30 March 2010

What's Wrong with this Picture?

This is a screen shot from a personal tree I'm working on as a demo at Ancestry.com.

I've been adding census images to this person. All the information on the timeline comes straight from Ancestry.com and for the most part is autogenerated.

There is a mistake on this that I didn't make. It was part of the "upload" when I added a census image to Abraham's file.

Anyone know what the mistake is?

Genealogists should not need Ancestry.com membership to see this mistake.

This is an error they should have caught.
I'm working on Abram for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues and to a point like being able to intergrate the census images (not happy with the citation or how it handles some events, which I've posted earlier).

Those Overly Specific Places at Ancestry.com

I've blogged about it before, but I'm encountering it again while wrapping up issue 36 of Casefile Clues, so I'll mention it in hopes that someone notices.
Ancestry.com's maps indicate a level of precision that simply does not exist in many census records, particularly earlier ones. This is a map showing the 1830 residence of Harlem Township, Delaware County, Ohio.
Every former farmkid (yours truly included) knows a township is not a specific point, but rather generally a square and a fairly large one. In many locations it's a square 6 miles on a side but not always. I just do not like the maps indicating a level of precision that simply does NOT exist in census records this early and doesn't usually exist in census records in rural areas period.
Maybe there just ain't any former farmboys working at Ancestry.com. They'd know a township ain't a spot on a map.

Location list on Ancestry.com's search of databases

You would think that on a search of the 1850 United States Census at Ancestry.com the list of possible choices for location could be refined to include only those in the United States or that actually appear on microfilm. It is a little frustrating to type in a few letters and get places in India as choices of residence in 1850 United States.

27 March 2010

25 March 2010

Update on Pension Payment Cards

I blogged about the Pension Payment Cards earlier http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2010/03/pension-payment-cards-on-archiveorg.html.

It looks like they are all up. Follow the directions on the previous post for searching ideas.

This is nice!

Surveying Genealogists....

Casefile Clues is surveying as many genealogists as care to respond to our survey regarding their genealogy experiences. The survey is non-scientific, but results will be posted on our website once the survey is completed.

Come and give us your feedback on genealogy research in general. The link is:


Feel free to share with other interested genealogists.


24 March 2010

100 reasons why subscribers like Casefile Clues

We surveyed Casefile Clues readers recently to see what they had to say...and the results were 100 things they liked about my weekly how-to newsletter. Here's a sample:

I like to see how others do research and maybe also learn something new.

Gives me another way to look at things

The well organized presentation of facts makes me try to figure out what should be done next in the research, and I also like the variety of resources covered-many of these I haven't used yet.

I enjoy your personal touch, relating research to your own family.

The case studies.

Case study approach - analysis of your thought process as you work through the problems

It gives me ideas about new ways to find and study sources and how to better use documents found in my own genealogy endeavors.

The way the reader is taken through the steps in research, warned of potential pitfalls and reminded of items that need more investigation or are not fully supported by evidence.

The detail of the cases, being able to follow along step by step.Makes me think more about quality of evidence.

Read the rest of the reasons on the Casefile Clues website. Or subscribe now and get in on the fun.

23 March 2010

Jefferson County-A Digitized County

Jefferson County—A Digitized County

(c) 2010 Michael John Neill

(do NOT copy/paste without permission)

Jefferson County Historical Society Meeting, 1 April 2010, secretary’s minutes

“The monthly meeting was brought to order…..

“Michael Neill mentioned that his human ‘sources’ at the courthouse indicate there is a move to digitize all the records before 1900. While he feels this is a good thing, he is concerned that the original records may be destroyed after the scanning and that there might be a variety of problems with the scanning itself (he mentioned something about someone’s brother-in-law, but I didn’t get that part recorded). After discussion, it was decided that the society does not have adequate computer knowledge to deal with this matter and that it will be tabled…”

Jefferson County Examiner, 1 April 2011

The Jefferson County Board today authorized the scanning and digitization of all pre-1900 records at the courthouse. We Scan For Less, of Dallas, Texas, will begin scanning the records as soon as their work schedule allows. For the time being all access to records pre-1900 will be limited, as authorized by the County Board.

