24 April 2008

1898 German Directory

The actual title is Handels- und Gewerbe-Adressbuch der Provinz Hannover, des Grossherzogthums Oldenburg und des Freistaats Bremen, 1898 and it was recently released at Ancestry.com.

My direct line ancestors were in the United States by 1898, but I did find a couple of uncles who remained in Germany in these directories. Some of the entries for Wrisse are shown in this post, Johann and Jurgen Goldenstein are brothers of my ancestor Focke Goldenstein.

Also shown in this post are some of the entries from Holtrop (the left hand column of page 1341). Eilt Ufkes was a brother to another ancestor, Johann Ufkes.

The images are searchable at Ancestry.com. Most of the entries have to be searched by last name only.

23 April 2008

Trientje Eilts Post calligraphy

This is part of the inscription in a book that Trientje Eilts Post (1808-1877) made for her daughter Annebken Hinrichs. The book was given to Annebken in 1851 when the family was living in Holtrop, Ostfriesland, Germany.
The book is in the possession of a family member who graciously scanned the document and shared it with me. This is only a part of the inscription. There is a short verse and a date as well.
We will try and post a copy of the entire image to the site late, but the file size will have to be reduced first.

22 April 2008

Still Room on 3rd annual Salt Lake City Family History Research Trip

We still have a few openings on our 3rd annual genealogical research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. We stay at the Plaza, right next to the library and are in Salt Lake City for one week of non-stop research. We have a good time, but everyone is kept busy with research and organizing their family history. We are already using our members-only website to prepare and I give presentations and consultations while at the library.

For more information on our trip, visit our website at:


or email Michael at mjnrootdig@gmail.com

Annual Ft. Wayne, Indiana Genealogy Library Trip-May 2008

There is still room in our annual Family History Research Trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, beginning on May 28th and continuing through June 1st. The trip is sponsored by the St. Charles County [Missouri] Genealogical Society and St. Charles Community College .Those living in the greater metro St. Louis area can ride the bus. Those who wish to join us outside the greater St. Louis area can drive themselves (or fly) and pay a lower registration fee.

More information is available on our website at:


17 April 2008

Droin Collection At Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com recently released the Droin Collection on their website. The indexing is not yet complete, but the project is quite impressive and a nice addition for those with French-Canadian ties.

The image that is a part of this post comes from the Droin Collection and is the baptismal entry for Cesarie Robidoux. The entry is from St-Constant and is from the year 1827. Her parents are Alexis Robixoux and his wife Rosalie Rheume. Those wishing to use these records will need to brush up on their Latin. When time allows we will post a translation here on our site.

Cesarie is my wife's 3rd great-grandmother. Cesarie's family settled in Clinton County, New York where she died.

16 April 2008

Getting Ready for OGS

I'll be making two presentations at the OGS Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Saturday 19 April.

Regular site visitors or readers of my Ancestry.com column are welcome to come up and introduce themselves.

14 April 2008

The Census Taker Cometh

The Census Taker Cometh
(originally published at Ancestry.com in 2004)
It is June 3, 1860.

Anna Gufferman, who is twelve years old, sees a stranger approaching her small home. He looks reasonably dressed and does not appear to be carrying a weapon. Illinois is not as wild a place as Nebraska where her cousins live, but mother has warned her that one can never be too careful. She shoos her five younger siblings in the house as the man approaches.

He approaches the front yard and calls out for the man or the woman of the house and says he is here to ask questions for something called the “census.” Anna is wary of calling for her parents if there is no need. When Father and the boys are in the field, he does not like to be disturbed, not even if Grandfather comes. Mother is down at the creek by herself, having left Anna with the children. The weekly washing is one of the few times Mother does not have several small children underfoot, and Anna is hesitant to bother her if it is not absolutely necessary. Anna decides this “census” does not require her to disturb her parents. She tells the census taker that she is very familiar with the family and the goings on in the household. After all, she is twelve years old and responsible for several younger siblings.

The census taker asks Anna several questions, which she frankly thinks are none of his business. He tells her that the government needs to know this information and that it is important it be accurate. Anna does the best she can to answer his questions. He starts by asking her the names of her parents and her siblings.

“It is a good thing my parents are not here,” Anna thinks to herself. While her English is rudimentary, it is considerably better than the handful of words her parents have managed to learn. Determined to impress the census man with her knowledge of English, she indicates that her parents are not Hinrich and Anneke Gufferman, but that they are rather Henry and Ann. Her other siblings all have names more German sounding than Anna's. She decides to provide the census taker with English versions of their names, just as she did with those of her parents.

