30 July 2007

Trivial References May Be Clues

Even the slightest reference may be a clue. I already knew my 3rd great-grandmother married after her husband died. If I had not, her signature on the final accounting of the estate would have been a significant clue. Initial filings list her as Antje Habben. The final accounting in 1877 shows her signature as Antje Fecht. It always pays to read everything. Clues can be lurking anywhere.

26 July 2007

More on ARC

Enemy Alien registrations from World War I are also in the ARC database at the National Archives. I've written about these registrations before and unfortunately many of them are not extant. However I was able to locate one for a cousin of my great-grandfather, Maria Siebels. These registrations from Kansas have been digitized and can be viewed on the National Archives site. The picture of Maria shown in this entry is from her registration.

These records are not only indexed by name of the registrant. In this case, I located it by searching for "Habben" which is Maria's maiden name which is included on her registration. Those who wish to view Maria's complete file can visit ARC database at the National Archives and search for "maria seibels."

Her fingerprints are included as well.

Maria is the daughter of Annepke Ufkes Habben--sister of Johann Frederick Hinrichs Ufkes (1838-1924), my great-great-grandfather. Of course my grandmother Ufkes was a Habben, too, but her Habben family is a different one from the Habben family Annepke Ufkes married into. Patronymics are wonderful.

ARC at the National Archives

I had a little spare time today and I revisted the National Archives website. I have searched ARC at the National Archives before, but given the typical occupations of my ancestors, I rarely have too much success. However, today I made a lucky hit.

A younger sibling of my wife's great-great-grandmother (George Drollette) was supposedly the secretary to the US ambassador to China in the early 1900s. A search on ARC on his last name resulted in a hit apparently to his application papers to work in the diplomatic corps. I'm working on requesting a copy of his application and as new information is obtained, we'll be posting updates.

Illinois Marriages

Researchers should keep in mind that starting in 1877 some Illinois counties asked for names of parents as a part of the marriage application. Of course, this does not mean that every couple provided the information. The marriage application shown partially here does not include parents' names for William I. Sargent, my great-great-grandfather. This is particularly unfortunate...but all couples were not forthcoming.

Cook County did not start asking for parents' names on marriage applications until the early 1960s.

The Illinois State Marriage index is online at the Illinois State Archives. Researchers who have not used the index should remember that it is incomplete and like any index, occasionally contains errors.

17 July 2007

Price of Corn in western Illinois in 1877

Prices of everything are relative.
The image to the right shows the value of a few items from the estate of Mimke Habben in Hancock County, Illinois in 1877. The corn was born 25 cents a bushel as were the oats. The problem with comparing value today with value then is there are a variety of factors at play, including supply and demand, historical uses of items, etc.
While it is fun to compare prices of items, it must be done with care. In this case, we really don't know the quality of the grain in question. We do know that the corn and oats had the same per bushel value, which may or may not be true at other points in time. One could utilize old newspapers in order to get an idea of grain prices contemporary to the document being shown partially here (the actual date is March of 1877).
There is a neat website that provides more food for thought on the "current" value of money or an item:

10 July 2007

Katharine Wickiser Testimony--page 2

This is the final page of Katharine Wickiser's testimony from the Revolutionary War Pension file of Elam and Katharine Blain. It indicates here that George Wickiser actually wrote Katharine's testimony (the page previous to this one). So...now I know I have one page in George's hand. It's just too bad that Katherine Wickiser's daughter Lucinda Kile didn't write it...then I would have had handwriting by one more ancestor.
This image was taken from the images of these pension files at Footnote.com.

Katharine Wickiser Revolutionary War Pension Testimony-Page 1

The image here shows the actual testimony of Katharine Wickiser in the widow's pension application of Katharine Blain, of Delaware County, Ohio. The 1847 document provides information about the Blain's migration from New Jersey, into Pennsylvania and eventually into Ohio.

This image was taken from the images of these pension files at Footnote.com.

Find Your Ancestors In Revolutionary War
Pension Files at Footnote.com

07 July 2007

27 October 2007--St. Charles, Missouri

We have set the date for our annual "Family History Workshop Day"
co-sponsored by the St. Charles County (Missouri) Genealogical
Society and St. Charles Community College. The workshop will be held
at the college in St. Peters. Additional details will be posted later
in July. The St. Charles group is an excellent one with which to work
and I'm looking forward to the upcoming seminar.

