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How I Organize Evernote: A Peek Inside My Personal System

A few months ago I decided to finally give Evernote a try in my never-ending attempt to organize my genealogy and I’ve been slowly but surely using it to get all my digital files organized. I have found some limitations with it however, mainly the inability to nest notebooks and stacks. This repost is a great article explaining the importance of tagging your notes and using tags to get around the nesting issue. I’ve already played around with it a bit today and I’m loving it so far!

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

A few weeks ago, I wrote a Plus Edition article entitled (+) My Method of Filing Digital Images and Documents. It is still available at In the article, I described the system I use for organizing digital photographs and all sorts of other documents on my computer’s hard drive and in online backups.

I was planning to write a similar article about organizing all sorts of information within Evernote, one of the handiest programs available for genealogists and for millions of other computer users as well. However, when researching the article on the World Wide Web, I found that Michael Hyatt had already written an article about that and his methods are similar to my own. He doesn’t write about genealogy uses of Evernote but most of what he writes applies to genealogy as well as to thousands of other topics.

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Biographical Sketch: Orpha Packwood Hawkins

In my previous post I evaluated what I knew about my 3x great-grandmother, Orpha Packwood and put forth a series of research questions that I felt needed to be answered.  Here is what I found out about her.

Orpha Packwood was born about 1808 in Patrick Co., Virginia to Elisha Packwood, Sr. and Mary “Polly” Burnett.  Sometime around 1819 the family moved to Clark Co., IN where they can be found on the 1820 census.  They eventually ended up in Bartholomew Co., IN where they were enumerated on the 1830 census and several of Orpha’s older siblings were married.

Around 1834 the Packwoods began emigrating to Missouri and Orpha settled with her father in Monroe Co., MO.  Elisha Sr. and Elisha Jr. can be found living side by side on the 1840 census for Monroe county and just several residences away is a man by the name of Wm. Hawkins.


This would be William Henry Hawkins, brother to James Lewis Hawkins who married Orpha Packwood.  Their brother, Charles Washington Hawkins, married Orpha’s younger sister, Mary Packwood.  In the mid 1830’s James and Charles were still living with their widowed mother, Ailcy Lewis Hawkins, in nearby Ralls County but probably visited their brother William often and began courting the Packwood sisters.

On 13 May 1838 Orpha married James L. Hawkins in Ralls Co., Missouri and had daughters Mary Margaret in 1839 and Ailcy Judith in 1846.  They remained in Ralls Co. at least through 1854 when daughter Mary Margaret married my great-great grandfather Elkanah Cross on November 5th.  It’s interesting to note that between 1844-1845 the majority of the Packwood family, including Orpha’s father Elisha, left Missouri to follow the Oregon trail and settled in various areas of Oregon, Washington, and California.

By 1860 it appears that James L. Hawkins has died although it’s possible that he was away fighting the civil war at the time of enumeration.  On the 1860 census Orpha and youngest daughter Ailcy can be found living with her daughter Mary Margaret Cross and her family in Bates County, Missouri although it’s unclear what brought the family to this area.

By the 1870 census Mary Margaret Hawkins Cross and her family are now residing in Barry County, Missouri, but without Orpha or Ailcy.  Mary M. Cross filed for a pension for her husband Elkanah’s civil war service so I know from a letter in her pension file that they were in Barry County by 1861.  It doesn’t appear that Orpha went with them which I find interesting because on the 1870 census they are residing just a few residences away from Orpha’s brother John Ira Packwood who had returned from California with his family.


I can find no trace of Ailcy Judith in 1870 so it’s quite probable that she died.  In 1870 Mary Margaret’s youngest child listed on the census is Allice J and is in all likelihood actually Ailcy J. named after her younger sister and her paternal grandmother.  Unfortunately, this child didn’t survive to the 1880 census so we will probably never know for sure.  I did find a listing for Orpha Hawkins in the 1870 census enumerated in Franklin, Dent, Missouri with a Joseph and Emma Beatt and listed as house keeping.


I have never come across any other Orpha Hawkins’s in my research so I am 99% certain this is my 3x great-grandmother but I have been unable to tie her to anyone in this household or in Dent County to explain why she wouldn’t have moved on to Barry County with her daughter and grandchildren and where her brother was living.  This is the last trace I can find of her at this time.

