29 November 2008

Santa Claus in 1930

Santa Claus in 1930?

Santa Claus is living in Saline County, Missouri in 1930 and appears in the census image at Ancestry.com living with Mrs. Claus--in this case Mabel.

This Santa was born in Missouri and worked in river construction. Just slightly different from working in the manufacture and delivery of toys.

Readers can search the 1930 census for their own ancestors at Ancestry.com.

Search for Santa Claus at all of Ancestry.com

26 November 2008

Booking Workshops and Seminars for 2009 and 2010

I am currently working on my speaking schedule for 2009 and 2010. It is best to arrange dates as early as possible to provide flexibility.I would be happy to discuss the possibility of coming to present to your genealogy group or club for their workshop or seminar.

Genealogy workshops and seminars are great ways for members of your group to enhance their research skills and network with other genealogists. There is a world away from the computer.For more information on speaking availability, fees, expenses, and opportunities, send an email to me at michaeln2@winco.net.

Please indicate the potential date of the seminar, typical format, and general audience level. We can go from there.Lectures are informative, relaxed, and fun.Topics can be arranged and new lectures can be developed upon request.

I have presented over fifty all-day workshops across the United States on a wide variety of genealogy and computer genealogy topics. Some have been hands on all day workshops on Ancestry.com, Genline, Family Tree Maker. Others have been more traditional days of lectures and presentations on a wide variety of topics.

I have lectured for small and large groups including NGS and FGS conferences.A list of incomplete topics is available at http://www.rootdig.com/topics.html.

Most upcoming engagements are listed at http://www.rootdig.com/labels/speaking.html

Ft. Wayne Genealogy Trip Hotel Stay Drawing Extended

Our deadline for the drawing for a free stay at the Ft. Wayne Hilton during our trip to the Allen County Public Library has been changed because our registration files were not uploaded promptly. The new deadline to register and be entered in the drawing is 6 December 2008.

This prize has a $400 value and will give the winner extra money for photocopies. Registrants are responsible for their own incidentals and this drawing is for the hotel stay for 4 nights and tax only. Other hotel charges are the responsibility of the winner. More information on the trip is on our site.

Our trip dates are 27 May-31 May 2009.

For more information, send an email to mjnrootdig@gmail.com Thanks!

Make Certain You Read

I mentioned in an earlier post today that Ancestry.com just released Ontario, Canada Voter Lists, 1867-1900 on their website. I was really excited as I was hoping to find my elusive Clark Sargent in this database.

There was one reason I did not find him: he was dead by 1867. Oops.

Make certain your excitement doesn't cause you to waste time and energy. Hopefully you will find your living ancestors in this database. If this had been a list of Chicago voters, then I would have needed to look for the dead.

Ontario, Canada Voter Lists, 1867-1900 on Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com just released Ontario, Canada Voter Lists, 1867-1900 on their website. I was really excited as I was hoping to find my elusive Clark Sargent in this database.

So far no luck. I searched for just the last name Sargent, just the first name Clark and later on I will experiment with additional spellings for the last name. Maybe he is just hiding somewhere. Ancestry.com indicates the areas that are included the Ontario, Canada Voter Lists, 1867-1900 and I should also look to make certain all areas are covered. It is always possible that the entire set of records is not extant. One should not assume.

One of these days, I will hopefully find Clark. In the interim, perhaps readers will have success with this database.

Registration Pages for our Ft. Wayne, Indiana Research Trip

We have finally gotten our registration pages up and running for the 2009 research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, this coming May. We are looking forward to spending several days at this premier genealogical library. Our early bird registration deadline ends on 15 December, but regular registration continues beyond that date.

Registration Pages:
· In RTF format—for Word, etc.
· In PDF format

Please email me with questions or with other payment options for those who wish to use Paypal or a credit card. We can accept credit cards as payment.

25 November 2008

Questions Not to Ask the Family for the Genealogy Book

Family historians sometimes ask relatives questions at holiday get togethers. Here are some you might want to think twice before asking.
  • Which cousin you cannot stand and why?
  • What was the most disasterous family get together?
  • Which in-law do you never want to see again?
  • What's the real reason Uncle Bob and Aunt Norma are never in the same room?
  • Why did Aunt Gert spend a year in Topeka?
  • What food do you absolutely hate at Thanksgiving?
  • What saying of your parents can you absolutely cannot stand?
  • What is the one thing your spouse does that drives you nuts.
  • There has to be one more thing your spouse does that drives you nuts. Name it too.
  • How come we always have to eat dinner at Aunt Wandas?
  • Why does Uncle Leon's nose not look like anyone elses?

A genealogy colleague sent me back these (she wishes to remain anonymous):

  • Why does Uncle Fred smell like bourbon, even before the party starts?
  • How long do you think it will be before Uncle Fred says something inappropriate? (since this will likely occur within the first hour, please state your answer in minutes)
  • How long will it take after dinner before Grandpa unbuttons his pants?
  • How long before Grandma smacks him and tells him to button his pants?

Feel free to post additional suggestions. If they are clean, we'll add them. If they are not, well...

Another Clipping--this one with a date

This obituary was split over different parts of the newspaper as well. Fortunately this time the item of interest was located near the date of the paper, so that information was preserved.
This is actually something I have never taken the time to translate and I actually should. It is a letter written from F. J. Goldenstein (of Golden, Illinois) to the Ostfriesische Nachrichten in 1913. The newspaper was dated 20 March 1913 and in it Goldenstein writes of the death of his father-in-law Bernard Dirks, who died in Coatsburg, Adams County, Illinois, on 2 March 1913.
Goldenstein was to die himself in Golden, Adams County, Illinois, on 29 March 1913, just over a week after this letter was published. This had to be difficult on his wife Anna Goldenstein who lost her father and husband in the same month.
There are other clues in the letter as well. Goldenstein mentions Fritz Gerdes and Heinrich Dirks coming to the funeral of Bernard Dirks.
Foche and Anna Goldenstein are my great-great-grandparents.

The Drawbacks of Writing on the Back

Years ago, when I made many copies of items from the Ostfriesische Nachrichten, I wrote on pencil the date of the paper. Unfortunately when I scanned these at work using our auto feed scanner I forgot this minor detail and the newspaper dates were not included in my scan. One has to be careful writing on copies of documents so that the writing cannot be confused with the actual document. In this case that would not be a problem.

