30 August 2011

Gloria Fecht-1948 Ice Follies

It took some searching, but The Billboard, 29 Dec 1947 (page 4) contains an article on the "Ice Follies of 1948."

The article was obtained digitally on http://books.google.com.

We've been discussing Gloria Fecht here and this is the first article I have been able to locate that specifically mentioned her Ice Follies experience. The entire issue can be viewed in the window below:

We'll have updates as more information is located. I'm not certain we'll have a Casefile Clues article on Gloria as there hasn't been any really "difficult" research or analysis in order to find her. I did have to be careful as her one first cousin (a Fecht man) married a woman named Gloria and so there were two contemporaries with the same fairly unusual name of Gloria Fecht.

28 August 2011

John Cheney Drives Cattle Across the Plains in 1852

Cattle Across the Plains

You have to love obituaries that mention nothing about a man's family. This 1909 obituary for John Cheney has nothing to say about his wife or children. It does mention his 1852 cattle drive to California.

It does not say where John Cheney started out with 486 head of cattle, but when he finally reached California he only had 200 left. Apparently this means he settled in California in 1852 or before. There's plenty in his obituary from 1909 about his business endeavors, including the fact that at some point he sold all his cattle to George F. Packer and then engaged in grain farming and eventually built a warehouse and later built the Golden Eagle Hotel. Hopefully with all that activity I will be able to locate additional information about him.

This death notice comes from the San Jose Mercury News on 17 January 1909 and was obtained digitally on GenealogyBank.com.

We will have more updates on John Cheney as information is located. John is the first relative of mine that headed west during this time period, so I'm curious what details I can locate about his life. He left family behind in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. John was a grandson of Thomas Chaney[sic] who died in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1856. Thomas is my 4th great-grandfather. I'm still searching the newspapers at on GenealogyBank.com for John as well as  Ancestry.com.

Hopefully we'll have enough information on John for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues--stay tuned. 

27 August 2011

These Ancestors Cannot Be Displayed

These Ancestors cannot be displayed

The ancestors you are looking for are currently unavailable. They may be hiding in offline resources which will require you to contact repositories via more archaic methods. If they are dead, rest assured they are not creating more descendants.

Please try the following:
  • Click the surname change button, or try again later.
  • If you are listed in the Social Security Death Index, please check your pulse and confer with a doctor.
  • If you descend from one of three brothers who landed on the East Coast in a barrel with 2 cents to his name contact banks in the region where he landed to collect the inheritance.
  • It may be possible to contact your ancestors via a psychic. Digital cameras will not typically record pictures of ancestral visions so a tape recorder will be necessary to record your interpretations.
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My "Daily" Blogs

For those who were not aware, I have three daily blogs:

Kansas City Gang Kills Relative

I've mentioned the murder of Ben Siebels before, but it has been a while. The murder of Siebels was tragic and had a profound impact on his parents (who survived) and his siblings as well. Siebels was the son of Maria (Habben) Siebels who was a first cousin of my great-grandfather Fred Ufkes (1893-1960). This article comes from the Omaha World Herald of 18 December 1930 and was obtained digitally  on GenealogyBank.com. Siebels was murdered in Tyro, Kansas, at his gas station while trying to prevent the teens from robbing him.  William Price, a bakery driver was also killed by the group at a separate location. This account does not indicate where that murder took place. 

Searches have not been conducted to determine what happened to the various members of the gang, including the juveniles who were arrested. 

Exhaustive Searches are Also for Learning

Sound genealogical research requires an "exhaustive search" of the records available on the ancestor or family in question.

I've never been entirely clear on what "exhaustive search" really means other than "search everything." I personally think that what qualifies as an exhaustive search really depends on the time period, the people, and how confusing the family structure is. And even when a researcher searches most materials and information is completely consistent, there is always the chance that one more record throws all those conclusions into questions.

That is why a researcher should always completely cite everything that they've used so that another researcher can decide if, in their eyes, "exhaustive" has been met.

But this post really isn't about that.

There's another reason why an exhaustive search is important, especially for beginning and intermediate level researchers. That reason is simple: education.

My maternal families are fairly well documented during their time in the United States from the 1850s and on. Church records, vital records, census records, all are pretty much in agreement. Rarely do I locate "new" family members or relationships in land, court, or probate records--at least in these families. And yet I always searched all the courthouse records on these families--even when I didn't think it would tell me anything.


