29 June 2012

Citing What I Did Not Find

The next issue of Casefile Clues contains the following statement:

"They [James and Elizabeth Rampley] are the only Rampley family in the 1850 census for Illinois, Missouri, or Iowa."

How do I cite such a statement? Do I indicate the database I searched, when I searched it, and how my search was conducted?

I have some ideas, but I'm curious to see if any readers have any thoughts?

Frustrations and Requests for Ancestry.com

(this is the text of an email I posted to the APG mailing list earlier today--so if you are on that list, quit reading now).


Ancestry.com's "new" or "changed" databases without any indication of what is "new" or what has been added is a continual source of frustration to me:
When changes or updates are made to an Ancestry.com database , it would be nice to know what changes were made to the database on the search page itself (records from "new years," improved images, etc.). Otherwise how do I know whether I need to search this database again or not?

The ease with which online tree submitters can create trees violating contemporary laws of biology:
"Leaves" that didn't pull up some rather obvious matches on this English native made no sense to me either:
I don't use the leaves myself, but I know that many do and I do like to have at least a broad understand of how these matches are obtained in order to be able to answer questions from readers and others.
The "automatic" list of place names that Ancestry.com "pulls up" when performing searches of some records is NOT complete and is a continued source of frustration when using "new search." While I know there are workarounds to this, the fact that this place name database continues to be incomplete is irritating.

I'll be honest. I don't like the "smart" searching that tries to guess what I want and I don't like the seemingly constant tweaking made to the way online searches work. I realize I'm in the minority. Part of genealogical documentation is the search process--NOT JUST what is located or not located. I'm not at the stage in my research where I'm "glad to get results" regardless of how remotely realistic they are.  It is extremely difficult to document the PROCESS when the researcher is not certain of how the process is being performed and when understanding how to change search terms when there are "negative" results is not easy. Citation is not just indicating what was located and where it was located. Process (in my view), especially when searching online databases is crucial to citation. Of course the date of the search should be a part of the documentation, but when changes are not always clear it is difficult to troubleshoot.

I know these issues are the responsibility of different deparements and individuals. The fact that they remain unaddressed is somewhat frustrating.

28 June 2012

You Have to Love Correlation-Swedish Departure Lists and NYC Arrival Lists

You have to love it when records can be correlated. It makes things so much easier. It also allows the researcher to confirm that the "right" person has been located.

The first image is from the 1888 passenger manifest documenting the arrival of Hedvig C. Olson in New York City.
10 March 1888 arrival in New York of the Britannic showing Hedvig C. Olson--line 119
The image below is from the list of those departing Gothenburg, Sweden in February of 1888. It is easy to see that many of the same names appear on both lists (just a few typed here and ages are taken from the arrival list):
  • Jacob Samuelson--aged 20
  • Emma Carlson--aged 24
  • Hedvig C. Olson--aged 34
  • Erik T. Erikson--aged 27
  • Carl T L. Nelson--aged 19
Of course the Swedish departure list is more detailed and it does indicate that Hedvig is headed to "Galesburg" with no state listed.   Hedvig is one of three people from the same location--all of whom are travelling to Illinois. Samuelson is headed to Orion, Illinois--not far from Galesburg where Hedvig was headed.
24 Feb 1888 departure from Gotheburg, Sweden showing Hedvig Ch. Olson--line 42

In the interest of time, screen shots of the "source" have been included here--they were faster than making citations. When I write about these records for Casefile Clues, we'll include complete citations. Of course, Ancestry.com thinks that Hedvig is a male on the arrival list--one reason I don't often use gender when searching these lists.


1940 Census Indexes at FamilySearch

Here's a list of states (and territories) that have been indexed in the 1940 census at FamilySearch. Email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com with corrections or additions. Bookmark this page (http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2012/06/1940-census-indexes-at-familysearch.html) for updates.

This page is: http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2012/06/1940-census-indexes-at-familysearch.html. This update done on 30 June 2012. Thanks to E D from Sweden for the updated information.

