30 September 2012

Join Michael in Salt Lake-May 2013

We've set the dates for our 2013 Family History Research Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in May. Join us for a week of genealogical research in the world's largest genealogical library between 29 May and 5 June. Don't wait pre-register today for only $50. Balance of registration is due 1 April 2013. It is not too early to start planning for 2013. 

The complete registration price is $175--that's a bargain compared to other trips. This fee includes pre-trip planning assistance, morning presentations at 8:00 every day the library is open during our trip, onsite consultations, assistance in learning to use the equipment at the library, quick on the fly questions, and follow-up assistance as needed. 

Travel arrangements are on your own. We stay at the Salt Lake Plaza where we have  pre-tax rate of $90 a night. The Plaza is next door to the library--very convenient. 

Our research trip dates for 2013 are a starting on the 29th of May at 6:30 PM with a hotel check out date of 5 June 2013. Our registration price is $175 when not paid in full by 31 December 2012---with a deposit of $50. Deadline for registration is 15 April 2013 (refund if you cancel by 15 March 2013). We'll be posting additional details later this summer but that's pretty much the essence of the trip. Travel arrangements are not included.  Our group size has traditionally been small and we plan on keeping it that way.

27 September 2012

Looking for a Speaker?

I'm planning my 2013/2014 genealogy speaking calendar of seminars and workshops.

If your group or society is looking for a knowledgeable, down-to-earth, and informative speaker, consider having me present for your group.

I have given all-day seminars on a wide variety of genealogical topics for groups across the country. Email me with specifics--including date--at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

Went to a Relative's Home to Elope?

Date: Friday, February 7, 1919  

Paper: Belleville News Democrat (Belleville, IL) -

 obtained on  Genealogybank.com
While working on the Rothweiler family of St. Louis, Missouri, I came across this little item on Genealogybank.com . If you can't find where a person married, have you considered they went to a relative's residence to elope? Those might be good places to start your search for a marriage.

This one of course indicates that the groom was in the service during World War I--hinting at even more records.

New and Updated on FamilySearch

New or updated to FamilySearch


26 September 2012

Does Ancestry.com Know Where Bowen, Illinois, Is?

Sometimes I really wonder about Ancestry.com.

They've categorized this yearbook, the "Bowenite" as being in Bowen, Illinois.

When I saw the reference on Ancestry.com, I wondered if they had the right place. When I saw this picture of the high school, I knew they they did not. Bowen, Illinois' high school never looked like the image in the picture above (on page 5 of the 1936 "Bowenite" from Ancestry.com) and the school is clearly labeled the "Bowen Branch Formerly South Chicago High School." Bowen, Illinois is quite a ways from South Chicago.

Sometimes one really has to wonder if the folks at Ancestry.com get geography--or else they just assume all of Illinois is Chicago. 

Bowen, Illinois, did have a high school for a time. My great-aunt attended her last year of high school there--probably in the mid to late 1930s.

Lesson: take those geographic classifications at Ancestry.com with a grain of salt. 

Original Inscription or Not?

This is a picture of the tombstone of John H. Ufkes from Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery near Basco, Hancock County, Illinois. Discerning readers may notice that the inscription on this stone is pretty "crisp." There is a reason for that.

The inscription on the stone has partially been "redone."

It is a little easier to see in this photo of John's wife, Noentje. The picture of her stone shows the "original" inscription a little better.

I don't doubt the accuracy of the inscriptions, but I should make a note in my records that the inscription on this stone (at least the name and dates) appears to have been "redone."

In this case, I don't know when the inscription was remade. What I do remember is one of Johann and Noentje's grandchildren (perhaps my grandfather told me--I can't remember who) telling me that approximately 15-20 years ago, the grandchildren "chipped in" and had the names and dates on the stones re-etched. That should be in my notes as well--I just wish I remember who had told me.

25 September 2012

A Drugstore is Bombed

One just never knows what one will discover when researching the Trautvetter family. Apparently my relative's drug store was bombed in Chicago in the 1930s according to this article. 

