This blog goes beyond the constant harping we all hear about backing up our data we hear that so often it tends to go in one ear and out the other.
Well, guess who failed miserably at this simple task? Yep, me.
Here is the scenario.
My mother’s maiden name was Akers. Her 4th great grandparents, John Akers, and Sarah Brown Akers were first families of Gwinnett County, GA. [i] John died in September 1849 (not 1850). [ii] I have previously written about how to read these schedules, for 1850 it was 1 June. So the Mortality Schedule covered deaths from 1 June 1849 – 31 May 1850. Sarah died on 28 Jul 1861. [iii] They were buried in a family cemetery on their property. The other marked grave is their daughter, Sarah Akers ( 1815 – 1886). The fourth grave marker which had no visible inscription when Garrett surveyed the cemetery is believed to be a son named John Akers who died in the Civil War.
The original deed from the Akers estate to a Mr. J. H. McKinney was most likely lost in the courthouse fire of 1871. However, Mr. McKinney sold the land, “less the ½ acre family cemetery” in 1886 to M. A. Minor. [iv] Then in 1909, the Minors sold the land to Mr. E. L. Britt with the same clause. [v]
And so it goes for several decades until the developer starts buying up all the land to put in houses in the late 1960s. Then the clause disappears and about 1968 a house is built on that ½ acre with the four gravestones a short distance behind the house.
In 1999, shortly after moving to the Atlanta area I, along with my oldest son, went on a journey to find the cemetery and was surprised to find them behind the house. I took a lot of pictures and checked with the county as the executrix at the time threatened to move the cemetery. The man at the county assured me this will not happen due to cost. And she did not. Fast forward to 2011 and I find the cemetery was missing. After investigating what happened, it seems the house had been a rental for several years and the owner in 2008/2009 brought in truckloads of dirt to wipe out the cemetery.
I had a lot of files from my research, including a deed by deed list showing the ½ acre exclusion. After reporting the crime to the authorities, they decided that unless I could prove the markers were removed, they could take no action. Shortly thereafter, I got a new job that kept me very busy.
Now, we are finally getting some traction to maybe get this situation resolved in some manner.
So what does this have to do with backing up our data? I had (or so I thought), all of my work to include some notes, in a compressed file on my computer at that time. Four computers later and the zip file getting bounced around, I find that almost all of my investigation work was not in the compressed file.
You must not only make sure you have backed up all of your data but that you took the time to write a report of what you found and how you found it (that dreaded source citations) and take an inventory of what you backed up. If you are like me, I hated driving 1.5 hours to Lawrenceville to try and redo my original investigation and not refind everything, then driving 2.5 hours back on a Friday afternoon going from the east side of Atlanta to the west side.
Put a copy of that inventor and the write-up somewhere other than in the compressed file just in case. Maybe in Evernote ®.
[i] Gwinnett County, Georgia, families, 1818-2005, Alice Lillian Smythe McCabe (Editor), Publisher:Gwinnett Historical Society, Lawrenceville, 1988.
[ii] 1850 U. S. Census, Mortality Schedule, Gwinnett County, GA, 36th Division, p 265 (inked), line 32, John Akers, age 77, born in VA, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com: accessed 4 Apr 2023), citing NARA Publication T 655, roll 7.
[iii] Sarah’s grave marker I personnaly viewed and was recorded by Franklin Garrett in his Necrology Series. The Garrett Necrology is on file at the Atlanta History Center.
[iv] Gwinnett County, GA, Deed Book 1, p. 275, McKinney to Minor, Gwinnett County Superior Court, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, GA.
[v] Gwinnett County, GA, Deed Book 20, p. 179, Minor to Britt, Gwinnett County Superior Court, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, GA.