While no opposition to the project was expressed, representatives from the Jefferson County Historical Society indicated that the records needed to be inventoried, cataloged, and organized before scanning began. The Board saw no need to delay the project in this fashion. Kevin Hanson, county courthouse chairman indicated the urgent need to begin the project as soon as possible and that “all the records are there and they will be scanned. This organization is a delaying tactic.” Vocal opposition was expressed by Michael Neill, society member, but there was no further discussion by the Board.

Jefferson County Examiner, 23 June 2012

The Jefferson County Board today authorized the recycling of all records created before 1900 today at their regular board meeting. Beginning next Monday, old county records will be systematically placed in the courthouse’s “blue bins” and sent to Waste Management, Inc. for re-use in consumer products. “Imagine, if you will,” said Kevin Hanson, courthouse committee chairman, “that great-grandma’s marriage license will go to make your next grocery bag. It will give new meaning to the phrase ‘paper or plastic.’”

Before the vote on recycling, Michael Neill, radical activist with the Jefferson County Historical Society, staged a disruptive protest. He was quickly removed from the chambers by sheriff’s deputies, and the meeting went on without further incident. Charges against Neill are pending. Reached by phone this morning, Neill’s only comment was “maybe they’ll scan my arraignment papers and misfile those too.”

The pre-1900 records have all been digitized and are stored on CD-ROMs available at the courthouse and the local library. This more efficient means of storing the information was lauded by Chairman Hanson as providing a cost-effective measure saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars a year in maintenance fees. “Besides, the old records are a fire hazard. The CDs will not easily burn and Mr. Neill can quit complaining about people smoking near the old records.”

Jefferson County Genealogist, Fall 2012 Edition, “News Bulletin”

An in-depth analysis of the CD-ROM materials at the Jefferson County Courthouse indicates that there are problems with the scanning of the records. Some materials, while scanned, are not labeled correctly and some records are apparently out of order. Deed Book 102 appears to not have been scanned at all and the marriage records between 1840 and 1860 have significant portions that are barely legible. It is unknown whether this was due to the condition of the original records. As the records have been destroyed, there is no recourse and the records are effectively lost. Society members are currently analyzing the CD-ROMs for further difficulties and a complete listing of irregularities will appear in our next issue. The company that scanned the records has filed bankruptcy.

Jefferson County Examiner, 1 April 2034

It has been discovered today that the digital copies of all pre-1900 documents at the Jefferson County Courthouse are somehow deteriorating. The original CDs have “data irregularities” which are being analyzed by computer professionals at the local university. There are duplicate copies of the CDs which are being located and analyzed to determine if they contain similar defects. It is hoped that other copies do not have the problems that have been located on the master records. For the time being, those inquiring about local records before 1900 are referred to the Jefferson County Historical Society which has been abstracting the digitized records for some time and creating a variety of indexes. Their collection, according to a spokeswoman, is “incomplete, but we have done the best we could and have indexed thousands of records. We are grateful for the ease of digitized access, but wish the County Board in 2000 had treated the digitization process with more care. If they had, we probably would not have the problem we do today.”

Jefferson County Examiner, 1 April 2035

A spokesperson for the Jefferson County Courthouse confirmed today that a significant proportion of the digital images from the pre-1900 records are virtually unreadable. Computer professionals and computer archivists have been called in from the East and West Coast and have been unable to determine the problem or to remedy it. Michael Neill, longtime radical records activist, could not be reached for comment. A nursing spokesmen at Shady Pines Retirement Center said he was under “heavy sedation” and unable to take calls.

Federation of Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference 2036 flyer

Louella Smith’s session will cover “Research Techniques for Digitized Counties: Not all that Different from Burned Ones. Jefferson County as a Case Study.”

