30 November 2009

Recent Casefile Clues Topics

In response to our Cyber-Monday discount ($12 for a year of weekly issues), I've listed topics from recent issues of Casefile Clues. Subscribers will receive issues 11-18 complimentary with their subscription which will begin with issue 19.
Recent issues of Casefile Clues have included:

11- "The Homestead Application of the Heirs of Rolf Habben"

This column discussed the homestead claim of the deceased claimant's heirs. Included is a discussion what types of records are typically in a homestead file, why the copies look so strange, and what other documents should be researched as a followup.

12-"Is the Wrong Name Correct?"

This column discussed a name that appeared on the surface to be incorrect. A 1910 Chicago census enumeration seemingly had the wrong last name for a household member. Further research hints that the individual unofficially changed his name ca. 1909.

13-"Brick Walls from A to Z"

This column was a quick run-down of suggestions for breaking brick walls. It was a reprint of an earlier column of Michael's from several years ago. We don't often use older material (this has been the only time, but deadlines got the best of me and this was a very popular piece).

14-"Jumpstarting Your Research"

Just a few ideas to get you brainstorming.

15-"Finding Geske and her Girls"

Losing a an ancestor on the other side of the pond and finding her in the United States. This required using a variety of records and techniques to find this 1880 era immigrant when her "new" married name was unknown.

16-"A Lot on Barbara's Lots"

A 1900 era probate failed to mention how an estate's real property was disposed of. Finding those deeds revealed quite a bit of genealogical information, even though the actual amount of property and its value was relatively small.

17-"Starting to Get Help from a Professional"

My initial column in an ongoing series on working with a professional, focusing on being focused, deciding what to research, why certain things are researched, and staying within a budget.

18-"Analyzing a Biography"

This column encourages readers to go back and fully analyze all those county "mug book" biographies they have. Several techniques for analysis are included through an extended example. I even made a major discovery just in completing the analysis on this 19th century biography.

Our discount runs until midnight tonight. After that the regular price returns.

Cyber Monday Sale Wraps up today

Our Cyber-Monday sale on Casefile Clues wraps up today at midnight!

Response has been good and there is still time to subscribe to my weekly how-to genealogy newsletter at the discounted rate of $12 a year. Readers who would like to give Casefile Clues as a gift can do so by including that information (name, email) in the instructions section of the payment page.

There are several interesting things coming up in Casefile Clues, including discussion and analysis of new information in several families we've been following over the last few months. And of course, there's always citations and a discussion of what didn't work, and why certain techniques and approaches were tried.

28 November 2009

US IRS Tax Assessment Lists at Ancestry.com

I've been using the U. S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists at Ancestry.com lately, hoping to use the experience as the basis for a Casefile Clues article. That is going to have to wait however as I don't think the database is all that easy to use.

To make effective use of this database, one has to use the guides to learn the district number for the desired part of the state one needs. This can be found using the microfilm guide compiled by NARA for the state in question. Searchers cannot simply search based by county.

I wrote an article on using the lists a year ago for the Ancestry.com blog: http://blogs.ancestry.com/circle/?p=2760

It needs updating for those individuals whose names are not unusual and are city dwellers. I'm trying to use the database to find some Watsons in Pennsylvania and there are several. When I've had time to sit down and work it out, we'll blog about it.

One thing about the title here that is somewhat misleading, the majority of thse records are in the 1860s. The VAST majority. The title says 1862-1918, but don't let that lead you astray.

27 November 2009

My wife's ancestors in 1940

In the spirit of an earlier post, I'm speculating on where various ancestors of my wife were enumerated in the 1940 census. My wife's:

  • Father-can't enumerate he who is not yet born.
  • Mother-with her parents, probably in Marcelline, Linn County, Missouri.
  • Wilbur and Grace (Mortier) Johnson [paternal grandparents]--city of Rock Island, Illinois.
  • Ola and Anna (Apgar) Lake [maternal grandparents]--Marcelline, Linn County, Missouri.
  • Joseph and Eva (Trask) Johnson [great-grandparents] --city of Rock Island, Illinois (probably)
  • Henry and Caroline (Freund) Mortier [great-grandparents]--city of Rock Island, Illinois
  • Marie (Desmarais) Apgar Verikios Williams [great-grandmother]--Chicago, Illinois
  • Samuel Otto Johnson [great-grandfather]--Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois
  • Jennie (Kile-Smith) Trask [great-grandmother]--Galesburg or Peoria, Illinois

We'll have wait for the census to be released to find out if I was right or not.

