31 January 2007

Sidney Sheldon in 1930 census

Recently deceased author Sidney Sheldon can be found in the 1930 census in 4936 N. Albany Avenue, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, living with his parents and his uncle. He is enumerated under the name Sidney Schectel.

Notations on Census

Are notations from the census department making if difficult for you to find you relative in the census? The entry here (1900 for baseball great Babe Ruth) contains notations over several names. Of course, this makes reading the names to make an index even more difficult than usual. For this reason more creative search techniques may be necessary. Or (heaven forbid!) one may have to search the census manually---which is what we used to do anyway ;-)

30 January 2007

Could You Read It?

This comes from a late 19th century church document in the United States.

Can you guess what it says?
Guesses can be emailed to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com


Early Bird Deadline for our Salt Lake City Research Trip

Just a reminder in case anyone "put off" registering for our 2007 trip to the Family History Library in May of this year--1 February is our early bird deadline. We had a great time last year and I am really looking forward to the trip again this year. For those who are not aware, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City has millions of rolls of microfilm and tens of thousands of books and other print materials and is the largest genealogical library in the world.

More information on our trip can be found at http://www.rootdig.com/slctrip.html
Questions can be sent to me at saltlake@rootdig.com
We'd love to have you join us!

29 January 2007

Emma Tillman (died at 114) in 1900,1910,1930 census

With a little more searching, we have found more census records for Emma Faust Tillman, World's Oldest Woman, who died recently at the age of 114 in Connecticut.

Emma Faust is aged 7 on the 1900 census in Guilford County, North Carolina with her family. The 1900 census can be searched for the remaining portion of the entry.

Emma Faust is listed as aged 17 on the 1910 census for Glastonbury, Connecticut. Researchers can search the 1910 census to see the remaining portion of the entry.

Emma Tillman with her family in 1930 in Connecticut. Researchers can search the 1930 census to see the remaining portion of the image.

Back to some real work ;-)

Oldest Living US resident dies

CNN is reporting that Emma Tillman of Connecticut, died recently at the age of 114.

We've posted her 1920 census enumeration right here--she and her husband are living in Ward 7 of Hartford, Connecticut.

The 1920 United States Federal Census can be searched at Ancestry.com.

Mortality Schedules and some thoughts

The 1880 mortality image I found on my hard drive brought several questions to my mind:

  • How often do we include source information on an image we scan?
  • Do we always remember to go to the "original?"
  • Have I looked at all mortality census records that might help me in my research?

That is almost too many questions, but still good food for thought. I know I have document scans on my hard drive, CD files, etc. that might not be titled in ways that help to locate from where the original came. In the case of this scan, the title page was also included, but is not included here.

This of course is not the actual mortality schedule for Pea Ridge Township, Brown County, Illinois. I should look at the microfilm copy to see if I would read the information in the same way.

There are probably other mortality census schedules I have not thought to look for in my research and now might be a good time to go back and consider those records.

And one last thing....have I made a notation somewhere so I remember WHO was on the document that caused me to scan it in the first place? Remembering all those names is not going to happen!

In case anyone wonders, my ancestor is the Henry Miller listed above as an 81 year old tailor.

27 January 2007


Today (January 27, 2007) would be my Granddad John Ufkes' 90th birthday. He was born near Basco, Hancock County, Illinois in 1917--the oldest son of Fred and Tena Ufkes. Happy Birthday... Granddad passed away in December of 2003 in Carthage, Illinois, where I was born and raised.

Shortly after his death I posted a copy of his obituary on my website.

I have his "letter" from playing basketball for the former Basco [Illinois] High School. When time allows I'll write about ways to preserve similar fabric memories. What is really neat is that I have pictures of him wearing it during his high school years. His "B" also reminds me of how much some things keep on changing. This year is the last year for the high school I went to---they are converging with two adjacent high schools. Change is the only thing that stays the same.

24 January 2007

Enumerated Twice in the Census

There is always the chance that the census taker listed your ancestor not once, but twice in the census. My maternal grandmother is listed two times in 1930: once with her parents and once in the household where she was "working out."

Several well-known individuals are listed more than once occasionally too, including
  • Mark Twain
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Humphrey Bogart
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Thomas Edison
  • Jack London
  • Charles Lindbergh

and a few more.

