26 July 2012

When Is That Stamp?

Sometimes it is the things that we ignore that cause us to have the biggest questions. The stamp on this letter was almost ignored. What is the date on the stamp?

It can't be 1860 as the letter is dated 1869.

And if it is 1880, the question is "why?"

I don't have an immediate answer--but I'm looking at the rest of the file to see if I can determine a possible reason.

This is part of a letter from John H. Breeden that is included in the minor's pension application for William Shores, child of John Shores who served in Co. G of the 85th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

This letter is discussed in detail in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. The stamp I may or may not figure out.

25 July 2012

Do Your Citations Indicate What Type Of Image or Copy You Used?

When genealogists use digital images of items, that is included in their citation--usually. Most genealogists who use citations in their work indicate if the item they used was located on website in digital format, such as land patents at the Library of Virginia, local records on Familysearch, census records on Ancestry.com, etc.

However, if you obtain "copies" of records from the National Archives those copies can be obtained in either paper format (black and white) or digital format (usually color). There may be clues in the color images of records that are not always evident in black and white images.

Do you indicate in your sources whether the image/copy used was black and white or color?

Do you think it is important to make this notation?

If I use a "copy" of a record from the National Archives and didn't view the material myself onsite and obtained it without visiting the facility directly, should I indicate whether the "image" used to make my transcription was a color copy or a black and white copy?

Does it matter?

I think it does, but I've not decided how to handle it.

If you don't think "color" matters, look at this image from a letter in a Civil War pension application. A black and white copy might "hide" the fact that there are two different handwritings (at least) on this document.

My interpretation of something may be different because I used a color copy versus a black and white copy.

We're using this letter in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues. I'm not certain if I'll have a good way of handling the citation by then, but we're working on it.

23 July 2012

What It Looks Like Or What It Is?

This is part of the 1881 birth certificate for my great-grandfather Mimka J. Habben.

I know what county the birth certificate is from. However, it certainly looks like Hanenek County in this image. I'd transcribe it as Hancock as that it what it is supposed to be. This image came from the microfilmed birth records of Hancock County, Illinois, on microfilm at the Family History Library-this image is from the birth certificate for Mimka J. Habben.

Any varying opinions?

1910 Soundex on Archive.org

Those of us who researched before the era of the internet, know that there were Soundex (or Miracode) indexes created for most 1880-1920 census records.

Generally speaking, a card was created for each census household and those cards were then "indexed" using the Soundex code for the last name of the head of the household. With the online indexes available today, there is not as much need to use these indexes as there was in the past. However, in some cases, genealogists may still find using the indexes helpful.

The microfilmed version of the 1910 Soundex is online at Archive.org. Finding it takes just a little bit of work and knowing what name you are looking for in the census--keep in mind that usually the name of the head of household is necessary.

Using this page on the National Archives website, I determined the roll number I needed for the desired entry. The man I was looking for was Samuel Neill, who should have been living somewhere in Hancock County, Illinois. The Soundex code for Neill is N400 which was obtained on this site (http://resources.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/soundexconverter/).

The National Archives page needed was http://www.archives.gov/research/census/publications-microfilm-catalogs-census/1910/part-01.html.

I scrolled down to the roll of Soundex film for Illinois that would have Samuel's name on it. Unfortunately there were two rolls:

  • 316. N-325 Isaac--N-400 Samuel
  • 317. N-400 Samuel--N-425 Gustav

 I would need to potentially view each roll of film for Samuel as they were split on two rolls. When using the microfilmed index of these "cards" it is important to remember that the last names are not necessarily in alphabetical order. To find the rolls of film on Archive.org, I placed 
soundex 1910 illinois 316
and then
soundex 1910 illinois 317
in the search box.
  • Soundex 1910--for the year of the soundex
  • illinois because there were different states
  • roll 316/317 were the roll numbers
 Samuel's entry was on the second roll:
The entry indicates Samuel is enumerated as a 68-year old widow born in Ireland and that Maggie is also living with him as a divorced 35 year old born in Illinois.

The 0023 indicates enumeration district 23.
The 0155 indicates family 155.

At this point, I'm not certain about the "123" that appears before the "0023."

Researchers still want to view the actual census--Maggie is shown as single--not divorced.

The Soundex is a finding aid--just like any other.

Sometimes we forget about these "older" tools that we used to use before online indexes became readily available. There are situations where they are still useful.

21 July 2012

Ida Trautvetter Neill (1910-1994)

Dates of birth I can remember--dates of death not so much.  For some reason, the time of the year is easier for me to remember than the precise date of the event. I remembered that my Grandma Neill died in July--mainly because it was during summer school. A quick look up told me that today, 21 July, was the anniversary of Grandma's death in 1994. I knew she died before my youngest daughter was a year old, but somehow it did not seem like it has been that long.

