31 July 2013

Why Were They All Dressed Up? And Who Took the Picture?

Charles and Fannie (Rampley) Neill family--probably taken West Point, Hancock County, Illinois.  Identification is from left to right. Front: Pat Neill, Roger Neill. Back: Cecil Neill, Mae (Randolph) Neill, Ralph Neill, Ida (Trautvetter) Neill, Keith Neill, Armin Shanks, Fannie (Rampley) Neill, Nellie (Neill) Shanks, Charlie Neill
I wondered why they were all dressed up.  There had to have been some sort of  "occasion" as most of the snapshots of the Neills show the men in more traditional farmer attire (son-in-law Armin Shanks was a school teacher as was his wife Nellie) and the ladies in less formal dresses. Common sense told me it was not that all the Neills had been to church.   The attire also indicated that the picture was probably not taken in  the summer or in the depths of winter. But why were they all dressed up? This is one of the few pictures I have of the entire family in one shapshot. The other photographs from the 1920s and on do not include the entire family group.

This picture was one that was in Fannie Rampley Neill's collection of photographs which are in the possession of a family member. The same picture was also in an envelope in her daughter Nellie's collection of photographs. Written on the envelope was a note indicating that the pictures were taken when son Herschel had come back with his new bride. The couple had married in Texas where he was stationed during part of World War Two.

There was a second photograph including the newlyweds.
Charles and Fannie (Rampley) Neill family--probably taken West Point, Hancock County, Illinois.  Identification is from left to right. Front: Roger Neill, Pat Neill. Back: Cecil Neill, Mary Ann (Hartman) Neill, Herschel Neill, Ralph Neill, Mae (Randolph) Neill, , Ida (Trautvetter) Neill, Keith Neill, Fannie (Rampley) Neill, Nellie (Neill) Shanks, Charlie Neill
Identifying the people in the photograph also led me to believe that Herschel took the first picture (he and Mary Ann are not in it) and that Armin Shanks took the second picture as he is the only one absent from that picture.

One cannot always tell the reason why a family got together and it's not always obvious who took the picture either. But sometimes there are clues--one just has to look. Before we found the envelope explaining why the pictures were taken, we were using my father's birth to approximate the picture's date (he's the one being held by his mother in both snapshots).

My Grandma Neill (Ida [Trautvetter] Neill) would have said they were "all dolled up" for the occasion. Somehow I just can't bring myself to use that phrase to describe my grandfather.

30 July 2013

Updated at FamilySearch-California Great Registers & 1910 Census

These two databases are showing as updated since our last "update" at FamilySearch:

(I do not know what has been updated about the 1910 US federal census)

29 July 2013

1915 Victory School Picture, District Boundaries, Ancestry.com Problems, and Do You Know Any of These People?

School pictures. Kids hate them--genealogists love them.

The picture below was taken in 1915 near the Victory Schoolhouse in rural Stillwell, Illinois (that's a redundant phrase if ever there was one...)

It is a neat picture and I was desirous to learn a little more about the school and where it was located. It is one of the few pictures I have of my grandfather when he was a child.
Students at Victory School, District 227, Section 27, St.Albans Township, Hancock County,Illinois, 1915. Student with two dots above his head is Cecil Neill. Student with one dot above his head is Ralph Neill. Original copy in private personal collection. Digital image made by Michael John Neill, July 2013. Please email Michael at mjnrootdig@gmail.com if you are able to identify any individuals in this photo.
I knew I had seen maps that showed the school district boundaries and I went and reviewed all maps I had for the time period until I found the one with the schools shown.

District 227 was in the southern portion of St. Albans Township, bordering the county line with Adams County and entirely containing the village of Stillwell. It is believed by the author that Charles Neill (father of Cecil and Ralph, shown above) was renting property somewhere within the confines of District 227.

portion of St. Albans Township, Hancock County, Illinois showing school district 227. Digital image made from apparent 1908 "Plat Book of Hancock County, Illinois by Townships" available on Ancestry.com.

More about the map

The map shown above was obtained on Ancestry.com. As mentioned in earlier posts, this map is (at the time of this writing) classified as being from Iroquois County. It is not despite what the image below indicates.

