17 December 2007

10 Reasons why the Internet is no library substitute.

10 Reasons Why the Internet is No Substitute for the Library

The ALA website contains an article from 2001 by Mark Herring titled as above. I'm not certain I agree with everything the article says, but here are the author's ten main points:

  • Not Everything Is on the Internet

  • The Needle (Your Search) in the Haystack (the Web)

  • Quality Control Doesn’t Exist

  • What You Don’t Know Really Does Hurt You

  • States Can Now Buy One Book and Distribute to Every Library on the Web—NOT!

  • Hey, Bud, You Forgot about E-book Readers

  • Aren’t There Library-less Universities Now?

  • But a Virtual State Library Would Do It, Right?

  • The Internet: A Mile Wide, an Inch (or Less) Deep

  • The Internet Is Ubiquitous but Books Are Portable

Those who want to read the entire article can do so on the ALA site.

Comments can be posted here.

Cattle Pedigrees in my Genealogy

Ok, I have too much time on my hands.

I knew my Grandpa Neill had raised registered Angus cattle

The problem was the site only allowed me to search based upon the name of the animal. That made searching difficult. Putting my last name in the search box resulted in more hits than I had time to view, and apparently there was a Neill farms in Corydon, Iowa, that also registered cattle.

My search for "carthage" (where my grandparents lived) resulted in fewer hits and after some browsing, I found Carthage Barbara, registered to my grandpa with a 1952 dropdate (err..birthdate). Clicking on the sire or dam name allows one to browse the pedigree, much like worldconnect.rootsweb.com.

Abraham Lincoln's "pension" card

A pension card for Abraham Lincoln (actually for his widow, Mary) appears in the "Organization Index to Pension files of Veterans who served between 1861 and 1900" on Footnote.com . As discussed in an earlier blog post, not all these pension cards are for pensions from Civil War service, but most are. The complete image of the card includes Mary's annual allotment and refers to Lincoln's own military service, which was in Illinois well before the Civil War.
Search Footnote.com for your own ancestors...whether they were famous or not.

The Ostfriesen "Extra" List

Those on Rootsweb mailing lists know that things are suppose to stay on topic and that attachments are not allowed.

Our Ostfriesen mailing list at Rootsweb set up an "extra" list on Googlegroups so other things could be discussed outside of genealogy, but still related to our common heritage. This is a great idea for any ethnic based list at Rootsweb.

One of the recent postings was for a New Year's Cookie, which we may give a try this year. It will also be a good lesson for the kids in metrics!

Revolutionary War Roll information for Elam Blain

I've blogged before about the Revolutionary War Pension of Elam Blain who eventually settled in Delaware County, Ohio. His pension makes mention of his service and time finally allowed me today to search Footnote.com for his records in their Revolutionary War Rolls. The image above is from the heading of the page where he is listed and the image below contains his name in the actual records.

You can search the Revolutionary War Rolls on Footnote.com.

Of course his name was spelled Alaim Blain--and here again it is easy to see how Blain could have been read as Blair.

Filtering at Footnote.com

I'm still experimenting with the Beta Test of Advanced Search at Footnote.com. One neat feature is the ability to see what names (first and last) appear in records in which the desired name appears. I was searching for Benjamin Hawkins in Revolutionary Pensions--obtaining more hits than I could navigate. I focused my search to just those in Virginia where my Benjamin lived. I scanned the list of last names (shown above) on pensions where Benjamin Hawkins' name appeared, looking for any that appeared to have a connection. This is a nice improvement.

16 December 2007

Refining searches at Footnote

Lest anyone think all I can do is complain, I do like the refinement ability on Footnote.com. I am sure there are improvements that can be made, but the ability in the Beta Test of Advanced Search at Footnote.com currently allows for one to narrow the search from the results page as shown above on the image (left hand column).

The image below shows what happened when I clicked on a specific search parameter in the above search results page at Footnote.com.

We'll be posting more of our experiences with advanced search as time allows. I am glad to see improvements and changes being made!

My wish list for Footnote's new search

I am glad that Footnote.com is making improvements to their search. However, here are two things I would like:
  • the ability to perform soundex and wildcard searches
  • the ability to "flag" records I have already viewed and located and for those "flags" to show on my search results. I wish Ancestry.com would do this as well.

Beta Test of New Search at Footnote.com

We'll have to post our experiences with it, but we noted recently that Footnote.com is allowing a test of it's advanced searches. They can be tried here:
Beta Test of Advanced Search at Footnote.com

It also appears that some of the searching issues that I had earlier on have been corrected, but I might have just gotten lucky. When I searched at Footnote.com on specific Virginia regiments from the American Revolution for specific words, I obtained results. I had not obtained them before. We'll be posting updates to this as time allows.