Somewhere I have the original copy that I made with the date on the back. Unfortunately, until I can locate that I will have to try and estimate the date of the item.

This letter was written by Tjark Janssen, my uncle. Fortunately, he mentions Eilt Ufkes, another uncle, Poppe Fooken, another uncle, and Mrs. Jans Janssen, my great-great-grandmother. So I know right away that the article was written before her death in October of 1913. The article mentions her travelling to Colorado for her health. Jan Janssen was a brother to Tjark Janssen, who wrote the letter.

Ethnic Newspapers-Moline, Illinois

The image in this post is "copy" and "pasted" from scans I made from microfilm copies of the Gazette van Moline. The filmed copy was not the greatest, but I did the best I could.
Readers of the blog know that I am a big fan of ethnic newspapers. This obituary makes that point really well. The obituary for Louise Mortier that appeared in the local newspapers in Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, did not provide any specifics in terms of where Mrs. Mortier was born. Her death certificate was equally helpful--simply stating that she was born in Belgium.
This obituary was split over two parts of the paper. Unfortunately the "good" part was very difficult to read, but it can be deciphered. Mrs. Mortier was born in Oost Winkel, East Flanders, Belgium, on 20 April 1855. Of course, an obituary can contain an error, but I was glad to obtain this location as no other source in the United States mentioned the village specifically.
A quick google search for "gazette van moline" found several references to the paper, including one showing some libraries that have the newspaper. I wrote wrote about this obituary for Ancestry.com's blog a few years ago.

That article contains more information on ethnic newspapers and how to find them. They are an excellent genealogical source. Hopefully when I'm in Salt Lake City this coming May, I'll have time to research the records in Oost Winkel for Louise. Other records indicated her maiden name was Van Hoorebeke.
My wife is a descendant of Louise Mortier.

24 November 2008

Could your Ancestors Read What they Signed?

It never really dawned on me until just now. Just how literate was your ancestor?

The clipping in this blog indicates that my ancestor did not learn to read English until he was 60 years of age. By this point in time, he had
  • become a citizen
  • married
  • bought and sold a mill
  • bought and sold several pieces of real estate

All without being able to read English. I know John could easily read German, so literacy wasn't a problem. And there is also a very good chance that others in his neighborhood here in the United States could read English if he needed it and there probably was at least one local lawyer, bank clerk, etc. who could speak and read German.

But it makes the point. Even if your ancestors were literate, what documents did they sign that they could not read? And what if they had no one nearby to help them translate?

Just a little food for thought.

And a reminder that when John naturalized in the 1870s, there was no language requirement. Just stating a fact--we try to avoid getting political here. Although readers of the newspaper clipping will note that it indicates John indicates he was a Republican, but does not express himself against Woodrow Wilson or the present administration. Maybe John was just a little bit of a politician, like two of his grandsons.

Making a Chronology

Order is good. I took a little time to organize the materials in John Ufkes' cancelled homestead application file from the National Archives.
  • 19 August 1871 John Ufkes filed a declaration of intent to become a citizen in Hancock County, Illinois. The copy of the declaration contained in his homestead application file is dated the same day.
  • 4 September 1871 John pays $13.80 to enter his claim for the northeast quarter of section 4 in township 3 range 15 in Franklin County, Nebraska. The property was 151.87 acres and the claim was entered in the Lowell, Nebraska, land office.
  • 20 November 1873 William Briggs claims John Ufkes has abandoned his claim.
  • 29 Dec 1873 Is the summons date on which John Ufkes is to appear if he wants to defend his claim. Ufkes does not appear and on this date the claim is cancelled by the Register.
  • 17 Jan 1874 The publisher of the Adams County Gazette says that for four weeks in November and December of 1873 he published notice for John Ufkes to appear at the hearing on 29 December.

Doing this is more than a simple exercise. Fully analyzing this information requires me to put it into a complete chronology of John's life. Two other dates are crucial here--John's immigration in March of 1869 and his marriage in Hancock County, Illinois, on 3 March 1874. John is known to have been in Adams and Hancock Counties in Illinois shortly after his arrival in the United States (staying with family).

Based upon the dates in his homestead file, John should be in Illinois in the 1870 census. To date, despite numerous searches, he has not been located in that record. Based upon the homestead application, he was in Nebraska on 4 September 1872, but how long he had been there and how long he stayed after that date is debatable. On 20 Nov 1873, Briggs claims John had abandonded his homestead--probably indicating John had been away from it for some time, perhaps all of 1873.

Family tradition was that John thought Nebraska was "too wild" and not a place to raise a family. His sister and her husband moved to Franklin County, Nebraska, shortly after the 1880 census. John returned to Hancock County, Illinois, where he married and remained for the remainder of his life (except for a few years when he farmed near Golden, Adams County, Illinois).

Homestead Applications Include Proof of Citizenship

It will be a while before I get the entire file on the website, but I have posted one image from John H. Ufkes' homestead application from Franklin County, Nebraska.
The image included with this post is his Declaration of Intent filed in August of 1871 in Hancock County, Illinois, where John originally settled.
Of course, this is not a copy of the actual declaration, but rather a handwritten copy included in his pension file. If the dates are correct, John must have had a copy made the day he filed the intent as the "copy date" is the same as the date on the declaration.
Only citizens or those who had filed a declaration of intent could apply for homestead lands. John started the homestead application on 4 September 1872.
We'll be posting more from the file as time allows.

23 November 2008

Pilgrim Ancestors on Ancestry's Blog

Juliana Smith has posted my article "Pilgrim Ancestors" on the Ancestry.com blog. There are links there to a variety of sites and a discussion of making a proof and establishing a case and working on a Pilgrim connection.

There is also some commentary on my own potential Pilgrim connection.

And if anyone knows anything about Clark Sargent who died in Winnebago County, Illinois, in 1847, let me know. If I can connect to him, then I have a likely Mayflower connection.

22 November 2008

Getting more than just the Name

It is more than about reading just the one page or the one item.
The screen shot provides a little bit of information on my family Thomas Ramphey[sic]. The book has been digitized and is on Ancestry.com. Because of the typographical error, I did not find this one by searching on "Rampley." I already located the print book years ago and knew how the name was spelled. Turns out that John Demoss was a brother to Thomas Rampley's wife, Christianna.
This paragraph needs to be put in context. You can't read just the page where the entry appears. If I do that, I lose the fact that this page is talking about early settlers of Jackson Township, Coshocton County, Ohio. I also need to keep track of the author, title and publication date of the book.
History of Coshocton County, Ohio : its past and present, 1740-1881, by N. N. Hill, Jr., A. A. Graham and Company, Newark, Ohio, 1881, page 502. Available digitally at Ancestry.com.

