Friday, January 22, 2010

A Collaborative Effort

A Collaborative Effort

I come from such a wonderful family! And there’s so many of them! [It helps that my Dad is number 13 of a family of fifteen brothers and sisters!]

Last week my cousin, from deep in the heart of Georgia [ya’ll know that’s pronounced “Jawja”, right?] contacted me looking for help in researching part of her line. She’s been working genealogy for her Crosier line, and the many others as well, for a few short years. I’ve been so blessed to have been able to assist her [and bask her in shade many times as well!] as she works on this line. Believe me, this girl is a natural genealogist! But I digress…

Last week she was looking for the 1900 Census for the Hinchee family of Monroe County, West Virginia.

Now, this particular family has a bit of sad history to it. First of all there is tragedy, but the worst of all…is the sad case that research indexers [yep, you know those kindly folks who index the census records, and such, over at places like, to name but one] can’t seem to read the name Hinchee. Nope! Not a bit! Why, I’ve seen the name indexed as Hincher, Hinckee, even Hinckey and Hickey!

Second, Mr. Giles Hinchee, the father of the family in question, took for his bride a woman whose surname was “Crosier”. Not so bad, right? Except you would be surprised as to how many different ways even that name can be found indexed! [We won’t even go into that for this illustration, however. We’ll save that for another day.] But this particular Miss Crosier had the odd given names of Armacie Celona. [Oh, I kid you not! The poor baby!!!] Fortunately, she went by the nickname Macie. [You can imagine the fun it was trying to locate this child’s birth and death records! Again, we’ll save that for another day!]

The tragedy for the family was that Macie died in 1912 at the very young age of only 36 years. She left behind five young children ranging in age from 17, down to the wee two year old. [Her death record states she died from “surgical shock” with no other explanation given.]

Two years later, Giles remarried to a Miss Ida Dassa Surface, of the same community. A bit older than Macie, it appears that the couple did not have any children together, but that Ida finished raising Macie’s children as if they were her own.

And so, my cousin in the south contacted me. She had been able to locate most records of importance, birth, death, and census, except for the 1900 Census. Seems she could not find that particular one. [Well, with the indexers, you can imagine the names they might have filed the Hinchee family under!]

And so I decided to help my cuz out [well, I would give it my best try at least!]. So, I headed on over to my favorite records site, Ancestry. There I put in the info that I knew about old Giles. Born 1865 - Virginia. Died 1935 – West Virginia.

First search gave me everything from Giles Hinchee in the 1930 Census [the only Census with the correct spelling found] to Gitis Hinchee in the 1910 Census. But nothing for 1910.

So, I went back to the HOME page on Ancestry, and clicked on the Census year 1900. I figured I had to be able to locate them fairly easily. We knew they had not left the county. We also knew they lived in the same house for all of Giles’ adult life. So… it had to be a simple process. Right?

So, I typed in the family surname, Hinchee. Clicked on West Virginia. And limited my search to Monroe County. Okay, here’s where the brilliant minds of the indexer’s came into play!

The following list of individuals came up:
Rufind Hinchu [for Rufus D. Hinchee]
Jennie L. Hinchu
Della C. Hinchu
Amah C. Hinchu [for Alma C. Hinchee]
Willie K Hinchu
Chalmul Hinchu [hmm???]
Lizzie Hinchu
Frank J. Hinchu and
Ethel M. Hinchu

Come on! The Hinchee’s are one of the oldest families in the county! How hard could this be! So, I looked at the Census taker’s handwriting. I truly expected to see some horrendous penmanship that would cause the many individuals who indexed to all agree the spelling was “Hinchu” instead of “Hinchee”. Now, I respect Ancestry, I really do. I’ve been a subscriber for many years. I purchase the biggest research package that they offer yearly, and I fully intend to continue doing so as long as I can afford to, but this was just a bit ridiculous! The handwriting was very clear and precise! There were no problems in differentiating between the “ee” on the end and the indexers “u”.

So, what was I to do?

Okay, so how many ways can you mess up on the spelling “Giles” [I’d already seen the 1910 census had him listed as “Gitis”, but it did come up in the search, so maybe….just maybe…..

And so I returned to the 1900 Census search page. There I put in only the first name, Giles. No surname. West Virginia. And specified Monroe County.

Low, and behold, the very first record to emerge was Giles M. HINCHER. [Okay, they were getting warmer at least!]

I had found them. Yep. Sure enough, when I opened the link to the record, there was Giles, wife Macie, and their first two daughters, Mary and Lillie. As well as a Hinchee nephew, Luther [another line for my cuz to trace!].

So, what did this teach us?

Number one – ALWAYS use the Soundex when searching. And number two, think outside the box. If we had searched using the last name alone, or even the two together, we would never had located them. But because of the somewhat unusual first name, Giles, when I used it alone, for a rural area, bam, the record came up first on the search.

If only finding my car keys were half this easy. Now…. Where did I lay those things down at????

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