28 February 2013

Rothweiler Votes in a Contested Election

One never knows what one will find until one looks. A search for St. Louis, Missouri, resident George Rothweiler resulted in this item from 1860 indicating he had voted in an 1858 election that was later contested by the loser.

George was a German native and his voting would have implied that he was a citizen at the time he registered to vote, helping approximate his latest time of arrival. There were accusations that men who were not eligible to vote (for a variety of reasons) actually voted. George does not appear to have been one of those men--at least a text-based search of the publication did not indicate any other reference to his name.

Missouri contested election. Memorial of Frank P. Blair, Jr., contesting the election of the honorable J.R. Barrett, of the First Congressional District of Missouri. February 10, 1860. -- Referred to the Committee of Elections, and ordered to be printed. 

Date: Friday, February 10, 1860  

Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.1062;  


Report: H.Misc.Doc. 8, page 119; obtained digitally on 


If I had not known where George was living at the time of the election, the statement from local judges indicated which precinct in St. Louis George voted in. The next two images show the statement regarding the precinct in which George's name appears.

Missouri contested election. Memorial of Frank P. Blair, Jr., contesting the election of the honorable J.R. Barrett, of the First Congressional District of Missouri. February 10, 1860. -- Referred to the Committee of Elections, and ordered to be printed. 

Date: Friday, February 10, 1860  

Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.1062;  


Report: H.Misc.Doc. 8, page 117; obtained digitally on 


Missouri contested election. Memorial of Frank P. Blair, Jr., contesting the election of the honorable J.R. Barrett, of the First Congressional District of Missouri. February 10, 1860. -- Referred to the Committee of Elections, and ordered to be printed. 

Date: Friday, February 10, 1860  

Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.1062; page 118  


Report: H.Misc.Doc. 8; obtained digitally on 


The title page 

As a matter of course, I always like to copy the title page to assist me in the creation of my citation. I think it makes for good practice to include a digital copy of the title page of any published work that is obtained online in digital format. I still cite the publisher of the online image--in this case GenealogyBank.com -but the title page (shown partially here) helps me if I need to find the material in another location. Of course, my citation should be detailed enough that the title page is not necessary, but one more image in my set of files does not hurt anything and may save time later.

Contested elections in 1858 in Missouri. Who would have thought?

Students of history (which all genealogists should be) will know what American event was brewing at the time of this election. Of course, one should not assume that the impending war was part of this election contest.

Heading to Princeton, IL in April

I'll be making a presentation to the Bureau County Genealogical Society on 25 April in Princeton, Illinois.

I've presented for the group several times before. The society is one of the most active Illinois genealogical societies outside of Cook County and always has well-attended meetings. And, they're a great group of people.

If you have Bureau County, Illinois, ancestors, consider visiting their website.

And if you live in the area, visitors are always welcomed at meetings.

Citing US Passport Applications from Ancestry.com

When one cites United States National Archives microfilm in the spirit of Evidence Explained, the National Archives microfilm publication number is a part of that citation. 

That's fine. I understand that and agree with that.

I just wish Ancestry.com didn't make it a pain to do that. 

This image comes from  the "results" screen for a search of John George Rothweiler in "U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925" on Ancestry.com as performed on 27 February. 

The source information lumps together a variety of National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm publications that contain passport information. 

How do I know which one John George's application was taken from? After all, Ancestry made the digital image from the NARA microfilm--they didn't make their digital image from the original passport.

Click on "View full source citations" brought up the image shown below (click on the image to view at normal size). Fine, but that does not tell me from which one of these microfilm publications John George's passport came. 
I don't just need that microfilm number for theoretical purposes in case the non-existent genealogical police come knocking on my door asking for citations. I need it so that if the image is not all that great or that if I want make certain part of the microfilm was not digitized, I can easily find the image on microfilm. Ancestry.com's digitization process is automatic for the most part and can easily cut off part of an image.