Date: Wednesday, March 9, 1932  

Paper: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) 

obtained on  Genealogybank.com
It's not every day one encounters a bombing in their research. I've been doing a little research on a robbery that took place at William G. Trautvetter's drugstore in Chicago in the 1930s and came across this little gem.

I'm thinking about looking for the criminal court records and additional newspaper accounts of both this bombing, the robbery, and Trautvetter's testimony.

Stay tuned, one never knows what one will find in the newspapers--either on Genealogybank.com or elsewhere. And, of course, newspaper accounts lead to research in other materials as well.

Trautvetter Drug Store Burglary not Robbery

One finds the most interesting thing on Google Books.

The National Association of Retail Druggists Journal in 1919 contained a mention of this burglary at Wm. G. Trautvetter's pharmacy at 2338 East 71st Street in Chicago, Illinois. 

NARD journal, Volume 29

 By National Association of Retail Druggists (U.S.), National Association of Retail Druggists (U.S.) , p. 1184
The text above reads:

"Last Friday night March 19 burglars jimmied through the front door of Wm G Trautvetter's store at 2338 East Seventy first street and calmly helped themselves to his big and heavy safe In some way they got it outside and to an open space at Sixty eighth street and Jeffrey avenue where the door was blown off with high explosive They secured $500 in cash a lot of postage stamps and money order blanks All of Mr Trautvetter's records were scattered over the prairie There were four men on the job One of them was caught by the police He informed on the others and all are now in jail"

A earlier blog post indicated that William G. Trautvetter was the victim of a holdup at his drug store that was mentioned in a 1932 newspaper. When I originally saw this entry, I thought I had found a reference to the situation to which Trautvetter was referring in the 1932 newspaper item. 

The newspaper item indicates Trautvetter was a hold-up victim and that's not what is indicated here. The robbery in this account is in 1919 and while it's possible the culprits got 11 years for their crime, I am doubtful that I have the right incident. This is particularly the case because there's no reference to an interaction with Trautvetter in this 1919 account.

So off to look some more. 

Lesson: Avoid jumping to conclusions and make certain things fit. And you never know what you may turn on on Google Books.

Rothweiler Hatches Chicks in Ice Box

Date: Monday, May 24, 1915  

Paper: Belleville News Democrat (Belleville, IL)  

  obtained on  Genealogybank.com
It was not quite what I was needing. However, there still were a few clues.

George Rothweiler apparently worked as a grocer in Belleville, Illinois, in 1915. If I had not known where he was living and what his occupation was, this would have been a big clue. The newspaper account also confirmed that he was living on the date of the chicken birth. I actually was searching on  Genealogybank.com George Rothweiler's father--also George Rothweiler. That George Rothweiler married Wilhelmina Trautvetter and the family lived in St. Louis. Fortunately while searching for newspapers I focused on Missouri and Illinois, given the position of St. Louis on the Mississippi River.

Remember that what is a clue depends upon you do not already know.

The end of the piece is cute, given the fact that we're searching the newspapers for family history. The article ends with the following:

Date: Monday, May 24, 1915  

Paper: Belleville News Democrat (Belleville, IL)  

  obtained on  Genealogybank.com
 I'm not certain place of birth qualifies as "ancestral lienage," but we'll leave that discussion for another time.

New At FamilySearch for 25 September

Recent updates or new databases


24 September 2012

What Proof Did Rufus Need for that War of 1812 Horse?

Regular blog readers know that I'm working on Rufus D. Stephens/Stevens who was in the War of 1812 from New York State. One problem with Rufus is that I'm not exactly certain where in New York State he was from or much about him during his early life.

I'm hoping that there might be additional documentation on this claim at the National Archives. I've got a researcher working on it and when there's an update we'll have a blog post.

Stay tuned. 

Ruth aka Nebo

Some mistakes I understand. Others, I do not. This is one that falls into the latter category.

