25 February 2010

United Kingdom Alien Entries

There are two new databases at Ancestry.com that struck my attention this morning:
The Alien Arrivals appear to be indexed. The first image on this blog post comes from a list from that database dated 8 April 1849. I was hoping to find one of the various members of the Frame family, but no avail.

Unfortunately the UK, Aliens Entry Books are NOT indexed. This was a huge disappointment as my wife has several UK natives who likely naturalized in the United States and returned to the UK for a visit. Hopefully in time it will be indexed.

23 February 2010

Need a Vital Record--LOOK HERE FIRST?

Not all time periods are covered, but if you need a vital record try this site first:

It is from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.

It will link you DIRECTLY to the state office of vital records in that state. Of course there are also county records that might have been recorded before state registration. In some states, towns or counties might also have the same information at a lower charge.

There are numerous "link farms" that will link you to other vital record "search services" that will charge you significantly more than necessary. Don't just perform a google search for "illinois death records" and click on the first link.

This page from the CDC will not link you to sites that charge you for OVERNIGHT and EXPRESS services, which are generally just a waste of money. Do you really need that death certificate this week? VitalChek wanted $22 for a Florida certificate I could order from the state directly for $5.

VitalChek wanted $23.50 to obtain a copy of my birth certificate (image shown in this post). In this case, I can get it myself from the county for $10.00. They also wanted to ship it UPS Air for an additional $19.50 for a grand total of $43.00

Final advice--before ordering a copy of a vital record, make certain you are on an actual site of the record agency (or perhaps a state archives). Chances are if you are ordering through a *.com domain name, you are PAYING TOO MUCH.

If all else fails, post to roots-l or to gen-newbie and ask for help. Check before you send that check or submit that credit card.

Time to Blog and a Few Thoughts

Occasionally the Rootdig.com blog languishes as other tasks are attended to. I'm hesitant to post something just to "post something" and bump up my site's traffic. Frankly much of my research I'm actually doing gets put into Casefile Clues. Most of what you'll at Rootdig.com will be some pitfalls, opinion and generally commentary that doesn't fit much of anywhere else.

Making Casefile Clues better by focusing on the "why" of research, the "how" of evidence and the "importance" of citation is high on my priority list. Also increasing the number of subscribers to Casefile Clues is important as well in order to keep the newsletter growing. It is all about balancing workload and fun versus frustration.

I won't post things here just to boost traffic and frankly I've never made enough off affiliate links and advertising to really make it worth the amount of time it takes. I'm always interested in the longevity of various websites, blogs, etc. Not that I'm being cynical mind you, but I've been in this "industry" for some time. I've seen websites, "experts," and the like come and go. Some come and stay, but quite a few don't. The new wears off, the income isn't there, life intervenes, and some just really don't have anything all that interesting to say.

I'm also not a big fan of "promote me and I'll promote you." I realize it may be "good for business" and "good for traffic," but sometimes I'm not all that worried about those things. Frankly, I'm more concerned about what is good for content.

And while I do tweet occasionally, I find the tags and all that at times a bit mind-numbing. The tweeting, re-tweeting, re-re-tweeting, etc. wears on my nerves. And yes, I know there are ways to avoid getting the re-tweets and all that so there's no need to make me aware of that. There is only so much time in the day and the amount of time I can spend on social networking limited. Frankly "social networking" seems a little redundant to me. Is there such a thing as "un-social networking?"

I may be old-school, but I've long thought that doing good work will bring a certain amount of reward. I know marketing is important, but there comes a time when one has to do the work to have something to market. Sometimes I think there are some who spend too much time on marketing and not enough time on actual work.

There's also the belief in some circles that "fancy computer enhanced work" is inherently better than something less "professional." I'm unconvinced.

But then again, I typed my first land record transcriptions on a early 1960 era typewriter too.

22 February 2010

Genealogy Tip of the Day a 40 Best Genealogy Blog

"Genealogy Tip of the Day" was named one of the 40 best genealogy blogs by Family Tree Magazine. This is excellent motivation to get caught up and keep the blog caught up. Casefile Clues has taken up quite a bit of my time over the past few months--but we're adding tips from our stash today and should be caught up by the end of the week.