Well--I'm nosy, and I know that I never know what I'll find in a record until I look. But another benefit is that I learned a great deal about land, court, probate and other records searching for families when I "knew" everything about the families. The "unexplained" things in the documents, the unstated relationships that sometimes made things more clear, were things I already knew. Researching land, court, and probate records on families where I knew quite a bit about the family helped me learn about the records.

And that's helped me greatly when I've researched land, court, and probate records on other families where I did NOT have church records, vital records, census records, and other materials to explain things about the family. I had seen similar records before. I had seen terms before and I knew what they meant.

Exhaustive searches are necessary to make certain some vital clue has not been overlooked. But they also help the genealogist to learn about the records being used when the family is already "documented." And learning is never a bad thing.

25 August 2011

Newspaper Photo of Gloria Fecht from 1951

It's taken a little while, but I've located one of the better pictures of Gloria Fecht using digital images of newspapers on GenealogyBank.com. This picture was taken at a tournament in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the National Women's Amateur tournament in August of 1951. There were several pictures in various newspapers on GenealogyBank.com, but this one was one of the better ones. It is important to remember the technology of the time and the fact that the digital versions of these newspapers were created from the microfilm. 

I'd never heard of Gloria until I did genealogy, but in looking at the picture of these two women, if I had to guess which one of them was Gloria (who was a member of the Habben-Fecht clan), I'd go with the one on the left as there's a clear resemblance to other members of that family. Gloria Fecht was a granddaughter of Hancock County, Illinois, residents George H. (1868-1938) and Anna (Huls) Fecht (1869-1934). George H. Fecht is a sibling to my great-great-grandmother, Anke Fecht and Anna Huls is the niece of my great-great-grandfather, Jann Habben. 

The larger image shows the picture somewhat better. All in all, a really nice picture from the Seattle Daily Times of 22 August 1951, obtained digitally on GenealogyBank.com.

24 August 2011

Gotta Watch Those Genders-Finding Hedvig Olson

This is the index entry for Hedvig C. Olson in the New York Passenger Lists 1820-1897 at Ancestry.com. Her gender is shown in the index as male. Before the index is criticized however, a look at the actual manifest actually indicates Hedvig is a male as shown by entry 119 on the actual manifest for the Britannic which arrived in New York on 10 March 1888. 

There are emigration lists from Gothenburg, Sweden, on Ancestry.com. We'll look for Hedvig in those lists and see what gender is shown for her on those records. Stay tuned.

Ancestry.com Updates Swedish Church Record Collection

Ancestry.com recently updated its Swedish Church Record Collection. The database is not searchable based on name (ever tried reading those old Swedish church records?), but you can search to determine what villages are included.

Ancestry.com also has an indexed collection to Swedish birth records 1880-1920.

They also have emigration lists from Gothenburg from 1869-1951.

We'll do a search for my children's two Swedish immigrants in the early 1880s and post their emigration information later today. Stay tuned!

Yearbooks Contain Several Things

This advertisement comes from  James Bowen Harvey High School 1925 yearbook, recently released on Ancestry.com in it's Yearbook Collection, which was recently updated.The High School was located in Chicago.

W. G. Trautvetter was a pharmacist in the Chicago, Illinois, area and this ad indicates he had two stores in 1925, including one at 2338 E 71st Street. If I had not already know he was a pharmacist, this would have been a pretty big clue--and one that a person might not expect in a high school year book.

Trautvetter was born in Hancock County, Illinois, the son of George and Anna (Schildmann) Trautvetter. One just never knows what one will find in yearbooks--even in the advertisement section.

Search the Yearbook Collection  at Ancestry.com for yourself and see what you discover.

23 August 2011

A Refugee From the Ice Follies

I'll be honest, I really didn't believe my grandmother when she said her relative Gloria Fecht was a famous ice-skater. I guess I was wrong. The clipping above comes from The Oregonian  on 22 August 1951 and was obtained digitally on GenealogyBank.com.

As mentioned in an earlier post, there are two Gloria Fechts in  in the Social Security Death Index, one born in 1930 and one born in 1926. The age of the Gloria in this post is consistent with the 1926 birth. 

The 1930 Gloria from the Social Security Death Index, for reasons we'll see in a later post, is not the one who was the skater and golfer (turns out these two Gloria Fechts are probably sisters-in-law). This article clearly connects the skater and the golfer and there were other articles in newspapers on GenealogyBank.com that also connected the skater with the golfer, but they will not all be posted here. This one provided an age consistent with a 1926 year of birth. It will be a while before I get through all the references to Gloria Fecht--if I ever do.