27 June 2012

An 1825 Patent Issued in 1961

This is an atypical patent that was obtained on the Bureau of Land Management website for Aquilla Jones. Apparently the patent was to have been issued in 1825, but either it never was or it was never recorded or something was amiss and another patent was issued in 1961.

This image is from the 1961 patent--in case the typewritten nature of the document didn't make that clear.



I'm requesting a copy of the cash land sale file from my researcher at the National Archives. We'll have a brief update when that has been obtained. Aquilla Jones is an ancestor of  my wife. Wiley--we'll discuss him later. Stay tuned--this will probably appear in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues in more detail.

Chronologies--Use Them

Ancestry.com recently notified me that someone had linked the passenger list entry for my children's ancestor to a Swedish immigrant to Minnesota.

A quick look at the chronology for his ancestor in his public tree makes it fairly clear that the passenger list entry is not for his ancestor.

That is unless:
  • his ancestor went back to her maiden name after her husband died in Michigan.
  • his ancestor went back to Sweden after her husband died in Michigan.
  • the place of birth he has for his ancestor is wrong (as in over 100 miles apart).
  • the ancestor didn't use a patronym from her father's first name, didn't use her father's last name, but chose an apparently different maiden name.
If there's that many things that don't match--then either you have the wrong person or you need to clearly explain why your ancestor acted in such an unusual fashion.

26 June 2012

Finding the Fuzz or Fwzuffzzzzwwzwozvtuvvvzz

They were not kidding when the description of the "United States, World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946" indicated there may be errors in scanning. I wasn't looking for dust bunnies, but I almost found some fuzz by accident.

I searched for the last name of Ufkes--hoping to find my two great uncles who were in World War II. I did not find either of them in the database, but I did get this interesting result:

I'm still trying to figure out what "Fwzuffzzzzwwzwozvtuvvvzz" might have actually been.

The complete entry indicates the person attended school as far as grammar school and was born in 1900.

I've not tried to locate any further information on this person--but this makes the point that there are limitations to OCR.

I already have information on my great-uncles service, so I'm not concerned about not finding them. The description of the database indicates it is incomplete which could easily explain why Uncle LeRoy and Uncle Alvin are not in it:

--------------------------------------------------
Name index to Army Serial Number Enlistment Card Records (approx.3 million), excluding officers, in the United States Army including the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and the Enlisted Reserve Corps circa 1938-1946. The index is part of Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. This index is not complete and may contain scanning errors. Database courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
--------------------------------------------------


I just hope that whoever is researching Fwzuffzzzzwwzwozvtuvvvzz doesn't have any difficulty find him. I'm assuming that Fwzuffzzzzwwzwozvtuvvvzz is a "him" as the description indicates the WAAC entries are not included (grin).

25 June 2012

Before You Hire Someone to Research

My advice (short for now):

If someone wants you to hire them to research for you and their website includes:
  • No physical address (not even a PO Box).
  • No real indication of their experience. A "we've researched at several courthouses and been the Family History Library once" does not count as an indication of experience.
  • Recommendations that are anonymous.
  • No real name of the researcher.
My physical address is not on my website--however, my name is and my address is contained on my Facebook pages and is on my Association of Professional Genealogists' profile. I'm not saying that a person has to be a member of APG to be a good researcher--this is just mentioned as my contact information is out there in a public place for people to find.

What I am saying is that I personally would not hire someone for whom I have no real name, no address, no good idea of experience, and vague references. If you want me to hire you, I need some specifics about what you can do, what experience you are, and how I can really contact you.

Do a little snooping before you hire someone. Anyone can make a web page that indicates they are a professional researcher.

20 June 2012

Revolutionary War Pensions--Do You Search Them for Everyone?

I've written about the American Revolutionary War pensions on Fold3.com before. I've made several finds in this series of records and not just for veterans. The pensions have a full name index on Fold3. For whom should you search:
  • Anyone who was of an age to have served.
  • Anyone who was of an age to have married a veteran.
  • Anyone who might have had knowledge of a widow's marriage to a veteran.
  • Anyone who might have testified in a veteran's or widow's application.
That includes a great deal of ground. But I've seen neighbors, associates, and children of veterans mentioned in this applications--particularly when the widow was filing a claim.

