|The movements of an ancestor who caught Ohio fever|
The process of blogging enhances my genealogy because it (1) sharpens my focus, (2) reveals gaps, and (3) serves as a rough draft of written family history.
Sharpening My Focus
Every time I blog, I narrow my focus to one ancestor, one surname, or one occasion. Or I choose one genealogical resource or method to explore. The point is to keep the focus on someone or something I can discuss in one post--a bite-sized piece of my family history.
My recent blog post about my great uncle Julius Farkas is a good example. I'm participating in Amy Johnson Crow's intriguing #52Ancestors series of weekly prompts for genealogy bloggers. For the "soldier" prompt, I decided to focus on Julius, the only conscience objector I've ever found in my family--someone who did not want to be a soldier.
Previously, I had written a few sentences about Julius in the context of others from my family who served in World War I. This time, to flesh out his story, I dug deeper into his military experience, going beyond the usual draft registration card and the summary of military service.
To my surprise, I discovered an Army transport list that had not been available when I last searched. Julius's name was the only one crossed out. The others were sent overseas into combat. With a shiver, I realized Julius would have wound up in the second battle of the Somme, had he not been reassigned at the very last minute as a Stateside Army cook. Sharpening my focus led me to this new aspect of his life.
Gaps--yes, there are still quite a few in my family and my husband's family tree. When I blog about one ancestor or a branch of the tree, I often discover that I'm missing some information.
Take my recent two-part blog post about Mary "unknown maiden name" Shehan, my husband's ancestor who lived in London but was born in Ireland. My original intention was to try to find out where exactly she and her husband were born, and (if possible) to learn her maiden name. I wrote my blog post as I did my research.
First, I reviewed their whereabouts according to the UK census. Nowhere was any county or town listed, only "Ireland" as their birthplace. Sigh. On the other hand, there was nothing at all after 1871--a gap I needed to fill.
That's when I switched my goal to finding where and when these ancestors died. I had to dig deeper to find more documents, but ultimately I learned the sad ending to Mary "unknown" Shehan's life, unfortunately echoed in her daughter Mary Shehan Slatter's life. Blogging about these ancestors led me to discover gaps and conduct research to find out more. And it gave me crucial new insights into these ancestors' lives.
Rough Draft of Family History
Blogging allows me to "think out loud" about an ancestor or family-history situation in a post. Sometimes I write a series of blog posts about a particular topic of family, which I later turn into my first draft of a written family history.
That's what I did with my "Ohio fever" series. After reading David McCullough's well-researched book, The Pioneers, I turned my attention to three of my husband's ancestors who had caught Ohio fever. With the historical background in mind, I could understand "why," not just "when" and "where" they moved to Ohio.
With more detail and some editing, that three-post series became a seven-page booklet for the family, complete with colorful maps like the one at top. I especially wanted to grab the attention of younger relatives and show them how our family actually made history. With my blog posts as a rough draft, it was faster and easier to create the booklet than starting from scratch.
Genealogy blogging has another big benefit: It's absolutely fantastic cousin bait.
Some of my posts are brief, some are lengthy, sometimes I don't post for a week or two, but I always find blogging worthwhile and fun.