30 November 2012

Does Color Matter?

This application card for a military tombstone is a wonderful document. These records were recently released on Ancestry.com .  The card got me to thinking about more than just the person who was named on the record. 

The front of the card
U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963card for William B. Tammen-obtained at Ancestry.com
 There is information that could potentially be lost if the card had been reproduced in black and white. There are several different individuals who put information on the card:
  • The typist
  • The clerk who apparently wrote in red pencil
  • The widow (Ella J. Tammen) who signed the card
  • various individuals who stamped the card
Of course, it is possible that some of these individuals are the same, but a black and white copy would not have done this record justice. Additionally there is information on the back of the card.

 The back of the card 
U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963card for William B. Tammen-obtained at Ancestry.com

This database includes applications for headstones made between 1925 and 1963. While most of the men died during this time period, all did not. There are also cards in the database for Civil War veterans who died before 1925. These cards may provide information on the person's military service that may be difficult to access elsewhere. 

A question...

How should the color of the writing be accounted for in the transcription of this document? Does it make any difference? I'm thinking about the easiest way to handle this? As genealogists have access to more color images of records should be account for the color in our transcriptions or should we ignore it?

Tammen is the husband of Ella Johnson Tammen. Her sister, Tena Johnson Ufkes, was my great-grandmother. 

Those hyphens can cause trouble

I've been playing with the newspapers at Genealogybank.com, looking for various references to early family members and hoping to flesh out a few details. My most recent discovery reminded me of a limitation of digital versions of newspapers. 

Date: Monday, May 3, 1819  

Paper: Concord Observer (Concord, NH) --obtained on  


This is a death notice of Samuel Sargent that appeared in a newspaper in Concord, New Hampshire, shortly after his death in 1819. There are times when I use the town of residence as a search term when searching on   Genealogybank.com. 

This time there's a slight problem with using Marlborough as a search term. Actually, there are two considerations. In some instances the word could be spelled without the final "h."

In this case using the town as a search term did not locate the image shown above because the town name is hyphenated.

Just something to keep in mind when creating and using search terms at any site that has digital images of newspapers or other items such as   Genealogybank.com.

New On FamilySearch as of 30 November 2012

New United States materials on FamilySearch as of 30 November 2012

28 November 2012

A Stray in 1810

An 1810 notice about a stray horse provides a few details about a relative.

Date: Saturday, March 3, 1810  

Paper: Supporter (Chillicothe, OH)--

obtained on 

"Taken up by James Kile, a sorrel colt with a star on his forehead and a snip on his nose, no brand perceivable, supposed to be two years old next spring, about twelve and a half hands high--appraised to 15 dollars, by John Kile and Joseph, Fleming, appraisers.

"I certify the above to be a true copy from my estray book.

Billingslea Bull, J.P."

Notice of the stray doesn't tell me too much,  but it does indicate that James Kile was living in Truro Township, Franklin County, Ohio, in January of 1810. A John Kile, who is his likely brother, was most reasonably living nearby. This could help me to establish a time from their migration and also tell me that both  men were apparent neighbors in 1810.

This is not proof that the men are brothers--actually one record is not proof of anything. It's not evidence that they are brothers either. It is evidence that James in living in Truro Township in 1810 and that  John is in the vicinity as well. Any proof of the relationship between the two men will come from analyzing all the evidence that there is revolving around the two men.

All that from a found horse.

Chicago Fire Map From 1871

There's a really interesting map in the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress showing the region of the city consumed by the Great Fire.

part of 1871 map showing Chicago, Illinois impacted by the Great Fire

The image above shows part of the southern region of the city that was involved in the fire.

The map can be directly linked to here.

Bibliographic information:

City of Chicago.
Watson, Gaylord.

Chicago, as it is, showing the burnt district
[New York] : Gaylord Watson, 1871.
From: Goodspeed's History of the great fires, New York, 1871

The map is a part of the American Memory Collection at the Library of Congress.