Of course, keep in mind that the American Revolution was from 1775-1783 and search for people in American Revolutionary War pensions on Fold3.com accordingly. Children who might be named could easily have been born after that time.

FindAGrave or Billiongraves: You Decide

Judy Russell took a look at the terms of use for FindaGrave and for Billiongraves. Reading the terms of use for any site to which you submit information is always advised.

As for me, I have not used Billiongraves.

Readers are entitled to their own opinions, but as for me, I'm sticking with FindaGrave.

15 June 2012

My Blogs

I currently write and maintain the following blogs:

Viewing or subscribing to the above blogs are free. My how-to newsletter, Casefile Clues, is $17 a year. There is more information on Casefile Clues here http://www.casefileclues.com.

14 June 2012

A Few Germanic Links on Ancestry.com

I'm wrapping up my presentations for the Palatines to America conference and am posting a few links to the blog for the benefit of those who are in attendance.

Some selected sites from Ancestry.com:

  • German Cartographic Maps
    • From the website How to Search the Maps:
      To locate a particular map, begin by looking at the overview map (Ɯbersichtsblatt). On the overview map find the sheet number for the part of the country you want to view. Return to the main database page and then use either the search template above or the image browse table below to find the particular map. If you use the search template, you can search on the map name or the sheet number. If you use the image browse table, select the sheet number range of the sheet that you want to view. Then select the actual sheet number followed by the year.


  • Meyers Gazetteer 
  • Bremen, Germany Ships Crew Lists, 1815-1917--these are categorized under Bremen, but include all of Germany.
  • Hamburg Passenger Lists--Handwritten Indexes--1855-1934

German Topographic Maps at Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com has scanned images of several German maps. The image in this blog post comes from the 1901 set of maps-- Germany, Topographic Maps, 1860-1965. The maps do not have an everyname index as a part of the images. However searches of locations are possible by entering in the desired location in the search box--I had better luck by not having the exact match turned on. One can also browse the maps as well using the grid.

Locating the appropriate grid for Holtrop was done using the overview map (Ɯbersichtsblatt).

I knew the villages I needed were near Aurich. The overview map told me that Aurich was region 173.



This map centers on Holtrop--and includes Wiesens and Wrisse. Four of my great-great-grandparents were born in Wiesens in between the 1830s and 1860s: Johann Ufkes, Jans Janssen, Jann Habben, and Anke Fecht. My great-great-grandfather Foche Goldenstein was born in Wrisse in the 1850s as well. I also have other families from several of the other small villages nearby.




Give the maps a try if you've not looked at them. I used them years ago, but actually forgot Ancestry.com had them.

Adressbuch der Provinz Hannover-1898

I've been wrapping up a few presentations and realized/remembered that Ancestry.com has an 1898 directory on their site (Handels- und Gewerbe-Adressbuch der Provinz Hannover, des Grossherzogthums Oldenburg und des Freistaats Bremen, 1898that contains entries for Ostfriesland. Fortunately in 1898 I still have relatives living there.

I found it easier to search for the village name as a keyword and then to browse the listings for that village. The last names of Ufkes and Goldenstein are uncommon, but those looking for Janssen, Gerdes, Dirks, etc. would be well served to view after searching by village.

The entries for Wiesens included my uncle, Eielt Ufkes:
p. 1346, part of Wiessin the section for Aurich

The entries for Wrisse included two of my uncles, Johann and Jurgen Goldenstein.

p. 1341, part of Wrisse in the section for Aurich



13 June 2012

Is There a Two-Day Error?

This is part of the death certificate of Minerva (Sargent) Strobel who died in Evanston, Cook County, Illinois, on 6 March 1943.

The death certificate lists her as being 94 years, 9 months, and 18 days old--with a date of birth of 18 May 1848.

When her birth date and death date are entered into Wolfram Alpha, a two-day discrepancy seems to be apparent between the age on the death certificate and the age per Wolfram Alpha.


