Monday, October 31, 2011

Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents

During the summer, Geoff Rasmussen, the host of the Legacy Family Tree Webinars asked me to give a talk on Researching in Connecticut.  He suggested that I use the family of Nathan Brown as an example for the talk.  Geoff frequently uses Nathan Brown as an example when giving webinars on the Legacy Family Tree software.  It turns out that Brown is also one of Geoff's ancestors.

Well, I had to tell Geoff that I couldn't include his ancestors in my Connecticut webinar.  I did find his family but they weren't from Connecticut.  Not originally anyway.  Geoff was pretty excited that I had found his ancestors.  We both agreed that talking about the process of how I found them would make for a good webinar.  The only down side for Geoff was that I couldn't reveal anything about his ancestors to him until the day of the webinar.

It has been really fun tormenting Geoff for the last month or so.  But in fairness, I've been tormenting myself as well.  I have been trying to dot all the i's and cross all the t's.  That has kept me researching and confirming for the last few months.

But the time has come to release Geoff's ancestors to him and to present the webinar.  This will happen on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 2pm Eastern Time (that's 11:00am in California and something like 7:00pm in the UK).  The webinar is free to any interested person with an internet connection. The only thing you'll have to do in advance is to register.

The advantage to watching it live is that you have the chance to win free prizes such a copy of the webinar CD.  But if you miss it, don't worry, you'll be able to watch for free on the Legacy Family Tree site for awhile.

"If this is about Geoff's family why should I bother watching it?"

Great question!  Yes, this is about Geoff's ancestor but it is really about the process of solving brick walls and then proving or confirming what you have found.  It's real practical advice for any genealogist or family historian who has a brick wall to solve.

In the first half of the webinar I will be discussing several techniques that can be used to bring down brick walls.

The second half of the talk will be devoted to document analysis and showing you how to prove you've really solved your brick wall.

The really fun, and yet incredibly challenging  aspect of this brick wall, is that it is being solved completely by indirect evidence.

Given that I have no smoking gun, it's fair to ask "Did Marian really solve this brick wall?"  You'll have to tune in to find out and then let me know afterwards.

Am I scared? A little bit! This has been a really difficult research challenge.  But it has pushed my abilities as a researcher and really gotten me to think.

So tune in on Wednesday and see if you think I've solved the mystery.  Or tune in to give me some support!

At the very end will be a big announcement where I reveal a fascinating ancestor that Geoff is descended from!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Am I Doing with Social Media?

This is going to be one of those honest posts.  Don't worry it's not going to be as shockingly honest as that last honest post.

I have a lot of friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and now Google Plusers (still not sure if I like that term).  Sometimes people will be friended or circled by someone like me with a lot of connections and want to steer clear because they think I am up to some nefarious endeavor. Hence this post.

So what am I really doing with social media? What is my goal?  You'll be surprised and you might not believe me.  Some of you won't trust me and still think I'm up to something mischievous.  The rest of you will know it's just my honest, goofy self.

At heart I am a teacher.  For years now I have been a genealogical instructor and speaker.  I like to help people expand their knowledge so that they can better track down their family history.  Years ago before I was into genealogy, I was a volunteer as an English as a Second Language instructor for adults.  The idea of learning and education has been in my core right from the start.

I am also a connector.  I like to meet people.  I also like to connect people who don't know each other.  When two people who have common interests and would benefit from making a connection, I like to help make that happen. 

I like to grow things and have fun.  When I was in high school I belonged to a club called AFS (American Field Service) which sponsored exchanges with foreign students.  When I joined the club as a freshman it was small and dwindling.  By the time I graduated it was a large thriving club.  What did the club do? We had fun! And we got to know students from other countries which is another thing I really loved.  There was no purpose to it except to build a fun club with people of like interests who we wanted to spend time with.

So back to social media.  Wrap all that stuff up together and add a little internet and social media and there you have me now.  My sinister goal is to find people on the fringe/working solo who are interested in genealogy and bring them into a greater community so that they can learn more, become better genealogists and find companionship with people who have similar interests. 