We've posted them at http://www.rootdig.com/famous_two.html

23 January 2007

Googling Images

Looking for pictures of your relatives to add to your family history?
They may be as close as your computer desktop. Google may be able to locate them for you, as long as someone has posted them on the Internet. A quick search at http://images.google.com brought up images of two of my mother's first cousins, neither of whom I have seen since my great-grandmother died in 1986.

I also located a picture online of my wife's 3rd great-grandfather in upstate New York this same way. Might be worth a try.

Sugar Cured Meat

The Ladies' Aid of the Sutter-Salem Presbyterian Church published a cookbook in 1929. The book, published in Warsaw, Illinois, contains numerous recipies--many very high in fat and sugar by today's standards (not to mention one wonders why more people did not die of food poisoning).

Particularly interesting to me was one recipe submitted by Mrs. Cecil Barnett of Sutter.

She was my grandma Neill's sister--born Luella Trautvetter on a farm near Tioga, Illinois, in 1900 (she "went with the years" as we used to say). Occasionally Aunt Luella (or "Law" as she was sometimes called) would be at Grandma Neill's when we were there. Once in a while she'd be at Christmas or Thanksgiving at Grandma's as her children all lived a distance from her. For some reason I can remember her laughing frequently and most of the time she and Grandma having a good time.

I can send high resolution scans for any relatives who'd be interested.

22 January 2007

Getting Union Civil War Information

In order to order a pension from the National Archives it helps to know some details about the unit in which your ancestor served. Genealogists who are trying to pinch pennies, now have one more source to help them find if their ancestor got a pension from the federal government.


Footnote does charge, however, you can view some information at no charge...just not the images. Footnote has the Regimental Index to Union Civil War pensions on their site. Viewing the cards on the site is NOT free and requires a membership or a fee per image. However, the citation listed underneath the card is free and is enough to allow you to order a pension from the National Archives. And if your guy is in the index of pensions, then he obviously has a pension.

The image here is one you would need a membership to view, but the "citation" below the image would be enough to order the pension from the National Archives.

There are other finding aids for Civil War information, some of which are free and some of which are not. Our page of Civil War pension information has links to these sites and some articles about obtaining and using Civil War pension records.


Apparently in the land of genealogy blogs, there's a game of tag going on. Juliana Smith of Ancestry.com got me (and then Kimberly Powell at about.com got me too). Part of the game is to tell 5 things about yourself that most people probably don't know. Most of mine are pretty mundane, but here goes....

In my high school graduating class, I was related to very nearly 10% of my graduating class, including myself (but I doubt it they know it). I was also related to one of my fourth grade teachers (probably doesn't know), my Jr. High math teacher (knows), my high school accounting teacher (double cousins-knows), my pre-school Sunday School teacher, my kindergarten Sunday School teacher and my 3rd grade Sunday School teacher (double cousins--she knows)...and they were all different people.


Over the past 4 years, I have lost pretty much 70 pounds by walking the dog, eliminating soda and many sweets. No money spent on a gym or any fad diet.


Spring Breaks for me during college were not spent on the beach. That was the week the the barns always needed to be cleaned out at home. Most times my 70something grandmother would be right out there with us...and Grandma and I would sometimes get kinda silly when Dad was out on the pasture running the spreader. We always made certain not to be laughing when he came back in the barn.


I never was in an airplane until my early thirties. The first time the noises made me nervous, but I realized if the "regular" flyers were not screaming or praying that all was probably ok. Now I fly on a regular basis and avoid driving if the distance is over 400 miles.


I was the Illinois state champion in the oral competition at the 1986 Illinois state math meet. The topic was geometric constructions (give me a straight edge and a compass...). I can't remember the questions, but I do remember being EXTREMELY NERVOUS. The other kids were from large Chicago area surburban high schools and were headed off to places like MIT. Then there was me: the farm kid from the rural school where everyone had been going to school together since kindergarden. So goes the war--I can remember that while I was reviewing a simple things at the last minute to "relax," they were bragging about one thing or another......

15 January 2007

Organizational Index to US CW pension records

For years I have wanted to use the Civil War pension index that is organized by unit. Easily being able to see pensions of others in my ancestor's same unit I thought might help me and I might even be tempted to obtain a pension or two of his comrades.

Footnote.com has come to the rescue. The website has many National Archives microfilms on its site, but the organizational index to pensions is one that provides enough information that free users can still get a great deal of use out of it. Knowing that a man in a certain unit received a pension generally is enough to order the actual pension.