It also isn't often you see someone referred to as a "refugee from the ice follies." 

22 August 2011

Age in Months in 1880

I've often seen ages listed in fractions of a year 1/12, 2/12, etc. but it is not often that I see an age listed as a fraction of the number of days in the month. Maggie Johnson is listed as 20/30 for her age in this 1880 census enumeration from Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois (using the digital image at Ancestry.com)--it is indicated that she was born in May. The date this census was taken was 12 June 1880 and the actual date of the census was 1 June 1880. My guess is that this means she was 20 days old--but May does have 31 days, not 30. 

1880 U S Census, Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois , page 20D, line 40.

Gloria Fecht-Ice Skating Star--It She A Relative?

One would think that a name like Gloria Fecht would be uncommon enough. Despite how uncommon the name appears one cannot be too careful. I've started preliminary research on a Gloria Fecht, born in Illinois

A reference to Fecht appears in a newspaper which was located in digital form on GenealogyBank.com.

The 27 July 1959 issue of the Oregonian contains this mention of Gloria Fecht, of Southern Pines, North Carolina. It also indicates she was a former ice skating star. My grandmother Ufkes (who did have a cousin Gloria Fecht--the one I'm researching) indicated that her cousin Gloria Fecht was a famous ice skater. However, that's not proof that I have the right person. I've learned that one has to be careful with uncommon names.

One would think that the name Gloria Fecht would not be all that common. However, there are two references in the Social Security Death Index for a Gloria Fecht:


27 Sep 1930

15 Jan 1998 (V)


29617 (Greenville, Greenville, SC)

(none specified)



23 Feb 1926

Jun 1980


(not specified)

92264 (Palm Springs, Riverside, CA)


The dates of birth are close enough that it would be easy to confuse the two--so I'll have to be careful in the research. The Gloria Fecht I am researching was born around 1926 according to the 1930 census on Ancestry.com.

At the risk of being short, I know this Gloria Fecht in the census is the one I want Henry and Catherine Fecht is the "right" couple (Henry is my great-grandfather's first cousin). The Gloria in their 1930 census entry is the "right" age to be the Gloria born in 1926 in the Social Security Death Index.

I've got more work to do, and in a future post we'll discuss an update. Hopefully there are discoveries to be made in the newspapers at GenealogyBank.com and Ancestry.com.

The key will be making certain I have the "right" Gloria Fecht. The Gloria Fecht in the newspaper article lives in North Carolina at the time of the article and the "other" Gloria in the Social Security Death Index dies in South Carolina--making me wonder if I really do have the right person and which Gloria was which.

Henry Fecht (from the 1930 Census entry above) was born in Hancock County, Illinois, the son of George and Anna (Huls) Fecht.

Stay tuned.

1930 Census:

Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 418; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 82

Tracking The Tract

Tracking The Tract

[originally appeared in the Ancestry Daily News on 10 April 2003]

When I first began researching my family lines, I spent a great deal of time researching land records. One of the first finding aids used to search these records are the indexes to buyers and sellers, frequently called the grantee and grantor indexes. These finding aids are an excellent starting point to utilizing and accessing land records. But like any finding aids they have their limitations and pitfalls, part of which stem from the way in which the records are recorded and the way the indexes are actually created.

Land records are not recorded in the exact order in which they are created and executed. Deeds, mortgages, and other land records are recorded in the order in which they are brought to the county records office, which typically is not the order in which they are executed. Consequently, a deed from 1842 may be filed directly after a deed from 1852, which may be filed after a deed from 1853. Grantee and grantor indexes may cover a series of deed books and may indicate what years the indexes cover, but these years typically refer to the years the records were recorded---not the years they were created.

The indexes themselves are not necessarily purely alphabetical either. The index entries usually (but not always) are chronological for every name beginning with a certain letter or set of letters.

And this impacts the way the indexes are utilized.

As an example, say I am looking for my ancestor James Rampley who lived in Hancock County, Illinois, from 1849 until his death in 1884.

In the Grantee Indexes
In the indexes to buyers (grantees), I will look for James beginning in 1849. While he might have purchased land before he moved to Hancock County, Illinois, I am going to operate on the assumption that he did not purchase any land until he moved to the county. I will look in the records for a period shortly after James' death, but will not spend a great time searching these indexes for decades after his death. If James had owned property at his death and the deed had not yet been recorded, it is likely that the deed would have been recorded during the process of settling up his estate. While there are exceptions, this typically would have been within a few years of his death. If it were the case that James owned land upon his death, probate records should also be referenced.