Cancelled Homestead Claim from the National Archives

A recent post indicated I had located a "cancelled" homestead claim for my ancestor, John H.Ufkes in Franklin County, Nebraska.

Armed with the information from the cancelled claim (basically John's name and the legal description of the property), I made a request for the file from the National Archives. This request was completed online.

These reproductions are made specific to information you provide during the ordering process.

A variety of items can be ordered online through the National Archives. Keep in mind that there may be other ways to access some of these records, particularly census pages, immigration and naturalization files, and WW I draft registration cards.

I received the cancelled homestead application file today. There was not too much in the record as John apparently was on the claim barely a year before he left. A neighbor sued him for his claim. We'll post more details on this as I have time to read through the information and scan the files. Family tradition was that John was in Nebraska for a short time. This file indicates he wasn't there very long.

21 November 2008

Ancestry.com's Card Catalog

One frustration with some sites is the ability to search for databases that are in a specific locatilty. Libraries at least have a card catalog where one can search for locations, in particular counties, towns, etc. This makes finding specific materials easier. While global searches of websites are nice, there are times when I like to search a specific book instead of looking instantly at every book in the library.

The Ancestry.com Card Catalog will let you search by location, you just have to filter your way down to the level you want instead of typing in keywords to search subject headings the way you would in a library card catalog. The screen shot in this entry is reduced to show more of the page, but in the red circle is where you can filter by location.

Users can simply then scroll down to the desired state and click.

Once you choose a state, the list of counties will appear. That is what happened after I clicked on Illinois.

Every time you choose a new location, the right hand side of the page "updates" to reflect items cataloged based upon your new choice.

The county is as far down as you can go. When I choose the county, the list of locations from which to choose disappears. If you do not see anything, scroll up to the top of the webpage, that is what I had to do.

Then on the right hand side I saw my four references. On the left hand side (under the orangish search button) are clickable areas that tell me where my search is currently focused. I can click any of those to pull up the appropriate list again to change my filtering.

Or I can click on one of the "hits" and search it or (heaven forbid) actually read it.

Before you search the book, read the description so you know what you are searching. Remember that OCR searches do not always find people. I KNEW my ancestor's biography was in this book (I have a copy at home). Finding it searching for Ramply and Bamply did not located the desired entry. I performed a keyword search instead for the word "laurels" only because I remembered that word was in his biography (this has to be on the top of the list of minutia that I have remembered). Any way I did find his biography split over two pages, which is how it was in the original.

I even left the word "laurels" green from when I searched for it.
Of course if I save this material, I should track the book, author, publication information, online source, etc.
I like the Ancestry.com Card Catalog and am glad they either added it or I just noticed it. At any rate, it is helpful.
Now--if they would let me search just for materials in one county at a time instead of either books or just one book. I'm never satisfied.

And if any descendants of James Rampley (1803-1884) read this post, let me know. I'm his 3rd great-grandson.

20 November 2008

Near Searches on GenealogyBank

It is a little difficult to see in the first screen, but I thought of a neat way (at least to me) of searching for obituaries on GenealogyBank.

One of my Ufkes uncles married a woman whose last name was Schuster. Now I knew then their children died. But if I had not this is a neat way to look for obituaries of their children--even if the names are unknown.

I simply did a keyword search for Ufkes near5 Schuster. I was hoping to find obituaries of their children that had the last name of the father and the mother's maiden name.

Had I not already had the dates of death and copies of the obituaries, this would have been a really nice way of locating them. Obituaries for three of their children turned up as results on my search.
Think of the words that might appear in close proximity in the record you are searching for on GenealogyBank.
I know I have some more searches to do. This will be helpful if I don't have married names for women or other search parameters.

Accessing World War II Draft Cards--Old Men's Draft

My set of pages on this topic need revision, which probably will take forever. So, we'll just blog about it here.

The registration for the World War 2 draft involved "old guys" and men of a more traditional draft age. Cards from the so-called "Old Men's Draft" are available through the Freedom of Information Act. This Fourth Registration, often referred to as the "old man's registration", was conducted on 27 April 1942 and registered men who born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897 who were not already in the military. These cards have been microfilmed and are available through the National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA).

These cards are available online through two providers

The cards were microfilmed by state and alphabetically within a state. It is not necessary to know any registration districts to search the microfilm--just the state.

Varmland, Sweden Parish Records Added to Ancestry.

Ancestry has parish records from Varmland Sweden from 1661-1895.

This is excellent news for the Swedish genealogists with roots in this county. Those with Swedish ancestors know that records from this country are detailed and cross-referenced (some would say they were just a little compulsive).

The records from Varmland cover the 81 parishes of that county. To see the list of parishes, visit the Ancestry.com page for Varmland Sweden. All church records are included, christenings, marriages, funerals, household clerical registers, communion registers,etc.

Now for them to put Ostergotland up. Then I never will get any work completed.

This database is part of the World Collection at Ancestry.com. Those without an account can sign up for a Free Trial

19 November 2008

1870 US Census on Family Search

The FamilySearch website indicates the 1870 Federal US Census on their site is 74% complete. Indexes are available for:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Dakota Territory
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vemont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

I'll have to give it a try on some of my brick walls. Unfortunately two of them were probably in Missouri in 1870, so I won't get too creative on searching for them until Missouri is added to the list of searchable states.

Searching by First Names in Ohio Tax Lists at Familysearch

In most of the data at Familysearch, first name only searches are not possible. This is okay for ancestors named John or William, but sometimes some of us have unusual first names that are passed down in specific families or first names that are kind of unusual and last names that can be written incorrectly.

I am searching for Elam Blain(e) in Ohio--searching the Ohio tax records on FamilySearch. I thought perhaps Blain was totally mispelled and tried searching for men with the first name Elam. There were a few, none of whom had a last name close to Blain.

I like being able to search based on first names only. This is a nice improvement.

