30 September 2009

1877 Birth In Chicago

This is an entry from the 1877 Cook County, Illinois, birth register. The baby, was unnamed at the time of birth. A quick look at the other entries on the page indicated that the majority of births were apparently not registered at the time of birth. Always look at a record in context. In this case, that aspect of the record is not unusual.
The only real altering I did to the record was to cut just the bottom part of the image and split it in to two so that it would not be as wide. Obviously the yellow line was not on the original record either. I probably should have made a note that the line was added as a way to see where the record continued. When I copy images like this (which makes them easier to print and have the image be nice and readable and closer to the original size), I rarely copy just the entry.
There are quite a few clues here. What I should have done was to put the heading underneath the various entries so that others would know what the various things meant. Garabaldi is the name of the street where the family was living and where the birth took place. Without knowing what the heading was and given the few entries I copied, one might be tempted to think it meant something else. A few entries on the page in this column had "St" or "Ave" after the name making it a little more clear what the column was for had there been no heading. David Dodge was the doctor.
In an upcoming column of "Casefile Clues" we'll look at this document in more detail as part of a larger problem. This image was obtained on the pilot.familysearch.com site.

28 September 2009

More Accuracy than there is at Ancestry Maps Beta

I will admit that the Maps (Beta) at Ancestry.com are neat, but I'm not always immediately impressed with the latest.

I am well aware of the importance of geography in genealogy.

I am also well aware of the importance of not assuming something is more accurate than it is.

The 1910 census for a relative indicates he was living in Lima, Adams County, Illinois. The census indicates only Lima Township...not the village of Lima which is where Ancestry.com's map "puts the dot."

The problem is that Lima township is not the smallest thing and it certainly encompasses more than the village of Lima. The "red" on the map shows the civil township of Lima with Adama County. There's a vague gray dot on the map which represents the village of Lima.

I just wish the maps beta was more accurate with regards to location and did not indicate a level of precision that is not there.

I haven't taken a look at maps for the Colonial era.

1910 Census Results at Ancestry.com

Note (THIS PROBLEM HAS NOW BEEN FIXED. I am leaving the original post here as I don't believe in "altering history," but I appreciate the quick response to this issue from the folks at Ancestry.com).

I hope it is just me (well actually I don't). If it is just me, then I'm really confused.

The 1910 census search results I've been getting today at Ancestry.com provide city and county, but the state is not listed. It is there if I click on more specifics, but in my results page it would be nice if the state were shown.

Is anyone else having this same problem?

Update: My contact at Ancestry.com is looking into this.

26 September 2009

What is Sarah's Last Name?

If you had been indexing the 1820 census for Nicholas County, Kentucky, how would you have read the last name of the Sarah who appears in this image?

I know what it is (or at least think I do), because of research I have done on this person in this location. But an indexer usually has not done extensive research on all the families in a certain area. Consequently they must guess as to what the last name is.

A visit to our sister site will reveal how Ancestry.com indexed the name (which was a very reasonable guess) and what I think it is.

For reasons like this, one always has to think of other ways letters could be read and other ways sounds could be spelled.

24 September 2009

Michael's Email Address

Effective immediately, the best way to reach me is throught mjnrootdig@gmail.com. My other email address is non-functional at present.

23 September 2009

India Indians in Kansas in 1870

I am a big fan of Ancestry.com and use it virtually every day (and every morning, every night, etc.).

However, like any tool, it needs to be used appropriately and users need to keep in mind that finding aids are created by humans.
The 1870 census index includes a referernce for Philip Sicks as shown above. The index lists his place of birth as India. The partial census image makes it seem pretty clear the reference is to Indiana and not the the country of India.
Others have noticed this before, but I thought they had corrected all these errors. I guess not.

21 September 2009

Ancestry's newer 1820 census images

Ancestry.com for some time has indicated they have improved their 1820 census images. Today I had a few extra minutes and decided to give them a try.

