25 February 2008

The Baby was Thick and Fat--Clues in 1880s Letters to Nebraska

Regular blog readers know that I recently was given digital copies of letters written by my ancestor, Lina Ufkes. Juliana Smith over at Ancestry.com just blogged my article on those letters.

The article discusses how the letters were analyzed for further information and what types of clues they contained. Also included is a general discussion of how such letters should and should not be transcribed and ideas for how to utilize them.

The Baby was Thick and Fat: Clues in 1880s Letters to Nebraska can be viewed on the Ancestry.com blog.

22 February 2008

Links for DuPage Conference

I'll be speaking at the DuPage County Illinois Genealogy Conference this Saturday and thought this would be a good place to post some links to sites I'll be using while at the conference.

BYU Library Book Images and search interface.

Footnote-there are some free things

Social Security Death Index at Rootsweb


New databases are free for 10 days—some things are free for good.

Genealogy Bank
You can see snippets of some newspaper items at no charge
Genealogy Bank

Books at Google

Worldvital records
Most things are free the first ten days.


Family Search Labs


I didn't mention the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress

If I forgot something or there are questions, post a response or email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com

More information about the conference is available online.

19 February 2008

More on Searching the Family Histories at BYU

Full text searches of all the family histories at the Family History Archive at Brigham Young University can also be conducted (in addition to the searches on names included in the subject headings). A nice feature and one that can be easily missed if one does not scroll down the page far enough (grin).

A search for "Rampley" resulted in a few hits, one of which was this biography from a Bedford County History. While I already had located the biography, this full text search would have made it easy to find in seconds--much easier than the first time I located it.

Of course, tracking your research is important. Part of the post here also includes part of the title page from the 1884 publication. And don't forget the page number.

Thomas Chaney is my ancestor--I descend through his daughter Elizabeth Chaney Rampley.

BYU's Family History Archives

The Family History Archive at Brigham Young University has digitzed a number of family histories and placed them on their website.

I found one book that I already had used years ago, but it is nice to know I can easily access it if I want to refer to pages that I did not copy originally.

A clip from page 19 of the DeMoss Family in America is a part of this post (John DeMoss born 1718 is my ancestor). Of course, be certain to doublecheck anything you find in a published family history. These are excellent resources, but they are still compiled sources. The images are full-text searchable and pages can be viewed using Adobe Acrobat. No membership or account is required to use the site.

18 February 2008

Butte, Montana Seminar 19 and 20 Sept. 2008

I will be lecturing at the Montana State Genealogical Society Conference in Butte, Montana, on 19 and 20 September 2008. Topics have not yet been chosen, but additional information will be posted as it becomes available. More information on the society can be found on their website.

Bureau County, Illinois Genealogical Society Presentation 27 March 2008

I will be presenting the evening lecture "How to use Ancestry and a few Other Web Sites" for the Bureau County (Illinois) Genealogical Society on 27 March 2008.

The Society meets at 7:00 in their library at 629 S. Main Street in Princeton, Illinois.

Their website hasn't been updated for a little while, but more information on the society can be seen here.

Why You Should Really Track Your Research

I have three people I cannot find in the 1870 census.

One I think must have simply been overlooked. She should have been living in southwestern Hancock County, Illinois, in Walker, Rocky Run, or perhaps Warsaw Townships. Sophia Trautvetter was born in 1808 in Germany and was Rocky Run in 1860 with her family in the census. She died in 1877 and is buried in Tioga. I simply cannot find her, but no evidence indicates she returned to Germany or moved elsewhere. Her children were all living in those townships in 1870.

The other two are individuals whom I'm not exactly certain where they lived. Most likely it was west-central Illinois, but they could have temporarily moved further west only to return. Johann Ufkes (born 1838 in Ostfriesland, Germany) and his sister Antje cannot be found. From 1880 until his death in 1924, Johann is in Hancock County, Illinois. He immigrated in 1869 and lived initially in Adams County, Illinois, near Golden. Antje also immigrated before 1870, but cannot be located either.

Searching for the Ufkes siblings is an excellent situation where the researcher needs to track every online search as it is conducted in order to make certain a specific search has not been overlooked. Otherwise it is VERY EASY to go in circles and overlook the same search set of parameters that could be successful. And without tracking how you are searching, it is difficult for anyone to help you and provide suggestions that you have NOT already done.

Really Tracking Your Research

In the old days of genealogy, we were told to fill out "research logs" where we tracked the sources we used, what names or families we looked for in these sources and the results of our search. Tracking what we did as we did it was a laudable goal.