Ohio Tax Records 1816-1838--sample image

I'm not certain this is a Kile from my wife's family, but this is a screen shot from FamilySearch's new 1816-1838 Ohio Tax Records.

This database that was recently added to the Familysearch site. It is located in the United States, Canada, Mexico section. I'll be waiting for it to be complete.

Ohio Tax Records 1816-1838

Familysearch is 25% done with this database that was just added to its site. These tax lists are in the United States, Canada, and Mexico section. Unfortunately I could not find my Thomas Rampley in Coshocton County, but these probably have not been added and I have not yet had time to browse the counties and dates that are currently available.

Images are there too! Cool. We'll be blogging more about this one.

Hilton Rates for 2009 Ft. Wayne Library Trip

We have a trip rate of $99 (plus tax) for single or double occupancy on our May 2009 research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne.

Don't forget we are offering a drawing for free room nights for anyone who registers by Thanksgiving.

Questions can be sent to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

We are looking forward to a rewarding and educational research experience in Ft. Wayne.

Digital Collections at Brigham Young University

Full text searches are great--it takes a little while to find the full text search box for the family history materials in the digital collections at BYU, but I finally did.


My suggestion is that those unfamiliar with the collection learn about it before searching. This site contains some scanned materials from the Allen County Public Library. One can also perform near searches as well. Pretty interesting.

About this Blog

A few (or not so few) comments about this blog.

I only write about things I actually use or families I am actually researching. That said, there are certain databases and websites whose path I don't cross and generally they won't be mentioned here. That doesn't mean they are not worth researching or using. In that same vein, I don't mention every new thing that comes across the genealogy wire. If you are looking for all the latest updates on everything, check somewhere else.

I don't recommend buying or using something unless I actually use it. If I don't use it, I don't review it and rarely mention it. If you are looking for a genealogy blogger who copies and pastes press releases or writes about any topic regardless of their level of familiarity with it, look elsewhere.

I try to keep relatives up to date on what I find as I know there are some cousins who read this regularly.

I also try and write about how to research and how to find things. But all the examples and all the stories are from researching the ancestry of my children. Case studies and samples are written with the intent to be illustrative and help others with their research, whether they are related to me or not.

Just my 1/50 of a dollar.

Try Libraries for Directories too

The city directories on Ancestry.com. are an excellent source. The ones on Footnote.com are as well. However, there are other sites and locations to try.

The Hannibal Public Library has scanned city directories on its site, ranging from 1859 to 1929. Just as a fluke, I happened upon the site recently. They also have a scan of Stone's Tri-County Directory for 1892-93. This includes Adams County, Illinois, across the Missisippi River. Sure enough there was my ancestor, Bernard Dirks.

Lessons here: Libraries might have free digital images of some records.
And look at libraries outside your direct area of interest.

OCR Searches of Ancestry.com's City Directories

The city directories on Ancestry.com.are not like the older ones were. This is easier to notice when you search for names instead of browsing through the towns individually as I originally did.

The first screen shot shown in this post comes from the results when I searched on the last name Mortier.

I found several references I already had and some new ones.

One struck my interest. It was for Mrs. Louisa Mortier. In viewing the entry, I had to be careful and look beyond her name.

The temptation might be to just copy that one name and leave it at that. At least in this image, I do have enough of the source to see where the information was obtained (look at the "crumbline" in the upper part of the screen.

What is missing in this entry is who these people are---what their occupation or business is. Any entry must be viewed in context.

Resizing things just a little, we can see that Mrs. Mortier appears in the lists of Boarding Houses. The one thing I did not originally make a note of was whether her boarding house was in Rock Island or in Moline. In directories that combine more than one location in a book, but separate the entries by city, this is important. I should somehow notate that this list is for Rock Island. The directory contains all the Rock Island entries then contains all the Moline entries.

My search results did not find August in the same year. I wondered why this was. To the best of my knowledge he did not return to Belgium, but anything is possible.

I decided to perform a manual search of the directory for August and was not disappointed.

When I looked at the page for the Mortiers, I realized why their names probably were not returned when I searched. There is a black line running down the page. There is a reasonable chance this interfered with the OCR scan of the text.

August is Louisa's husband and Kamiel is his brother. Other records had not indicated she had operated a boarding house, not even the census. I learned a little more than I expected, after all I was just looking for examples to illustrate a blog entry.

The city directories at Ancestry.com can be searched here.

18 November 2008

Search Tips on GenealogyBank

If you have missed the search tips page on Genealogy Bank, give it a read. There are some excellent suggestions there for using the OCR searches on their site. And keep in mind that you do not even have to fill in the name boxes. It pays to experiment and remember that you do not get more points for having every box filled in.

U S City Directories at Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com says it is new, but I'm not certain how new the U. S. City Directory collection actually is. The search may have been changed or a few cities/locations might have been added. An admittedly quick scan of the locations and places included seemed to indicate that this database is the directories that were uploaded several years ago in an attempt to make up for the lack of the 1890 census.

The city directories can be searched here.

I would be interested to see if others think this is the same set of data that was already on Ancestry.com.

Do you need a Lookup or More Extended Research?

Sometimes all the genealogist really needs is a lookup. Sometimes they need more extended research. Which really depends upon the situation.

One lookup example stems from the newspaper article I located from 1892 in Quincy, Illinois. It references a court case regarding estate of my ancestor, Ulfert Behrens.
Years ago, when I was much younger, I located his estate file which included a copy of his will. I did not do land or court record work at that time. While I am always interested in land records, I don't need them right now and the family relationships have been fairly well documented with other records. However, this court case intrigued me. But do I need to hire someone for extensive work to research this? Probably not. All I really need in this case is information from the file.

However, I do need someone with research experience--even though they are doing a "lookup." Why?

  1. So they know how to search for this record. The newspaper doesn't have any citation information.
  2. So they know how to extract. There might only be a few papers in this file or there could easily be hundreds. In some cases, many of the pages may be repetitive or contain entirely legal jargon. I might not want to go to the expense of getting a copy of the "entire file."
  3. They need to have experience searching this type of record and know what various items in the file mean and interpret them correctly.

In this case, I probably don't need a formal research report since one document is being researched. However, I do need to know what records were searched, how they were searched, and what the citation is for the records that were located.

A lookup might not be as simple as a lookup.

We will keep you posted on what the case file contains. There is more to this case than an heir filing a claim for "taking care of father during his last illness."