I was unaware that my grandmother's sister, Ruth Habben attended Western Illinois State Normal School (today Western Illinois University) in the mid-1930s. I know she did not graduate and I'm assuming the financial necessities of the Great Depression were to blame.

She appears in the 1934 yearbook, the Sequel--apparently the only year she attended. Her name is in the index at the back of the yearbook. For reasons that elude me, Ancestry.com indexed her first name as "Nebo."

Yes, Nebo.

I'm not certain how this error came to be. The letters are easy to read as evidenced by the image of the index which is also included in this blog post. The first image comes from the "summary" of the item on Ancestry.com's site

Aunt Ruth's picture appears on page 65 of the 1934 Sequel as shown in this image. She is in the back row, second from left, appearing with the "class of 1937." I probably could have picked her out--she "looks like a Habben" as they say.

These images were obtained from the database of "U. S. School Yearbooks" on Ancestry.com.

23 September 2012

Can I Eliminate this Valentine?

Date: Wednesday, November 3, 1875  

Paper: Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, OH)

  obtained on  Genealogybank.com
It has been a while since I worked on Valentine Hess.

This reference may or may not be for the Valentine for whom I am looking. The Valentine in my family was last heard from in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the 1860s-1870s according to the estate records of Michael Trautvetter. Trautvetter's estate was probated in Hancock County, Illinois, and, Hess, a nephew of Trautvetter, was the only heir who could not be found when the estate was finally settled in the early 1870s.

This Valentine C. Hess apparently disappeared as well, which is why the reference struck my interest. This item indicates that Fanny's case was heard in the Common Please Court before Judge Avery, apparently in late October or early November of 1875. Fanny wanted at the very least to be allowed to sign a deed transferring some property she had sold--hence her desire to be declared a femme sole. Otherwise, she'd have to have her husband's name on the deed and apparently he could not be found.

The local court records should provide more detail on Valentine, perhaps enough for me to determine if this is the one for whom I am looking. It is always possible that there won't be enough information in the file to assist in that endeavor.

Before I try and obtain a copy of these apparent divorce proceedings, I probably should:

  • summarize what I already know about my Valentine (which isn't much): 
    • I don't know Valentine's date or place of birth
    • I don't know his father's name
    • His mother's maiden name was Trautvetter
    • He had a sister, Wilhelmina Rothweiler who lived in St. Louis
  • determine if Valentine can be located in other records from Cincinnati--particularly ones that are available online.
Obtaining the copies of the divorce records might not be cheap and if there is some "easier" way to eliminate this Valentine, that might be a good idea.

I've been trying to find newspaper references to Valentine on Genealogybank.com. My searches on Ancestry.com resulted in many hits for Valentine and "has" even though I wanted  a search for Hess.

22 September 2012

Civil War Reunions May Give You Clues

Date: Monday, October 2, 1871  

Paper: Quincy Whig (Quincy, IL)--

-obtained on  Genealogybank.com
A quick look for "78th Illinois Infantry" as a keyword search on  Genealogybank.com located quite a few entries that summarized various reunions of this Civil War unit in which my ancestor was involved. Unfortunately, Riley Rampley did not appear in any of the references that I located for his unit.

However, this could be a good way to obtain some additional history on the 78th and perhaps get some information on the unit that I have not been able to locate elsewhere. Riley was only a private in his unit, so it is likely that he's not mentioned.

The paper did not state why those specific regiments were invited to the reunion, but I'm suspecting that those units (like the 78th) they were primarily comprised of men from southern Hancock and northern Adams Counties.

County historical societies may have items of this type organized in a type of vertical file, but manually locating these items would require page-by-page searches. That's something most genealogists don't have time to do.

Newspaper Mentions 1943 Will

Date: Friday, January 1, 1943  

Paper: Morning Star (Rockford, IL) 

obtained on  Genealogybank.com  
I'm still working on the C. A. Liddle who worked as an executive for the Pullman Car Company and who might have had a connection to a Frame family that I'm working on in Chicago. We won't repeat that possible connection here.

