31 August 2012

An 1848 Obituary for George C. Liddle

It is not often in the course of my own research I encounter an obituary from the early 1840s. But there is one in a Philadelphia newspaper for a George C. Liddle who appears to have been the paternal grandfather of Charles Allen Liddle, who has been mentioned earlier on this blog.

Philadelphia Public Ledger, 25 September 1848, p. 2. Obtained  on Genealogybank
Apparently Capt. George C. Liddle died in Kingston, New Jersey, on 22 September 1848. His residence must have been in Kaighn's Point, New Jersey, right across the river from Philadelphia.

I'll be honest, I was not exactly certain what the location was in New Jersey and a Google search helped me to locate it.

It looks like two of George's children were sent to a school for orphans in Philadelphia. Stay tuned.

William B. Liddle on Google Books

Never assume your ancestor or relative will not appear in some old book that's been digitized on Google Books.

This reference is from an 1875 annual report by the Board of Directors of Philadelphia City Trusts. The title page is partially reproduced in this blog post.

The item of interest was Wm. B. Liddle and his apparent brother John F. Liddle. They are listed as alumni of Girard College in this 1875 report with both men living in Philadelphia--Wm. B. as a salesman and John F. as an accountant.

My follow up research includes looking for additional reports that may provide additional information on the men.

Stay tuned.

Was He Related to the CEO of his Company?

It's been some time since I worked on the Liddle family, so we'll give a short rundown of the reason for the interest.

My children's uncle, Robert Frame, applied for a United States passport in 1921. Included in his passport application is a letter from his boss, Charles A. Liddle, in support of his application. This passport application was obtained on Ancestry.com. It's not unusual for an employer to write a letter of support, but having the vice-president write one is slightly atypical.

There's a minor coincidence with Mr. Liddle that suggests he should be researched further. Normally I don't research the high level executives at companies where relatives worked. However, Robert Frame's maternal grandmother's maiden name was Liddle and while not rare the name is not that common.

I've researched Liddle a little bit before, but didn't make too many inroads and frankly got sidetracked with other things. A recent search for him on Genealogybank located a newspaper clipping from Seattle in 1961 that indicated Liddle died in January of that year.

The 1940 Census for Charles A. Liddle indicates that both he and his father were born in Pennsylvania. The 62 year old is enumerated as a railroad company executive at 235 Linden in New Trier, Illinois (Chicago area), living with his wife Kathryn and two servants.

Charles A. Liddle's own passport application from 1919 (located on Ancestry.com) indicated that his father, William Liddle was born in Pennsylvania.

I'm not certain this means I should drop my search for a connection (Robert Frame's parents were natives of County Cumberland in England and immigrated to the United States in the 1860s). There are two reasons why in this case, the search probably should be continued:

  • Robert Frame's family lived in Pennsylvania for a short time after their immigration.
  • Robert Frame's mother had relatives of her father--Watsons--living in Pennsylvania when they immigrated. It is possible that more than the Watsons were involved in this chain of migration. 

Note: in my own research, I'm completely citing all the sources used. In blog posts, there's enough detail that those with an interest can obtain the originals. And, as always, sources are always completely cited in Casefile Clues where I usually write these research scenarios up in more complete detail.

Liddle's draft card from World War II is somewhat unusual and I'm working on a blog post on that as well.

Frustrating my search is the fact that there was a Charles Liddle who lived in the Rockford, Illinois, area.

Stay tuned. We'll have an update when more has been located. In the meantime, never ignore the potential possibility that your relative's boss might have somehow had a connection to him besides employment.

30 August 2012

31 August Webinar Discounts

Join me for my 31 August 2012 webinars!

Last minute registrations!

Crossing the Pond-Part II--$4.25

12 Noon--Central Time 31 August 2012

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. 

Understanding What’s On FamilySearch: Do Multiple Databases with Similar Titles Confuse You?--$4.25

2:00 PM Central Time--31 August 2012

This presentation will focus on American databases on FamilySearch.org. Do you know what you are really searching when you search a FamilySearch database? Do you understand the difference between three databases with similar titles that cover “the same thing?” We will look at several examples during this presentation and provide a general framework for determining (when you can) what a database really is.

29 August 2012

Ken and Martha: A Lesson in Data Preservation

[reposted from March of 2011 http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2011/03/ken-and-martha-lesson-in-data.html]

Ken and Martha: A Lesson in Data Preservation

This has been published before, but I'm reposting as it is just as timely as ever. Reprint requests can be sent to mjnrootdig@gmail.com. This is food for thought.....
It's 1968. Two genealogists are madly obtaining and compiling family history information. Ken is converting all his data to punch cards. "State-of-the-art" he says. Locals at the genealogical society brag about how "modern" Ken is. He's been asked to discuss his technique with several groups. Martha insists on using her old manual, "it worked for Donald Lines Jacobus," she states, ignoring the blank stare she gets in return. Ken jokes, "why Martha, you probably don't have running water." Martha calmly replies "I most certainly do…packing water from the creek would take away from time at the courthouse."

Martha uses good paper and good ribbons, but that doesn't matter to the others. "Living back in the '30s," they say. Martha remembers using court documents from the 1890s and the ease with which sixty years later she read the judge's typewritten conclusions. She smiles to herself and carries on. After all, her research has shown she's descended from a stubborn, independent lot and a little ribbing won't sway Martha.

It's 1998. Ken and Martha have been gone for years, the society members who lauded Ken and ribbed Martha are mostly gone, current members are largely unaware the two former members. Ken's heirs and Martha's too have found their genealogical compilations in their respective attics and have wisely donated them to the local genealogical society. The acquisitions chairman quickly appoints someone to inventory and catalog Martha's typewritten charts, forms, and histories before they are added to the society's collection.