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Orpha Packwood b. 1808 Virginia

Orpha Packwood is my 3x great-grandmother.  She is the mother of Mary Margaret Hawkins and the wife of James Lewis Hawkins.  I haven’t spent much time looking into her family as I know that this is a pretty well-documented family line.  I have to confess to being guilty of copying information on her family line from other trees.  I do try to make sure some kind of documentation is present to back the information up but sometimes things slip through.

What do I know:

  1. Orpha Packwood was born in Virginia about 1808 (1850 and 1860 census).
  2. She married James Lewis Hawkins 13 May 1838 in Monroe Co. MO (Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002).
  3.  I have placed her in the 1850 and 1860 census.


James L. Hawkins and Orpha Packwood_1838marriagerecord_MonroeCo_MO2


James L. and Orpha Hawkins_1850census_Ralls Co_MO2


What Do I need:

  1. Exact birthdate
  2. Death date
  3. Is there a more official marriage record with more information that I can obtain from the county?
  4. Earlier census records
  5. Proof that ties her to her parents, Elisha Packwood and Mary “Polly” Burnett.
  6. How she came to be in Missouri from Virginia.
  7. There is an Orpha Packwood listed in the 1870 census for Franklin, Dent, Missouri.  Is she my Orpha Packwood and if so why didn’t she move with her daughter to Barry Co. since she was living with her in 1860 in Bates Co?


Okay then.  Now I have my first research plan with a set of questions to be answered so it’s time to go ancestor hunting!

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Staying Organized…The Bane of Every Genealogist’s Existence!



Like every other genealogist on the planet I find myself overwhelmed by the piles and piles of paper and information generated during family history research.  One of my goals for this year is to get my research organized.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of printing duplicate records and wasting time following an ancestor trail only to realize that I’ve already performed that search once. 


I don’t really have room for a filing cabinet but I found some cute, cheap file boxes that seem pretty sturdy and will hold quite a few hanging file folders.  I labeled one with my grandparents’ surnames and then settled on a filing system.  The one that seems to work the best for me and is the easiest to stick to is to make a file for each couple.  Since I place both of my grandparent’s ancestors in one file box at this time, I use a red sharpie to label my grandfather’s lines and a green sharpie to label my grandmother’s lines.




On the folder label I write the husband’s name and then the wife’s name right below it, with last names capitalized.  I also include the couple’s ID#’s which correspond to their numbers on my pedigree charts.  Children are written in birth order on the front of the file folder.  The family group sheet is placed in the folder along with any printed source material I may have for that couple.  Information for the children of each couple that are not my direct ancestors are placed in a separate folder and filed behind the couple in the same hanging folder. 




Now that I have a basic filing system in place I can simply pick a person or couple to work on and get all of the documentation and notes I have organized into one place.  I can see what information I have and what I’m missing by writing up a summary on my new on-line research log/blog.  I think keeping an on-line research log will have several benefits.  I do hope to publish a written genealogy someday for my family members and it won’t seem too overwhelming because I will already have lots of little pieces of information about my ancestors written on my blog.  Also, by posting on-line hopefully some long-lost cousins will come across a familiar name and together we can breach one of those nasty brick walls we all face in genealogy. 


I have my plan of action now!  By the time genealogy season is in full swing (= winter for me) I’ll be a lean, mean, family-history researching machine!

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Cross, Willis, Gamble, Baker, Castleberry, Floyd, Hawkins, Merchant, Packwood, Lewis

These are just a few of the surnames I am researching.  My maternal grandparents were Charles Albert “Abb” Cross and Willie Mae Willis, both born in Texas and died in California.  I have concentrated mainly on the Cross surname since my mom has a first cousin that has already done a lot of research for the Willis surname.  Here is the 4-generation ahnentafel chart for my grandfather, Charles Albert Cross:

Ancestors of Charles “Abb” Albert CROSS

Generation 1

1. Charles “Abb” Albert CROSS, son of James Henry CROSS and Alice GAMBLE was born on 30

Aug 1902 in Bowie, Montague, Texas, USA. He died on 13 May 1968 in Indio, Riverside,

California, USA (Age: 66). He married Willie May WILLIS, daughter of Lee Edward WILLIS and

Lydia L. CASTLEBERRY on 30 Sep 1933 in Frederick, Tillman, Oklahoma, USA. She was born on

25 Jun 1909 in Tye, Taylor, Texas, USA. She died on 11 Aug 1991 in Poteau, Le Flore, Oklahoma,

USA (Buried in Vaughn Cemetery, Gilmore, Oklahoma, USA).

