31 July 2009

Twittering in My Lecture

Mark Tucker was in the 5:00 lecture I gave at the BYU conference yesterday and he was twittering while there, which I thought was really neat.

I'm wondering what others think of twittering during a lecture? Either from the attendee perspective or the speaker perspective.

Here is Mark's initial tweet.

And one more. There were several more during the lecture, but I won't link to them all.

Here are most of the tweets from the conference.

28 July 2009

Thanks and a few answers about Casefile Clues

Thanks to those who have sent encouragement for my moved genealogy how-to column "Casefile Clues." I'm still in the throes of organizing a few things and getting ready for a trip to Utah, so excuse the clutter and occasionally delayed response.

To answer a few questions:
  • "Casefile Clues" will no longer be posted on Eastman's Newsletter. Old columns will remain. New columns have not appeared on Ancestry.com since late 2008.
  • Some older columns can be viewed here for those who need a sample. The ads are old and the occasional link may be bad. Right now, I don't have time to fix that as I'm behind on a few other things.
  • We will not focus on "news" or the latest website, database release, etc. My focus is on organizing information, analyzing, interpreting, and seeing where to go next.
  • "Casefile Clues" will cover families and records from a variety of time periods and areas, but all focus on an ancestor or relative of my children. I have a large pool of areas and time periods from which to draw. Suggestions for content are welcome, but if I'm not familiar with it and don't understand it, I don't write about it. There's enough of that kind of thing on the internet already (grin).

My tone is not overly serious, but I do strive for accuracy while being as informal as possible.

Please spread the word about the column to those who may be interested. Emails are not shared and there are no ads in the column. Subscriptions help to defer various costs involved. Suggestions are always welcomed.

First New Casefile Clues Column

My first "new" Casefile Clues column will run this weekend. I'm hoping to gather some new material in Salt Lake this weekend for upcoming columns.

27 July 2009

Subscribing to My Column "Casefile Clues"

For over ten years, I have written regular columns about my research experience, first for Ancestry and most recently for Dick Eastman. Starting this week, my weekly "how-to" column "Casefile Clues" will be available exclusively through subscription through my website http://www.casefileclues.com/. I am very excited about the move. Subscription information is here.

Subscribers can expect the same quality and content they have come to expect over the 400 how-to columns I have written. Content focuses on families from many areas and time periods in the United States and several foreign countries. The emphasis is not on the latest "whizbang" technology, but rather on locating, analyzing and interpreting records. Technology is used but it does not overpower the genealogy.

We will continue researching the exploits of the various members of the Trautvetter clan, including Philip's world travels, arrest in Boston and his trial in Colorado. Our work on English families will continue, as will our work in land records in metes and bounds in Kentucky and Tennessee, Bureau of Land Management records, and my search for the mental health records of my nineteenth century ancestor. We will also continue our discussion of research strategies both in actual records repositories and via the Family History Library. My children have ancestors in fifteen states and seven European countries and I will continue to explore that ancestry weekly via my column. Readers are welcome to submit suggestions for research ideas to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

"Casefile Clues" will be published at least weekly, with distribution taking place over the weekend. There may occasionally be additional columns published midweek as well, particularly if some followup is just begging to be written about. "Casefile Clues" readers can expect analysis of documents and research suggestions based upon that document. "Casefile Clues" is not a genealogy "news" ezine. You can find that elsewhere on the internet and I would rather devote my time to research and sharing that research experience with readers. Readers can continue to find Michael's analysis and insight that they have come to expect from his columns. Movement to our own website gives Michael the complete freedom to write about whatever topic he wants when he wants.

"Casefile Clues" is not just about the one record I've found. It is about what the record means and how it was used in order to help researchers get motivated to continue their own research.
Annual subscriptions are $15. Subscriptions can also be obtained on a three month basis for $6. Payment can be made through PayPal with major credit cards or check (PayPal account not needed). These methods of payment are preferred, but other arrangements can be made by contacting Michael at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

26 July 2009

Getting Ready for BYU

I am in the throes of completing my presentations for the Family History Conference at BYU this week and am looking forward to my trip to Provo. I managed to squeeze in an extra day on my trip to spend at the Family History Library in Salt Lake on the way home. Now just to decide what to do. I'll be blogging about my trip as things progress.