The society is still trying to find someone to do the same with Ken's cards. The comment "why don't we sell them as bookmarks at our annual workshop" is initially laughed at but does generate some serious interest. Pictures are also a part of Ken and Martha's collection. Martha's black and whites have stood the test of time rather well. Some of the original stones are gone, but Martha's pictures remain and will be archivally preserved by the society. Ken's color photographs have faded and they, in addition to his punch cards, are still awaiting a decision.

While the "old way" of doing things is not necessarily the best way (I'm partial to running water and electricity myself), Ken and Martha's story makes a point about the use of technology. The blond hair in the photograph of me at three years of age has faded. Today the photo makes me look as if I've always had a receding hairline. I have a stack of 5 1/4" floppies sitting on my desk, gathering dust. They all contain state-of-the-art software, and corresponding data files. The only computer I have that reads 5 1/4" floppies sits in my garage. With a null-modem I could transfer the files to the machine I currently use. That works today and the machine in the garage is thirteen years old. What about fifty years from now? If I had my "complete" genealogy on one of these disks could it be read and used in fifty years? What if the data is readable, but the software won't run? Will someone have a working copy of the software?

If not, will there be any way to convert the data to a modern format? Even if they had a machine that could read the disks, what is the chance a machine of that age is in working order in fifty years? And what if it needs parts? It took the auto-body shop two weeks to find parts for my five-year old car. Obtaining parts for a fifty-year old computer is likely to be even more problematic. That does not matter, the technical ones say. There will be ways to convert any data format to any other data format at that point in time. Maybe, but maybe not.

If you take a look at 30-year old genealogical magazines, there are ads for various specialized record-keeping systems, with special charts, forms, and numbering schemes. For how many of these can you still buy forms? Heaven help you if Great-aunt Myrtle used one of these systems and misplaced the manual. And in the ever-changing world of technology, whose to say which data format or operating system will eventually win out? Ten years ago we lived in the world of MS-DOS and every computer user (except for Mac people!) had to enter in text commands in order to maneuver data and software files. Ten years ago, all genealogy software was written for DOS and windows had curtains. If Sun and others have their way, it will be curtains for Windows. Regardless of who comes out on top, change is the only thing that never changes.

In the rush to computerize and to digitize, it must be remembered that relatively speaking, these technologies are in their infancy and that file formats are still constantly changing. It's also necessary to remember that computers and digital technologies originated as a means of communicating and processing information faster, not as a way to preserve information for hundreds of years. Electronic forms of publishing and data storage should not be abandoned. The days of paper and printing are not yet over. Remember the phrase "paperless office?" From what I see as I look at the clutter surrounding my desk, I realize we have a long way to go. In fact, computers make it easier to generate reports and forms.

Computers were never meant to be archival, they were a means to process information more quickly (at least in theory). And when a computer geek says they "archived" something they aren't storing if forever. They made a backup copy in case their hard drive fails in the next few years. They are not planning on saving a copy for the next hundred years. The school where I work occasionally receives donations of old software. Software for Windows 3.1 is essentially useless, especially if we are preparing students for technologies they will encounter in the workplace. When my office was moved from one building to another, I threw out countless old software manuals and programs. We are not a software archives and there's no practical reason to retain five and six year old software.

It's important to remember that a significant amount of the fascination with this new technology is hype. It's important to remember the word "hype" is related to the word "hyper." A hyper person is usually too excited to be unable to focus and concentrate. Also remember that software and hardware companies benefit from new products being put on the market every six months and that "new" is not a synonym for "better" (my word processor confirmed this, just in case I was not aware of it myself). It should also be remembered that recent trends have made genealogists more of a market than they were five or so years ago.

Make no mistake. Information technology affords genealogists opportunities never before available. Significant amounts of data are available via computer and communication can be greatly facilitated. In fact, the editor of this e-zine and I have never met, never talked on the phone, never faxed, and never U.S. mailed. Also, on my end nearly half the articles never see a sheet of paper until the completed e-zine is e-mailed to me when it is "published." Let's also remember that the greatest information processor of all time is not archival. The human mind still has advantages over the computer. If we are really lucky, it lasts one hundred years and no one ever claims the brain should be used for long-term data storage. After all, I have enough trouble remembering where I put my keys fifteen minutes ago. Printed, typed, or written pages, once transcribed by a human, may last for much longer if preserved correctly. As we research, compile, and create, let's not forget the lesson of Ken and Martha.

(c) 2011 Michael John Neill

Private Public Tree Information Showing in Ancestry.com Search Results?

This little video is from a search I performed on Ancestry.com today.

The information in the public tree is private and does not show. However, the "private" information does show in the search results for this person.

So is it possible that something in a public tree which is marked "private" may appear in the search results?

It did in this case.

[update--apparently when users create public trees they can set it to show the information in search results, but to show "private" when viewing the actual items.]

Did My Ancestor Find Your Ancestor's Horses?

Maryland Journal (Baltimore, MD)--16 July 1782--page 6--located digitally on  on Genealogybank  
I've mentioned this little clipping before, but I thought I'd share it again as it's a nice little gem from 1781 and was located on Genealogybank.

James Rampley apparently found two stray horses in Harford County, Maryland, in 1783.

"Taken up as strays, by the Subscriber, living in Harford County, Maryland, two GELDINGS, the one a bright bay, about 15 hands high..."

If I had not known James was living in Harford County in 1783, this would have been fairly good proof that James was there on that date.

Of course this reference doesn't indicate whether he is a landowner or not.

There can easily be clues in the advertisements in newspapers--particularly older newspapers when fewer people are mentioned in general. This is one of the few newspaper references I've found for James.

28 August 2012

What Makes It On the Rootdig Blog?