18 February 2010

Ancestry.com's Trees

I really need to just stay off these trees at Ancestry.com. They are just raising my blood pressure.

A submitter claims that the 1900-1920 census indicates the village of birth for my ancestor in Germany. Obviously it doesn't. She also has the county seat as part of the place of birth, another mistake. If anything, she could include the county, but not the county seat.

There are also last names spelled incorrectly in ways that are clearly typographical errors she never bothered to fix.

She also has my great-great-grandmother's father DYING six years before his daughter was born. Interesting to find out that great-grandma was a test tube baby in the mid nineteenth century.

I find it frustrating to have information about ancestors uploaded incorrectly. My ancestors are all a little special to me (even if some were a little flaky) and I think it is important to be fairly accurate in what you compile. Blanks when you do not know something is better than throwing something in. Sometimes I think it's almost disrespectful to just put up any old crap you want about some dead relative and claim "well, it's harmless I'm just an amateur. I am just sharing with everyone what I find. You should be glad I share my information with others. You shouldn't take it so seriously. I have good intentions."

My Dad never did one lick of genealogy, but I was always taught you shouldn't do things half-assed. Some of my distant kin apparently have never heard of that phrase. Personally I would be embarassed to put my name on something with so many mistakes. But that's just me.

15 February 2010

Presidents' Day Special On Casefile Clues

There are just a few hours left on our Presidents' Day special on my weekly how-to genealogy newsletter, Casefile Clues. Information on that special is here:


Join in on the fun---your research will never be the same.

11 February 2010

Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation 1908-1922 are not just anti-American Activities

Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation 1908-1922 are not just about Anti-American activities during the World War I and before time period.

This screen shot comes from an investigation in Columbus, New Mexico into Jack Demoss and Mary White. Demoss was accused of acquiring and selling whiskey and Mary White (his housekeeper) was accused of running a bawdy house. There is a fair amount of testimony in the file.

Site readers can view the casefiles here or start a free trial atFootnote.com. I am looking at one of the German families located in these records in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.

Many other files are investigations into draft evasion. These usually contain some proof of age. Do not just assume that these files are only about Germans. That would be a mistake. Demoss indicates other locations he had lived and a location of a previous arrest is given.

10 February 2010

Organizational Pension Index has no George

I was trying to see if the organizational index to Civil War pensions had an entry for George Trautvetter in Company H of the 14th Illinois Infantry. Footnote has digital images of this index, but there was no entry for George. There are other pension indexes I will try, but it is not looking like the George who served in the 14th Illinois received a pension.

I was somewhat concerned that I might not have the right company or had somehow missed something. However, when looking at the other names of some of the men in his unit, I noticed several of them did receive pensions. George Trautvetter lived until the 1930s, so he would have lived long enough. Perhaps the indication that he deserted was correct after all.

I've put sorting out the George Trautvetters with Civil War service until later, but hope to write about it in Casefile Clues one of these days.

You can start your own free trial with footnote.com

How is Casefile Clues Different

[I'm copying this post which was posted to the Casefile Clues blog a few days ago--normally I don't cross-post things.]

I think there are some things that make Casefile Clues different from other genealogy how-to publications in the marketplace.

Casefile Clues is written by a genealogist for genealogists. As a result, focus on research is our top priority and I'm usually aware of what works and what doesn't. Our proofreader also is a very highly experienced genealogist. Neither of us are new to research. I've been researching my family history long before I ever started writing ( I was 13 when I began my family research). For me Casefile Clues and my writing began as a way to hone my research skills and share my research experiences with others.

Casefile Clues accepts no advertising and isn't selling anything either (other than back issues). Consequently there are no advertisers I have to worry about keeping happy. I don't have to mention certain products or services every so often, nor do I have to plug specific websites, books, etc. If I mention a site, book, etc. it is because I actually used it, not because someone told me to. Not having sponsors is very freeing.

In many ways Casefile Clues is a one-person show, but there are exceptions.* I don't have anyone with minimal genealogical experience looking over my shoulder, approving content, making suggestions,telling me what to do, telling me what to write about, etc. Decisions about content, style, etc. are made by me. There isn't anyone else from whom I have to get approval, permission, etc. when I decide to write about something. Some genealogy "how-to" magazines have non-genealogists making content and editorial decisions. That's not the case at Casefile Clues. *The exception is the fact that Sue H. is a great help as my proofreader and she is a great asset (interestingly enough, we've never met in person). We also get help from R. M. which is greatly appreciated.

