Category Archives: Genealogy Road Trip Tips

Genealogy road trip yields Blakeslee breakthroughs in Montrose, Penna.

Sepia Saturday 478: Seventh in a series on the odd 1860 separation of my great-great-great grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — a summertime census mystery.

Genealogy road trips were a regular part of my recipe for success when I first began compiling my family’s history. Few records were digitized then, and it was fun to visit locales where my ancestors lived — especially when my parents came along.

Later, as more records went online, it became easy to research from home — and even easier to forget just how many valuable non-digitized records (most, actually) still exist in repositories all over.

Susquehanna County Courthouse in Montrose, Penna. (2019) The Historical  Records room houses early court, divorce, land and tax records that yielded new information about my Blakeslee and Hance ancestors. Photo by Molly Charboneau

When I recently discovered the 1860 separation and 1866 divorce of my great-great-great grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee, I realized online research would not be enough to fill in all the gaps.

So I decided it was time for new genealogy road trip to the Susquehanna County seat in Montrose, Penna. — where I went earlier this month to see what I could find.

Overall, I was not disappointed!

Alas, no divorce record, but…

Montrose is a lovely town with a verdant park, Monument Square, situated between the county courthouse and the Susquehanna County Historical Society (SCHS) — my two research destinations.

Historical Records room, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, Penna. (2019) Bound volumes of indexes and records line the shelves of the Historical  Records room, which is open to family history researchers. Photo by Molly Charboneau

At the courthouse, the Prothonotary escorted me to the Historical Records room on the second floor — the home of early divorce, court, land and tax indexes and records.

I had hoped to obtain a copy of my Blakeslee ancestors’ 1866 divorce decree to shed light on that event.

Alas, my search was thwarted because there was no court index for 1866 and divorces were not indexed before the 1870s.

But happily other years were cataloged.

Court, land and tax record success!

So I decided to see what else I could find about my Blakeslee ancestors. With the help of staff, I looked at old tax records, court proceedings and land transactions — and found my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee in all three!

In the tax rolls we also found some of my third great-grandmother Hannah’s family, the Hances — an unexpected bonus! Since tax records are digitized on the courthouse computer system, the Historical Records staff printed those out for me.

The old court records were in bound volumes, which I photographed with my tablet — more gentle on the folio-sized record books than attempting to photocopy them.

And when I provided the book, page and year from a deed index, the Register & Recorder staff was able to immediately print the 1827 deed for a land purchase in Lawsville, Penna., by Zebulon Blakeslee from David Fish — also digitized in the courthouse computer system.

Card files and newspapers

Next I crossed the square to the Susquehanna County Historical Society, which recently reopened for research after expanding into the entire old library building. The renovated facility is a researcher’s dream!

Susquehanna County Historical Society, Montrose, Penna. (2019) The SCHS recently reopened for research after expanding into the entire old library building. The renovated facility is a researcher’s dream! Photo by Molly Charboneau

There are card files by surname (for marriages, deaths and “odd” information from local papers/publications), compiled family histories, county histories, a huge book collection — and full sets of microfilm for the Montrose Democrat and other local newspapers.

How pleasant to work in the sunny, welcoming central research room — and to peruse books and photo displays in several side rooms.

As soon as I indicated that Blakeslee and Hance were my families of interest, staff brought out the appropriate binders/files and pointed me to pertinent books and county/biographic histories. For the usual per-page photocopy fee, I was able to photograph the records I needed with my tablet.

Blakeslee breakthroughs

A careful look at the card files yielded my latest Blakeslee breakthroughs — finally finding the date and place of death of my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee and learning the maiden name of his second wife, Sarah Ann, from their marriage announcement!

Main research room of the Susquehanna County Historical Society, Montrose, Penna. (2019) Card files organized by surname contain excerpts of marriages, deaths and “odd” information from local newspapers and other publications, which can then be printed from SCHS microfilm holdings. Photo by Molly Charboneau

The notices of both events were available from microfilmed issues of the Montrose Democrat (covering time periods that I have not found online) — and SCHS staff quickly retrieved and printed copies for me.

Altogether, I spent about four hours in Montrose on a beautiful summer day — time well spent for the records I was able to retrieve!

And the journey renewed my belief that — even in the digital age — genealogy road trips should be part of every family history researcher’s recipe for success.