In the Grantor Indexes
My approach to the sellers (grantors) index will be similar but slightly different. I'll start looking in 1849 (when James came to the county) and continue for several years after his death. The person to whom James sold the land would have been responsible for having it recorded. If James had sold land close to the time of his death, the deed might have been recorded several years after his death.

Before we continue, we'll look at how a typical deed in this jurisdiction (and many other jurisdictions for that matter) are indexed. We'll categorize the deeds by the number of buyers and sellers.

One Buyer -- One Seller
If James Rampley purchased land from John Smith, the deed would appear in the grantor index under John Smith and in the grantee index under James Rampley. That is it.

The simplest case of just one grantor and just one grantee typically does not present a problem in locating the record in the index. It is when there is more than one grantee or more than one grantor that locating the deed in the index can be more difficult.

Multiple Buyers or SellersLet's say that James Rampley sells land to two of his children, Riley and John. In this case the record will typically be indexed in the grantor index under James Rampley and in the grantee index under Riley Rampley and not under John Rampley. In many cases the deed will appear in each index once even though multiple buyers or sellers are listed. In this case, even though John is listed as a buyer on the deed he will not appear in the grantee index.

Why Do I Care?
Because one excellent deed record for genealogists is the deed that is sometimes drawn upon the death of the owner. This deed should list all the heirs to the property (especially if the person died without a will) and may provide clues as to their areas of residence. This deed may list several sellers, but may only appear in the grantor index once.

Let's say that after the death of James, his children all sell his remaining property. If they are listed on the deed as Martha Luft, Riley Rampley, John Rampley. etc., the deed will be indexed in the grantor index under Martha Luft. It might not appear in the grantor index under the name Rampley at all. If I am not aware of Martha's married name or am "not interested" in the other children of James except for my direct line (one of his sons), I may miss this informative record. This example makes an excellent point of the importance of searching for ancestral siblings in certain records, especially those records that are not indexed under the name of every party mentioned in the record.

Another Index
In public land states there may be another type of index.

This other finding aid is frequently referred to as the tract index. In some non-rural areas this index may be called an index to town lots or a lot index. These indexes are geographical in nature. This distinguishes them from the grantor/grantee indexes, which are alphabetical in nature. The geographic nature of this index may make its use more effective in certain situations. A tract index includes an index citation for every land record covering all or a part of a fairly specific geographic area.

Given the geographic nature of the tract index, it is necessary to know where the property is located as precisely as possible in order to use this finding aid. It is not as crucial to know the date the transfer of property took place. We'll discuss the tract index in two parts: rural areas and city or town lots.

Rural Areas
In rural areas, a tract index will typically cover a quarter section of property (160 acres) or in some cases an entire section (640 acres). This index will typically start with a reference the initial patent and continue to the most recent transactions. If an ancestral family owned a piece of property for several generations searching the tract index for their land records may be more effective than searching though individual grantor/grantee indexes over a one hundred year time period.

An example:
Let's say that an ancestral family owned 40 acres that was a part of the southwest quarter of section 24 in Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois. This farm was owned by family members for one hundred fifty years and there were several deeds and mortgages involving this property. All of these records will appear in the tract index for the southwest quarter of section 24 in Prairie Township. Of course, since the family did own the entire quarter section (they only owned 40 of the 160 acres) there will be land transactions referenced in the tract for other families and other pieces of property. However, this index will typically result in a more efficient search when the property's location is known.

Urban Areas
The process is similar in urban areas. The location of the property must be known and the lot or parcel index can be just as helpful as it is in rural areas. In some cases it can be more helpful.

In an earlier column, I discussed a lot in Davenport, Iowa, that was sold by the heirs of an estate in the 1890s. One of the questions posed at the end of the article was to determine how the deceased individual obtained the property. In this case, it was not certain how the individual had obtained the property and the name of her husband (who likely purchased the property) was not known. However, I had the exact location of the property.

Armed with the location of the property, I went to the "Index to town lots" that covered Lot No. 4 in Block Number 14 in G. C. R. Mitchell's Third Addition to the City of Davenport. There were only a handful of transactions on this lot from the time it was first subdivided. The search took about five minutes using the Index to Town Lots and the deed where Marie's likely husband purchased the property was quickly located. It would have taken me an entire afternoon using the grantee indexes.