17 November 2008

NGS Standards for Sound Genealogical Research

I don' t think I have posted these before and there is good food for thought here.

Standards For Sound Genealogical Research
Recommended by the National Genealogical Society

Remembering always that they are engaged in a quest for truth, family history researchers consistently—
  • record the source for each item of information they collect.
  • test every hypothesis or theory against credible evidence, and reject those that are not supported by the evidence.
  • seek original records, or reproduced images of them when there is reasonable assurance they have not been altered, as the basis for their research conclusions.
  • use compilations, communications and published works, whether paper or electronic, primarily for their value as guides to locating the original records, or as contributions to the critical analysis of the evidence discussed in them.
  • state something as a fact only when it is supported by convincing evidence, and identify the evidence when communicating the fact to others.
  • limit with words like "probable" or "possible" any statement that is based on less than convincing evidence, and state the reasons for concluding that it is probable or possible.
    avoid misleading other researchers by either intentionally or carelessly distributing or publishing inaccurate information.
  • state carefully and honestly the results of their own research, and acknowledge all use of other researchers’ work.
  • recognize the collegial nature of genealogical research by making their work available to others through publication, or by placing copies in appropriate libraries or repositories, and by welcoming critical comment.
  • consider with open minds new evidence or the comments of others on their work and the conclusions they have reached.

© 1997, 2002 by National Genealogical Society. Permission is granted to copy or publish this material provided it is reproduced in its entirety, including this notice.

15 November 2008

The Illinois Historic Cemetery Handbook:

From the website of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in regards to cemeteries--

The Illinois Historic Cemetery Handbook:A Guide to Basic Preservation was developed in response to many inquires to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Most often, those questions focused on how to clean and repair gravestones, sources of assistance, and the laws that govern cemeteries.

More information can be found on the Agency's website.

Cleaning Mother's House

This has been a favorite over the years and I have decided to repost it on the blog. It originally ran in the Ancestry Daily News several years ago. Please contact me(mjnrootdig@gmail.com) for permission to reprint or repost.

"CLEANING MOTHER'S HOUSE," by Michael John Neill

It has been nearly a year since fictional genealogist Barbara passed away. Her daughter Charlene reflects upon that year in a letter to her friend Karen. Charlene truly has been busy. Barbara is probably rolling over in her grave. Whether you have a child like Charlene or not, have you thought about what might happen to your genealogy collection upon your demise?

As usual, my cards are late. It has been a busy year. We spent much of the year settling up Mother's estate. The house sold well, but cleaning it took longer than we expected.
You are probably the only person who did not know Mother was a genealogy buff. She told practically every human she encountered. I'm convinced that genealogy "nut" was the most accurate phrase. The stuff was all over the house. The inheritance would have been enough to pay for my new Mercedes had she not insisted on spending money on that blasted hobby. I don't know why she couldn't be more like Tom's mother. Nadine spends her day doing needlepoint and watching reruns of 50s television shows. Tom just does not realize how lucky he is, but men never do. My mother had to run off to cemeteries and courthouses. She even went to a conference in Davenport, Iowa, last year! Can you imagine? Davenport, Iowa! After she got back, she was so excited about all that she had learned and all the fun she had. She was planning on going to another one in California this year. Well the grim reaper took care of that.
Because of my promotion to head of knick knack sales at Garbageforless.com, I had not been home for several years. I was appalled to learn that Mother had converted my old bedroom into her family history "headquarters." My shelves of Teen Beat and other magazines documenting my adolescence had been replaced with old family photographs, copies of old documents, and something called family group sheets. She even got rid of the pants I wore to my first junior high dance. I cried at the thought.

I could not bear to go in the room and be reminded that my childhood had been stripped from me and replaced with an obsession with the past. I told the children that if they would clean the room and prepare the items for the garage (should I say "garbage"?) sale they could have the proceeds. I learned what true entrepreneurs they are.

Kenny stripped Mother's hard drive in under ten minutes. I kept hearing him say "GedCom is GedGone . . .GedCom is GedGone . . ." I have no idea what it meant, but the computer fetched a good price. Before he unplugged the computer, he erased all Mom's disks and downloaded public domain games. He sold these at a nominal price.

Susan took the old photographs to a flea market and was able to sell many of them. Some special labels had to be taken off and we had to take them out of protective envelopes. Mother had written the names on the back of many of them. At least none of those pictures of depressing old dead people had our last name written on them. I don't want to be associated with such sour people.

Mother had some type of old plat book -- whatever that is. Kenny tore out the pages individually and sold them separately on Ebay. It was so clever. His dad said he got much more than if he had left the book in one piece. Susan didn't tear the bibles apart though. I thought that showed tremendously good sense. She's learning that not everything can be marketed in the same way. The 1790 bible brought her a good penny, but she couldn't get the one from 1900 to bring more than fifty cents. She donated it to a local church, and here is where I am so proud of her. We can write if off as a charitable deduction. Someone had written what they had paid for the bible on the back cover. Susan converted that to 2008 dollars and will use that for our tax deduction amount. I've already enrolled Susan in tax lawyer summer camp this coming August.

There was some old large certificate of written on heavy paper. The silly thing wasn't even in English, so why would Mother keep it? Kenny used the other side to keep track of the things he had sold. Waste not, want not. When we were finished we put the paper in the recycling bin.
The kids put an old wedding dress from the 1870s in the washer to get the stains out. It was terribly filthy. The worthless thing didn't even survive the extra long cycle and the half-gallon of bleach. It's doubtful we can even use it for cleaning rags. The dress was in some kind of old trunk. I'm not certain what it was for, but it had a name stenciled on the front in huge letters along with the name of a town. Susan gave it a good coating of red paint and sold it as a toy box.
The filing cabinets were emptied of their contents, as were the three shelves of binders. Kenny got the bright idea to shred the paper and sell it in bags as New Year's confetti. The file folders were too heavy to shred.

The baby did not react well to any of this. She cried and fussed almost the entire time. Kenny thought she wanted tea, which made no sense to me at all. As she cried, it sounded like she was saying "family tee." She can't even talk yet and I think Kenny was hearing things. The baby does look exactly like my mother though, it's the oddest thing. The fussing didn't stop until she spit up an entire bottle of strained prunes on my junior high jeans,which we did find in the basement. They were ruined --- it was the one real loss. Now my past has really been taken from me --- magazines and all.

