Episode 444 - Starting The Year With “Fresh Eyes” / The Ideal Winter Project: Ancestor Photo Albums

podcast episode Jan 09, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys talk about holiday break projects they undertook, and a super remarkable find of Fisher’s that will lead to next week’s show. David then shares a fun formula for determining your “Royal” name. (Perfect for parties!) He then talks about a pair of twin sisters, each adopted out separately, who recently found one another after 36 years and wound up on a TV game show together! Catch the details. Then, a 500-year-old family tree has been discovered in China. David has more. Next, imagine learning that your housekeeper is also your cousin. It has happened, thanks to DNA!

In the first interview of the year, Fisher visits with Kristen Winger from sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists. Kristen recently revisited an old family story with “fresh eyes” and even more experience to uncover a remarkable story of reunion, long before DNA.

Next, old friend of the show Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, comes on. The two talk about how, while it’s difficult to know who will get original photos, it shouldn’t be difficult to share the images themselves. Maureen talks about creating ancestral (even pet!) photo albums, and some of the best places to do it.

David then returns for more of your listener questions on Ask Us Anything.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 444

Fisher: And welcome America to America's Family History show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Root Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Genies, it is so good to be back with you. I cannot even begin to tell you all the stuff that has happened to me since we last met just a few weeks ago. Let's bring in David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, Happy New Year, my friend!

David: Happy New Year to you!

Fisher: We've got some great guests today. We’ve got Kristin Wenger in from Legacy Tree Genealogist. She started fresh on a project that she hadn't looked at in years and made some incredible discoveries. That's the kind of thing that I've done here the last few weeks, and I'll tell you about it in a minute. And Maureen Taylor is here, of course, the photo detective, talking about creating albums and some of the different themes you can do and how easy it is to do, that will be later on in the show. Well, David, it was one of those weird Christmas breaks because we were all set to go on a trip to Southern California, hang out with my newly married son and his beautiful wife. And then my wife got COVID. 

David: Ohh!

Fisher: And so we couldn't go anywhere. We were stuck here. We couldn't see anybody. And, you know, this is like the third miserable year in a row with the pandemic and everything. But it gave me a chance to do a lot of research, which is kind of my default when there's nothing else going on, you know? 

David: Well, you know, when you can't hang with descendants, you might as well hang with the ancestors.

Fisher: That's exactly it, yes! So, I was doing some research on Dutchess County, New York, and some ancestors there, one of my Revolutionary guys I've had some struggles with. And while I didn't resolve the question, I found a lot of new information I had never seen before and a lot of new pieces of evidence on the case I was working on. And in the process, I go over to YouTube. I don't know why. Maybe it just came up in a Google search. I don't remember how I found it, but here were these two guys digging up one of my ancestors in Ulster County, New York, right across the Hudson River from Duchess County, New York. And they are direct descendants of this guy as well. They exhumed him! He's my 7th great grandfather and my 8th great, along with his wife, who's my 7th and 8th great, because they had to find where they were buried and then prove that they had the right people so they could mark the place. I've got these guys as guests on the show next week to talk about the entire project.

David: Oh wow!

Fisher: And it's one of the most remarkable stories for a couple of amateur genealogists that I've ever heard in my entire life. It's crazy. And for those of you listening who have descent from Tjerck Claessen de Witt in Kingston, New York, you might want to pay attention to this one.

David: Wow. That is amazing! What an amazing genealogical gift to the descendants of this gentleman and his family. 

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I mean, wow. One, you've located them. Two, all the DNA, all the science behind it, and then, I mean, what are they going to do? Are they going to reenter them?

Fisher: Yes, they will. And they're going to do the old fashioned Dutch funeral. So we're not going to spoil everything here.

David: Oh, wow!

Fisher: But there's all the evidence to prove that they've got the right guy, and it's just moving forward. And I'm really looking forward to sharing this whole story with everybody next week on Extreme Genes.

David: Well, I want to share with you a holiday game. We're always hearing about Harry and his bride and Charles and his bride and William and his bride. Well, one of the ways we celebrated the holidays in my house was to figure out what your royal name is. So, I'm going to tell you how to do this. So, are you a Lord or a Lady? So you assign that first, your pet's name or the last pet you had. The last thing you ate, add the connecting word of, and then, to wrap it up, the last place you shopped. So for me, I became Lord Patches, Apple of Barnes and Noble.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, let's see, It'd be, Lord Shiloh Walnut Shrimp of Smith's.

