Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NGS Reflections: Part III - Friday and Saturday

Friday was the day in which I had the most free time. I began the day monitoring Craig Scott's "Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestor" session at 8 a.m. Craig is a perfect 8 a.m. choice because he is so entertaining! I'm not sure how I got so lucky to be assigned that session, but I'm glad that I had something to keep me awake! I made a quick trip into the exhibit area during the next time slot, although I just "looked" at that time slot. I did find a couple of products that were somewhat interesting. I may do the 30 day trial of one of those soon to see if it will match the needs of a project that I may undertake with the assistance of another genealogist. If I do try it, I'm sure I'll blog about it later. After that, I went to Mark Lowe's "Kentucky: Records of the Bluegrass State." I really don't have a lot of Kentucky ancestry, but I do have a line from Wayne County. I actually made three notes to myself of records that I thought might have something I had not yet discovered on the two families in that area with very common surnames. I went to Sam and Wally's for lunch. I spent the afternoon in the exhibit hall. I ended up buying only a few things, but the things I did get were things that were really worthwhile purchases. I went with some friends over to the Marriott to change, and we came back for the NGS Banquet. I know that one of the bloggers has already mentioned that J. Mark Lowe's "Lessons Learned from a Carolina Traveler" was a tribute to Helen Leary. Let's just say that you all don't know what all went into trying to hide Helen's sons from her in that banquet room until the right moment in Mark's talk. There were a few moments that we had to get creative to make sure she didn't see them. Helen was very surprised to find herself the subject of Mark's talk and was even more surprised to see her sons.

Saturday was another busy day. I began by monitoring Mark Lowe's "Circuit Riders and the Early Methodist Church." I got a couple of ideas about places to look for additional information on Ashley Aldridge during this session. He wasn't really a circuit rider, but he was a leader in the local church who is sometimes called a "minister." Mark covered that aspect as well as the more prolific records of those who were ordained. I worked the APG booth after I got out of that session until about 10:30 when I needed to leave to get ready to monitor my next session. I had another one of those serendipitous moments during this time. Many of you know that I've had my brother's DNA tested on the Thornton line. We matched with what is called the "South Carolina Thornton group." Most of us are brickwalled in the Carolinas, and none of us can find our common ancestor. We have a few clues. There is one participant who had identified an individual he believed to be the common ancestor. There are a couple of "jumps" in his research so that I'm not completely comfortable with his conclusions. While I was working at the APG booth, a professional genealogist who had been hired by an individual descended from one of the other lines which matched us on DNA came up. We spent most of the time chatting about our Thornton research, the research that had been done by others, the Thornton DNA project and the problems with that project since the loss of the online trees after changing project administrators, and a few other related things. We began to talk about directions that needed to be taken in the research. I'm delighted to have made this connection, and the two of us believe that two heads will be better than one. One interesting thing she said to me was that this is the worst line she's ever researched. (Of course, I'm thinking, "Tell me something I don't already know.") I am excited about this serendipitous moment and hope that through collaboration we'll be able to break through some of the brick walls. I monitored "Overlooked Military Records in the National Archives" at 11 a.m. The presenter was Marie Melchiori, and this was in the BCG Skillbuilding track. I spent lunch time eating and talking with other genealogists in the back of the exhibit hall. We had a nice visit. At 2:30, I was the monitor for Julie Miller's "Make the Census Work for You!" It was also on the BCG Skillbuilding track. At 4:00 I introduced Monica Hopkins who spoke on "Finding Your Way Around the Georgia Archives." Several of us went to the Oakwood Cafe, which is a wonderful Cuban and Argentinian restaurant, after the conference was over. We had a nice visit.

This year's conference was a memorable one. Many people came up to us and said that this was one of the smoothest conferences they'd ever attended. The local arrangements committee of NCGS under the leadership of Ann Hilke is responsible for much of that. They did a super job in planning this conference and pulling it off. I'm really sad this conference is over. I look forward to returning to Raleigh for future conferences!

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