The University of Illinois bibliography of county plat maps and ownership maps indicates that there are three publications of this type for Hancock County during 1900-1920. If Ancestry.com's year is right for the map they have--the 1904 book would be the one shown in the images above. But since Ancestry.com has the county wrong, one must be additionally skeptical about the year in which they claim the atlas was published. However, it seems reasonable that the map showing district 227 is from one of these three publications indicated in the bibliography of county atlases obtained from the University of Illinois website.

Map of Hancock County, Illinois [map].1904See State Library Catalog
20th century atlas of Hancock County, Illinois [cartographic material] : containing maps of villages, cities and townships of the county.1904F. 912.77343 M58TLink to CatalogIllinois History & Lincoln Coll. [non-circulating]
Plat book of Hancock County by townships. [cartographic material]1908?F. 912.77343 H36PLink to CatalogIllinois History & Lincoln Coll. [non-circulating]

But which one?

As usual, it pays to look at the entire image. In the bottom right hand corner of map for St. Albans Township from the atlas above is the apparent year and month in which the map was drawn "06/08."

Also above the map is the phrase "Plat Book of Hancock County by Townships." This is the same phrase used to describe the item in the bibliography from the University of Illinois website. Using the date and the title as evidence, it seems reasonable to conclude that the map is from the 1908 plat book. The only way to know for certain will be to view an actual copy of the book since the images at Ancestry.com are currently linked incorrectly.

My Favorite New Picture-My Knowledge of Locations-And Travelling Photographers

Of all the pictures I scanned of various members of the Hancock County, Illinois, Neill and Rampley families over the past few days, this one is my favorite:

The picture shows the three oldest children of Charlie and Fannie (Rampley) Neill--Ralph, Nellie, and Cecil (my grandfather). Aunt Nellie was born in April of 1910, so I'm guessing that this picture was taken in 1911. My aunt Nellie in later years apparently chided her mother for how she and her older brothers were dressed in this picture. The picture likely was taken by a travelling photographer who simply showed up at the farm. Obviously this is not a studio portrait and I seriously doubt the Neills had their own camera back in 1911.

Where was it taken?

I'm not certain where Charlie was farming at this point in time, but I almost indicated the location of the picture was somewhere in St. Albans Township, Hancock County. After all, that's where Charlie's dad farmed at this point in time and where Charlie would later purchase a small farm. But stating locations when you have no evidence is never advised--and based upon the 1910 census it's probably good that I didn't.

1910 Census

The 1910 census indicated the family was living in Walker Township, due west of St. Albans and where Fannie Rampley's parents had owned a farm until 1907. The farm the Neills were living on was rented and other than Walker Township, no more precise location is known.

I'm probably safe in saying that the picture was taken in St. Albans or Walker Township.

Note that Nellie is "unnamed" in 1910. The census was taken on 11 May 1910 with questions to be answered as of 15 April. Charlie's brother Edward is living with the family listed as "Brother and partner."

There is always a little bit of story in every picture.

27 July 2013

A Few Flip Pal Suggestions

After my first onsite  Flip-Pal scanning experience, here are a few suggestions:
  • Have plenty of batteries. Have twice what you think you will need (and maybe more). 
  • Scan the backs of pictures if names are written on them. In one way it's faster than taking notes, gets information accurate and gives you time for something else.
  • Consider taking a scanning buddy with you. The scanner is not difficult to use or learn to use. My mother scanned the smaller pictures for me that did not need any stitching, upside down scanning, etc.and that could be scanned by simply laying the picture on the Flip-Pal and hitting scan. I scanned the larger items and the ones that required later stitching. This freed me up to discuss pictures and other ephemera with the relative whose pictures were being scanned. 
  • Practice more than you think you need to if you've never done "onsite scanning" before. Practice one more time than that if you don't have any idea if you will ever get back to the person's home again. 
  • Encourage the person to locate and review the pictures before you get there. This will get their mind "running" and give them extra time to remember and organize materials. If you have to do it "cold," that's the way to go, but if they've looked over things a few times they are liable to "remember more" when you actually are there for the actual scanning.
  • Back up your scans before you perform any stitching, cropping, etc. You want to make certain you actually have scans when you get home.
  • Offer to share what you have or send them scans that you make.
This post is:

A World War Two Draft Registration and Classification Record

Note: these records are at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. These images are (c) 2013 Michael John Neill

I've mentioned these on my website before, but it's been quite some time, so I thought a consolidated followup post was in order. Instructions for obtaining these records are on the National Personnel Records Center website.