It turns out that the microfilm publication number is hidden (in this case) in the URL--that's underlinked in red in the screen shot below.

Admittedly, Ancestry.com indicates that this image came from roll 122 and contains passports in the 1864 time frame and with some searching I could back into which of all those NARA microfilm publications contains a roll 122 with passports from 1864.

But that, just like the URL approach, requires me to assume that I'm right.

And we know what assumptions can sometimes do.

It would be nice if in the "results" page shown as the first image in this blog post, Ancestry.com would include the NARA publication number and roll number.

It's not Ancestry.com's job to cite my sources for me. But, as a paying customer, I would appreciate it if they would make easier for the customer to cite theirs.

[images in this blog post were made on 27 February 2013]

Wish For FamilySearch

I like that FamilySearch gives us easy access to digital images to a wide variety of original records. Images of the actual materials cannot be beat. Sometimes it takes some finesse to understand and use them, but that's true whether they are being searched in complete digital format, on microfilm, or onsite.

I like that FamilySearch gives us easy access to a variety of finding aids and indexes. Indexes and databases have their problems, but those are limitations we can work around.

What I would like is an easy way to determine what has been added to an "updated" database.

I don't need some of the other ways to "interact" with the data--just because that's not me. Some people like the wiki and other tools. That's ok. But, it's ok that I don't like them as well.

But I really would like to have a way to determine what's new in an updated record set without having to go through it in serious detail.

Break a Leg and Give a Clue

Anything in a newspaper can provide evidence that someone existed at a certain point and time in a certain place.

This February 1908 reference to William Ehmen mentions him having broken both of his legs in a wagon accident. It doesn't take much to see that this would have impacted the family for some time, especially with planting season looming in the near future. Newspapers can easily provide some background information not located elsewhere and may explain behaviors or events that do not seem to make sense. This item was located on the newspaper site at the Library of Congress.  

There's a bigger lesson here. I located this reference while searching for references to a William Ehmen who lived for a time in Dawson County, Nebraska. This William Ehmen is a different one. Names that you may think are uncommon may not be. One does not have to go across the country to find someone with the same name as your ancestor who is not related. Sometimes they may only be a few counties away.

My best approach is to research this William and my William--just so I can keep them straight. I may research "my" William in more detail and in a more exhaustive nature, but I need to have enough material on the "other" William so that I can determine (as best as possible) which one is which. It will turn out that both these Williams were from the same region of Germany and spent time in the same area of Illinois.

They do that on purpose, just to confuse us.

Well, not really. The problem is that in cases of immigrants, individuals with the same name may be unrelated but, because they share a common heritage, language, and culture, may live in the same areas and interact with the same people--making them a little more difficult to separate and a little easier to confuse. That's what they do on purpose and sometimes that does confuse us.

New updates on FamilySearch as of 28 February

New updates on FamilySearch as of 28 February:

27 February 2013

Jumping the Book, Err Gun, on GoogleBooks

I was following my advice on Search Tip of the Day and using GoogleBooks for females and not just males. 

Searching for females as well as males is good. Jumping the gun is not. A reference that I thought was to "my" Wilhelmina Rothweiler in St. Louis was not my Wilhelmina Rothweiler after all.

The image that is first displayed in this post contains two references to Wilhelmine  Rothweiler and was obtained on a search of GoogleBooks. The Wilhelmina Rothweiler of interest lived in St. Louis for most of her life in the United States. I decided that because the name was not too common that the Wilhelmine reference had to be to the one I wanted and that the material I had found was a listing of real estate transactions from St. Louis. The non-specific title as shown on GoogleBooks was Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, Volume 56. I had made a discovery. Or so I thought.

Real estate record and builders' guide. (1888). New York: F.W. Dodge Corp.; 15th edition. page 601; digital image GoogleBooks (http://books.google.com), 27 February 2013. 

I was wrong.

The transactions are from New York City, not St. Louis. That was clear from the title page which is partially shown here.