I'm about 95% certain I know why the discrepancy exists. I'm curious if readers do.

Changing Results on Google Books

At least when I open a book today the pages are all the same as yesterday.

That's not always true with the internet.

In 2011 a search on Google Books resulted in a match for Erasmus Trautvetter in an apparent 1830 era German directory. I have tried on an off and on again basis to obtain a photocopy or scan of the relevant pages, but apparently accessing this book (which I've only been able to locate in a card catalog at Harvard University) is not the easiest thing in the world to do.

When I performed a search on Google Books today for Erasmus Trautvetter, the reference to the 1830 directory did not come up. I have not had time to really delve into the reason, but I'll be saving in some way, shape, or form results I am really interested in from now on. Regardless of the reason why, the inability to locate the Erasmus Trautvetter reference again makes the point that saving search results is important, especially if one does not have the time (or is unable) to locate materials referenced in Google Books.

And if anyone has access to the book, feel free to contact me.


10 June 2012

Case Study Webinars

I've long been a believer in case studies as a means to learn genealogy. In fact, I presented two at the recent Genealogy Jamboree 2012 in Burbank, CA. In addition to these case studies, there's also my newsletter Casefile Clues, which regularly includes case studies--clearly written, accurate methodology, and easy to follow.

Here's a list of our case study webinars--these are geared towards intermediate researchers. Beginners might get something from the as well, but that's not really the intended audience.

Preparing for Mother's Death . It's not quite what you might think. This presentation discusses an 1889 will that was denied in 1900 with no stated reasons. An exhaustive search of records resulted in the likely reason and made the machinations of one son a little easier to see and made the reasons behind some documents a little more clear. Along the way we discuss a few key terms and also see why chronology and context are always important--especially so when things are confusing.You can purchase the handout and presentation for $8.50


Proving Benjamin. This presentation discusses work on a New York 1820 era native who appears in Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri census records. Combining those records with a probate, we show inconsistent 1850, 1870 and 1880 census entries are actually for the same man, and using land and tax records (combined with census records) get a good foundation for researching his family of origin. This webinar presentation and handout can be purchased for just $8.00.


Sarah and Susannah-Two 18th Century Virginia Women and Their Property -This presentation discusses the will of a 18th century Virginia woman and how another family "moved" a widow's life estate from one county to another. Priced at $8.50 for immediate download. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 


Barbara's Beaus and Gesche's Girls--Case study of two German immigrants to the American Midwest in the mid-19th century. For $8.50 you will be able to download the media file and the PDF version of the handout. Add to cart here


The Missing 1840 Census Enumeration . This webinar discusses a couple "missing" from the 1840 Census in Ohio and how they were eventually found and the indirect evidence used. A good overview of using land records to solve a "non-land record" problem with some points along the way about organization and visualization. Suggestions for additional research are also discussed. Add to cart.

Jamboree 2012 Wrap-Up

The 2012 Southern California Genealogy Jamboree just wrapped up about an hour ago. It was a great experience.

Paula H., Vicki H., and the Jamboree crew did an excellent job with this year's Jamboree. There were some issues with my hotel room, but the Jamboree crew and the hotel staff went above and beyond the call of duty to fix the problem and I appreciate it.

If you've never attended Jamboree, consider doing so--it's a great educational experience and definitely worth it. I'm thinking about refining lecture topics for next year.

Congratulations to the Jamboree group for putting on another geat conference!

08 June 2012

Defining the Borders of Nicholas County, Kentucky

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, a change in the county boundary between Nicholas and Bourbon County, Kentucky, made my ancestors' farms that were in Bourbon in Nicholas.

A reader sent digital images of the pages that I needed. I've still got some work to do, but the title page and part of the page with the new boundary (p. 44) is shown here:



We'll have an update when I've had time to put things together. I'm also working on a Casefile Clues article where the county change will be part of the problem. I had wondered why I never could find deeds of sale for these individuals--the county border change explains why.

Always worth remembering that county borders can be fine-tuned over time.