14 December 2007

Undocumented Chaos

Undocumented Chaos

from the Ancestry Daily News Michael John Neill – 10/16/2002

As genealogists looking to the past, we are forced to focus on paper records left behind by our forebears. We also use historical records and information about larger historical movements and cultural trends to reasonably infer things about our ancestor's lives. For many of us, there are times when neither of these sources or approaches is particularly helpful. Sometimes things just do not make any logical sense. There are times when our confusion stems from a misconception or ignorance we have about records, history, or cultural practices. But there are times when we've tried to learn as much as we can about the situation and perhaps have asked others more knowledgeable about the area to help us out. At times even the experts are stumped.

And so I occasionally wonder: Did some event in my ancestor's life throw the entire family into chaos?

Some of these events may be easily documented. There generally are records of epidemics, natural disasters, or the closing of a major employer (the main exception being when these first two events took place on the extremely raw frontier). The impact may have been very direct and very immediate. County historical societies, newspapers, county histories, or other sources may provide at least some information on an outside event in our ancestor's life. The loss of employment by the father, the death of three family members due to an epidemic, or a massive flood might have easily thrown a family into turmoil. The more difficult situation is where the causal event left no record.

The connection may not always be easy to make.

Maybe . . .

  • A marriage was hastened in an attempt to avoid the draft?
  • An emigration took place to avoid compulsory military service?
  • A sudden move took place because the father lost a job?
  • A move took place because of a significant economic opportunity?
  • A child left home because of a difficult step-parent?
  • A son left for California to pan for gold?

    In these cases the causes are partially discernable. Rash generalizations should not be made. When the outside factor is something large and something relatively well known it is easier to logically connect it to events that took place within the family. It is important though not to grasp at straws and create convoluted soap operas to fit scant ancestral records.

    Where's The P?

    In logic classes, students study implication, cause, and effect. If p happens then q happens as a result. The problem in some family history situations is that we have the q, but have no idea what the p was that preceded it.

    There are many explanations for the p above, but we'll focus now on events within the family that might have caused other family members to react. They might have responded in ways that do not always make sense when analyzed two hundred years later without the perspective of living within the actual family itself as it endures the turmoil.

    Did Some Event Throw Your Ancestor's Life Into Chaos?

    Did one parent die at a young age? The death of the father (typically the breadwinner) might have been a major challenge for the family. The death of the mother (typically the housekeeper and minder of the children) would have been equally difficult, especially if the older children were not of an age to take care of the younger ones. If your ancestral family was living in an
    area outside their kin network, the death of one young parent might have hit them especially hard.

    Hubby Dead . . . Mouths To Feed

    One ancestor died in the 1850s while in his early thirties. His widow Barbara was left with two small children in a town several hundred miles from where they had married and had family. As a German immigrant, Barbara likely spoke little English and had few marketable skills. The small river town where she lived offered few employment opportunities. Her options were
    extremely limited, she did not have some of the options her great-great-great-grandchildren may have today. Within six months of her husband's death she married a man who left her two months later. The records only point towards the recorded facts, they provide little idea of the
    likely situation in Barbara's home. And while we cannot find a tombstone, the breadwinner of her family was buried in the local cemetery and she was left with two young children to care for. She did the only thing she could: she ran her husband's tavern for several years until she married for the third time. And from newspaper records, that tavern was quite a place.

    I had another ancestor die and leave a widow with children in Kentucky in 1814. The children were old enough to help out and the husband left the wife with a few hundred acres of property. Records are scant, but it appears this forty-something widow was not in quite the same situation as my German immigrant in the 1850s. Still, the road after her husband's death was likely not easy.

    In some cases, children may have scattered after the father's death as a necessity. Some may have gone to live with other family members or even strangers. Some may have been apprenticed to learn a marketable skill, potentially leaving records. These apprenticeship records (if available) are typically found at the county level. In some cases, there may be records of guardianships as well. But if the family was particularly poor, records of
    guardianships may be non-existent.

    Wife Dead . . . Mouths To Feed

    A young widower with small children was in a similar situation, especiallyif there were no nearby family members to provide childcare. Widowers who had older female children may have enlisted them to help care for younger siblings. One of my own ancestors married three times, wives one and two likely dying in childbirth and leaving behind several small children. This ancestor waited a year, at most, to remarry.

    My own great-great-grandmother "disappears" ca. 1882 and her two young daughters live with other families for several years, apparently while the father gets things "together." I am not exactly certain what happened in this family. All I know is that the mother "left" (or so I've been told) and was never heard from again.

    Unknown Chaos?

    Some of the cases already discussed leave records that hint at the problems. Some situations can reasonably be explained by other historical records. Not all chaotic situations leave behind records delineating the problem. And the records that do document the results rarely focus on the past. There may be no record indicating a family member was mentally unstable or had an alcohol problem. Yet these situations may have impacted the family significantly, perhaps for generations.