A few readers asked how I decide what to blog about, so I thought I'd answer that question here instead of sending a bunch of emails.

I blog about whatever I'm researching--either things that are part of larger research projects or little things I stumble across on my research. Usually I like the blog posts to have some point or lesson, even if I won't have time to follow up on the item myself.

Sometimes I write about research methods or theory, but those posts are fewer than they used to be. Formulating those ideas and synthesizing them clearly takes time and I'm pressed enough for time as it is. So my blogging about what "information" is or is not, will have to wait.

I don't write about genealogy news unless it has a direct impact on me. I also don't write about every new thing or website that comes along. Things that I used in my research and that help me I write about. If I don't spend time using it myself it won't be mentioned here. Rootdig doesn't "do" genealogy news, press releases, etc. There are plenty of sites that already do that. Writing about research interests me more than writing about news.

I only research the ancestry of my children and do not take any clients. What this means is that you won't see Eastern European countries or records mentioned here. In the same vein, unless I figure out my wife's Swiss ancestors who might be a little Italian, you won't see information on Italian research here either. I don't write about what I don't actually research myself.

Of course, I'd like you to subscribe to the newsletter, join me on one of my trips (or webinar), or have give a seminar, that would be great. But it's not necessary.

27 August 2012

An Odd Fellow In Chicago and What Does J. W. Mean?

Apparently my wife's ancestor Thomas Frame was something of an odd fellow as evidenced by a recent item I located on Genealogybank. Memberships in fraternal organizations are not something I normally research, but like anything else they can contain clues and may lead to further records. 

Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), 11 January 1891, part III page 21
One has to read the article carefully. The column mentions several different "encampments" of the Order of Odd Fellows. The reference of interest is to Thomas Frame who is indicated as having been elected to an office in the "encampment" from the Pullman area of Chicago. This encampment, the Columbia Encampment-Number 84, was recently re-opened with officers as indicated in this blurb.

Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), 11 January 1891, part III page 21
desired entry--Thomas Frame

There is only one Thomas Frame in the Pullman area, so there's a really good chance he's the English native that I'm researching in that area. Whether or not this is a big research clue is another matter entirely. 

The one problem is that I don't know what his elected office was. The names are apparently listed with their office after their names:
  • J. W. Taylor, Chief Patriarch
  • R. P. Cheyne, S. W.
  • J. W. Marwick, H. P.
  • F. L. Woodford, Scribe
  • Nels Bergreen, Treasurer
  • Thomas Frame, J. W.
If there had been many Frames in the area, this might have helped me distinguish one from another. It might also have confirmed the existence of an additional Thomas Frame. How big a clue this membership is I'm not all that certain. I know where Thomas was born and died, who his wife was, who his parents were, and who his children were. 

This is an interesting item that I'll file away. Later it may prove helpful. In some families, this item could have been a breakthrough. 

Searching for last names like "Frame" on most sites is not necessarily easy. We'll see in a future post how I found this on Genealogybank.

[update--a Facebook friend Helen Smith from Australia told me this refers to Junior Warden--thanks. And the link for that is: http://www.ioof.org/acronyms.html]

Half-Off Webinar Sale

We're offering our half-off download sale for the next 24 hours--until 6:00 PM Central time 28 August 2012.

Coupon code halfoff at checkout will reduce your order price by 50%--cutting it in half! Jumpstart your research today--we have a wide variety of topics, the best prices around, and years of genealogical experience upon which our presentations are based.

If these links do not work, please visit http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2012/08/updated-list-of-genealogy-webinars.html  Coupon will expire in 24 hours--don't wait.

I Can't Find It

[reposted because it's just as helpful today as it was 6 years ago]

From the Ancestry Daily News 
  Michael John Neill -- 3/22/2006

I Can't Find It

In the seven and a half years that I have been writing this column [my former column for the former Ancestry Daily News], readers have followed me through searches for people who changed their name, lied about their age, moved for no reason, disappeared without a trace, appeared from a UFO, left no records, left too many records, and a variety of other situations. Part of the difficulty in locating these people centered on locating various records. This week we look at some ways that our searches of records can be stymied. 

Have you considered how the letters might appear on the page of the original document? This is especially a concern when using indexes and other finding aids. If the word starts with a fancy "T" was it read as an "F?" Can the writer's "u" and "n" be easily confused? These and a myriad of other handwriting issues may cause the genealogist to have difficulty locating the record. Think "how it might look"instead of "how it should look."

How your ancestor pronounced his name impacts how it gets spelled, particularly if your relative is illiterate or is not asked how to spell the name himself. Southern drawls, Irish brogues, and Eastern European accents can easily make a name be heard such that a creative spelling approach is used. Taliaferro may be said in a way that sounds like "Tolliver,"Gibson like "Gepson,"and Goldenstein like "Goldstein."

What Is Your Finding Aid? 
Are you using a handwritten index compiled by the records office? Then typographical errors are not so likely. Are you using an index (either printed or online) that was created by keying the information? Then typographical errors are possible and must be considered when searching. If you are searching an online database, are you able to perform Soundex and wildcard searches? Have you considered all reasonable spelling variants and determined what Soundex and wildcard searches are necessary in order to catch all variant spellings? 

Wrong Information Provided 
Did your ancestor fib about his age to the census taker or records clerk? Perhaps that is why he eludes your searches. If you are using an online database (such as a census index) consider not including any age information in your search or using a wider range of dates. Your ancestor could have easily lied about his name as well. Or perhaps a neighbor provided the information in your ancestor's census enumeration, a neighbor who had little first-hand knowledge of your relative. 

Wrong Location 
Do you really know where your ancestor lived for the time period you are searching? Are you positive it was not in the next town up the road or down the river? Have you considered adjacent counties and nearby towns, perhaps where a job was easier to get?