The card and registration I obtained were for my grandfather, Cecil Neill. The card is similar to information contained on other World War I and World War II era cards.

Front of Card

Back of card

This site has a list of military classifications for registrations for the World War I and World War II era. This was helping in translating the classifications to which he was assigned.

Some information from the classification record was not sent to me at the time I made my request several years ago--typically that part related to men who might be living. In the interest of space, these images were modified slightly from the original scan in that I deleted every name from the ledger except that of Cecil.

Grandpa's 23 and 24 were blank and were not scanned.

Item 34 is the date of birth.

Many times we neglect mid-20th century research on our relatives thinking it is "too recent." That's not necessarily true.

26 July 2013

A Nice Stitching Job on the Ufkes Brothers Picture

This image has been optimized for web display, but the original scan was done at 600 dots per inch. It was on my  Flip-Pal  by creating two separate scans and stitching them together. I don't think the "seam" is visible at all--the "light" areas on the back are also present in my original. The scans have not been altered except to be stitched together. It's my last "practice" attempt before an actual trip to scan photographs tomorrow. It is always good to practice and know how use the equipment.

This photograph is of the seven Ufkes brothers--sons of Johann and Noentjelena (Grass) Ufkes. Based upon the ages, it was probably taken in the 1910s--most likely somewhere in Hancock County, Illinois, where the family was living. I am fortunate enough to have one of the originals of this photograph obtained from my grandfather John H. Ufkes, whose father is shown in the picture. I'll have to update this with a list of who is who in the picture--although it's been published several times with individuals identified.

We'll have a longer post with my suggestions for using the  Flip-Pal , including a few minor things to keep in mind and watch out for. But I have been very pleased with the performance of this little piece of equipment.

No more picture posts for a while!

Note: I am an affiliate of the Flip-Pal manufacturer. However, I am not compensated for any review other than readers who choose to make purchases through affiliate links on my site---and my  Flip-Pal  and bag were not provided to me by the company.

Bill Seeks to Kill Public Access to Social Security Death Index by 1 January 2019

[opinion alert--you have been warned]

It is called a bill to "protect grieving families." That's all hype--it makes good headlines, good sound bites, and good "twitterness." The problem is, like most hype, it is just that--hype.

Sam Johnson, Republican from Texas, has introduced a bill to restrict access to the Social Security Master Death File--with all public release ending on 1 January 2019 if the bill is passed in the current form. All public access.

The bill is in response to criminal activity where social security numbers of deceased children were used to fraudulently obtain benefits using the Social Security numbers of recently deceased children. Those names and Social Security numbers were obtained from the online version of the Social Security Master Death File--common sold and marketed as the Social Security Death Index. It is worth remembering that there are millions of names in this index and the number of fraud cases resulting from use of this index are not in the millions.

Access to this information allows banks to deny fraudulent credit applications based on recently deceased individuals. It also allows other financial institutions to prevent fraud because those companies have access to names and social security numbers of deceased individuals. Banks and other financial institutions are not going to publicly say how many times they use the file to prevent fraud or a bogus application.  There are thousands of legitimate uses of the Social Security Death Master File each and every day. Thousands.

There is another way.

But what about those people who claimed deceased children on their income taxes and obtained refunds based on those children's names and numbers, numbers they obtained from the Social Security Death Index? Those criminals filed the returns before the actual parents and got money to which they were not entitled and that is a crime and that is something that should be prevented. Restricting access to the Social Security Death Master File is not going to prevent this fraud from happening.

There is a fix for the IRS problem. An easy fix and one that does not deny access to that information to other people and institutions with a legitimate interest, an honest interest. Oh, it does require the IRS to do something and probably a little computer coding as well.

When a dependent is included on a tax return, why can't the social security number of the person claiming that child as a dependent  on the current return be compared with the social security number of the parent who claimed the child in the previous year?  Of course some of these differences will be from a divorce or other legitimate situation.

Wouldn't that prevent more fraud than Johnson's bill? And wouldn't that prevent fraud from others who used other means to obtain those numbers? I'm certain fraud of this type occurs for other reasons besides the death master file? Reasons that don't make for such nearly written headlines and sound bites.