David: Oh, well, my goodness. I'll have to get my invitations for the next suarez I have at my house at Barnes and Noble. So anyways, a little fun game to play at any time of the year. Well, you know, I love stories that reunite people and two South Korean born children that were put up for adoption back in 1985 using DNA testing from 23andMe, well, they found each other. Yeah. And that's amazing. But even more amazing, fish, these twins play second on The Amazing Race.

Fisher: Yeah. And they hadn't been together in 36 years.

David: Wow! Starting the New Year off with a lot of wow.

Fisher: Yes. 

David: Here's one. You know, we always hope that Aunt Mary will find the old family bible in the attic or turn over some old genealogical notes. Over in China, a handwritten family tree dating back to the Ming Dynasty, that’s 1368 to 1644, was discovered in North China’s Hebei Province. This was found in a villager’s home and it was last seen probably 500- 600 years ago.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s nuts.

David: And it traces the family back. It’s rare to see such a well preserved family tree. There were like abundant details on geography, the environment, land, and of course the families.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Unbelievable. You know, sometimes you employ people that become like family. Well, how about when you’ve employed somebody and it turns out they actually were family.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This lady in Spokane, Washington realized that Lyndia Danielson who is her current housekeeper is actually related to her.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Through 23andMe again, their DNA test.

Fisher: Yeah, they’re cousins. And they’ve been very close for the last many years and she’s been part of the family for deaths, and marriages, and taking care of the kids, and helping them grow up. And now they found out they’re cousins. How cool is that?

David: That is really cool. Most people you work with can become like family, this case, the people you work for and with actually were family.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s nuts!

David: Well, that’s all I have from Beantown. And if you want to start the year off right, don’t forget American Ancestors would love to have you as a member. Use the coupon code EXTREME on AmericanAncestors.org and save $20 on a membership.

Fisher: All right, great stuff David thank you so much! We will talk to you again in a little bit at the backend of the show for Ask US Anything. And coming up next from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, Kristin Wenger is starting the year off right, starting fresh on a case she hasn’t looked at in some time. You’ll love the story and how she solved it. It’s all coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 444

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kristin Wenger

Fisher: Well, it’s a new year and we’re so excited at Extreme Genes to be hearing all kinds of new stories and learning how they’re discovered. And with that whole thing in mind, I’ve got Kristin Wenger on the line. She’s from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, a researcher there. And Kristin, welcome to Extreme Genes. It’s great to have you.

Kristin: Thanks for having me.

Fisher: I read your blog that you had on the Legacy Tree website about Mamie Hornberger. Tell us the story of Mamie and how this whole thing evolved as you researched it.

Kristin: Sure. Well, Mamie was orphaned. Her mother died when she was four years old, and her father had five children. The oldest was nine, and the youngest were a set of twin boys who were one and a half. So, he really had his hands full. He was not a man of significant means and he needed to keep working so ended up putting them in an orphanage. And so when I found Mamie, she was in the 1910 census. And she was in Lancaster County Children’s Home in Pennsylvania, which sadly they also called The Home for Friendless Children. And that was the last I could find of her under the name Mamie Hornberger. She seemingly disappeared from the records.

Fisher: Ooh.

Kristin: And I found a really cool newspaper article, this was about 20 years later in 1930 where her twin brothers who had been put up for adoption when they were only one and a half, they ended up being adopted in New Jersey but managed, pre internet and pre DNA testing, to find their way back and found their father. 

Fisher: Wow!

Kristin: In Lancaster County when they were 21. And so it’s this great article about their joyful reunion and how excited he was but you know, that was tempered with some sorrow because he was still missing his daughter and he just did not know how to go about finding her. Monroe, her father, didn’t really have the resources to find her. When I took up the case, and I think this is the case for a lot of us as genealogists, you know when we start out we don’t have all of the recourses and tools and skills that we learn later. 

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

Kristin: So it is one of those things that I went back and revisited. And so I encourage everybody to do that.

Fisher: Yes.