Am I selling something? No, not yet. Though some day I would like to write some books and hopefully someone will buy those. But don't hold your breath because I've been saying that for a long time.  No wait, I am selling something! You can buy my last webinar on CD from Legacy Family Tree! I forgot about that.  Feel free to buy lots of copies and give them to all your family members! :)

Am I being secretly sponsored or paid to promote content? Yeah, I wish!  Thank you for thinking that I am a big fish in a small pond but corporate sponsors don't agree that I am.  Besides, I've determined that nothing is going to alter my voice or opinion.  I want to write or say whatever comes into my head and having total autonomy over that works best for me.

So there you have it. That's what I'm all about with social media.  So let's connect, learn, have great discussions, have fun and get on with it!

Photo Credit: Photo by isforinsects and used under the creative commons license.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Indulging in My Secret October Fascination

I have a secret. I don't share it with too many people. But I'm going to share it with you.

Every October I do something that I do only in that one month.  It's a ritual or perhaps a secret indulgence.  It's very out of character for me.  And maybe that's why I do it.  It's just so unlike me.

Every October I read ghost stories.  From the first moment that a crisp breeze hits and the first leaf crinkles under my foot.  I don't stop until the very last day of the month. And once the month is over the obsession is gone for another year.

I suppose my fascination is not far off from genealogy.  Many ghost stories are rooted in history.  Hauntings that take place in houses are certainly rooted in house histories. And I love that.

I'm not particularly worried if the stories are true or not. What I'm really looking for is a little bit of a scare. No gore, mind you, or horror.  But enough of a fright to give me goose bumps and keep me up a half hour longer than usual.

These are my selection for this year:

Historic haunted America by Michael Norman and Beth Scott
Haunted heritage by Michael Norman and Beth Scott

These two books are based in history and folklore and therefore might be greatly enjoyed by genealogists and historians. There are divided by states in the United States and regions in Canada.  The authors went to a great deal of trouble to research historical accounts from newspapers, diaries and letters.  While it was a fascinating read and introduced me  to some spooky real-life accounts from the past it wasn't, in all honesty, very scary.  I would rate it a 1 on the goose bump meter.

Ghost Hunting: True stories of unexplained phenomena from the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Michael Jan Friedman

Now this book was not at all what I was expecting.  I was expecting something really scary.  I must disclose that I have never really seen the show Ghost Hunters which originated with this organization.  I also must admit that I selected all three of these books after seeing them in my local BJ's Wholesale Club.  No further thought went into it  than that.  My curiosity was piqued so I indulged.

So what this book is about is really the story of the organization and their philosophies and employees.  Yes, every chapter is a ghost story.  And thankfully I did get a random goose bump or two.  But as they like to say at TAPS they are in the business of disproving ghost stories.  They say that only about 20% of the cases they investigate turn out to be provable supernatural experiences.  While I admire their honesty and business ethic, I was really after a good scare.  Would I read another TAPS book - yes!  But for the other components in the book, not for the thrill I am looking for. I would rate this book a 2 on the goose bump meter.

I didn't get a good fright this year. I still have a few days left so if any of you have any suggestions, they would be most welcome.  Remember, I want a scare, but nothing too scary.  It it must involve ghosts not vampires or other Hollywood ghouls.

Photo credit: Photo by muffet and used under the creative commons license.

Book Review: Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865

The second edition of Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865 by Joseph Carvalho III was released this year by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. This second edition was over twenty-five years in the making.

When a second edition comes out readers often wonder whether enough changes were made to warrant the purchase. At an impressive 400 pages, the resounding answer for this edition is “Yes!” The new edition is nearly double the size of the 211 page original.

What has changed? The title has been altered for starters. The first edition covered the years 1650-1855. With twenty-five years of advancement in technology, computers and increased access to genealogical and historical documents, the book now extends to the year 1865.

The book begins with a helpful historical overview of African Americans in Hampden County. This will help both the beginning and advanced researcher to better put their ancestors’ lives in proper context.

The bulk of the book continues to be the biographies and genealogies of black families of Hampden County. With the new documentation, both from public sources and private collections, the section has been increased over one hundred pages.

I used one of my personal research interests, Jethro Jones, as a test case. Jethro lived from 1733 to 1828. He is not an ideal example to demonstrate the breadth of additions from 1855-1865 but never-the-less his biography was re-written and augmented. In-line citations are still included throughout this section but written more clearly and fully.

