"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press & Thorndale Champion
18 November 2004

Are You in Competition?

Recently, I received an e-mail from "someone" very upset that I had "their family members" in my family tree information. I said, "Oh, I'm so glad, that means we are related!" No replied the person, I want you to take the information out because I have in my family tree database and I own that information!

Gee, I've had one person to ask me to remove them from family tree information due to privacy issues but I have never had anyone demand I remove an entire line of ancestors!

I enjoy going to the RootsWeb.com World Connect Project http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/ and "checking out the competition" e.g., those folks who have my family lines.

Sometimes, I will point-out major errors but to claim that I own my ancestors is just plain silly! No, I didn't delete the line from my family tree database. It is sad the person is clueless about not owning family members.

I am excited when I find someone who is also researching the same individuals. In my opinion, teamwork is the basis for family tree research, not competition!

Yes, there are some individuals who only take information and do not share. But, those are very few and you learn who you can and cannot share information.

Yes, there have been times when I have shared with someone else and they have taken my research and claimed it as their own, failing to document the source for their information.

Another way to network with other researchers is through the RootsWeb.com Surname and Location Message Boards and Mailing Lists http://www.rootsweb.com/.

When was the last time you placed a query on-line? Never! Well, make a decision today, to place one query on-line. There are Message Boards for almost every surname you can think of and county, state and country!

I will also publish, when submitted, queries in the column. You can also submit queries to the genealogy or historical society newsletters and journals in the communities where your ancestors lived seeking information.

So, sit down today and make a start and networking with queries and I hope you think of genealogy as teamwork versus competition!

Writing Effective Queries

One of the most effective tools for genealogists is "The Query." You should follow the basic rule: Who, What, Where, When & Why. The way you ask your query will determine what information you receive in return.

The goal of your query is to grab the attention of the reader, to establish the known facts, and to get to the point of the information you are seeking.

Begin your query with a headline that will grab the reader's attention. Include the surname and place. Example, "GA/TX - Shuffield/Sheffield"

Next, tell what you know, i.e., dates/places of birth, death, marriage; the names of spouse(s); the names of children and their dates/places of birth.

Here is an example of a "get to the point query" even if it is long:

Milam Co., TX & Bartow Co., GA - Shuffield/Sheffield: Seeking information on the ancestors of James S. Shuffield (b. 1824, GA - d. 1909, Milam Co.) and his wife, Martha Speed Shuffield (b. 1824, GA - d. 1898, Milam Co.). Eight children: 1) Harmon Jasper [m. Sletha Jane McGee]; 2) Marcus "Mark" [m. (1) Virginia Jane/Jennie Cullen & (2) Ada Donaldson]; 3) James [m. Mary Lou/Lula Moore - she m.2nd D. T. Nicholson & m.3rd J. F. Wingo]; 4) Emranda E. [m. Jesse Griffin Sherrill]; 5) Sally [m. Columbus Clinton Hair]; 6) Andrew Newton [m. (1) Rose Lindsey & (2) Sarah Newberry Ammons]; 7) Frannie W. [m. Jacob P. French]; and 8) Elvira Abbie [m. William Newton McMillan]. The family moved to Milam Co. ca. 1869 from Bartow Co. (known before the Civil War as Cass Co., GA). Contact: L. K. Shuffield, P. O. Box 16604, Houston, TX 77222 or e-mail: < lksfriday@sbcglobal.net >.

To find the address of genealogy, historical or family societies to mail your query, check with the Reference Section of your local library for a book entitled, "The Ancestry Family Historian's Address Book: A Comprehensive List of Addresses of Local, State, & Federal Agencies & Institutions." (ISBN: 0916489744).


In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 15 Mar 2005 and was last revised on __________

Copyright 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604