Who Capped Your Ancestry?

In the U.S., gasoline  has gone over $4.10 a gallon.  In Britain, in 1988, I paid over $4.00 (British dollars) per liter for gasoline.  Today, in some places I have been told that it is over $8.00 (Euro) per liter.  And now I’ve been told that we have done it to ourselves!

C-SPAN broadcasts, live, from the House of Representatives every day.  And I try to watch something each day–very informative what is being discussed by and in front of our elected representatives.  Less informative to watch the Senate–lots of Senators do not even attend, let alone debate the important concerns  we have.  (Better than the re-hash from the talking heads that passes for news.  Sorry for the editorial comments.)

So three Representatives–from UT, IA, and CA–discussed our energy crisis for more than 3 hours.  60 minutes each.  With charts, and facts, and statistics, and a white paper signed by more than 16,000 scientists, engineers, energy consultants, and teaching professors.

Congress Capped the Wells! 

Seems Congress capped the oil wells and made it illegal to drill for oil or gas in all of the places where these resources are deposited across the United States.  And offshore.  Once past our waters, however, other countries are blissfully drilling for oil already purchased–including some that comes to us!  And these three Representatives are sponsoring a comprehensive energy program they hope to convince others to support.

Have you ever watched an oil-rich area dry up?  First, those who dig and process leave.  Next, the professionals pack their books and papers into boxes  and vacate their offices.  Then the stores and shops close.  Finally, the city lays off their non-elected people from the janitor to the office manager, and they leave.  Creating ghost town after ghost town.

In the 1970’s, I traced families who originally owned oil leases in Texas and Louisiana, to locate heirs of original owners.  There was an active southwestern market in oil leases.  Then they capped the wells.

In the 1980’s, I traced Native American lineages for men who wanted first dibs on oil leases in Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska.  There was an active western market for oil leases, if you could show Indian descent. Today, the majority of these wells are capped!

How does this sad tale apply to your genealogy?

Have you Capped your Ancestry?  If you have spoken these sentences–or even thought them–you have capped your genealogy lines:  “I’ll wait until the information I need is on the internet.”  Or, “My sister is tracing that lineage and will give me a copy.  I don’t need to do a thing.”  Or, “I have already searched all the records and I couldn’t find anything on my ancestor in them.”

May I recommend an easy way to  pull the caps off?

Visit your nearest genealogy library for an hour.  Do you know that attendance numbers have dropped up to 47%?  Don’t get me wrong–I visit libraries every week.  Several days a week.  I read the books.  I study the microfilm.  I gripe that the microfiche is not indexed or that the computer printer does not work right.  I search the internet.  I use them all.

My attendance is not down 47%.  And my success rate remains at 96% in finding hard-to-find ancestors.

NAMES, DATES, PLACES, RELATIONSHIPS, and MIGRATION PATTERNS are online and offline–mostly OFF.  Even though more and more information is being dumped onto the internet.  Even though more and more documents are being scanned online.  Even though books are transcribed and you can choose jpeg or tiff or whatever to show your images.  The CORE genealogy records are often only available at the courthouse or on deposit at the historical society or university special collections.

Every time I think, I will work online today to  solve this difficult research challenge, I remind myself that the CORE records I need aren’t there–yet.

And if the sources I need have been transcribed, have they been read correctly?  Did the transcriber write HARRIS for HARRUP?  Is there an introduction to the printed version telling me that this is a “19th century transcription of a 17th century handwritten copy of the deed” that is now being typed, edited, and printed?  Making my essential piece of evidence three, four, or five times removed from the document my ancestor executed?

Some time ago, we researched an Ohio surname in several counties–because our client had the documents from her grandfather’s desk.  She was positive that he received them from his father.  That they were “original” documents in family possession.

We searched in vain.  Her ancestor was not there!  We looked again.  Her ancestor was not there.   So we asked if we could  go through all the papers in her grandfather’s files.  We  traveled to the files.  And went carefully through them.  There, among the files, was a receipt for the documents hand-copied by a court stenog because there were no copy machines then.

Back to square one.  Her ancestor lived in northern Maryland near the Pennsylvania line.  He originated in Connecticut.  He died in Illinois.  Unknowingly, she capped her ancestry.  And it took us substantial time and cost to uncap it.

A good review of what you knew when you began your first searches.  Compared with what you have collected now.  And a careful assessment of what fits and what does not fit–yet–is always a good idea.  If you have capped your ancestry, remove the caps.  Check again.  Do you get the same answer?

Seems the reason Congress shut our energy resources down was their belief that fossil fuels were too dangerous to retrieve and process in the United States.  And using our collective intelligence to change our methods of retrieval and processing was too costly. Now if we remove the caps and re-examine the processes…  Do we get the same answers?  No, if we can believe the more than 16,000 experts who have signed their names to the request to reconsider the game plan.

Can’t Win the Game Without a Philosophical Shift

Do you understand that there is a different genealogy research philosophy working here?  If you continue to read my blogs, I will eventually persuade you to my point of view–or, at least,  to a more independent, answer-seeking philosophy.  Can’t win the game without a philosophical shift.  Your favorite genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com

PS  All of the research publications I will have for sale at JAMBOREE 2008 are based on my own genealogy research philosophy.  And it maintains my 96% success rate.  Get a preview by checking my online catalog.

PPS  With these thoughts in mind, I re-looked at Everton’s Handybook with new eyes.  Stay tuned.

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3 Responses to Who Capped Your Ancestry?

  1. mcmen says:

    Arlene, I’ve enjoyed your genealogy blog, but today’s political slant has put me off. You over-simplify our energy problem (on the basis of a House session –which I couldn’t pull up from the C-span website–that was apparently biased toward arguments for domestic production). You blithely suggest our problem is caused by Congress! Not by oil company profit-taking, not by a misguided war that has inflamed the middle east and seriously disrupted oil supplies, not by the escalation of consumption in the developing world, not by the (Republican) energy policies of the last thirty years that removed CAFE standards from corporate fleets and encouraged gas-guzzling vehicles by excluding SUVs from passenger car standards, by the failure of oil companies to keep up with demand by building new refineries instead of pocketing profits while demanding the government pay for new refinery capabilities (among many causes). How did this House session miss the fact that all the oil drilling in the US would make only a slight dent, for a short time, in our energy needs? Frankly, allowing unbridled drilling in the US serves one purpose: to increase profits for American oil companies for the short time that our small oil supplies hold out. (Current oil company profits are, if I remember correctly, some 35% higher than last year . . . despite their complaint that they only make a few cents a gallon.)

    I think you should stick to genealogy, or learn more about 1) the whole story of energy production and 2) the tactics used to distort facts and create pseudo-arguments. Take a look at this article for a start:


  2. Devildocmom says:

    I am right with you on your discussion Arlene and feel your analogy is right on. I do not feel you created a “pseudo-argument” or distorted the facts.
    I find all of your blogs useful, but this one in particular has me making plans to go to my family history library. Thanks.

  3. arlene says:

    In a free society, multiple causes will always operate. And in a free society, we always do it to ourselves. We purchase the gas-guzzlers, often without researching what the vehicle will and will not do. We speculate in the market–hoping to get a piece of the windfall. We pay the prices that are posted–without protest. We allow and even encourage our government representatives to regulate us as special interests request. And we even align ourselves behind them as they enact into law what will inevitably fry us.

    I appreciate your comments and hope you will continue to read and comment.

    We always do it to ourselves. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

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