In an attempt to make the connection between Liddle and the Frames, I'm trying to trace Liddle's family back a few generations. This item was one item that I came across while doing those searches. Liddle is mentioned in this will and he has no biological connection to Murphy, so this will won't help me in my search. Murphy had a sizeable estate and, if I did not know where Liddle was residing in the 1943 era, the records of Murphy's estate would mention that.

Even smaller wills are mentioned in newspapers during this era and those references sometimes mention property and bequests, etc. If your ancestor's will cannot be found, searching for a possible newspaper mention may be worth your while.

The Length of a Housewife's Day in 1917

This article from the Journal of Home Economics in 1973 contains an interesting article "The Length of a Housewife's Day in 1917." It's available free online, but readers will have to view one PDF image at a time. 

Potentially a little diversion from your own research and perhaps a little insight as well.

Henderfon and Henderson

This snippet of a newspaper clipping (from  Genealogybank.com) comes from an item I mentioned in an earlier blog post. The last name of the murder victim serves as a good reminder for those of us using digital images of newspapers--Henderson certainly "looks like" Henderfon.

Is is possible that the last or first name for which you are looking could have a letter or two that look like other letters in an older style of font or print?

Henderfon isn't the only one!

21 September 2012

3rd and College Street in Stuttgart, Arkansas-in 1918

I descend from many farmers and it is rare to find their address on Google Maps. However, it's always interesting to take an address from a relative and see if I can map their location. As discussed earlier, my uncle Ben Goldenstein farmed his family's property in Stuttgart, Arkansas. His World War I draft card provided his street address:

This is the modern Google Map of that address (3rd and College Street in Stuttgart, Arkansas):

View Larger Map

Gives me a reasonable idea--although I'm not certain if he lived on the corner or which one. It's possible that he lived where the apparent vacant lot is located. But the picture was still pretty interesting.

Is This Ft. Worth Ben Goldenstein My Ben?

Date: Saturday, November 7, 1914  

Paper: Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, TX)--obtained on  Genealogybank.com   

Unusual names are great in that there aren't many of them. Sometimes they can be a nuisance as it's tempting to research everyone with that name in the hopes that it is the person for whom you are looking.

This divorce entry from the 1914 Fort Worth Star-Telegram contains a reference to Ben Goldenstein. I came across it while trying to find an obituary on Genealogybank.com. An obituary was not located for him, but this reference came up.

The question is: "is this the Bernard/Ben Goldenstein for whom I am looking" or is it another one? I could order the divorce record and that might clear up the problem--or it might not. Before I go to that expense, I should compare this Ben with the one I am researching. There are a few things I could do:

Try and locate this Ben in Ft. Worth city directories and census records.
Try and locate a World War I draft card for this Ben.

I already have my Ben's World War I Draft card along with some other information on him. The best way to see if the Ft.Worth Ben could be mine is to research the Ft. Worth Ben and see if I locate information on him that seriously conflicts with what I know on my Ben. Conflicts would include:

  • Having a date/place of birth significantly different from mine.
  • Dying before mine did.
  • Being in two places at once.
Stay tuned....

Henry Goldenstein in 1910

In an attempt to locate a little more about Henry Goldenstein who died under unusual circumstances in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1921, I came across his 1910 census entry in Arkansas. I'm thankful  Ancestry.com indexed it correctly as it is not easy to read. Kudos to them for indexing this item correctly.

Year: 1910; Census Place:  Stuttgart Ward 1Arkansas Arkansas; NARA series T624--roll 43; Page: 6A; Enumeration District:  0006;
The individuals are listed as John L. and Henry Goldenstein, aged 22 and 18 years old respectively.  The Nebraska natives are living in Stuttgart, Arkansas. John is listed as a driller on the irrigation wells and Henry is listed as working as a laborer on the wells. I'm not certain how long the Goldensteins stayed in Arkansas as this is the only census that locates them in this state. I'm not going to bother with any type of employment records as I doubt there are any, I don't know who they worked for, and these two are fairly well-documented already. They are both in Adams County, Illinois, in the 1920 census having returned to where their family was from and where their mother was still living.