25 November 2009

Cyber Monday Sale On Casefile Clues

From now until 11:59 on 30 November, we're offering a year of Casefile Clues for $12. That's a $1 a month, only 25 cents per issue.

There is more information on the Casefile Clues website.

The image says "Black Monday," but it's actually Cyber Monday. I can't keep all these marketing things straight.

Chicago City Directories at Footnote

I've been working on the Chicago city directories at Footnote.com. Footnote.com's collection is incomplete, but it is a start and easier than using the microfilm.

The image shown in this post comes from the 1872 Chicago City Directory for Thomas Frame.

We'll discuss searching these directories at Footnote and interesting discoverings made about Thomas Frame in an upcoming edition of Casefile Clues.

Where were they in 1940?

The 2010 Census is coming and before I know it the 1940 census will be released. It got me to thinking about where my ancestors will be in the 1940 census when it comes out. I'm pretty certain of their locations as most of my families during this era did not move very much.

  • Me--I was so not here in 1940.
  • My parents--they weren't around in 1940 either.
  • Cecil and Ida (Trautvetter) Neill [my paternal grandparents]--Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
  • John Ufkes [my maternal grandfather]--Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
  • Dorothy Habben [my maternal grandmother]--Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
  • Charles and Fannie (Rampley) Neill [paternal great-grandparents]--St. Albans Township, Hancock County, Illinois--maybe in West Point or maybe on the farm, not certain.
  • Fred and Tena (Johnson/Janssen) Ufkes [my maternal great-grandparents]--Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
  • Mimke and Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben [my maternal great-grandparents]--Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
  • Anke/Anna (Fecht) Habben [my maternal great-great-grandmother]--Elvaston, Hancock County, Illinois.

I'll work on my in-laws later. My own family as recently as 1940 I can pretty much do off the top of my head.

23 November 2009

Spots on the License

One of the marriage licenses in this post is 49807 from Cook County, Illinois, for Albert Haakman and Eleanor M. Frame. I'm not certain what the spots on the license actually are, but they are several licenses before and after the one shown here.

Eleanor Frame is a first cousin of my wife's grandmother. I've been working on the Frames for an upcoming issue of "Casefile Clues."

A few others in this same series also had spots as well. I have posted 49808 and 49806 as well (numbers in upper right hand corner). They won't show in the "right order," but all three are here.

Joining Us in Salt Lake 2010

Plans are still underway for my 5th annual research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City: 27 May through 3 June 2010

Trip includes:

Pre-trip planning via a private website for those who wish to participate

Availability to ask questions of Michael and other group members before we leave

Help preparing for time in library

Morning presentations

1 on 1 consultations with Michael (both 30 minute scheduled sessions and drop in questions) as needed. More than one 30 minute consultation if time allows.

Early registration ends 15 December. More information is available at


21 November 2009

Signatures on Releases of Mortgages

This is the 1879 signature of Conrad Haase, my step-3rd-great-grandfather. It was contained on a mortgage made out by his step-daughter and son-in-law, Frances and John Michael Trautvetter. Their mortgage was dated 1 Feb 1870 and was paid off in 1879. Frances would have been nineteen when she signed the mortgage, John would have been thirty. Tracking John's deeds, especially those when he purchased the property and mortgaged part of it from his in-laws, has been particularly interesting and I've learned a few things when I thought I already pretty much knew everything.
Down the road this will appear in Casefile Clues.

19 November 2009

Tina Sansone at Bellaonline on Casefile Clues

Tina Sansone at BellaOnline wrote about her experiences with US passport applications after reading about them in Casefile Clues. You can read the review for yourself on her genealogy page at BellaOnline.

Thanks, Tina, for the review. I appreciate it.

Several months ago, I wasn't certain I would have enough material to write weekly a column of this type. I've got a topic list through the first of the year and usually when I write one an idea for another pops into my head.

Remember, whether you subscribe to Casefile Clues or not, writing about your genealogy and organizing the information you have is an excellent use of your time.

18 November 2009

Deadline for Salt Lake City Research Trip Approaching

The early bird deadline is fast approaching for our 2010 trip to Salt Lake City's Family History Library this May/June. Register now while the price is low. For more information on our weeklong trip to Salt Lake, visit: http://www.rootdig.com/slctrip.html

Genealogy Computing Workshops Galesburg-IL, March-April 2010

Carl Sandburg College has announced its annual spring series of genealogy computing worshops.