Remember: The land transactions we are talking about are typically recorded at the county level. Most jurisdictions throughout the country have a grantor/grantee index. Not all have a tract index, but it is an option worth considering.

4 Things to Try and Read

I've gotten a little behind in updating "Genealogy Transcriber of the Day." There is still time to make your guesses or comments on these handwriting samples before answers are posted. Give them a try and see what others have thought:

I'll post answers Tuesday morning--so there's a little time yet.

A Special Execution in 1861

By virtue of a special execution is a loaded phrase, but it likely means the execution of a judgement. It appears, based upon this newspaper item in the Davenport Daily Democrat of 4 April 1861, that Paul Freund had sued Michael and Bridget Brophy and won a judgement of $453.39. The newspaper account shown here (which was obtained from the digital version of the newspaper on Ancestry.com)  does not mention the specifics of the judgement.

My next step is to learn more about the specific case. Paul Freund died in 1863 in Davenport, Iowa. This court case likely doesn't mention anything about his death and I already have his estate record. However, it may shed light on some of his business dealings in Davenport. Paul is one of those individuals who died relatively young and did not leave behind much in the way of information about his origins.  He was a German native and his origins while yet to be researched, have partially been discovered through tracing two of his siblings who also settled in Davenport.

Another approach to tracking immigrant origins is to look at individuals with whom the ancestor did business or associated. It seems doubtful that Irish names like Michael and Bridget Brophy will hold clues in that regard. However--the names of lawyers and others involved might hold clues to the Freund's origins that would have been particularly helpful if none of his siblings had immigrated.

21 August 2011

Employing Those Cheap Female Teachers

This snippet comes from a report of the "School Commissioner" for Winnebago County, Illinois, published in the 5 March 1851 Rockford [Illinois] Forum. This particular image comes from the digital version of this newspaper on GenealogyBank.com.

The school commissioner indicates that in small districts, it is cheaper to employ women than it is men--who make ten or twelve dollars (presumably a term, although that is not spelled out clearly in the article). The article mentions Miss Pettibone, but provides no more specifics on her other than to say she teaches in School District Number 4.

Casefile Clues Special Offer--52 for 12

Sunday we're offering a year of my weekly newsletter Casefile Clues for $12. Samples can be downloaded as PDF files here:

Feel free to let others know about the offer--this blog post will be pulled late Sunday night--don't wait. 

20 August 2011

Have You Got Your Deed?

This image comes from GenealogyBank.com's version of the Rockford [Illinois]Forum of 9 January 1850. Apparently the former recorder had approximately 1,000 deeds that had never been picked up. Interestingly enough my ancestor Clark Sargent purchased federal property in Winnebago County during this time period. Clark died in 1847 and, who knows, maybe his deed was in this collection.

Makes a person wonder how many deeds were never picked up by the property owners. I doubt if all 1,000 deeds were picked up by the rightful parties--wonder what happened to them.

Asa Landon--1850 Era School Teacher

The wonderful thing about newspapers is that one really has no idea what discoveries one will make until searches are done. This gem, which is really only part of the article written by the county School Commissioner,  was located on  GenealogyBank.com when I conducted a search for Asa Landon. Asa was the second husband of Mary (Dingman) Sargent, mother of my elusive ancestor Ira Sargent. 

The clipping tells me that Asa teaches in the Canadian district. I did not know that Asa Landon taught school--but apparently he did in Winnebago County in the early 1850s (the census shows him to be a farmer). What was also interesting was that the article refers to the part of the county where Landon lives as the "Canadian district."

Why does that matter?

Asa was born in Canada, as was his wife Mary (Dingman) Sargent. Mary and her first husband, Clark Sargent, came to Winnebago County, Illinois, from Ontario in the mid 1840s. I had noticed several other Canadians in the area, but this reference to the area where they lived as the "Canadian District" confirmed that there were quite a few Canadians there. 

It probably explains why the Sargents settled where they did. I had long wondered why they left Canada to go to Winnebago County and the presence of a significant number of other Canadians is most likely the reason. It also tells me that the Sargents might not have had any relatives in Winnebago County, Illinois. Searches to this point for other Sargents or Dingmans in the area had been futile  and it is highly likely that the Sargents were living near former neighbors and not relatives. 

