Friday, August 17, 2007


You are about the only member of the family who knows even a little bit about genealogical research. As you are the only one - I'll tell you what I do.

I took some classes from BYU-Ricks in the 1960s from the world's best genealogical teacher. Richard's Dad was taking the same classes at BYU in Salt Lake and the teacher told the class - "You don't know how to do research yet so why don't you hire someone to start doing it for you."

My teacher would have us spend the first hour telling each other about our genealogical problem. She'd ask the class to give ideas as to where what to do. After we had all thought it through as well as we could she would then tell us other things to do. As we got results we would report to the class and then think as a class what to do next. She would teach us about birth certificates or wills or parish registers - and have our assignment for the next week be to write a letter to get a birth certificate from England, or butter up the minister to see if we could get a parish register microfilmed. When we got films of census or wills or parish registers she would say, "Now transcribe it." We bought 20 microfilm readers at a time and got them for good prices. And then
transcribed the films.

I was lucky that the Smith family pretty much stayed in the Oxford area. The Oxford people wouldn't cooperate with the Salt Lake Library to have much filmed. But the Oxford people had me help them get records filmed and I gave them copies of my transcriptions. In about 1980 Richard and I visited the old gentleman in charge of transcribing parish registers. He offered us drinks before dinner and when we took orange juice he said, "Now, don't tell me what religion you are. When I go to get permission to have a register filmed for you and they ask if you are a Mormon, I want
to be able to say I don't know." We all laughed and of course he knew. When he would transcribe a register he thought I might be interested in, he slipped a 6th carbon in and sent the extra copy to me.

I found a lot of the Kings, Fosters, Holts and Kirbys, etc. were farmers and had wills. I would order a film of wills to Idaho Falls. I would then realize I needed the same roll a few months later. So when a roll came to IF I would abstract all the wills in a 8 mile radius of Bicester. I have many card files of those will abstracts and still refer to them quite often.

The Oxfordshire Family History Society has long ago got all their registers transcribed - and indexed .- most of them up to 2005 - no laws of privacy I guess - and now sell them on fiche or CDs for a tenth of the cost of microfilming. So, I have lots of transcriptions and fiche.

They comuterized all the marriages of all the Oxfordshire parishes and put it out alphabetically by grooms and brides. They are now working on doing that for all the christenings and burials. So when I asked recently for information about Thomas Mason - they told me that the only one in that time period at that area was christened in Bucknell. I had the Bucknell records.

So. When I got this new lead, I just look at the parish registers. And go online to for the census records - 1841 to 1901 are all there indexed. And go online for FreeBMD which is an index for all births, marriages and deaths in all of England since 1837. So for the Powells I spent three days last week going through the the parish register, the census and the FreeBMD - back and forth.

I'm supposed to be finishing up a new blessing dress for one of my daughters to use for her future granddaughters - but just can't pull myself away from the computer. It is much more fun to be looking for these people.

I think I am guided. It seems as if there is someone up there saying "OK - it is the Kirbys turn. Now it's the Powells turn." And then those people just seem to be giving me ideas.

Somehow I've never had dreams of people coming. It is just ideas. Except a couple of times. Once I was transcribing the Launton microfilm and typing along. Suddenly I heard Richard's Dad say, "There is your clue. Take it and run with it." It wasn't in those words. It was an idea. But in his voice. I turned around but he wasn't there. He had died two months before. That was when I found the parentage of James Smith born 1780. I looked at what I had just typed. It was a christening for a child of Robert Smith, a blacksmith in Launton. I suddenly thought - "There can't be two blacksmith shops in Launton. That is too small a village. They must be brothers. If I can't trace James because he died before the 1841 census, maybe I can trace Robert. I found Robert was born in Bicester and had a brother, James just the right age. Later the Hon. Secretary of the Launton Historical Society found the death notice of their father in an
old newspaper and sent it to me.

So, I belong to the Oxford list online. And to the Oxfordshire Family
History Society.

Well - that is way more than you wanted to know. Thanks for being interested.


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