31 May 2015

My Blogs

I currently maintain the following genealogy blogs:


Check them out--each can be subscribed to for free using the email box on the right hand side of the page.

30 May 2015

Stephen Gibson Middlesex County Estate Sale Part II

We'll be posting these images over the next several days with transcriptions following shortly there after. The first column is the appraised amount of the item in dollars and cents and the second column is the value received at the estate sale. Feel free to comment on any items in the inventory that you think are particularly interesting.

This comes from the probate case file of Stephen Gibson in Middlesex County, Massachusetts (case file 9115).

Stay tuned.

Mocavo's Free United States Census Index and Images

Mocavo recently announced that the United States Census and images would be free on their site. Because I was at the Family History Library for the past week, I didn't take much time to look at it when the announcement came out.

To search their census (and only their census) it works best to search directly from their United States Census portal--or try the year specific link below. Searching from their home page incorporates other search results--which are a part of their subscription services and seems to create a lot of popups. Searching from their home page also does not allow one to refine the searches as much either.

The images don't appear to be too bad, but they do load in segments and if use of the site is high, some portions of the image may not load quickly. Try again if that happens. 


These links will take users directly to the specific census search page:
Comments or suggestions can be posted to this post. Thanks!

Fokke Wasn't the Only 16 Year Old On the Boat in 1873


The S S Weser arrived in New York City on 3 November 1873. One of those passengers was Fokke Goldenstein.

One of the items I discovered recently while in Salt Lake at the Family History Library was immigration information Fokke filed in in Germany in September of 1873. I'm still in the process of translating that information to make certain I am understanding and interpreting it correctly. One of the items in the record is a copy of the letter Fokke's father wrote. It apparently discusses Fokke's age at the time of immigration and his sister already living in the United States. I waited until I was home to review Fokke's manifest information--just to see how soon he arrived in the United States after the paperwork in Germany was completed. It wasn't very long--he arrived in the US on 3 November, a little over a month after his paperwork in Germany was filed.

It turns out that Fokke wasn't the only 16 year old on that boat. There was another 16 year old with him: Habbe Agena.

While it doesn't look like Agena's name appears in Goldenstein's emigration information, I'm curious to see if Agena has emigration file similar to Goldenstein's and if that file contains a letter from his father as well.

I'll have to add that to my list for next year. We'll have an update on the information on Fokke's emigration file when I've had that translated.

Getting Ready for Ft. Wayne in August!

This August I'll be taking a group to research at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Part of going for myself and those going with me is getting prepared by looking at the card catalog. Some of us remember when the card catalog was actually contained in drawers with actual cards. Those days are gone.

The library's card catalog is online, but in two separate parts. Their microtext catalog is separate from their book catalog--something which I have to remind myself so that I don't overlook materials in that collection. The library is particularly strong in city directories, but researchers need to search the book card catalog and the microtext catalog in order to determine what materials they have.

The library has specific microfilm collections:


And more in their book card catalog of materials available in paper format. I'm looking forward to going, helping trip participants with their research and, if time allows, doing a little research of my own. Our trip is low-key, laid-back, and centered on helping you with your research. We don't have scheduled "events" other than a morning presentation. We don't want to take away from research time with "group" activities and participants can work on their own as much as they want to--and get help from me when needed.

More about the Allen County Public Library can be learned about the library's collection on their website.

Details about my group trip to the Allen County Public Library is available on thie page.

FamilySearch Updates: DC Marriages, SD Census, GA Deaths and More

The following databases are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch since our last update:

District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950

South Dakota, State Census, 1945

South Dakota, Pennington County Probate Case Files, 1880-1937

Georgia Deaths, 1928-1939

Connecticut, District Court Naturalization Indexes, 1851-1992

Home From Salt Lake

I am back home from my annual group trip to the Family History Librard in Salt Lake. The feedback from trip attendees was good and I'm already looking forward to a return trip next year. I'm looking forward to my next group trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I will be driving to Ft. Wayne instead of taking the teaon!

A researcher's question (with her permission) became the motivation of one of last week's Genealogy Tip[s] Of the Day."

I made several finds, some of which been mentioned here already. I also have several items from previous trips that I need to write as well. Sometimes it takes time to get organized after a trip. Organization is best done as soon as possible after returning home, don't rely on your memory as a place to keep your genealogical wish list.

There also were a few things I was reminded of while researching. They will be used as upcoming tips.