Anna is not quite certain how old her parents and her siblings are, but the man seems to insist on knowing their age precisely. Their christening names and dates of birth would be in the family bible, but Mother would fly into an absolute rage if Anna got the bible herself and began leafing through it. Deciding it was not worth the risk of her mother catching her in the act, Anna guesses as to the age of her parents. Despite her uncertainty, she speaks clearly and distinctly to convince the census man that she knows the ages precisely. He seems pleased to get the information.

He then asks where her parents were born. Anna knows they were born in Germany and were married there. Those questions are easy. The census man then asks where she and her siblings were born. These questions are not so easy. She cannot remember which of her older brothers were born in Germany and which ones were born in Illinois. She remembers that her parents lived for a while in Ohio before coming to Illinois. And frankly, she is getting tired of all the questions. Consequently she tells the census taker that her two older brothers were born in Germany, the next was born in Ohio and that all the remaining children were born in Illinois.

Anna decides to give hurried answers to the rest of the census man's questions. He has taken time away from her chores and Mother will not be happy if the morning tasks are not done when she returns. Occasionally impatient with Anna's delayed answers, the census man seems pleased when Anna begins answering the questions more quickly. Eager to please and knowing she should return to her chores, Anna speedily answers the remaining questions, paying little concern to the accuracy of her answers.

It is June 25, 1880.

The census taker arrives at the home of Hinrich and Anneke Gufferman. It is a different place than his fellow enumerator encountered in 1860. Hinrich and Anneke have two children at home, the youngest son who helps his father farm and a daughter who works as a hired girl for a Swedish couple up the road. There is still plenty of work for Anneke to perform around the house, but no longer meeting the needs of twelve children makes her life less harried than it was before.

Anneke invites the census taker into her kitchen and after he indicates some of the information he needs, she goes and gets the family bible, which contains the names and dates of birth for her husband and her children. She opens the bible to the appropriate page and tells the census taker there is the information. The entries are written in Hinrich's bold, clean script and the census taker only has difficulty in reading the name of the youngest daughter Trientje, which he copies down as Fruita. Otherwise the odd-sounding names are easy to read and the census taker simply copies them into his record.

There are additional questions and Anneke provides the answers as best she can. In Germany, her husband was a day laborer and had moved several times looking for work. When asked where her husband's parents were born she is not certain; Hinrich's mother died when he was a baby and the father had died shortly after their marriage. Anneke told him the parents were born in Germany. Anneke was not certain of her father's place of birth, either. He had died before her birth and had been a soldier. Anneke had been named for her father's mother, with a first name that was unusual for the area of Germany where she was from. Thinking her father was Dutch, she told the census taker that her father was born in Holland. But she was not really certain.

It is June 16, 1900.

The census taker comes to the door of Hinrich Gufferman. It has been a month since his beloved Anneke has died. Hinrich does not know the census taker. He swears at him in German in a booming voice and the enumerator senses that he will get no answers. Gufferman's son Johann lives a few miles up the road, fortunately in the same township. The son had told the census taker that Hinrich was taking the death very badly and was only speaking to a few family members. Johann told the census taker to come back if information was needed on the father. It looked like the enumerator would have to take Johann up on his offer.

Ever wondered why some census entries look like creative accounting? Have you ever thought about what actually transpired when the census taker arrived at your ancestor's home?
requests to reprint/publish can be directed to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com

07 April 2008

Footnote workshop in St. Charles 12 April-openings

There is still room in my workshop on using Footnote.com on 12 April 2008 at the community college in St. Peters, Missouri (suburban St. Louis). Attendees will have access to the site for the duration of the workshop and there will be time for searching and self-discovery.

Registration is limited. Please contact me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com if you wish to register as we are getting very close to the dateand I will forward your email to the representative from the St. Charles County [Missouri] Genealogical Society which is co-sponsoring the workshop with St. Charles Community College. We want to make certain everyone who registers has a spot and a computer wn which to use.

More information is available here:

But please contact me if you would like to come and have not yet signed up.

Omaha workshop attendees--land record handout

The handout from Saturday's session on land records at the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society's annual conference had some page layout issues. Those who need a "clean" copy of the handout can send me an email and I'll tell them where it is located on the web. As "proof" you attended, please tell me how many display screens were in our room ;-)

I enjoyed the conference in Omaha and hope attendees did as well.


05 April 2008

Links and Information from Omaha Workshop

Witter's German-English Primer

LDS Research Guides the "G" section

Main Family Hisory Site

Mailing Lists at Rootsweb.com

World Connect

Translators online

BYU Library Book Images and search interface.
http://www.lib.byu.edu/fhc/Footnote-there are some free things

Social Security Death Index at Rootsweb


WorldVitalRecords.comNew databases are free for 10 days—some things are free for good.