The Arkansas connection was not really a surprise for this family, but I was not expecting to find these two sons living there in 1910. In all honesty I had never bothered to locate the brothers in 1910. I had found their parents, Frank/Foche and Anna Goldenstein in Adams County, Illinois (with the brothers not listed), and had just assumed they were working as farm hands or something in immediate area. Frank Goldenstein did own "rice land" in the Stuttgart area and another son, Bernard, farmed the Arkansas land and died there during the 1918 flu epidemic. I am not certain when Foche purchased the land near Stuttgart, but he did own it at his death in 1913. I'll have to conduct more comprehensive searches for Bernard--but when this was located, I was trying to get a little more background on Henry.

The Arkansas connection must have been a little bit stronger than I thought. Something else to pursue when I am stuck on Henry's murder in Kansas City.

20 September 2012

No Leaves for Benjamin Butler

I use Ancestry.com regularly, but this chart makes a good illustration of why I really don't like the leaves. 

It is difficult for the leaves to find "difficult" people. I've tried the leaves quite a bit so that I am familiar with them and can reasonably answer questions about them. The leaves do make easy things easier to find. I'm not certain they are that helpful in other cases. 

This pedigree chart comes from my Ancestry.com tree on my paternal grandmother, Ida Trautvetter Neill. There are leaves everywhere--most of them are from online trees and other extremely secondary sources that are not the focus of my research. It's pretty easy for Ancestry.com  to match with people I've already located quite a bit on. That's the case with everyone on this tree except:

  • Erasmus and Mary (Gross) Trautvetter
  • Benjamin Butler
The matches for the Trautvetters are from online trees of other researchers. There's no match for them in Ancestry.com that is all that helpful.

Benjamin Butler is the more difficult problem--his name is more common than Erasums Trautvetter. I really don't know where Benjamin was born and the 1819 year of birth is only a vague estimate. Ancestry.com's leaves have a difficult time finding people in the pre-Civil war era for whom a person only has vague details. The fact that Benjamin lived in at least four states and two countries is not helping either.

The situation is this: It is difficult to program searches to effective "search" for ancestors on whom we have vague information. The approaches that will work on Benjamin (hopefully) include searching for his neighbors and associates, fully documenting his life and locating ever record he left behind, reading local history to get an understanding of motivating factors for migration, and maybe just a little bit of luck.

The Ancestry.com leaves aren't quite programmed for that. 

New Minnesota Indexes at FamilySearch

New at FamilySearch

Minnesota, Marriage Index, 1958-20012,414,041
Minnesota, Birth Index, 1935-20024,267,626

19 September 2012

Tombstone Typo and Leaving the Shadow

Tombstone of Geo. A. Trautvetter and wife, Bethany United Church of Christ Cemetery, Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois
I've always wondered exactly how I should transcribe this stone of my great-grandparents.

"Geo. A. Trautvetter 1869-1934" is not the problem. It is great-grandma that's the issue.

Her first name was apparently incorrectly inscribed as "Ada," and then a correction to "Ida" was attempted. Should I transcribe it like it is supposed to be or what it looks like? Transcribing "supposed to bes" can get one into trouble--where does that line end?

I've decided that my transcription should say "Ada Trautvetter Miller 1874-1939," because that's what it looks like on the stone. My notes should include the comment about the apparent correction on the tombstone along with a digital image of the stone. My notes should also include the fact that Miller was Ida's name when she died as it was the last name of her second husband.

This tombstone faces west and this picture was taken in the afternoon. The shadow of George and Ida's great-grandson (yours truly) is also in the picture (with an apparent seed corn or fertilizer cap on, courtesy of George and Ida's grandson). I think I'm going to leave the shadow in the picture--that way it kinda connects several generations at once.

Union Pensions Mentioned in Newspaper?

