26 September 2007

Electonic Version of Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained

In case your bookshelf just does not have room to handle the latest tome from Elizabeth Mills, never fear.

Footnote.com has just announced the release of the electronic version of Elizabeth Shown Mills' new book Evidence Explained.

Those genealogists who wish to cite their sources and leave future generations of genealogists an idea of where they got their information would be well-served by using Mills' book as a guide to citation creation. And all genealogists should wish to cite their sources. Actually citation should be much more than a wish. It is a virtual mandate.

Footnote is currently offering the electonic edition for $24.95. Price may change, but the need for citation does not!

And electonic versions don't take up desk space...that leaves more room for those paper copies you never got scanned.

23 September 2007

Friends on the Farm Reviewed

My great-aunt self-published a book of stories about growing up on her parents farm in Hancock County, Illinois. I am chargined to admit I have not yet read all of it (my Mother kept it so that when Aunt Ruth came to visit, she could sign it for me), but the parts I read were interesting and were told in Aunt Ruth's usual humorous way. She pretty much writes the way she talks and I could almost hear her telling the stories as I read them. You can't do that with all books you read. Of course, knowing some of the people she wrote about doesn't hurt either.

Friends on the Farm has been reviewed by Illinois Times and the review of Aunt Ruth's book is positive. I got a chuckle out of the cow named "Three." I omit the discussion of the name deriviation from this blog, but farm kids or former farm kids, probably already have a good idea where that name came from.

Proof of the Pension is in the Reading...

My latest article has been published on Ancestry.com's blog.

The Proof of the Pension is in the Reading went live sometime today. It discusses a Revolutionary War Pension file that provided numerous clues about a family's life in the early nineteenth century. The pension proves the family's migration from New Jersey into Pennsylvania and eventually into Ohio. And there's much more.

We've posted a few images from this pension file on our website. The family of Elam and Katherine Blain has been an interesting one to research and descendants are welcome to fire off an email to me as my wife is a descendant of the family.

20 September 2007

Where Will Your Stuff Go?

Every so often the "genealogical clause" to add to your will makes the rounds on the internet. While such an addendum that specifies where your genealogical materials are to be placed is not a bad idea, there are several things worth remembering:

  • Libraries, archives, and historical collections find space to be at a premium. It costs money to property store and maintain collections. Unorganized material, stacks of photocopies, undocumented family group charts are not highly desireable and just because your will says "give it to the blah blah library" does not mean blah blah library has to take it. Of course, if you leave a sizeable donation to blah blah library that might increase the chances they take it.
  • Frankly, the attorney and your executor might not care too much what happens to your "stack of papers" and filing cabinets. They will be concerned about real assets, money and any personal items of value and personal items that family members squabble over. Even if your will says your papers are to be donated somewhere, they may end up being donated to the local dump.
But my will says that "thus and so" should happen to my papers. To be honest, once your will is being probated, you are dead. You have no control.

What to do?

Work on preserving your information NOW. Work on sharing your information NOW.

Write a documented biography of one ancestor and submit it to a local genealogical society newsletter for publication. Write up a set of parents and their children, documenting every fact, relationship, and date you can using reasonable standards of documentation. Submit that for publication in a local newsletter or quarterly. Most of these county publications go begging for material to publish and this way you have at least preserved SOMETHING even if writing the WHOLE BOOK proves to be a larger task than you can accomplish.

And remember. Most of these genealogical society publications go to quite a few libraries and may even end up being microfilmed. This way you have preserved part of your information. There are other ways to preserve your information to be certain. The key is to actively work on preservation BEFORE you leave this life. Don't wait on someone else to do it for you after you are gone.

19 September 2007

1865 Illinois Census Online Transcription-Hamilton County

The 1865 Hamilton County, Illinois, Census has been transcribed at posted online at the Hamilton County, ILGenWeb site.

Actual 1865 census images for the entire state can be viewed at HistoryKat.

Partial Index to 1865 Cook County, Illinois Census

Molly Kennedy over at mollx.com is working on an index to the names in the 1865 Illinois State Census. These are the wards she has completed currently are Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3 Ward 4. More are in progress (Molly also offers a variety of record searches in Illinois records as well).

The 1865 Illinois State Census is online at HistoryKat (which offers a variety of online records at a reasonable annual price that can be viewed whenever the mood strikes).

