Casefile Clues

31 January 2008

Searching 1870 Census

We've posted two articles on our site on searching the 1870 census. The discussion is applicable to other years as well and focuses on alternate spellings for names, variant last names, places of birth, and other issues with locating people in the census. The focus is on organizing and thinking about what you want to search before you start mindlessly entering names in search boxes.

The second article centers on an analysis of entries located while trying to search for Johann Ufkes (born 1838 Ostfriesland, Germany) in the 1870 census and provides some ways to analyze entries.

Unfortunately I have not found either person (Johann Ufkes or Ira Sargent) I was looking for in 1870. But the search continues.

30 January 2008

Was Grandma Really Right?


Grandma Neill always told me she could remember being baptized as a child. I never argued with her about it, but I was pretty certain she was wrong (after all, I was there--so I would know...).
My reason for thinking Grandma was wrong was that the church she attended as a child was a Lutheran church which typically baptized children as infants, especially when the parents were already members when the child was born. I just concluded that Grandma was wrong and that she probably had been baptized within a few months of her birth in 1910.
Grandma was right.
She and two of her her siblings were baptized in November of 1910 at Bethany Church in Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois. I'm not certain why the family waited ten years to baptize those three. The other five children of George and Ida Trautvetter were baptized as infants. The church had a pastor during the time between Grandma's birth in 1910 and 1915. Lack of a pastor is an occasional reason for no baptism, but usually Catholics and Lutherans are pretty good about making a baptism happen shortly after birth.
Just goes to show that what you think may be incorrect may actually be right. Research it and find out. Don't assume you are correct---after all, you probably weren't there.

Sourcing When Scanning




This is a lovely scan of an obituary from the Chicago, Illinois, area. Only one problem--when I scanned it, I included no source information on the obituary. There are several options that I had at the time the scan was made.
  1. I could have written the name of the paper and the date on the original and then my scan would have included that information.

  2. I could have used my photoediting software to add the same information in text format on the document.

  3. I could have included the source in the file name of the document--without being too long.

Probably the best option is 1 or 2 and 3. File names are not always included with printouts, so that is a limitation of only using option three. Including the source in the file name (along with the name of the person on the scan), makes it easier to search the hard drive or media for specific words or phrases.


My attempt to date and locate the source would require using contextual clues from the document. I already know the paper is one in the Chiago area, which could have been determined using the place names and addresses. Had the year not been known already, a perpetual calendar and contextual clues would have given a good guess as to the paper's date. The real problem would be in determining in which newspaper the obituary actually appeared.

The desired obituary on this page was that of Peter Verikios. He's my wife's step-great-grandfather. At least I copied more than his obituary which helped to provide additional contextual references. It is usually a good idea to copy a little more than you think you will need.

29 January 2008

We Have Room

Spring is a busy time in "genealogyland" as we sometimes call it and we are still accepting participants in several of our upcoming workshops and events.

Visit our above pages for more information.

Contact me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com with questions or to schedule your own workshop or event.

Genealogical Helper on World Vital Records


Many of us who began our genealogical research before the computer era used The Genealogical Helper as a way to make contact with other researchers. The image shown in this posting is from a query I posted to the Heoper in September of 1984.

Back issues of the Helper from 1947 have been digitized and placed on the World Vital Records website.

Of course, my contact information has changed. And it turns out the last name I thought was Leghin is actually Lichtsinn. I'm still researching these families and any interested relatives are welcome to send me an email at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Maryland Calendar of Wills on World Vital Records


World Vital Records has added several volumes of the Maryland Calendar of Wills from Genealogical Publishing Company. These volumes are free from nine more days from the date of this post, after that a membership in World Vital Records is required.


Maryland Calendar of Wills Volumes 1 and 2

Maryland Calendar of Wills Volumes 3 and 4

Maryland Calendar of Wills Volumes 5 and 6 1720-1726

Maryland Caldendar of Wills Volumes 7 and 8 1732-1738

The image included in this post is not from a family of mine. It is a whale of an entry, but I'm not working on the individuals shown in the image.