Casefile Clues is reliant on reader support to spread the news. I know there are several who have helped us by telling others about the newsletter. That is greatly appreciated.

We've got some interesting things coming up over the next few months. Join us and get in on the fun.

More Directories on Footnote and a Suggestion

I have been searching the St. Louis City Directories on Footnote.com and came across this entry for George Rothweiler in 1869.
Casefile Clues readers will remember George Rothweiler from our Valentine Hess article. The directories have been helpful in my work on George and his family--his wife Ernestine is the actual relative of mine.
At any rate, I have another suggestion for Footnote.com based upon my work with these directories.
Allow me to mark a page or image as already viewed. I do not want to save every image to my gallery, but I have wasted time looking at images I have already seen. I do keep track of what directory years I have made copies of, but it would be nice if I could flag an image as "already viewed." That would save me time when using the digital images.

Rootdig.com on Blogspot

Until further notice, the blog portion of Rootdig.com will be hosted on Blogspot.

Blogger is changing their FTP capabilities of their site and I simply don't have time to deal with the changes right now. The non-blog content will stay be where it has been, but all blogging will be done from http://rootdig.blogspot.com until I get time to make the changes. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Sample Room?

This is from the 1874 St. Louis City Directory. The entry I am curious about is the one for George Rothweiler--what is a "sample room?"

This is one of the St. Louis city directories on Footnote.com.

09 February 2010

St. Louis Directories at Footnote.com

I've been working with St. Louis directories at Footnote.com for an upcoming column in Casefile Clues. I've been finding several entries for one family I am working on. Footnote.com lets me search all the directories for one city at the same time, which is really nice.

What I would like to be able to do however, is have the results sorted by year of directory publication. In the case I'm working on, I need directories from ca. 1860 until about 1875 when the individual under study died. I certainly do not need the entries after 1890 and having the years appear in my search results in an apparently random fashion slows me down.

Don't get me wrong. The ability to search these directories all at once from my own home is convenient. But there's always room for a little tweaking!

Guaranteeing Results

I see it on a regular basis from genealogists at all levels.

"I'll help you trace all your great-grandparents. I have success in 97% of cases. I'll find your ancestors." Others make similar statements.

It is not just the inexperienced who make such claims on their websites. I see it in promotional materials written by those with various certifications and years of experience. It always leaves me a little frustrated and wondering how many potential clients believe that success in genealogical research can be guaranteed. It cannot.

Readers of this blog and my newsletter Casefile Clues know that occasionally I hire genealogists to work on various problems for me. Time and distance does not always allow me to research everywhere I want or need to. Usually I hire genealogists I have dealt with before, whose work I have seen elsewhere, or who have been recommended by someone I know. If I am considering hiring someone and their website or promotional material indicates any suggestion of even a hint of guaranteeing results, I go elsewhere. It is just a personal preference of mine. I want someone who knows their "stuff" and knows better than to even hint at guaranteeing anything.

I'm working on more in a series of hiring a professional researcher for Casefile Clues. The researcher I've hired and I have agreed on what will be researched, what copies will be made (if information is found) and how much time will be expended. Nowhere did she promise me any results.

I'm hoping she finds what we are looking for. She is too. But we both know that there are no guarantees in genealogy research. You should too.

Another Expo Registration Giveaway!

I am looking forward to presenting at the St. George Family History Expo on 27 February 2010 in St. George, Utah.

The Expo actually starts on the 26th--but work prevents me from attending on Friday.

There is a great lineup of speakers and presentations--which can be viewed here.

I'm giving away another full registration to attend the expo (does not include banquet). That's quite a bargain. Here is how you can enter to win:

My sister website, Casefile Clues, contains a blog post about the passport application of Robert Frame. To enter the contest, send an email to contest@casefileclues.com answering the following questions:

  • What was Robert's date and place of birth?
  • What was Robert's height (in feet and inches) ?

