Leonard. Our family ran to boys - I had no sisters - just four brothers Ira, born the day Papa was buried, Jim, Oscar & Charles who died in infancy - Ira was renamed Charles in his memory.
I found a few other genealogically significant things early on, but the picture remained sketchy until recently. The online resources, particularly the census, at have been invaluable to me as I try to make sense of some of the notes I have.

So let's begin with the note wrapped around my great grandfather James Green's picture. The not does not give the name of my great grandmother, but among my grandmother Jessie's papers is a copy of a the record of her marriage in 1913 to Alpheus Bowman. She gave her mother's maiden name as Viola Joyner. So I looked up Viola Green, in Columbus,Ohio, in the 1900 census.

Sure enough, there she is, living at 80 1/2 West Capital Street in Columbus, with four children. She was 24 years old, born April 1875 in Iowa. Her father was born in Scotland and her mother in Ohio. She was a laundress. The four children were all born in Ohio , as were their father and, strangely, their mother. There children are James, age 9, born February 1890, Oscar, age 8, born December 1892, Jessie, age 4, born March 1896, and Ira, age 2, born May, 1898.

So far so good -- there are a couple of anomalies. Ancestry's index shows James as 19, rather than 9, and the image appears to show that the 9 was written over an earlier 10. If he was born in February 1890, then he truly was 10 and not 9. It's odd that Viola' birthplace is reposrted as Iowa, but that of her children's mother as Ohio. There's more looking to be done.

Andt what about Uncle Will Green and Aunt Amanda raising Jessie? Well, there is a report card from 1908-1909 for Jessie signed by W R Green. The school is in Columbus.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 18, 2008


When I was in New York earlier this week, I almost finished my preliminary analysis of my data. My goal was to updated the "Related by" flags for both me and Jane. I've got the main values correct -- the flags for potential connections are still a little off. There are also some disconnected people to deal with.

But I have put that off for the moment.

My principal focus right now is on my father's family -- the weakest part of my genealogy and the one that ties in to our upcoming trip to St. Louis.

I am using Ancestry for research right now. I began an online tree with myself, then added my parents. Ancestry does a really good job of initiating searches and finding potential matches based on the data I've entered.

One thing it sometimes misses, though, is matches to misspelled names in the census. In the 1930 census my grandfather's name was misspelled -- I found the entry myself a while back by scanning the entire census for the locality in which they lived -- so now I know that I need to enter possible variant spellings by hand.

As with many of my activities, I have to work hard to stay focused. One of my goals is to organize the pieces of paper I have accumulated in doing a bit of research in fits and starts over the years -- so it is really important not to accumulate too much more as I go along.

I'll see how it goes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Well, like it or not, I found at least two bugs in the program, so I guess I'll have to become somewhat active as a tester. One I'm not sure how to replicate.

TMG is so robust that the bugs I found are only nuisances, but still ....

Now back to genealogy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


This a relaunch of what was previously a TMG blog. I still use TMG (The Master Genealogist) as my genealogy program and, in fact, I am turning to active work on my genealogy data after a hiatus of at least four years.

For several years I was an active beta tester for TMG, but I haven't done any significant testing since at least 2003. Now that I am going back to really using the program, I may find myself moved to begin testing again when the next beta release comes out. As of right now, I am using TMG 7.03, which was released within the past two weeks. If a beta comes out, you won't read it here!

My TMG project is named "Real Data for Research" -- the odd name is because I used to have a copy of the real data for beta testing. I have one data set, named "current."
I have 15,649 people in my data -- most of them very poorly researched. 1,849 are putativly my ancestors -- the rest are mostly aunts and uncles, cousins, and in-laws of varying degrees.

Since I have not looked at this data in depth for several years, the first thing I am going to do is analyze it.

More to come