New York Man Arrested for Stealing from Archives

Reuters is reporting that a New York State Department of Education Archivist has been arrested for stealing documents from the New York State Archives and stealing them on Ebay.

In some places it is extremely easy to walk out with original documents, particularly when they are not documents on famous people or events.

Leland Meitzler on Genealogyblog.com dug up a picture of the guy and posted it to his blog.

Village Genealogical Society-21 March 2009

I will be the featured lecturer at the Village Genealogical Society's biannual conference on 21 March 2009 in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. We will post more details here as they become available. The society's website will also have updated information as well.

I'm still booking seminars in late 2008 and later--interested groups can contact me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Citations on the Source

Many of us write our genealogical citations on the source, particularly if we are in a facility where we are making photocopies or receive photocopies in the mail. As mentioned earlier, black ink works best.

There is an article on the Board for Certification of Genealogists' website on this very topic. Those who are concerned about tracking their sources (as we all should be) may want to take a look at Amy Johnson Crow's article from the May 2000 issue of On Board, published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

28 January 2008

Cite it as You Get It

My continuing work into the Neely-Rathbone scandal located two references in Meekel's Weekly Stamp News as mentioned in a previous post.

Fortunately my librarian was able to quickly and easily obtain copies of the articles. Unfortunately the library supplying the material to me did not write an issue date on my copy [nor was it on the newspaper itself]. I was lucky that the article request form was sent to me along with the articles and I was able to determine the date of each reference. But always make certain you have dates and other relevant sourcing information for any copies of materials you make.

And don't write in green ink. It doesn't always copy or scan well ;-)

The image in this post is from Meekel's Weekly Stamp News on 24 May 1900.

24 January 2008

Are You Checking all Online Newspapers?

Like many genealogists, I use the online newspapers at:
World Vital Records
Genealogy Bank
Ancestry.com

However it is worth remembering that these newspaper collections are sometimes incomplete and that other sites may have newspapers on them as well, in some cases for free.

The Quincy, Illinois, Public Library is a good case in point. They have scanned old Quincy area newspapers from the microfilm, and created a digital database that can be searched. The interesting thing is that I KNOW I have searched this database for the last name Trautvetter several years ago and already viewed all the small number of hits. Today a search for that name again (on a whim) resulted in two new hits, including the one that is shown in this post. I would have remembered seeing this reference.

The Quincy Daily Journal from Quincy, Illinois 22 March 1918 listed those who had taken their teacher exams for second and third grade. A surprise to me was the listing of Luella Trautvetter from Mendon, Illinois. I never knew my great aunt had taken the teacher exam. She would have been 17 and a half years old at the time she took the exam.

If not for the digital version of the newspaper, I would never have located this reference.

The digital archives of the Quincy [Illinois] Public Library can be found on their site.

Modern Mechanix on the 1940-1960 census

A post to the Association of Professional Genealogists mailing list included links to scans of articles from Modern Mechanix on the 1940-1960 census enumerations. Not a complete discussion to be certain, but an interesting one nonetheless.

23 January 2008

Funeral Pictures and More...


Genealogists are obsessed with funerals, trying to find out when they took place, where they took place, and where the bodies are laid. Some genealogists are even obsessed with their own funerals.


And some people love to take pictures at funerals. I know I've seen a picture of my Grandpa Neill in a casket and there are probably other such photographs I have not seen yet.
People have been taking pictures of the dead and the rituals for the dead for as long as there have been photographs. Now there's a website with pictures of various stages of the mourning process.
The Museum of Mourning Photography & Memorial Practice + MourningPhoto.com contains links to numerous images--including the one in this post which has been used with permission (Thanks to Anthony for allowing us to reproduce the picture shown here). The history of funerals is extremely interesting and this site provides a very interesting visual display.
Some may find such photos morbid, but it is important to remember that everyone deals with grief in their own way and that times and practices do change over time. The images on the site may give you a different perspective on your ancestors. Give it a browse. The museum is in Chicago and can be viewed by appointment.