$5 Webinar Sale




Our $5 webinar sale is back!
All presentations are made by Michael John Neill. Our style is informal and informative with the intent on providing you with information to extend your knowledge of your ancestors.  Michael shares research knowledge from nearly thirty years of family history research and experience.


What is Not Written. This presentation discusses the importance of discovering, as best you can, what is going on "behind the scenes" with a document or a record. Materials used by genealogists are usually created in response to some event and sometimes seeing what's "really going on" is not easy. Through examples and general methodology we will see how to get "behind" the document and discover what was really going on. Add to cart



Creating Research Plans. This presentation discusses how to create your research plans, how to set goals, how to not set goals, when you are proving and when you are not, and other key concepts. Of course, we have a few charts as well. Our attempt is to be down-to-earth and practical. I realize that most genealogists are not going to write journal articles, however our research needs to be as thorough as possible and our analysis and method well-thought out or we're not going to get the best possible story on great-great-grandma that there is. This presentation is geared towards intermediate researchers, but advanced beginners might get some benefit from it as well.
 Add to Cart

The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional. One of our most popular webinars, this presentation provides an overview of the “Genealogical Proof Standard,” including a discussion on the “exhaustive search.” The Proof Standard is not just for professionals, any genealogist who wants to improve their research and get past those stumbling blocks would be well served by implementing it in their research. Our discussion is practical, down-to-earth, and hands-on.

Add to Cart

Female Ancestors. This presentation discusses approaches and techniques for determining an ancestor's maiden name and locating "missing" females. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, it focuses on American records and sources. The content is not specific to any one time period and many of the approaches can be refined for different locations or types of records. If you are stymied on your female ancestors--and half your ancestors are female.
Add to Cart

Making and Proving Your Case. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers, this presentation discusses things to think about before writing up "your case." Talks about statements, primary, secondary, ways to prove yourself, considering all the options, disproving, citation, etc. Provides the viewer with ideas on how to "make their case" and see gaps or omissions in their research.
Add to Cart

Creating Families from Pre-1850 Census Records --This presentation discusses how to analyze pre-1850 census records in order to determine the family structure that is suggested by those records. Enumerations for one household between 1810 and 1840 are analyzed in order to determine the number of children, ranges on their years of birth, and ranges on years of birth for the oldest male and oldest female in the household.
Add to Cart

Court Records-Pig Blood in the Snow. This lecture discusses American court records at the county level where cases were typically originally heard. Discusses cases of main genealogical relevance along with searching techniques.
Add to Cart


Seeing the Patterns-Organizing Your Information. This lecture discusses the problem-solving process and a variety of ways to organize your information with the intent of getting the research to notice overlooked clues, patterns, trends, and information. $8.50 includes handout and hour-long lecture
Add to Cart




 The Probate Process—An OverviewGeared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, it covered an overview of the process and looked at selected documents from two probate settlements with a discussion of the pitfalls to watch out for along the way. Probate records are an excellent genealogical source--regardless of the time period in which you are researching and may contain clues about your ancestor, where he lived, his occupation, etc. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart
 United States Naturalization Records pre-1920 - This presentation is an overview of naturalization records in the United States prior to 1920, focusing on locating and understanding the records. Women's citizenship and derivative citizenship are also included. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart
 Local Land Records in Public Domain States--This lecture discusses obtaining, using, and interpreting local land records in areas of the United States from Ohio westward where land was originally in the public domain. This lecture is geared towards those who have some experience with land records--advanced beginning and intermediate researchers. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart
 Newspaper Research -Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers, this webinar discusses research techniques for searching newspapers in digital, microfilm, and original formats. Pitfalls of using digital newspapers are discussed, along with manual search techniques and what types of materials to look for besides obituaries and death notices.  This presentation is not merely a list of online sites or an attempt to get subscribers to any specific database. Download the recording and handout for the sale price of $5 (save $3.50).
 Add to Cart







07 June 2012

June 2012 Webinars

We are offering the following genealogy webinars in June 2012:

  • Crossing the Pond--Part 2
  • Making Corrections to Your Ancestry.com Tree
  • American Revolutionary War Materials on Fold3.com
If you signed up for one originally and missed it, you'll get it at no additional charge. If you haven't already registered, do so at http://www.casefileclues.com/webinars_neill..htm

U.S., Consular Registration Applications, 1916-1925

Ancestry.com recently announced the database U.S., Consular Registration Applications, 1916-1925 on their site. I can't tell if this is totally new or something that was updated--Ancestry.com does make that a little bit difficult to tell.