    The family of the sibling of one of my great-great-grandparents had particular difficulties. The mother apparently became mentally unstable in the 1880s while the children were young. She died a few years later. The father never remarried and knew two things: "how to acquire land and drink whiskey." A doctor who visited the family at about the same time said he never knew a family who lived in such squalor. One of the children was classified as "simple" and intentionally injured himself on at least one occasion. It is not difficult to see how the family lost contact with other family members, particularly the mother's family. Nor is it difficult to see
    why some family members show little interest in their family's past.

    This family's home life is partially documented only because upon the father's death there was legal trouble and court records provide a scant paragraph on the family's past. Had there been no money worth going to court about, this family's lifestyle would not have been documented.

    Was there chaos in your ancestor's life? There might have been, but the problem will be in proving it. The real problem is that the chaos frequently creates records that make no sense without a rough knowledge of the underlying issues.

    Copyright 2002, MyFamily.com, Inc.Used by the author on his website with permission.

  • 13 December 2007

    Variants for OCR searching

    I've been using the Historical Newspapers at GenealogyBank in an attempt to learn more about Philip Troutfetter, who was involved in some interesting financial activity in Colorado around the turn of the twentieth century. I love to do soundex and wildcard searches when possible, but GenealogyBank does not allow Soundex searches (however wildcard searches are possible at GenealogyBank).

    I find it best to make a list of variant spellings of the name before beginning any search.

    Here's a few:


    There are MORE.

    It is important to remember that when printed materials are digitized, letters can easily be misread. For that reason, Trautvelter is a reasonable variant as is Trantvetter. Small "e" can also be misread as a "c." Searching records that have been digitized and indexed with OCR requires thinking about how letters can be misinterpreted if part of the image is difficult to read.

    If I could change the Illinois Death Certificate Index

    Don't get me wrong, I really like the Illinois Death Certificate Index and am very appreciative of it.

    However, if I could only make one change, it would be to add a new search option:

    "every county except Cook"

    With the exception of my grandmother-in-law, all my Illinois families (and there are a lot of them) are well outside of Cook County. When I perform a statewide search (which is often necessary), I really only want the western third of the state. The results from Cook County overwhelm my results.

    Of course, I can import the results into a spreadsheet and sort them by county and delete the ones from Cook, but it would be nice to have a "everything but Cook" search option. And Illinois is not the only state whose population is dominated by one metropolitan area.

    Working on the Descendants of Barbara Haase

    I have written before about the estate settlement of Anna Haase in Hancock County, Illinois, in the 1950s. Anna died with no descendants and this wonderful probate lists all her heirs as of the time of her death in Novenber of 1955--over forty heirs. Anna had five siblings who pre-deceased her, and several of her neices and nephews were deceased as well, only increasing the number of heirs.

    Anna's mother Barbara Siefert Bieger Fennan Haase Haase (died 1903 Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois) had children with Peter Bieger and Conrad Haase. Her estate settlement in the 1950s essentially is a genealogy of her mother's descendants compiled fifty years after her mother died.

    The probate lists the heirs, their relationship to Anna, and their address. Also listed were how the heirs were related. My initial attempts to find these individuals has been somewhat successful. Generally speaking, I used census records online at ancestry.com to find the family groups in 1900-1930 census records where possible . The estate settlement did not mention spouses or ages or places of birth and census enumerations were helpful in obtaining approximate ages to allow me to more effectively search other records. This also helped me put together more complete family groups and get details on individuals that did not appear in the estate settlement.

    I searched for these various family members at:

    World Vital Records, using in particular their:

    GenealogyBank, using in particular their:

    Given that many of the males were required to register for the World War I Draft, I used the database of World War I Draft Cards at Ancestry.com as well. There were other databases used at Ancestry.com that I also used, but the census records and the World War I Draft Cards were particularly helpful for my problem.

    I too am a relative of Anna Haase, but I wasn't alive when she died. Her oldest sister, Franciska Bieger Trautvetter (1851-1888) is my great-great-grandmother.

    10 December 2007

    Footnote Search Issues

    I recently blogged that the Revolutionary War Pensions at Footnote.com appeared to be allowing searches correctly. Now, I have another problem.

    Now when searching the Revolutionary Rolls for Virginia at Footnote.com
    things do not appear to be searching correctly. A manual search indicates a Samuel Cary appears in one of the documents. Yet when I search for "Cary" in the Revolutionary War Rolls » Virginia » 2d State Regiment (1778-79) [which is where he appears], I get no results. I would like to narrow my search by only searching in a specific regiment, but those searches do not appear to be working. I think I get the desired results when searching all the Revolutionary War Rolls, but there are some names that I would like to search for without having to search all the rolls at one time.

    Hopefully I'm doing something wrong, but I don't think so.

    A New Ira May be "My" Ira

    The image to the right shows the 1856 census enumeration for an Ira Sargent in Davis County, Iowa---who may be my missing ancestor.

