With a global pandemic halting most of our family activities, I decided there was no better time to dig into my Spring 2020 research project. Family Locket also announced a 14-day Research Like a Pro Mini Challenge on Facebook during this time, so I jumped on board.
Well…it’s been 32 days, and I finally finished my research report. Crisis schooling my two young children and an extended stay in Louisiana slowed me down, but I’m still happy with the results. Because I was in Louisiana and deserted cemeteries are a great place to social distance, my father, sons, and I visited the grave of the research subject, my 3x-great-grandmother Mahala Faulk Fowler.
Mahala and her husband James S. Fowler arrived in the Brooklin community of Jackson Parish, Louisiana, about 1855. They were likely founding members of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where Mahala is buried. You can read more about Mahala’s background in the research report at the end of the post. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church still meets in rural Jackson Parish, and it was nice to visit the community where these ancestors lived. It’s just an hour from my hometown, but I’d never been.
Other researchers probably believe Mahala’s parentage is proven and that she is the daughter of Philip Faulk and Elizabeth Soles. I agree, but there is no direct evidence of this fact. In working on my application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants through this line, I realized the only evidence linking Mahala to Philip Faulk and Elizabeth Soles was an authored source with no citations. While this authored source was sufficient for another line’s application six years ago, I’m unsure if I’ll run into issues. So my Spring 2020 research project was to study this authored source and determine if any records supported its claims.
Was Mahala the daughter of Philip Faulk and Elizabeth Soles of Pike County, Alabama? I believe so:
Because my recent research has focused on Mary Smart McMurry, I decided to obtain her husband John McMurry’s federal land records. I needed to expand my “reasonably exhaustive research” — a tenet of the Genealogical Proof Standard — to her closest male relative in the absence of records for Mary. John patented approximately 160 acres in Gaar’s Mill, Winn Parish, Louisiana, in 1898. His land patent application could give more clues about his family structure, including Mary’s origins or her date of death.
So I hired my first NARA researcher to retrieve the records. Brian Rhinehart from Rhinehart Roots was easy to work with — affordable, professional, and quick. He goes to DC almost monthly, and I placed my order with him while he was on a research trip. Because of this great timing, I received his photographs of John McMurry’s homestead application within 24 hours!
MyHeritage has an intriguing new feature — MyHeritage In Color. As its name suggests, this feature adds color to black and white photos.
I decided to colorize the only childhood photo I have of my granny Ethel McMurry. It shows her with mother Lula McKaskle McMurry and younger brother John Wright “Unc” McMurry. I’m not sure where the photo was taken. There are telephone wires in the background, so it wasn’t on their farm in Liddieville, Franklin Parish, Louisiana. But John, born in 1918, appears about 3 to 5 years old, which dates this photo to the early 1920s.
Here’s the before and after with MyHeritage In Color:
Wow! The photo is so vibrant and has so much life. I wonder if that’s a function of our modern-day brains thinking “old” when we see black-and-white photos, but “current” when we see color. The colorizing algorithms had trouble with Granny’s left leg, around Unc’s knees and hands, and with Lula’s left ankle. But, overall, I love the effect. And now I wonder if Granny was a blonde in her early years…
Upload your own photos to MyHeritage In Color and give this new feature a try. I’d love to see your results!
One way I’m furthering my genealogy education in 2020 is participating in Cari Taplin’s NGSQ/MGP Study Group. This group reads selected articles from National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) and studies the authors’ research and writing methodologies by referencing key chapters from Tom Jones’s book Mastering Genealogical Proof. We then meet online monthly to discuss.
I’m in the Tuesday noon group, so our February meeting is in a few hours. But I wanted to blog about this experience to (1) keep me accountable in preparing and attending, and (2) help me sort out my thoughts before each meeting. We have questions and worksheets for each article, but I won’t share those here. Instead, these blog posts are a way to explore my other observations and questions.
Our selected article for February is “Reexamining the Parentage of Anderson Boon of Lincoln, Marshall, and Obion Counties, Tennessee” by Darcie Hind Posz. It appears in National Genealogical Society Quarterly 107 (September 2019), pages 201–217.
The final step in the Research Like a Pro process is writing a research report. This report summarizes the question, objective, and all the research performed during the project. Research reports explain your reasoning — a proof argument — and convince others of your conclusions.
Research reports are critical when resolving difficult genealogy problems. Just writing this report forced me to deal with conflicting evidence and explain my positions. The Smart females in my tree have been a huge brick wall in my family tree for years, but undertaking this project means I’ve reached a measure of success with this line.
So, here it is — all 13 pages and 120+ source citations of it. By far the largest, most complex research report I’ve written!