Decide for yourself--but decide. Don't let overeager politicians intent on getting their name in the headline limit access to information to the public. Why should a list of dead people be private?

Information on Johnson's bill can be seen here http://samjohnson.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=343045

Read it.

25 July 2013

My First Flip-Pal Stitching Attempt

Note: All images on this blog post are (c) 2013 by Michael John Neill--using them on your own site without permission is 1) theft; 2) dishonest; 3) lazy; and 4) admitting that you are related to the Trautvetter family and to me--I'd think twice about doing that!

This is a photograph of the certificate (in the frame) that I decided I would use as my first attempt at "stitching" with my  Flip-Pal . Keep in mind that I'm not an expert yet. This photograph was taken by my daughter Katherine with her cellphone camera. It's not the best picture, but gives an idea of the entire certificate--and the crease and tear that are a part of it.

The Flip-Pal is not big enough to scan the entire image, so I took several scans of it. The four images below are ones I took of the left hand side of the document--they are sideways in this blog post.

There were four more images from the right hand side which I'm not including in this blog post in the interest of space.

Using the "stitching" program that comes with the  Flip-Pal ,  I simply "chose" the eight images after opening the software and the software automatically merged the images together, with this result:

The black squares are due to operator-error, not the  Flip-Pal  scanner or the software. The one in the upper right hand corner is because I did not place the scanner in the extreme upper right corner when I did my initial scan of that region and ones in the bottom corners are because my final scan was only of the seal.

I had difficulty getting the "edges" of the certificate because it was in a frame and I rotated the scanner for the scan of the seal so that I could get more of it. It is very easy to accidentally hit the scan button accidentally when using the scaner.

I'll continue practicing, but this is really easy to use. The stitching is automatic and the software comes right with the scanner. The cover of the scanner comes off and it is used upside down when making scans of items this size that have to be stitched together.

Note: I am an affiliate of the  Flip-Pal  manufacturer. However, I am not compensated for any review other than readers who choose to make purchases through affiliate links on my site---and my  Flip-Pal  and bag were not provided to me by the company.

My Partially Identified Picture from West Point, Illinois

[updated on 27 July 2013 with names--see bottom of post]

Neill Sibling Portrait--taken before 1948. Charles T. Neill on far left. Sarah (Neill) Rampley in center. Others are siblings of Charlie and Sarah. Probably taken at park in West Point, Hancock County, Illinois.
I confess.I have pictures that are unidentified. This is one of them and one that I hope to figure out.

I've been playing with my  Flip-Pal and this is one of the photographs that I had in my office at work. I know I asked my great aunt, Nellie (Neill) Shanks to identify the people for me in this picture before she passed away in 2001. I'm hoping that somewhere I have another copy of this picture that contains the names because the copy I used to make this scan does not.

All I can remember specifically is that the man on far left is Charles (Charlie) Neill, my great-grandfather and that's because after I was told who he was I remember thinking that "I can see my dad (Charlie's grandson) in his face." The woman in the middle was Aunt Sarah. The only other detail I can remember from Aunt Nellie is that she was surprised that her Dad (Charlie) was seated to the man on his left as they didn't get along at all.

We mentioned this on Genealogy Tip of the Day, but it bears repeating here--if you have unidentified pictures and you can find out who those people are, do it and do it soon.

The only reason I know the picture was taken before 1948 is that Charlie Neill died in February of 1948 and this picture obviously was not taken in January or February of 1948 in Illinois.

[update 27 July 2013--My dad's first cousin had a copy of this same picture that was owned by a daughter of Charlie Neill. On the back of her copy was written: "Dad, Unc. Will, Aunt Sarah, Unc. Sam, Unc. Ed." This would mean that the people shown in the picture, from left to right, are Charles Neill, William Neill, Sarah (Neill) Rampley, Samuel Neill, and Edward Neill. All were children of Samuel and Annie (Murphy) Neill.]

24 July 2013

Updated on FamilySearch-North Carolina Estate Files

Showing as updated since our last update:

North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663-1979

Picture Provenance: Yeah, I Know All Those People Who Died Before I Was Born

An earlier blog post included a scan that I made of a photograph that was taken of a photo of my great-grandparents and their children in approximately 1915.