I gave this as a speech somewhere at some point in time, but cannot remember where. Questions or information about reprints can be sent to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.
Read Michael's weekly how-to genealogy column Casefile Clues www.casefileclues.com

22 March 2010

What would you ask genealogists?

Casefile Clues is going to survey up to 1,000 genealogists.

What would you like to know? Submit your questions here


Google In Galesburg

I did my part and nominated Galesburg, Illinois, for Google's ultra-high speed broadband network. I know it has nothing to do with genealogy, but hey, this is my website...

Personally I think that ultra-high speed broadband can only be good for rural America. It would be good for larger businesses, but smaller businesses and self-employed professionals would benefit as well. Better and faster communication and access to data would level the playing field in many regards. And it's worth remembering that Galesburg is only a 2 hour train ride to downtown Chicago---we're not as remote as one would think.

High speed data would allow a variety of individuals and businesses to compete more effectively with their "big-city" peers without living in the big city. High speed access to data would provide them with access to information on an even playing field with their urban counterparts.

16 March 2010

1915 Louis DeMar in Chicago

1915 Chicago City Directory page 422 from Footnote.com contains the entry for Louis DeMar at 50 West 120th.

His son-in-law, William Apgar is listed in the 1915 directory as well at 10057 S State Street in Chicago--this was also on the Footnote.com site.
I'm working on putting these locations in Google Maps and adding these locations to other known residences of the family.

15 March 2010

Update on a*n*c*e*s*t*r*y*dot*o*r*g

The website referenced in the title has removed my content.

And if a genealogy website can't spell genealogy, well...

And yes, I do know that they are spelling it incorrectly on purpose. They are trying to drive traffic to their site and they hope that unsuspecting people click on the links and buy things.

Here at Rootdig.com, we prefer suspecting people buy things (sorry...just couldn't resist that joke).


Ancestry.org is copying and pasting "Genealogy tip of the day" to their site.

They are mentioning my website and the tip of the day site below the tip, but they are not making it clear that I wrote the tip and there is not link to my site.

I would like Ancestry.org to REMOVE my tips from their site.

They are in violation of copyright law.

The images on this post are from my site, Genealogy Tip of The Day, and the Ancestry.org site.

I was not contacted by Ancestry.org and did not give permission for them to use my tips on their site.

Attempts to contact Ancestry.org were unsuccessful.

10 March 2010

Happy Birthday a few days late....

I have written about my wife's grandmother before, Anna Margaret Apgar Verikios Lake. This is a copy of her application for a social security card which I have used as an illustration for quite some time. I hadn't really thought about it until my wife remembered the other day that her Grandma's birth day was March 8th-just a few days ago.
This SS5 form was the first place where I got the name of Anna's actual father, William Apgar. All other information indicated her father's name was Peter Verikios, which was actually the last name of her stepfather. Compounding the issue is that her father's name really wasn't William Apgar at all and he can't be located after about 1918. Researching this family has been very interesting as regular readers of this websit and Casefile Clues will know.
Anna doesn't have a birth certificate either, although all three of her siblings do. I was able to locate her christening record. It was unusual as well as she and her brother were baptized when they were about 8 or 9 years old. Odd for a Catholic family, but there's a reason which was explored in an issue of Casefile Clues---centering on the mother's desire to remarry within the church.

06 March 2010

Pullman Car Company Employment Records

I have received copies of the employment records at the Pullman Car Company for three of my wife's ancestors and one uncle.

This is the first time I have used these records and they are very interesting.

The image included in this blog post is that of Louis Demar, a New York native who apparently moved to New York in the early 1900s to work for the Pullman Company. In Louis' case the employment dates help establish a timeline for when he moved to Chicago. Based upon New York State federal census records from 1930 and his death record, it appears that Louis returned after New York State after he retired from Pullman.