My guess is that this guide is available for other years as well. Researchers with New York City ancestors who owned real property may find the guide helpful.

If I had looked at the property addresses more carefully and been familiar with street names in St. Louis and New York City, it would have dawned on me that the first image did not have to deal with St. Louis land transactions.


Always read the title page and never assume that an unusual name is that unusual.

But Can They Spell Ancestry.com?

I realize people think I'm a little persnickity, but that's ok. 

Ancestry.com recently posted a survey about their home page. Apparently the person in charge of the survey doesn't know how to spell Ancestry.com correctly as showed in this unaltered screen shot.

I guess it really doesn't matter, but it did strike me as a little bit ironic that the name of the company paying for the survey did not get spelled correctly.

Oh, I was able to take the survey twice as well. I logged into Ancestry.com using Google Chrome when the survey first appeared. After I clicked to submit my answers, I realized that I should have taken a screen shot of the incorrect spelling so I had some evidence.

Fortunately when I logged into Ancestry.com from the same computer using Internet Explorer the same survey appeared-typo and all. Apparently they weren't logging in IP addresses. 


Screen shot of Ancestry.com home page survey taken from their website at 11:12 AM Central Time--27 February 2013. Top image in this post was made from the bottom image.
[note: as of 2:25 PM central time on 27 February 2013 the spelling of "Ancestry.com" had been corrected]

26 February 2013

Abraham Lincoln Nominates and Withdraws Rothweiler

I originally posted the first image on this post on the Casefile Clues blog as I'm working on an article involving George Rothweiler. While I still want to determine if this George is the one in St. Louis in whom I am interested, there is more to this appointment than the nomination.


Date: Tuesday, December 15, 1863  

Publication: Senate Executive Proceedings Vol. 13; p. 498; digital image 



Referred to committee

The nomination was referred to the Committee on Commerce as shown in this reference on the next page.


Date: Tuesday, December 15, 1863  

Publication: Senate Executive Proceedings Vol. 13; p. 490; digital image 




For unspecified reasons, Rothweiler's nomination was withdrawn as shown below.


Date: Tuesday, December 15, 1863  

Publication: Senate Executive Proceedings Vol. 13; p. 509; digital image 



End result

I still would like to know if this is the Rothweiler I am researching, but it now looks like there won't be the federal records on him that I was hoping to locate when I learned of his nomination. It is a good thing I read all the references to Rothweiler before pursuing federal records further.

It pays to read things through before jumping the gun. I was also glad that I read through the "historical books" reference for Rothweiler on GenealogyBank.com--which is where these materials were discovered. 

A Roundabout Way for an 1850 Era Marriage

As part of a larger project, I am trying to locate the marriage record for George and Wilhelmina Rothweiler who were living in the St. Louis, Missouri, area from the 1850s through at least the 1890s.

They may or may not have been married in St. Louis.

Attempts to find the marriage "easily" online have not been successful. The couple probably married in the St. Louis area, but it is possible that they married at some location east of that and moved to St. Louis after their marriage.

Instead of spinning my wheels, I decided to determine if George had military service in the Civil War. He apparently served in a Union unit from the St. Louis area and a widow received a pension based upon his service.

The widow would have needed to have documented her marriage in order to qualify for the pension. If it's the correct couple (I have additional identifying information on George and Wilhelmina), I'll get the date and place of the marriage in the pension file and can then attempt to locate the actual record since I know the location.

There is the added benefit that the widow may provide additional details in her application.

Sometimes it pays to think "where could that piece of information be recorded" other than the "obvious."

Twenty-Nine and Holding

1860 U. S. Census, City of St. Louis, Missouri, 2nd Ward, dwelling 387, George Rothweiler household.
Fractional ages for children under the age of 1 year are fairly common in United States census records. One occasionally sees fractional ages for chiildren over the age of one.

This enumeration is slightly different. The oldest female in the household (the apparent wife Wilhelmine Rothweiler) is indicated as having an age of 29 1/2. Fractional years appear as part of the ages for other children on this census page, but Wilhelmine (actually Wilhelmina) is the only adult on the page with a fractional part of a year included as a part of her age.