How did I obtain that image of the photograph?  How do I KNOW that the people in the photograph are who I say they are? Does it even matter how I know? Does anyone care?

How I obtained the image is important. How I "know" who they people in the picture is important and, yes, it  does matter.

What I Know Based Upon My Personal Experience

What I actually know based upon my own supposed knowledge is little. The husband and wife look like an older version of a couple who appear in a picture that my grandmother, Ida Trautvetter Neill, identified as her parents, George and Ida (Sargent) Trautvetter. The oldest daughter in the picture does bear something of a resemblance to my Aunt Luella (Trautvetter) Barnett, but I only knew her when she was over seventy and the oldest daughter in this picture is a slightly younger than that. The youngest child in the picture bears a striking resemblance to my younger daughter when my younger daughter was the same age as the younger daughter in the picture, but that's not any sort of proof the two are related.

What I Was Told

The picture was given to me by the daughter-in-law of one of the Trautvetter children shown in the picture--the wife of a son of the youngest boy. The youngest boy stayed on the family farm after his parents' deaths and his wife is the one who actually shared the photo with the daughter-in-law. Is the knowledge second hand? Of course, but that doesn't mean the information is incorrect. It seems very reasonable that the wife of the youngest child had been told by her husband that the people in the picture was her husband's family when he was a child.

What I Record

My citation for my image of the picture should indicate it was made from a photograph of the picture that was taken of the original photograph that for some time was in the possession of the youngest son and that at the time the photograph of the portrait was taken the youngest son was deceased, but his widow would have likely have known that the picture was of her husband's family when he was a child.Wow, that's a paragraph. But I can't leave out "how I got it." A shorter version might be:

"Original photograph in possession of wife of youngest son in photograph. Digital image made from a photograph of original taken by daughter-in-law of youngest son and given to me."

In this blog post, I've stripped all the actual names, but in my actual citation those names should be included (full names, no "Aunt Mildred" or "Cousin Pat" references). I should also include the approximate date I believe the photograph was taken and where the family was believed to have lived at the time. The date of the photograph should also be included as it shows the last time the original was known to have been in existence.

Otherwise all we have is my sayso that the picture is of people, four of whom died before I was born, one who died when I was a small child, and others who I only knew in their "golden years." Sayso doesn't always amount to much.

23 July 2013

My First Flip-Pal Use: Scanning a Picture of a Portrait

My Flip-Pal has arrived and I must say that I do like it.

My experimentation so far has been limited to scanning photographs smaller than 4 inches by 6 inches. It is easy to scan images and scan at 300 or 600 DPI. The images save easily to an SD card. I had no trouble using imaging software to view, crop, and work with the images. The cover comes off relatively easily (follow the directions which are included) and it is easy to "flip" the  Flip-Pal over and scan something is in a book or is larger than 4 by 6, but which has a usable image within those dimensions.

Flipping the Flip-Pal over allows you to see exactly what you are scanning---the bottom is clear as well. There is not much "technical" to using it. To be perfectly honest, the only directions I read were the ones about how to get the lid off so one could flip it over to scan. Easy to turn on, easy to scan--hit that green button. Some of the pictures I had would have fit on the scanning surface, but I found I preferred using the scanner upside down. I could then see the image that was being scanned and make certain I had not accidentally cut anything off.

I still have not "stitched" together an image from several scans of a document that was larger than 4 by 6 inches. That is on my list and we'll blog about it when I've had a chance to do that.

This scan was made from a picture of the photograph that was given to me by a cousin. So this is a scan of picture of the original picture.

George A. and Ida (Sargent) Trautvetter family, about 1915.
I was pleased with how this scan (made at 600 DPI turned out). I was also impressed with how easy the Flip-Pal made the whole scanning process.

I did purchase the carrying bag that is available for the  Flip-Pal . One can do without it, but it's the right size for the scanner and there's a pouch/pocket on the side which is where I'll slip the instructions, the extra batteries, and the flash drive that has the stitching software and instructions.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. I'll be honest, I don't buy many genealogy gadgets and technological items as it can run into money fairly quickly.

Note: I am an affiliate of the  Flip-Pal  manufacturer. However, I am not compensated for my review other than readers who choose to make purchases through affiliate links on my site---and my  Flip-Pal  and bag were not provided to me by the company.

