I think for the BCG Descendancy Project (that includes biography), I'm going to do Harry Van De Riet, Sr., his mother Sarah Elmyra Hale Van de Riet, and his Grandfather, Hiram Hale. I like the hook to this selection of ancestors because of the Hale connection and the proximity to Nauvoo, etc. Also because I probably need to spend some time getting to know my Grandpa Harry while some of his children are still living. I also think this will have a good opportunity to show usage of several different record types, especially because of the military involvement.
So. First step, track down Auntie Norm's phone number so I can ask her about her Dad.
Wait! Before I call her I need to find out what I already (should) know about Harry, Herman and Sarah, and then that will lead to better questions. So today I pulled out my Van De Riet binder and was actually surprised to see some mini-bios already written up. There are still a few questions that I want to jot down to see if anyone knows the answers to, before I forget.
1. Why was Sarah in Kansas to marry Herman, anyway? Her Mom stayed in Iowa. How old was she when her Dad died? Are we sure that is where Sarah and Herman got married? Is theirs the marriage I have not actually located? What kind of records does Kansas have online now?
2. Random but interesting. Did Sarah and Herman have any involvement with Indians around there? I know that the Utahns were still kind of nervous about them. What kind of Indian history is in Downs, Kansas, or was it slightly more urban?
3. What was Downs like, anyway? Do we know what they did there?
4. What made them come to Montana? How does the homestead act, etc., fit into any of this (and how do I get THOSE records?)
5. Did Sarah work at all? Many young women were teachers, and they seemed like an intelligent family. This would be especially poignant since her mother was illiterate.
6. Where did Grandma's closet feminist attitudes come from? How did Sarah feel about the vote? (What year was that, again?)
7. Who were some of Harry's friends? Did he enlist with any of his family members or friends? Did he have contact with any of his cousins? Did he ever meet his grandparents? (Hiram might have already died, but I'm pretty sure Mary Ann was living.)
8. Did anybody belong to any organizations? Early farm coops for example? Any clubs? What did Harry's siblings do for a living? Did any of them go to college? I see Aunt Marie went to college in Helena.
9. Harry's obituary says he worked hard as a conservationist. What did he do, exactly?
10. What kind of person was Sarah? What kind of impression did the Aunties get of what people thought of her?
11. I know Harry had TB. Was he ever institutionalized? Where?
12. Did Harry tell any war stories? Or was he pretty quiet about it?