Lack of Knowledge Regarding Records 
If I don't understand the records being searched, I may spend hours fruitlessly searching. As an example, the Bureau of Land Management has an excellent site for land patents in federal land states. Yet there is little chance that a 1870s era immigrant to Chicago appears in this database, even though Illinois is a federal land state. Why? Because the Bureau of Land Management site indexes federal land patents, those "first deeds"where ownership was transferred from the federal government to private hands. There is little chance of this happening in the Chicago area in the 1870s.

The first time a specific record group is being used it is an excellent idea to learn about how the records were created, stored, and indexed. As another example, indexes to court and land records are rarely every-name indexes and search approaches of these records need to keep this fact in mind. On a website, always be certain to read the FAQ for information about the records and ways in which the database can be searched. For county or local records, consult Red Book or the Family History Library's research guides to learn more information about these records. 

Incorrect Assumptions
We all have to make assumptions to begin our research. The problem comes when we forget our assumptions are assumptions and treat them as facts. Some examples might be:
  • that a man and wife are both the parents of all the children in their household in the 1850 census;
  • that a couple married near where their first child was born;
  • or that a female was in her late teens or early twenties at the time of her first marriage.
When records cannot be located to support these assumptions or when the records found fly in the face of the assumptions, it is time to re-evaluate. 

Underlying Personal Problems 
Is our ancestor difficult to find because he was constantly running one step ahead of the law? Did a family members' alcoholism or depression cause the family to remain in turmoil for decades? Some of our ancestors had personal issues, many of which cannot be documented. And yet these problems may explain why it is difficult to find our ancestors or explain their unusual behavior.

Unable To See the Big Picture 
Are you trying a variety of data organization techniques to help you in your search? Chronologies, timelines, and relationship charts are excellent ways to see the information in a different way that may make something "click."Placing locations on a map in chronological order and considering nearby geographic features and political boundaries may also result in realizations. Words and text alone are not always sufficient. I once had a geometry student who absolutely refused to draw a diagram or picture throughout the entire class, despite being advised numerous times that even crude renderings could be helpful. Her performance suffered. There are also times in genealogy where even a crude chart is extremely helpful.

Unable To Let Go 
Are you holding on to some dear family tradition? It may be time to let go. My ancestor supposedly "sold sandwiches."It turned out that she actually ran a tavern. Another relative was said to have died by "drowning,"when he accidentally shot himself. Tradition may have to be put aside in order to get past that brick wall in your research.

In Summary 
Learn, keep an open mind, and keep looking. This is general advice to be certain, but still worth heeding.

Join Us
Things will be changing over the next few months as we change our format. Join us as we continue to explore our past and share ways to help you in your own search for more of your family history. You can follow my writings at:

What We Review at Rootdig.com

It is rare for me to review periodicals, materials, websites, software, etc. on this blog. 

It is even more rare for me to solicit materials for review. 

If I mention something on this blog, it's because I use it in my research and I shelled out money for it. 

It's that simple. 

25 August 2012

Can You Find Peter Verikios in 1940?--repost

Now that FamilySearch has posted their complete 1940 census index, we're mentioning again our contest to find Greek immigrant Peter Verikios in the 1940 census. If you are interested and missed the original post, it's here.

Test the Webinars With a Freebie

I've decided to make this a permanent feature of our webinar page--one of the Brick Wall webinars-the second one--for free. This is done to reduce the number of people who have difficulties viewing the webinars once they've purchased them. The list of presentations is here on our site.

I'm only one person and I'm trying to cut down on the volume of emails that I have to handle on a regular basis. Hopefully that makes that happen and makes things easier on our customers.

Please let your genealogy friends know about the webinars--we don't have a sponsor and I try and keep the download cost low, but we still have hosting and other costs to cover.

And ideas for new presentations are always welcomed.

Aunt Alice Appears in a Texas Wedding

It really isn't a big find, but it still makes an excellent point.

I searched for my great-uncle, Edward Habben,  in the newspaper collection at  Genealogybank. I really was not expecting to find anything except maybe an additional reference to his obituary which I already had. Uncle Ed was born, raised, and died in Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois--so any references to him should have been from newspapers in that area.

Habben is not the most common name--and when I located a reference on Genealogybank in the Dallas Morning News, I was surprised. The reference, from 14 May 1950 (section 3, page 4) was actually to Mrs. Edward Habben. There are not many Habben families in the United States and most of us are centered in the upper Midwest.

The reference was actually to my uncle's wife, my great-aunt Alice. It had to be her as she is referred to as "Mrs. Edward Habben, Carthage, Illinois." Turns out she was in the wedding of a former Carthage resident who actually married in Dallas.

Just goes to show you that you never know where a reference will turn up.

The clue isn't a big revelation for me, but it has made me think about going back and performing some additional searches.

24 August 2012

When Is a Tax List a Census?

Genealogists who have some length in their genealogical teeth talk about the importance of knowing the purpose of a record.

It's true--any researcher who wants to use and interpret something as correctly as possible needs to know (among other things) the purpose for which the record was originally created. This may not be the same thing as the purpose for which the record is now used.

Tax lists are a great example. In some states, particularly in the late 18th and early 19th century, census lists may be missing or not extant, if they were even taken at all. And that's just the way it is. If there are no census records, then there are no census records. The purpose of a census is usually to count everyone in a specific geographic region--or at least those individuals that meet the parameters set down by the governmental entity taking the census.

Tax lists--both of real and personal property--serve a different purpose. They are created as a way for the government to tax citizens, those who own real property and those who own sufficient personal property (or property of a specific kind) to be able to pay a tax.

When census records are unavailable for a certain area and time period, tax lists may be used to obtain the names of individuals who were residing in that area. But tax lists are not censuses and censuses are not tax lists.