29 May 2015

Stephen Gibson Middlesex County Estate Sale Part I

We'll be posting these images over the next several days with transcriptions following shortly there after. Feel free to comment on any items in the inventory that you think are particularly interesting.

This comes from the probate case file of Stephen Gibson in Middlesex County, Massachusetts (case file 9115).

Stay tuned.

27 May 2015

Bertus Grass Prepares to Emigrate from Ostfriesland

This document from 1876 appears in the microfilmed copies of the Auswanderungskonses (1842-1919) that the Family History Library has on microfilm.  This set of microfilmed materials only applies to those individuals who were leaving the Ostfriesland area of Germany. It does not cover the entire northern region of Hannover nor does it include every Ostfriesian immigrant who left for America.

Bertus Grass was born in July of 1851 in Backemoor and was living in Wiesens when he prepared to immigrate.

Not all Ostfriesian immigrants are covered in this record set.

While my study was anecdotal (and not really even a study), I found three relatives (ancestors, siblings of ancestors, and first cousins of ancestors) in this series. That's not very many considering that one-half of my family hails from Ostfriesland and many extended members of my family immigrated in the last half of the 19th century.

The items in this series tend to be more heavily weighted to the last half of the time period covered. The series is alphabetical based upon first letter of the last name. They are not in chronological order within a series as I discovered the hard way.

In a future post, we'll see how Bertus' immigration date compares with the date of this document. If you've got immigrant ancestors from Germany see if there are similar emigration preparation documents available. These are not village or kries level records (usually), although some books of extractions for some specific villages have been published.

How much time elapsed before he arrived in the United states.


More Lines Over Letters to Indicate Double Consonants


In an earlier blog post, we mentioned lines above consonants being used as a short hand to indicate a double letter. The sample item in that discussion was from the late 19th century in Nebraska, by a pastor whose ethnicity was unknown, but was probably German.

In this 1796 baptismal entry for Johann Michael Trautvetter the same notation is used. In fact, it's used twice as the godfather is also named Johann Michael Trautvetter and the line over the first "n" in his first name also has the same meaning.


A Christening for Johann George Trautvetter in 1798

This was another of my big finds at the Family History Library in Salt Lake: the baptismal record for Johann George Trautvetter from 1798 in Salzungen, Thuringen, Germany. I located records for two other children of Erasmus and Anna Katharina (Gross) Trautvetter in those records.

Later children could not be located as the records stopped after the third child was located and I have reason to believe that the three children I located were their older ones.

These records underlined the name of the father instead of the child. That's one reason I didn't find the record when I used these records twenty years ago.

There's another reason we'll mention in a future blog post.

And there's a few genealogy lesson reminders we'll be running in Genealogy Tip of the Day based on these records.

26 May 2015

Nebraska Needs Order in the 1880s. At least according to Ancestry.com

I understand organization,but some organization I can do without.

In 2013, I wrote a post called "Is Ancestry.com Putting Households in ABC Order?"

Apparently they still are.

The 1885 Nebraska State Census lists the household of Frank Goldenstein in the following order:

  • Frank Goldenstein
  • Annie
  • Tjoda
  • Renhart
Fairly typical order for the time period. 

When I look at the "view record" tab on Ancestry.com's Nebraska State Census Collection 1860-1865, I obtain the following results as shown in the image taken from their website. The household members are displayed in alphabetical order. 




Seem a little strange to me, so I looked at a household in 1885 where there were individuals with different last names as shown in the image below. Those household members were also listed in alphabetical order.

Strange. I'm not certain why Ancestry.com would choose to display the results in this manner. All of which makes the continual point that looking at the actual record is key. 

Key. There we said it twice. 


25 May 2015

In Support of My Son Focke

This is probably one of the greatest finds I have ever had at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

I mentioned Focke Goldenstein's emigration materials from Ostfriesland, Germany, in an earlier blog post ("Focke Gets Permission to Immigrate in 1873").

The records also included a letter from September 1873 where his father apparently is giving his consent for Focke to emigrate and also indicating that Focke's sister, Wilhelmina Janssen (yes that's her middle name), is already in the United States.

We're working on a translation of this two page letter.

It's not often I find a letter written by an ancestor. Well...it's a handwritten transcription, but still a letter.

Stay tuned.

