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From: "Michael Neill" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] "Fun" with ancestry.com
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2009 21:08:15 -0600
References: <20090115.182226.29977.0@webmail11.vgs.untd.com><200901160104.n0G14nAw020797@mail961c35.nsolutionszone.com><01ac01c97781$7ab0bf60$70123e20$@net>
In-Reply-To: <01ac01c97781$7ab0bf60$70123e20$@net>

My philosophy of indexes is that they allow us to locate 90% of our
people quickly and save us time for the other 10% who aren't as easily

It is easier to read the name when we know what it is. James Kyle[s]
is indexed in 1830 Licking County, Ohio, as Gs. Hyles. It is easy to
see how they got Hyles, but the first part clearly is a James (the
image is blogged about here
http://www.rootdig.com/2008/06/1830-census-handwriting.html). I'm not
certain what "Gs" could stand for, but "good stuff" comes to mind

And while we should not accept careless indexes, it is necessary to
know that no matter how experienced the transcriber, there will still
be pockets of a census enumeration (or other record) that give them
trouble. My Platt speaking Geman immigrants are always enumerated
"creatively" and transcribed even more so usually. I learned years ago
to just deal with it. I can do a fairly good job transcribing records
on the pockets of these Ostfriesen immigrants in the midwest, not
because I'm extra-gifted, but because I grew up hearing those names
pronounced the "old way," and have researched many of them myself.
Experience has made me pretty familiar with how most of the first and
last names were likely pronounced. I could also probably do a
reasonable job transcribing the one small pocket of French settlers in
one of the same locales, not because I am familiar with that language,
but because I am familiar with most of the last names that are still
in the area. It is those familar with the local families who are the
best transcribers, but that is a theoretical ideal that is not
possible in most situations.

I sometimes am chided when I lecture on or write about manual census
search techniques, being told this approach is not needed in our era
of indexes and that I need to "get with the times." For reasons
discussed on this list, it is still important (imho) to discuss these
approaches. Although they are not needed as often as they once were,
they are still extremely important and absolutly necessary in some
cases. And it is imperative to know how your ancestor likely
pronounced his name and what letters are commonly misread as other


> Or Anglo scribes among Midwestern Germans, or French-speaking Louisianians
> trying to enumerate Spanish Texan newcomers, or even local courthouse
> records being indexed by later courthouse personnel. That's how we end up
> with Adout Basco under the T's in the old AIS indexes (and in the original
> census) as Tobasco -- or Thomas P. Dendy of the 1830s in the 1900s-era
> courthouse indexes under the P's as Thomas Pedendy.
> Navigating our way through indexes is like trying to navigate the early
> Mississsippi or Missouri before the Corp of Engineers cleaned out all the
> snags.
Michael John Neill
Genealogy Tip of the Day

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