There's never a guarantee that a real estate landowner actually lived on the property on which he was taxed. He probably was, but it's possible that he was not. So you could find a person on a real estate property tax list in County A who never lived in County A.

And a person of extremely limited financial means (without real property and without any significant personal property) may not appear on a tax list for County A when he would have appeared on the census for County A because he lived there.

Tax lists should be used when they are extant for a location. But don't call them census records and don't call them "substitute" census records either. Call them what they are not leads to confusion and misunderstanding.

It's actually pretty easy--call them what they are: tax lists.

Oh, and the answer to the question that's the title of this blog post is "never."

23 August 2012

Wanted by Two Women

I have always loved this headline from the Denver Post which I obtained on Genealogybank. Headlines are meant to sell papers and generate attention. This one certainly does that.

The headline comes from a 6 May 1898 in the Denver Post (page 6--obtained on Genealogybank's website).  article on Philip A. Troutfetter, whom I've written about before. Trautvetter was something of a world traveler--he was in Cuba and Columbia during the 1890-1900 time frame. This headline only refers to his romantic entanglements. He was also involved in a few other activities which nearly resulted in jail time.

Philip was arrested in Boston. We've posted on him before as I've located things, but I've never written a chronology of his exploits and newspaper references.

We'll work up a few more references to Philip from Genealogybank and post them here in a more organized form than we've done before. He was also investigated by the United States Post Office and a report of that investigation was used for a Casefile Clues article a year or so ago.

A Newsletter Reader Comment

DM sent me the following unsolicited email the other day. 


Thanks.  Normally, I hate reading published case studies.  Most of the pros recommend reading NGSQ or NEHGS journals but truthfully, most of those are written in such a boring way that I lose my attention span very quickly.  I have stacks of unread issues.  I love the way you write Casefile Clues.  They are interesting, never boring, & I’ve learned a lot from you.

Thanks for those positive comments--I really appreciate them!

[addition--Readers should note that I'm not saying the NGSQ or the NEHGS is "boring" and that my publishing this comment (unedited) was merely done to let blog readers know that we do have fans of the newsletter.]

There is more about Casefile Clues here. 

22 August 2012

Newspaper Mentions an 1876 Deed

My continuing search for Ehmen references in various newspapers "Ehmen" Genealogybank turned up a most interesting reference in a Quincy, Illinois, newspaper from 1876--Quincy [Illinois]Whig--3 January 1876, page 6.

"Schantzi Ehmen to Jurgen T. Ehmen, lot 2, block 8, Keokuk Junction  400"

Further research is warranted, but this deed reference probably is actually referring to Schwantje Ehmen and her son Jurgen Tonjes Ehmen. Jurgen Tonjes Ehmen is a brother-in-law to the Tjede Ehmen we've been discussing in other posts.

Hopefully I'll have time to follow up on this reference. It is interesting because I'd like to know how Schwantje obtained the property and when Jurgen sold it. By this time Schwante's husband is deceased and I'm curious whether he purchased it and she inherited it from him or whether she somehow acquired it herself. Further research is warranted. 

Schwantje's husband, Tonjes Jurgen Ehmen (1805-1864) is a brother to Johann Luken Jurgens Ehmen Goldenstein, my third great-grandfather. Why they have different last names (they are full brothers) is a story for another post. 

Newspapers can easily provide references to a variety of items--not just births, marriages, and deaths. This deed may provide some information of which I was not previously aware. 

This reference was located on  Genealogybank

Does Ancestry.com Know Where Augustana College Is?

What's wrong with this picture?

Actually the image has not been modified, but there Ancestry.com does have a problem with this database at the time this post was written. You can view the entry at Ancestry.com here.

Anyone know what mistake Ancestry.com made?

21 August 2012

Staack Teaches at Augustana

Ancestry.com's yearbook collection answered the question of what brought Tjede Ehmen (via her son-in-law Henry Staack) to the Rock Island-Moline, Illinois area: Staack was on the faculty of Augustana College.

Henry F. Staack from the 1944 Augustana College yearbook. No page number, but this image was obtained on Ancestry.com and  is indicated as image 28 of 170.
Staack's picture appears in the 1944 Augustana College yearbook on  Ancestry.com as shown above. Yearbooks can answer all kinds of questions--and not just ones about students.

I'm not certain how much more I'll research Staack--he's the husband of a second cousin of my great-grandfather, but there have been a few interesting lessons and reminders in tracking down Tjede. 

20 August 2012

Why Did Tjede Fly From Moline?

This is part of the 1940 census enumeration for Tjede Ehmen. The location answers why she flew from Moline, Illinois, to Washington State to see her daughter later that year--as evidenced by the newspaper item located on  Genealogybank. She was living in Rock Island with her daughter and her family.

The Staaks lived at 1822 13th Street in Rock Island at the time of this enumeration. Tjede is listed as an 87-year old German native with an 8th grade education. Henry F. Staack's educational level is listed as "C-6" and his occupation is listed as a teacher in a "private college." 

Too bad the employer is not listed. However, it was not too difficult for me to guess who that employer was given the family's residence and their likely denomination. We'll save more about Henry Staack for a future post. 

18 August 2012

87 Year Old Takes a 1940 Plane Ride

The newspaper article appeared when I performed a search for "Ehmen" on Genealogybank, "Woman 87, to Fly Over Own Early-Day Trail." Tjede Ehmen was the woman and her husband was actually Wilm Ehmen despite what the article says. Rev. Ehmen actually was a first cousin to my great-great-grandfather Foche Goldenstein and was the pastor who baptized Foche's daughter Tjode, my great-grandmother in Dawson County, Nebraska, in 1882. The article also includes a picture of Tjede.