Information on 1865 Illinois State Census From Illinois State Archives

Those wishing to know more about the 1865 Illinois Census can find more on the Illinois State Archives website. There is a partial index at the Illinois State Archives, but this index is not online.

The 1865 Illinois State Census images are available online at HistoryKat--here you can browse the actual images. The census is head of household only and in the case of most rural counties the lack of an index is not a significant problem if the township or area of residence is known with some degree of precision. Using the census is easier if the researcher has access to a township map for the counties under study.

We'll be posting the results from my searches in the Adams County, Illinois, 1865 census over the next few days.

18 September 2007

1885 Colorado Census

I've found my 3rd great-grandfather's sister living with her son and his family in Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado, in the 1880 census.

L. U. Albers is listed as a merchant in the image shown here which is a partial copy from the 1880 Census (page 157A of Enumeration District 7). The family had only lived in Colorado a few years as all the children, including the youngest who was two years old, were listed as being born in Illinois.

Antje Albers, shown in the second image, is listed as L. U.'s 69 year old mother. Antje's maiden name was Antje Ehmen, born in 1811 in Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany. Her brother Johann Goldenstein (1814-1891) was my third great-grandfather. He remained in Wrisse and did not emigrate.

Historykat has released the 1885 census for Colorado and my next goal is to try and find her in that record.

17 September 2007

Allen County Public Library Research Trip-May 2008

We have set the dates for our annual research trip to the Allen
County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana: May 28 to June 1, 2008.

This trip is sponsored by the St. Charles County, Missouri
Genealogical Society and St. Charles Community College in St.
Charles, Missouri. Trip participants can either ride the bus from
suburban St. Louis, Missouri, or join us by driving themselves to Ft.
Wayne (drivers pay a lower fee). Our trip prices will be pretty
similar to last year and information will be posted within the month
regarding fees, deadlines, etc. We just wanted to make our "regular"
trip goes aware of the dates so they could mark their calendar. Of
course, we would welcome new trip members as well. The St. Charles
group is really a good group--we have a good time and get research
done as well.

More information will be posted on our website at:

We'd love to have you join us!

Ohio Genealogical Society--19 April 2008

I'll be attending the 2008 Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. More details to come.

Posting Estate Notices in 1918

Notices of the estate settlement were posted in 5 places for my ancestor's 1918 estate settlement:

Two local banks.
Two local meat markets.
and what appears to be a harness shop.

The banks did not surprise me, but I was a little surprised that notices would be posted at the two meat markets and a harness shop (the 1920 census for Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, indicates a 69 year old Joseph Radford living on Marion Street and working as a harness maker).

What is really interesting about John Trautvetter's estate settlement is that a copy of the actual sale bill is included in the estate papers.

Can You Read It?

The bottom name is Helena Ensmig[er]. Can you read the top one?
These two signatures come from an 1917-1918 estate record in Hancock County, Illinois.
They are sisters and they are my aunts, but that hint will only help a very select number of people.

Can You Read It?

This signature comes from an estate record in 1917-1918 in Hancock County, Illinois.
Any thoughts?
(I do know the answer to this one.)

How Long Does a $50 Tombstone Last?

This entry is from the estate settlement of Mimke Habben, indicating his tombstone cost the estate $50.00. The burial was in 1877 and based upon the estate records, it seems reasonable that the stone was erected within a year or so after his death in Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois on 11 February 1877.

Habben was buried in the Barnes Cemetery, Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. This small cemetery hasn't had a burial in decades and is located south of the much larger (and still used) Moss Ridge Cemetery. I was there on Sunday and had not seen the stone in over ten years. It was a good thing I transcribed the stone years ago when I first learned of its existence.

The inscription was very weathered and the stone had fallen off its mounting. It was laying right next to the mounting. The stone of Habben's wife Antje (who died in 1900) had met a similar fate. It too was resting next the mounting.

Transcribe those stones before it is too late. No source lasts forever.

Records for those working for the Post Office

Is it possible your ancestor worked for the post office? If so, it is possible that HistoryKat has digitized some records containing information on your ancestor.

The following is a list of the databases on HistoryKat that cover the United States Post Office.