    An article on my search
    for Ira appears in this weekend's edition of the Ancestry World Journal .

    The census enumerations are not crystal clear---but that's not unusual for census enumerations. Coimpounding the problem with this family are the two marriages of the mother, which are not hinted at in other records.

    07 December 2007

    Henry Ford's 1916 Peace Expedition

    I probably learned about it in American history, but I had forgotten about Henry Ford's ill-fated 1916 attempt to stop World War I with his own sponsored peace expedition. Ford financed the trip involving journalists and distinguished Americans. There is more information on the expedition on the American Heritage site.

    The picture that is a part of this blog post comes from Ford's 1915 passport application recently added to Ancestry.com. There are passport applications of many others on the trip located before and after Ford's.
    A very interesting set of records.

    06 December 2007

    Right Under My Nose

    My article "Right Under My Nose" was published last week on Ancestry.com's blog. It discusses my search for an 19th century Ohio resident who seemingly "disappears."

    Sometimes those disappearing ancestors did not disappear the way we thought they did. Rather they are right there in front of us waiting to be found. This week we look at such a situation. Our search reminds us of several research techniques that any family historian needs to have in their repertoire when the ancestor seems to vanish without a trace.
    Sarah Wickiser Calvert’s only known record of existence was an 1862 Delaware County, Ohio, deed

    The rest of the article can be viewed here....

    And anyone researching Sarah Calvert can email me mjnrootdig@gmail.com. She is an aunt of my wife--her sister Lucinda Wickiser Kile is my wife's ancestor.

    05 December 2007

    Searching Problem at Footnote.com

    Maybe it is just that I'm a little tired...

    I finally found the Revolutionary War Pension for Samuel Rhodes of Hawkins County, Tennessee using Footnote.com. However, I am having another searching problem for this Samuel. I cannot get his entry to come up in my search results.

    When I search the Virginia set of Revolutionary War Pensions at Footnote.com for "Samuel Rhodes" I get no results, yet when I browse these pensions by name, his record comes up--spelled the exact same way as I entered it.

    If anyone is aware of what I am doing incorrectly, I would appreciate knowing.

    04 December 2007

    Footnote Completes Digitizing Revolutionary War Pensions

    The Revolutionary War pension files at Footnote.com are complete .

    Those who have been waiting for the complete set of pension microfilm of American Revolutionary War pensions can now view them (and search them) at Footnote.com. Those unfamiliar with these records should read more about them on the Footnote.com site before searching. Footnote has indexed the names contained in the pensions, more completely than White's abstracts do. There are some limitations to how Footnote searches, but there's no denying that having 24/7 access is an improvement.

    Footnote does offer a free trial . Give them a try before you buy! Personally, I've gotten a great deal out of Footnote. I'm hoping the search improves.

    We'll be posting more updates and information on my searches in the Revolutionary War pension files at Footnote.com as I have time. There's a neat file that documents one soldier's migration from Virginia into Tennessee and finally into Missouri.

    30 November 2007

    Cousin Acquitted in 1903...The Troutfetter story continues

    I made a neat little find in the newspapers at World Vital Records today. I learned that my relative was acquitted by a Colorado Springs Court on embezzlement charges in 1903. A search for "troutfetter" at World Vital Records pulled up several results in the Small Town Newspapers Collection, including one from the Valley Springs Vindicator in Valley Springs, Kansas, of 21 August 1903, page 2, which reads in part:

    "Philip Troutfetter...has been acquited[sic] of the charge of embezzlement at Colorado Springs. Troutfetter was accused by his mother-in-law...."

    The orginal posting about Troutfetter can be viewed here. It is really a colorful headline.

    We'll be posting more about Philip as the research is complete. His father, Christian Troutfetter, was a pioneer of Colby County, Kansas, and was a first cousin of my ancestor John Michael Trautvetter of Hancock County, Illinois. A very interesting family and Philip appears to have lead an interesting life.

    Those unfamiliar with World Vital Records can view the their current offers here .

    29 November 2007

    A Presidential Pension

    One of my recent discoveries on the Civil War Pension Index at Footnote.com was the index card for Ulyssse S. Grant, who would later be United States President.

    Our earlier post about this index made mention of the fact that there are pensionsers from other periods of service included besides the Civil War.

    Ordering US Civil War Pension Records

    There are two ways to order pension and military records from the US National and Records Administration:

    1) Order online

    2) Request an Order Form (NATF85) sent to you by mail. There are several options to do this

    Give your name and mailing address, the form number and the number of forms you need (limit five per order).

    • Request the form (NATF85) using the Order Form
    • Request the form (NATF85) using email inquire@nara.gov
    • Request the form (NATF85) using US mail- Write to NARA at this address:
      The National Archives and Records Administration General Reference Branch (NNRG-P) National Archives and Records Administration 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20408
    • Request the form (NATF85) by telephone (202) 501-5652

    There is more information on pensions and what they contain on our site.