Make certain your name and email address appear in the body of your email. Submit answers to contest@casefileclues.com by 17 Feburary 2010.

Winner will be announced on 18 February 2010. Name will be drawn at random.

Win a Full Registration to the Family History Expo in St. George!

I am looking forward to presenting at the St. George Family History Expo on 27 February 2010 in St. George, Utah.

The Expo actually starts on the 26th--but work prevents me from attending on Friday.

There is a great lineup of speakers and presentations--which can be viewed here.

I'm giving away one full registration to attend the expo (does not include banquet). That's quite a bargain. Here is how you can enter to win:

My sister website, Casefile Clues, contains a blog post about my ancestor Nancy Rampley whose Civil War pension was denied several times. To enter the contest, send an email to contest@casefileclues.com answering the following questions:

  • What was the name of the representative Nancy had write a letter in her behalf?
  • What was the date of the letter?

Make certain your name and email address appear in the body of your email. The Casefile Clues website contains a scan of the letter written in Nancy's behalf---all you have to do is find it and submit the answers to contest@casefileclues.com by 17 Feburary 2010.

Winner will be announced on 18 February 2010. Name will be drawn at random.

St. George Utah 27 February 2010

I will be making three presentations at the Family History Expo on 27 Feb in St. George, Utah. Topics will be: Court records, Illinois research, and migration. Fans in the area are welcome to come and introduce themselves.


08 February 2010

Basco Basketball Team 1930-1931

This photograph was found in my Granddad (John H. Ufkes)'s things.
It appears to be the Basco, Illinois, High School basketball team from 1930-1931. If anyone can identify anyone in the picture, please email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. Thanks!

Who are four of these people?

I only know who one of the people in this photo is.

The young lady on the far right is Tena/Trientje Janssen Ufkes (1895-1986).

Tena was born in Bear Creek Township in February of 1895 and died in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois, in 1986.

I do not know who the others are in the picture. This photograph was one that my grandparents had. Tena's son John H. Ufkes (1917-2003), was my grandfather.

Any suggestions as to who the others are would be greatly appreciated.

Flip it Over!

I've been quickly going through a few things in my grandparents' collection of clippings trying to find something for a Casefile Clues column. I ran across a clipping Grandma made from the church bulletin the Sunday I was baptized.

While she didn't write the date on the clipping, I was lucky. When I flipped the clipping over, the date was right there on the back: 28 July 1968.

The name of the church wasn't there, but that I already knew--Trinity Lutheran in Carthage, Illinois.

I'll have to work on a citation for this in the spirit of Evidence Explained. Everything used in Casefile Clues is always cited, but this probably won't appear there as I usually don't write about myself.

03 February 2010

It is not that specific

This irritates me, but like many things that irritate me I doubt there will be much in the way of any response.

This is a screen shot of part of a timeline from one of the Ancestry Family Trees on a relative of mine. I did not compile the data. I have seen this type of problem numerous times and this is not an isolated case.

The county of birth is correct for this person (at least it agrees with every record I have uncovered), but the county seat (of the same name) is not. There's actually no primary record of this person's birth (too early) and the family likely lived in one of the outlying townships based upon tax and land records. The person was not born in the county seat.

But me disagreeing with the place of birth is not the point. Researchers can reach different conclusions. There is a larger problem with this sourcing.

The way this information is "sourced" seems to indicate that the 1850, 1860, 1870 and censuses provide the county of birth for this individual. They do not. All they give is the state of Ohio (I've seen them all). While I am glad that the Ancestry Trees allow for the inclusion of sources, the way it ends up being done is in a way that is very misleading as it implies the census provides an amount of accuracy that it does not.

For this individual, the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census should be tied as the source of a birthplace of "Ohio," not a place of birth of "Coshocton County, Ohio." That's why we should have multiple places of birth for most ancestors when doing sources accurately. We should not indicate that a source provides more accuracy than it actually does.

Sourcing like this only adds to the confusion and makes it imperative that actual records be used whenever possible.

Sometimes people wonder if there won't be a need for professional genealogists in the future. When I see the ease with which data like this can be compiled I think I know the answer to that question.