  • Index to Names, Aliases, and Histories of Postal Offenders: A list of the names and aliases of postal-law violators on record with the Post Office Department.
  • Indexes to Rosters of Railway Postal Clerks, ca. 1883 - ca. 1902: Alphabetical lists of railway postal clerks and a list of the railway postal routes.
  • Journal of Hugh Finlay: This journal was kept by the Surveyor of the Post Offices and Post Roads on the Continent of North America during his 310-mile journey from September 1773 to June 1774.
  • Benjamin Franklin Ledger: This General Post Office account book was kept by Benjamin Franklin from 1770-1772 and shows some early monetary transactions of the Post Office.
  • Postal entries from A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, 1829 and 1831: The entries are from the postal portion of the Register and include a list of postmasters as well as postal contractors.
  • Record of First Returns Received from Postmasters, 1789-1832: These documents include a list of postmasters, date of appointment, and, in some cases, the rate of pay.
  • Record Cards of Letter Carriers Separated from the Postal Service, 1863-1899: Images of 3x5 cards indicating the post office name, letter carrier's name, date of appointment, and date and cause of separation from employment.
  • Record of Appointment of Substitute Clerks in First- and Second-Class Post Offices, 1899-1905: Registers of substitute clerks including the date of appointment.
  • Record of Appointment of Substitute Mail Carriers in First- and Second-Class Post Offices, 1885-1903: Registers of mail carriers including the name, post office, and date of appointment.

14 September 2007

American Revolutionary at Footnote and HistoryKat

One of the additions to the HistoryKat site is the Historical register of officers of the Continental Army during the war of the revolution, April 1775, to December, 1783 by Francis Heitman.
Part of the screen image from HistoryKat is shown in this post, along with the entry for Angus Rucker, a distant relative. This book is available as part of the HistoryKat collection and is searchable by name.

Of course, research never ends and I remembered that Footnote.com is also working on digitizing and indexing Revolutionary War Pensions as a part of their American Revolutionary War Collection

The Rucker pension is quite lengthy and can be downloaded completely from the Footnote.com website. The image shown in this post is but a small portion of Angus Rucker's pension file. Also note that the image from the pension shown here has been significantly reduced in size for webposting. The original image printed nicely on my printer--better than a microfilm copy usually does.

Using several websites in tandem with each other results in more raw data and more information about the desired family.

Subscriptions to HistoryKat or to Footnote.com are reasonably priced.

1926 List of Postal Offenders

HistoryKat U.S. Postal Records includes a neat book that I had never seen before: Index to Names, Aliases, and Histories of Postal Offenders. It was originally printed by the United States Post Office Department in 1926.

The screen shot in this entry shows part of the title page of this book, which has been filmed and is also available online at Historykat.

The example taken from the introduction indicates the interpretation of one entry. Of course there may be additional records on this person if they were prosecuted, particularly court or newspaper records. And chances are, if they are on this list there was prosecution.

12 September 2007

Viewing difficulties with Footnote?

As a really quick suggestion:

If you are having difficulties viewing images in Visit Footnote.com, try clearing your cache, making certain you have the most recent version of Flash, your browser, etc.

If that does not work, try downloading another webbrowser and using that, such as Netscape or Firefox. That way you don't waste your Footnote free trial time configuring your browser, etc.
Personally I like having multiple browsers on my computer. There are times I want to get something DONE without dealing with technical issues.

Is this George Trautvetter?

I've been having fun exploring the Illinois State Census for 1855 on HistoryKat. Some references I had seen years ago on microfilm and others I had never taken the time to search.
My search of the 1855 Illinois State Census for Rocky Run Township, Hancock County, Illinois did not locate an entry that was immediately determined to be that of George Trautvetter, my 3rd great-grandfather.
The image in this blog entry is one that I think is George. An upcoming column will discuss my attempt to "prove" this is George Trautvetter.

Footnote featured in Salt Lake Tribune

There is a neat article on Footnote.com in the Salt Lake Tribune on 10 September. It provides some nice background history on Footnote and information on its digitization process.

11 September 2007

Running for FGS Board

I am running for my second term on the FGS Board. FGS supports a variety of activities geared towards helping genealogical societies help themselves and their members. More information about FGS can be found on the website, including information on membership in FGS.

My goals as a board member are to work on ways to support smaller, rural societies. Records access and preservation are crucial at all levels and continued support of smaller societies is vital to make certain that records in remote areas do not fall between the cracks.