At any rate, the images are nice and there is great information on the forms if you are lucky enough to find one on a relative. This image is part of the application for George W. Drollette, brother of my wife's great-great-grandmother. Lots of good detail on here. We've written about George's many passports in Casefile Clues.



06 June 2012

Looking for Theodore and Margaret Hoontes in Clinton County, New York 1925 and 1940

Ancestry.com recently released the 1925 New York State Census along with the New York State index to the 1940 census index. Based upon this double offering, I decided it was time to try and find Theodore and Margaret (Demar/Desmarais) in Clinton County in those two years.

It was not as easy as typing their names in the search boxes.

It took some doing--finding them in 1940 was accomplished by searching for individuals with a last name of Hoo* in Clinton County, New York. This did the trick based upon how the name of Hoontes was read in the 1940 enumeration. Note that a soundex search for Hoontes would not catch this spelling as the "n" has been read as an "a."

Screen shot of "record" for Theodore Hooatis on Ancestry.com as of 6 June 2012 from Ancestry.com's 1940 census index.

The Hoontes' are enumerated at 92 Bridge Street in Plattsburgh, New York. I tried searching for Greek natives living in Clinton County, New York, but got no results that appeared to be Hoontes. This was because neither he nor Margaret have a place of birth included in their enumeration.
1940 Census Enumeration, Theodore A. and Margaret E. Hoontes.
Searching based on place of birth is only helpful if the people gave the correct information--or any information at all.

Finding them in the 1925 New York State Census  was not difficult once I decided to search for Hoo* as a last name in Clinton County, New York. Theodore's name was read as Pheodore. I can see how this happened based upon the image, but it really seems to me that "unusual" first names, that differ from more common first names by one letter should be double-checked for accuracy at some point in the process.

The actual image from 1925 shows how Pheodore was interpreted as the first name. I still think it's a pretty easy thing to see it as Theodore, but maybe that's just me.

Until there are lots of user-submitted corrections, searchers will have to be clever on using these new databases.

And of course, manual searches can still be done.

The citizenship status and immigration dates for Hoontes are interesting. We'll be discussing those in an upcoming Casefile Clues article.

Note: All of these screen shots were taken in the morning of 6 June 2012.

A Plea to Ancestry.com

It won't do any good, but I'll feel better.

The image with this post is from Ancestry.com's home page today. Two things about this part of the page have me irritated.

One--the "U. S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925" are listed as "new." This database has been on the Ancestry.com website for YEARS. It is NOT new. It probably is updated. It would be nice if I could know what changes or additions have been made to this database. Do I need to search again for all those names I have already looked for in the database? Or do I not have to search for those names? Not knowing is a PITA. As a paying subscriber to Ancestry.com, this is, in a word that I can spell out on the blog, irritating.

And the ad implies that Dad can build his "tree" in one day. That ain't happening either or is making it sound like the "tree" building is simple. Hell, you can't even build a good tree house in one day, most likely. Unless of course, it is a "copy and paste" tree house.

05 June 2012

Getting Grandma's 2008 Death Certificate

My maternal grandmother died in Bradenton, Manatee County, Florida, in 2008. For a variety of reasons, I never bothered to obtain an actual copy of her death certificate. I had first hand knowledge of her death, so the date and place were not in question and information about her birth was already known from a variety of sources so there was no real rush to obtain a copy of the record, especially when there were other records that would tell me something "new" that I could allocate my genealogical funds to.

Today I decided to go ahead and obtain a copy of her death certificate. A Google search for "florida death certificate" resulted in numerous hits. Many directed me to sites that wanted an exorbitant amount for her death record.

