A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 23-31 January 1865

Jens Dahle and James Eberhart are both prisoners in Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina. James writes in his diary:

Prison Trench Burial“Jany 23-31-

We have Missed our Ration one day.  This week 200 has died this week. There wont be many of us left.”  — James Eberhart1

The bodies were collected daily and taken to the “dead house” to be counted and loaded onto a one-horse wagon. At 2:00 PM each day this wagon of the dead would be taken about ¼ mile to an abandoned cornfield where the men were buried. Eighteen trenches of approximately 240 feet each were eventually needed. These trenches are visible today.2

See photo at above.3  Prisoner labor was used to bury the (eventually) 3200 bodies who died from early November to February 1865.

James is now only writing once every three to five days and has reduced the amount of words in each entry to two to three lines.  Usually there is a note about the weather, whether they received rations and the body count.  The number dying per day is mounting.

It is a dark time.  No relief in sight.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  I have attended SLIG in SLC and the PMC conference.  Since I am writing this before the conference, I am sure I have blogged about the experience or will soon.

1 James W. Eberhart, Diary, 1864-1865.
2 “Salisbury, NC”, Civil War Album (http://civilwaralbum.com : accessed 1 January 2015).


Post-SLIG Observations

I am back from Salt Lake City and have some observations about the experience.

I enjoyed the experience of my class, the Advanced Practicum, organized by Angela McGhie and Kimberly Powell.   Advanced Practicum is one of several classes offered for one week at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG).

Each afternoon a new problem is presented by an advanced genealogist.  Class members work on the problem until the next afternoon at which time they submit a short explanation of the solution.  We then attend the class, hear a presentation by the advanced genealogist about the problem while sharing out findings and solutions.  Since there are usually multiple research questions, rarely does anyone “get it all right.” The goal is to learn new tools, new locales, gain exposure to new records sets and improve one’s analytical skills.  The problems varied but address some common genealogical problems:

  1. identifying multiple generations of women in the south (North Carolina)
  2. sorting out multiple families when the heads of household have the same name (Poland)
  3. identifying slave ownership (South Carolina)
  4. identifying the father who abandoned his family and then had multiple marriages. (Pennsylvania)
  5. identifying 3 generations of maternal line of an immigrant family in the Midwest (Iowa, Germany)

I did the best with the last problem using some interesting tools to work out options.  Of course, it was in a locale where I am very familiar.  I did the worst with the finding the father in Pennsylvania where I just replaced one family story with another…humbling.

But with each of the problems I learned something.

In a previous post, I noted that I wanted to research more efficiently and to develop a research plan for each problem.  I was definitely more efficient working the problems but still  lost focus on occasions.  I did develop a research plan for every problem but in almost every case I needed to revisit the  plan and revise at the midpoint or when I lost focus.

Problem #1:  I learned I needed to write as I go.  The writing of the summary of findings was crammed in at the end of this day.  If I wrote as I researched the writing would be almost completed at the end of the day with just some general editing.  I also needed to rework/revisit my research plan about every 3 hours or so.  The given information by the advanced genealogist usually makes the answers to the first research question fairly obvious.  As one proceeds with the problem and loses focus, rebuilding the research plan might be reasonable to do. Subsequent days I wrote while researching.  I did not however, revisit my research plan which I should have done.

Problem #2: In this problem the genealogist presented a huge spreadsheet of parish events in a village in Poland.  The assignment was to separate out the families of individuals who had the same name.  I enjoyed this problem, probably because it was very similar to work I do with my Swedish and Ostfriesen ancestors.  There were over 3000 entries over an 80 year time span in the database so this was no light exercise.  One had to use the births, marriages and death records to sort out the families.  I needed to know more about Excel to do this problem most successfully.  I will be taking some tutorials to add making pivot tables to my Excel skills.

Problem #3: This was an extremely complex problem with a lot of information to analyze.  The slave identification was very difficult due to another “contender.”  To be successful one had to work backwards and forwards.  First, one had to trace the “person of interest” from freedom back to slavery and then trace the slave “contenders” from likely families forward to see if  they aligned.  The researcher could get distracted and at any time go down the genealogical “rabbit hole.”

Problem #4: This was a case of trying to find the father of an abandoned mother and child in the Northeast.  I should have gotten further with this problem.  I learned some tricks for getting to online information more quickly. Due to some other work (personal and otherwise) I only spent five hours on this problem (excuse) but I doubt if I had spent more time, I would have done much better.  The best strategy would have been to start over again after working on it for 5 hours.  I did, however, record my findings in the report as I went along.  And while the report “looked good” that did not make up for the fact the findings were extremely weak.  This was a humbling experience for me.