06 July 2007

Habbe and Annepka (Ufkes) Habben

This picture is of Habbe and Annepke (Ufkes) Habben. Habbe was born in Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany in 1825 and Annepke was born in 1831. They were living in the United States when this picture was taken with their daughter, Christena. The Habben family eventually settled in Nebraska.
Thanks to my cousin Theresa for sharing this picture with me.
Annepke is a sister to Johann Ufkes (1838-1924) my great-great-grandfather.

05 July 2007

I really cannot read this one...

This is one where I really do not know what the first name is. The last name is clearly Adams. The first one I am not so certain of.

The first image is the signature of Mr. Adams. I am assuming it is a Mr. because the person signing this document mentions attending school with the children of Elam Blain in Hanover Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s and only mentions the male children of Blain. My assumption about the gender could be incorrect.

The second rendering of Adams' name comes from the document itself where the scribe has written the name.
I'm taking guesses on this one. The document is from testimony provided by Adams in the Revolutionary Pension application of Katharine Blaim/Blain, widow of Elam. The testimony was given on 6 January 1848 in Delaware County, Ohio.
These images were taken from the digitized Revolutionary Pension files at Footnote.com.

Pension files contain more than just information on the claimant

I've been working on the information contained in the Revolutionary Pension of Elam Blain/Blaim/Blair, newfound ancestor of my wife.

This pension file contains information on unrelated familes who apparently followed a similar migration path to Elam and his family.

The image on this blog entry is just part of one page of testimony from Elam's pension file. Several individuals testified about Elam's residences, his marriage, and the ages of his children. Two of these individuals are known to be relatives. It is not yet known if the others providing testimony are related or not.
This testimony, from a (?Prulip?) Adams indicates that Adams attended school with Elam's sons and lived near them during various times during his life. Is it possible that your ancestor testified in the pension claim of someone else? Even if your ancestor never served?
This image was taken from the images of these pension files at Footnote.com.
This pension file was what provided me with the maiden name of Katharine Wickiser, who is clearly identified as Elam's daughter in the pension testimony.

04 July 2007

Stuff on Genealogy Bank

Genealogy Bank has a great deal of information for the genealogist and the price is fairly reasonable when one considers the quantity of data.

Social Security Death Index (available also on Rootsweb for free)
Modern Obituaries
Historical Newspapers
Historical Books
Historical Documents

You can go to their home page and do a basic search and get a sneak peek at the results, which is how I got hooked and how I initially learned about the world travels of my law-enforcement evading relative.

They just added a number of newspapers, including various issues from:

San Francisco Bulletin
Miami Herald Record
Columbus Daily Enquirer
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Macon Telegraph
Idaho Statesman
Belleville News Democrat
Inter Ocean
Lexington Herald
Baltimore Sun
Duluth News-Tribune
Kansas City Star
Daily Herald
Grand Forks Herald
Omaha World Herald
Wilkes-Barre Times
Aberdeen American
Aberdeen Daily News
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Bellingham Herald
Morning Olympian
Olympia Record

Maybe they'll continue the Kansas City Star and I can look for the July 1921 murder of my great-grandmother's brother.


DNA shows that two men with the same last name do not share a common male ancestor. What does this mean? I don't think it is as clear cut as some people think.

Bob Yougotancestor and Tom Yougotancestor have DNA tests done on their paternal line. It shows no paternal connection. So their supposed Yougotancestor lines are not related. Maybe.

Here's Bob's lineage:

Thomas Yougotancestor, father of:
George Yougotancestor, father of:
Henry Yougotancestor, father of:
Michael Yougotancestor, father of:
Frank Yougotancestor, father of:
Bob Yougotancestor.

Here is Tom's lineage:
Elam Yougotancestor, father of:
Abraham Yougotancestor, father of:
Ulysses Yougotancestor, father of:
Vincent Yougotancestor, father of:
Archibald Yougotancestor, father of:
Tom Yougotancestor.

It is thought that Elam and Thomas Yougotancestor are brothers or first cousins--and further work needs to be done to make the connection. Paternal DNA tests indicate Bob and Tom have no connection via the paternal line. Researchers conclude that Elam and Thomas are NOT related. This conclusion may NOT be correct.

Elam and Thomas may still be related.

What if the real problem is that when George was away in the military his wife was friendly with a neighbor and son Henry is not really George's son? This would cause Bob and Tom to not have a direct male connection, but Elam and Thomas could still have been brothers or related in some other paternal way.

The DNA evidence fails because George Yougotancestor was not Henry Yougotancestor's son, not because Elam and Thomas were unrelated.

Just something to think about.