The above article appeared in the Seattle Times on 9 October 1940--page 13 and was obtained digitally on GenealogyBank.com. The town of Golden is spelled incorrectly in the article--it's not the Gliden that's listed.

The article mentions that Tjede flew from Moline, Illinois, without mentioning why she was in Moline.

A little additional searching revealed why---and we'll have an update on why in a future blog post.

Finding US Passport Applications 1795-1925

We discussed United States Passport Applications in an earlier post. There is an article on the National Archives website about these applications, which are available on microfilm--unindexed.

These records are also:

The microfilm is available through the Family History Library and may be in the collection of other large genealogical libraries. 

Could It Have Been McKee?

This is the declaration of intent for Johan/John Michael who made his declaration in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1870. This document makes an excellent illustration for the importance of reading the entire document and how things can get misread.

I was using these declarations to pick up signatures for Daily Genealogy Transcriber and I originally thought that the man's last name was McKee and thought it odd that a "McKee" was giving up allegiance to the King of Prussia.

Upon further reading and a little thought, I realized that the clerk had written John Mikel as the name and that the declarant has signed Johan Michael.

This image comes from volume 4 of Declarations of Intent to Naturalize in Hancock County, Illinois.

US Passport Applications--reposted from 2007

[this is a repost from a 2007 blog post]

This passport sample from 1922 indicates that the applicant was born in Switzerland and provides the name of his father and the date of immigration. Also included is the reason for the trip and a picture. Earlier applications do not give pictures and as much information, but is it possible that your ancestor made a return trip "home" to visit family? These applications are available at Ancestry.com as US Passport Applications and images 1795-1925.

17 August 2012

My Second A to Z Brick Wall Webinar -Free

[I've posted this here due to overwhelming response on my other blogs]

Blog readers, followers, and email subscribers to Rootdig can get my second "Brick Walls from A to Z" webinar for free by using this link:


I've given four of these "Brick Walls from A To Z" presentations--this offer is for the second one. Each one has different suggestions. This is the first time we've offered the second presentation for free.

1940 Census Index for Illinois release at FamilySearch

It appears that FamilySearch has finally included Illinois in their 1940 census index. I have a few people that I have not been able to locate, particularly Peter Verikios a Greek immigrant to Chicago who would have been living (probably) in or near Chicago in 1940.

There are several options:

  • Peter could have been skipped
  • Peter's name could be written so badly it cannot be read
  • Peter might have been enumerated under another name--a variant of which I have not heard.
  • Peter might have lived elsewhere-somewhere I have not thought to look.

I have a few more individuals whom I can't find in 1940 in Illinois. I will have to look for them now at FamilySearch.

14 August 2012

Updated List of Genealogy Webinars

This is the current list of my recorded genealogy webinars. With over 30 to choose from, there's something here for almost every one.  To "test" the media file and see if your machine can play it, download the second "Brick Wall from A to Z" webinar here for free
  • The Bureau of Land Management Office Tract Books. These books are a good source for additional information on your homesteading or federal land acquiring ancestors. This material supplements what is in the homestead file, allows you to see names of neighboring claims, even if those claims were not completed. If you've ever wondered who might have started a claim near your ancestor, but never completed it--these books are the way to find out. Our webinar on using the books (most of which are available for free on FamilySearch)  discusses several examples in Ohio, Illinois, and Nebraska for a variety of federal land purchase types. If you've never used the tract books because you found them too confusing, let this webinar cut through the confusion.