Given the recent nature of her death, I decided to view the websites for the Florida state office responsible for vital records and the same office in Manatee County.

I could get one of the "overnight" places to send me a copy of her death certificate for over $30.00. The "overnight" delivery wouldn't be immediate as it was indicated the certificate would not be mailed for 1-2 days, depending upon when they received it.

A little surfing and reading indicated that the Manatee county office in charge of vital records could send me the certificate for only $6. A fax received by 1:00 pm. today would guarantee it would be put in the mail tomorrow. That seemed the most expedient way to receive it. We'll see how long it takes to arrive.

The clerk really wanted to make certain whether or not I wanted the cause of death. I said to go ahead and include it as there was no additional charge and I fit the list of individuals qualified to obtain the cause of death.

I doubt there's anything new on it, but only time will tell. We'll post an update when I receive it.

I'm wondering outloud if there are any limitations on publishing her death certificate on my blog. I'm not really considering it, but am wondering if there are any restrictions upon publishing the information--particularly the cause of death to which only certain individuals are privy within the first fifty years.

For those with an interest my Grandmother was Dorothy Habben Ufkes who died in Bradenton, Manatee County, Florida, in September of 2008.

04 June 2012

Changing that Bourbon-Nicholas County Border

I took a look at the maps on Randy Major's site in an attempt to better figure out the boundary changes between Bourbon and Nicholas Counties that are alluded to in a 1819 era deed of my ancestor, Augusta Newman.

The first map drawn was as of 1810:


The second map was drawn as of 1820:
One can easily see that the border between Bourbon and Nicholas Counties was originally a straight line and that in 1817 the border was apparently changed to partially match a creek or stream in the area.

Based upon a deed I located for Augusta Newman in Nicholas County, his property was originally in Bourbon, but was in Nicholas County after the move. The area that changed from Bourbon to Nicholas County was fairly small, but since Newman's property was in the moved area, it helps me to pinpoint where his farm was located.

It is indicated that border changes are discussed in the Kentucky Acts of 1816-1817. I've found this item on WorldCat and am trying to obtain a copy on interlibary loan. Stay tuned.

We'll have a brief blog post when I get the Kentucky Acts of 1816-1817 and will follow up with a more detailed discussion in a future issue of Casefile Clues.

Do You Transcribe It Exactly?


This letter comprises the "consents" on an 1839 marriage in Mercer County, Kentucky, between Edmund Beesly and Mildred Lake. Their apparent fathers sign the document.

The father of Mildred is Richard Lake. However, that's not what it looks like in this image. So, should it be transcribed as Ritchard or Bitchard?

Taking the Train to Salt Lake From the West

A reader pointed out that those living west of Salt Lake City can take the train as well. This is very true and I didn't mean to neglect those living on the West Coast in my earlier post--I concentrated on those of us who lived east of Salt Lake as I take the train myself and it can be a great way for those of us to discuss research problems, etc. before and after our time at the Family History Library.

Amtrak arrives pretty early (around 3 AM) if you're taking a train from the west. If anyone is interested in joining us on our trip and arrives on Amtrak from the west, I could probably be convinced to meet you at the train station if you've got concerns about arriving late.

A quick summary of my trip from an earlier post:

Our research trip dates for 2013 are a starting on the 29th of May at 6:30 PM with a hotel check out date of 5 June 2013. Our registration price is $175---with a deposit of $50. Deadline for registration is 15 April 2013 (refund if you cancel by 15 March 2013). We'll be posting additional details later this summer but that's pretty much the essence of the trip. Travel arrangements are not included.  Our group size has traditionally been small and we plan on keeping it that way.

03 June 2012

Update on SLC 2012/2013, Taking the Train, etc.

My annual Family History Library trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City wrapped up last week. Our group was small, but I think a good time was had by all and discoveries were made. Those who have been researching some time know that big discoveries aren't as frequent as they were when they were first starting research.