In addition to the main section, new content in the form of Appendixes has been added covering topics such as military service, ancestry and nations of origin, occupations and avocations, bylaws of the U.S. League of Gileadites and demographic statistical tables. The included bibliography is a lengthy fourteen pages.

While the title Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865 is accurate, it falls short of the true depth and reach of the book. In reality, this work reflects the migration and movement of African Americans from all over New England and New York. Black families who lived in Connecticut and moved north appear here, as are those from New York who sought greater freedom in Massachusetts. And I would be remiss not to mention all the others, like Jethro Jones, who followed the more traditional pattern of moving westward into Hampden County from Eastern Massachusetts.

Black Families in Hampden County is essential for any researcher who is searching for African Americans in New England up until 1865. It is also a tremendous example of the wide variety of original and secondary sources available to researchers delving into the often challenging arena of African American research.

As a one-county study, this work shines as beacon of outstanding and comprehensive research. Others wishing to do one-county studies on sub-groups, whether based on national origin, religion, race or some other topic, would do well to use this book as their source of inspiration. Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts, 1650-1865 belongs on the shelf of every serious researcher of African Americans as well as every genealogical library. Joseph Carvalho’s labor of love is a magnificent work that shows in-depth research at its best.

Author: Joseph Carvalho III
Title: Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865, 2nd Edition
400 pages with illustrations; bibliography; index; appendixes; black and white
Publisher: New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), 2011
ISBN: 978-0-88082-259-6
Available From: NEHGS (1-888-296-3447) and other book sellers
Cost: Hardcover $29.95

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Complexities of Google+ Circles

I was reading a post on Google+ by Kerry Scott of Clue Wagon fame where she was asking about the pet peeves people have about using Google+.

One person responded by saying that it's challenging when a person adds you to a circle because of a shared common interest and then you get bombarded with other topics that don't interest you.  This complexity in Google+ is one of the things I am still figuring out.

Twitter simplifies this whole issue by having no circles or nuances.  You either follow someone or don't. Either way you get to see everything the person puts out.  The most common way around this in Twitter is to use a program like Tweetdeck where you can view streams based on hash tags.  That way instead of focusing on individual people you can simply read tweets tagged with, for example, #genealogy.

I have seen some people address the issue on Google+ by posting their preferences on their profile page.  Some people might mention what circles/topics of interest they would like to be put in.  Maybe they will also mention what they predominantly post about.

I have seen at least one person ask the Google+ audience what circles would they like to be in and provided them with the choices.

I have copied the same method that I use on Twitter by listing keywords of things I'm interested in. This appears right under my name.

It looks like this - house historian, old houses, genealogy, gravestones, African American history, travel, wine, locally grown.

I wish it could be longer. Maybe I'll expand upon that in my profile. So if someone comes to my Google+ profile they will have a pretty good idea about what I like to post about.

The tricky thing about Google+ is that when you follow someone you are not subscribing to everything that they post in the way you would on Twitter. In fact all you can see of their posts are the public ones unless they circle you back and allow you to see something more than just public posts.

So you are saying "Hey, I'm here, I'm interested in following you.  I've put you in a circle, and you have no clue what that circle is unless I tell you.  But I'm hoping you will look at my page and figure it out or ask me and then circle me back."  

For example, I have a genealogy circle.  That's my primary circle because that's what I primarily post about.  Most people that I have circled are in my genealogy circle. I also have a photography circle and a writer circle.  I don't necessarily expect these folks to follow me back but I want to see what they have to say or display.  People in my photography and writer circles don't get bombarded with all my genealogy posts.

I do however, post as "public" my blog posts and some more general topic history, genealogy, archaeology and social media stuff.   I wonder if I am bothering some of my non-genealogy friends by doing that?

So the question is how do we best put people into circles, and more importantly, have them put us into the right circles so we don't get bombarded with stuff we're not interested in? 

Is Google+ forcing us to over-think things?!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened in the Cemetery...

Last Sunday my Dad and I stopped at a cemetery in the Village of Glen, New York to visit the grave of my 3rd great grandfather, John Edwards and his wife Ann Van Schaick.

My Dad had wandered off to a different part of the cemetery while I stood by John and Ann's joint gravestone.  When my Dad came back he asked, "Did I hear someone talking out loud?"

I paused for a moment wondering how to respond. I was so busted. I decided that honesty would be the best policy and decided to come clean.  I laughed a little before I started. "I was having a chat with John," I said.  "I was encouraging him to cough up his secrets."