Topics include:
  • Using Ancestry.com 26 March 2010
  • Using Familysearch.org 27 March 2010
  • Using Family Tree Maker -2 days-4 and 9 April 2010
  • More Problem-Solving- 16 April 2010
  • Searching Free Online Scanned Books - 30 April 2010

We've brought our prices back to old levels--$35 a day. Handouts are included, lunch is on your own, or you can brown bag it.

Sessions are held in state of the art computer facilities and each attendee will have their own computer to use. Registration is limited, but you do not need to live in the Carl Sandburg district to enroll.

Galesburg is easily accessible via interstate. The college has no housing, but there are several motels within a mile of the college. Questions about the workshops can be sent to me at either mneill@sandburg.edu or mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

More information (including registration details) is available at http://www.rootdig.com/sandburg.html.

Give Casefile Clues for the Holidays

Need that perfect gift for your genealogy friend? Give the genealogy gift that keeps on giving, every week for an entire year.

Gift subscriptions to my weekly newsletter Casefile Clues are $15 per year--you can give as many as you want. There is no wrapping necessary.

Here is how it works:

If you don't see the instructions section, do not worry. When you order a gift subscription, Paypal will tell me that YOU ordered a GIFT subscription and it tells me you ordered it (including giving me your email). If there are no instructions, I will contact you and get those details from you manually. It is that easy. You can specify when you want the subscription to start.

If you do not specify when the subscription starts, it will start the week of December 25.

If there are questions about giving gift subscriptions, just ask me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

A subscription to Casefile Clues is the perfect genealogy gift for your genealogy friend who has helped you out, given you advice, etc. Every issue is packed with methodology and research suggestions. And at $15 a year, the price isn't too bad either.

17 November 2009

X Marks the Spot

At the time her will was signed, Barbara Haase made "her mark."

Readers should note that simply making a "mark" does not mean the person was illiterate. They might have been unable to sign or perhaps were told to "make their mark." That's one reason why documents such as this have witnesses.
Barbara could sign her name--she did so on documents in the 1850s and 1860s in a lovely German script. Not certain why she made three marks--although she did have three husbands (or two or four, depends upon how you count).
Issue 16 of Casefile Clues discusses how Barbara's town lot was settled up after her demise-several interesting lessons there.

15 November 2009

Google Maps for Barbara Haase

This is a rough Google Map showing what I think is the location of Barbara Haase's lot in the town of Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois. As time goes on, I'm using Google Maps more and more to plat out things. Keep in mind that Google Maps are modern and that most genealogists need maps contemporary to the research problem. Modern maps are still very helpful though, particularly when locating cemeteries and other potential sources of records.
I'm still working on a few details to make certain I have the right location, but I'm pretty certain this is accurate.
This week's edition of Casefile Clues discusses land transactions for the lot after Barbara's death.

13 November 2009

Took me a while to read this from the 1863 US Federal Tax lists

It took me quite a while to figure out what this word was on John Lake's 1863 federal tax asssessment. The item he was taxed on (the actual heading it "occupation or article") is the one on the list between the line that starts with 13 and the line that starts with 18.
I'm pretty certain it says "stallion."
The tax due was $10.83--this would have been a nice piece of change in 1863.

12 November 2009

Famous Census Search Contest Returns!

Our famous census search contest has returned--complete with prizes.
Check out our companion website at Casefile Clues for details.

11 November 2009

World War 2 Old Men's Draft Registration Card

It's worth noting that some of the "military" records are for men who never saw service--draft registrations come to mind very quickly.

This card is for Frederick J. Ufkes, who registered for the "old men's draft" in 1944. The 48 year old is my great-grandfather.
So when you are looking at those military records, think about draft cards as well.
(this is for Nancy U--her Granddad).

Casefile Clues Fan page on Facebook

Casefile Clues has a fan page on Facebook. You don't have to be a subscriber to be a fan. We post news there about the newsletter and readers sometimes post comments and suggestions and the occasional error or typographical error.

I'm having a great deal of fun writing Casefile Clues and interacting with readers and fans, both on Facebook and our website http://www.casefileclues.com. Give it a try.