Subscription Plans on Footnote.com

When I first subscribed to Footnote, I started out with the monthly plan. There is also an annual plan, which of course is a cheaper price per month, but I wasn't ready at that time to commit--life sometimes intervenes.

Footnote has a Footnote subscription options page which outlines the prices for both the monthly and annual subscription. Keep track of when your subscription is due to expire and decide a few days before if you want to continue or not. Footnote's a neat little site, but don't wait until the last day to make a renewal decision--life intervenes.

Footnote offers a variety of National Archives microfilm with an ongoing indexing program-many of these films have never been indexed before--a great source for the genealogist.

NARA's plan for digitzing National Archives Records



"The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is seeking public comment on its draft Plan for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016. This draft plan outlines our planned strategies to digitize and make more accessible the historic holdings from the National Archives of the United States.

The document is divided into several sections. The first section, INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND, provides information on NARA's mission, our archival holdings, and our past experience with digitization, to give you the context of the draft Plan for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016"

NARA is even considering partnering with private, public, and other organizations in an effort to preserve as much paper records as they can. NARA's agreements with Footnote.com are a part of that effort.

Read more about the proposal on the NARA website.

10 September 2007

Fred, Tena, and John Ufkes ca. 1920

Thanks to my great-aunt Ruth, I have a picture of my maternal grandfather, John H. Ufkes (1917-2003) and his parents. My great-grandmother Tena Ufkes (1895-1986, actually born Trientje Janssen) and Fred Ufkes (1893-1960) are also pictured.

Granddad looks to be about 3 or 4, which would make the picture taken around 1920. The 1920 Census shows the Ufkes family living in Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois, on a rental farm---the farm was actually rented from Fred's father Johann Ufkes (1838-1924).

Don't neglect to contact all family members who might have pictures. And if they are nice enough to share with you, don't forget to send a thank you note.

saving images from footnote

Saving Images from Footnote.com is a little different than from some other websites.

First of all to view the images you must have a recent version of Flash installed.

Then click on the "download" icon as shown in the image (it is on the right hand part of the screen). Name the image when the "save as" box comes up and make certain your file name ends with .jpg

Personally I only use letters, numbers and underscores in my file names--no spaces or any "non-standard" characters.

Others with suggestions on image saving in Footnote.com are welcome to post suggestions. Currently each image from a file has to be downloaded one image at a time.

Dates in FTM 2008

I had some individuals in my GEDCOM files whose dates of births were the month and day only without a year. FTM 2008 apparently decided to assign a year or something. My great-aunt, for whom I only had a day and month of birth was assigned a year of 4713 BC. I noted most of the others were assigned this year as well.

Gives new meaning to the phrase "old as the hills."

Not to mention my FTM 2008 runs slow on both my older machine at home and my newer machine at work.

Jane Wyman (Sara[h] Fulks) in 1930

Actress Jane Wyman is enumerated in 1930 as Sara Fulks at 2850 Leeward Avenue in Los Angeles, California. The 18 year old Missouri native is living with her 60 year old widowed mother. Neither have an occupation listed. They are apparently renting an apartment at 50 dollars a month and have no radio.

If anyone can find her in 1920, feel free to post a comment. Of course, we aren't posting images!

07 September 2007

1865 Illinois Census

The 1865 Illinois State Census images are available online at HistoryKat. The currently unindexed images are fairly easy to navigate--I found the 1865 census reference for two of my ancestors in Hancock County, Illinois, relatively easily using the online images.

Keep in mind that the names are unindexed and are organized by township. Also keep in mind that the townships might not be listed in any particular order. The ones I used for Hancock County were not in alphabetical order or in geographic order. Using the images is very much like the microfilm, only much better. The zoom and magnification tools make the images much easier to see---easier than using microfilm.

I would suggest before using any of the censuses online that the researcher have a map of the county and the townships within the county. A google search for "blahblah county map" should bring up the desired result or the USGenWeb page for the county may have a link to a county map as well.

The image shows two of my third great-grandfathers James Rampley and William Newman living as neighbors in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois in 1865. They were not in-laws yet...James' son Riley would not marry William's daughter Nancy until a few years after his 1865 return home from the Civil War.