I'm just concerned now that with the advent of searchable databases, most genealogists are not coming anywhere close to tracking what they search for in a specific database or on a given website.

If I am searching for a family in an online 1860 census index, am I keeping track of all the necessary variants of the first name and the last name? If I fail to locate the likely head of household, am I searching for all the other likely household members? Do I write down all the variants for the last name and think about what is the best combination of wildcard and soundex searches for those names? Do I do the same with the first names? Am I searching for all nicknames, diminutives, etc.?

If the likely residence of a family geographically small, I can search the census manually. If it is large, this may be possible or it may be impractical. I've seen articles where it has been said someone cannot be found in a census. I rarely see where the specific unsuccessful searches are listed out in an attempt to defend the "can't find them statement." If the census is searched manually then listing the procedure really is not necessary (but the source is). But if a manual search is not done and it is said "she can't be found" then the search parameters should be included.

The genealogical community is more aware of the importance of sources than they were twenty-five or so years ago. Now we need to work on our tracking of search parameters, particularly when we are indicating someone "can't be found" and a manual search is impratical.

Lina Ufkes Letter from 20 Sept 1887

Thanks to all who submitted suggestions on the name mentioned at the bottom of this letter written by Lina Ufkes on 20 September 1887 with a location of Basco, Illinois. In order to help some read the name I have posted more of the letter here. Clicking on the image will pull up a larger one that should be easier to read.

The name I'm "stuck" on is the one in the fifth line from the bottom, which looks like "Frieden" but may be something else.
We'll post updates as we determine to whom Lina is referring.

15 February 2008

Phillip Troutfetter Acquitted

While it's not news anymore, it is news to me. I've been writing about and researching my relative Philip Troutfetter who was involved in some goings on in Colorado, Cuba, and Columbia in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

The only "legal" trouble he apparently had stemmed from his mother-in-law. This article appeared in the Valley Falls Vindicator, Valley Falls, Kansas, 21 August 1903 and is on worldvitalrecords.com. We will continue to post more about Troutfetter's affairs as we discover them.

This was discovered on World Vital Records website today--still in their free section. Their recent databases are free for a short time--try them out.

Vigo County, Indiana, Records disposal?

This just came across my email:

VIGO COUNTY, Ind- A building in downtown Terre Haute is storing more than a century's worth of Vigo County's history. Now commissioners have decided to throw part of it away.

More details are here:

We don't normally try and keep track of all the genealogy "news" here, but thought this worth mentioning. If you have Vigo County ancestors, get busy and start contacting people to work towards a solution.

1887-Shooting of Dirk (Frid?) in Enne Hoffman's barn?

This is part of a letter Lina Ufkes wrote to family in Nebraska in 1887, when she was living near Basco, in Hancock County, Illinois.

Starting with the word "Dirk" in the first line, it basically indicates that Dirk (can't read last name) shot himself in the barn of Enne Koffman and that an "English girl" is in mourning.

I'm trying to determine who shot himself in the barn--needing the last name. Lina doesn't really indicate how long ago the shooting took place or where it took place, but her letter was dated 20 September 1887. My assumption (which may be incorrect) is that the event took place in Hancock or Adams Counties in Illinois.

If these details do not ring a bell, I'll start looking at death records in 1887 and newspapers for the same time period.

Finding Noentje's Passenger List

Noentje Lena Grass had been one of those immigrant ancestors I could never find on a manifest. Virtually all of my Ostfriesen ancestors have been found--and I have over twenty who immigrated between 1850 and 1883.

I think I've located the Backemoor, Ostfriesland, native in the New York Passenger lists.

Years ago when I searched, I focused too much on her first name and the variants such as Nontje, Nantje, etc. The recent discovery of letters she wrote in 1887 indicated she might have gone by Lena as well.

Searching the passenger lists for Lena/Lina Gross/Grass brought no results.

I finally gave up on the first name when searching. I went back and revisited her 1900 census entry (it is the last one for her as she died in 1902). On that census (which easily could be wrong) she indicated she came to the US in 1873. I performed the search as shown in the image with this post.

This entry struck my interest.

And when seeing the actual image, it is easy to see how the entry could have been interpreted as Luie. However, it really does appear to be to be Lina.

Next on my list is to look at the other names on the manifest and see if any of them "ring a bell" in my head.

And I will pay close attention particularly to any last or first names that sound Ostfriesen.

