June 24 came and went without much fanfare…indeed, it was the 5th anniversary of LifeCitation! This is not an excuse…more like an explanation…I was out of state attending the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, otherwise known lovingly as GRIP. How to describe GRIP? I’ve heard “summer camp for genealogists,” though no one has time to sit around a campfire singing Kumbaya. There were crafts…crafting citations, proof arguments, case studies. People wrote a lot about their families, not to their families. People learned a lot…about technology, finding the right tool to break down those brick walls, and about the very substance that makes us uniquely us…DNA. To learn more about this summer’s sessions and next summer’s sessions, go here.
My particular experience at GRIP…this was my first time attending. I chose “Mastering the Art of Genealogical Documentation” led by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA. Dr. Jones is a leading expert in the genealogical field, with many years of educating, researching, writing, and editing. Documentation is the foundation of solid genealogical writing…I knew that this was the first course I wanted to take. For five short days, I focused on learning how to craft a well-written citation. And, to paraphrase Dr. Jones, we are always learning.
During GRIP, I had an assignment due in my ProGen39 course…a proof argument/case study. My assignment was using derivative records with secondary sources and one original record with a primary source to determine the place of birth of my 2nd-great-grandmother, Mary (Ammerman) Ford…was she born in Illinois or Indiana? At the time of her birth (1838), no official birth records were kept in either state, and there were no newspapers announcements that I could find. So, I used her death certificate, her children’s death certs, census records, and a War of 1812 widow’s pension record of her mother. I think I proved her place of birth, at least to the state level. As to the county level, it’s questionable. If anyone is interested in reading it, let me know and I’ll upload it here after it’s reviewed in class this week.
Regarding ProGen39, we have two assignments left to turn in…time has flown! I have learned so much from the group I’m in…talk about inspiring women! These ladies are fantastic. I had the pleasure of meeting one of my group members, Diana, at GRIP…hopefully next summer more of our group can attend a session in Pittsburgh together. That, too, would be fantastic!
Coincidentally, I was able to do some on-site research the day GRIP ended in Jefferson County, Ohio, in the city of Steubenville. The man I believe to be my 5th-great-grandfather, Israel Massey, died there in 1885 and is buried at the Union Cemetery. If you ever have a chance to visit this cemetery, please do! Online, I was able to find what section Massey was buried in and also used their map to find that section. He and several members of his family (son and grandchildren) are also buried in the same plot, but only what appeared to be three headstones remain.
Israel was born around 1792 in Maryland; his parents immigrated here from Ireland. His daughter, Mary Elizabeth (Massey) Devore, is my 4th-great-grandmother. She lived in southeastern Ohio until she and her family moved west to Louisa County, Iowa, in 1877. Whenever I get the opportunity to explore places my ancestors lived, I jump at the chance!
So…two major life changes to share with you. One, my former married surname is officially dropped. Secondly, I’ve decided to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after much consideration. A friend of mine mentioned in passing about a year or so ago that she belonged to the Mormon Church in our hometown. I didn’t even know there was one in our town…less than 5 minutes from my home! We began talking and then I studied what I could online. It was as if a light was shining inside me…this was what I had been looking for my entire adult life in other religions but had yet to find! Finally, a doctrine aligned with my beliefs and how I’d been living for many years. It’s hard to explain in words, but I felt like I’d come home, joy, welcomed, like I fit in. I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon, attending sacrament services, and meeting with the missionaries. My Baptism is planned for July 20. With all my heart and soul, this feels right for me.
As I’m finishing this post on Independence Day, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our Revolutionary War Patriots for sacrificing their lives and fortunes for what would become America and subsequently our freedoms.
I first really listened to this song in high school when we played it in marching band during the commencement ceremony. In recent years, however, I’ve studied the lyrics and history behind it. Hands down, my favorite patriotic tune:
Have a safe and joyous 4th of July, one and all!