Problem #5: The problem was to identify ancestors of immigrant (German) family on maternal side.  The day before I had done some personal work in the library and actually used some of the German resources (new to me) provided by the genealogist. That helped.  I did well enough on this problem that I  could challenge the genealogist on his conclusions on the final research question.

As with all of the problems the discussion at the end of the day was most interesting because each classmate approached the problem differently.  Previous attendees of the class noted that this year’s cohort was particularly collaborative, sharing strategies and successful approaches.

One of the highlights of any conference or institute is meeting new people and connecting with old friends. Our ProGen group (4 attendees) got together for breakfast– Rorey, Zola, Lynn and me.  It was great fun to catch up with everyone.

The class will be offered next year; perhaps you should take it.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since my last posting:  tried to recover from the “SLIG Sickness” that rolled through then entire population of SLIG.  I caught it starting on Tuesday; by Thursday I was wasted.  I recovered a bit by the middle of the week but did not attend the banquet so I had energy to pack and get to the airport the next morning

SLIG: Day 2

You might wonder what I am doing here and I will tell you that sometimes the question is one I ask myself.  I am enrolled in the Advanced Practicum with 18 other students.  We get an advanced genealogy problem every day to solve.

I am surrounded by the best genealogists in the country.  It is amazing to me that I can keep up as my analytical skills are slow.  I work best if I can internalize the information but the pace does not allow that.  The good news is that I should be a more efficient researcher when I am done with the course.

I do not know if there is a typical day but here is the last “24 Hours in the Life of ….”

4:00 pm yesterday:  The class met to discuss the problem we worked on all day yesterday.  It was a Georgia example of tracing five generation of women–not easy.  I made it to the first milestone and partway through the second but ….then I fell off!  While I had the concept I missed some key steps. But this is less about the competition (except with yourself) and more abut exposure  to record sets etc. in unfamiliar locations (I have never done anything in GA). After each lesson I develop a personal list of what I have learned from that exercise. (more about that later)

5:30 pm:  We get our next assignment.  Today we are working on a spreadsheet of parish records and trying to build specific families.  It’s in a foreign country (and not Ostfriesland or Sweden) and so I am figuring it out.  To complete the assignment we have to write a paper reporting on how we got to the answer.

We take the new assignment and then leave.  We can work on the problem as much as time allows (22 hours) or a little as we wish but we do have to turn in something.  We can work in our room (that’s what I did today) or in the Family History Library (too many distractions for me) or in the study room set up so we can work in parallel.

Last night I went out to eat, came back and listened to a lecture by Elisabeth Shown Mills.  I could have stayed for the preview (my friend Mary Tedesco is a co-host)  of Genealogy Roadshow but I went to my room instead.  I did not start my project until this morning.

Of course, I watched the Bucks beat the Ducks!  Loved it. Who would have predicted?  Las Vegas made a lot of money.

4:00 am: I woke up early, probably because I knew that I hadn’t worked the previous night, went downstairs and started working on the parish registers after I read the Columbus Dispatch.

noon: took a break, had lunch and blogged for about 30 minutes.  My girlfriend across the hall has a microwave in her room and so I used that.

3:00 pm this afternoon. We turn our papers in (electronically.)  I will work on the paper as soon as this is posted.  (I have 3 hours to write it.)  Most of the analysis is done.

4:00 pm We start all over.  The case presenter will go over his thought process and describe the resolution. I will see how I did.  I will note what I could do that would improve my skills.  We will then get another case study with research questions to answer.  We will receive a total of 5 that we have to solve while we are here.  There are 18 individuals in the class.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: See above.

SLIG: Day .5

I felt my Saturday was split into three parts.

Utah State CapitalPart 1:  The Advanced Practicum students were invited to attend the Colloquium, a gathering of advanced/scholarly genealogists who discuss the thoughts and concepts of genealogy. (That is not the Colloquium to the left; that’s the State Capital) This is the group where emerging concepts are vetted before they become a part of our lexicon.  For example, this group vetted the concept of Source (original, derivative, authored work), Information (primary, secondary, unknown) and Evidence (direct, indirect negative) which appeared in Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP).  Thanks to the Utah Genealogical Society for being the host.

There were three papers presented:

Jay Fonkert: “The GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) and Beyond: Challenges for a Genealogy Profession” which got the group discussing the “profession,” the “discipline” and the challenges of raising the standards and public awareness of our field of study. This is a future blog post.