23 July 2009

St. Louis Marriage 1843

Here is another great image from a record. This marriage from 1843 comes from St. Louis, Missouri. Here again, Googling the name of the minister gave me more information about him, including information about him being involved in the founding of Washington University in St. Louis. Hopefully I can locate some records and determine whether it was the bride or the groom who were active members of the church. The groom here was Andrew Trask and the bride was Ellen Weld.

This image was made from the microfilm while I was at the Family History Library in Salt Lake last May. We will be posting more information when I can find it.

20 July 2009

Wisconsin State Genealogical Society October 2009 Conference

I just received a copy of the registration brochure for the October 2009 Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Conference.


It is made for legal sized paper, but contains all the registration information needed.

I'm looking forward to my trip to Neenah.

Genline Workshop 28-29 August Galesburg, Illinois

I am making a two-day presentation on "Using Genline for Genealogy Research" at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois, on 28 and 29 August 2009. This two-day hands on workshop will allow users to become more familiar with Genline's offerings and see how easy it is to access Swedish church records from the comfort of your own home.

More information is available at:


Or reach me via email mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Why I'm Sticking With Facebook over Genealogywise

I'm probably not going to be spending all that much time on Genealogywise. I may be Genealogywrong, but I only have so much Genealogytime.

Here are Michael's reasons:

1) Many of the relatives I communicate with are not genealogy nuts. While they are interested, they are not obsessed. They'd never join Genealogywise and I'd never find them on there.
2) I only have so much time to devote to being social on the Internet.
3) Blogging about my research (and having Google index it) has located a fair number of relatives as it is, ones who are interested enough that we collaborate on a regular basis. Blogging it on my website creates searchable content that anyone can find with a google search or with a google alert. Commenting on Genealogywise or even Facebook doesn't do that.
4) I can only communicate with so many people. I am not a robot.
5) It would take me years to organize all the information I have now, without spending any time on the Internet to do it.

15 July 2009

Google Books Finds My Ancestor in Harvard Library Book

It probably is just his name and address or city, but I darn near fainted. A search for "erasmus trautvetter" turned up an EXACT MATCH on http://books.google.com/

Problem is there is no scan of the book.

In a little experiment, I mentioned this on Facebook, Twitter, and I'll mention it on Genealogywise in a minute. This experiment is to see if these sites actually help me get a copy of the book.
Otherwise, I'll see if it will interlibrary loan, but I tend to doubt it.

I NEVER find exact matches for Erasmus Trautvetter (my 4th great-grandfather).

14 July 2009

Guardianship Can Create Issues

There were a few guardianship cases in my own family that created some difficulties for those involved. Guardianships don't usually amount to much when there isn't money to deal with.

The partial image in this entry comes from a 1920 deed where the guardian of three of my ancestor's grandchildren sold their interest in their grandfather's estate at public auction. The farm was left "in the estate" after the estate was closed and settled and apparently the guardian wanted the grandchildren's part sold. I'll be making a road trip to learn more about the case which will be discussed in an upcoming "Casefile Clues" column. In this case, the grandfather died of "old age." His daughter and her husband (parents of the minor grandchildren) died a few days apart during the 1918 flu epidemic.

In another family (from about the same time), the guardianship was appealed all the way to the Illinios State Supreme Court. That's on my research list as well. Stay tuned.

11 July 2009

Lease from 1874--Can You Read?

This is part of the text of an 1874 lease found in my ancestor's estate papers. The landlord wanted the balance of the payments and this was part of his proof. The property was in Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois. The parties were Jesse Quimby and Mimke Habben. Habben died in 1877 before the terms of the lease were completed.
Think you can read it?
I'm pretty certain what it says. It's not often one finds this kind of a record. Leases during this time period are not typically part of any record.

10 July 2009

Where to Spend Your Time?

I've been thinking a lot about where to spend my genealogy time as it is limited. One can only spend so much social time on sites like Facebook, Genealogywise, etc.

After all, there is the research too!

I'm keeping Facebook because I interact with a lot of non-genealogists there.

I'm going to keep blogging because many relatives have found me because of doing google searches and finding my pages. They aren't on Facebook (and I don't have my genealogy stuff there) and they probably aren't on Genealogywise.

I'll stay on Genealogywise as well at least for now

And the rootsweb lists that I am on are helpful too. But I'm going to be restrictive of my time on those sites. The research, organization and writing is what I love to do and social time can really cut into that.

The other thing is what happens to these sites when the "new" wears off. There are genealogists on Facebook who don't post as often as they used to. The same thing happened on many of the Rootsweb lists several years ago. The new restaurant is always crowded for the first few weeks. And the grieving widow has lots of support initially. It is when the patina of being "new" goes away that reality sinks in. Time will tell. In the meantime, I have research to do as well.