We lived in Galesburg, Illinois, then and my Mother called me to tell me Dad had found Grandma. It wasn't unexpected, Grandma was 83 at the time and had had several strokes in the last years of her life and her memory towards the end was not what it used to be.

The picture in this post was probably taken the year Grandma died. There's no date on it, but Katherine (who is with her in the picture) was born in September of 1993. Most likely it was taken in the summer of 1993.

Grandima was born Ida Laura Trautvetter on 1 September 1910 in Wythe Township, Hancock County, Illinois, the daughter of George and Ida (Sargent) Trautvetter. The family lived in several locations in Wythe and Walker Townships in Hancock County, before settling on the farm near Loraine, Adams County, Illinois, that is still owned by one of grandma's nephews.

Grandma graduated from the 8th grade in Hancock County--there's a picture of her at the courthouse for the countywide graduation. Her parents must have been living in Hancock County still when Grandma was that age.

Grandma was living near Loraine when she met my Grandpa Cecil Neill and they married in Keithsburg, Mercer County, Illinois, in December of 1935. They rented a farm near Plymouth, Hancock County, Illinois, for a year or so (from a relative of Grandpa's) and then purchased the farm north of Carthage where they lived for the rest of their lives and where my parents live today.

Grandma babysat me from the time I was 6 weeks old until I went to kindergarten. We were never to play in the front yard because the highway (the "slab") was too dangerous. I'll have to blog more about Grandma later.

Grandma's buried in the West Point, Illinois, cemetery--where three generations of Neills are buried.

July 2012 Webinars

26July 2012
3:00 PM CST
1820-1870 Census Case study—the Newmans
See how a family was traced in the 1820 through the 1870 census in the Midwest (KY, IN, IL). This case study will discuss search techniques, methodology, making certain you have the “right family,” correlating information, and more.
26 July 2012
1:00 PM CST
Crossing the Pond—Part II
This webinar will discuss reading, interpreting, and using passenger lists between 1820 and 1920. This session will not discuss search techniques of online databases, but will cover where to go once the manifest has been located, making certain you have the correct family and getting the most from what the manifest says.

Attendees may wish to purchase our US Passenger Lists at Ancestry.com ($8.50) webinar which discusses searching these lists or our Crossing the Pond ($8.50) webinar which focuses the methodology of tracing immigrant origins in the 18th and 19th centuries.
26 July 2012
8:30 PM CST
The American Revolution at Fold3.com
This webinar will discuss American Revolutionary War service records, benefit records, and other Revolutionary War materials on Fold3.com. Search approaches for these materials will also be discussed.
24 July 2012
1:00 PM CST
Working With Your Ancestry.com Tree: Part 2, Corrections
Have you merged records into your genealogical database and have “repeat” ancestors, ancestors married twice to the same person and other errors? We’ll see how to make corrections to these problems and others. We’ll also look at how to minimize making these mistakes again.

19 July 2012

Google Maps-Indoors

The guys from Google were on the campus where I teach last night. Before this, I was unaware that Google Maps was working on indoor locations. I guess I just always assumed that people didn't get lost indoors.

They only surveyed public areas of our campus, so hopefully a picture of the inside of my office doesn't show up on Google. The mapping was done with the permission of our administration and the Google Guys (they were only men).

The Google team were given PDF maps of our college campus and are mapping the general structure and location of public areas and rooms. Each of the Google guys had a cell phone of some type and they took quite a few image shots. They reminded me of the Secret Service men we had on campus when President Clinton came to the college many years ago.

The Google Guys weren't overly friendly. They were in my part of the building at night where I was teaching my evening class. There are only two classes in my part of the building and I simply wanted to make certain they were the "Google Guys" and not something else. I asked one of the guys if he was with the Google Group. He muttered "yes," grabbed the badge which was affixed to his waist and "wagged" it, and went back to work.

Apparently he's not too good at Google Talk.

The video below has a brief overview.

18 July 2012

What Is Information: A Start...

My post on "What Is Information?" didn't generate any response, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it and that I don't think it's worth contemplating.

Genealogists throw around the word "information" without really ever saying what it is.

I'm thinking that genealogical information (or a statement) places a person in a specific place at a specific time--and sometimes in relationship to another person.

But that definition is fluid. I don't have it worked out yet. Comments are welcomed!

Chicago Voter Registrations are "New" on Ancestry.com

I've been complaining about a lack of transparency for "new" databases on Ancestry.com, but it's falling on deaf ears. However, we will keep at it.