    28 November 2007

    Footnote's searches...

    Footnote.com has improved its search. Unfortunately, there's a slight problem--at least for me.

    I try and search for Samuel Rhodes. Footnote also includes Rhode in my search results, giving me numerous results for the state of Rhode Island, which I do not need.

    I try and search for "Samuel Rhodes NOT Rhode" thinking that I will eliminate all the hits on Rhode Island. Unfortunately when I search using that approach, I get no results.

    The database I was using was the Revolutionary War pension files at Footnote.com . I know there are results in there for Samuel Rhodes as I located them before the search changed. And now I can't find them without paging through every Rhode Island reference....

    If I'm missing something, hopefully someone can enlighten me.

    26 November 2007

    Carl Sandburg's Passport Application

    In 1918, poet and Galesburg, Illinois, native Carl Sandburg applied for a passport to travel to Europe. His application and the documentation contained therein are extremely interesting. (Note to view the complete application of Sandburg requires an Ancestry.com membership). released These US Passport Applications and images 1795-1925 have recently been released by Ancestry.com.

    Included in the application of Sandburg is a portrait of Sandburg, shown in this post. Also included is information on Sandburg's travels outside the United States (only to Puerto Rico), why he is travelling to Europe, and information on his place of birth and his father's citizenship status and nativity. Letters are included from Sandburg's employer at the time and his mother. Parts of those letters are included in this blog post. Sandburg even includes the place of birth for his father.

    Sandburg, like others, signed an oath of Allegiance.

    Part of the letter from Sandburg's employer is shown here. The rest of the letter summarizes Sandburg's employment history and discusses his time in Puerto Rico.

    Sandburg's mother even signed a letter in his behalf. In the first part of the letter she discusses Sandburg's date and place of birth and information on his father.

    Sandburg's application for a passport can be viewed on the Ancestry.com site.

    These US Passport Applications and images 1795-1925 have been indexed by the name of applicant by Ancestry.com and are searchable. Those without Ancestry.com access can obtain a free trial to Ancestry.com to experiment with this database and others.

    20 November 2007

    Passport Application sample

    This passport sample from 1922 indicates that the applicant was born in Switzerland and provides the name of his father and the date of immigration. Also included is the reason for the trip and a picture. Earlier applications do not give pictures and as much information, but is it possible that your ancestor made a return trip "home" to visit family? I'm going to be spending some time this evening taking a look at the recently released US Passport Applications and images 1795-1925.

    US Passport Applications at Ancestry.com 1795-1925

    Ancestry.com has released US Passport Applications and images 1795-1925. We'll post more information and a sample or two after I've had a little time to play with the database. But give it a try.

    Footnote's searching....

    Ok, this is just about like a disease, I can't stop.

    I searched Footnote.com's "Civil War Pension Index" for "ufkes," expecting nothing. It did bring up "Fikes" as a result. Not the person I was interested in, but a reasonable "sounds like" variant.

    A search for "cawiezell" brought no results. No real surprise there--although Cawiezell is a real last name.

    A search for "ulfert" brought two results--the last name "Elfert." I was really looking for "Ulfert" as a first name.

    I searched the Revolutionary War pension files at Footnote.com as well for

    wicksier (an accidental typo) and got wickiser

    Hopefully we'll get word of how the search now works, because I don't remember it working this way the last time. This new search (or at least new search to me) is good news, but now I'll have to go back and search for some names again. Making the very important point of tracking your research and when you search a site and what names you search for when searching.

    Back to some other work, I'm going to get wayyyyy to distracted with this if I'm not careful.

    Footnote's Improving their Search?

    It might be just a fluke, but I noticed when I searched Footnote.com's "Civil War Pension Index" for the last name of Troutfetter, it brought up the result Trautvetter. Nowhere did I see any options for "Soundex" or similarly spelled names, but I was pleased to see these broader results.

    Footnote must not be doing a "Soundex" search because my search for Neill only brought up Neill and NOT Neal, Niel, etc.

    But my search for Habben did bring up Haben.

    This is nice, and hopefully someone will post a response on how this is working---but I like the change.

    We've included a screen shot of Footnote.com's search tips and saw no mention of any kind of "sounds like" feature when reading through it.

    Footnote's Civil War Pension Index

    Footnote.com calls is the Civil War Pension index, but it is worth remembering that there are references in this finding aid to other individuals besides Civil War veterans and their widows. Those who take the time to READ on Footnote.com will find the following statement:

    "This publication contains index cards for pension applications of veterans who served in the U.S. Army between 1861 and 1917, including wars other than the Civil War." The majority of these pensioners are Civil War veterans, but there are others.