For those that don't know, my trip is not quite as structured as some are. We have morning sessions that are optional and we also have optional group meals (on your own) every night at 5:30. Some people meet with me regularly for research help while at the library and others do not. Some discuss problems with me via email before the trip and others do not. Our trip is ideal for someone who'd like to go to the Family History Library, but really doesn't want to go by themselves. We stay at the Plaza--right next door to the Library which is very convenient.

I take the train to Salt Lake and back home. For those who can easily get to the California Zephyr (which goes starts at Chicago and goes through Omaha, Denver, and several other cities), the train makes for a scenic trip. It also is a way for those who live near the train to get to Salt Lake if they don't want to fly or drive and don't want to arrive or depart from the Salt Lake train station by themselves. This year we really had a great conversation on the way home about research. If you live near Amtrak, consider joining us in 2013. If you have questions about the train,, please email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Our research trip dates for 2013 are a starting on the 29th of May at 6:30 PM with a hotel check out date of 5 June 2013. Our registration price is $175---with a deposit of $50. Deadline for registration is 15 April 2013 (refund if you cancel by 15 March 2013). We'll be posting additional details later this summer but that's pretty much the essence of the trip. Travel arrangements are not included.  Our group size has traditionally been small and we plan on keeping it that way.

Consider joining us in 2013...and stay tuned for additional information.

01 June 2012

Headlines are Everything

Not that Ancestry.com takes any advice from me, but I'd consider putting in some keywords that would cause my ad to be removed from the page. 


This ad appeared on the Galesburg Register-Mail website at 9:45 PM CST 1 June 2012 http://www.galesburg.com/newsnow/x492296290/Sexual-predator-gets-35-years-in-prison

Bourbon County Whiskey and File Names

During my recent group tour to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I had some time to work on one of my Kentucky lines--James Tinsley.

Since the last time I worked on James, the papers from the Bourbon County, Kentucky, court files have been microfilmed. Knowing that James lived in Bourbon County for a while in the early 1800s, I decided to search the records. I was rewarded with several references to his name in the defendants' index to these records.

One does not want to immediately "jump" to the desired case without reading the prefatory material to the microfilmed records. There was a discussion of how the records were organized for filming--indicating that the originals were highly unorganized and that the file numbers were not assigned by the court, but were done by those organizing the records for filming. The papers were not recorded in any exact order (except the assigned file number) and in some instances, cases that were thought to have been separate cases were later merged together before micofilming.

There were several court cases for James and I decided to make digital images of all of them. Doing so required some organization on my part. I decided to change my traditional file naming structure (which normally includes the FHL roll number and use a slightly different approach):


I used the county name, the file name, and who was the reason I saved the file. I also scanned the index pages as well and included those in my images. In the interest of time while at the library, I'll be honest, I did not include the film numbers. However, with the file numbers and the fact that all the cases were Bourbon County, Kentucky court cases, I will have no difficulty getting the film numbers when I get to organizing the materials after I get home. I prefer to leave myself a sufficient audit trail while researching--one that I can use when I get home and transcribe and organize the records.

What does this post have to do with whiskey?

James and a friend had neglected to pay a debt that they promised to pay not with cash, but rather with whiskey as evidenced in the note below.


The value of the barrels were not to be considered as part of the payment of the debt. I guess we know what really had value in early 19th century Kentucky.

We'll discuss these court cases in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. Court cases are a frequently underutilized genealogical source--don't neglect them in your own research, even if your ancestor neglected to pay his debt in whiskey.

Join Me In Indianapolis--June 16-17, 2012

I don't always get to attend sessions at conferences, usually because I'm either lecturing, preparing to lecture, or in meetings. I'm going to try and make an exception at the upcoming Palatines to America conference in Indianapolis in mid-June.


I've got a few of my own Germanic brick walls that I'd like to tackle at some point in the future--partially because I'd like to know more and also because they'd make great blog posts. Several of Bittner's lectures sound interesting--particularly the ones on immigrants. Even if you don't have German ancestors, consider attending. Methods for tracing immigrants do have some similarities even if the languages they speak are different.

There are details on the conference here.