    You can order the recording and handout for $6 via this link
  • Sections, Townships, Base Lines, etc--Land Descriptions in Federal Land States. The presentation focused on interpreting these descriptions, determining acreages and becoming familiar with the terminology. This presentation is geared towards those who have had difficulty using land descriptions or who have avoided using land records because of the use of legal descriptions. The use of land records for genealogy and searching those records are not a part of this presentation. This presentation concentrates on how land is described.  This presentation and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • Did Your Ancestor Get a Civil War Pension? This presentation discusses ways to determine if your ancestor recieved a Civil War pension--either Union or Confederate. Free sites are the only ones discussed. This presentation and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • Using the 1940 Census at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch. Ancestry.com is offering their 1940 census indexes and images free through 2013. FamilySearch's will remain free. This presentation is geared towards intermediate level researchers--we assume you're familiar with what the census is, what common search problems are, etc. I've gotten good feed back from attendees--including ones in the US and overseas. We look through several examples and I make a few discoveries along the way myself--which is a good thing and probably which shows during the presentation. The method of presentation is informal, with a focus on procedure and method. This presentation and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • American Revolutionary War Materials on Fold3.com.  Our discussion concentrated on what items from the Revolutionary War era were on Fold3.com and how to search those materials. The presentation was approximately 45 minutes in length. A short handout was also included. The presentation is geared toward those who have not utilized these materials on Fold3.com and aren't all that familiar with how to interact with the search and navigational system of Fold3--both are discussed in addition to the records. This presentation and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • The Newmans in the 1830-1870 Census--A Case Study. This presentation follows a family through the 1830 until the 1870 census. Discussion includes correlation of information, search techniques and problem-solving for finding the family in 1880. This presentation and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • Making Changes to Your Ancestry.com Tree. We have released the recording of my webinar on making changes to YOUR tree at Ancestry.com. The presentation discusses how to fix errors, what problems can arise when fixing errors, changing relationships, adding parents, spouses, or children, and more. This presentation can be ordered for $8.50.
  • Integrating Images and Ancestry.com data in your Ancestry.com Tree. I just completed my first webinar on using the online trees at Ancestry.com--we focused on integrating census and other Ancestry.com databases and images into your file without confusing yourself in the process. It's easy to really mess things up if you are not careful. Here's what one attendee had to say: "Thank you for the webinar. I am just now entering our family tree after much research. Now I have a better understanding of how to do this part more accurately." You can order the media file here for $4.50
  • What is Not Written. This presentation discusses the importance of discovering, as best you can, what is going on "behind the scenes" with a document or a record. Materials used by genealogists are usually created in response to some event and sometimes seeing what's "really going on" is not easy. Through examples and general methodology we will see how to get "behind" the document and discover what was really going on. $8.50 purchases the media file and handout.
  • Crossing the Pond. This presentation discusses problem-solving strategies for tracing 18th and 19th century ancestors back across the Atlantic. It is geared towards advanced beginning and intermediate researchers. This presentation does not merely list a list of sources, but focuses on research methods. $8.50 purchases the media file and handout for this presentation.
  • Charts, Charts and More Charts. Readers of the newsletter know that I love charts--and I'm not talking about pedigree and family group charts. Instead I'm talking about charts that organize information you have in order to see what's missing, notice patterns, and organize your research. In this webinar, I talk about key elements to include in any chart, troubleshooting before you get started, brainstorming, and ways to get creative with your data. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers. $8.50 purchases the media file and handout for this presentation.
  • Google Docs--Getting Started Webinar. This hour long presentation discusses the basics of Google Docs for genealogists. This free service allows you to share files with anyone as a web page or work on files with other individuals to whom you've given access to the file via the cloud. You can control who can edit materials with you and let the world view a read-only version of your file. This description just scratches the surface. Download the media file for $8.50.
  • Proving Florence--From our Fundamental Series--this 20 minute presentation is geared towards beginners with some experience and intermediate researchers as well. It discusses how the father was "proven" for a woman who was born in the 1850s in Iowa or Missouri. There's not one source that specifically states the relationship--our case is indirect. Only $2.50 for the media file and the handout.
  • Brick Walls From A to Z--FINAL one. Twenty-six new genealogy stumbling block breakers in alphabetical order. This session is geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers and is not geared towards any specific geographic location. The Brick Wall series has been fun, but I'm looking forward to creating new material.
     And besides, I'm running out of things I can use for "X." The
    recording and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • Creating Research Plans. This presentation discusses how to create your research plans, how to set goals, how to not set goals, when you are proving and when you are not, and other key concepts. Of course, we have a few charts as well. Our attempt is to be down-to-earth and practical. I realize that most genealogists are not going to write journal articles, however our research needs to be as thorough as possible and our analysis and method well-thought out or we're not going to get the best possible story on great-great-grandma that there is. This presentation is geared towards intermediate researchers, but advanced beginners might get some benefit from it as well. The presentation and handout can be downloaded from our vendor for $8.50. 
  • Preparing for Mother's Death . It's not quite what you might think. This presentation discusses an 1889 will that was denied in 1900 with no stated reasons. An exhaustive search of records resulted in the likely reason and made the machinations of one son a little easier to see and made the reasons behind some documents a little more clear. Along the way we discuss a few key terms and also see why chronology and context are always important--especially so when things are confusing.You can purchase the handout and presentation for $8.50
  • The 1940 Census. This presentation was recorded before the images were released and concentrates on determining Enumeration District and probable residence of your ancestor along with a discussion of what is in the 1940 census. Only $4.00 for download.
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional. One of our most popular webinars, this presentation provides an overview of the “Genealogical Proof Standard,” including a discussion on the “exhaustive search.” The Proof Standard is not just for professionals, any genealogist who wants to improve their research and get past those stumbling blocks would be well served by implementing it in their research. Our discussion is practical, down-to-earth, and hands-on. This webinar and presentation can be ordered for immediate download for just $8.00.
  • Proving Benjamin. This presentation discusses work on a New York 1820 era native who appears in Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri census records. Combining those records with a probate, we show inconsistent 1850, 1870 and 1880 census entries are actually for the same man, and using land and tax records (combined with census records) get a good foundation for researching his family of origin. This webinar presentation and handout can be purchased for just $8.00.
  • Female Ancestors. This presentation discusses approaches and techniques for determining an ancestor's maiden name and locating "missing" females. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, it focuses on American records and sources. The content is not specific to any one time period and many of the approaches can be refined for different locations or types of records. If you are stymied on your female ancestors--and half your ancestors are female. This webinar presentation and handout can be purchased for $8.50.
  • The Probate Process—An Overview. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, it covered an overview of the process and looked at selected documents from two probate settlements with a discussion of the pitfalls to watch out for along the way. Probate records are an excellent genealogical source--regardless of the time period in which you are researching and may contain clues about your ancestor, where he lived, his occupation, etc. The recording (and handout) are available at $8.50.
  • Using Fold3.Com--This webinar provided a broad overview of what was on the site and provided some actual live demo of searching and interacting with the information. The image interface is different from some and the searching is slightly different so both those things were demonstrated for some representative databases on the site. This presentation is geared towards those who have not used Fold3 or have limited experience with it. You can download the webinar now at the introductory rate of $6
  • Making and Proving Your Case. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers, this presentation discusses things to think about before writing up "your case." Talks about statements, primary, secondary, ways to prove yourself, considering all the options, disproving, citation, etc. Provides the viewer with ideas on how to "make their case" and see gaps or omissions in their research.  The digital media for this presentation can be downloaded for $8.50.

  • Genealogy Blogging For Beginners This is geared towards those who have no blogging experience. Discusses things to be concerned about, generating content, creating posts, inserting images, tables, copyright, and more. The presentation and handout can be downloaded for $8.50

  • DeedMapper with Virginia Land Patents. The session on DeedMapper discusses how patents for John Rucker and several of his neighbors were located using the Library of Virginia website. The presentation discusses the downloading of the patents, reading them, inputting the descriptions into DeedMapper and attempting to fit them together using the plats created by DeedMapper. The digital media for this presentation can be purchased for $8.50.