Genealogy BankYou can see snippets of some newspaper items at no charge

Genealogy Bank

Books at Google



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

03 April 2008

A Rose by any other name...

An attendee in a workshop came up to me during a break and asked why I had listed my great-grandmother by her name of Fannie in my genealogical database instead of Francis. After all, her real name was probably Francis and that is how I should list her in my database. I think they were hoping to catch a mistake.

And while I may have mistakes in my genealogical database, this entry was intentional.

Francis Iona Rampley was born in May of 1883 near Breckendridge, Hancock County, Illinois. That is what is on her birth certificate. However...

Virtually every other record lists her as Fannie.

The 1900 census entry in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois (shown here) lists her as "Fany." Here she is listed with her widowed mother, Nancy Rampley, and several of her siblings.

The 1910 census lists her as "Frances" but the 1920 and 1930 list her as Fannie.

She used Fannie on her marriage license in 1903, when she signed her name several times in her husband's estate settlement papers, and she is listed in the Social Security Death Index as Fannie Neill (the one who died in 1965).

And that's what she had put on her tombstone.

All of which are good enough for me.

I do make a note in my genealogical database indicating which records list Francis. However, the name I choose to use as her "main" name in my database is Fannie.

I am on the flip side of this myself. I have never used the name "Mike." Nothing wrong with it, but I choose not to use it. I was never called Mike growing up and have never signed it or written it anywhere. And I have been known to ignore people who refer to me by that name. Personally, I think the name by which one is called is a personal choice. To assume someone wants to be called something else is a very personal affront and assumes a level of familarity with the person that is not necessarily true. So if any of my descendants enter my name in their database as "Mike" I'm try and find some way from the afterlife to change it.

European Quick Links

Every so often, I discover something that I put on my website for a lecture or a conference and immediately forget about. I hate to rattle off lists of websites in a lecture and many times make a website so attendees can use it instead of manually typing in links.

A while back I gave a lecture on "European Research Online." It was necessarily broad. The links we used are here for those who are inclined. Please let me know (mjnrootdig@gmail.com) if any are bad--I checked most, but one or two bad ones might have slipped through.

02 April 2008

More Can You Read it?

This one (twice on the same page) comes from a court document in 1904 in Hancock County, Illinois. This individual probably learned to write in the German script.

Go ahead and post a guess as to the name. The typewritten letters should not be a problem.

Can You Read it? One more from the same guy

Just to give a comparison.

Can You Read it?

It has been a while since we have posted one of these. This comes from an 1870 era set of estate papers in Illinois. The writer was a German native, born in the 1820s. Go ahead and post a guess.

Suggestion for GenealogyBank

I like using Genealogy Bank, but I do have a few suggestions:

1) I would like to be able to view more than five hits on one page.

2) I would like a way to "omit" one state from my list of results, particularly in the newspapers. This would greatly facilitate my use of the site, particularly when I have already been through all the Minnesota hits for a certain surname and have eliminated them from consideration.

Going through hits that I know I don't need takes up way to much time in some cases. I can search for a specific state, but sometimes out of state newspapers picked up items and by searching for only one state, I may miss what I am looking for.
Update: A response to this message (privately) indicated that number 1 is in the works and number 2 is not on the agenda right now, but improvements to the search are being made in that direction. (THANKS!)

Using Genealogy for Passwords

Most of have too many passwords. Sometimes we even are forced to change passwords periodically and unable to "reuse" passwords for a specific amount of time. Colleagues at work have suggested using a word and a number after the word, incrementing the number by one each time. Great idea. Not.

If I can't remember whether I used bubbagum12 or bubbagum13 and I enter in the wrong one too many times, I get kicked out.

I designed a different system. I use initials (or names) of relatives and their year of birth. This works better for me as I "know" from memory the name of each ancestor through my great-grandparents with their year of birth. Then my challenge question is simply "so and so" and I know what it means.

For those who say that others might be able to figure it out based upon the challenge question, that is taken care of too. I have "nicknames" for each grandparent that no would (other than my parents) would know. My challenge question is not "Grandma Neill," but rather "Grandma Goose" (not her real nickname), or "Grandma Goose's mother." Then I know to whom I was referring and I can enter the appropriate password.

I just got sick and tired of making up arbitrary passwords I could never remember.

Are You Looking in Surrounding Counties?

I stumbled upon it to be honest.