Ancestry.com's home page today indicates that the Chicago [Illinois] Voter Registrations for these years:
are "new." I'm not certain what is new about these databases or the accompanying images. These records (and the index) have been on Ancestry.com for years. The images, when I looked at them today, appear to be the same ones. I did not experiment with the index enough to know if it was different or not. 

The image below is part of the 1888 entry for Thomas Frame:

You can search these years of Chicago voter records on Ancestry.com:

They do include naturalization information as shown in the right hand page corresponding to the above entries:

16 July 2012

Finding Goldensteins in the 1940 Census

I've spent a little bit of time using the recently released 1940 census indexes at Ancestry.com. I was able to find (so far) two of the siblings of my great-grandmother, Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben. Great-grandma was easy to find as she was living right on the farm in Hancock County, Illinois, where I expected her to be. Some her siblings were not so easy to locate, particularly the ones who had moved. 

Uncle George was living in Whittier, California in 1940:

The actual enumeration for George Goldenstein indicated that his educational level was "C5." Uncle George attended seminary in Ohio and I'm guessing that is why the level is listed the way it is. In 1940 he was working for the US Post Office, which he did for the remainder of his life.  Part aof his entry is shown in the image below.

George's brother, Jurgen Goldenstein, was stationed in Virginia (Marine Barracks at the Norfolk Nacy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia) at the time of the 1940 census. Apparently he had been stationed in San Diego, California, previously. His "record" from Ancestry.com is shown below:

Interesting that Ancestry.com lists the "household" as apparently most of the base.

The actual enumeration for Jurgen is partially shown here:

You can search the 1940 census indexes at Ancestry.com.

Searches can also be made at FamilySearch.

As of this writing the indexes are in progress.

15 July 2012

What Is Information?

Genealogists talk about information being either primary or secondary.

But that begs the question: "What is information?"

13 July 2012

1940 Census Index at Ancestry.com

You can now search for people by name in the 1940 census in the following states at Ancestry.com:

AK (new), AL, AR (new), AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, GA, HI, ID (new), IN, KS, KY, MA(new), ME, MI, MN (new), MO(new), MT, ND(new), NE, NH, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK(new), OR, PA, RI(new), SD(new), TN, UT(new), VA, VT, WA, WI

Remember the 1940 census is free at Ancestry.com through 2013....so get your searches done! But, there is a little time.

12 July 2012

What Does This Provide Evidence Of?

This is part of the documentation in a Bureau of Land Management Cash Land Sale file for Thomas J. Rampley. The land aquisition process was completed under an 1828 act, but Thomas' original payment was on 15 November 1817 for 83 acres. The document styles him as of Coshocton County, Ohio.

Does this document state that Thomas was "of" Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1817? Keep in mind that this record was dated in 1829.

It also turns out that Thomas was not even alive on 30 June 1829 when the final payment was made.

It is important to remember what a document provides evidence of and what it does not.

And it is always important to utilize more than one source.

10 July 2012

Ancestry's U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900--NOT Marriage Records

Ancestry.com recently updated their U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900. The title of this database is somewhat misleading--the "marriage records" in this database are from family group charts compiled mainly by researchers in the 1970s and 1980s. While some of the information in this database may have been obtained from actual records, some of it likely was based upon speculation and tradition.

Consequently any information obtained in this source should be validated with other records where possible. The charts will frequently contain the name of the compiler. Some may contain information on sources, but many likely do not.

I know that entries for a few of my families were submitted by me in the mid-1980s and I know that my charts created during that time did not have any documentation attached to them. Most of the information I put on my charts did come from actual records or sources, but I didn't keep track of where I obtained information. In a few cases I probably submitted information that was not documented at all. I was about fifteen when I submitted information from my files to the company whose charts were used to create U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900.

I'm not totally negative about this database. At the time, sharing and exchanging these charts was a great way to contact potential relatives in the days before email, web pages, blogs, etc. Keep in mind that for many of the compilers, submitting information was done as a way to connect with potential researchers--and in some cases people might have compiled charts that were not as accurate as they could have been.

Keep in mind though, that these records are not marriage records. Marriage records are those records created by an agency or group charged with that task--typically local civil or religious authorities.

There are always concerns about the accuracy of any compiled information and genealogists are advised to use this database with the typical caveats regarding compiled databases.

My one real criticism of this database is it's name. The materials used to create this database are not marriage records.

US National Homes for Volunteer Soldiers

It is easier to find people when the names are somewhat unusual and they leave records in multiple locations. Fortunately that's what happened with my Uncle Claude.

Claude Sartorius was in at least three national soldier's homes in the early 20th century:
  • Danville, Illinois
  • Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Dayton, Ohio 
I know this is my Uncle Claude. The name of his sister is listed as Vola Price and there are not many individuals with the name of Claude Sartorius. Claude and Vola are siblings of Fredericka (Sartorius) Johnson (1865 Adams County, Illinois--1913 Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois)--my great-great-grandmother. Claude was apparently in the service from 1906 through 1909. 

The registers for Danville, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio, are available on Ancestry.com as a part of their fee-based membership. The registers for Johnson City, Tennessee, (and others) are on FamilySearch for free. All are searchable. The images for Danville and Dayton in this blog post were obtained at Ancestry.com. The images for Johnson City were obtained on FamilySearch.



Johnson City

Next on my list:
  • create a chronology of Claude's hospitalizations
  • locate more on Claude's military service
  • determine if any relatives know anything about him. 

09 July 2012

Allen County Public Library (Ft. Wayne, Indiana) Research Trip

My annual group trip to the Allen County Public Library is in early August 2012--our room block with a group rate expires tomorrow at 3 PM. There's more information on my trip here. We still have room!

05 July 2012

Can You Find the Typographical Error and Getting the Date

This image comes from page 216 of Probate Journal 44 from Hancock County, Illinois' Circuit Clerk's Office and was obtained on FamilySearch.

There is a typographical error in this document.

This probate journal is from the December 1917 term of the County Court--18 December 1917. This date is not on the image and the page itself does not make it clear what date this order was made. I had to view a few pages before this one in order to find the precise date of the order. When making digital copies make certain that all relevent information is obtained.

The typographical error is fairly easy to catch. Any transcription of this item should not make any corrections. The Latin sic, in backets, can be used to indicate the error and a comment can be added if deemed necessary.

Blogs that I Avoid

However sometimes it is clear to me why some blogs have few readers. Generally speaking, I avoid blogs that:
  • Include posts indicating how "great," "knowledgeable," "witty," etc. the writer is. We can tell you  are great by what you write, we can see if you are knowledgeable by your posts, and wit either comes across or it does not. If you have to tell us any of these things about yourself, chances are you are not any of them.
  • Prattle on about how much of an "expert" the author is.
  • Are full of grammar errors, spelling irregularities, etc. All of us make occasional mistakes. If you've got one every other sentence and apparently never seen a spelling checker, it makes me wonder how accurate information is in your postings. 
  • Contain "forced" writing. If you are writing to meet arbitrary deadlines, it shows. 
  • Attempt to create drama or "news" where none exists. Fake drama is not drama and wears on people's nerves. I avoid reality TV for the same reason.
  • Have no indication who the author really is.

03 July 2012

A Non-Typical Cash Land Sale

[note--this is a posting that was originally posted by accident to the Casefile Clues blog earlier today--so if you read it there--just skip it here. This is where I originally meant to post it and will be more careful in the future.]

This is an interesting cash land sale from the Bureau of Land Management. The patent was issued in 1830 to James Shores, Assignee of Thomas J. Rampley, decd. I'm curious as to the time frame as Thomas Rampley died in Ohio in 1823. A few years elapsed between Rampley's death and the issuance of the patent.

Cash land purchases are usually pretty non-informational (is that a word?). Usually these files are just receipts and an order to issue the patent and typically do not contain lots of good "genealogical" information. But this record may be a little different. These records are actually at the National Archives. A researcher who typically gets these for me is working on obtaining copies. We'll have an update and probably a detailed article in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.

The purchase was in Coshocton County, Ohio--as evidenced by this screen shot of the patent detail screen:

These images and the information used to create this post comes from the Bureau of Land Management website http://www.glorecords.blm.gov

02 July 2012

Do You Have Revolutionary War Ancestors?

The only way to answer this question is to actually research your genealogy and find out. With the approaching July 4th holiday, there's a smattering of genealogy posts about how to find your Revolutionary War ancestor--with the implication that you can choose who your ancestors are or that if you research completely enough there will be a Revolutionary War ancestor waiting for you. For some of us that's not going to happen.

My mother has no Revolutionary War ancestors. Not one. I can research forever and I'm not going to find one at all. None of her ancestors were living in the United States before 1850 so her not having a Revolutionary War ancestor should not be too much of a surprise.

If you have a Revolutionary War ancestor, then you have one. If you do not, then you do not. You hvae no control over who your ancestors are. There are sources for Revolutionary War era research, but no guarantees for finding ancestors who were involved in specific activities.

You are the only person whose activities you control.

Turn the table for a minute...if your ancestor was researching their descendants and they discovered you, would they be thrilled, or would you be one more name in their database?