How much did this stone cost in 1904?

This tombstone was purchased in 1904 under the directions of Barbara Haase's will and with the approval of the court. Any guesses on how much it cost when it was purchased in Warsaw, Illinois?

Genealogy Wise

I joined Genealogywise. I'm not certain how wise it is for me to have one more site to "check" on a regular basis, but I'll give it a try. I might post comments about it when I have time. Those who are interested can check it out at www.genealogywise.com

Google Alerts?

I have google alerts set up to send me alerts for several things in which I have an interest. Not unusual.

Odd thing is that I get "alerts" about pages with search terms that are old. This happens every so often for a rootsweb page that contains old (2002) posts I made about an ancestor. I'm not certain why I'm getting these "old" pages as "new hits" unless something else about the page is updated.

Of course the "hits" I get are always for things I submitted in the first place.

Do You Mention It?

Let's just say this image comes from the "insanity" record of a relative.
"On the 6th of June she developed a sever[sic] attack of delusional insanity with homicidal tendancy, which has continued up to the present time."
This document was dated June 14. It is a late nineteenth century record.
How much of this would you share with relatives? I'm not posting any identifying information about the individual (at least not yet). Additional information in the file provides more details about her threats and her behavior. It also indicates two siblings were also insane--a record of commital was also found for one of them as well during the same time period. I have not yet looked for any mention of the scenario in the local newspaper, but that is on my list of things to do.
You never know what you will find looking through court records. How much to share is potentially another question.

Subpoenas Spell the Names

The 2 April 1902 will of Barbara Haase includes the names of two witnesses. One was written in English and the other was written in German. I didn't do too bad of a job reading them, but wish I had read the entire set of documents from Barbara's probate before I did.

The subpoena from 12 July 1903 provides another rendering of the names of the witnesses to the will of Barbara Haase. The signatures are not all that difficult to read, but researchers should be aware that there may be additional records in the probate file that provides the names of the witnesses in a handwriting that may be easier to read.

Names of witnesses are always potential clues. The names are easier to use if they have been read and interpreted correctly.

Yet another reason for copying or scanning the entire file. These scans were made from microfilm of records at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

08 July 2009

Death Certificate for Eleanor Rowell

This is part of the death certificate for Eleanor Rowell. Eleanor was born Eleanor Carlisle ca. 1814 in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England. She was married twice, first to Robert Frame and after his death to William Rowell. Notice she died in the Fusehill Workshose--more records to check. Unfortunately this will make tracing her children with Robert Frame even more difficult. I really only know what happened to one son, Thomas, who immigrated to Chicago, Illinois.

I'll be writing more about Eleanor in an upcoming "Casefile Clues" column for Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Eleanor is my wife's 3rd great-grandmother.

05 July 2009

3 October 2009--Wisconsin State Genealogical Society

I will be the featured presenter at the 3 October 2009 Wisconsin State Genealogical Society Seminar in Neenah, Wisconsin.

A registration brochure has been published and can be downloaded here.

Topics are:
  • Research on a Tight Budget
  • Researching the Entire Family
  • Organization of Information
  • Locating Emigrant Origins

Contact me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com for information on bringing me to your group's seminar or workshop.

04 July 2009

How Many Johns do you Have?

I was looking through some of my recent blog posts and I realized how many of them were about an ancestor named John. Then I thought about the names of my great-great-grandfathers:

  • John Michael Trautvetter (born in Thuringen Germany)--no I was not named for him, but he indirectly is why my name is Michael John instead of John Michael, but it wasn't his fault.
  • Johann Hinrichs Frederichs Ufkes (who used John-born in Ostfriesland, Germany)
  • Jans Jurgens Janssen (who used John--born in Ostfriesland, Germany)
  • Jann Mimken Habben (who used John-born in Ostfriesland, Germany)

My third great-grandfathers:

  • John Neill (born in Ireland)
  • Johannes Gerhardes Grass (born in Ostfriesland, Germany)
  • Johann Goldenstein (born in Ostfriesland, Germany)
  • Jann Christophers Janssen (born in Ostfriesland, Germany)

That's about as far back as I feel like working right now. My grandfather was also John (John H. Ufkes). Of course, some of these used the English for mof John, some the low-German (Jans, Jan, etc.), some the High-German (Johann) and one the Latin (Johannes). It is nice to have all the bases covered.