This clipping comes from page 3 of the 5 March 1851 issue of the Rockford Forum which appears in digital form on GenealogyBank.com

Asa Landon on the Mail Call in 1850

It wasn't an earth shattering discovery in this case, but A search on GenealogyBank.com located a reference to Asa Landon on a list of post office letters in the Rockford, Illinois, post office on 1 January of 1850. This image comes from GenealogyBank.com's version of the Rockford Forum of 9 January 1850.

Asa is listed in the 1850 US Census for Winnebago County and he married in Winnebago County (and is listed as "of" there) in his 1849 marriage, so the listing of his name wasn't a newsflash to me.

However, there are times where a person's name on one of these lists can help show they were thought to have been in a certain location at a certain point in time. Remember that just because someone sent a letter to someone in a certain village doesn't necessarily mean that that person was living there at the time of the "letter list."

Newspaper Lover--and His Home is For Sale

One just never knows what one will locate when searching newspapers. This picture of George K. Freund appeared in the 20 July 1924 Davenport Democrat and Leader (digital image obtained from Ancestry.com) .  The article is essentially an advertisement for the newspaper, but it's a nice picture of George and does indicate his age (70 or 76) and his residence at the time of the newspaper (609 East Central Park Avenue, Davenport).

George K. Freund was a first cousin to George A. Freund. George A. was my wife's great-great-grandfather. Both men lived in Davenport at about the same time--middle initials are important.

Ancestry.com has quite a few newspapers online, including ones for Davenport, Iowa.

Interestingly enough, as this blog post is written, the home is for sale with quite a few pictures.

Death of Joseph A. Oades in 1885

A search on GenealogyBank.com for Joseph Oades in Nebraska located one item of interest--a notice of his death from the Omaha World Herald of 12 Dec 1885. Joseph Oades was the third husband of Emmar Sargent (1839-1920). The couple divorced in Omaha in the 1870s after their marriage--they were not married very long and apparently had no children. The death is a sad one and the newspaper indicates that a search for coroner's records is probably futile. Of course there is always the chance that an inquest was later held. Based upon this notice, I should determine if there are other papers that might have provided additional information about Oades.

I should also manually view the list of Omaha newspapers on
GenealogyBank.com to determine if there are papers before and after this date. Given the limitations of OCR searches, it is possible there are other references to his death that did not show up on my results list.

Several online references provide additional information on St. Vitus dance:
It is not known whether Oades had rheumatic fever as a child or later and it's possible he had another affliction that exhibited similar symptoms.

Research on Oades has been limited. He was only married to Emmar a short time and they had no children together and she appears to have left Nebraska after their divorce.

Other records indicate his middle name was Henry. It is very possible that somewhere in the compilation of this death notice the middle initial "H" was seen as the letter "A." One has to be careful drawing conclusions based only upon initials.

19 August 2011

Footnote.com Becomes Fold3

Words elude me on this one.

While it's already done, it really seems like this name change makes an even bigger statement than the change of the name.

14 August 2011

Does Ancestry.com Know the UK Death Index is Quarterly

One of the personal frustrations I had with using the index to civil records in England is the fact that the indexes are quarterly--every three months a separate index. Once the researcher gets the hang of it, it's not really a problem and today the indexes are online so the need to search forty indexes to search for ten years of deaths is not necessary.

However, apparently Ancestry.com doesn't quite understand how the quarterly indexes work. The quarterly indexes were used to create larger indexes, in particular the Free BMD index from 1837-1915 which is on Ancestry.com (as part of their subscription service) and available for free at http://www.freebmd.org.uk/.

The problem is with how the index entry is used by Ancestry.com's integrated trees to arrive at a date of death.

There is an entry in the index for Eleanor Rowell:

It shows her death as being registered in Hexham in the first quarter of 1870--January-February-March.
That means she died in that three month time span. Nothing more specific is implied by the index.

Ancestry.com's integration of the reference into my online tree for Eleanor Rowell is indicating a date of death of January 1870 as shown in the image below.

And if I want to add this to my tree, it's easy to see in the screen shot below how Ancestry.com suggests I interpret this date of death--January of 1870.

It's up to the user to know that the death index is quarterly and know that the year is the only thing that should be used (or at least the first quarter).

Some days I wonder if Ancestry.com really has "in the trenches" genealogists using their databases and the online trees.

It is easy to see how an unsuspecting genealogist would just accept this as the death date. But it is not.

