30 September 2014

FamilySearch Update: 1885 New Mexico Territorial Census

FamilySearch is indicating that the  New Mexico, Territorial Census, 1885 is new or updated.


27 September 2014

Updated On FamilySearch: Maryland Probate Materials

The following database is showing as having recently been updated on FamilySearch:

Maryland, Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999

Meyers Orts Webinar Released

We've just finished processing the recording on my presentation the Meyers Orts gazetteer. It's aimed at those who have been hesitant to use this finding aid to 19th and 20th century German places because of the language and the type.
Meyers-Orts entry for Wiesens.
 Image courtesy of Ancestry.com 

Our approach is down-to-earth and hands-on. We don't expect you to learn German to use this gazetteer, but we will show you how to find out where the local post office was--and the nearby church and other villages.

The presentation can be ordered here--download is immediate.

25 September 2014

New or Updated on FamilySearch

The following databases are showing as updated or new on FamilySearch:

Getting Around No Probate Journal Index in Vernon County, Missouri

FamilySearch recently released an update of it's digital collection of Missouri probate records.

It has been a little while since I actively worked on my Missouri ancestor Benjamin Butler and I decided to see if any materials had been posted for Vernon County. Sure enough there had been, but a review of the items currently posted for Vernon County makes it appear that the online records for Vernon County are not a complete set of the materials. The time period covered does not appear to be comprehensive and the probate case files do not appear to have been digitized either.

But I decided to search the materials that were available online while reminding myself that other records may still be available.

Unfortunately many of the various ledgers and court journals for the Vernon County, Missouri, probate records do not include any type of name index which one frequently finds in the front of journals of this type. Typically these journals and ledgers at the very least contain an index to the estates mentioned in their pages. There's never a full name index to these records as that was simply too time consuming for the clerk.

My search of the Vernon County probate volumes would require me to read the relevant journals page by page in an attempt to locate entries to the Benjamin Butler estate.

Then I remembered that I had a copy of the probate packet of Benjamin's estate papers. My review of those pages located a copy of an envelope which is partially shown in this blog post.

I'm not certain what the "140" means, but the other items in the red circle on the image indicate volume and page numbers where Benjamin's estate is mentioned in the probate journals. The notations after the page numbers indicate the action that was taken on the estate.

Chances are the reference to the estate in the journals will not provide any additional information on Benjamin's estate and likely will only indicate what action was taken by or approved by the court. It still will be advised to look at the book and page references.

There is still the possibility that there are additional references to the Benjamin Butler estate in the probate journals that are not mentioned on this envelope. However a review of the journals indicated that the references to estates in the journals typically are short references confirming a court action and are not ones that provide any real details about the estate or Benjamin.

For that reason, it's important to remember what my goal is with Benjamin: to find references that concretely tie him to his several known or probable children--including Florence Ellen (Butler) Sargent (my great-great-grandmother). It is doubtful the journal references will do that given the content of the entries I sampled when locating the ones referenced in the envelope.

It's always important to contemplate how likely a search is to provide the desired information and to compare that likelihood with the amount of time necessary to perform the search. Based on that, I'm not going to search the probate journals page by page at this point as there are records on Benjamin's known or probable children that have a better chance of answering my question or providing more information.

And sometimes one needs to go with probabilities.

But in this case, the probate packet provided index references that the journals didn't. It always does pay to completely analyze what you have--even if it just appears to be bookkeeping notations.

No Cause Is Assigned for the Act in 1887 Suicide

I finally made the trip to the Hancock County, Illinois, Historical Society Library with the hope of finding a few more details about the 1887 suicide that my great-great-grandmother Noentje (Grass) Ufkes mentions in a letter to her brother-in-law. Noentje intimates that Fayen was somehow involved with an "English" girl, but doesn't indicate who the girl was.

There was a reference to the suicide in the paper and it even made the front page. Unfortunately there was not the level of detail for which I was hoping.

Based upon the references I have located, the man's name is Dirk/Dick Fayen/Frieden or some reasonable variant thereof. The mention in the Carthage Republican does indicate that Fayen had worked for A. K. Coffman for "the past year" which would lead one to the initial premise that he had not lived in the United States for much longer than that. I'm also thinking that since my great-great-grandmother wrote about him a letter to her brother-in-law that they both knew Fayen and he may have been an immigrant from the same area of Germany as the Ufkes family. That's merely speculation.