14 November 2008

Join Michael in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, May 2009

I'll be leading an annual genealogy research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana this May from 27 May through 31 May 2009.
We are staying at the Hilton, close to the library with a pretty good room rate.

There is more information on our website at http://www.rootdig.com/acpltrip.html. This year's trip is a little different and will be run like my trip to Salt Lake--participants meet me there instead of travelling together as a group.

A registration brochure is in the works and will be posted when finalized. Those interested can register now and make room reservations if they want to be ahead of the rest! Questions or requests for more information can be emailed to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. Thanks!

Early Bird Deadline for Salt Lake Trip Approaching

Our early bird registration date of 15 December 2008 is quickly approaching for our annual research trip to Salt Lake City in May of 2009.

Spend a week with us in Salt Lake City's Family History Library, getting help with your research as needed and working with other genealogists. Our trip includes pre-trip planning, onsite morning lectures and consultations with Michael during the trip as needed.

More information on our trip can be found at:

The fees and registration information can be found here:

Questions can be sent to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. We'd love to have you join us.

13 November 2008

Boolean Searches of OCR Text at Genealogybank.com

I don't know why I never tried it before. Now I have numerous searches to perform all over again at Genealogy Bank.

The screen shot in this blog entry shows part of the screen from a search I just conducted today for good old Philip Troutfetter.

It is much easier when one enters Boolean search terms in the keywords box. I do not know why it never dawned on me to use those before.

With all the variants of trautvetter, this was a much easier search to perform. The word "taylor" was added as it was the last name of an alias Philip used. The ? as a wildcard operator was used in Troutfetter to catch some variant spellings. I need to modify it though as sometimes the two "t"s at the end get read as "l"s. However, this makes my searching much easier.

I wanted to find references to the last name of Troutfetter, etc. withinn 4 words of the word Taylor. This is why the "near4" command was used.

We will be playing (err.... experimenting more) with the searches at Genealogy Bank and letting you know what we find.

1880 Census Locations--A Township by Any other Name would Confuse me

I realize it is a minor thing, but there is a difference between a "city" and a "township."

This screen shot comes from Ancestry.com 's 1880 census index search results. Walker is not a town in Hancock County, it is a township. Walker township contains the village of Tioga. Researchers who type in "Tioga" as a search term in the "home in 1880" box will be disappointed--there will be no results even though there are Tioga residents in the 1880 census. Genealogists with ancestors in very small towns should actually enter the name of the township in the search box. Of course, the word "township" does not appear with the word "Walker."

It is not just Ancestry.com that lumps all jurisdictions smaller than a county as one thing. Familysearch does it as well. Searchers here looking for Tioga, Illinois, residents will need to choose "Walker" as the "town."

There is a difference between a township and a town and a township and a city.
I am not certain what is the easiest way to handle this is--deciding what to name the search term smaller than a county is difficult because several political jurisdictions were used, township, town/city, and village.
Users just need to keep in mind that sometimes database programmers need to get slightly creative with search terms in order to make data searchable. Researchers still need to pay attention--townships and towns are not the same thing.

11 November 2008

Genealogy Week 2009-Galesburg, Illinois

Phone registration for Genealogy Week 2009 at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois has begun. Registration can be done by phone (1-877-236-1862 ext. 5260) using a VISA or Mastercard. Information on mail-in registration is available on our website.

Days and Topics for 2009 are:
· 9 March 2009-Using Ancestry.com
· 10 March 2009-Using Footnote.com
· 11 March 2009-Using FamilySearch.org
· 12 March 2009-Using Land Records
· 13 March 2009-Genealogy Problem Solving
· 14 March 2009-Using Non-English Language Records

Registration is limited to 20 each day and all presentations are made by me in state of the art computer labs.

More information on the topics can be found on our website. Questions can also be emailed to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. We are looking forward to our 10th annual series of workshops.

Wisconsin State Genealogical Society October 2009

I will be speaking at the annual fall 2009 conference sponsored by the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society. Details are still being lined out, but the dates are 2 and 3 October 2009 in Neenah, Wisconsin. We will add more information as information is finalized.

Contact me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com for information on bringing me to your workshop or conference.

10 November 2008

United States Marine Corps Muster Rolls 1798-1940

Ancestry.com has added U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1940 to their list of searchable databases. I actually think they have updated this offering as I remember searching it before.

The first image shown is for Chris Goldenstein, shown as a Corporal in November of 1927. This listing gives his hometown of Golden, Illinois. This would have been helpful if there had been several Chris Goldensteins who were in the Marines. Fortunately there were not. And the town of Golden, Illinois, was not named for his family in case anyone was wondering.

Not all the listings provide the name of the "home." Searchers will have to search every muster listing to ferret out all possible clues. Mr. Goldenstein's listing from December of 1931 does not provide as much information. Uncle Chris was not a career marine. His brother, Jurgen was.

Two of the muster listings for Jurgen are included here in this blog post. There are numerous muster listings for Jurgen given the amoutn of time he was enlisted in the marines.

The first shows Jurgen at Quantico and the second shows him stationed in China.

The U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1940 can be searched at Ancestry.com.

09 November 2008

World War I Draft Registrants Born in 1918

If the title doesn't make you wonder, either you are half asleep or you completely flunked American History. World War I Draft registrants should not be born i n1918. This week's "Tip from the Pros" at Ancestry.com (written by yours truly) indicates the apparent number of men born in 1918 who registered for the World War I Draft. The likely reason is pretty simple.

Visit the Ancestry.com 24/7 Family History Circle to learn more about the likely reason for this apparent discrepancy in the records and how to be on the lookout for other potential errors in official records.

Illinois State Death Certificates

Many Illinois genealogists are aware that the Illinois State Death Certificate Index (1916-1950) is available online on the Illinois State Archives website.

Copies of the death certificates from 1916-1947 can be ordered via interlibrary loan from the Family History Library or directly through a genealogist who lives in Springfield near the Illinois State Archives. I have used Molly's services in the past and have been pleased. She can only obtain those records between 1916 and 1947. Records after that date can be ordered from the county or the state. Usually it is cheaper to order genealogical copies from the county.