Webinars in June

We are still accepting registrations for 4 webinars upcoming in June--registration entitles you to a complimentary recording of the presentation after it has been processed. This way if your schedule changes you still get the presentation. Topics are:

  • War of 1812 Pensions at Fold3.com-these are free on their site.
  • Using Colonial Land Patents at the Library of Virginia website-these images are free on the website.
  • Library of Congress online digital newspapers--free on their site.
  • Using local land records online at FamilySearch. Not all of these are online, but we will discuss how to use the ones that are.

Memorial Day Webinar Sale Ends today!

Memorial Day 20% Sale

If you missed our 20% off sale, it's back on for Memorial Day-ending 25 May-- and before the old inventory is physically removed from the host site at the end of the month. Download now and view the presentation as many times as you want.

Over thirty topics--easy to follow and easy to understand.

View the complete list and order here.

Citation Creation and Error Reduction

We are usually told to cite our sources because it allows us to go back and find things again if necessary and it assists us in the analysis of information.

Another reason: Reducing errors created by the researcher.

Creating citations after the research has been done can be time consuming, tedious, and repetitive process. For that reason, it's a good idea to capture information needed for the citation as the research is being done.

That's especially true when creating digital images from microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake.

The screen shot shown in this post shows the file name I used for an image taken from the section of deaths in the records of the Evangelical church in Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany. The entries are unpaginated and they are organized by year. My goal with the file names is that they be long enough to contain relevant detail to get me back to that image if I needed to and to allow me to find the file by searching on the contents of the file name--just in case I save the file and can't remember where I saved it on my computer.

When taking digital images of the desired record, I always make an image that includes the record of interest and the "top of the page" (usually the whole page to be honest). There are several reasons for this:

  • sometimes the top of the page contains headers--particularly in those years when records were written on forms
  • it's easier to analyze handwriting when one has more than one entry from the register
  • interpreting the item in context can't be done if there are no other entries to provide context
  • the top of the page frequently contains page numbers
  • the top of the page often contains other identifying information
Sometimes page numbers are on the bottom--that's when copying the whole page is advised. 

Then I usually copy just the item of interest, magnifying the image to make it easier later to read all the image.





Turns out there's another reason I should include the entire page: reduce the chance I make careless mistakes.

The file name I used to save this image included 1838 for the year of the record.

The year listed on the actual record is 1839.

I was simply off by a year.

If I had only made an image of the entry for Ameling, the year would not have been included--just the month and day.

And then later I would have wondered why I was off on his death by one year.

And someone else could have copied that information and it could have been repeated over and over.

But...because I made an image of the entire page, I caught my error.

And I caught it because I was thinking about citations while I was actually researching.

One more reason to cite your sources.



What Happened After Ameling Died?

I haven't had time to translate it yet, but this 1839 entry from the Evangelical church in Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany indicates that Ameling Jansen Sartorius died on 28 January 1839. Married in Aurich in 1833, Ameling left behind his wife Meta Margareta Janssen and three children. 


Now for the question.

Reading through the unindexed church records is time consuming. Meta was not originally from Aurich and baptismal records for her children indicate that her family was from an outlying village. Do I continue to look for Meta in the records at Aurich (perhaps for a second marriage?). Do I look for Meta in the records where her family was living? Did the young widow with three small children return "home" or stay? Searching unindexed records of this type takes time and I want to maximize the chance I find Meta quickly.

Meta's son Hinrich is my ancestor. This pretty much invalidates the story that Hinrich's parents came to America, living and dying near Peoria, Illinois.

Unless of course Hinrich's mother married again and someone confused his father with his step-fathe.

Stay tuned.

24 May 2015

Mary, Mary...That's not Contrary

This document comes from the guardianship of Mary Brown in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The mother and daughter are requesting that the court appoint a local man as the daughter's guardian.

[begin transcription]

[For it?] my Desier and my Daughter Mary Browns that Deacon Stephen Gipson Should be put in Garden for Mary Mary Brown

[end transcription]

I'm not quite certain about the [For it] part of the transcription, but it seems to make sense in this context. The spelling of guardian as "garden" is easy to understand, especially if the note was written by someone not overly familiar with legal terms.

The "Mary Mary" appears to be correct well. The first "Mary" refers to the daughter and the second to the mother.

It appears that this document was written and signed by the same person. But I'll have to compare this purported signature of Mary to other known signatures of hers in the probate records of Mary's husbands Ephraim Puffer and Amos Brown. They may or may not be a match.

20% off webinar sale back on for Memorial Day

Grow Your Genealogy Skills

If you missed our 20% off sale, it's back on for Memorial Day and before the old inventory is physically removed from the host site at the end of the month. Download now and view the presentation as many times as you want.

