Sunday, January 24, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Two Degrees of Separation

Here is our assignment:

1) Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with two degrees of separation? That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor." When was that second ancestor born?

2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google+.

I tried this with both my father's line and my mother's:

1. My Hork-Sullivan-Gleeson line: My paternal great grandaunt, Loretto M. Sullivan Patterson (1885-1972) held me (born in 1954 in Concord, California). She definitely knew her grandmother, Margaret Tierney Gleeson (1835 in Canada, d. 1920 in Portland, Oregon) because she lived with her grandparents after her mother died in 1912.

Me with Aunt Loretta - 1954
Loretta with her Aunt and Grandmother - 1913 or so

2. My Hork-Johnston-Lancaster-Polly line: My grandmother, Pansy Louise Lancaster Johnston (1913-2013) knew her great-grandfather, George Wilson Lancaster (1839-1919). George W. Lancaster would have known his grandfather, Nathan H.O. Polly (1820-1902). These family all lived in proximity of each other in Erath and Rockwall Counties in Texas.

Pretty good. I was able to get back to 1820!

Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Your 2016 Genealogy Education Plans

It's another great assignment from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1) What are your genealogy education plans for 2016?  Local society meetings or seminars?  Regional or national conferences?  Weeklong institutes?  Genealogy cruises?  Podcasts?  YouTube Videos?  Webinars or Hangouts On Air?  Magazines?  Websites?  Blogs?
2)  How much time do you invest in Genealogy Education?  Why do you do it?
3)  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.
Here are my answers:

1. My 2016 genealogy education plan is:

a. Attend Institutes.
  • Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG).  This is already completed. I attended the course “Advanced Genealogical Methods” with Thomas W. Jones. It was a very rigorous class but very rewarding. I knew there would be homework, so made no effort to research at the Family History Library in the evenings of the class and instead worked on the homework. Completing the homework really helped solidify the ideas and techniques he taught in the class. I highly recommend it. The schedule for 2017 was announced at the banquet and will be posted to their website soon. (P.S. I arrived early the week before to get in my researching fix at the Family History Library).

b. Online Classes.

c. Other online education.
  • Study groups with DearMyrtle.  She has several opportunities during the week including Mondays With Myrt, Wacky Wednesday, and special topic workshops. I have been a panelist on several of the previous study groups where we take a specific topic, explore it in depth, and talk about it.
  • Bootcamps created by Thomas MacEntee at Hack Genealogy. I attended two Bootcamps previously and will take “Scrivener II: Beyond the Basics” this coming Saturday.

d. Local and regional society activities. 
  • I will attend most of the meetings of the Contra Costa County Society and the Sacramento German Genealogical Society meetings. I will attend classes and teach classes at the California Genealogical Society.   
  • Once a year seminars given by other local societies will also be an attraction.

e. Classes and presentations.
  • I am part of the joint Contra Costa County Genealogical Society and Concord Family History Center intermediate genealogy class called “Beyond the Basics” class, a 6 week course continuing where we left off with our introduction class.
  • I will also be giving presentations throughout the year to several local genealogy societies.

f.  Self-study.
  • I also read several publications, such as the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and follow many blogs. I probably spend about 25-30% of my time on education, counting the time spent learning about new resources and localities of places where my ancestors lived.

Education is important. I spend time in organized classes taught by experts in the field and I spent time with self-study, focusing on what I need for personal research.

Copyright © 2011-2016 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Grandfather, William Cyril Hork, Worked on the Railroad: Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files

A new (to me) database is on called “U.S., Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1963.”  I was pretty excited because until this point, I have had no direct ancestors who worked for the railroad. I’ve been a huge railfan most of my life and I was pleasantly surprised to have my grandfather turn up in this database.

The Northern Pacific Railway Company was based out of Minnesota but had tracks that went west as far as the Pacific Ocean. My grandfather, William Cyril Hork, lived in Hamilton, Montana, which is in western Montana near the Idaho border.[1]

Northern Pacific Ry Co map; wikipedia
So what is this database all about? This is a “collection of personnel files from the Northern Pacific Railway Company…and includes company correspondence, job history, salary and promotion documents, leaves of absence, and more.”

So this is more than a database. It has digital images of the records! The employee records can include multiple pages. Each file has a file number. There was also a note that the items in the file were typically “in reverse chronological order, with the most recent pages appearing first. And not all pages will be indexed.” 

What got me to this database was the indexed entry for “Cyril Willis Hock.” Someone made a correction and the entry for “Cvril Willis Hork” was also included.[2] 

Entry for Cyril Willis Hock/Hork

The name of my grandfather was different than I expected. I knew him as William Cyril Hork, but he was often Cyril in early census records and in local newspaper accounts. His military records also used the name Cyril Willis Hork. The locality matched the area in which he lived. But the final piece, that his mother was Mrs. Julia Hock (or Hork). It was enough to have me click through to the images.

This entry indicated there were ten images. There are two places to click, the one that was indexed and the packet cover. Clicking on the packet cover brought me to the first image of the file. The indexed view was the second image in the packet. 

"Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1963,"  File 144100, Cyril Willis Hork
Once viewing the image, I could see his surname was Hork in many of the images, but I could also see how an indexer would view it has Hock, because the indexed page had the names handwritten instead of being typed, but at the very top, the name “Hock, Cyril Willis” was typed.

The indexed page was the application for employment. I’m still trying to determine if Cyril filled out the form himself or if the agent, S.R. Wilson, had. It is possible the top portion until the place of applicant signature was filled out by Cyril.

Between the cover page and the application, I found out he worked as a warehouseman in the Hamilton Station from 1 Jul 1922 until 19 Dec 1922; almost 6 months. The reason for dismissal was reduction in force. 
Cover, File 144100, Cyril Willis Hork
It was a shame he was released in December. He had been married less than a month, having married Anna Marie Sullivan on 30 November 1922 in Butte, Montana.[3]

One of the other records in the packet showed his previous work history. Except for being in the U.S. Navy for 18 months, his work history revealed that none of his previous jobs lasted more than a few months.
Employment History, File 144100, Cyril Willis Hork
There was more to the packet, mostly about his military service, but  I’ll save for another day.

[1] “Map of Northern Pacific’s route circa 1900,” (; citing image from the Library of Congress map collection, call number G4126.P3 1900 .L55 RR 502; originally from the Fourth Annual Report of the northern Pacific Railway company, for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1900.
[2] "Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1963," file 144100, Cyril Willis Hork , digital images, ( accessed 25 Nov 2015); Original data Personnel Files, circa 1909–1960s, Personnel Dept. records, Northern Pacific Railway Company records, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.
[3] Silver Bow County, Montana, Marriages, record A-14551, William C. Hork to Anna M. Sullivan, 30 Nov 1922.

Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.