State registration of deaths began in Illinois in 1916 and records from that time on have been recorded at the state and county level. Records before that date were only recorded at the county level and may begin as early as 1877. Some of these pre-1916 death records have been microfilmed and may be located at a branch of the Illinois Regional Archives or via interlibrary loan through your local Family History Library. If they were originally recorded at the county level, the county will have the original. It is usually cheaper to order from the Illinois Regional Archives or to borrow the film from the Family History Library. The Illinois State Archives also has a partial index of pre-1916 death certificates on their website as well.

For Cook County death certificates pre-1916, I have used the services of at Cynthia at http://www.chicagogenealogy.com/. Molly at http://www.mollx.com/ also can access some pre-1916 certificates in Illinois outside the Cook County area.

Fractions in my past

We are indeed a mixed up mess.
By ancestry, my children are:
  • one-fourth Ostfriesen--all of my Mother's ancestors are from this ethnic area in northern Germany. Most are from the area around Wiesens and Holtrop. Their lines settled in Hancock and Adams Counties in Illinois for the most part.

  • one-sixteenth Irish--their 2nd great-grandfather Neill was born in Illinois of Irish parents. The father is known to be from County Derry and the mother's Irish origins are unknown.

  • one-sixteen Swedish--their great-great-grandfather Johnson's parents were born in Ostergotland and immigrated to Knox County, Illinois, in the 1880s.

  • one-sixteenth English--their great-great-grandfather was William Frame, born in 1888 in Chicago to natives of County Cumberland who immigrated to Chicago in the 1860s.

  • one-sixteenth Belgian--their great-great-grandfather Mortier who lived in Rock Island, Illinois, had parents who were immigrants from East Flanders in 1880.

  • one-sixteenth French-Canadian. A great-great-grandmother was a native of upstate New York of French-Canadian heritage. How she ended up in Chicago is a story in and of itself.

  • three-sixteenths German. My children are descendants of several German families who immigrated in the 1850s including the Trautvetters from Thuringen, the Biegerts and Sieferts from an unknown location, and the Schulmeyers from Bavaria.

  • one-thirty second Swiss--their 3rd great-grandmother was born in Iowa in the 1860s, the daughter of immigrants from Grabunden.

  • the rest---a general hodge podge of Colonial ancestors from New England to South Carolina. There are ancestors who were 1650 era immigrants to Virginia and Maryland, mid 18th century immigrants to Maryland and a scattering of pre-Revolutionary families along the East Coast. At the time of the Revolution, there were ancestors in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and New Jersey. By the time of the Civil War, all their families were living in Iowa, Missouri, or Illinois--except for those families who were still in Europe.

07 November 2008

Probate genealogy articles on our site

We have updated a few of my probate articles on our site:

Hopefully I've caught all the errors, but let me know if there are bad links by sending me an email at mjnrootdig@gmail.com We are working on modifying additional articles as well.

Probate records are an excellent genealogical source and researchers need to remember that most of them are not available on the Internet.

The book:

Elijah M. Haines, The Probate Manual, Being a Complete Guide for Executors, Administrators and Guardians, Under the Laws of Illinois, with Practical Forms, Chicago, Keen and Lee, 1856, can be purchased for $12 through our website.

1856 Illinois Guide to Probate

We still have a few copies of the 1856 Illinois probate manual that was discussed in an article on this site some time ago. It is excellent reading for those with mid-nineteenth century Illinois ancestors. We will reformat the articles and repost them to this site.

The book:

Elijah M. Haines, The Probate Manual, Being a Complete Guide for Executors, Administrators and Guardians, Under the Laws of Illinois, with Practical Forms, Chicago, Keen and Lee, 1856.

Payment can be made via Pay Pal to michaeln2@winco.net---please make certain you mention the 1856 probate manual and include your mailing address. Email Michael at michaeln2@winco.net for other payment arrangements. Paypal is preferred.

Illinois State Archives website databases

Illinois State Archives Online Databases

There are a variety of online genealogical databases at the Illinois State Archives website. Some of the larger ones are listed here. Before using any database with which you are unfamiliar, read more about the database and where the records were obtained. Some of these databases are incomplete and that is something the user should be aware of before using the site.

Database for the Illinois Veterans' History Project
Database of Illinois War of 1812 Veterans
Database of Illinois Winnebago War Veterans
Database of Illinois Black Hawk War Veterans
Database of Illinois Mexican War Veterans
Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database
Database of Illinois Civil War Veterans Serving in the U.S. Navy
Database of Illinois Civil War Veterans of Missouri Units
Database of Illinois Spanish–American War Veterans
Database of the 1929 Illinois Roll of Honor
Database of Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Home Residents

Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763–1900 (you can find Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd)
Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre–1916

Illinois Statewide Death Index (1916–1950)

Remember too that online indexes are pointers to the original records. The index is not the end of your search, but rather the beginning.

Estate Squabbles

One of the most genealogically relevant court case is one where heirs are fighting over an estate. It is important to search court records for this type of actions, even when a probate file or will has already been located.

I have had a copy of Ulfert Behrens will for years, but never thought to look for court action regarding his estate outside of the probate court. A search of the Quincy, Illinois, newspapers on the library's website brought up this reference. We are looking for more details of this case, some of which were published in an earlier newspaper article.

06 November 2008

The Village Genealogical Society-21 March 2009

I will be speaking at The Village Genealogical Society's annual "2009 Spring Family History Workshop" on 21 March 2009. There is more information on the society's web site at pages.suddenlink.net/hsvgs/.

Topics include:
Researching the Entire Family
Problem Solving Applied to Genealogy
I Found it; Now what?
Tried and Tested Tidbits

A PDF flyer is available on the society's website.

For information about scheduling a workshop for your group, send me an email at mjnrootdig@gmail.com

Do Not Forget Rootsweb

I will be honest. It has been a while since I searched at the RootsWeb General Search at Rootsweb. Searching today for my mother's maiden name of Ufkes caused me to locate a a cancelled homestead application for my great-great-grandfather in Nebraska.

The specific page I found was located under the set of web page search results, which searches web pages at Rootsweb.

The actual reference to John is on the GenWeb page for Franklin County, Nebraska, where the property was located. That website has a search engine, but searching for Ufkes on that site's search box did not locate the reference to John H. Ufkes. These search boxes are on many GenWeb county sites and I am now wondering how many are not searching the way we think they are.

We'll post more on John's homestead claim as information is obtained.