The images are sharp, sharper than I remembered them being.
Of course, doing this very nearly got me sidetracked from the real work I was doing. Conrad Wickiser is my wife's ancestor. As I viewed the pages on the census image, I saw names that were neighbors of the family in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where the family lived before coming to Ohio. There were also members of the Bennett family listed on this page as well. Members of that family had lived in Pennsylvania as well and testified in the Revolutionary War pension file of Elam Blain, whose daughter married into the Wickiser family. Remember it always pays to look at the neighbors.
Revisiting this family's 1820 census entry got me to thinking about some loose ends and some ways that I might expand on my research in this family. Perhaps I should review more images in this enhanced collection.

Drouin Collection Back at Ancestry.com-Alexis Robidoux

The Drouin Collection is back at Ancestry.com. Apparently an agreement has been reached. This is great news for those with French-Canadian ancestry as the collection contains a number of digital copies of church records from Quebec. Those wishing to learn more about what the collection contains can visit Ancestry.com's Drouin Collection page.

The image with this post comes from St. Constant in 1815. It is part of the marriage entry for Alexis Robidoux and Rose Rheaume, ancestors of my wife.

Keep in mind that these records are in French and that sometimes the handwriting is not all that easy to read. However, with the ability to magnify the image and a list of "main French genealogy words," and some time to practice one can get better. Also be advised that the indexing to these records is not perfect. Manual search techniques are still required in some cases.

The index is not an everyname index to these records. The index includes:
  • child and parents on a birth
  • bride and groom on a marriage
  • deceased on a funeral
Names of parents are included in most of the marriage records, but these names are not in the index.

19 September 2009

Census relationships not always correct

This 1900 census image from Saranac, Clinton County, New York is for the household of Isiah (Nazaire) Drollette. The "daughter" Etta Lyman is actually Drollette's step-daughter. I did not include it in this posting, but Etta's father shows as born in somewhere other than Canada, which is where Isiah (Nazaire) was born.
Just goes to show you can't believe everything you read in the census.
Nazaire was my wife's 3rd great-grandfather

18 September 2009

Free Back Issues of Casefile Clues

Our 8th issue of "Casefile Clues" goes out on Sunday. To anyone who subscribes before 8 goes out, I'll start your subscription with issue 8 and send you issues 1-7. Anyone who started subscribing after issue 1 and would like the issues they missed should email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Drouin Collection back at Ancestry.com?

I normally don't blog about "news" here as that's not really the purpose of this blog. However, as I am researching several French-Canadians, I'll make an exception.

Lorine over at Olive Tree Genealogy has indicated that the Ancestry.com access to the Drouin Collection at Ancestry.com will be back on Monday.

This is excellent news. As readers may be aware, my children are 1/16 French-Canadian. Their great-great-grandmother Mary Demar Apgar Verikios Williams, born in 1895 in upstate New York was of French-Canadian ancestry. Her maiden name was actually Desmarais. And the other three names are a LONG story.

A "T C" Land Claim

This is part of the 1890 paperwork in the BLM Casefile for Phillip Troutfetter's cash entry for land in Colorado.
In this section of the testimony, he is indicating when he has been away from the claim. He mentions going to Euslis, Kansas, which I think is actually Ulysses, Kansas. I'm working on that. What I'm confused about is the "T. C. claim" that is mentioned. Phillip mentions he has relinquished two other claims. Any thoughts on what a "T C claim" is?

Signature of Andrew Trask

This is the only signature we have of Andrew Trask, born ca. 1814 Mass. died in Mercer County, Illinois in the 1880s. It comes from his land purchase in Clinton County, Illinois, in 1845.

Now if we could just get his picture.
I'll be posting more from these BLM files over the next few days.

15 September 2009

British Newspapers 19th century at Gale/Cengage

From a press release I received in my email:

"Farmington Hills, MI, September 10, 2009 – Gale, part of Cengage Learning, along with The British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), have made nineteenth-century British newspapers available on the internet. The database, known as “British Newspapers, 1800-1900” and available at http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs/, gives users access to over two million newspaper pages from 49 different national and regional newspapers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Chosen by leading experts and academics, the newspapers represent a cross-section of nineteenth-century society and contain illustrated materials on a variety of topics, including business, sports, politics and entertainment."