    The card that is a part of this blog post comes from Footnote.com's "Civil War Pension Index." The index is nearing completion and those who have put off searching it, may wish to give it another try.

    Torn Manifest Article

    Ancestry.com's blog ran my "torn manifest" article yesterday and it can be viewed in a printer friendly version on their site. It analyzes the manifest, discusses how I made my way around the "tear" as best I could and additional follow up that needs to be done.

    Andreas Schulmeyer is my wife's 4th great-grandfather and he died after the 1870 census, likely in Scott County, Iowa. The line of descent is as follows:

    1) Andreas Schulmeyer
    2) Elizabeth Schulmeyer Freund Wachter (1840 Beberstedt, Germany-1899 Davenport, Scott County, Iowa)
    3) George A. Freund (1858 Davenport, Iowa-1928 Davenport, Iowa)
    4) Caroline Freund Mortier (1884 Davenport, Iowa-1981 Rock Island, Rock Island County, Illinois)
    5) Grace Mortier Johnson (1913 Bowling Township, Rock Island County, Illinois-2000 Rock Island, Illinois)--my wife's paternal grandmother.

    I'd be happy to hear from anyone researching the Schulmeyers in Scott County, Iowa.

    19 November 2007

    Watch those toes and shadows

    This picture taken by my daughter a few years ago makes two important points. Watch your shadow and avoid getting it on the stone. Of course, photoediting software can help in getting rid of the shadow, but that may take more time than avoiding it in the first place and you don't want your photo to look "doctored."

    And watch the feet. There are toes in the bottom of this picture. Those are easily cropped out.

    Get Some Perspective

    I've been reviewing several tombstone photographs we took several years ago. There are a few things I would do differently:
    • take a picture of the entryway, sign, or something identifying the name of the cemetery if possible.

    • rename all the pictures so I know whose stone is in the picture and the cemetery it was taken in.

    • take "far off" shots showing relative positions of stones, particularly when there are several family members buried together. I did this in some cases (shown below), but not all.

    • review all the photographs as soon after taking them as possible and add a text file to my folder of pictures containing notes and other information on the cemetery and the pictures.

    Pictures taken in this post were taken in Holy Family Cemetery, Davenport, Scott County, Iowa.

    Additional suggestions are welcome.

    16 November 2007

    Phone Registration Open for Genealogical Computing Week

    Phone-in registration for our 10th annual Genealogy Computing Week at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois has begun.

    Our offerings include:

    Overview of Free Genealogy Online—Monday 3 March 2008
    Using Footnote.com—Tuesday 4 March 2008
    RootsMagic---Wednesday 5 March 2008
    Family Tree Maker 2008—two days---5 and 6 March 2008
    Using Ancestry.com---Saturday 8 March 2008

    More information can be found at http://www.rootdig.com/sandburg.html.

    To register by phone, call 1-877-236-1862 (ext. 5260). Nancy in the college's office will be happy to process your registration. If she does not pick up, leave name, number and best time to call (during 9-5).

    We'd love to have you join us.

    The Importance of Going One Step at a Time

    There is a reason that genealogists are told to work from the present to the past and not to "skip around."

    My wife's great-grandfather is William Apgar, born around 1888 in Chicago. I spent hours looking at Apgar families in 1880 and in 1900 (and in city directories), trying to get an idea of who his parents could be.

    Turns out Apgar was not his last name after all--it was a last name he took upon his marriage for reasons I am not entirely aware of. His marriage record and a 1910 census enumeration, along with some other information made it clear that his name at birth was actually William Frame. All that time spent looking for Apgars was for naught. Had I worked on him in more detail initially in the 1909-1920 time frame, I would have realized this and not spent so much time looking for the wrong family.

    And for those who wonder if Apgar was a name in William's background, the answer is no. It appears he simply chose the name from somewhere other than his own family history.

    15 November 2007

    The baby died at sea

    The screen clips here are a little small, but parts are shown of two pages from the manifest of the Hermann, which arrived in New Orleans on 13 Oct 1857. The families of Herman and Ulfert Behrens are shown, along with their unmarried brother Claas. There is a notation on the entry for Heinrich Behrens that he died at sea (his entry is one of the last ones--with the lines drawn through it and with a comment in the last column). Clicking on one of the images will pull up a larger image.

    This manifest is nice because it shows the last residence in Europe for the Behrens family--Ilowferehn--actually Ihlowfehn. Had I not known where they were from in Germany, this would have been a significant help.

    Checking out those multiple marriages

    I had the date and place of the marriage from an index, but I had never seen the original document. I obtained a copy during my last trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake.

    The first image on this post is a copy of the marriage record of Conrad Haas and Barbara Haas in Ft. Madison, Lee County, Iowa in June of 1882 (Marriage record volume 5, page 470). The record gives the ages of Conrad and Barbara. Nowhere is it indicated that this was the Haase's second marriage (they were divorced this time, too....).

