Friday, January 1, 2010

A Checkered Past, A Better Future

This is written for the 87th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

I have a checkered past with New Year's Resolutions and by checkered I mostly mean unsuccessful. I always think of something I'd like to commit to during the new year and then my busiest work season of the year begins and lasts until April. By the time that slows down, I've long since forgotten my commitments made on January 1!

Therefore, I have been carefully examining what I can resolve to do in 2010 that is actually attainable. I have decided to list some 2010 resolutions as well as some resolutions for the new decade. Hopefully ten years from now I can look back at what I wanted to do in the upcoming decade and feel that I've attained those goals and then some.

For 2010, I resolve to do the following:

1. Continue to improve the sourcing in my database. During 2009, I combined four trees (one for each of my grandparents) into one new database using RootsMagic 4. I have been very slowly working my way through proper source citations for the many census, birth, marriage and death facts, among others, that I have in my tree of over 1,900 people. This is a massive undertaking but one I am very committed to keeping.

2. Complete and submit an application for the Illinois Prairie Pioneer Certificate for my Harmon lineage. My ancestors, Walter and Azubah (Hyde) Harmon, came to Whiteside Co, Illinois in the 1840s, along with three of their adult children and families. Based upon the time frame of their settlement, I am eligible for the middle level for settlers that came between 1819 to 1850.

3. Help my mother and grandmother sort the boxes of old photos, get them into an archival safe albums, label the individuals, location and approximate era. I have been asking for this for several years to no avail. This is a project that would have to be done over several months time, on a once-a-week basis. It would allow time to assemble the photos and for my grandmother to remember who the individuals are in each one.

4. To continue with my "mini bio" blog posts on each of my ancestors in my ahnentafel report. I have been doing this on my paternal grandfather's line by writing about each married couple, listing their children, subsequent spouses, and other known information. I know this is worth doing because I've had three people contact me within the last six weeks due to those posts.

5. To write in a daily journal so that my descendants will have something about me and my daily life in my own handwriting. I found a simple 8.5 x 11 inch day planner-type calendar that has a week spread over two pages. There are about 3 inches available per day with the weekend combined. I intend to write a few sentences daily (or at least I hope daily) about what is happening in our lives including things that my children are doing, saying, playing with or learning. I already have it on my nightstand with a pen so that when I set my alarm clock, I will be reminded to make some notes about the day.

For the upcoming decade, I resolve to do the following:

1. Make a trip to Mitchell Co, North Carolina. This is the birthplace of my paternal grandfather, Lee McNeill, and several generations of his family. I could probably spend a month there and never answer all my family history questions, but I do intend to give it a go. This may be a trip that could be in the works for 2010, but that hasn't been determined yet.

2. To continue to work on determining the ancestry of Hector McNeill, my fourth great-grandfather. I have previously described some of that research here and here.

3. To pursue membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. I have a couple of options that I described here.

4. To make a trip to Boston to visit the New England Historic and Genealogical Society. I think this goal is very attainable but costly. My husband has some dear friends that live in the Boston area and we'd love to visit with them. The bigger problem is what to do with my husband and children while I spend a day or two at the NEHGS library!

5. To really dig into my husband's maternal line, which includes some Polish research that I find rather intimidating. Also related to these lines, I need to correspond with a couple of cousins to have them document what family history they know. I hope to accomplish this portion in 2010.

6. To continuing transcribing the 200 or so pages of the Civil War pension file of Archibald H. McNeill. I have gone through the first 15 to 20 or so, but the handwriting on some of the pages is so atrocious, not to mention the spelling. My ancestor suffered from "new money" fever. It took me a while to determine he had pneumonia fever and not perhaps a desire to go to the gold fields of California!

I think these goals are realistic but also challenging. I have such a busy life that it will take a while for me to accomplish what I want, but I really intend to be diligent about these. Wish me luck!


  1. Making goals for the decade even! Very lofty, that. I hope you goals for 2010 and for this decade will work ou.

  2. Your resolution regarding a daily journal is wonderful. I hope you achieve all your goals, but most of all I hope your children and grandchildren appreciate the effort you put into writing a journal, and enjoy a glimpse of your daily life.

  3. Thanks for the comments and well wishes. 11 days into the new year and I'm still keeping up with my journal, am working on the Illinois Prairie Pioneer Certificate and I've continued sourcing my 1860 census in my database.