The enumerations for James raised a few questions which we'll discuss in a future post.

The headings for the 1865 census can be viewed clearly in this transcription from Hamilton County.

World War II Draft Registrion from Selective Service

At long last, I received a copy of my maternal grandfather's World War Two Draft Card received from the Selective Service Administration. In addition to his card, I also requested and received his classification record, a summary of which I'll post later. The back of his card provided his height and weight and other physical characteristics.

This is the earliest signature I have for Granddad and interestinly enough it pretty much looks the same here as it did 60 years later. I can't say the same for mine.

06 September 2007

What is at HistoryKat?

We've gotten a partial list of the titles at HistoryKat for those who are interested:

U.S. Military Records

A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion by Frederick H. Dyer
Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903
Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April 1775, to December, 1783 by Francis B. Heitman. New, Revised, and Enlarged Edition. Washington: Rare Book Shop pub. Co., 1914
Returns of Killed and Wounded in Battles or Engagements with Indians and British and Mexican Troops, 1790-1848
War of 1812 Military Bounty Land Warrants, 1815-1858
HistoryKat State and Territorial Census Records
Colorado State Census, 1885
Illinois Territorial Census, 1810
Illinois Territorial Census, 1818
Illinois State Census, 1820
Illinois State Census, 1825
Illinois State Census, 1830
Illinois State Census, 1835
Illinois State Census, 1840
Illinois State Census, 1845
Illinois State Census, 1855
Illinois State Census, 1865
Oklahoma Territorial Census, 1890
Wisconsin Territorial Census, 1836
Wisconsin Territorial Census, 1838
Wisconsin Territorial Census, 1846
Wisconsin Territorial Census, 1847
HistoryKat U.S. Postal Records
Index to Names, Aliases, and Histories of Postal Offenders, 1926
Indexes to Rosters of Railway Postal Clerks, ca. 1883 - ca. 1902
Record of First Returns Received from Postmasters, October 1789-July 1818
Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1814-1824
Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1824-1828
Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1828-1832
Record of Appointment of Substitute Clerks in First- and Second-Class Post Offices, 1899-1905
Record of Appointment of Substitute Mail Carriers in First- and Second-Class Post Offices, 1885-1903
Record Cards of Letter Carriers Separated from the Postal Service, 1863-1899
HistoryKat U.S. Government Employee Records
A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1829
A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1831
List of HistoryKat Data Sets

Membership in Historykat is currently around $25 a year. These datasets have complete digital images available---check individual databases to see which are indexed. A nice set of databases to add to an online genealogical collection.

Sample images are available on the Historykat site and we'll be posted some research suggestions from the content as time allows.

Trying Other Software

We (actually I) will be posting my experiences with several genealogical software packages over the next several months, including FTM 2008, Rootsmagic, PAF, and others. Time only allows me to utilize so many packages. If you have a favorite program or a suggestion, please let me know (mjnrootdig@gmail.com) and I'll see if I can add it to the list.

My work will be on smaller projects, mainly focusing on data entry, managing research tasks and goals, and the creation of charts, forms, etc. I won't be experimenting with large datasets. I'm working on one family for a DAR application, one family for an FFO application, and one family because I'm hopelessly stuck and need to document fully 3-4 generations of the family. It is hoped that the data entry and program use during these research projects will give me a feel for how the program works out in the field. Suggestions are welcomed. I'm trying to avoid a cut and paste job on marketing and press release information. Stay tuned.

Is That Obituary Misleading?

Ancestry.com ran my "tip" on obituaries and the responses from readers have been interesting. Of course newspaper obituaries are good source of information, but they must be used with care. Obituaries are by their very nature a secondary source and since information may be given under a time of stress, details may not be remembered accurately either.

Never correct an obituary when typing it into your database, but clearly note known errors in the notes of your software program or in a commentary on the obituary itself.


Matt Helm at HistoryKat has an interesting assortment of image databases not available on most other sites.

There is a variety of information, including some state census records (including Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), military officers from the 1820s-1830s, the Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Postal Databases, and more. Not all are indexed, but images are browsable.

A complete list of HistoryKat's content can be seen here.

The price for an annual subscription is very reasonable---currently $24.95. Browse their content list to see what they have. I've known the owners for some time and their site fills a nice niche at a reasonable price.