Readers know that I'm not a big fan of copy a press release and call it an article or a blog entry. This is to let readers know that I've got access to this database and will be searching it for my wife's English forebears over the next few weeks.

Readers who have questions about this database can fire off an email to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.combefore I make the blog post with my report and I'll see if I can get the answer!

Genealogy Tip of the Day Update and Casefile Clues

I am still behind, but Genealogy Tip of the Day went through a massive update over the last few days. I'll be adding tips to the site as I have time, still having one for each day, but it may be a while before I get it caught up and have one tip coming out a day. I appreciate everyone's patience and support. Genealogy tip of the Day is free and unfortunately sometimes other things come first.

Casefile Clues is growing slowly and I am really happy about that. It is still somewhat in transition as I work out topics and a few issues with style and form. Readers have had articles on a variety of topics, including these recent ones:
  • Civil War Pension File
  • Locating a 1913 era Chicago birth
  • Locating a Chicago Christening Record
  • Tracking a potential sister of an ancestor born ca. 1843.

More are coming....one a week. Upcoming topics include:

  • Kentucky Land Platting
  • Ferreting out a potential parent in the 1850 era in the Midwest
  • Bureau of Land Management Case Files
  • A Homestead Claim completed after death
  • The Infamous Fleming County, Kentucky Pig Murder of the 1830s
  • and more

Topics are always in flux--if a neat document or record crosses my desk, everything else may get pushed back.

We are working on integrating a citation format based on Evidence Explained. Our style will hopefully evolve and we encourage reader submission of ideas and feedback. Blog readers are encouraged to subscribe to "Casefile Clues." Our subscription price is only $15 a year, for 52 weekly issues.

We have a "fan page" on Facebook. Facebook users can search for "casefile clues" and find us. I have an awful time getting a link to the fan page to work.

14 September 2009

Harm Fecht 1905 Champaign County--actual marriage license

This is a part of the actual marriage license for Harm Fecht and Engel Loeschen from Champaign County, Illinois in 1905. Astute readers who compare this image to the "informational" section of the license (which I blogged about earlier) will note that the license asks for the age of bride and groom as of their next birthday and the license asks for their age at the time of the marriage.

Maybe this was to trick them up to see if they were giving their real age.

1905 Champaign County Illinois Marriage License

It always pays to make certain you research everything. The image on the right is part of the marriage license for Harm M. Fecht and Engel S. Loeschen from 1905 in Champaign County, Illinois. This is part of the license that was returned to the clerk after the marriage ceremony was performed.

Champaign County, Illinois, also had "applications" where the couple answered a few questions about their eligibility to get married. The unsuspecting researcher might locate the applications and assume that is all the record there was. In this case, that would be a big mistake.

Being familiar with Illinois records during this time period, I knew there would be more than just the application. Consequently I kept looking in the drawer of microfilm for more marriage records besides the applications. One should always learn about the records in the location in which one is researching.

Harm M. Fecht and the witness John M. Fecht (who was also his brother) were sons of Kea Goldenstein, as given on the marriage license. Her name was actually Fraukea Goldenstein. She was a sister of my 2nd great-grandfather, Focke Goldenstein.

13 September 2009

10% discount on Casefile Clues

There is still some time left to take advantage of our 10% discount on Casefile Clues. The offer expires at midnight tonight.

More information on Casefile Clues is online at http://www.casefileclues.com

The discount subscription page can be accessed here.