The Hannibal (Missouri) Public Library has digital images of many county and city directories on their website. While I have no family in that area, I made an interesting discovery. The 1892-1893 directory, actually Stone's Tri-County Directory for 1892-93, is one of the items included on their site. It includes Adams County, Illinois, right across the river and where I do have ancestors. The directories are searchable as well--a nice feature.
It always pays to check out surrounding counties for information that may be relevant to your search, even if your ancestors never lived in those counties and even if those counties cross rivers or state lines.

[the first screen shot shows part of the directory for Golden, Illinois, in Adams County].

Keep in mind that some names may be spelled incorrectly in the directory, which makes searching even more difficult. The partial image here (also from Golden) shows several names, including Ulfert Idens, which should actually be Ulfert Ideus.

The towns are organized alphabetically; I did not notice a table of contents. A little more searching located the entries for Coatsburgh, where I located my 3rd great-grandfather Bernard Dirks.

The Dirks entry got me to wondering about the numbers after the names. I knew they were not section numbers--the numbers only were 1, 2, and 3.

A little more searching led me to the list of abbreviations, something that one needs to look for in any directory of any kind.

The list of abbreviations told me that the 1 after my ancestor's name indicated he owned his farm. The list of abbreviations is included at the end of this post. This directory is really neat and those with Hannibal ancestors will find many more on this site. I was happy to find just one!

01 April 2008

Missouri Death Certificates 1910-1957

It appears as if the Missouri State Archives has completed the digitization of most of the 1910-1957 death certificates for the state.

The image in this post is part of the death certificate for William Lake, who died in Chariton County, Missouri on 1 December 1924.

The nice thing about the free online death certificates is that one can then easily obtain them for extended family members and potentially reveal new clues about the family.

In this case, I was hoping for a little more detail on the parents, or perhaps a different piece of information than I had before. I will keep looking in the index for the rest of the children of John and Charlotte Brown Lake.

There are a variety of records on the Missouri State Archives website. The death records are just one.

And if anyone is related to William Lake, fire off an email. His youngest brother, Granville, is my wife's great-grandfather.

Using Footnote.com in St. Charles, Missouri 12 April 2008

We are reposting this as some former registrants were left off our snail mail list:

There is still room in my workshop on using Footnote.com on 12 April 2008 at the community college in St. Peters, Missouri (suburban St. Louis). Attendees will have access to the site for the duration of the workshop and there will be time for searching and self-discovery.Registration is limited and more information is available on our website.

Colonel Febucker in Virginia--Who is he?

This screenshot is the entire page from a Footnote.com image I have been working on for Samuel Rhodes. The reduced size shows the whole page and is discussed in more detail below.

The image showsn is part of the Revolutionary War Pension file for Samuel Rhodes from Virginia located on the Footnote.com site. I am having difficulty reading the name of the Colonel in whose regiment Rhodes served. It looks like Febucker, but I'm not certain that is correct.

I posted a comment there as well on the image. This will appear on the comments section of the page if anyone else pulls up the same image. They can see the comment I posted and if they have a different rendering of the name, they can post a comment to my comment. I really like the way the Footnote.com allows users to interact with the documents on their site.
Hopefully someone else can read the name in a different way or knows something about this Virginia unit.
Researchers can search Footnote.com for their own ancestors.
You can search the Revolutionary War Rolls on Footnote.com. I searched the Virginia set of Revolutionary War Pensions at Footnote.com , users interested in other stats can browse to those as well.
The Beta Test of Advanced Search at Footnote.com also allows for some narrowing of searching. Personally if I know what database I want to search, I start at the main Footnote.com site and navigate my way to the specific database I want.
And if anyone is a descendant of this Samuel Rhodes, I'd be interested in communicating.

OCR searches in Footnote

The newspapers at Footnote.com are searchable using OCR technology. The nice thing about the Footnote.com search results is that the highlighted text is shown (at least for some) in the results screen without requiring the entire image to be loaded.
I always search for Ufkes just to see what I find, it is one of the nice things about having an usual last name. In this case, the word "offices" came up, but one can see how an automatic search might recognize this as "ufkes." The nice thing is I can "preview" the page before waiting for the entire thing to load.
The London Times is one set of newpapers on Footnote.com that came from the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Getting Ready for Omaha--5 April 2008

On 5 April 2008, I'll be presenting four lectures in Omaha, Nebraska, for the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society. I'm looking forward to returning to Nebraska, although this time I won't have time to visit the homestead in Dawson County where my ancestors homesteaded in the 1880s and where my great-grandmother was born in 1882.

Those interested in the all-day workshop can visit the society's website or view the brochure for workshop on our site.