Without missing a beat my Dad said, "I think you're going to have better luck with the women.  Better start talking to your great grandmother Ann instead!"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity - A Beacon from the Church

On Sunday my father and I drove from Schuylerville, New York through the back roads until we reached our ancestral village of Glen, New York.  Glen was home to many generations of our earliest Edwards family.

I had printed Mapquest directions before leaving on our trip.  I hadn't really checked the route and we had no GPS.  So we had no idea exactly how we would be entering Glen.  It turned out we arrived through a section of town we had never been in before.  We drove slowly, enjoying all the scenery and old houses and stopping to take photos as we liked.

Before long we came upon a church.  It was called the Glen Reformed Church.  I mentioned to my dad that I thought our ancestors had attended this church.  It occurred to me that we never thought to visit this church when we had visited two years earlier.  Our Edwards ancestors had been members of this church since the mid 1800s.

We decided to stop and take some photos.  My Dad checked the door of the church and found that it was open.  As this was the church of our ancestors it didn't seem like there was any harm taking a peek inside.

The church had a wonderful historical display right at the front entrance. I paused at the guest book being sure to include our names and to mention that our Edwards ancestors were members of the church.  While no one else was in the church it seemed proper to leave our mark and let them know we were here.

We wandered around the sanctuary admiring the church and taking a few keep-sake photos.  I noticed that the stained-glass windows had names memorializing certain families.

I yelled across to my Dad to be on the lookout for a window for the Edwards.  In a matter of minutes my father found a memorial to our ancestors in the corner window.  Further along we also found a window memorializing the Ostroms, a strongly Edwards-allied family. What a lovely surprise to find our ancestors permanently remembered as a part of the church.

As we made our way back out of the church we noticed  there were many old photographs and documents along the back hallway.  While there were no Edwards in the photos there were a number of references to them in the documents.

An unexpected journey down an unknown road turned into genealogical serendipity.  Without even trying we had stumbled upon more clues to our family history!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Wish There Were More People Like Tony

In today's Chicago Genealogy Examiner, Jennifer Holik-Urban wrote an article called "Tony's Schaumburg Library Genealogy Group" in which she describes the effort of one man to bring genealogy to the people.  From her description, Tony is a reference librarian so passionate about genealogy that he is a one-man show bringing education about genealogy to researchers in his area. 

I wish more people were like Tony.  I wish more people could have a dynamic, passionate, energized guide as they weave their way through their genealogical journey

But my wish wouldn't end there.  I wouldn't wish for it to end with Tony.  There is a real opportunity here to gain momentum and for others to become as energized, organized and helpful as Tony.  I would love for others to catch Tony's bug and pay it forward.

There is a real lesson in here somewhere for genealogy societies.  Real momentum can be gained from an energized person like Tony who can really rev up a group.  The challenge is consciously capturing that momentum and encouraging it to spread amongst the rest of the membership.

Tony is not the only Tony out there.  I know of a few other "Tonys" right here in my home state of Massachusetts who are going above and beyond the call of duty and really trying to energize and build their genealogy groups and societies.  But they can't do it alone.

If you're an officer in a society, see if you can identify any Tonys or potential Tonys in your group.  Perhaps you don't have the energy yourself to be that person but you could do a great service by identifying and then encouraging other people to take on that role.

It sounds like the Schaumburg Library has something very special going on.  Let's see if we can use it as a role model and help the momentum to spread.

Take a moment to read the article and learn exactly what Tony is doing right in Chicago. You can even check out Tony's Genealogy Group blog.

Photo Credit: Photo by Robbie1 and used under the creative commons license.  Modified by M. Pierre-Louis.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Have You Ever Considered an Intentional Diary?

The other day I read a blog post by Melissa Mannon at Archives info called "Reaction to Burning the Diaries" where she discussed her feelings about a New York Times (NYT) opinion piece by Dominique Browning.

In the NYT article Dominique Browning describes her thoughts and emotions following the burning of her own diaries.  The original article and Melissa's post are very thoughtful pieces that are worth reading.  I left a lengthy comment in response on her blog.