12 September 2009

Confusing New York and Kentucky

This 1885 census for Davis County, Iowa, contains the entry for Frederick and Lucretia (Sargent) Price. I have been trying to connect Lucretia Sargent to my Ira Sargent (born ca. 1843).
What is interesting about it is that it indicates Lucretia is born in "Ky." All other records indicate she was born in either New York state or Canada. The family has to be hers as all the other details match.
The first letter of her place of birth is clearly not an "N" as there are other "N"s on the page (in the legal description of their farm location). Here is my theory:
The census taker took down notes. He wrote down "Ny" for the place of birth and then, upon writing up his good copy, read it as a "Ky."
That seems pretty reasonable. And I think it explains something else that has never made sense to me.
Ira Sargent (born ca. 1843) had a daughter Ida Sargent Trautvetter. In the 1930 census for Keene Township, Adams County, Illinois, Ida's father and mother are shown with places of birth in "Kentucky." I never understood this at all. While the places of birth for Ida's father were not always consistent, records always provided a place of birth of either New York state or Canada-never near Kentucky.
I am wondering now if she gave "New York" as her father's place of birth and the enumerator in his field notes wrote down "Ny." Did he later interpret that as "Ky" for Kentucky and write that down in the census? I'm not certain. But it makes a little more sense than other scenarios I've been able to come up with.

11 September 2009

A New Way to Search

I've been working on my elusive Ira Sargent lately for a "Casefile Clues" column and in the course of looking at census records, something came to me. The programming would be difficult, but it might really help those of us who are stuck.

We all know that in some families names are repeated and used, over and over. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a search interface that worked like that?

Say for example I have a family with the following structure in 1850?

Father Asa
Mother Mary
Children: Emma, Ira, Lucretia, Edwin, Martha, Permelia. Places of birth are in Illinois, New York, and Canada.

Lucretia marries--I don't know his last name. But I think that she might have used the names of some of her siblings for names of her children. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way to enter as search terms Lucretia's place of birth and the names of her children and search for households with a Lucretia above a certain age and with say maybe half of the children having the name Emma, Ira, Edwin, Martha, or Permelia? It would not be proof that I had the right family, but it would at least give me some families to work on. This is one of the difficulties in locating women when their married name is unknown.

Does this make sense (is anyone even listening)? I might not have formulated my thought as precisely as I wanted.

10 September 2009

Re-read your files lately?

When was the last time you read through your old files?

I went through old correspondence (20 years and older) on my Sargent line and in there was a letter asking about someone who I now think may actually be my ancestor's sister. I replied to the letter writer, but am glad I kept her letter. It gave the name of the potential sister's husband, something I would not have had without the letter.

How many of us "really" keep old emails that might contain clues like these? How many of us actually scan or search them every so often for new names and leads that we encounter? I am starting to wonder how many really good clues are lurking in old emails. Maybe we should start searching what is on our hard drive a little more often.

09 September 2009

Salt Lake Trip Discount for Casefile Clues Subscribers

Any Casefile Clues readers want to join me on my 5th annual research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake? Readers who register by 15 September can receive a $25 discount off our early bird price, making your registration $175. Trip details are located at http://www.rootdig.com/slctrip.html.

Email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com for the website with the discount registration payment form.

Those who aren't aware of Casefile Clues can find out more at our website.

08 September 2009

A Trade Off to Build Your Genealogy

Writing is an excellent way to refine your research and notice mistakes, omissions, and opportunities. This is true even if you have no intention of actually "publishing" your research.

Consider this challenge. Ask a genealogy friend (preferably who is NOT related to the family you will be writing about) if they will work out a trade with you.

You will write up one family or research problem. Your friend will write up one of their own research problems. Both of you should write up problems on families on which the other one is NOT working. You should cite sources. You and your friend can set a word length or range (2,000-2,500 is good, but entirely optional).

Trade writeups. Your assignment then is to:
  • find 4 resources you think the writer should utilize in searching the family.
  • gently comment on any reasoning or logic you do not understand.
  • write down any assumptions the writer makes that you think might need to be changed.
  • anything else that you think might help the researcher to solve their problem.

Your job is not necessarily to edit grammar and the like (unless both parties agree to that). You are to be polite and gentle if there is some glaring error or omission, not mean and spiteful. The goal is to help each other with your research. Remember that your reader does not know the family like you do. You will have to provide background information where necessary.

You and your friend have a lot to gain. Are you up to the challenge?