I'm not certain how common this is, but I don't remember having seen fractional ages for adults on a regular basis.

Or may she was just "twenty-nine and holding."

[Wilhelmina was a first cousin to my gg-grandfather John Michael Trautvetter.]

New or Updated on FamilySearch 26 February

New or updated on FamilySearch as of 26 February:

25 February 2013

New On FamilySearch

New on FamilySearch since our last update:

Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949

The Millennium File

[warning: opinion ahead]

Results of a search for Thomas Rampley on the "Millenium File" at Ancestry.com--25 February 2013.
Don't get me wrong: I use Ancestry.com regularly--every day. The ability to access digital images of a variety of records (particularly census records and other digital images of "original" materials) makes my research easier. A great deal easier. I use my Ancestry.com subscription.

But stuff like this I can do without.

What is the "Millennium File?"  The name sounds like something out of a science fiction novel.

And while there is a source, I have no way at all to gauge the accuracy of this information. Just names in a database. No places included in this entry. I need something upon which to gauge perceived accuracy of information and I'm not seeing that here.

Sometimes it feels like some companies believe that genealogists should be glad for any information we can get and that wondering how that information came to be should not be a concern. For me, it is a concern.

I'm certain I'm not the only genealogist out there who has a mental list of databases whose results we routinely ignore when performing searches. That list gets longer every day and may need to be converted to paper as I get older.

Somehow I doubt I'm the only person who has such a list.

At the rate we are going, I'll be up to a thousand items on the list before you know it.

22 February 2013

Newcomers to Omaha in 1947

Date: Sunday, January 25, 1948  

Paper: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) obtained on 

I've been searching on GenealogyBank.com for references to Roy Sigman and came across this interesting item from an Omaha newspaper. 

Roy Sigman's not the most unusual name, but this "Newcomers to Omaha" item did confirm that Roy moved from Blair, Nebraska, to Omaha in late 1947 or early 1948.  One of the newcomers was from a slightly greater distance: Long Island, New York.

It never ceases to amaze me what is in old newspapers. And it's always good to make connections between locations whenever possible. 

Updated on FamilySearch

Newly updated on FamilySearch since our last post:

Needing a Speaker?

Does your group need a speaker or presenter for your next seminar, workshop, or conference?

I'm currently booking engagements in 2013 and beyond--both day-long seminars and evening presentations. I can also make online presentations as webinars, saving your society travel expenses if budget constraints are tight.

Email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com for additional information. Be certain to provide date and general information about the event in order to expedite a response.

21 February 2013

Are Those PhDs in York County?

A reader on Genealogy Tip of the Day asked this question and since I don't have an answer I thought I would post the question here.

This image comes from a York County, Pennsylvania, tax list which appears in "Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801",  on Ancestry.com. I'm having difficulty determining the year of this entry, but that's not really the reader's question fortunately.

The question is: "What does the apparent "Phd" abbreviation stand for?

 Tax list for Mt. Pleasant in York County, page 49, in "Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801",  digital image on Ancestry.com.

Those who would like to view the complete page can click on the image below:

I'm working on a better citation for this item as I'm not overly happy with how these records are set up and organized on Ancestry.com.

Note: the original data used to create these digital images comes from: Tax & Exoneration Lists, 1762–1794. Series No. 4.61; Records of the Office of the Comptroller General, RG-4. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Gathering One Heck of a Foreclosure

It is all about context.

I've been doing a little "data-collecting" on Hector Calbreath who apparently made his way around the eastern United States in the 1790s before settling in Philadelphia. My interest in Hector is cursory as he bequeathed significant property to the family of an ancestral sibling in Philadelphia in the early 19th century. 

Data collecting can be bad when one isn't really looking at anything one collects--even when one is citing one's sources along the way.