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day and I have to go back to the Civil War to find my first veteran ancestor. Riley Rampley enlisted in Co. D, 78th Illinois volunteer infantry along with a brother. He served during the major part of the war and was discharged at the end of the war.

Riley was born in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1835 and died in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois, in 1893.

His 207 page pension file gives quite a bit of information on him and his wife, Nancy.

Fortunately Riley came home or I wouldn't be writing this post. Some soldiers are not so lucky and we should be grateful for their service. Riley and two of his brothers were in the war at the same time. As a parent, that is hard to imagine.

Turned those names around

Hard to see in this image (click on it to view it larger), but this 1930 census enumeration for Panagiotis Verikios has his names as Verikios Panagiotis. It took me forever to find him as his names were enumerated backwards in the 1930 census.

I was reminded of this when a Casefile Clues reader located the husband of our subject Geske Fecht using the reverse name approach. He was actually Boede Heien, but they listed him in the coroner's report as Heien Boede.

5th annual research trip to Family History Library in Salt Lake

Details have all been set for my 5th annual group trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in May/June of 2010. Trip participants get:
  • help with pre-trip planning via secure website
  • ability to send Michael problems before the trip
  • morning optional lectures from 8 until 8:50
  • consulations with Michael (at least two 20 minute consultations at library and "on the fly" questions can be asked when I'm not in consultations).
  • small, limited number of participants so everyone is able to ask questions as needed.

Registration and more trip details are on our site at http://www.rootdig.com/slctrip.html

We'd love to have you join us. Register by 13 November and get free year of Casefile Clues, my weekly how-to newsletter.

Back Issues of Casefile Clues

It is hard to believe that I am working on issue 16 of Casefile Clues since we began self-distribution. It has been fun and a challenge and I appreciate the feedback I have gotten from readers.

Issues 1-10 can be purchased as a set for $4.30. You do not need a PayPal account, just a major credit card. If you'd rather pay another way, email me for information.

2 August 2009--Volume 1 Number 1--Lessons from an Estate Record
9 August 2009--Volume 1, Number 2--Passport Records
16 August 2009--Volume 1, Number 3--Preemption Claim
23 August 2009--Volume 1, Number 4--Multiple Parents
30 August 2009--Volume 1, Number 5--Finding a Chicago Christening
6 September 2009--Volume 1, Number 6--The Civil War Pension File of Riley Rampley
13 September 2009--Volume 1, Number 7--Looking for Ira's Lucretia
20 September 2009--Volume 1, Number 8--Platting out Thomas Sledd's Heirs
27 September 2009--Volume 1, Number 9--Finding and Analyzing Pre-1850 Census Records
4 October 2009--Volume 1, Number 10--Getting from One Ira to Another

If you are not a subscriber, you can subscribe here via our site. Newsletters are sent via email as a PDF attachment unless an intext email is requested.

05 November 2009

Gesche Just Keeps Appearing

It really pays to keep your eyes open and it also helps to be related to half the village.
While doing a little preliminary work on another Wiesens family, I scanned the names on the other christening entries and noticed that Gesche Garrelts Fecht appeared as a sponsor for Anke Alberts Schmidt in November of 1863 in Wiesens. She is listed as the wife of the laborer Jans Dirks Weerts of Wiesens. Gesche was the third wife of an ancestor of mine and mother of his two youngest children. I've been working on an article on her for Casefile Clues.
It wasn't a major breakthrough but does make a good point about keeping your eyes open.

04 November 2009

Need a Speaker in 2010 or 2011?

I am currently booking speaking engagements in 2010 and 2011. I have a variety of topics on which I can lecture, most focusing on methodology and analysis. New topics can be developed if there is adequate preparation time.

Presentations are engaging, enlightening, and entertaining while remaining informative. A letter from a recent conference chair with comments from attendees can be viewed here. I do not stand behind the lectern and read my handout. I enjoy sharing my research experiences with others in a way that motivates them to explore new sources, methods, and research procedures. Case studies are always presented in a way that enlightens about the resource and methods being used.

I'd love to present at your workshop, conference, or seminar.
I can be contacted at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Response to 2009 Illinois State Genealogical Society Conference

I received a nice letter from Ann L. Wells, 2009 Illinois State Genealogical Society Conference Chair, which I have reproduced here with her permission.