I don't want to specifically discuss those two items here but rather an off-shoot of it. One of the things I have been thinking about lately is intentional diaries. I love the concept of writing a diary, but like Dominique Browning I have no desire to leave too intricate or personal account of my life for my descendants.  As I thought through my options I came up with the idea of an intentional diary.

What if you created a diary with the intention having other people reading it?  Ok, I can hear you already saying, "Um, yeah, it's called a memoir."  Well, in this case it's not a memoir, it really is an intentional diary.

The idea is that you keep a daily record of your life but instead of pouring your innermost secrets and feelings you write it with the intention of having future generations read it. The diary or record is consciously self-edited.

The intentional diary provides a window into your life to be left behind with other heirlooms but removes specific information about your emotional and mental state or details that are too personal or painful to share.

I like the idea of intentional diary more and more.  In fact, I've already started one.  It is interspersed with daily events and tidbits of family history.

What do you think?  Would you ever consider writing an intentional diary?  How much do you want your descendants to know about you? Or would you rather bare all and leave the future to deal with it?

Photo Credit: Photo by Barnaby used under the creative commons license.

A Genealogy Skill Challenge: Secondary Sources

Here's a little genealogy skill challenge to spice up your Columbus Day weekend and provide a little fun.

Secondary sources of all different types can provide clues that can help in your genealogical research.  The trick is in being able to interpret them correctly.

Here's a paragraph from the book Haunted Heritage by Michael Norman and Beth Scott.  This comes from page 24, the chapter called "A Revolutionary Haunting."

"John Hale emulated his father in many ways. Born in 1748, he died shortly after Deacon Hale in 1802. Like his father, John became a deacon of the church and served in various public offices.  From 1791 to 1802, he was a delegate to sixteen sessions of the Connecticut General Assembly.  He served  as a justice of the peace, town clerk and treasurer for many terms between 1786 and his death. Earlier, he was a lieutenant in the Revolution's Knowlton Rangers."

Secondary sources may or may not be accurate.

THE CHALLEGE (if you so choose to accept it!):

How would you go about learning about John Hale? What records or record groups would you use to confirm the information provided as well the information you can infer from this paragraph?

Leave your answers in the comments.

I will post my answer tomorrow. Please note, you don't need to know anything about Connecticut to answer this challenge (though of course it will make it easier).  It would be helpful to be familiar with American genealogical resources, but again, not absolutely necessary.  This is a just a challenge for a bit of fun and to get you thinking.

Photo Credit: Photo by cliff1066 and used under the creative commons license.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm Headed to New York!

I'm headed to New York!  I'll be giving a full day of talks to the Heritage Hunters Group in Saratoga Springs, New York on October 15th. This will be my first time speaking in New York and I'm really looking forward to it.

The talks I'll be giving are:
I'm hoping that I'll have the chance to meet some of my friends and acquaintances from Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.  If you go to the event be sure to introduce yourself and say "hi!"  I would love to meet you.

See you in New York!

Photo credit: Photo by Muffet used under the creative commons license

Monday, October 3, 2011

Is It a Bad Time to Become a Professional Genealogist?

Recently Meldon Wolfgang wrote an article called "Genea-Investors: Is Wall Street Telling Us Anything About "Big Picture" Genealogy?"  The article is a little bit about investing and a little more about the "big picture" of genealogy.  It's a great article so please take a moment to read it.

In response to Mel, genealogist Taco Goulooze had the following to say, "It IS probably a bad time to become a professional genealogist, though. Maybe the profession needs to change a bit from just providing a service to a more educating role (which in turn will benefit companies like"

You can read Taco's full quote from the link above.  The basic gist of what he is saying, I believe, is that there is so much online now that the role of the professional genealogist is being diminished.

What do you think?  Is the role of professional genealogists disappearing?  Are their services no longer needed?  Should they focus more on providing education services?  Do you feel genealogists haven't focused on education enough? Is it time to pack our bags and go?

I want to hear what you have to say about this!  Leave a comment here or write a post on your own blog, leaving your link in the comments.

Photo Credit: Photo by mollypop and used under the creative commons license.

Researching African Americans in Connecticut

Here are some resources to help those researching African Americans in Connecticut.  Please leave a comment if you have any additional books or resources to add to the list.

Research Guide to African American Resources at the Connecticut State Library

African American Resources at the Connecticut Historical Society

Brown, Barbara W. and James M. Rose, Ph.D. Black Roots in Southeastern Connecticut 1650-1900. New London, CT: New London County Historical Society, 2001.