22 January 2008

Another suggestion from the websites that update databases

I have mentioned before that I wish there were a way on a database site itself to track "results" that have already been viewed and analyzed. On sites where databases are "in progress" wading through the same results gets tiresome.

Another added feature I'd like to see (particularly on these databases that are updated) is the ability to send me an email when there are new results for surnames or searches in which I am interested. While I don't need an email every time there is a new Smith, I certainly would be interested in an email telling me there was a new Rampley, Trautvetter, or Ufkes result.

18 January 2008

They Have to be Related--They have the Same Last Name!

Just because two individuals have the same last name does not mean that they are related. Researchers working on a Smith family know that two people with this common last name are not related, but what about a more unusual surname?

Well it depends on the origination of the name (and that even is not a guarantee) and jumping to conclusions makes for bad research.

One of my ancestral surnames is Habben--a somewhat unusual name. In Ostfriesland, Germany, where many of these families originate the surname is somewhat more common. However, the name is a patronym actually meaning "child of Habbe." While patronymics was practiced, two men with the first name Habbe would have children with the last name of Habben--though there might have been no relationship.

Sweden is full of Larsons, Carlsons, etc. for exactly the same reason--patronymics.

Even surnames that are not patronymical in origin may be shared by two unrelated individuals. This is especially true with surnames such as Baker, Farmer, Lake and other names that may have been derived from occupations or nearby geographical features.

There may be cases where all individuals with the same surname are related, but let research, not your gut, be your guide. My tentative hypothesis is that all or most individuals with the last name of Trautvetter are related. However, research is not complete and just because the name is concentrated in a certain area of Germany does not mean there was one common ancestor.

Last names can be used as clues to relationships. But a last name only means it was that person's last name, not that he (or she) had to be related to someone else.

16 January 2008

Free Genealogy Online Computer Workshop-Carthage, Illinois 26 April 2008

Carl Sandburg College will be offering a full-day workshop on Overview of Free Genealogy Online at the Branch Campus in Carthage, Illinois.

The workshop will be held on 26 April 2008 and runs from 8:30 until 3:00.

Registration is only $35 and is limited. Lunch is not included.

More information is available on our website. Questions can be addressed to me at mneill@sandburg.edu.

Family Tree Maker 2008 Workshop-Carthage, IL March 2008

Carl Sandburg College will be offering a full-day workshop on Family Tree Maker 2008 at the Branch Campus in Carthage, Illinois.

The workshop will be held on 29 March 2008 and runs from 8:30 until 3:00.

Registration is only $35 and is limited. Lunch is not included.

More information is available on our website. Questions can be addressed to me at mneill@sandburg.edu.

Learning About the Neely-Rathbone Scandal

It seems like if my ancestors are involved in anything, it wasn't "big" enough to make the history books in school. In some cases that is probably just as well.



I have been using the newspapers at:


Of course, these collections are not complete, but they are an excellent starting point and much easier than manually reading papers myself. Google searches have turned up several references to the Neely-Rathbone scandal, including several references in the New York Times that I could view for free. But I did have quite a bit of success with World Vital Records and Genealogy Bank, both of which have monthly subscription plans that are relatively inexpensive.

One of my google searches referenced a blibliography of Cuban Philatelic history. Why? Because part of the fraud in the Neely-Rathbone scandal involved the supposed desctruction of Cuban stamps. My librarian is trying to obtain copies of the two magazine articles referenced in the bibliography.

Another place to search is Worldcat...the worldwide online library card catalog. There may be references to the scandal there as well.

The Importance of Location for Vital Records.

My family has lived in Illinois for generations.