I would suggest Ancestry.com only integrate the year from these indexes.

Notice that the registration district is not shown in the "death place." Methinks that Ancestry.com could have figured out that the year was as precise as the date should be as well.

13 August 2011

Win A Year of Casefile Clues

Our two new contests to win a year of Casefile Clues are here:

Older contests that are still open:
For now, we're getting away from "famous" people because, well, I'm not really interested (grin!). Please read the contest page to learn more about the person who is the object of the search.

You can always subscribe the old fashioned way as well at http://www.casefileclues.com/subscribe.html

12 August 2011

Ancestry.com-Where is Northeast Township, Adams County, IL

Ok, mark me down as confused.

I wanted to do a proximity search for Northeast Township, Adams County, Illinois, in 1930. I need to use the "new" search to do this. One little, tiny, teeny problem.  Northeast doesn't pull up as a location in Illinois in the drop down menu for locations.

I know it's there because I can drill down to it if I were going to browse the census.

A larger screen shot of the "browse this collection:"

Northeast is there.
A larger screen shot of the "pull down menu" in location:
Northeast never came up in Illinois.

Of course, Northeastern Kenya came up as a 1930 US Census location, but that's another story and a complaint for another blog post.

I've not been getting answers from Ancestry.com on the last few blog posts, but I feel better.

And I would like the old search.

On the old search, I could search for German natives born between 1840 and 1850 living in Northeast Township. Now, Northeast township is small enough that I could perform a manual search. But that's really not the point.

These things should work for all locations, not just some.

And if I'm doing something wrong, please tell me so I can update this blog post and get back to research.

Ancestry.com--SSDI Last Residence is Not Place of Death

I don't often mess around with the online trees at Ancestry.com where you can integrate your tree with Ancestry's databases and what I came across tonight is one of the many reasons why.

I looked at the hints Ancestry.com had for my grandmother. One was her entry in the Social Security Death Index--ok that shouldn't be too hard to mess up and I'll go ahead and link it to Grandma just to go through the process so that I'm aware of how it works.

One little problem. The "Record Hint" indicates that the location with the death date is the place of death (the date of death is "different" because I only had July of 1994 in my database--that date is not the problem).

Grandma died in Carthage, so it really isn't a problem in this case. However, that location from the SSDI is not the death place, it's the last residence as per the SSDI. That may or may not be the place of death. Just to be certain I performed a manual search of the SSDI at Ancestry.com and sure enough, that's what it called it:
I don't see "death place" listed. In fact, what the SSDI really has is the zip code. The online tree merge thing (whatever on earth you call it) should not automatically refer to this location as the death place, it should refer to it as it is--last residence.

I realize these things seem like mere details. But the fact is--they are. And mis-labeling things is what causes inconsistencies where none exist.This isn't a case of difficult to read handwriting. That I'll cut some slack on. This mis-labeling is pretty well cut and dried.

Don't get me wrong-I like Ancestry.com. It is just that sometimes when I see things like this it makes me wonder how many "in the trenches" genealogists they have on staff.

11 August 2011

One Fan Makes All the Difference

At precisely the same moment in time, I have either 1699 or 1700 fans for Casefile Clues on Facebook. I'm not certain which. The Fan Page on Facebook says I have 1699. The widget thing I have on my blog for Casefile Clues says I have 1700....I'm just not certain which is right.

Can Facebook count? I realize a difference of one is minimal, but let's remember political outcomes have rested on one vote (grin!).

Testimony of non-relatives in pension files can be more informative than that of relatives. This testimony comes from the pension file of Emmar Osenbaugh. Blanchard Nevill is providing testimony about how the Emmar's marriage to David Snavely came to an end.

On this 27th day of November, 1918, at near Clearfield county of Ringgold, State of Iowa before me, J. J. Horrigan, a Special Examiner of the Bureau of Pensions, personally appeared Blanchard Nevill...

[I've included screen shots of the testimony in this blog post instead of retyping the entire thing]

Apparently the Snavelys were separate, but David died before any permanent termination of the marriage could take place.

We've discussed Emmar's pension file in two issues of Casefile Clues. In the most recent issue, we see why I'm going to wait to locate records of Emmar's three divorces--although the pension file provides enough documentation that actual records could be located.


