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  • Writer's pictureRicki King

Diary of a Beginning Genealogist part 2

18 January 2003

Today I finished with the 1900 Missouri census. I found Edward King and a 10-year-old Art King. On Edward's part I found another son Vestera nd a daughter E?na. It could be Erma, Edna, or Emma. There is a smudge over the name so I may be completely off on what is the actual name. Neither one is listed on the 1910 census living in the household or in other records. Vester is 10-year-old and E?na is 6 years old. Both could have died young.

Under Art(hur)'s listing you can't read the head of household. But there is a sister Hattie. I took copies of the other Black King's list. Since the writing is so faint I didn't see one of the names was Art until I got the copy and started recording the information. I'll have to to go back to the 1870 and 1910 census to see if he is listed. The family information I was told is Art is a brother to Edward but this is where the stories get more secretive and are whispered.

2020 hindsight:

I had found Art in the 1900 census. I automatically made the conclusion I must have missed Art in the 1870 census. I do not know why I skipped the 1880 census. I assume I knew fire destroyed the 1890 census.

I did not take the time to think or process the information I had just recorded. Knowing better now, I would want to make a note to research Art at a later time. Before beginning Art's research, I would now create a research plan because of training and experience. List all the information currently known about Art and his family from the 1900 census in the plan. After completing the family details, I would see 10-year-old Art was born about 1889 and his 13-year-old sister Hattie in about 1887. There is no need to search for either of them in the 1870 or 1880 census. Any earlier search will only be on their mother, Annie.

Research plans are useful to help focus and guide you towards finding the answers you seek. The plan is a fluid document changing as more information is uncovered. Taking the time to analyze records saves you time and helps stop you from going down a rabbit hole pursuing that exciting story about great grandma's sister's husband's sister. Have a paper next to you to write the information down and come back to it later.

I learned the 1870 census is indexed on CDROM. Which is very handy because I didn't have to look through the census by hand. I hit pay dirt here. I learned Edward's mother's name is Margaret and his brothers and sisters names. This is also where my luck ran out. Blacks are not listed in the 1860 census they are listed in slave schedules and of course I don't know who the slave owner was. I did look at all the Henry's [father of Edward] in the 1860 census none matched. This is where the real learning begins.

The volunteers there [IGS] today knew nothing about tracing Black history. Billie said Monday workers knew some things since they help the African-American group.

My assumption was that my family were slaves with no evidence or information pointing to them being slaves. At the time and still today, most people are taught all Blacks were slaves. I literally quit researching census for the night. Because of the stories I had heard, it did not cross my mind to continue my search in the census. Stories such as Blacks can not be found in records before 1870. Blacks hit a brick wall at 1870 and cannot go any further in their family history. Yet, there are many ways to disprove what is being taught as fact. Many free people of color can be found in the 1860 census and earlier census. There are many types of records Black can be found in prior to 1870. Too many Blacks see 1870 as a stopping point. Because they wrongly believe no documents are recording the names of Blacks. The tales of researching Black family history stops many from trying. I am transcribing my diary to hopefully but some of the myths to rest.

I looked through what microfilm the library had for slave and freeman records there wasn't much on Missouri. My family wasn't listed. The marriage records were listed for some States. They had Freeman Bank records but they are dark and hard to read. There is no index for these records that I could use. There is an index for Mississippi which has 50 microfilm rolls.

I spent the last part of my day looking at shelved books. I was familiarizing myself with what was there. While doing this I found 2 books on Missouri Slave schedules, Black cemeteries. But of course when I found them there was 5 minutes left before we closed. I [will] look at them on Monday. At a quick glance, I saw a couple of people named King.

Once again, my experience was showing. I was randomly looking for any item mentioning the King name in Missouri records. I had no clue where to look except Missouri. I was not looking in the county or the city where I had previously found them. No, I was happy to find anyone that was Black with the last name King. A research plan would help here. I would list all the family names with birth and death dates and locations in the beginning background details. As my research moves forward, each person will have a research plan created to guide in searching for them and their descendants. There can be different versions of my research plan. My family stayed in the same area, and I may use what I call a record research plan to use on travel trips to the courthouse. In this case, I may have a list of all the people I want to search in, say a land deeds record. I will list all the sons and their wives, the daughters, and their husbands with their maiden and married names and any other people I will be searching for in the land deeds. This way, I do not miss a name I should have checked.

I list the main research subject first as a reminder of who is the focus person. I once spent two days checking family surnames in city directories on microfilm on a research trip back to my hometown. The city directories search did cover 85 years of my Grandmother Rebecca's life. The time covered her parents' arrival in Burlington, Iowa, her marriage, and up to the last year before she died. Years later, the two days turned out to be very well spent. When I did need to refer to the city directories again, it took about an hour. I only needed to search for one new family name that was unknown during my original search.

Billie suggested a book by Charles Blockson called Black Genealogy to see what he said about slave records and how to go about it. I had already read it last year. I did check it out to remind myself what it said in this area.

I almost forgot. I learned how to burn a microfilm image to a CD. Instead of printing every proof of where the family was. I can burn the image on a CD and later insert it on a computer record where it relates to the individual. I'm going to do both just because I like to look at the paper later and I don't have a computer.

This day is too funny not to comment about it. On this one day, 18 January 2003, I mention three things that are obsolete seventeen years later. Yes, there may be a few people still using a CD, CDROM, and saving to a CD if they are, it will be hard to find them. Over the years, I have had one desktop computer and several laptops. I now download straight from the internet to my laptop and genealogy program. Seventeen years ago, I had not heard of,, or searching the internet for my family history. I do have old CD's that I have not looked at in years. I back up my downloaded genealogy materials to a USB drive or save it to the cloud to easily share with others.

Notes from 18 January 2003

  • Who is E?na in the household of Edward King on the 1900 Missouri census?

  • When did she die?

Names mentioned 18 January 2003:

Annie King

Art(hur) King child of Annie

Hattie King, child of Annie

Margaret King, mother of Edward

Henry King, father of Edward

Edward King

Vester King, child of Edward

E?na King child of Edward

Running to-do list from the journal still needing to be completed:

  • Need Minnie's birth certificate.

  • Did Henry King die soon after returning from the boy scout camp?

  • Compare death certificate with newspaper stories about the boy scout camp.

  • Will add to the story of his life if correct.


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