02 February 2010

George Trautvetter's Civil War Service

This page comes from the Illinois Adjutant General's Report (Volume 1, published in 1900, page 650) of Company H of the 14th Reorganized Illinois Infantry.

The entry, partially highlighted here, indicates that George A. Trautvetter enlisted on 18 February 1865 and was mustered in on the same day. It also indicates he deserted.

There was another George Trautvetter who served in the 15th Missouri Infantry, Company H who I blogged about before after finding those records on Footnote.com. That George enlisted in Keokuk, Iowa, a very short distance from where George A. Trautvetter lived. I had assumed the George Trautvetter who enlisted in the Missouri regiment and the one listed in this regiment were the same one. Now I am not so certain as George A. Trautvetter's biography contains details not consistent with him enlisting in the Missouri regiment.

It might really be time to obtain the Civil War pension for George A. Trautvetter and see what it has to say about his service---of course if he actually deserted there won't be one.

Who is the other George? Is it a different George? I'm starting to wonder. The problem is: who?

Mention Us on Your Blog, Please!

I'm not naming the site, the product or the company that sent me an email recently. I've included an altered version of it below.

--------- beginning of altered email (CAPS indicated altered item)---------------------------

The new BLAHBLAH is launching an online giveaway:BLOGABOUTUSANDWIN . One lucky winner will receive a FREETHING from OVERPRICED STUFF, valued at $ANOVERINFLATEDPRICE!

To enter, simply blog or tweet about BLAHBLAH before the RELEASE DATE, link to the official BLAHBLAH site and/or fanpage, and send your permalink to helpussellourstuff@notanemail.com.

Write a second blog or tweet between THISDATE and THATDATE and double your chances of winning.

For full contest details go here: WEBSITE DELETED.

-------------- end of altered email ----------------------

I'm not opposed to marketing. I'm not opposed to making money. I've been known to promote my own newsletter as well. Advertisements (clearly indicated as such) do not present any problem to me. Mentioning something in the text or an article or writing about something solely to "get something out of it" just doesn't sit well with me. I never cared for Paul Harvey for much the same reason. "Write about us and we'll enter you in a contest" just doesn't sit well with me.

If it doesn't bother you, that's fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Products, books and other materials are occasionally mentioned here on Rootdig.com. If they get mentioned, it's because I actually use them. Once in a while a researcher or research service gets mentioned--if so, for the same reason. Readers likely will never see books or research materials from Eastern Europe on my site--because I don't have family there. That's it and nothing more.

Years ago a good friend in "genealogyland" asked me to give an hourlong lecture on a genealogy software program that she was thinking about using. I had not used the software yet, but out of great respect for my friend, I agreed to do the presentation and said I would have time to learn it so I could present about it. I learned about the software, created the presentation, and gave the presentation, explaining its use. After using it, I decided I would never buy the software and never recommend its use to anyone (and NO, I'm NOT saying what the name of the software was). I also decided I would never present again on anything that I wasn't already familiar with. I also decided I would never present on something I would not pay for myself.

I never blog about something because someone's offered me something or entered my name in a contest if I mention it. Consequently, if I am not a fan of something or don't use it (because it's not in my areas of research), you won't find it mentioned here. As a result, there may be great things in genealogyland that I simply don't mention because it's not in my area of research.

I've always tried to make my blog/website about actual research and things I actually do or use.

End of soapbox and back to work.

01 February 2010

Pig Breeder Transfers Provide Genealogy Clues

Maybe I have too much time on my hands.

I spent a few minutes today playing on Google Books after a few Casefile Clues readers reported success after reading issue 27. Each hog was given a name and their pedigrees are shown through the grandparents. Typical for animal breeders

The book image here is from the 1911 and was located by searching on rampley "west point." The W. Rampley shown here I am reasonably certain is my great-grandmother's brother. They were children of Riley and Nancy Newman Rampley. There are a few of Nancy's family that I'm trying to track down.

Notice to whom W. Rampley sold several of these hogs--A. W. Newman of Hurdland, Missouri. This may be a clue in locating a few lost members of the Newman clan--and all from a 1911 directory of hog breeders. Not what one would expect.

And for those who wonder what a Chester White is, we've added an image here to this post. It's not one of the sows listed on this page, but it gives off the farm readers an idea.