    It is always good to obtain marriage records for marriages of your ancestor besides the one from which you descend. Sometimes records of these additional records may contain significant clues. And in my case the divorce records contained other clues as well.

    And of course, while at the Family History Library, I scanned the records from the microfilm, including the "title page" so I knew where the document was from.

    Why it pays to search all the siblings

    Even when you think you "know everything" on a certain family, searching for information on the siblings is still a good idea. The 1860 census image from this post comes from page 89 in Pea Ridge Township, Brown County, Illinois. I was searching for Anke/a Taletta Mueller Adams, sister to my ancestor Heipke Mueller Dirks. Heipke and her family have been fairly well documented with records in the United States and in Germany. I could not find a death record for her parents in Germany, but just figured they had moved to a neighboring parish I just had not found them you.
    I was right that they moved. The "missing" parents in Germany were living with their daughter Anke Adams in 1860 as shown in the image that is a part of this post. Had I not done my census work on Anke, I might still be looking for the parents.
    The Muellers were natives of Etzel, Ostfriesland, Germany.

    14 November 2007

    Comparing Civil War Pension Index Cards

    Ancestry.com has a Civil War Penions index. So does Footnote.com. There is a difference.

    The Ancestry.com index comes from the National Archives and Records Administration. Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. We've posted a sample card in this post. It is the card for George Rothweiler that lists his widow's name (note that not all cards list the name of the widow, even if there was one who received a pension).

    The Footnote.com index comes from National Archives and Records Administration Publication Number: T289 Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900. The sample card from that database is for George Rothweiler as well...the card that does not list a widow's name.

    Many of the same men are listed in each index, but each index served a different purpose. There is another finding aid for pension records in this era which is also on microfilm, but has not yet been digitized. That index consists of the pension payment cards from 1907-1933. These cards have been microfilmed and are at some larger genealogical libraries, including the Allen County Public Library (website) and the Family History Library (website).

    The card for Nancy Rampley is one of the payment cards. It is a PARTIAL scan of her card.

    Rothweilers in St. Louis-Wilhelmina and George

    This is the 1860 census entry for George and Wilhelmina Rothweiler in St. Louis' second ward. George is 35 years old and Wilhelmina is 29 and a half. Wilhelmina's maiden name was Hess and she was the daughter of Ernestine Trautvetter Hess (dates unknown), a sister to my ancestor John George Trautvetter (1798-1871). The Trautvetters were actually from Thuringen, Germany.

    Nancy Jane Newman (1846-1923)

    They must have made them sit forever to have their picture taken.

    Nancy Jane Newman Rampley (1846-1923) is pictured in this post. The photo appears to have been taken not too long before her death. At the time of the picture, Nancy was living in West Point, Hancock County, Illinois, but it is possible the picture was taken elsewhere. Nancy is known to have occasionally visited her daughters in southern Minnesota.

    Nancy was born near Milroy, Rush County, Indiana, in 1846, the daughter of William and Rebecca Tinsley Newman. The Newmans came to Hancock County, Illinois in 1863, initially settling in Walker Township. This is where she met her husband, Riley Rampley whom she married after the war. The Rampleys spent their married life on a farm in Walker Township and Nancy retired to nearby West Point. She and Riley are buried in the Buckeye Cemetery in Walker Township.

    Oil portrait from the 1860s

    I not certain when it was painted or who painted it, but the picture here is one taken of oil portraits of John George (1798-1871) and Sophia Elizabeth Derle Trautvetter (1808-1877). The Trautvetters were natives of Thuringen, Germany and immigrated in 1853, settling in Rocky Run Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
    Sophia is buried in the Bethany Cemetery, Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois. John George is buried in Bad Salzungen, Germany.

    Looking for Clark Sargent of Winnebago County, Illinois

    Clark Sargent purchased federal land in Winnebago County, Illinois on 1 March 1848. I think he died shortly thereafter and the Mrs. Mary Sargent that married in Winnebago County, Illinois to Asa Landon on 6 January 1849 is his widow. I have tracked Mary and Asa in the 1850 (Winnebago County, Illinois) and 1860 census (Christian County, Missouri), but am trying to find out if Clark Sargent who purchased the property is the Sargent who was the husband of Mary. One of the Sargent children living with Landon is Ira, born ca. 1844. I lose the Landons after 1860.

    Declarations of Intent pre-1906

    When I was in Salt Lake last May, one of my goals was to search for some declarations of intent and other naturalization documents on a few of my ancestors.

    Like other documents, declarations of intent to become a citizen can vary greatly from one location to another and from one time period to another. Those familiar with naturalization research and history realize that records before 1906 are less detailed and less uniform than records after the 1906 reform.

    There are two declarations of intent included in this post. The first one comes from Adams County, Illinois in 1856. Bernard Dirks is simply stating his intent to naturalize. It is not known (yet) when he immigrated, but it was likely close to the time this declaration was filed in April of 1856.