I found that several of my ancestor's comrades in the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry received a pension, including two who provided testimony in my ancestor's pension. Researchers can browse the index by state and then by unit here.

Riley's card is here and can be viewed on the site at no charge. There is enough detail that his pension could be ordered if I had not already had it.

13 January 2007

Identity Theft and Vital Records Access

Genealogists need to be concerned that public concern about identity theft could restrict access to vital records. Studies "claim" that easy access to vital records are a significant part of identity theft--yet these studies never cite any specific studies and elected officials use these "studies" as reason to limit access to vital records, in some cases records of people long since deceased. Family historians need to be on the forefront of making it clear to our elected officials that access to vital records is not the real problem.

Those who are active in identity theft usually are stealing the identities of multiple people and typically do not bother getting copies of birth certificates. Typically they get access to people's social security numbers, credit card numbers, credit card applications, etc. via means outside of vital records agencies. Think about the last story of identity theft you heard in the media---were you warned about your birth certificate? NO. You were told to protect your private information, not leave personal information "unshredded" in garbage bags, etc. Rarely is one told to go to the courthouse and shred your birth certificate so someone cannot make a copy of it.

Identity thieves typically work with large numbers of victims. It is impractical to obtain copies of all their vital records.

Obtaining copies of vital records now requires identification. In the last year we needed copies of birth certificates for everyone in our household. In three cases, the person needed to show identification in order to obtain the certificate. I had to show my driver's license to get my daughter's certificate and before I got the copy she compared the name on my license with the father's name on the record. The only reason my mother didn't have to show ID to get my birth certificate is that everyone in the rural courthouse already KNEW who she was.

Another item at play in the identity theft arena are lending institutions who are eager to give "instant" credit in order to get the sale. Instant credit applications are not necessarily subject to the amount of scrutiny that other applications are.

And complaints about the SSDI are unwarranted. That database is USED by financial and other institutions to quickly check for social security numbers of DEAD people so that applications with those numbers are denied. DUH. And frankly any bank that issues a credit card to a dead person deserves to be left holding the bag.

For more about records access and identity theft, check out the posting by a professional genealogist in Connecticut.


SSDI at Rootsweb

Wildcards are a great way to search. I use them on every database site that allows it, including the Social Security Death Index at Rootsweb. However, I noticed that on the SSDI, the wildcard does not appear to be working correctly when several numbers are entered in the search box.

Elivis may have left the building, but he has not left the SSDI.
08 Jan 1935
Aug 1977
(not specified)
38116 (Memphis, Shelby, TN)

However, when I search the SSDI for a social security number of
(and leave everything else blank), no results are obtained. Obviously there should be at least one entry: Elvis.

If I search for 40952*, I find him.
If I search for 409522*, I don't.
Apparently more than 5 digits creates problems and I have too much time on my hands ;-)


11 January 2007

Getting Rowdy at the Pool Hall

A search of www.footnote.com indicated a hit for a "Claud Sartorius" as being involved in some type of "UnAmerican Activity" in the World War I era.

I immediately thought, how many Claud Sartoriuses can there have been in the United States during the World War I era? My great-great-grandmother's brother was Claude Sartorius and I was hoping the record from the Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-22 would provide me with new clues on my uncle's life.

I was wrong.

The image to the right is clearly for a Claud Satorius. Only problem is that this Claud Sartorius was from Idaho, not Illinois. A search of Ancestry.com's World War I Draft Registration Cards located a Claud Sartorius in Idaho (the one from the Investigative Case Files). Census and other records indicated that this Claud Sartorius was not the Claud Sartorius who was my uncle (and born in Illinois as a son of Hinrich and Trientje Behrens Sartorius).

What did Claud do? He made the mistake of criticizing the President and saying we needed the Kaiser. Probably not the best statement to make in Idaho in 1918. Of course, people say all kinds of things in poolhalls (not that I would know...)

This is just one of the thousands of neat images on footnote.com. The searching was relatively easy and for $1.99 I was able to view and download the image. I could even have added comments if I had wanted to and I just might go back and do that. For those of a distance from NARA this site with the available indexes it has is a significant time saver.

I'm going to keep looking in their databases...sooner or later someone will turn up.


Footnote.com is posting indexes to some National Archives microfilm along with digital copies of those records. The indexes can be searched at no charge---a really wonderful service that I spent a few hours utilizing this morning.