Date: Monday, August 30, 1897  

Paper: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE)--

obtained on 

There are a variety of places to learn whether or not your ancestor had a Civil War  pension, but the newspaper is not typically one of those places. Unfortunately this reference doesn't provide enough details to actually request a pension, but it does indicate where the person of interest (Kasper Wachter) was living in 1897 and that he obtained a pension. Kasper's fairly well-documented, but there are always situations where people are not and any reference to them with a location is helpful.

If obtaining a copy of Kasper's pension is desired, searching Union Civil War pension indexes would be the next step.

124 Issues of Casefile Clues for $30

Are you in need of how-to information written clearly, concisely, with an emphasis on instruction and explanation? That's exactly what you get with 
Casefile Clues--Michael John Neill's how-to genealogy newsletter. Take advantage of our special offer to get all 124 back issues for only $30! That's quite a genealogical bargain. All issues are delivered as PDF files. 

Written in an accurate, detailed, and yet easy-to-follow format, Casefile Clues is geared towards the intermediate level research, but we have many beginners and advanced researchers (including some professionals) who subscribe to Casefile CluesCasefile Clues focuses on genealogical case studies, problem-solving, and the occasional in-depth analysis of one specific document. 

And we always include complete, accurate citations and ideas of where to go next. We also focus on setting goals and keeping on task.

You can download samples following the link on this page:

A complete list of all topics (and order links) can be found here:

A complete list would make this blog post entirely too long. Check it out and see what you're missing. It has been a long time since we've had a back issue special. Don't wait. Jump start your research today.

Where Would You Go Next?

If a relative tells you that:

"Your ancestor Barbara Haase died in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, in 1903"

where would you research next? What record would you use?

Just post a quick suggestion of the record type you'd search next.

We did this as an exercise in my beginning genealogy class and got some good discussion, so I thought I'd post it here.

Note: I've already researched Barbara pretty extensively--I'm not looking for anyone to research her for me.

18 September 2012

The Earliest Rufus Stephens Murder News Item

Date: Thursday, January 17, 1805  

Paper: Daily Advertiser (New York, NY)  


obtained on 

Lesson: Keep a research log.

I overlooked this entry from January of 1805 because in my initial attempts to locate items on Rufus Stephens, I neglected to search for Stevens. My research notes did indicate that only searches for Stephens were conducted, but this variant should have been included.

A search for Stevens located several references--this from 17 January 1805 is the earliest one and apparently the one from which several other newspaper accounts were copied. This account provides more details about the incident than the account of the trial does, but the account of the trial does mention that Rufus was a bigamist as well.

One challenge with early newspapers (and not so early ones) is that sometimes they "copy and paste" information from each other. One temptation can be to simply look at the earliest article and not reference later ones. In this case, the articles in January and February of 1805 generally have the same details as this item. The ones about the trial are later (July of 1805) and have slightly differing information.

Henderson was "stabbed" not "ftabbed" in the heart--the type of 1805 was used and one needs to interpret what often looks like an "f" as an "s."

This doesn't change my list of goals, but does indicate that there's hopefully more information at the local level.

Thanks to a Facebook Genealogy Tip of the Day fan for pointing out this newspaper item to me on our fan page.

The newspaper account was obtained on Genealogybank.

Missing a Mrs. on the Marriage

Date: Saturday, January 13, 1849  

Paper: Rockford Free Press (Rockford, IL) 

obtained on 

I knew about this marriage already, but came across it when trying to locate materials on Clark Sargent, Mary's husband.  This piece was found on Genealogybank.com by keyword search for "rockton" and "sargent" in Illinois newspapers in the 1840-1855 time frame. The hope had been to find a reference to Clark Sargent (who lived in the Rockton area) that did not mention his first name. No such luck.

However there was this marriage reference to his widow, Mary. She is incorrectly referred to as "Miss Mary Sargent." The marriage is indicated as having taken place in the Prairie Precinct. This is a more precise location than the marriage record gives and hopefully it is more accurate than Mary's status as "Miss." The marriage license and marriage register entry does not provide a location of the marriage other than to indicate it took place in Winnebago County.