27 November 2012

Two Reasons to View the Image

Thanks to the students in my "Organizing Genealogy Information" class for catching this transcription error. The screen shot below is the 1830 census enumeration for Augusta Newman that appears on  Ancestry.com  

Just looking at this transcription, one would think that the oldest male in the household was one between the ages of 10 and 14. I'll be honest and say that I rarely read these pre-1850 census transcriptions.I prefer to look at the actual image. It turns out in this case doing so is a good idea.

 Ancestry.com's transcriber left out the oldest male in the household--the tick mark can easily be seen on this part of the image below.

There are three male children in the household, but there's an older male in the household as well.

And, if you never look at the image you don't see the name right before Augusta: John Newman. The proximity of the name hints at a relationship between the two men.

You won't find that on the transcription either.

Organizing Genealogical Information: A Short Course

Organizing Genealogical Information:
A Short Course
With Michael John Neill
January 2013
(scroll down for specific schedule)
Organizing information is an important part of genealogical research—perhaps more important than the actual research. This short course (only 4 sessions) is intended to provide the students with exposure to a variety of ways to organize information with an emphasis on problem-solving. The course will consist of four lectures (topics and schedule below), problem assignments, virtual follow-up discussions, group discussion board interaction, and student submission of work (optional). There is no assigned grade—you get from this what you put into it. Students will also be able to share their work and ideas with other students.

Citation of sources is important, but lectures will not focus on citation theory.

Course registration is only $30 for thecourse. Class size is limited to 30 to encourage group interaction (and pay for our Gotomeeting subscription). Attendees will need to register by 8 AM Central Time on 29 December 2012. Class starts on 6 January 2013.
  • Assignment/Study 1Charts, Charts, and More Charts (we will discuss a variety of charts and table to organize your information and your searches—all students work on same problem
  • Assignment/Study 24 Step Research Process (we will discuss a four-step process to research organization)—pick your own problem
  • Assignment/Study 3Constructing Families from pre-1850 Census (discuss of how to ascertain family structure from pre-1850 US census records)---all work on same problem
  • Assignment/Study 4Problem Solving Chart (problem-solving techniques not discussed in previous lectures)– pick your own problem

Lectures will be recorded for those who are unable to attend or have audio/video issues.

Lectures and discussions will be via GotoMeeting.

January 2013
Virtual class
7:00 PM Central
optional discussion at 2:30 PM Central
Virtual class
7:00 PM Central
optional discussion at 2:30 PM Central
Virtual class
7:00 PM Central
optional discussion at 2:30 PM Central
Virtual class
7:00 PM Central
optional discussion at 2:30 PM Central

26 November 2012

New On FamilySearch

New items on FamilySearch-United States-since our last update:


Unresolved Issues At Ancestry.com

My "decimal point" post got me to thinking about Ancestry.com issues I've had that are currently unresolved or where I am waiting for a response. Those items are:

Ancestry.com is working (per an email) on how database search results are automatically incorporated into trees. I'll look and see if there are unresolved issues that I have encountered and add them to the list.

I don't blog about transcription errors--those can easily happen and listing those would be a never-ending task. Ancestry.com allows users to enter corrections. Remember though, that corrections should when the original record has been read incorrectly, not when the original record was wrong in the first place. That's not Ancestry.com's fault.

If you have other database search issues, please let me know.

And yes, I'm being a nag.

Fourth Quarter Does Not Guarantee October

This is a screen shot of the entry for Eleanor Rowell the "England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index 1837-1915" at Ancestry.com. Eleanor's death information is taken from the entry for her which appears in the fourth quarter of 1887. The fourth quarter index encompasses entries from the fourth quarter of the year--so there is no knowing which month in which Eleanor died, unless one looks at the actual record
Yet if one clicks on the "save" button in order to save this information to a person in their database or (as I've done below) to use it to create a new person, the default is to show that Eleanor has a death date of October of 1887. That's not what the index says. She didn't necessarily die in October. In fact, there's an almost 67% chance that she did not die in October.

Why can't Ancestry.com simply have the year come up automatically in the box?

That would be correct and I wouldn't have to remember to change it every time.

This isn't a difficult fix and automating data entry is desirable--when it is done accurately.

Here's hoping Ancestry.com makes the fix, so that we don't have to.

New Non-US Databases on FamilySearch

New Non-US databases on FamilySearch--last two weeks or so: