Thursday, October 25, 2012

DAR - Gathering Documents


Last week my friend Neva and I went to the Library of Virginia in Richmond with a specific list of documents to find in order to get closer to the golden prize of membership in the Fort Nelson Chapter of the Virginia DAR.  We always joke that we actually go for lunch - the research is secondary.

It has been far too long since I last visited the library.  Hallelujah the LVA has upgraded the machines for viewing microfilm.  We used to use machines that look like this:

from Google Images


It’s not that they were difficult to use.  Just cumbersome.  If you wanted a copy of an image, you had to rewind the film, take it off the machine and move to another machine, fast forward to the desired image, insert your library debit card hoping all the while you still had enough money on it, and print. Likely the paper was 16x20.  If the film was scratched or faded, the copy was too.














But the new machines are miracles of tweaking goodness:

from Google Images
You still wind the film on the same way, but you stay put and save an image to your flash drive.  You can zoom, change the contrast, brighten or darken, switch black images with white writing to white images with black writing, and capture as much or as little of the image as you want.  No more sliding dollars into a machine in exchange for a barely readable document.


Can I get an Amen?

On this trip, I was able to find AND download
  • A Rockbridge County, Virginia marriage bond for my great-great grandparents Mitchell Davis and Martha Ann Willson (which gave me her father’s name:  Samuel).  Mitchell was the grandson of my patriot, Leonard Davis Sr.
  • A Rockingham County, Virginia birth register for Walter Davis which named his parents, Mitchell and Martha Ann Davis
  • A Greene County, Virginia marriage register for Walter Davis and Mary Frances Jollett, which named both of their parents

None of the information was new (except Martha’s father’s name), but all documents are necessary for actual proof of lineage.

I was disappointed that I did not find a couple pieces of information that SHOULD have been in the library.  First of all, Vogt & Kethley’s Albemarle County Marriage Records contains an abstract of the marriage record for Leonard Davis and Mary Marshall; however, I did not find it in the Albemarle microfilm.  While I was hoping to see the record, the fact is I really don’t even need it.  Leonard has already been proven as a patriot, so the various details of his birth, marriage, and death are already on record with the DAR. 

My challenge will be to prove Leonard had a son Leonard Jr. who married Fanny Wyant and had a son named Mitchell.  Neva found an index for a marriage record in Rockingham County.  Based on some old research, I had Orange County in my notes but was glad for confirmation of the error.   Unfortunately, I didn’t find the actual marriage record nor did I find birth or death records for Leonard Jr.

Lastly, I didn’t find a death certificate for Walter Davis.  I will check on this again. It’s possible that death certificates for Page County, Virginia in 1934 carried over to a second roll of microfilm. Maybe I simply overlooked it in my haste.

So the hunt to connect the chain from Mitchell to Leonard Sr. continues.  Sounds like Neva and I need to start planning another lunch research trip.


10 comments:

  1. Good luck with your research - thank goodness technology is improving. I can see why you would need a lunch break!

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    1. The Discovery Cafe has really good sandwiches. But really, it's good just to take a break from all that scrolling.

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  2. That's exciting technology. I wouldn't know how to use it. Enhancing & saving the images sounds wonderful.Glad you found some verification if not new information.

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    1. I always seem to forget between visits, but the staff at LVA is very helpful.

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  3. Ahh, I remember using those old microfilm machines back in the day. It was so exciting finding something you were looking for. I haven't been out in the field on a real genealogy search in many years so it was exciting to hear about all your finds. Hopefully next time you will find the missing pieces. On another note I joined the DAR 20 years ago when I first started my genealogy research and when my husband and I visited Washington, DC in 1998 we visited the DAR house their. Quite a bit of history!

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    1. I was happy with the old system because I didn't know any better. Finding information about my family was exciting, no matter how it looked on film. But I'm already spoiled by the new technology.

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  4. Good job, Wendy! That looks like a great day to spend the afternoon. I hope that the rest of the pieces fall into place easily, so that you will be admitted to the club.

    Kathy M.

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  5. Ah yes! Those lovely old microfilm machines! I know them well. I've spent many an hour looking through microfilms on them, including census records back when they weren't on the internet yet. Imagine having to actually order, and then wait for, a census record hoping your ancestor was on that specific film?

    Ya, these young whipper-snapper genealogists don't know what they missed out on back in the old days!

    Good luck with your further research Wendy!

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    1. Oh yeah - ordering film. UGH - the only thing worse than ordering and waiting was to discover what you were looking for wasn't even on that roll. All that time wasted and then you had to start over.

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