Kristin: Because number one, you’ll approach it from a better place, and number two, there may be more records available. We know that Ancestry, Family Search are always digitizing more records, putting them online, but remember that your local archives and those local repositories may also be creating new indexes of some of those records that before there really was no method to access and to know that they had them.

Fisher: Imagine how hard that had to be for the dad to try to figure out where do I go next? I mean, it had been how many years now since he put his daughter up for adoption. He’s got the two boys. He wants this girl to complete the family. He really was in a no-win situation.

Kristin: Yeah. So Monroe had been looking for her for about 20 years. And there were a couple of reasons I came to find that he could not find her. Number 1, her name was changed when she was adopted. Number 2, the family moved to Philadelphia, which was a much larger city, and the father dies. So they were just left with his mother, of course her name was Mary, a very common name.

Fisher: Oh, boy.

Kristin: And she actually ended up having a baby and taking the father’s name so her name changed again,

Fisher: So, you’ve got three name changes, right, over a short period of time really, relatively speaking. Boy, that really makes it tough especially pre internet. 

Kristin: Oh, yeah. And that’s really one of my passions is discovering and telling the stories of people who are more hidden in the records because of either name changes, or they aren’t named at all. So, you know, women, children, African Americans, any of those people they can be much more difficult to find for that very reason.    

Fisher: So, once she moved to Philadelphia, where did this go from there?

Kristin: So, it’s actually a really funny story how they found each other. Mamie moved back towards the Lancaster area as an adult. And she evidently went to a farmer market. And one of the vendors there told her, “You know, there’s a woman that comes here that really just looks a lot like you.” And so this other woman laughed and said, “Okay. Well, let her know I’ll be here on such and such a day and time and we can meet.” And so Mamie showed up and it turned out that they were sisters and this was the oldest daughter. She was nine at the time that they were all split up and Mamie was only four.  

Fisher: Wow!

Kristin: The older sister did have more memories.

Fisher: So, did Mamie have some idea that she was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania?

Kristin: I am not sure that she did. That’s something that isn’t included in the records so we may not know for sure. This story about how they reunited, I actually got from a DNA match. So I was able to test both of my grandparents, my grandfather just passed away this year but it was his DNA that connected me to these DNA matches that were descendants of Mamie’s line.

Fisher: So this was your own family.

Kristin: Oh yes, this was one that was my own family.

Fisher: How cool is that. You think back then, if she has no idea that she was from there, and went there from Philadelphia. It’s kind of a God thing, right?

Kristin: Oh yeah. [Laughs] Some of those moments of serendipity or God arranging things, you never know.

Fisher: So, you’ve now gone through and done this through DNA. Were you looking for Mamie yourself, were you trying to understand the story, what brought you to search this since this was in your family?

Kristin: Right. So, I wanted to find out what happened to her after that 1910 census enumeration in the orphanage. And so the DNA part actually came in a little bit later that I got the story of how they were reunited. The break in the case so to speak came when I went to the Lancaster County Archives. Like I mentioned before, they had recently created some indexes of something called a Trust Book. And I wouldn’t have known as a newer genealogist to look in a Trust Book for an adoption.  

Fisher: Right.

Kristin: But that’s where it was housed and working in different jurisdictions for Legacy Tree, different states and different counties, especially those court records, they are organized differently. They call them all different kinds of things.

Fisher: Yes.

Kristin: But that’s where the adoption case was indexed.

Fisher: Now, where you directed to that book by somebody there?

Kristin: No. So, I was actually able, they have some pretty nice indexes online, so I found an index online, and then I went to the archives in person, although they do offer remote research services for people who aren’t nearby, and I got the Trust Book. And you know, it just had a little paragraph, it’s more like a docket of the court proceedings. 

Fisher: Sure.

Kristin: So I was like okay, well, I know she was adopted, but the key was asking the archivist if there was anything else related to this that is not indexed that they had in their holdings.

Fisher: Good.

Kristin: And he came back with an entire adoption file. I think it was at least five or six pages. And it had sworn statements from the people who adopted her who were named Samuel and Mary King, a sworn statement from Monroe giving permission for the adoption, and even the directors of the home for children where she had been living. And in this document it specifically said that Mamie Hornberger shall assume the name of Cora Mary King. And so that was record of that official name change in this file that is completely un-indexed.  