Over thirty topics--easy to follow and easy to understand.

View the complete list and order here.

23 May 2015

Finding the Desmarais Family in New York State in 1892

The recent update on FamilySearch of the 1892 New York state census reminded me that the name of one family for which I was looking is always hopelessly misspelled: Desmarais.

When I can, I've taken to searching without using that last name, focusing instead on other search paramaters.

In my case, I was pretty certain the family of interest was living in Clinton County, New York. And child Levi's name didn't have the issues with variants and diminutives that the names of the other children did.


There were several results that matched my query, but only one had a last name reasonably close to Desmarais.

The family was enumerated as Demarra. Given how light the handwriting was, I'm fortunate that it was transcribed accurately.

All members of the Lous Demarra household were born in New York and all were citizens. Lous was a miner.

And there's no notation where on household begins and another one ends.

But the head of household is the one with an occupation, leading one to infer where one household ends and another one begins.




FamilySearch Update: Brownsville, TX Crew Lists, PA Alien Landings, and 1892 NY State Census

The following databases at FamilySearch are showing as new or updated since our last update:

Texas, Brownsville Passenger and Crew List of Airplanes, 1943-1964

Pennsylvania, Landing Reports of Aliens, 1798-1828

New York, State Census, 1892

How "new" they are I can't say.


Focke Gets Permission to Immigrate in 1873

I always knew that Focke Goldenstein immigrated to the United States as a teenager. His passenger list entry confirmed it.

Today I discovered Focke's set of 1873 emigration documents from Germany. Not his passenger list when he left, but instead local documents related to his departure from Europe. For some reason, I avoided using these records as I "had it in my head" that they only started in the mid-1880s. That was a mistake.

It's been a long time since I have gotten excited about finding a record, but this one was a great find.


Focke's age is clearly stated on the partial copy of the record used as an illustration on this blog post. It also indicated his name and provides his 12 January 1857 date of birth in Wrisse.


And it states he's headed to America.

There's more in this permission to immigrate--including a letter signed by Focke's father. My feeble attempts to read German so far indicate that it mentions Focke's sister who was already in the United States.

Stay tuned.

Meyers Orts at Ancestry.com: Free and a Search Suggestion

Ancestry.com has Meyers Geographical and Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire available online as color scans of an original copy of the book (as a free item). The scans are nice to use and very readable. The image in this post is for Timmel. Many details of the area are included in Meyers, such as population, nearby villages, records offices, churches, mail and rail stops, etc.











However, the search interface worked a little strangely for me when the "Any Event" box was used to search and the autocomplete was used to complete the location.

The search for Timmel as constructed below did not locate the entry for Timmel.

I had the same problem when I entered "timmel" as the only item in the "Any Event" box. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

The Fix?


When I entered "Timmel" as a term in the keyword search box the desired item was located. I'll have to stick to that approach for the time being.

If anyone knows what I'm doing wrong, please let me know in the comments box.I'd love to post that there's something about the search box that I'm getting confused.

Note: I recently gave a webinar on using Meyers Orts. It can be ordered on my webinar page.

22 May 2015

Citations With My Phone

Citation is a crucial part of the genealogical research process.

But let's be honest it slows down the data acquisition process. Researchers get excited about locating information. They rarely get as excited about capturing the raw data from which to craft a citation.

Yet there needs to be a middle ground.

This week I've been at the Family History Library in Salt Lake and when I can I'm using digital media to capture genealogical information, including taking pictures of book pages with my phone.

Tracking the source is crucial. I've been taking images from a variety of ortssippenbucher from Ostfriesland, Germany. To track the book from which the picture was made, I wrote the name of the town on a small slip of paper and inserted that over part of the page I did not need. I used that piece of paper on every image from that book.

Then after the pages from the book of interest were taken, I took pictures of the title page of the book. I could have written a little more than the name of the village on the piece of paper, but that was enough to allow me to tag which book was used when taking a specific picture.

I also made certain (not shown in the image) that the page number was also clear in each picture.

My images sync from my phone to Google Drive and my laptop so I have them almost immediately.

And I also have enough information from which to craft a citation later.

Some Simple Things Followup

A reader gently reminded me after reading "Some Simple Things" that children can be born after the father dies--up to nine months.  This is true.

Sometimes probate and guardianship records mention children born posthumously. One always needs to read all probate and guardianship papers as initial filings may not mention the child it is is born after initial paperwork is filed.