  • "Yet More Brick Walls from A to Z" continues our popular series on this topic--with yet another list of brick wall breakers--with discussion--from A to Z. The digital media for this presentation (handout and presentation) can be downloaded for $6.
  • Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch  -This webinar discusses ins and outs of using the "new" family search, searching by family structure, global searches, interpreting searches and troubleshooting. Also discussed are strategies when approaching an unindexed set of images, a new type of record series, or incomplete records. Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers. The digital version of the presentation and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • Newspaper Research  -Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers, this webinar discusses research techniques for searching newspapers in digital, microfilm, and original formats. Pitfalls of using digital newspapers are discussed, along with manual search techniques and what types of materials to look for besides obituaries and death notices.  This presentation is not merely a list of online sites or an attempt to get subscribers to any specific database. The digital version of the presentation and handout can be ordered for $8.50.
  • An overview of using Archive.org.    This focuses on searching the site, using books and how to navigate for National Archives microfilm and other materials. This recording can be downloaded immediately for $8.50.
  • Research in Illinois- -Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers, it focuses on local records, what makes Illinois different, and larger statewide facilities. The media file and handout can be ordered for $8.50 here.
  • Sarah and Susannah-Two 18th Century Virginia Women and Their Property -This presentation discusses the will of a 18th century Virginia woman and how another family "moved" a widow's life estate from one county to another. Priced at $8.50 for immediate download. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 
  • Creating Families from Pre-1850 Census Records --This presentation discusses how to analyze pre-1850 census records in order to determine the family structure that is suggested by those records. Enumerations for one household between 1810 and 1840 are analyzed in order to determine the number of children, ranges on their years of birth, and ranges on years of birth for the oldest male and oldest female in the household. Priced at $8.50 for immediate download. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 
  • United States Naturalization Records pre-1920 - This presentation is an overview of naturalization records in the United States prior to 1920, focusing on locating and understanding the records. Women's citizenship and derivative citizenship are also included. The recorded webinar and handout can be ordered for immediate download for $8.50.
  • More Brick Walls from A to Z This presentation is a continuation on the popular "Brick Walls from A to Z" that was released earlier. The alphabet has been reused for additional ideas and quick suggestions for getting past those brick walls--aimed at all levels--with the intent of jumpstarting people's research. Introductory recording price of $6 won't last long. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 
  • Using US Passenger lists on Ancestry.com-This presentation provides an overview to the US passenger lists on Ancestry.com, with an emaphasis on search techniques and organization. We look at searching for a few not so easy to find people.  Order the recording and handout here for immediate download for $8.50
  • Using US Census on Ancestry.com --This presentation discusses search tips and ideas for using the US Census at Ancestry.com. There is also discussion on organizing your search before you start typing names and information in search boxes. You can purchase the recorded version of the webinar as a Windows media file and the PDF handout for $8.50. Add to cart here
  • Brick Walls from A to Z--This lecture is based upon my article "Brick Walls From A to Z" and is geared towards the somewhat experienced beginner to intermediate researcher. Just a list of ideas to get beyond your brick walls discussed alphabetically. Handout included. Add to cart here
  • Using the Old Search at Ancestry.com. Your order can be processed here for only $2.25.We discuss toggling back and forth between new and old search and some of the features of the old search and reasons why I continue to use it. The webinar doesn't show my face--instead you hear my voice and see the screen as I perform searches. We kept the price low on this one to make it affordable for those who've been confused about "old search." Add to cart.
  • Local Land Records in Public Domain States--This lecture discusses obtaining, using, and interpreting local land records in areas of the United States from Ohio westward where land was originally in the public domain. This lecture is geared towards those who have some experience with land records--advanced beginning and intermediate researchers.  $8.50 includes handout and hour-long lecture. Add to cart here
  • DeedMapper Geared for the person who is not familiar with DeedMapper--which maps properties described in metes and bounds, allows users to map multiple parcels on the same map, manipulate plats, insert background images. This works through one example and discusses other features of the program. Add to cart here.
  • Barbara's Beaus and Gesche's Girls--Case study of two German immigrants to the American Midwest in the mid-19th century. For $8.50 you will be able to download the media file and the PDF version of the handout. Add to cart here
  • Court Records-Pig Blood in the Snow. This lecture discusses American court records at the county level where cases were typically originally heard. Discusses cases of main genealogical relevance along with searching techniques. For $8.50 you will be able to download the media file and the PDF version of the handout. Add to cart here
  • Seeing the Patterns-Organizing Your Information. This lecture discusses the problem-solving process and a variety of ways to organize your information with the intent of getting the research to notice overlooked clues, patterns, trends, and information. $8.50 includes handout and hour-long lecture. Add to cart here.
  • Determining Your Own Migration Trail/Chain. You can purchase the recorded version of the webinar as a Windows media file and the handout as as PDF via this link for $7. This lecture discusses ways to find the names of your ancestor's associates and ways to determine how your ancestor fit into a larger chain of migration. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers.$8.50 includes handout and hour-long lecture 
  • Using the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Website. You can purchase the recorded version of the webinar as a Windows media file and the handout as as PDF for $8.50. This lecture discusses effective search techniques for the site, how to formulate your searches, how to trouble-shoot searches, a search template, and what records patents in the BLM site can lead to. Add to cart.
  • The Missing 1840 Census Enumeration . This webinar discusses a couple "missing" from the 1840 Census in Ohio and how they were eventually found and the indirect evidence used. A good overview of using land records to solve a "non-land record" problem with some points along the way about organization and visualization. Suggestions for additional research are also discussed. Add to cart.
  • Using US Passenger lists on Ancestry.com ---add to cart
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