Caron, Denis R. A Century in Captivity: The Life and Trials of Prince Mortimer, a Connecticut Slave. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire press, 2006.

Cruson, Daniel. The Slaves of Central Fairfield County: The Journey from Slave to Freeman in Nineteenth-Century Connecticut. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2007.

Greene, Lorenzo Johnston. The Negro in Colonial New England. New York: Atheneum, 1969.

Piersen, William D. Black Yankees: The Development of an Afro-American Subculture in Eighteenth-Century New England. Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.

Rose, James M. and Barbara W. Brown. Tapestry: A Living History of the Black Family in Southeastern Connecticut. New London, CT: New London County Historical Society, 1979.

Smith, Venture and Arna Wendell Bontemps. Five Black Lives: The Autobiographies of Venture Smith, James Mars, William Grimes, the Rev. G. W. Offley, James L. Smith. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1987.

Stone, Frank Andrews. African American Connecticut: The Black Scene in a New England State; Eighteenth to Twenty-First Century. Victoria, BC: Trafford, 2008.

Photo Credit: Title: Unidentified man with beard, half-length portrait, full face. Photo taken by Augustus Washington, a prolific African American photographer in Hartford, CT. Sixth plate daguerreotype taken between 1854 and 1860. Call Number: DAG no. 1013.Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Who is Carl? - The First Steps

The other day I posted a "Genealogy Challenge - Who is Carl?" where I challenged genealogists to help identify the photo of an unnamed Civil War soldier based on several existing clues.  I've decided to keep writing about Carl and go through the process of asking questions, developing a research plan and looking for information.  It will be a fun exercise and I'm hoping you all will help me along the way.

Please keep in mind that I specialize in southern New England research. I am going to be completely out of my element researching information about the Civil War or the South.  I'm going to need your help!

Recently, Bill West of West in New England wrote about creating T Charts based on a concept from Val D. Greenwood's book The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition.   In this exercise you draw a T on a piece of paper and then write what you already know on the left hand side and write what this suggests on the right hand side.

I thought this would be a good place to start with our mysterious Carl.

T Chart for Carl

Known Information
What this Suggests
The name of the person in the photo is Carl

Carl is not a completely common name in the mid-1800s in the United States. returned 1,168 ‘Carls’ (exact name search) from the 1850 US Federal Census out of a 23,191,876 total population as identified by Wikipedia using US Census records.  The uniqueness of the name should help in finding him.  Also there may be ethnic associations tied to the name. Because his name in the caption was written by his mother parent we can suggest it was written/spelled the way she it was intended when he was named.

He was 18 years old when he was killed on April 1, 1865

If he was 18 years old on April 1, 1865 he would have been born between April 2, 1846 and March 21, 1847 (Please check my math, I’m not always good with that!)

He was killed in combat during the fighting at Dinwiddie Court House (March 31) and Five Forks (April 1), shortly before Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

The Dinwiddie Court House is located in Dinwiddie County, Virginia.  This was a Confederate victory yet there were more Confederate casualties at this battle than union.

The Battle of Five Forks also took place in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. This was a Union victory and there were many more Confederate casualties than Union.

This suggests that Carl was a Civil War soldier who was associated with a unit present at one or both of these battles.  It is unclear whether he was with a Confederate or Union company.
 [information from Wikipedia and not independently verified]
Possible identification: Carlos E. Rogers of Company K, 185th New York, who was killed on either March 29 or 30, 1865, at Quaker Road in Dinwiddie County. (Source: North South Trader's Civil War, vol. 35, 2010, p. 55)

This suggests that someone has done some prior research which may or may not be accurate.
The caption with the photo was written by Carl’s mother parent
This tells us that Carl’s mother parent (at least one) was still alive after April 1, 1865.
Carl’s hair was blonde
A locket of hair was included in the photo frame. Perhaps his blonde hair is a clue to his ethnic background.
“Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." [quote from Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2]
This, and the caption as a whole, suggests that his mother parent was educated enough to be able to write  in cursive and that she his parent was familiar with English literature.

Is there anything else you can add to my T chart for Carl? Can you infer any other suggestions based on what we know?

In the next post I'll start creating a research plan based on what we can infer from this T chart.