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Organizing Genealogical Records: the HOW and the WHAT


gold fields

And when you notice that men have disappeared in the 1850 census—right after the California ‘49er Gold Rush? They just might be there! In 1850 I missed David Markley and Samuel Croy. Samuel deserted his wife, Catherine Pugh Croy. David returned. Could be they headed to the goldfields like David’s brother, John. From Coshocton Tribune, Nov. 1924

Time to clean house—my genealogical house, that is. My goal:


  • Research brick walls
  • Review and update family sheets
  • Organize related files, both computer and paper

NO SMALL TASK! So I decided to take one grouping at a time.

First ones to tackle: the Ohio clan. Why? They had not been updated since 2015!

Also, the fourth of my historical fiction series, The Maggie Chronicles, delves deep into their nineteenth-century Ohio lives. The book deviates significantly from the Andrew Croy family’s real life, but my research of them revealed so much that was new or corrected that I thought I should take a closer look.

Deep in the weeds, a genealogist’s disease, I discovered much and, boy, did I organize!

Here is how:

  1. I printed out the family tree and sheets from my genealogy program to work from, numbering each of the children in birth order.
  2. All information on the children used that numbering system. i.e. In my paper files, I numbered each page of info. and paper clipped it together by date. In my computer files, I numbered each item followed by a year for each item in the parent folder. Here is an example of what that looked like. Screen Shot 2019-09-23 at 8.10.31 AM
  3. Then I set to work filling in blanks. Mind you, I’ve worked on this for ten years now and applied to a number of societies requiring detailed support so I have bunches of data. Nuts, I know. SO, HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE?

Just in case you want to get right to the chase, I’ve updated all my Ohio records. You can find them here. Ohio family sheets 9-15-2019

What I discovered—and didn’t.

  1. Two brick walls for these families are still unclimbed. HELP ANYONE?
  • HENRY SMITH: I think he is probably the brother of EVERHART SMITH (who married Selena Payne, sister of Henry’s wife Sephronia Payne…so you’d figure) BUT I can’t find a direct link yet.
  • MARGARET PUGH: wife of Jacob Croy. I made up a family in my next book, just ‘cause, but I cannot verify my guess that she is the daughter of John Pugh, likely son of Aaron.
  1. The MARKLEY family (David, Selena, and Catherine) that married into the ZERAH PAYNE family (Selena, Samuel, and Michael), always fascinated me. Another disease of a genealogist is digging deep where you don’t belong. But, hey, if you are a Markley descendent you might be interested. So I wondered:
  • Who was/were their ancestors, and—Jackpot! I found an article on an ADAM MARKLEY who had a very large family and settled in Bethlehem Township, Coshocton County, Ohio. After some digging, I found the probate records (both available on Ancestry) of Adam and his son, father of those children, FREDRICK MARKLEY.
  • Also, the aftermath of the Knox County, Indiana tragedy where I estimate at least seven Markley/Payne children died in a ten-year period after their arrival. The children of SAMUEL AND SELENA MARKLEY PAYNE were distributed: CATHERINE MARKLEY PAYNE, whose husband Michael also died, took in Amy. Daughter Rachel, then nineteen, returned to Coshocton County with Eliza and Burd. Their eldest James was already married and established in Knox County.
  1. Again digging way too deep, I clarified (or complicated) the lives of the children of Calvin and Sarah Angeline (Payne) Smith Croy.
  • A correction for CHARLES HENRY CROY that eliminated a wife (Watch out! There are more souls out there with the same name and similar birthdates that you might think!)
  • The addition of a second wife for WILLIAM DUNCAN CROY (DELLA SLAUGHTER) She eventually married William’s mother Sarah’s sister Selena’s son, EARLE UFFNER.
  • A little more information on DAVID HARRISON CROY and his complicated marriage history, including a new birth certificate for his son Daniel, which gives his father as an Everett McCoy. David always claimed this boy as his and Louise Marie, aka Billie Lou Moody (among other names) gave a lot of different/questionable versions of information on her documents.

Check out this post for more of the convoluted.

So, I’m brain dead, cross-eyed, and exhausted. Tomorrow—I return an Ohio in the 1800s and the imaginary world of my making.

Research the Library of Congress Maps on Line

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Be still my heart; the perfect map for a writer of historical fiction and an amateur historian.[i]

Be still my heart; the perfect map for a writer of historical fiction and an amateur historian.[i]

After numerous edits, as I prepared the historical fiction novel I wrote for ‘final’ scrutiny, I determined that it might need a map or two. That decision led me to one of my favorite on-line research sites, the Library of Congress maps collection at I wanted my maps to have the look and feel of maps from the same period as my novel (1770-1820.) I found some great examples and, meandering off the course as so often happens in the research process, I found two maps useful to my genealogical research as well. In this blog, I hope to walk you through the very simple process of searching the Library’s fabulous collection by outlining how I found the map that inspired the maps for my novel as well as the other maps I discovered.

First, before you do anything, have a purpose in mind. I had set the goal of finding hand-produced maps of Pennsylvania and Ohio from a particular period as examples for my fictionalized maps. I still got distracted, but without a goal you could spend hours in a maze of old maps. That could be your goal I suppose but, really, isn’t there something you want to discover?

Next, log on to the Internet. (My wonderful, wonderful friend…Is it right to love an inanimate object, and is something so responsive really inanimate?) Anyway, head to the address indicated above.

When first exploring the site, I recommend using the search column you’ll find to the right of the page. It allows you to narrow the parameters of your search one step at a time. After all, you don’t want to miss something wonderful. By choosing ‘1700-1799’ in the ‘Dates’ section, 2,230 amazing handcrafted maps of the period appeared, just a few too many.

The narrower your search the fewer your results, and the site offers many ways to narrow your outcomes. One option, ‘Collections,’ allows you to look inside the numerous collections compiled by the Library such as this intriguing possibility, Discovery and Exploration. If you are a real map geek you can search by the contributor or maker of the map. Perhaps your goal is subject based such as the American Revolution; there is that option as well. And, while I don’t recommend it because many excellent early maps might be overlooked, you can search by language. For my novel, I chose to narrow my search to ‘1700-1799’ and Pennsylvania, reducing the results to 88. Just remember that if you decide to change your search criteria, you need to eliminate the old search by clicking on the ‘x’ by that search option in the right hand column. Here is one example of a handmade map that I found as inspiration.[ii]

Braddock's Route

Braddock’s Route

If your goal is narrowly defined, type in your specific search at the top of the page. You can still use the search column at the right to narrow your results even further! For example, when I started roaming the unknown, I began to wonder about the Ohio clan, the one I just can’t seem to release. Anyway, I typed in Washington County, Ohio and found the map shown below.[iii] With it, published in 1858, and knowing that my family owned land in that county by 1860 (based on the Federal Census)[iv] I was able to narrow the probable time that they entered Washington County from Coshocton County to about 1859. Now that gets a genealogist’s heart all in a flutter!washington county

[i] Bradley, Abraham. A map of the United States exhibiting post roads & distances. Map. From the Library of Congress, Map Collections. (accessed June 29, 2015)

[ii] Braddock’s route, 1755, Fort Cumberland to Fort Pitt. Map. From Library of Congress, Map Collections. (accessed June 29, 2015)

[iii] Lorey, Wm. Map of Washington County, Ohio: from actual survey & records. Map. 1858, From the Library of Congress, Map Collections. (accessed June 29, 2015) [iv] Federal Census, 1860; Census Place: Fairfield, Washington, Ohio; Roll; M653_1048: Page: 124; Image: 251; Family History Library Film:805048 (accessed April 22, 2013)