Jean Wilcox Hibben: “Field Dependency of Arguments/Stories as it Relates to Genealogy Instruction” Jean presented the an approach to the theory of logic and its application  to genealogy.  This raised the questions of “how to analyze” and how to talk about analyization with others. The GPS requires us to analyze and correlate (it answers the “why” question); MGP presents us with tools to use (tables, narrative, bullets, timelines etc.( it answers the “what” question))  and Jean presented the next level of depth. She urged us to analyze our sources using Ethos (credibility), Logos (logic) Pathos (emotion) and Mythos (traditions).  Her presentation answered the “how” question. An audience member suggested adding “Chaos.”   🙂

Blaine Bettinger: Blaine presented the freshly crafted and not yet vetted Genetic Genealogy Standards.  You can read the announcement here. The conversation began with privacy and then went to consent.  The committee has been working for some time on these standards and they are now listed on the Genetic Genealogy Standards site which you can read here.

Part 2: I went to the library to finish up the review of the mid-18th c. tax records for Sweden I had started the day before.  My goal was to complete the search until the parents of “my guy”moved into the village of Hankshult.  As part of an exhaustive search sometimes you are observing and recording that there is nothing there (negative evidence).  As I reviewed the 1749 document for the village—something was very different!   The parents of “my guy” were predicted to move into the village around 1746 when “Dad” marries “Mom”.  But here was the 1749 record without his name recorded as paying taxes.  I quickly got a translation and found a partial answer to a log-held mystery.

It appears that the “Dad” and “Mom” married and lived in another part of Sweden, gave birth to their first child, Margareta, and THEN moved to “my parish.”  No wonder I couldn’t find their marriage in “my parish”!  And why I couldn’t find Margareta’s birth in “my parish.”

Sometimes you find things when you aren’t even looking.

Part 3: Zola Noble flew in from Indiana and we moved into the room.  Zola is a writer extraordinaire and a ProGen 19 classmate.  We went out for dinner and came back and collapsed.  It had been a full day.

MTCSunday, Zola and I walked over to  to the Tabernacle to attend the Sundnay morning  taping of the Morman Tabernacle Choir for TV and then walked up to the state capital.  Of course, we also did our grocery store run! The Strosheins videotaped me as a speaker for the Northwest Genealogical conference to be held in August. I was selected to give my presentation on House Histories Wherever you Live.”

I attended my first Advanced Practicum class where we got our assignment for tomorrow. The evening  reception reunited some old friends and I made some new.

I anticipate that I will not be blogging consistently, if at all, the next week.  I hope the cold is not too intense wherever you are at.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  See the above.

PMC Conference: Day 2

Yesterday was a great day — capped off by a terrific celebratory dinner with friends in the evening.1

2015 PMC APGBy 8:00 am Karen and I had hung my poster outside the breakfast area–a terrific place for the posters as conference attendees could stop by while they were eating their breakfast.  I spent most of my time during breakfast and during the prescribed poster session time, explaining the research (gender balance of peer-reviewed genealogical journals) and describing the three research questions, the findings and the conclusions.  Many viewers commented on methodology or asked questions about what was included–or not.  As someone made a comment or gave me an idea, I filled out a post-it and placed it on the poster itself.  I now have a record of these comments which might become ideas for future research.

Tom Jones, editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) and one of the studied periodicals, stopped by early in the day.  He raised questions about how I arrived at the percent of qualified authors and the selection of the peer-reviewed journals.  The question most often asked by the later attendees was whether women were submitting but not being selected — data not available nor sought by me. When I asked Tom, he believed that the women were not submitting articles for publication that reflected their population in the pool of qualifier authors but this had not been quantified.  In other discussions, the concept was raised that the primary form of articles in the peer reviewed journals (family lineages and proof arguments), might be a deterrent to female authorship. (When I tested that concept with the women at the dinner, they agreed.)

Harold Henderson also stopped by early to discuss his thoughts in support of the findings. (I want to thank him for his advice on how to handle a possible, but resolved, ethical issue related to publication.  Thanks, Howard.)

Some other thoughts from those who stopped by:

  • The pool of qualified authors might be improved by including the American Society of Genealogists (ASG, the top 50 genealogists in the country) and International Commission for the Certification of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen.)  Our quick and very unofficial count  of the ASG showed that 25% are female and 75% male. Author’s note: the numbers of this group are so small it won’t affect the 65% used for female pool of authors where n=>2300. ICAPGen however, could significantly change the percentages as they are a large group of accredited genealogists. (Quick check: of 20 newly named or renewing ICAPGen genealogists: 3 of 20 were male or 85% female and 15% male.)
  • Additional time frames of study might be good to view trends.
  • The  inclusion of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record would complete the genealogical peer-reviewed journals studied. (The Genealogist was suggested but they didn’t begin publishing until the 1980s.  Pennsylvania’s journal was also suggested but there seems to be some current publication difficulties.)
  • Gender balance  hasn’t been studied before and is overdue.
  • At one time the genealogy community considered founding a new journal focused on scientific inquiry in methodologies but for a variety of reasons did not get launched. A suggestion was made that it could “go digital” as an online journal only.
  • “I don’t think I want to read this.  It will only make me mad.” stated  a well known female genealogist.