Fisher: Wow!

Kristin: So that was really the key to being able to trace her from there.

Fisher: Yeah. And there’s a real lesson right there for anybody researching. Not everything is indexed, and not everything is online.

Kristin: Correct.

Fisher: So you have to ask questions. You cannot be shy.

Kristin: Right. And I am naturally a person who doesn’t like to feel like I’m imposing on anyone, but generally speaking, these archivists and librarians are thrilled to have you using their records, and they’re more than willing to help. So yeah, don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kristin: Another example I can give with the county archive is divorce files. This same line of my family has a lot of instances of divorce. My second great grandparents, fourth great grandparents, and I was able to get their entire divorce file and it’s all this testimony from children of the couple, siblings of the couple, and you get such a window into what was actually going on in the home. I have one that’s 1859, and you’re just never going to find that kind of information anywhere else. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kristin: Again, records that are not indexed, they’re not going to pop up as a hint on Ancestry. You need to go to that in person repository.

Fisher: Yeah very true. You know, I remember researching my great grandfather’s divorce from 1874 in New York. But they don’t make those publically available for 100 years in that state. And that’s the case in many other places. So, obviously by the time I got to it, 100 years had passed. But it was, shall we say juicy? Really juicy.

Kristin: [Laughs]

Fisher: There was a lot of details in there that made my eyebrows go up. [Laughs] And a lot of names also that where there. And I’ve actually researched some of the people who gave testimony in there because let’s face it Kristin, usually to get a divorce back in those times somebody had to commit adultery, and that meant there had to be testimony of it and witnesses and statements. There’s all kinds of stuff in there like that. 

Kristin: Um hmm. Definitely worth pursuing. [Laughs]

Fisher: So, what was your grandfather’s reaction, I take it you figured this out before he passed away, he must have known of the story of the reunion of the family, though not the details, he must have been pretty tickled by all this.

Kristin: He was excited. Yeah. One of the best things I did was ask questions of my grandparents and I was fortunate enough to have my paternal grandparents alive once I got interested in genealogy. My maternal grandparents passed away before that and it’s just such a difference in being able to talk about things with him. He was actually living when the 1950 census was released back in April. One of my last visits with him, I took the census record where he was a teenager in his parent’s house and showed it to him and we talked about where he was living, and he had gotten his first job off of the farm working in a watch factory downtown. And we talked about things. It helped him to come out with some tidbits I think that he wouldn’t have come out with otherwise. And it was really neat.

Fisher: Yes. Memory cues. Good stuff. Well, she’s Kristin Wenger. She is a researcher with Legacy Tree Genealogists, our great sponsor. Great stories, great work, and I can hear your enthusiasm Kristin. Keep it up! 

Kristin: All right. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: All right and coming up next, our old friend the photo detective Maureen Taylor as we talk about the great ideal winter projects, creating photo albums, all kinds of things within your family. It’s all coming up next when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes. 

Segment 3 Episode 444

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Maureen Taylor

Fisher: Hey, it’s our New Year’s Show for 2023! It is great to have everybody back. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and I’m so thrilled to have my good friend Maureen Taylor here to start off the New Year. And Maureen of course is the photo detective. Maureen what have you been up to lately?

Maureen: Hey, Happy New Year, Scott!

Fisher: Thank you Maureen. You too!

Maureen: Yeah, what have I been up to? I'm working on a live version of my essential photo organizing course.

Fisher: Okay, nice!

Maureen: So, people can sign up for that and actually I'll be alive. You know you sign up for a-class and then you never get to it. This is the live one that you have to show up and then you can ask all your questions.

Fisher: There you go, you know this is an interesting conversation too, and this is when we've had for years you and I and many other people too. It's like, what do you do with the originals as you get later on in your life? You know you want to make sure your collection goes to somebody who's going to take care of it and all that, and I had a little epiphany here recently that there's a major difference between preserving the originals and making sure the images are out there. There's a difference between just the images and the originals, because the originals can really only be held by one person right and oftentimes they're going to wind up in a closet, in a drawer or some place and they're the only ones who can enjoy the originals. But, if we take those and we create images of them and hopefully sharpen them, maybe even colorize some of them, we can make some remarkable books and even add some commentary to it about who these people are and the stories behind the picture and the period in which it was taken, that type of thing and then share that with everybody. In essence, make an entire photo album for everyone that's either digital or physical, but certainly much smaller than one of those great big, clunky albums that have all the originals in it.