07 September 2009

Lucretia Sargent Price of Sullivan County, Missouri

This is part of the death certificate of Lucretia Price who died on December 14, 1916 in Sullivan County, Missouri. Her maiden name was Sargent as evidenced on this part of her birth certificate.

I think Lucretia (wife of Frederick Price) was the same Lucretia who was the daughter of Clark and Mary Sargent of Winnebago County, Illinois. They also had a son Ira Sargent who I think is my ancestor.

There will be an update on how I found this record and Lucretia in an upcoming issue of "Casefile Clues." But don't you just hate it when a death certificate is as informative as this one is.

According to her death certificate Lucretia was born in 1839 in Canada. Other records indicate she might have been born a few years later in New York State. I'm not certain right now.

She died in Green City, Missouri, and is buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

1880 Census a little difficult to read

This 1880 census enumeration is a little difficult to read. Fortunately, the transcriber got it "right" and I was able to find the family using the index.
The wife is Lucretia and I'm 99% certain she is the sister of an Ira Sargent that I think is "my Ira."
Other than finding them, the question is would the typical reader have read these names as what they are?
I'm wondering what readers think is the name of the head of this household and what the names are of the other members.
"Casefile Clues" readers will be finding out more about this family in the coming weeks as I continue to unravel details. This family has been most interesting and I am close to breaking down a brick wall I've had in my research ever since I started.

Another Followup on the SS5 Card Stamp

An update to my post on the mysterious stamp on the SS5 card.

A website visitor sent me this copy of an SS5 form completed in 1960. It contains a similarly worded stamp on the far left hand side. This card says "NO RECORD IN DAO"

This pretty much seals it for me. I don't think the Social Security Administration would use the word "DAD" on a stamp and they were concerned about tracking earnings, not anything else. Remember, this is the 1950s and 1960s we are talking about, not the 21st century.

06 September 2009

30 Genealogical Misconceptions

I posted this to my site some time ago, but it is still as true today as when I wrote it 9 years ago. This article includes thirty genealogical misconceptions, some serious and some tongue-in-cheek. I'll leave it to the reader to determine which are which.



04 September 2009

SS-5 Card and that stamp

Thanks to all who submitted ideas on what the stamp in area 11 of the SS5 card meant.

I found several webpages on the Social Security Administration website that gave me some perspective--and more information that I really thought I would ever need.

Operations in the Candler Building 1936-1960


Oral History Collection
Robert P. Bynum

Based upon this reading (and the submissions of several members of the APG list, the Gen-Newbie List, and the Roots-L list), I am going with



which I am inferring to mean that the Division of Accounting Operations at the Social Security Office had no record of her employment. This would explain why the stamp was in the region of the card that it was. Anna Lake had worked before 1963, but that work was before her marriage which would have been before 1930--which was before Social Security anyway.

Thanks for all the suggestions about the card.

Next question: what made her get her card in 1963? See how one thing always leads to another?

03 September 2009

Reading Signatures?

A few years ago, I posted nearly thirty signatures of various individuals on my site, allowing readers a chance to view them and try their own "hand" at reading the names.

The entry page is:

The ads don't work and I don't have time to fix them at the present. However, the links to the larger images of the signatures and their correct interpretation work just fine. Have a look, and give them a try.

Social Security Card Application SS5

This image is the SS5 form for Anna Lake from Moline, Illinois, in 1963. This Application for a Social Security and Tax Account Number contains a stamp in the area of section 11 that I am not quite able to make out. I posted it to an APG list and have some suggestions which I'm going to post later as followup to this posting when I have time to put them together.
Any thoughts on what the stamp means would be greatly appreciated. Two recent articles in "Casefile Clues" have focused on my search for more information on Anna's parents. In this family nothing is as it seems.

02 September 2009

Proofreader for Casefile Clues-Sue Hawes

Casefile Clues is pleased to announce that Sue Hawes of Portland, Maine, will serve as proofreader for Casefile Clues. Involved in genealogy since 1994, Sue completed both the National Genealogical Society's American Genealogy Home Study Course and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research Advanced Methodology course with Elizabeth Shown Mills. Sue hosts, creates and manages genealogy and family history web sites and is currently conducting a community study of the Village of Pulaski in Augusta Township, Hancock County, Illinois. We are proud to have Sue join Casefile Clues in this capacity.