Blanchard Nevill, statement, 27 November 1918, Emmar Osenbaugh, widow’s pension application no. 772,537; service of John Osenbaugh (Pvt. Co. H, 7th Ill., Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

10 August 2011

Update on Monteville Harness Year of Marriage

We have an answer to when Monteville Lobb/Harness/Rampley was married-1882. Readers will remember that there was some doubt as to the year of Monteville's marriage based upon online transcriptions. The blog post brought a response from a researcher who had access to microfilmed copies of the actual records (and has actually joined me on a few research trips). She indicated that it appeared that the 1881 year was a transcription error that no one caught in a publication done twenty or so years ago. Researchers are advised that these sort of transcription errors can easily happen. This is why when one is confused, reference to the original is always recommended. Indexes are finding aids, not ends in and of themselves

From Marriage Book 3, I found the information given below.
License number 2317 was issued to M. Harness on Sep 20, 1882. His name is listed as Monteville Harness, a restaurant keeper living in Loraine, Adams County. Age at next birthday is 26 and place of birth is Hancock County. Father's name is listed as "do not recollect" and the mother's name is listed as "do not know." The bride's name is listed as Jennie Meltabarger, resident of Loraine, age 22 at next birthday, born in Adams County, daughter of Jacob Meltabarger and Sarah Poling. They were married at Quincy on Sep. 20, 1882 by Wm. R. Lockwood, J. P. Witnesses were H. M. Swope (again faint, middle letter may have been different) and H. K. Rhoads. The return was made on Sep 20 and registered that day.

I'm still working on Monteville for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues, but we'll have updates here as well.

1885 Iowa State Census Find

I really didn't expect to find this 1885 Iowa State Census entry. In fact, I happened upon it while searching for something else at FamilySearch.

It is the family of August and Louise Mortier, living in Winfield Township (page 581), in Scott County, Iowa. The Mortiers are in Rock Island County, Illinois (across the river) in 1880 and there again in 1900 and 1910, although the 1880 and 1900 census lists them living in the city.

The Mortiers did not live in Iowa very long, but the census enumeration does tell me that August and family was  living in the Northeast quarter of section 14 in Winfield Township. There is no indication of whether he owns the property or is renting--I need to check land records for that.

It is somewhat unusual for Belgians to be living on the Iowa side of the River in the 1880s--there's another item to learn more about as well.

09 August 2011

Weird Stuff On the FamilySearch Site

I was doing a little searching into on Iowa resident Gideon Town for Casefile Clues and came across some interesting things on FamilySearch.

There are three marriage results for Gideon. The bottom two are both from Iowa marriages for 1809-1992 and the duplicates within one database are not uncommon. What is strange is the reference in Marion County, Ohio.

Expanding the Ohio entry reveals additional information:
It claims these are Ohio records.

Searching the FamilySearch Library card catalog for source film 1019714 brought up the following screen:

This clearly indicates the marriage records are Marion County, Iowa and not Ohio records.

I'm not certain what brought about the error.

But now it has me wondering about how I use locations in FamilySearch.

The Iowa marriage references in the original screen shot are from actual Iowa records as well.

Gideon was in Iowa from 1856 until at least 1910.

What's the real answer? I'm not certain to be honest. I was only researching Gideon for a Casefile Clues article where he's really a "side" interest. The varying locations for the marriage caught my attention and I decided to search into them a little further.

The date of marriage on all three entries is the same.

01 August 2011

Reserve Your Space in My May 2012 Family History Library Trip

We've made arrangements for our May 2012 Family History Library Trip. We're excited about our fifth annual trip to the Family History Library.

Trip members will arrive on Wednesday 23 May 2012 (meet at 6:30 PM) and depart for home on 30 May 2012. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, we have morning sessions at 8:00 AM in the hotel. I consult with participants during the times the Family History Library is open. It is open on Memorial Day its normal Monday hours. Trip participants are encouraged to send me problems for pre-trip consultations as early as possible. We'll have additional details, but that's the gist of it. We keep our trip number at no more than twenty--you are not joining a herd of cattle on this trip--and our price is low!

We stay at the Salt Lake Plaza at a special group rate of $82 a night (plus tax). Join us!

You can reserve your spot for $50 (refundable until 1 Mar 2012) here.  The deadline for paying just the deposit is 17 January 2012. After that registrations must include the total trip fee of $175.A PayPal account is not necessary, but this allows me to process credit card payments. The total trip fee is $175. The balance can be paid in March of 2012 for those who registered by paying the deposit. 

Don't Wait! The early bird registration deadline ends 17 January.