Married in 1916

It is not often one finds out the time their great-grandparents were married. This clipping from one of the Quincy, Illinois, newspapers in 1916 mentions my great-grandparents wedding.
Gossip columns contained all kinds of information, including information about the fact that Mrs. Hattie Garrelts property sold well at her sale.
These newspapers were put online by the Quincy, Illinois Pubic Library and mention many of the outlying towns, including ones outside of Adams County, Illinois, where Quincy is located.
Ancestry.com and Genealogy Bank also have some newspapers as a part of their collections.

Age no Bar to Education

The Quincy Daily Journal of 1915 makes reference to John H. Ufkes, "a good old German farmer" learning English at the age of 60.
This clipping is one of several I have found using the Quincy, Illinois, newspapers that are online for free at the Quincy Public Library's website. I am still making discoveries using the scanned images of these newspapers.
If great-great-grandfather can learn English at the age of 60, I probably can learn how to use the remote that comes with the digital cable (grin).

05 November 2008

What is an SS5 form?

I have updated my page on the SS5 form from the Social Security Administration. It includes a sample image of one of these forms, but keep in mind they are NOT online and must be ordered from SSA--for deceased individuals through the FOIA.

Bernard is Benjamin

This is part of a newspaper article that appeared in one of the Quincy, Illinois, newspapers after my great-great-great-grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary in Coatsburg, Adams County, Illinois in 1856.

Interestingly enough, the article did not mention any of the children by name, but did name the men who provided the musical entertainment.

Had I not had it, the announcement provided the couple's date and place of marriage in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois.

I will have to search again for this ancestor in the newspapers. His actual name was Bernard, which usually got shortened to Ben. I had not searched for Benjamin when doing name searches of these newspapers at the Quincy Illinois Public Library website.


The Quincy Whig;
Date: Jan 3, 1907;
Section: None;
Page: 3

Troutfetter is Bagged in Boston

You have to love headlines.

This one comes from a 1902 Colorado's Gazette-Telegraph, which was located on Genealogy Bank. Philip Troutfetter was said to have been involved in the Cuban postal frauds, but it appears that he only associated with one of the men involved and was not actually involved himself. As Genealogy Bank keeps adding papers, I keep running across additional references to Philip and his escapades in Colorado and parts south. This is only a part of the newspaper clipping. The original appears on Genealogy Bank.

Source: Date: 1902-04-11;
Paper: Gazette-Telegraph

Droin Collection At Ancestry.com

I've been doing a little bit of work on my wife's French-Canadian lines using the Droin Collection atAncestry.com .
This image is this posting is from 1815 marriages in St. Constant.
Alexis Robidoux married Rose Rheaume. Even those who can't read the original can see their names on the left hand side of the entry.
Ancestry.com has indexed these records, but just the names of the couple getting married, the person who was born or died only. Many other names are mentioned, but these are not included in the index.
However having these records online with even this index is a wonderful help for those with ancestors from Quebec. Especially since you do not have to leave home to conduct your searches.

04 November 2008

Typographical Errors When Searching OCR Databases

It almost hurts my finger to spell my last name the way it is on this headline from 1912: Niell.

But it makes a point about searching on sites that perform OCR searches and do not allow for soundex based searches. The headline here comes from The Quincy Daily Journal on 20 March 1912. The obituary spells the last name as "Niell" consistently throughout the obituary. A soundex search would have caught this spelling error, but the site does not support soundex based searches. However the site does support a number of other options, some of which are shown in an additional image on this post.

These papers from Quincy, Illinois, are digitized and available at no charge through the website of the Quincy Public Library at http://archive.quincylibrary.org/.

How did I find it? I didn't search for "Niell" (although now I will). My search was actually conducted for "Rampley" another of my surnames. One of Samuel's daughters married a Rampley and that name appeared in the obituary. This makes the point that it is always an excellent idea to search for collateral names. Three of Samuel's children married Rampleys, including his son Charles (Charlie).

Deed Purchased on Ebay

This is the scan of the signatures from an 1863 deed I purchased from a seller on Ebay a month ago. It only cost me $5, plus shipping. James R. Holden was actually James Rampley Holden--he was a first cousin to James Rampley (1803-1884), my 3rd great-grandfather. The property was in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois. We will be posting more information about the deed as I have time to get it organized. The property was in section 24, near where James Rampley lived. Both men were grandsons of James Rampley who died in Harford County, Maryland in 1817 and spent time in Ohio before coming to Illinois.

03 November 2008

18th Century Virginia Election Antics

Juliana Smith over at Ancestry.com has posted my article on a relative's electioneering in 1742 in Virginia. Hopefully nothing quite this colorful happens on election day tomorrow--but if it did, I'm certain it would make CNN.

Back from Grand Rapids

I'm back from spending the weekend in Grand Rapids where I gave two lectures for the Western Michigan Genealogical Societies' annual seminar. Thanks for inviting me and for your hospitality while I was in Michigan.

The research guides discussed in my "seeing the patterns" lecture can be found here:

The chart used to determine an approximate date of birth date based upon ages in various records can be seen here:

And I heard someone say that "only a math person would do that." They might also have said "only a man would do that," I'm not exactly certain (grin).

One comment that was sent to me about the seminar is reproduced here (in part):

"Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and humor with us today in Grand Rapids. Your were excellent and your resources are great. "

Thanks again.

Are the Newspapers Online for Free?

It is worth remembering that there are digital copies of older newspapers online at sites that may be free and not require membership. Lately I have been using two such sites:

Northern New York Historical Newspapers

These newspapers are for several northern New York Counties and I have had some success searching there for my wife's French-Canadian ancestors who came to Clinton County, New York, in the 1850s. I have found several references to a great-great-grandfather who moved to Chicago for a short time, including a death notice for him.

Quincy, Illinois, Newspapers

There are several Quincy, Illinois, newspapers on this site. I have located several previously unknown tidbits, including a child born in the early 1870s whose father was not who we thought it was and a sibling of a great-grandparent who apparently had an alcohol problem.

Both sites are free to use and both have full text searches. The Library of Congress has a small smattering of newspapers online for free on their site as well.

Ancestry.com and Genealogy Bank have some nice newspaper collections on their site for members, but there may be some newspapers online at no charge. Keep in mind that free sites, while you should look for them, are more the exception than the rule. There may be a site for your areas of interest as well.