More information on Casefile Clues, Michael John Neill's weekly genealogy how-to newsletter, can be found at http://www.casefileclues.com

Signature of my convict ancestor

This signature of James Rampley (convicted in County Suffolk, England in 1764) comes from a court case in the 1820s in Harford County, Maryland. I'll be adding the citation information later, but wanted to post the scan of the signature before I forgot about it.

Descendants of Convicts from the 1700s still needed

Several weeks ago, Nathan Murphy had an offer that was mentioned in Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Summarizing the offer:

If you can provide convincing evidence that your ancestor was one of the first 50,000 English convicts sent to America in the 1700s, then Nathan W. Murphy would like to hear from you.
Be one of the first 50 people to contact Nathan, a professional genealogist in Salt Lake City, and he will research that person’s life and overseas origins for you at no charge.

Nathan W. Murphy, MA, AG, an expert in tracing transported convicts and indentured servants in Colonial America, is collecting information on these immigrants for his Ph.D. dissertation. Nathan can be contacted at nmurphy@pricegen.com. You can visit his website at www.pricegen.com/nathanwmurphy.html to learn more.

Nathan has added my James Rampley to his list of immigrants. James was convicted in 1754 in County Suffolk. We'll be posting more information about James and the project as time goes on.

I wanted readers to know that Nathan still needs convicts for the project.

Famouscensus.com is for sale

Due to other work and opportunities, I have decided to stop updating www.famouscensus.com and am selling the domain name. If anyone is interested, please email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Chicago Baptism from 1922

This is part of the transcription of the baptismal record for Anna Apgar from Holy Rosary Church in Chicago, Illinois.

My "Casefile Clues" column which ran this week discussed how I located this record. It wasn't as easy as one might think. This article was part of a series on Anna Apgar, born in 1913 in Chicago. In upcoming issues of "Casefile Clues" I'll discuss why I think the baptism took so long (she was 9 years old) and who the sponsors were. That is not all straightforward either.

Anna married Ola Lake in 1930 and passed away in Moline, Illinois in 1987. She is my my wife's maternal grandmother.

Those who subscribe to "Casefile Clues" in the next day will get this week's article even though their subscription will start the following week.

01 September 2009

Grandma would be 99 today

Today would have been my Grandma Neill's 99th birthday.

According to Grandma she was born 1 Sept 1910 in "Tiogee." She meant Tioga, but she always said it to sound like "Tiogee." Actually Grandma was born in Wythe Township, Hancock County, Illinois, somewhere near the metropolis of Elderville. She wasn't born in Tioga. Wythe Township is the location given on her birth certificate and christening record. Her family was living in Wythe Township in the 1910 census as well. I've got scans of those records I'll have to post on the site when I get time. Grandma listed her birth place as Tioga on every record where she provided the information.

Grandma's father's family was from Tioga and that's where she was christened, which is probably why she thought she was born there. Her parents were George and Ida Trautvetter.

Grandma's in the SSDI http://ssdi.rootsweb.com/. There are only 7 Ida Neills in the index at the time this post was written.

She married my Grandpa Neill in December of 1935. They travelled from Loraine, Illinois, where Grandma lived, to Keithsburg, Illinois, to get married. According to the newspaper, Grandma wore a light blue dress for the ceremony. According to Grandma, she and Grandpa split a Snickers bar sometime later in the day. Times were hard and money was tight. They went back to their respective parents' homes until they set up housekeeping in the spring of 1936. Grandpa rented a farm near Plymouth, Illinois for the first few years or so after their marriage. They later moved to Carthage.

Grandma rarely left the farm and lived most of her adult life on the farm she and Grandpa bought north of Carthage, Illinois. She passed away at home in July of 1994 and was buried in the West Point [Illinois] Cemetery. The chickenhouse still stands.

[I'm having difficulties posting images with blogger.com so I'm just posting text for this post.]