A variety of records are included at footnote.com, including:

Papers of the Continental Congress (1774-89).
Mathew B. Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs.
Southern Claims Commission.
Name Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files.
Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-22.

A complete press release with more details can be viewed here. I was very excited to learn that these records were online and searchable.

I found a man I thought was a relative in the Bureau of Investigation Files. There are a variety of subscription plans, but I thought I would just download the one image for now as I didn't think I would have lots of time to really use the site now.

Using my credit card, I ordered the one image this morning and received a quick confirmation of my order. Unfortunately there were issues with the image file on the site. Instead of hitting the computer I submitted a comment and included the image number. When I returned from lunch later that afternoon, I received a followup to my email along with the readable copy of the image which would be uploaded to that site later in the day. I was very pleased with the customer service.

Later I'll post an entry about the specific image I got. It was quite enlightening.

10 January 2007

Scooby Doo Creator Iwao Takamoto in 1930

Mr. Takamoto passed away in January 2007 in California. The creator of Scooby Doo and numerous other cartoons was born in California of Japanese parents. Their 1930 census image has been placed on our site. Various media were reporting that Mr. Takamoto and his parents and their other children were in an interment camp in World War II. Their names do appear in the online database of these internments on the National Archives website.

Yvonne De Carlo in US Passenger Manfests

CNN is reporting that Yvonne De Carolo passed away this week. The actress was best known to younger audiences as Lily Munster in the "Munsters." Born Peggy Middleton in Canada, she and her mother eventually moved to Southern California, and the rest, as they say, is history.

We have located her in four different passenger manifests from the 1940s and 1950s returning to the states through New York. On a few of those a Constance Mac Kenzie is listed also--I'm wondering if that is her mother. Anyone who knows is welcome to fire off an email to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com

The images can be viewed for free on our site at:


Verified Social Security Number

My social security card slid behind the desk at home and I am unable to get it out. I needed my card the other day and fortunately the local social security office was able to "verify" my number for me on the spot, but printing out a form and signing it for me. This was faster than getting a replacement card.

All I had to do was bring in my driver's license and my number. The lady asked me what my middle initial stood for and what my mother's maiden name was. Both were answered easily and I got my form and left.

I asked about my deceased grandmother's number, which is very close to mine. Her response to that question was "we aren't going to go there" probably because of concerns about fraud. The only thing she would tell me is the month and year my number was issued.

05 January 2007

World War Two Draft Registrations

Users of this site know that I have posted copies of my paternal grandfather's World War Two Draft Registrations

My maternal grandfather passed away in 2003 and I have finally gotten around to trying to get his World War Two Draft Registration. To obtain it, I got a copy of his death certificate (from the courthouse in the county where he died--not from the state and NOT from one of those "get it NOW" places that charges an exorbitant amount). I have followed the directions on the Selective Service Administration page and will keep readers posted on my success and how long it takes. It has been several years since I obtained the card and registration information on my paternal grandfather.

The registration card of my paternal grandfather is shown in this post.

His classification record can also be viewed on our site.

04 January 2007

Funeral in Carthage

It was nice to see so many of my Neill, Trautvetter, and Rampley cousins at the very first of this year--the only problem was that it took my uncle's funeral to do it. Many people I had not seen since the death of my Grandma Neill (Ida Trautvetter) in 1994. I always like to get to Carthage and Hancock County. Another relative who left the county told me once that if you are born in Hancock County, you never really leave.

I was surprised to learn that a few of my cousins visit this website on a somewhat regular basis (Hello Pat!). I will have to be careful what I post from now on (grin!).

I think on at least two occasions, I discussed (from memory) how old the Neill siblings (children of Charlie and Fannie [Rampley] Neill) were when they died. For those who are interested.

Cecil 1903-1968--aged 65.
Ralph 1905-1986--aged 80.
Nellie 1910-2001--aged 91.
Herschel 1912-1990--aged 77.

I had never really given it too much thought until I was asked about it.

I remember them all except for Grandpa who died first when I was too small to remember anything. They didn't talk much about the "old days," mainly because times were hard and they didn't have too much. Aunt Nellie told me once that when she was starting college, Grandpa sold some hoghouses he had built and gave her the money to help with her tuition bill. It's a short, one sentence story, but it's still a good one to have.