Three of the relatives were "lifers" at Pullman. One worked there for a few years or so. The employment cards asked if the employee was living on Pullman property. None of my wife's ancestors did. They all owned their own homes. This distinguished them from those who lived in the company town.

We'll be posting more snippets here from the files as time allows. I'm working on articles about the records for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.

05 March 2010

My Contact Email Address

To let those who regularly communicate with me know, effectively immediately my old email address of michaeln2@winco.net is no longer operational.

04 March 2010

Pension Payment Cards on Archive.org

I have long been a fan of the Pension Payment Cards from the Veteran's Administration. These records have been microfilmed by the National Archives and are available at several locations in the United States.

I first used them at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne several years ago and always have a few lookups on from them on my list every year I go.

I won't have to make trips to the library to look at these cards any more. The library is having the microfilm scanned and placed on Archive.org. My source at ACPL indicates they hope the complete set of film is uploaded by the first of April.

These cards are an excellent lead-in to pension records and I have found payment cards for people whose pension records could not be easily located with the other indexes that are available.

The card in this image is for Nancy Rampley. It indicates under whose service she qualified, what unit he was in, when she was approved for pension and enough information to order the pension from the National Archives.

There is more information about the pension payment cards in the National Archives descriptive pamphlet for microfilm publication M850 (this is a large PDF file not readily available online--please SAVE it to your hard drive so that downloading it repeatedly doesn't eat up my bandwith).

Using these cards at archive.org requires a little finesse as there is not an online directory currently of what rolls have been scanned. Here's a general outline:
  • Use the M850 publication (above) to determine which roll your ancestor's card should be on.
  • go to archive.org
  • search "all media types" for "pension payment cards XXXX" where XXXX is the four digit number of the roll you need--include leading zeros. The image below shows how to search. If the roll has been uploaded, it should be there.

All rolls are on Archive.org. This is really neat.

Stapled the Page in the Book--What is Underneath?

Delayed and supplemental birth records and reports are great, but not when they are stapled over other records.

This entry comes from the Cook County, Illinois, birth register in August of 1877. This image was made by FamilySearch from the microfilmed copy of the actual birth register. Unfortunately this supplemental report was stapled over several of the entries.

The microfilming apparently did not film the page twice (once with the supplement report laying flat as shown in the image and once with it turned up so the underlying page could be seen). Images before and after this one were viewed in hopes of seeing the page information underneath, but no such image could be located.

This image comes from page 160 of the Cook County Birth Register from August of 1877. I'm not jumping up and down with how the FHL shows the "source" of this information in its database, but I'll have to blog about that later.

Fortunately in this case, the entry I wanted was at the bottom of the page---usually I'm not that lucky.

Death Certificate Filed in the Miscellaneous Records

The image included with this post is from the bottom part of a Cook County, Illinois death certificate from 1925.

Well, actually it is from 1929.

Ralph Watson Frame died on 10 February 1925 in Chicago. The death certificate was filed on 12 February 1912.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, someone obtained a certified copy of the death certificate of Ralph Frame on 14 March 1929 and filed it with the Cook County Recorder's Office the next day.

This was an accidental discovery. The "miscellaneous" recordings in Cook County, Illinois, were being searched for William Frame, Ralph's brother, when this record was discovered. One never knows what will be located in miscellaneous records in the recorder's office.

In an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues I'll be looking at both copies of Ralph Frame's death certificate.

Discount on Casefile Clues

Until noon central today (Thursday) we're running a sale on subscriptions to Casefile Clues, my weekly genealogy how-to newsletter.

Casefile Clues focuses on actual problems and actual families. We don't copy and paste generic how-to material, don't rephrase stuff that's already on the internet, and don't send you copies of press-releases under the guise of it being new how-to information.

Casefile Clues is written about families I'm actually working on and records I have actually used. Issues are always illustrated.

And there is no way I could make some of this stuff up--I'm not that creative.

Give Casefile Clues a try for only $15 for 52 issues. Your research will never be the same again.