Interestingly, I have no great-grandfathers who were named John (at least for a first name)--they were:

  • Charles Thomas Neill
  • George Adolph Trautvetter
  • Frederich Jansen Ufkes (middle name actually a patronym ofJan[ John])
  • Mimke Johnson (more often just John) Habben (middle name a patronym of John)

All said, no wonder it irritates me when someone uses my middle name as another word for a toilet.

Proving a Birth in 1850s Illinois

One is not always this fortunate. This record is from the guardianship of Francis and Louise Bieger, daughters of Peter Bieger. This wonderful document gave me the dates of birth for Francis and her sister.

The only drawback for the family was that the father had to die for the record to be created. How he died is another story altogether.

Peter died in 1855 in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois. He is my 3rd great-grandfather. This image came from a digital copy I made from the microfilm while at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

John Ufkes 1872

On 4 September 1872, my ancestor John H. Ufkes was in Franklin County, Nebraska, where he initiated a homestead claim. I've written about this claim before, but thought I'd post his signature here.
This is one of the earliest records we have of John in the United States.

03 July 2009

Doing Without Ancestry

Warning--there is opinion in this posting.

My subscription to Ancestry.com lapsed a few months ago and I decided to just let it go until I really needed it either for my research or for an article. So far, I've found that I have enough information I have not organized as it is...so I've not re-upped my subscription.

I have hundreds of digital images from trips to Salt Lake and Ft. Wayne" that I really haven't analyzed enough or put in my database the way that I should. I even downloaded quite a few census images from Ancestry.com that I haven't done data entry on either. They are just siting there in folders, waiting. And writing "Casefile Clues" keeps me busy too. I'd rather write up and analyze the records I have instead of letting them sit "unanalyzed" and gather more to just have a bigger set of files and records that I have "collected." Each time I work up a column I realize that I have so many leads left dangling.

Someday I'll re-up my Ancestry.com subscription. But for now, I'm satisfied to synthesize what I have. And I've been getting copies of original courthouse and other records that have not been digitized. And to be honest, for the foreseeable future offline records are really where family historians should be spending at least 3/4 of their time, maybe more.

I'm not opposed to online records at all, but for the time being, www.archive.org, www.familysearch.org, and http://books.google.com and other sites are keeping me busy enough.

John Lake in 1855

This is an image of the signature of John Lake, obtained from his BLM preemption claim of 1855. John's property was located in Chariton County, Missouri.
Ten years later, John was dead. Killed by bushwackers in his barn. This claim will be the focus of an upcoming "Casefile Clues" article in Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter Plus Edition.

02 July 2009

Michael Jackson's Will and Genealogy

Michael Jackson's will (or at least one of them) was admitted to probate recently and is on several websites for those who care to view it. Having taken a look at it, there are a few things I noticed that brought a few genealogical lessons to mind.

Things might be left out of the will--either intentionally or by accident. Jackson dumped his estate into a trust and the trust was not recorded (probably doesn't have to be is my guess). Does your ancestor's estate mention what happened to everything? I can think of several ancestral estate settlements where the real estate is inventoried, but then never mentioned again. If I had not gone to the actual land records, I would never have known how it was disposed of.

Jackson appointed his mother as guardian and if she could not act, then Diana Ross. While our ancestors probably didn't nominate celebrities as guardians for their children, names of guardians can be huge clues. In most cases our ancestors who had guardians probably had a step-parent, parent, uncle, aunt, or grandparent as a guardian. There are always exceptions.

In the copy of Jackson's will, the names of the witnesses have been blanked out. Hopefully that didn't happen on a copy of your ancestor's will. Witnesses could be people your ancestor knew or just people who happened to be in town "on business" the same day and were willing to sign a document as a witness.

Jackson's will was filed shortly after his death. State statute usually stipulates the deadline for submitting a will to probate. Thirty days is typical and admission of a will to probate can help a genealogist estimate when an ancestor died.

I have a relative whose husband died around 2:00 in the morning. As soon as the courthouse opened that same morning, she was there filing the will for record. But that is another story entirely.

Getting Occupational and Spousal Clues from an Estate

Dick Eastman has posted my latest "Casefile Clues" column on his website.

"Getting Occupational and Spousal Clues from an Estate" discusses an estate settlement from the 1850s on Peter Bieger. Peter left few clues about his life, but his estate settlement provided more information than I expected.

This article is part of the "Plus" edition of the newsletter.

01 July 2009

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