More on the Blakeslee breakthroughs from this genealogy road trip in the next post.  Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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One-stop summary: Genealogy Road Trip Tips for NaBloPoMo 2016

One-stop summary of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

When the 2016 National Blog Posting Month Challenge ended on Nov. 30, I was happy to be counted among the survivors who completed the online marathon. Not bad for a first-time NaBloPoMo participant!nablopomo_badge_2016

After generating thirty posts in just one month, I am craving a return to the more leisurely pace of weekly blogging as I continue to explore my ancestors’ lives and share the research techniques I have used to find them — including Genealogy Road Trips with friends and loved ones.

With the challenge over, I intend to heed my own advice from Tip 28: Reward yourself! and take a month-long blogging vacation to mentally recharge — then resume weekly posting in January 2017.

Genealogy Road Trip Tips recap

Meanwhile, for the month of December 2016, here is a one-stop summary of Genealogy Road Trip Tips:Take your loved ones with you so you can check out any you may have missed. Comments are still open on the later posts, so please join in!

BEFORE your Genealogy Road Trip:

DURING your Genealogy Road Trip:

AFTER your Genealogy Road Trip:

In Conclusion:

Up next, a brief blogging vacation!

Happy Holidays and New Year from Molly’s Canopy. Please stop back when blogging resumes in January 2017.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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NaBloPoMo 2016: Reflections on the genealogy journey

Reflections on the journey: Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

The November 2016 National Blog Posting Month wraps up today and I am pleased and relieved to cross the finish line without missing a day of blogging on Molly’s Canopy!

The amazing NaBloPoMo 2016 blogroll was an inspiration. Many thanks to everyone who visited and commented on Molly’s Canopy during the November 2016 challenge.

My personal goal for the blog challenge was to develop a blog-to-book outline on the theme Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You — and I’m particularly gratified to NaBloPoMo for creating the space and impetus for me to get that outline done.

Knowing there were hundreds of other NaBloPoMo bloggers out there tapping away at the keyboard along with me — or dictating their posts with voice-activated software — made the job just a little bit easier.

A special shout out to everyone who visited Molly’s Canopy and left encouraging words during the November 2016 challenge. Your comments and observations kept me going during crunch time, when the midnight posting deadline was looming!

What went well

Having an outline. This was my second blog challenge after surviving my first A to Z Challenge in April 2016. From that experience, which I went into without a plan, I learned that having an outline ahead of time — at least an idea of the blog post titles for each day — helped me focus the work and think ahead to the next day’s topic.

Keeping the posts short. My posts are usually 500-600 words long and often contain many links to online genealogy sources — something that slowed me down during the A to Z Challenge. This time, I kept the posts shorter — most were roughly 400 words with fewer links — and that worked much better.

Working from my road trip notes. I have typed up reports on most of my genealogy road trips with travel partners and saved my notes — and these were a great help in crafting the daily blog posts. They reminded me of the research discoveries a road trip can reveal — and the joy of sharing those breakthroughs with friends and loved ones during and after the trip.

What could have gone better

Would have liked to visit more blogs. I tried to visit back and comment on blogs whose authors commented at Molly’s Canopy — but between the writing and the regular tasks of daily life, I was not consistent with this. The best I could manage most of the time was to reply on Molly’s Canopy to those who left comments. Hope to do a bit more visiting and commenting now that NaBloPoMo is over.

My numbering system was off. On day one, I wrote an introduction to the theme Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You — not realizing that this would throw off my numbering system. So Tip 1 appeared on day two, Tip 2 on day three, and so on all month. Lesson learned: it would have been easier for writer and reader alike if the tip number matched the day number. A small thing, but one that bothered me for the whole 30 days!

Overall, a great experience

Overall, NaBloPoMo 2016 was a great experience. The blogroll was amazing and inspiring. Having such a large, creative community putting their voices and expertise out there helps break the solitude of writing.

NaBloPoMo 2016 was an energizing and validating reminder that, when kindred spirits join together — even if only for one month — we can help move one another closer to achieving our writing and blogging goals

That said, I am now going to follow my own advice from Tip 28: Reward yourself! and take a brief blogging vacation!

Please stop back on Dec. 2 for the full list of Genealogy Road Trip Tips from NaBloPoMo 2016.  And watch for regular posts to resume in January 2017.

Happy Holidays and New Year to you and yours from Molly’s Canopy. And thanks for joining me on the journey!

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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