On 16 August 1796 an ad appears in a New York newspaper for a house that Calbreath has for sale (see post about the news clipping). 

This court notice appeared in a New York paper in 1796 referencing action taken in  legal proceeding in New York in December of 1795.

Date: Friday, February 5, 1796  

Paper: American Minerva (New York, NY)--obtained on  GenealogyBank.com 

Is the sale related to this case? Maybe or maybe not.

A search on Hathitrust.org located a reference to Hector in a list of Irish property owners in New York City. Hector purchased the property in 1792 from Thomas Roche.

American-Irish Historical Society. The Journal of the American-Irish Historical Society. New York, [etc.]: American-Irish Historical Society, Volume 15, 1916, page 277; digital image, Hathitrust.org, (http://www.hathitrust.org), obtained 21 February 2013.
Thomas Roache is the name of the man who is suing Calbraith in 1795 for the apparent default on a mortgage. Whether or not the default is on the property mentioned in the deed cannot be determined from the information located thus far. A further search of property records is warranted to determine if this is the property in question and if that property is the one that Calbraith is trying to sell later in 1796.

What is clear is that the newspaper reference to the court case ties Calbraith to New York and Philadelphia.

As information is gathered, it's imperative that the researcher keep adding to the chronology that has been created for the person of interest and that the researcher determines if names of associates have been encountered before.

These references indicate there may be more information on Hector in New York court and land records.

The real question for me is: "Do I need these records?"

This needs to be answered in light of my goal--which needs to be clearly defined. Hector is probably related to the wife of my wife's ancestor's brother. The brother is known to have been born in England and the wife is believed to have been born in Ireland (as was Hector). The couple married in New Jersey. At this point, my research on Hector may take a back seat to other work.

New On FamilySearch

New items on FamilySearch since our last update:

19 February 2013

House for Sale--1796

Date: Tuesday, August 16, 1796  

Paper: Philadelphia Gazette (Philadelphia, PA) --

obtained on GenealogyBank.com.
Anything in an old newspaper can be a clue. Anything--even real estate listings.

This item from 1796 indicates that William Bell and Hector Calbraith are selling a three story brick house and lot on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The property is where James Calbraith and company have done business for many years. There's no indication of the relationship among the two Calbraiths and Bell, but it would be reasonable that the Calbraith men are somehow related.

Property records may provide more information. In 1794, apparently Hector Calbraith is in Savannah, Georgia, where he is settling up an estate. The name is uncommon enough that it is reasonable to theorize that it may be the same person. Of course "same name" does not mean "same man." Records of the estate settlement in Georgia and property deeds in Philadelphia may indicate additional details about Hector to determine if the men are the same.

It is worth noting that in the 1794 reference, Hector in Georgia is indicating he is leaving the state.

More searches for Hector on GenealogyBank.com  may locate additional references. 

18 February 2013

The Subscriber is About to Leave-And That's a Clue


Date: Thursday, February 20, 1794  

Paper: Georgia Gazette (Savannah, GA) 

obtained on GenealogyBank.com.

This notice from an 1794 Savannah, Georgia, newspaper provides clues and raises questions. The person of interest is Hector Calbraith, who is listed as the administrator of the Samuel Hill estate. Fortunately Calbraith is not the most common name, particularly when combined with Hector. Calbraith is the "subscriber" who is mentioned as "being about to leave the state." Calbraith does not say where he is going, but this does indicate that he lived for a time in Savannah and that he was held in high enough accord to be appointed an estate administrator.

What relationship he had with Samuel Hill is not known at this point in time.

Always read the entire notice. Even legal notices.

How Far After Do You Look?

This 1954 newspaper item mentions William Ehmen--who settled in Dawson County, Nebraska, in the 1870s and died in Nebraska before the start of the 20th century. William is a member of my extended Goldenstein family.

And here in a newspaper clipping from the 1950s, his name is mentioned some fifty years after his death. I'm not sure how accurate the information is, but it makes the point that one needs to consider searching for people in printed materials long after they died. Historical accounts are often published in newspapers. This item came from an apparent special section spotlighting various Nebraska counties and was located on GenealogyBank.com.