Maureen: Right, so there are two thoughts on that. There are two camps. There are people who don't want to share their photographs online.

Fisher: Really?

Maureen: Yeah, there are people who do not want to put them online because people will lift them and then put them in other places and put the wrong ID and all that kind of stuff, and I'm telling you it happens, I’m the Photo Detective, I see it all the time.

Fisher: Right.

Maureen: And then there's the other side of the coin where people are like. I want to put them out there as much as possible and you can certainly do that on all those family tree sites right, and I actually think it's a good idea to put some of those images out there if you don’t want to put all of them, but some of them, put a watermark on them. So everybody knows it's yours and how they can contact you. But when you do that I tell clients, like this morning I met with someone who has a group picture, and I said here's the thing, the people in this photograph, you have a copy of this or the original. It is possible multiple copies were made and that there were other photographs than given to those descendants of the people in the photograph.

Fisher: Sure.

Maureen: You really need to reach out and contact those people and see what happens, because they may have the missing photograph that you've been looking for.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right. You know, that really is the ticket, and I've found over the years that if you have something to offer somebody without asking for anything, it engages the dialogue that opens up the possibility that they may have something they may want to share back with you.

Maureen: Right and then what you can do is make a photobook.

Fisher: Yeah.

Maureen: I had a friend who made a photobook for every year when her son was growing up, so I think he's 20, so she has 20 volumes of his life.

Fisher: That is outstanding and I bet he loves that. If he doesn't yet he's going to some day.

Maureen: He will someday, and you know you have to curate the collection. What are the photographs that are the most important to tell that story. But as genealogists we have many stories that we can tell.

Fisher: Yes.

Maureen: We can tell the immigrant story. We can mix that photograph in with images we might find in the library of Congress to fill-in where they might have lived, what they did. We have census records. We have newspapers. You can put all of that in a book and you can do one for every ancestor. Some people do. You can do them for a group of time, like they were all living in this location. Or this is the vacation everybody went on together. I just did one for my poor dear little puppy, which I'm going to give to my daughter because she was originally her dog and he really can think of it in terms of how to tell the story. And how do you do this? It's so easy. There are websites, like I use Snapfish or the one I created.

Fisher: Yes.

Maureen: Super simple. It gives you temples. There are ways to add text. You can add extra pages if you want. It does a hard cover with a name on the spine.

Fisher: Yeah!

Maureen: So you can just put it on your bookshelf. You can use something like Shutterfly same concept. You can do individual photographs if you want, or you can do a whole album. You can do this for the brides in the family.

Fisher: Yeah, that's a great way to go.

Maureen: You can do all kinds of things with it.

Fisher: Yeah, I just finished doing like five of these. I did all of our photos from the 19th century on every branch of the family, so I was able to do 50 years worth of photos and it turned out to be a 178 pictures, all in one book, and I just threw them on to Word and I could make them bigger, smaller, do a little layout and type up what I wanted to type on it. Than I did the first twenty years of the 20th century. Then I did the twenties and the thirties and I just finished the forties a couple of nights ago and I'm going to take it up.

Maureen: That’s great.

Fisher: Yeah, it's terrific and what's fun is all the images are preserved for all the kids and the grandkids, so they all have them. And no matter what ultimately happens with the originals, and that's going to resolve itself in time, at least the images are out there, the important ones for all these people to have in the future, along with the stories. The other thing is too. This can kind of be a nice little brief substitute for more detailed histories, because some people just don't like to read that much detail, but they love going through the pictures, especially if they can see a one or two-line story about who the person is and what's the situation there right.

Maureen: Right, so here's the thing. Your photographs are amazing. They have storytelling potential.

Fisher: Right.

Maureen: But, as you mentioned, not everyone wants to sit-down and read about the pictures, but they love looking at the photograph. So these books are an option. For my mom, I made mixed tiles and they are all over the walls of her little apartment.

Fisher: Very nice!

