Slowing Down

Just like a truck driving through a construction zone, I am embracing the concept of slowing down in my genealogy. In the beginning, like every new budding family historian, you want to see how far back you can go as fast as you can. So, you become a name collector. All you are interested in is the names and dates of your ancestors (and usually just on your direct line).

By slowing down you get a chance to think, analyze what you’ve found, and write up stories about your ancestors…not just collect names. And it’s the stories that give them meaning and make them interesting. They become more than just a name.

Over the past few months, I’ve been tackling my dad’s Dutch side. As of 6 years ago, I didn’t even know we had a Dutch side! This line intimidated me, but I feel more confident now and ready for the challenge of this new family line.

The first time the surname “Krewson” appears is my 2nd great-grandmother, Susanna Krewson. She was born around 1829 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and married Andrew Bothell in 1847 in Newtown, Bucks County. The Krewson surname is interesting (and challenging) because it can be spelled in so many ways…Krewsen, Kroesen, Cruson, etc. This couple and their children eventually migrated south to Cecil County, Maryland. My new truck driving route goes right through Cecil County and it’s all I can do not to stop and go to the library or historical society!

Susanna was the daughter of John Krewson and Jane Parker. How do I know that? It took a lot of digging, correlating, and plenty of thinking! Births were not recorded at that time. I have not located a baptism record for her and she never appeared on a census record with her parents. The 1850 census record was the first one that listed every member of the household by name. By then, Susanna was already married and living with her husband and children (still in Bucks County, PA). From the first census in 1790 to 1840, only heads of households were named. Everyone else was just a tick mark in an age group. So, in 1850 she was with her husband, Andrew, and children, Alexander and Charles. Apparently, the Bothell surname had plenty of spelling variations too!

1850 U.S. census, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Northampton Township, p. 81b (stamped), dwelling 12, family 14, Andrew Bodle household; digital image Ancestry ( : accessed
2 Sep 2022), image 2 of 44; citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 759.

She is only directly connected to her father through his will, where he mentioned each child by name (women by their married name). And there she is…Susanna Bothel.

“Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed
2 Sep 2022), John Kruson will #11848, image 512 of 566; Will Book Bucks County, vol. 16, p.376;
citing Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

It was only through her siblings’ baptism records, other census records, and her parent’s Find A Grave memorials that I could prove Jane Parker was her mother.

Susanna’s story is there, it’s just hidden in the records of those around her. I’m hoping she is mentioned in her husband, Andrew’s Civil War service record, which I am patiently waiting for from NARA.

Genealogy tip: Take the time to really look at what you’ve found. Many times the answer to our research question lies in a record we already have. By really scouring each record you’re sure not to miss a thing!


School just started back this week and it made me think of how much I liked to learn (and still do). Here I am in the 3rd grade.

I remember getting excited for the first day and seeing all my friends again. When we were young, my mom would take us to Sears to buy several new outfits for the year. I think the brand was called Lemon Tree, but it was more like Garanimals where you matched the tags to put the pieces of the outfit together. Anyway, it was a fun time of year. I seem to get that same type of excitement now that I’m studying genealogy.

There is always something new to learn and so many ways to learn it…webinars, journals, podcasts, conferences, institutes, and classes. I’ve tried them all and LOVE them all!

Currently, I’m enrolled in the ProGen Study Group, a 15-month course based on the book “Professional Genealogy,” edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills.1

So far I have learned how to give constructive and valuable feedback (it’s harder than it seems), how to transcribe and abstract documents and how to cite sources. In genealogy being able to get back to a source you used or how to show someone else how to find it is very important. Citing your sources also shows the scope of your research and that you have exhausted every avenue looking for answers. It is one of the factors that take you from a hobby genealogist to a more serious one.

At the beginning of the summer, I learned about evidence analysis. Starting with a research question (what you want to know), you look at the sources you have found and analyze them. You are noting any background information needed regarding laws and customs of the time, etc., and looking at the source itself. Is it an original source or was it derived from an original source? If possible, you want to look at as many original documents as we can.

Next, examine the information the source is giving us. Is it primary where the informant had firsthand knowledge of the event or is it secondary where the information was of the secondhand variety? Sometimes you don’t know what kind of information it is because the informant was unknown! Most census records are classified as undetermined information because they don’t reveal who the informant was.

The last thing we are looking at is the type of evidence we have found. Does it directly answer our research question? Or does it give us a clue and we still need to look elsewhere?

You may think, now what do I do with all of this? YOU WRITE!!

For the past 2 months, the assignment has been to write and rewrite a research report. After the first report was turned in, I received valuable feedback from my peers. I took those suggestions and rewrote the report. Feedback is the primary tool used in the ProGen Study Group. It’s how we all learn from one another and gain insight into other methods of reaching our goals.

Writing, in general, is key to improving your genealogy skills. When you write you make connections that you wouldn’t otherwise. Your brain is engaged in the process and you start asking better questions that lead to finding the answers you seek. I am still a math girl, but writing is a mandatory element of good genealogical practices.

If you’re interested in the ProGen Study group, go to for more information.

Genealogy Tip: Make an education plan. Do you want to take a class, listen to a podcast on a regular basis or perhaps go to a conference or institute? All will help you further your education and make you a better, more efficient genealogist.

1 Elizabeth Shown Mills, editor, Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2018).

Granny’s Wedding Day

What better way to resurrect a blog than with a wedding!

On this day (May 29th) in 1919 my great-grandmother, Effie Eans Dennis married for the second time to Edwin Loy Rankin. Granny, as everyone called her, first married Samuel Patrick Donahoo, M.D. in 1893, but after only 12 years of marriage and 5 children, he died.

Effie Eans Dennis Donahoo Rankin – photo in possession of author

“Tennessee, U.S., Marriage Records, 1780-2002,” entry for Edmond Loy Rankin and Effie Donaho, 29 May 1919, database with images, 121 of 579, Ancestry ( : accessed 29 May 2022); “Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002,” Tennessee State Library and Archives, Jefferson County, 1917 Sep – 1924 Feb: Marriages 6-7, p. 234.

Granny was the second of five children born to Henry G. Dennis and Harriet Isabella Ashmore on 22 July 1876 in Jefferson City, Tennessee. She and E. Loy spent most of their married life in Jefferson City, but by 1950 they had moved to Knoxville and built their home on Speedway Circle. My mom remembers going there often as a child as it was less than half a mile from her house on Alma Avenue. My grandfather was a building contractor at the time and owned the company that built this house. That’s definitely keeping it in the family!

Granny in front of her home on Speedway Circle – The back of the picture says over 2″ of snow fell.

E. Loy had many jobs during his lifetime including farming. When Granny went to work it was as a dressmaker at Zirkle’s Department Store in Jefferson City. I’m sure this pair of scissors cut many yards of fabric over time…

E. Loy died on Valentine’s Day in 1955. Granny lived another 12 years, passing in November 1967. I was only 4 years old at the time and don’t remember her except through pictures and stories. But, in the end isn’t that all we have anyway?

Genealogy Tip: Write, Write, Write! Stories are meant to be told. It may only be for my files, but that’s okay.