Yet my parents were born in Iowa. My grandfather died in Iowa. My great-grandmother died in Iowa. The reasons is simple: the county where I grew up did not have a hospital until the 1950s. The nearest hospital for many was in Keokuk, Iowa, across the Mississippi River.

When researching in a time period when births and deaths typically took place "at home," the location of the nearest hospital is not as much of a concern. However, during that era, the location of the nearest hospital is important as the death or birth record will be filed there, not where the person was living.

Regardless of the time period, it is always important to remember that birth and death records are filed where they took place. If Grandma moved during the last six months of her life to live with her daughter that's where it will be recorded.

And that's also why later sources providing secondary information may be incorrect.

Just something to think about.

15 January 2008

Are You Checking Manuscript Collections?

Online images and databases are nice, but it is worth noting that there are still vast quantities of information that are available only in paper form. Local county records housed in the original courthouse come to mind as records that are occasionally overlooked (and do not assume that the Family History Library filmed EVERYTHING if they "filmed a courthouse.").

Another overlooked source are manuscript collections, materials that may be housed in a library or a private archives, with letters, files and other documents that may have been donated at some point in time.

A google search was how I located information on Philip Troutfetter in a manuscript collection at the Kansas Historical Society. I was fortunate that the finding aid to this Bristow collection was online. If it had not been I would have been unable to locate the reference as easily as I did. I'm working on locating additional papers regarding the investigation into Troutfetter.

Searching World Cat (http://www.worldcat.org) may also bring up some manuscript collection,but bear in mind that only the "main" names in a collection are indexed--not every name. And the material has to have been cataloged and uploaded to OCLC in order to appear in Worldcat. That it not true of every item in every collection.

UpState New York Genealogy Blog

There is an interesting blog on upstate New York Genealogy maintained by Dick Hillenbrand. It is nice to have a site for New York that focuses on areas outside the city for those of us whose work in New York does not usually require information on NYC.

My wife's great-grandmother was born in 1895 in Clinton County, New York, which I think is about as upstate as one can get. I found a few hits for "Clinton County" when I did a search of his blog. And there's general research advice and information on his site as well.

Dan Patch Two Step

I have known about this score for some time, but just recently found it digitized and placed on the internet at the Indiana Historical Society. It is amazing what a google search will turn up.

The "Dan Patch Two-Step" was published by the International Stock Food Company in Minneapolis in the early 1900s. Dan Patch was a world famous race horse and the song was written in his honor.

I'm still trying to find out who H. G. Trautvetter was. I do not think he is a member of "my" Trautvetter/Troutfetter family which settled in Hancock County, Illinois, and who were descendants of Erasmus and Anna Gross Trautvetter of Thuringen, Germany. I'm of the mind that all the Trautvetters are related, it is just a matter of making the connections.

Maybe I'll get someone to play the song and we'll place the tune on on the site.

14 January 2008

Picture of Philip Troutfetter


We finally have located a picture of Philip Troutfetter, who spent part of the 1890s and early 1900s travelling through the US, Cuba, Columbia, and perhaps Jamaica avoiding his former mother-in-law, associating with some involved in the Neely Rathbone Affair, and working in mining.
We'll continue to post additional information on Philip as information is uncovered. This has proven to be a most interesting study.
Philip was born in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, in the 1860s and died near Colby, Kansas in the early 1900s.
His first cousin is John Michael Trautvetter (1839-1917), my great-great-grandfather. John Michael was in court too, but he was not the globetrotter his cousin was.

BLM Database at Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com released a version of a database of land patent data from the land patent database at the Bureau of Land Management. The Ancestry.com Land Patent Database currently does not contain information on as many states as the database at the Bureau of Land Management does.

I was excited however as the Ancestry.com version allows users to search based upon keywords. That search apparently does not function in the way I think or it does not function. Searches of keywords for "smith" and "johnson" resulted in no hits, yet there are obviously names such as those in the actual database.

