Friday, December 10, 2010

Roots in the Texas Soil.

     I was born in a log cabin. Okay, actually I wasn't. I was born in Georgetown Hospital, Georgetown, Texas August 18, 1950. My Texas roots go back 6 generations or more. One line, my mother's Millard line, goes back to Col. Henry B. Millard, who was a Colonel in the Texas Army in the battle of San Jacinto. Other family lines include, of course, Seward, Adams, Tucker, Stanley, Hunt, and a bunch of others. 
     I've been involved in genealogy, tracing family roots, most of my life. My paternal grandmother, Bertha Mildred Adams Seward sort of got me started. She and two of her sisters-in-law put together a small book on the Seward line back in the '50s. I still have a copy of that. Most copies were individually typed, some hektographed or carbons and semi bound into file folders with a hand-drawn copy of a Seward coat-of-arms on the cover. 
     Williamson County, Texas has a very good society, the Williamson County Genealogical Society, that includes many professional researchers and other resources. I was active in the WCGS for several years, as well as the Williamson County Historical Commission.
Genealogy can be a fascinating, and sometimes riveting hobby. A lot of people seem to think that they can go online, or zip down to the library and "look up" their family tree. It is rarely ever that simple. The only time that actually is productive is if someone very close to you has applied for Daughters of the Revolution, or Daughters of the Republic of Texas membership AND has put it on file AND it is actually easily located. 
     It takes a lot of digging, and luck, and talking to relatives and others who are actively researching. A good genealogical software program is of incredible help. You will be able to share files with others if your program has the capability to use .ged files. Also called gedcoms, they are pretty standard with most genealogical software programs. Current programs also have wonderful tools for adding pictures, documenting discoveries and adding notes. Many will even aid you in generating a book of your files. 
     The main program I use is Personal Ancestor File from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is still a very inexpensive program, sometimes free, with a lot of really good bells and whistles. There are lots of others available, including RootsMagic, Brother's Keeper, and on and on. Whatever looks good to you or works the way you want to work is great. I would definitely recommend the PAF, but if you use anything else, be sure it works with the gedcom files. 
     However you feel about the LDS Church, their genealogy files are extensive, and if you are a serious genealogical researcher you will definitely find a lot for you in their library. They are always very generous in sharing as well.
     One imperative for serious research is good record keeping. Start a log and give every letter, interview, email, book citation or other source of info a number as if you were making footnotes. Sometimes in the moment it is easy to forget, or seem trivial, but it certainly makes it so much easier to track down that information you have filed away. Yes, your software will also usually have a provision to annotate information, but that hard copy log will be invaluable. Trust me!
     How does it work? Perhaps you get a letter from Aunt Sally with information on cousins. You open your reference log, see what the next number in sequence is, make a note in the log of Aunt Sally's letter and the gist of the info. Don't forget to write that number on the actual letter where you can see it before you file it away. Then, in the software, where you actually enter the info, use the same reference number. At a later date someone may ask about the information and you can quickly locate the original in your files. You can do the same with emails, gedcom files, books you consult, and so on. 
     It is also very easy online to begin a family website to present your information for others you are related to. I have one at If you are family, let me know and I'll add you.
     The book I would suggest any beginning genealogist get would be Emily Croom's "Unpuzzling Your Past". Emily is a fellow Central Texan and her book is an incredibly thorough introduction to genealogy. Enjoy!


  1. Hi Bill,

    I have an alert set up so anytime Williamson County is put in a blog it finds me!!! I read with interest you blog because I too am a 6th Generation Texan (my ancestors came about 1821 and have fought through the wars, had a Spanish land grant, was part of Austin's Old 300...the whole 9 yards. It's exciting to be part of such a great state history.

    I was wondering if you would mind me sharing your blog on the Williamson County Genealogical Society Facebook Page? We have a great group in the WCGS. I man the publicity chair and am trying very hard to move us to the 21st Century with publicity for the society.

    Do you still do genealogy? I would love to compare lines and see if we connect. Ha Ha My ancestors are from Williamson and Travis County.

    Thanks Laura Moore

  2. Thanks, Laura, no problem. Sorry it took a while, I don't always notice comments on here for a bit. Go ahead, share away. Happy Holidays to you and all my old buds at WCGS! I hadn't realized there was a Facebook page!

  3. Oh, yes, your question about genealogy. I still do it in spurts. I'd love to compare lines. When I was active in WCGS, it was a rare meeting that a new visitor showed up who wasn't related to me somehow! lol