Society Saturday – Practical Use of the Mighty FAN Club: Case Study of a Shadowy Female

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

ccgslogocolorvsmallThe Carroll County Genealogical Society’s upcoming meeting on Monday, May 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM features Sharon Cook MacInnes. A dedicated genealogist since 1976–long before the internet revolution–Sharon Cook MacInnes, Ph.D., gradually uncovered her ancestry and discovered through on-site research that she has deep American roots and a passion for family history.

Sharon is an alumna of National Institute of Genealogical Research (NIGR), the advanced methodology course at Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), and three sessions at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) for which she now teaches.  She specializes in Pennsylvania research, methodology, and federal land records and has written books documenting the earliest landowners of Pennsylvania in seven counties and western PA. She maintains the website at on which she posts 19th-Century Pennsylvania landowner maps and atlases as a service for researchers.

Sharon will be presenting Practical Use of the Mighty FAN Club: Case Study of a Shadowy Female. Have you followed an ancestor as far back as you can through the records until you hit the proverbial brick wall? You probably know that the only way to make any more progress is through studying the FAN Club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors). What does that actually look like in practice?

This case revolves around a woman in the shadows whose married name was even disputed and whose maiden name seemed hopelessly obscure. Using the few records left by her and her FAN Club as she settled in three states, we track her movements, uncover something of her character and life, and discover her birth family. Hints and indirect evidence are gleaned from her will, a manuscript, land and tax records, a county history, maps, and military records. Along the way, we learn the identity and origin of her husband. Techniques in this presentation should encourage participants to think more creatively about breaching that brick wall.

Meetings of the Carroll County Genealogical Society (CCGS) are held the third Monday of each month, March through May and September through November, at 7:30 p.m. in the Dixon Room, Westminster Library at 50 East Main Street, Westminster. Refreshments are available at 7:00 p.m. and the meetings are free and open to the public.  An annual dinner is held each June and a holiday party each December.  These are for members and their guests, with reservations made in advance.

Please come to our meeting and bring a friend. You will meet other folks interested in family research and genealogy and enjoy delightful talks that may help you in your own research.  I look forward to seeing new faces!

You can also come early and take advantage of our large collection of books and other materials housed at the Westminster Branch of the CCPL.  On Thursday afternoons, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., one or more society volunteers will be on hand to assist researchers. Of course, this collection is available to all anytime the library is open.

Volunteers from the society will be staffing an exhibit on May 21, 2016 at the Celebrating America Weekend event, which is being held at Emerald Hill, 1838 Emerald Hill Lane, Westminster, MD 21157. Bring the family and stop by to say “Hello”.

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza



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