The Bureau of Land Management contains more states, is free to use and contains a Visitor's Center that provides a background on the patents and the land description process followed in federal land states. Understanding how land is described is crucial to searching effectively.

Some time ago I made an extended post about using the Bureau of Land Management site.

Using Passport Database at Ancestry.com

The Ancestry Blog published my article on using their new United States passport database.

There are several hints there in using the database as well as some examples of the information I found in applications for several family members. The article also includes some tips on using the database and search strategies. Reading and using the blog at Ancestry.com is free and those with additional tips can post responses on the blog there for others to read.

10 January 2008

Antarctica Natives Living in the US in 1910

A search of the 1910 census index at Ancestry.com resulted in 4342 hits when searching for natives of Antarctica. Some of these are very difficult to read and others are probably typographical errors.

Just remember to consider leaving out place of birth when doing a census search.

I did not look to see whether or not these Antarctica natives were living in warm or cold US climes.

09 January 2008

Using Footnote.com--St. Charles, Missouri, April 12, 2008

I will be presenting an all-day hands-on workshop on "Using Footnote.Com" for the St. Charles County Genealogical Society (Missouri) and the St. Charles Community College. More details on this workshop are available on our website. Attendees will have access to Footnote.com for the duration of the workshop.

08 January 2008

Omaha, Nebraska Seminar April 5, 2008

I'll be the featured speaker at the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society's annual workshop on April 5, 2008 in Omaha, Nebraska. Details are still be finalized, but will be posted here when we have them.

07 January 2008

More on Philip Troutfetter


This is very much a work in progress, but the more I continue preliminary research on Philip Troutfetter, the more "new" stories I encounter. This image comes from the Baltimore Sun July 26th, 1900. It mentions that Philip Troutfetter was involved in some mining schemes in South America. Estes G. Rathbone was Director General of Posts in Cuba and was arrested in July of 1900 in Havana. He was eventually cleared. Involved in the fraud was a Mr. Neely, with whom Troutfetter is known to have associated. This story continues....

05 January 2008

Allen County Public Library Research Trip Details

We have finally posted details of our research trip to the Allen
County Public Library 28 May-3 June 2008.

Our main trip page is http://www.rootdig.com/acpltrip.html.
Links to registration brochures is at
http://www.rootdig.com/acpl/trip_details.html.

Brochures are available in Word, Rich Text and Adobe Portable Document Format. Questions about our annual Ft. Wayne Library trip can be sent to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. This trip is co-sponsored by the St. Charles County, Missouri, Genealogical Society and St. Charles Community College. We always have a great time and find as many ancestors as possible.

04 January 2008

Avoiding Assumptions

Juliana Smith at the Ancestry.com Blog recently posted my article "Avoiding Assumptions."
It contains a list of suggested assumptions that we have to make sometimes and discusses when these assumptions should be dropped and the importance of realizing that you have made assumptions. There are times when we have made our own brick walls.

The complete article "Avoiding Assumptions" can be viewed on the Ancestry.com blog for free.

Discrepancy Charts

Rarely is all genealogical information consistent. This is one of the reasons that most genealogical software programs allow for multiple dates of birth, multiple places of birth, etc. This way one can accurately record what each record indicates. It is up to the researcher to determine which location or date is most accurate. This largely is dependent upon the perceived accuracy of the individual sources, etc. Then one can choose the "preferred" date or location. It is always important to include your reasoning as to WHY that date or location was chosen.

Another way to analyze conflicting information is to create a discrepancy chart, listing each different date or place and where that information was obtained. I wrote an article some time ago on using these charts. Unfortunately, I am no closer to learning about great-grandma's parents than when the article was written several years ago.

An added search feature I'd like to see

There are several genealogical data vendors who release databases as they are "in progress." This is fine and good. However, it would be nice if those databases allowed us to somehow search the "new" material or data uploaded since a certain point in time. If that cannot be done, at least the ability to mark results that we have already viewed would be nice. Wading through the same results can be tiresome.

Just a suggestion.