She passesd along the comments that were received regarding the recent Illinois State Genealogical Society Conference where I was the main presenter. The comments were positive and included:
  • very engaging
  • kept it interesting
  • good technicals
  • very dynamic with a great sense of humor

Those who want to read more can click on the image of the letter and read it for themselves.

It was a great conference and I'm grateful the committee asked me to present.

Michael's Weekly Column Casefile Clues

Based upon some emails I've received over the past few days, there is still some confusion about my weekly column and where it appears. Consequently, I'm posting this information again for those who might have missed it. If you know what Casefile Clues is already, you can quit reading.

Casefile Clues, Michael John Neill's weekly genealogy how-to column, is available exclusively through www.casefileclues.com. It is no longer distributed via Eastman's newsletter.

What is Casefile Clues?

Casefile Clues is Michael John Neill's weekly how-to genealogy column. Casefile Clues is not copied and pasted text from other articles or press-releases. Rather, it is fresh material drawn from Michael's own research experiences in nearly twenty states and seven foreign countries. Casefile Clues discusses the thought process of how to analyze and interpret documents; how to problem-solve; and how to decide "where to go next." Michael has been actively involved in genealogy research since the mid-1980s.

Columns are clear always have a lesson bigger than the family or area being discussed. Subscribe to Casefile Clues and see how reading short case studies can help you in your own research. Annual subscriptions are just $15, pretty reasonable when you consider that gets you one article every week for an entire year--especially when compared to the prices of other genealogical magazines. I have researched families in most Eastern states and several European countries. The content varies with respect to time periods and locations and I am always open to suggestions from readers. I don't always solve each of my brick walls; however, articles always discuss procedures and methods in an attempt to break them down.

For the past ten years, Michael has written over six hundred how-to genealogy columns for Ancestry.com and Dick Eastman. Now his columns are being distributed from his own site http://www.casefileclues.com/. Email addresses of subscribers are never sold or shared and the website and newsletter are free from advertisements. No advertisers means I am dependent upon readers to help "get the word out," which I truly appreciate. No advertisers also means that within the usual limits, I can say whatever I want and not be concerned with making an advertiser mad. There are no ads to pull. We would love to have you subscribe and see how Casefile Clues can give you ideas to grow your own family tree.

George V of Hanover

He was the last Hanoverian King and is listed as the sponsor of my uncle George Habben in 1862. Born George Frederick Alexander Charles Ernest Augustus on 27 May 1819 he died on 12 June 1878. There is more information on him in a biography at Wikipedia.com. He was a grandson of King George III of Great Britian and a first cousin of Queen Victoria, but that really has nothing to do with the Habben family as readers of Casefile Clues will later see.
An upcoming issue of "Casefile Clues " will explain (likely) why he was my relative's sponsor. I'm not 100% certain, but I have a pretty good theory. He lost Hanover to the Prussians in 1866 and that spurred significant emigration from Ostfriesland to the United States, including the parents of George Habben.
Actually, most of my Ostfriesen emigrants came in the 1866-1875 era. The Prussia takeover of Hanover (which included) Ostfriesland was no coincidence.

02 November 2009

If these are hints....

I actually like using the hints at Ancestry.com, especially when I'm using it for people I have already located in records and want to "tie" everything together.

However, in this case (and in others I won't post here), I just cannot figure this out. Keep in mind, I have no degree in computer programming, but I do have two mathematics degrees so I did have to take a just a little bit of logic.

The tree I entered included a Mary Liddell, born in 1820 in Haltwhistle, England to Robert and Jane Cowing Liddell. These are the suggestions I received for Robert:
  • Some dude "compiled" from member trees who was born in 1866 and died in 1622. What code allowed for that to be a compilation into one person?
  • Some dude born ca. 1862 who was living in 1901 (hence the census listing). Even if the age of Mary is off by 20 years (meaning she was born in 1840), her father would still have to be born in the early 1830s at least.
  • A third dude born in Pennsylvania about 1874.

If you want me to use the "leaves" and the matches at Ancestry.com seriously, you gotta do better than that. Did they accidentally program things in some funny modulo arithmetic or some number base I happened to miss?

Don't get me wrong, I like the actual records Ancestry.com has and their indexes, I use them on a very very regular basis and have made great inroads with their actual indexes (including breaking down on twenty year brick wall). But this automatically compiled stuff and generated list of "leaves" as matches leaves me cold and wishing for trees without leaves.

Give me trees and I'll work on connecting the leaves myself.