    The second declaration of intent (partially shown in this post) comes from 1853 in Hancock County, Illinois, just north of Adams County. This form is significantly more detailed than the 1856 form for Bernard Dirks. In this declaration, George Trautvetter indicates his date and place of birth in Germany and his date and place of landing in the United States. His declaration was filed on 4 January 1855, a year and a half (approximately) after his immigration in July of 1853. Why the delay is not known. George did settle in Hancock County, Illinois, pretty much immediately after his arrival in the United States as he is listed as a resident of Hancock County, Illinois, when he purchased property in the fall of 1853.

    Unfortunately, declarations of intent are not always preserved at the county level and as we have seen here there can be inconsistencies in how much information they contain. However, they should still be included as a part of any research plan for immigrant ancestors. And don't forget that before 1906, any court of record could naturalize.

    11 November 2007

    Living after death?

    You have to love the entries you find in some online files. While searching for an ancestor, I found the following entry. I've changed the name and the place and the dates slightly, but the error still remains the same. The person is question is listed as being alive 36 years after his death. Minor detail. I know some will disagree, but errors like this make me wonder about the accuracy of other material in the file. And frankly, if my ancestors have come back from the dead once, I wish they'd do it again. I have some questions, I'd like to ask them.

    Name: Tom Jones
    Sex: M
    Birth: 22 APR 1808
    Death: 1846
    Burial: 1846
    Event: Resided 1880 Rushville, Schuyler, Illinois, USA

    10 November 2007

    Is Grandma living with one of the kids in the census?

    The 1920 censustaker found my 87 year old ancestor, Heipka Dirks living with her daughter in law, Anna Dirks near Coatsburg, Adams County, Illinois.
    If you cannot find your "older" ancestor in the census, look at the entry for each of their children (or in this case daughter-in-law)---they might have moved in with family as they got older. Heipka lived to be 91 and did not die until 1924.
    The source citation for this image is:
    Year: 1920;Census Place: Honey Creek, Adams, Illinois; Roll: T625_296; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 12; Image: 213.

    09 November 2007

    Platting Out Kentucky Properties

    When I was at the Family History Library last May, I scanned several deeds from Bourbon County, Kentucky for James Tinsley and Thomas Sledd, two of my ancestors.

    This deed dated 2 April 1814, transferred property from Thomas Sledd to George Henry, part of the deed is shown in this post--the part that contains part of the metes and bounds description of the property.

    I like to use a program called DeedMapper to plat out the parcels to get an idea of how they are shaped. DeedMapper requires the description of the property to be entered in a specific format, but it's really not to difficult to do that. The screen image shows how I did that for the Sledd deed.

    DeedMapper will plat out the property. The first image shows it REALLY SMALL with the lines/corners shown.

    The second image is larger and only shows the directions of each line. It gives a little better perspective. What I really need to do is fit all the deeds together in order to better understand what property Thomas Sledd owned at his death and how that property was allocated amongst his heirs.

    08 November 2007

    West Virginia Archivist Fired over Coffee Shop Flap

    Fred Armstrong was fired as West Virginia State Archivist last Friday--29 years of state service and he was escorted out of the building. Armstrong was fired by Randall Reid-Smith, Culture and History Commissioner. Reid-Smith is looking to expand the Culture Center's offerings not with literary or archival materials, but rather with one more coffee shop. Like this nation needs one more place to buy overpriced high-fat, high-sugar coffee and calorie-laden muffins.

    One nice quote:

    “He’s a washed-out opera singer who can’t administer unless it’s in a dictatorial way.” — Fred Armstrong, describing Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith.

    For more information, visit the Charleston paper's website. Another blurb about the firing.

    I say it's time for West Virginia genealogists to remind a few politicians that they vote and that they aren't happy.

    Think about the informant

    Think about the informant on the death certificate or other record you are viewing. Is there a chance they might not have had first hand knowledge of the information on the deceased. The informant on the 1946 death certificate of Granville Lake in Marcelline, Linn County, Missouri, was his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Ola Lake. While the information she provided in this case appears to be accurate (based upon other records), it is always possible that an informant is uncertain of some information, especially parents and place of birth for the deceased.

    Make Certain You've Seen the Whole thing

    The death certificate for Granville Lake (died 1946 Marcelline, Linn County, Missouri) contains an omission: the year of birth. Part of Granville's death certificate is shown along with this post entry.

    This certificate was located on the Missouri State Archives Death Certificate website.

    The year of birth is a detail I would like to have. On the Lake certificate, like others from this era, there is a supplemental certificate to correct the omission. It always pays to read the entire document or see if an additional document is filed after the first one has been located. Of course, they had to stamp "supplementary" OVER the year of birth, but it is still legible (1863).

    Granville is my wife's great-grandfather.