Attendees were still discussing the findings over dinner.  We wondered if women might write more family histories.  Debra checked the gender balance of the winners of the Family History Writing Contest sponsored by NGSQ (gotta love the Google!). For the 6 years that she could find the winners–33% were female and 67% were male — thus, the hypothesis did not survive the test.

Another dinner companion shared a conversation she had had with two men– they viewed it as a goal to be published in the NGSQ and they subsequently have been.  She never even thought to have that as a goal. Another saw herself as more of a verbal communicator and had no desire to write much except for her own work.  Women also do not have the license to ignore household tasks and the needs of children.

In spite of the many thresholds over which women must surmount to submit to journals, all felt the need to encourage women to write and to submit.

During the day I attended presentations on using Scrivener for genealogy, “5 Ways to Improve Your Writing,” and  Billie Fogarty’s presentation on giving better presentations.  I corralled 3+ people to review my lecture list and give me feedback on my responses to Call for Proposals. I attended the ProGen Reunion and the attendee dessert at the end of the event.  Had a great time!

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  See above.

1 Clockwise from the lower left: Pat, Jill, Amy, Victoria, Debra, Cecily, Angela. (Note to self: Ask Judy if I need to get waiter’s permission to use this photo.  🙂 I got permission from Debra as it was her phone/camera but who really has the rights to the photo? Inquiring minds want to know.)

PMC conference; Day 1

(I cannot guarantee I will blog everyday….so there may not be a “Day 2”)

Hishult recordHad a great day today at the Professional Management Conference sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists.  Here is what happened:

  • I volunteered to help with the reception desk in the morning.  I like doing this because you meet everyone.
  • Attended the morning keynote speech on “When you need to hire professional help.” the speaker was from Ancestry.com and I had to give him credit–he filled in for the other speaker who couldn’t attend (at the last moment?).  The audience asked some very pointed questions.
  • Attended Part 1 of Tom Jone’s presentation on citations.  It was excellent.  He explored context in depth. (I did not attend Part 2 but plan on attending Part 3 tomorrow am.
  • Attended Judy Russell’s class on “Finding the Law.”  I feel much more grounded. Thanks, Judy! But I do wish I had as clear a niche as she does.
  • Heard an excellent lunch keynote speech by David Rencher of FamilySearch.  Did you know that ~87% of attendees to the 2014 Roottech conference have looked at FamilySearch online trees but only ~70% of NGS conference attendees have looked at a FS online tree (small sample of attendees–not all were polled.)
  • Studied the four posters which were presented today.  It was the first poster session the APG had ever sponsored, (I present tomorrow.) The posters were on Japanese research, developing a social media outcome for a Polish community, and a categorization of indirect evidence that I thought clustered the issues appropriately.
  • Went to the FHL and worked on data collection for my Case Study.  Got some great information!  See photo above.1
  • Had dinner with my friend Karen.

Tomorrow, I will sit in on the third part of Tom’s session. Stay tuned for a blog on this topic.(Wedgewood, feel free to hit the delete key!) And I want to hear Billie Fogarty talk abut lecturing and teaching.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post: Well, I had to iron my poster flat (first ironing I have done in a while!), searched  18th c. tax records in Sweden and met a lot of new friends and and enjoyed catching up with the ones I met before.

1Sweden, Halland County, Hishult parish, Mantalslangd (Tax List),1794.

A Day in the Life of Jens Dahle: 6 January 1865

Jens Dahle and James Eberhart are both prisoners in Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina. James writes in his diary:

sunshine on river“Jany 6-

It has been a Clear day with Sun Shine and warmer. Done some bugging today. hope to sleep better. 28 hauled out today.” — James Eberhart

Obviously, vermin in the clothes, hair and bedding, such as it was, was a continual problem.  James is picking out the bugs–“bugging.” But, the weather is better.2

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: I am getting prepped for the my trip to Salt Lake City.  I have some personal research to do (tax records 1750-1817 for Sweden) and packing to do.

1 James Eberhart, Diary, 1864-1865.

2 “Sun rise over the Helford River,” image, (Graham Loveland) / CC BY-SA 2.0/kolourpaint.png” alt=”” width=”32″ height=”32″ />