We've looked for great-great-grandma for years on passenger lists and I'm just excited to find her (I think).

And it is always important to track your searches as you do them, so you do not repeat searches already done and so that all reasonable searches are conducted.

14 February 2008

Google Pulls Up Ancestry.com Search

This was discovered totally by accident--which is how most things are discovered.

A search on google just now for "bernard geissler" brought up numerous hits, including search results on Ancestry.com-the 6th result on the image shown in this post.

This is the first time I have noticed Ancestry.com search results coming up on a Google search. Has anyone else noticed this?

Minnesota Death Index

In working on an article for the Ancestry.com blog, I needed to do some neglected followup work on a cousin who died in Minnesota. It had been a while since I had used the online Minnesota Death Certificates Index.
After I found the reference I needed, I went back and "wasted" some time playing with the "mother's maiden name" box for several last names I have. A nice feature of this site; I found several relatives who had been "lost" simply by entering in their mother's maiden names and a few I had NEVER thought to look for in Minnesota. Too bad they didn't index father's last name as that would have caught a few more, probably. But I'm not complaining.

12 February 2008

Family Search Labs adds some WW2 draft cards

Family Search Record Search has added some of the WW2 draft cards for the "Old Men's Draft" for those men born between 28 April 1877 and before 16 February 1897.

At the time of this writing, the project is 29% complete, including the states of:
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

Cards are arranged pretty much alphabetically by state and users have to browse these images--at present there is no "click and get it right away" index. However, this still is an excellent set of records to have available at no cost.

The sample image is from Peter Verikios, my wife's step-grandfather. I've got a whole bunch more to find in the Illinios set of data. I had searched these before, but time never allowed me to search for all the cards I really wanted.

11 February 2008

Genealogy A to Z

Ancestry has published my "Genealogy from A to Z" on their blog. Check it out and feel free to leave comments or additional suggestions of your own.

08 February 2008

Lina Ufkes Letter 1880s

An Ufkes cousin has sent me digital copies of two or three letters written by my great-great-grandmother, Noentjelina (Lina) Ufkes in the 1880s.

There are four pages of letters and my initial inspection leads me to believe there are actually two or three letters. One is dated "Basco d. 20 September 1887." The letters are nor reproduced here, but I have included images of the signatures from two of the letters.

The recipient of the letters is not known, but the relative who provided them to me believes her grandmother obtained them from John Harms, son of Herman and Antje (Ufkes) Harms. Antje was a sister to Johann (John) Ufkes, Lina's husband. The Harms were married near Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois, and later moved to Nebraska.
Noentjelina was born in Backemoor, Ostfriesland, Germany, in 1848 and died on the family farm near Basco, Hancock County, Illinois in 1902. Other family members are mentioned in the letters, including apparently some of Lina's children, some of her husband's Habben relatives, Tonjes Goldenstein (not related to the Ufkes' but related to me), and others in the area.
We haven't posted the entire letters here, but we are working on getting translations and hope to have those done in the near future. Anyone who is interested in the letters or in translating them can email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

01 February 2008

Not quite genealogy...but a tombstone is involved

This picture was taken at a genealogy conference in Oshawa, Ontario, a few years ago. I could not resist taking a picture as it had a math reference besides being an unusual tombstone (college campuses typically don't have tombstones near their buildings, but I imagine there are exceptions).
Napier's Bones are one of those tools used in the past that are no longer used today, often like some of the items one finds in an old estate inventory.

California Voter's Registrations at Ancestry.com

Ancestry recently released a database of California Voter's Registration lists 1900-1968. This is a good thing.
But, I'm not thrilled with the search box. There is no soundex option, nor can I search for a specific year. Using a keyword will bring up that year and any person who has that "year" as a part of their address. Still too much to wade through for some names. I had several descendants of my third-great-grandmother I was hoping to locate, but the current search interface is weaker than most on the Ancestry.com site.
Complaining here probably won't make a difference, but I feel better.

Researching Your European Origins Online

This page (which I don't link to anywhere) gets quite a bit of traffic, so I thought I'd mention it here.

Researching Your European Origins Online http://www.rootdig.com/european2.html is a page I use as a part of my lecture on this same topic. It is not meant to be comprehensive and is more intended to be a starting point for further work. Maintaining a page with hundreds of links is not something I care to do, but this is a good place to get started and provides links to pages I use when I'm working on a family from "across the pond."

Mailing lists are especially helpful. The Ostfriesen mailing list at Rootsweb is one of the best around.