Date: Sunday, November 28, 1954  

Paper: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE)  

 obtained on GenealogyBank.com.

It seems reasonable that a German would spell a town in the "German" way. Whether or not Ehmen was the originator of the spelling is a matter of debate.

Using Fold3.com and Errors in Ancestry.com Tree Webinars

Using Fold3.com

This presentation discusses the basics of navigating databases at Fold3.com, ways to search databases and ways to interpret and use your search results. Presented in an easy-to-understand format, if you've wondered if you're getting around in Fold3.com the best way possible and getting the most from your subscription, this presentation may be for you. We've gotten good comments on this presentation--and keep in mind we discuss this from a user's standpoint, not a programmer's standpoint and not a salesmen's standpoint. Download for $4.75.

Fixing Errors in Your Ancestry.com Tree

This presentation discusses correcting "wrong" names, dates, and relationships in your Ancestry.com tree. Correcting mistakes is not as simple as just typing over what's wrong--especially if you've got sources and records linked to data in your tree. We look at multiple parents, multiple relationships or marriages, and how to correct errors in your tree that you've made accidentally. Some time is also spent briefly on how to reduce the chance you get errors in your tree in the first place. Download for $4.75

17 February 2013

Constructing Database Searches: A Short Course

Constructing Database Searches:
A Short Course
With Michael John Neill
February-March 2013
(scroll down for specific schedule)
Typing names into search boxes does not solve all your genealogical problems. We will see how to construct searches, organize searches, and problem-solve and troubleshoot when individuals are not located easily. Our discussion will concentrate on those instances when people are difficult to find. We will not be concerned with "easy" searches. We will use FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, and other databases. The only fee-based database that will be used will be Ancestry.com and attendees must have their own access to Ancestry.com as it is NOT provided in your course registration. The course will consist of three 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.

If you were registered for a previous session and did not get to attend, please email me to be added to the course at no charge. Do not re-register.

Our lectures will be somewhat different--we will go through specific examples and situations and explain the different types of searches, wildcard, Boolean, string-based, etc. within the context of an example. That may seem like "diving in," but people tend to learn best by just doing. There will be reference information provided and time for discussion and commentary in the followup sessions and bulletin board interaction.

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

Students will need to choose someone they cannot find in a US Federal census and two other online databases (free ones).

Course registration is only $30. Class size is limited to 30 to encourage group interaction. Attendees will need to register by 8 PM Central Time on 6 March 2013. Class starts on 7 March 2013. Registration is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis only. Register here.

  • Assignment/Study 1Organizing Your Searches--The basics of any search strategy is search-tracking and organization. We'll see why when you are stuck most of your work is done away from the website. Students will then create search strategies based upon their own problems. 
  • Assignment/Study 2Troubleshooting & Determining Best Options--We will discuss ways to tweak your search based upon unsuccessful results, ways to get around incomplete or missing "help," pages, and determining what other databases contain the same information. We will also discuss when a manual search of the records may be necessary.
  • Assignment/Study 3Discussion and Analysis of Student Problems--We will look at all (or most) student problems that were submitted, concentrating on those that highlight problem areas or situations not already discussed in detail.

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

Lectures and discussions will be via GotoMeeting.

Want to register—Registration is only $30 and can be done using your PayPal account or a major credit card (just process your order as a PayPal “guest.”).Register here. Email Michael at mjnrootdig@gmail.com with questions.

«February 2013»



«March 2013»

LECTURE-2:30-3:30 PM CST
Short virtual discussion 2:30-3:00 PM CST
LECTURE-2:30-3:30 PM CST
Short virtual discussion 2:30-3:00 PM CST 
LECTURE-2:30-3:30 PM CST

Short virtual discussion 2:30-3:00 PM CST
Wrap-up  2:30 PM CST