I was unable to locate a death certificate for Fayen and from previous experience know that there are no extant records of coroner's reports for this time period. Fayen left no probate or estate record which was not surprising given his employment.

Where he is buried is another matter.

24 September 2014

FamilySearch Update: TX, WA, and MO Materials

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

I Don't Watch the Genealogy TV Shows

I'm in the distinct minority and that's fine with me.

I've watched probably three or four partial episodes of the "genealogy television shows." And while genealogy interests me on many levels and while I completely understand why some people love these shows, I really don't.

Generally I have two reasons:

The shows simplify the research process. Others have made this complaint about the shows before and for television purposes I understand why certain things need to be simplified. I understand that the shows are not geared towards me. But I value the research process and enjoy research and analysis. The shows are entertainment. I understand that. If I watch television, I want to be entertained and, being as involved in genealogy as I am, I simply don't find the shows entertaining.

The shows overemphasize the "sensational" ancestor. I have a few ancestors who were "characters," but the vast majority were pretty much common, ordinary people.  These people have their stories also--even if it looks like on the surface they didn't. The lives of the "common man and woman" are fairly interesting too, if one chooses to really ferret out their story from the records and materials that are available. It seems to me that these shows promote the belief that the lives of the common man aren't really all that interesting or worth researching.

It's fine with me if people love these shows. But it's also fine if some of us don't.

22 September 2014

My Relative Was Erratic

My latest Ebay purchase has arrived. But I'm not going to post an image from it due to potential copyright violations.

It's an issue of Sports Illustrated from 1956 which mentions my double cousin, Gloria Fecht. Author Betty Hicks (a golfer herself) doesn't have much to say about Fecht other than Fecht was a "former professional ice skater, [and] is a good driver but is erratic."

I'm not exactly certain Sports Illustrated is going to be concerned about a black and white picture of a golfer from 1956, but we're going to err on the side of caution and not include it in the post. Unfortunately Fecht's picture in the article is dark, her face is not easy to see, and the image is not in color as are some of the pictures. But it's not often I find a relatively close relative mentioned in a national magazine so the item was a nice one to locate.

The obvious genealogy lesson is that one never knows what one will find on  Ebay. Other thoughts include that your relative may have made a career change as Fecht did from professional ice skater to professional golfer. Never assume your relative stayed one one and only one career path.

Source: Hicks, Betty, "Golf and the Women," Sports Illustrated, July 23 1956, p. 31.

FamilySearch Update: MO, MN, MT, CA, GA, UT and NH Materials

The following databases are showing as updated on FamilySearch:

18 September 2014

If It's Tioga, It's New York State--Not!

The index entry at Ancestry.com for Henry William Trautvetter didn't make too much sense to me. The name, date of birth and residence matched my great-grandfather's brother of the same name. 

What didn't match was the place of birth, "Hancock, New York, USA."

Henry was born in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois, and I decided that the place of birth as shown on the index entry must have been some sort of transcription error.

Well it was--but not in the way I originally thought.

I had seen Henry's World War II draft registration card before and, to be perfectly honest, while I had read the entire thing, I had not really noticed the "error" circled in red on the image of the card shown below.



The person filling out the card indicated that Henry was born in Hancock in the state of Tioga. What the card completer likely meant was that Henry was born in Tioga, in Hancock County, Illinois. Tioga is located in Walker Township where Henry was born and was near the family's farm and where they attended church. It doesn't seem too much of a stretch for Henry to have said he was born in Tioga. When I read the card, I knew what the person meant and didn't think too much of it.

But a transcriber unfamiliar with the location and the family does not have that point of reference. For some reason the transcriber decided that the intention of the card was to refer to Tioga--the one in New York.

That's the problem with "standardizing" data entry and insisting that transcribers use "drop down" "pre-filled" menus for some items. This was a non-standard entry. In transcribing it, I'll transcribe it as it is written on the card (and comment about the likely error).

Sometimes one can't make every card "fit the form." And this card certainly does not indicate that Henry was born in New York State.

This is how careless researchers get incorrect places of birth in their database.

17 September 2014

William Kile in Joliet Prison in 1860

1860 U S Census, Illinois, Will County, Town of Joliet, page 529;
digital image Ancestry.com


Prisoner William Kile was relatively easy to find in the 1860 census. He was enumerated at the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Will County, Illinois--right where he should be based upon other records that have been located on William. The enumeration also includes his year of incarceration and the crime for which he was committed. I'm not certain that enumerators were required to provide this information, but it is listed for every inmate at this institution in 1860. 

Just goes to show that one never knows what will appear on an enumeration until one actually sees it and details of this type are not items that get included in indexes and finding aids. He's listed as being sixty years of age, which may be slightly incorrect. The place of birth is right. 

I'm surmising that the information on William in this enumeration was provided from prison records. Because of that, the age and other information on his enumeration may not be correct. I doubt if the census enumerator visited each prisoner to obtain information. 

The year of his incarceration and crime were also contained in other records and those statements from the census are consistent with more reliable records. 

The fact that his age ends in a "0" does raise some speculation that it was simply an estimate. 

Rescheduled Meyers Orts and Estate Inventory Webinars

We have rescheduled our Meyers Orts and Estate Inventory Webinars:

  • Meyers Orts--rescheduled for 26 September
  • Transcribing an 18th Century Estate Inventory--rescheduled for 26 September


Meyers Orts--Gazetteer of the German Empire. Published in the early 20th century, this print geographic reference in traditional Gothic print contains information on thousands of German place names. If you've ever struggled with this reference, or never used it because it seemed overwhelming, then this presentation is for you. We'll assume that you know no German and are unfamiliar with the script. See how the entries are organized, how to interpret them, and how to use the information from the entries to further your research. Geared to those who have not used the gazetteer extensively before. Session will run approximately one hour. 26 September 2014 at 1:00 pm central time.

Transcribing an 18th Century Estate Inventory. In this presentation we will go step-by-step through the transcription of estate inventories from Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia that were recorded in the 1700s. We can't make you an expert at reading handwriting in one session, but we will systematically go through the listing of items, showing ways to assist in "guessing" when the handwriting is difficult to interpret, determining what the items are, and using the inventory to further your research. Geared towards advanced beginner or intermediate researchers. Session will run approximately one hour. 26 September 2014--3:00 pm central time.

Registration is limited.

Register now:

This page is:
http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2014/07/meyers-orts-and-18th-century-estate.html


13 September 2014

Some Men Used to Cook

It's not just the ladies who submit recipes for those old recipe books, occasionally one may find a member of the male persuasion listed as well.

This entry from 1903 shows a recipe for baked wild duck.

Of course measurements are somewhat inexact as the amount of butter is compared to an egg.

Are you assuming only ladies are mentioned in old cookbooks?

This cookbook was one of my recent  Ebay purchases.

An Issue of "Issue Instanter" Means that Short Phrases Matter

Those little notations on documents are important. Sometimes they are the most important item on the document and woe is the genealogist who ignores them as "meaningless."

An 1860 letter written to Illinois Governor John Wood by Illinois State Penitentiary Warden Samuel K Casey attests to the model behavior of Lawrence Knaeble an inmate. Knaeble was convicted of manslaughter in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1858.

On the bottom left hand corner of the letter is the phrase that appears to be "Issue Instanter." Loosely interpreted, this appears to be a notation that the pardon was to be issued immediately or as soon as practical. There is no indication of who wrote the order on Casey's letter, but it clearly was not written by him looking at the style of handwriting.There are several other documents and petitions in the Executive Clemency File for Knaeble dated 1859 and 1860. This is the only document in the file that makes any reference to a pardon being granted. There is an earlier letter from Warden Casey which also testifies to Knaeble's behavior. 


Knaeble was pardoned by the Illinois governor on 10 October 1860. A petition from over 100 Hancock County, Illinois, citizens was filed on 8 October.

Those little words can sometimes mean a lot--to prisoners as well as genealogists. Make certain you aren't ignoring them in your research.

We'll have more details on Knaeble's conviction and just what happened outside that dram shop in Warsaw, Illinois in 1858 to land him in the Joliet prison.

12 September 2014

The SS5 for Aunt Martha

Application for a Social Security Account Number,
Martha Ann Greenstreet, 480-22-9796,
obtained from the Social Security Administration.
Personally I don't often order SS5 forms very often. 

It is not because they are not valuable, but it's just that most of my own personal research is before Social Security was in existence and even for those people who lived after it was created, I often don't really "need" the form and can't always justify the expense. The forms do usually provide the information (parents, date and place of birth, occupation, etc.) that are listed here. For most of my very non-migratory 20th century farming relatives the cards aren't going to tell me too much.

But sometimes it's necessary--especially when people moved a great deal or the researcher wants to see what information they put on the form instead of what an informant put on a death certificate (keep in mind that in some cases, employers filled the cards out and the applicant signed them). 

This form is for my great-grandmother's half-sister, Martha Ann (Sargent) Silsby Greenstreet. I've had some difficulty locating information on her and her family, partially because it doesn't appear that she was close to her two older half sisters by her father's first marriage. 

The birth and parental information is consistent with other records. Her residence was not exactly where I expected, but given that Aunt Martha moved around a fair amount any residence in the upper Midwest would not really have been a surprise.

And I still haven't located her in the 1940 census. Maybe now that I've got an address for her in 1943, that will make that a little easier.  

Getting the form:


The online form for ordering a Social Security number application is the best approach if:

  • the person whose form you are requesting was born over 100 years ago, and
  • you don't believe that the Social Security Administration has information indicating the person's parents were under 20 at the time the person for whom you are ordering the SS5 form was born.

Updated on FamilySearch: MT, IL, and OH Materials

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

Montana, Judith Basin County Records, 1887-2012

Illinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991

Ohio, Jefferson County Court Records, 1797-1947

10 September 2014

FamilySearch Update: GA, MT, WI, NH, SC and FL Materials

The following databases are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Evidence of Basco and Tioga?

I've had a digital image of this card for several years. I was lucky enough to have a relative send a digital copy of it to me after she found it among her relative's things.

The postmark, "Basco, Ill April 18 '78," is handwritten. I'm not certain if Basco didn't have a stamp or if it was just easier to write instead of using it.

I've written about this postcard before, but I just got to thinking about what type of "residential evidence" this gives for both Johann Ufkes (the writer) and Hermann Harms (the recipient). The only thing this card provides direct evidence of is that Johann was at the Basco post office in 1878. There's no address for him on this card and just because he mailed it from Basco does not mean he necessarily lived there.

And Herman may (or may not) have been a resident of Tioga (Tioka) at all. He could have easily just have been a short term resident in 1878--or it simply could have been that in 1878 Johann believed Herman lived in Tioga.

It's always worth your while to think about just what a document provides evidence for and what it does not provide evidence for.

09 September 2014

1903 Warsaw Illinois Cookbook

This 1903 cookbook was one I recently purchased on Ebay. It's not in the best of condition, but this was not a surprise to me as the seller clearly indicated the item was not in good condition and the binding was gone (there were also pictures clearly indicating the condition of the item).

The individual pages are in relatively good shape and it will be easy to eventually take pictures of them so that they can be posted and shared with those who may have family in the area. There is a listing of recipe submitters in the front of book and some are apparently "out of towners" as their city and states of residence are listed. It is possible that the individuals from New Orleans and few other "non-local" locations had some connection to the Warsaw, Illinois, area and their listing in the cookbook may be additional evidence someone needs to connect two people.

Even if one can't use the recipies, there can still be clues in old cookbooks.

03 September 2014

2015 Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy (CSIG)

Things have been a little quiet on this blog as I've been wrapping up major details on the 2015 Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy (CSIG) to be held in May/June 2015 in Galesburg, Illinois.

From 28 May through 1 June 2015 the first Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy will be held at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Four tracks of study over 4.5 days are scheduled. Nationally-known genealogical-research experts will present the following tracks:
     Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy
(coordinator Cyndi Ingle of CyndisList)
     Advanced Methodology and Analysis
(coordinator Michael John Neill of Genealogy Tip of the Day),
     The Advancing Genealogist: Research Standards, Tools, and Records
(coordinator Debbie Mieszala, CGSM),
     Germanic Research Sources and Methods
(coordinator Teresa McMillin, CGSM).

Getting to Galesburg is easy. Galesburg is:
     located on Interstate 74,
     one hour from Moline or Peoria airports,
     two hours from Springfield, and
     has four daily Amtrak trains from Chicago (and direct routes from many locations including Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, and Salt Lake City).
      
Registration opens in September and will be announced on the website (www.sandburggenealogy.com) and on social media, including the CSIG Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sandburggenealogy). Email Michael John Neill at mneill@sandburg.edu to be added to mailing list for announcements. Hotel and meal plan information is forthcoming.
Carl Sandburg College is located in the heart of the Midwest and has received national accolades for its innovative use of technology and state of the art instructional facilities.

CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.