Maureen: And she says that she doesn't have to get lonely because she's surrounded by family.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Maureen: Which are all the pictures on the wall, and so she can look at them and reminisce. You could do a digital photo frame. We have one of those in our living room. It shows all of our travels in 2020, which is when we went from town to town in our little state because we were allowed to leave and we took all these amazing photographs and they're in the frame and we can sit in the living room and say, oh, I remember when we went there. I remember when we went there. My Heritage app, you can do storytelling on that. You can do actual capturing of the audio on My Heritage and File Shadow. You can do a digital album through your digital photo organizer, like Memory Web. I mean so much potential. It's hard to know where to stop Scott. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] No, I'm totally with you on that. I've thought about it. I thought, am I crazy? Am I just over the top with this stuff? But I did a little book of my uncle's stories last summer and just a soft cover and it's only like 60 pages long, but it sits on our coffee table and I pick it up now and then and read-through it because he was the great story teller in our family of great story tellers and I thought, boy, if these photo albums were about this size, it's so easy to just flip through them and I've really fallen in love with colorization, because the colorization shows you things that you don't see in pictures until you do it. The other thing is, it also makes them more real in many cases. So I've colorized a lot of these and shared them in that way.

Maureen: As long as the caveat is, the colorization is good, it is not perfect.

Fisher: Yeah, that's exactly right.

Maureen: I'm glad we have the tools and I'm glad the tools are so easy for anyone to use.

Fisher: Yeah really.

Maureen: You know My Heritage tools, the Vivid-Pix tools. You don't have to spend months, if not years, learning a very sophisticated program. It does it for you. It's a mouse click and you've got an improvement.

Fisher: That's it.

Maureen: It's a perfect winter project.

Fisher: Yeah, it absolutely is. Happy New Year to you, my friend! It has been great to talk to you and have you on for our first show of the New Year and I look forward to catching up with you later this year and see what you've been up to.

Maureen: Thank you.

Fisher: She's Maureen Taylor, the photo detective. Go to MaureenTaylor.com. David Allen Lambert rejoins me in minutes as we go through another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 444

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, David Allen Lambert is back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, in Boston. And Dave, this comes from Maurice in Butler County, Ohio and he says, "Guys, I found in a name search my ancestors listed in something called the proprietorship records. What are they and what might they tell me?" That's a good question, Dave.

David: Oooh, that's a set of records that a lot of people don't know about, because I know I'm always telling people about them. So, let's tell some more people about them.

Fisher: Sure, yeah.

David: When you think about researching your ancestors and you're looking for land records, you know, you're thinking more, if they lived in a city, you're going to look for city directories, because they probably rented. If you live out in the farming area, they may have gotten a land grant or they may have purchased a property, so you go to the registry of deeds. Some of them are on town levels, like they are in Connecticut. Some of them are in county levels, like they are here in Massachusetts. But even earlier, proprietorship groups were set up usually by the governor or the governor’s council. For example, here in Massachusetts where a plot of land that was not sold would be governed by a small group of proprietors. Now, these proprietors didn't own all of the land as a whole. They were sort of like overseers of the land, if you will. What they would then do, Fish is that people would make application to get a proprietorship lot to settle out there. And there would common land, like the Boston Common, you would graze your animals and you could have your horses, your pigs, whatever.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Out there that way, you know, your lot may have not had animals on it. And it might be in town lot, it could be a wood lot, but proprietorship lots were set up in a very systematic way. They were usually mapped and the town proprietorship records are not usually with the registry of deeds. So, their own separate records usually still preserved in the town level. Some town assessor’s offices have the records still, dating back to the 17th century.

Fisher: Crazy!

David: But there were usually fallen out of common use by the mid 19th century, because all the proprietorship land was already divided. I mean, take one of your ancestors, Fish, like the one we were talking about from New York. You have a 500 acre parcel of land in, say, 1710. By 1850, chances are it’s been divided up plenty different ways.

Fisher: Yeah, that makes sense.

David: These proprietorship records usually became unused and become antiquated, so where did they go? Historical societies get them, registry of deeds get them, they don't know what to do with them, so they usually put them in miscellaneous records and they get lost occasionally. But Family Search luckily has gone through and sort these out. So, if you're looking for proprietorship records, you want to look under the town itself. And in fact, some of them have been published, so you can find the list of the people, the lot number that they owned, the acreage, how much they paid and then the different taxes, sometimes there's even maps, which are great, especially when you're trying to figure out where your ancestors' house was or maybe where your ancestors were buried on their farm.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, you know, that's pretty interesting. I don't know that I'm real familiar with those. Do those extend out away from the coast in New England and the East?