Generation 2

2. James Henry CROSS, son of Elkanah CROSS and Mary Margaret HAWKINS was born on 16 Jan

1874 in Indian Territory, Oklahoma. He died on 06 Jul 1958 in Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA (Bur.

Eastview Cemetery in Vernon, TX). He married Alice GAMBLE, daughter of Jeremiah G. “Jerry”

GAMBLE Jr. and Kisiah Ann (Annie) Baker on 01 Mar 1896 in Wise County, Texas, USA.

3. Alice GAMBLE, daughter of Jeremiah G. “Jerry” GAMBLE Jr. and Kisiah Ann (Annie) Baker was

born on 05 May 1878 in Wise County, Texas, USA. She died on 02 Feb 1955 in Dallas, Dallas,

Texas, USA (Bur. Eastview Cemetery in Vernon, TX).

Generation 3

4. Elkanah CROSS, son of Unknown CROSS was born about 1833 in Virginia, USA. He died on 03

Oct 1878 in Near Callisburg, Cooke, TX. He married Mary Margaret HAWKINS, daughter of

James Lewis HAWKINS and Orpha Packwood on 05 Nov 1854 in Ralls Co., Missouri, USA.

5. Mary Margaret HAWKINS, daughter of James Lewis HAWKINS and Orpha Packwood was born

on 14 Feb 1839 in Marion County, Missouri, USA. She died on 01 May 1917 in Bowie, Montague,

Texas, USA (Bur. Salona Cemetery near Bowie).

6. Jeremiah G. “Jerry” GAMBLE Jr., son of Jeremiah G. GAMBLE and Sarah Ann Lockaby was

born on 14 Nov 1850 in Alabama, United States. He died on 02 Aug 1895 in Montague, Texas,

United States (Bur. Salona Cemetery near Bowie, Montague, TX). He married Kisiah Ann (Annie)

Baker, daughter of James BAKER and Mercy BELL on 09 Jul 1874 in Grayson County, Texas,

United States.

7. Kisiah Ann (Annie) Baker, daughter of James BAKER and Mercy BELL was born on 25 Feb 1857

in Lawrence, Missouri, USA. She died on 25 Jan 1946 in Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA (Bur. Salona

Cemetery near Bowie, Montague, TX).

Generation 4

8. Unknown CROSS.

10. James Lewis HAWKINS, son of Philemon HAWKINS and Ailcy Hannah LEWIS was born about

1803 in Scott Co., Kentucky, USA. He died before 01 Jun 1860 in Missouri (Enumeration date for

the 1860 census. His wife Orpha and daughter Ailcey Judith can be found living with daughter

Mary Margaret and her husband Elkanah Cross in Bates Co., Missouri.). He married Orpha

Packwood, daughter of Elisha PACKWOOD and Mary Polly BURNETT on 13 May 1838 in Monroe

City, Monroe, Missouri, United States.

11. Orpha Packwood, daughter of Elisha PACKWOOD and Mary Polly BURNETT was born in 1808 in

, Patrick, Virginia, USA. She died date Unknown in Missouri, United States,.

12. Jeremiah G. GAMBLE, son of Unknown GAMBLE was born about 1810 in Ireland. He died about

1878 in Grayson County, Texas, United States. He married Sarah Ann Lockaby, daughter of

James Lockaby about 1844.

13. Sarah Ann Lockaby, daughter of James Lockaby was born about 1826 in Georgia, United States.

She died after 1870 in Grayson County, Texas, United States.

14. James BAKER was born on 24 Aug 1808 in Tennessee, United States. He died on 25 Feb 1862 in

Lawrence, Missouri, USA. He married Mercy BELL, daughter of Thomas BELL and Elizabeth on

10 Aug 1838.

15. Mercy BELL, daughter of Thomas BELL and Elizabeth was born on 18 Dec 1813 in Tennessee,

USA. She died after 15 Jun 1880 in Alvord, Wise, Texas, USA (Bur. Alvord Cemetery Alvord, Wise,



On-line Research Log

Welcome to my new blog! I started this site primarily as a place to think out loud about whatever particular family group I’m working on at the moment. I have been interested in genealogy for about 12 years now but I’ve only become seriously addicted to it in the last 2 or 3 years or so. And I do mean addicted! Most of the time I feel like I suffer from genealogy ADHD, blundering from one ancestor to the next with no real clear focus. By focusing on one person or family group at a time and putting my thoughts and information here on the blog I’m hoping to become a better family history researcher. And hopefully, along the way I may meet a few long-lost cousins!