Paper records may contain errors. DNA may also be inconclusive. What is worth remembering is that no tool is foolproof. The problem I have with DNA for genealogy is that it tends to be hyped more than necessary and pitched as a cureall. I'm not opposed to using it, but like any tool it must be used with care.

The hammer is not the problem. It is the human on the end of it that causes problems.

03 July 2007

Are You Thinking about Alternate Spellings?

Sometimes when we start work on a new name or a new family, we forget the things we learned years ago on "old" families. One of these things to think about are alternate spellings. While doing a little preliminary work on the "new" Blain family, I realized that one of the alternate spellings I need to keep in mind is Blair. While this is not really a spelling or pronunciation variation, the final "r" in some cases can easily be read as an "n. " Soundex based searches will not catch this variation, but an appropriate wildcard search would.

Can I Copyright Katharine Wickiser's Maiden Name?

Discovering Katharine Wickiser's maiden name today was a great find for me. Once you've been researching for a while new names are not located as frequently as they were in the early days of research.

Now...do I expect everyone to credit me with finding this? No. Would it be nice, yes. However, I realize that this information will appear in GEDCOM files and other online sites in the near future and I won't be credited with locating the information.

Can I copyright the maiden name of Katharine Wickiser? Especially if I discovered it? The answer is no.

Katharine's maiden name is a fact. Even if it took me twenty years and twenty thousand dollars to find it (which it did not), the name still remains a fact. Facts are not copyrightable. Otherwise, I'd simply copyright 2+2 = 4 and charge banks for each time they used that fact when computing balances.

If I write a paragraph on her maiden name that paragraph is copyrightable. If I write a blog entry on how I cannot copyright her maiden name, that blog entry is copyrightable. But the name itself: no.

And the word is copyright. Not copywrite. If you write your copy right, you can copyright that copy. But even if you copy the fact right, you cannot copyright the fact. Even if you copy something wrong, you can copyright that. Why you would want to copyright something that was not copied right is beyond me, but who knows?

Those who wish to learn more about how copyright applies to genealogists can do so here.

Katharine Wickiser was a Blaim

A little searching on Footnote.com located a Revolutionary War Pension affidavit signed by Katharine Wickiser, probably the same Katharine Wickiser as my wife's ancestor. Her testimony indicated how long she had known Katharine Blaim, widow of Elam Blaim. Apparently she had known Blaim for most of her life, but the testimony does not indicate that point blank.

A continued search of the file indicated testimony from Abraham Wickiser where he indicates he married a daughter of Katharine Blaim (my wife's Katharine Wickiser was married to an Abraham Wickiser). The pension file (which can be viewed in its entirety on Footnote.com) is over fifty images and I have not yet had time to go through the entire set of documents. We'll be posting additional information here as I am able to analyze it.
Suffice it to say that if not for the ability to search annotations on Footnote.com I would never have found this information. Katharine's maiden name is something we have been working towards for a long time with nary a clue. The documents indicate that there were several families from Huntingdon County, New Jersey who made their way to Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, and eventually into Delaware County, Ohio. A migration chain of which I was unaware.
Additional posts will include our analysis of why the Katharine in the pension is the same one as my wife's ancestor. One never wants to immediately conclude that individuals with the same name are the same person.
Footnote.com is adding more pensions as time goes on. Maybe I'll break down a few other of my brick walls when those are added. And as we'll see in future posts, some of the testimony is from non-family members who give clues about their own families in their testimony in the Blain file.

02 July 2007

Proof of Death

In some locations in some time periods, estate records may include a "proof of death." This was done to hopefully guarantee that the person whose estate was being settled was actually dead.
Estate records usually allow a genealogist to estimate a death date--typically using the date of the will and the first filing in the case if the estate was testate. In the image shown here, the death date is given in this "Proof of Death" document contained in the probate file. The county where Mimke Habben died was keeping death records at this time, but there is no death certificate on file for him.
The proof of death forms typically says "died on our about" a specific date. Remember the probate court is not as concerned about a precise date of death as genealogists are. The court just wants to make certain the person is dead.

Administrator with will annexed

Typically administrators are appointed because there was no valid will left by the deceased.
Yet there are some cases where there is a valid will and an administrator. This can happen if the will names no executor or the named executor refuses to act, is incompetent, or denied by the judge.
The image on this post comes from the appointment of an adminstrix when my ancestor's 1877 will named no executor. His wife was appointed "Administratrix with the will annexed" as shown here.

Another situation is where the executor dies before the estate is settled. A great-grandmother was settling her husband's estate and died before it was settled. In her case, she appointed her executor to also complete the settlement of her husband's estate.