David: They are usually found in the 13 colonies.

Fisher: Okay.

David: And then again, it’s going to vary. It’s heavily used in New England.

Fisher: Okay.

David: But these ideas of proprietors selling off these parcels of land, most of them started latter part of the 17th into the 18th century when more land is being pushed west, like for instance in Massachusetts. You may look for your ancestor's earliest arrival, Fish in the colonies and you're looking for that deed. You find the deed of him selling the property, but you never find him buying it, because it’s in the proprietorship records, not in the land records.

Fisher: All right, wow! Good stuff and great answer, David. Thank you so much. We've got another question coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 444

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go, final segment this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert over there. And Dave, question number two this week is from Adrian in Omaha, Nebraska and Adrian writes, "Happy New Years, guys! Over the holidays, I interviewed my 96 year old aunt and she told me some great stories and some things I definitely didn't know. Where do I go from here?" Boy, talk about a wide open question, Dave! And I guess we have to start with the idea, did she record it on audio? Did she get video of this interview or was it notes? Because those certainly can affect what your next step might be.

David: Well, that's very true. And you know, one of the things with video is, obviously you get the image, you get the expression, the hand gestures, etc, but you also get the audio. Now, if you get the audio, you're not getting all the other with the video. Both of those can be transcribed. There are apps out there that can listen and just transcribe what people are saying. If you go through your notes when you've written them all down, you're probably going to want to go back and then video or audio record her anyways, because you're going to have lost something on the translation or you may not be certain you got it right. So, why not do it again?

Fisher: Yeah, that's a thought. That's one way you could go. The other thing is, and having done many of these over many, many years, when you do these interviews, inevitably when they tell you these stories, suddenly something from those stories can be researched. For instance, a newspaper story, right or track down other people that might have been involved in it. Remember, many years ago on Extreme Genes, Dave, we talked about how my mother stowed away on a ship in 1948 and I was writing her account of that and thought, “Ahh, it’s too bad there's nobody left that I could talk to about that.” And I wound up tracking two of the people she stowed away with and they told us the whole thing on Extreme Genes! So, it was a great find and a lot of fun to get another perspective on the same story from people who were there, because my mom had been gone for several years at that point. And that's the kind of thing that you can do with this. But the best part of your situation is, Adrian, you have that person still there. So, if you need clarity on a story or more detail, just go over to their place if they're not too far, and like you say, Dave, re interview.

David: You know, one of the things that a lot of people have learnt since COVID started is, Zoom.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: You know, send a Zoom invite. A lot of seniors or relatives are going to have used Zoom or maybe something similar or they may have a family member that knows it. Set up a Zoom and hit record. You get the mp3 and the mp4 automatically saved and it’s a great way of capturing stories, or better yet, just interview yourself. I bet one of the greatest things about interviewing people, sometimes we're the ones that have all the information as a genealogist. Sit down and interview yourself some time during this winter.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And be surprised what things you will unload just by talking about a relative. Our stories are just as important as our ancestors and sometimes we're the only ones that keep those stories alive.

Fisher: And we can tell the ancestors' stories that way, too. We can do our own stories or dad's or mom's or grandma or grandpa or great, great grandparents whatever we've discovered, and you know, as the family historians, I think people look to us for these things. And when we're gone, it’s great to leave these behind so that they can continue to enjoy them. So, thank you very much for the question, Adrian. David, thank you so much for your contributions again this week and we will talk to you again next week.

David: Until then, my friend.

Fisher: And thanks once again to Kristin Wenger from our sponsors at Legacy Tree Genealogists for coming on and talking about her fresh look at an old project and how it resulted, and to Maureen Taylor of course, the photo detective, talking about creating photo albums in the winter. Great winter project. Of course, next week I'm going to be talking to those two descendants of one of my ancestors, actually several of them. They have exhumed these people from a church yard in Duchess County, New York. You're going to want to hear the entire story. Make sure you do not miss it on Extreme Genes. Thanks for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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