Totally New on FamilySearch "Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel Files'

Added to FamilySearch since our update earlier today:

United States, National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel Files, 1954-1970

I'm not familiar with this database of 125,000 names, but the description on FamilySearch says:

Name index from registers of specialized personnel from the National Science Foundation. It includes professionals in the field of biology, chemistry, economics, geology, mathematics, psychology, meteorology, physics, anthropology, political science, and sociology.

FamilySearch Update: NC and IA Marriages

The following are showing as updated on FamilySearch since our last post:

North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979

Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934

Another Residence for Michael Trautvetter-Don't Assume Those Unusually Named People Are Always Yours

Just because a name is unusual does not mean a "match" is your person.  It is usually advised to have evidence connecting the "unusually named" person to others known to be in the family. Sound research methods should not be ignored simply because the name being researched is uncommon. After all, every Michael Trautvetter out there might not be yours.

This 1867 reference to Michael Trautvetter in St. Louis, Missouri, was actually one that I stumbled upon. I can't say that I was actually looking for him in St. Louis, or even that he was "missing" in a certain range of years in the chronology I had compiled for him. I thought I had him "everywhere." A search for Michael Trautvetter on  Fold3  located a reference to the name in their city directory collection. Just because the Michael I was looking for was alive in 1867 and the name was unusual did not mean I necessarily had the same person. I was actually looking for references to another Michael Trautvetter--nephew of this Michael--who was also alive in the same time period.

The Michael who was apparently in St. Louis in 1867 immigrated from Germany in the 1840s and was in Campbell County, Kentucky, in the 1850s and the 1860s. He died in 1869 in Hancock County, Illinois. While he left no descendants, Michael did have family in the Kentucky and Illinois counties where he lived. His interactions with other relatives in those counties ties him to other members of the family. Records of his estate's settlement in Hancock County, Illinois, indirectly indicate he owned property in Campbell County, Kentucky, providing an additional connection.

But St. Louis?

His name appears on page 774 of the 1867 St. Louis city directory with a residence on Cardonelet Avenue.

 I knew I had seen that street name before. I was not certain where, but I knew that Michael had a married niece, Wilhelmina (Trautvetter) Rothweiler, who lived in St. Louis from the early 1850s until her death in the late 19th century. Sure enough, the entry for her husband George indicated a 1701 Carondolet Avenue address. The Michael in St. Louis had to be mine.
If I had not already done some research on the larger Trautvetter family, I would not have been able to tie this Michael to my family of interest so quickly.

At this point, I need to see if I can locate land deeds for 1701 Carondolet to determine who actually purchased and owned the property. Both Trautvetter and Rothweiler are listed as "residing" there while another Rothweiler is listed as a "boarder." There may be a reason for the distinction and it may have to do with who owned the property at 1701 Carondolet.

Trautvetter did not stay in St. Louis very long--he was in Illinois in 1869 when he died there in February of that year. But now I have one more place where I can look for information.

Never assume that your research is complete.

Note: the Marie Rothweiler listed as a "wid." who "bds." at 1701 Carondolet is likely George's mother. Married women during this time period are rarely listed in city directories by name.

22 July 2013

Police Pups For Sale-Mother A Good Driver-Owner My Great-Grandfather

Discovers of all sorts await on Google Books, including this item from the May 1928 issue of the Hancock County [Illinois] Farm Bureau Bulletin.

The article wasn't one of those "major finds," but dovetailed nicely with a picture of my grandfather and two of his younger brothers that included the family dog Scamper. Apparently in 1928, great-grandfather Ufkes had a few pups to sell as evidenced by his advertisement shown below.

 "Police pups, color wolf gray, 7 weeks old, can be registered. Mother dog is a good cattle driver and watch dog. Price reasonable. Fred ufkes, Carthage, R. 2"

Hancock County [Illinois] Farm Bureau Bulletin,  Volume VIII, Number 10, May 1928, p 7; digital image GoogleBooks (http://books.google.com)--made from copy at the University of Illinois Library.
Of course, "police pups" would be an old style reference to a German Shepherd. The picture in which the dog (Scamper) appears is undated, but based upon the apparent ages of the brothers in the picture it would have been in the mid to late 1930s.

The Hancock County Farm Bureau Bulletin contains several other references to my great-grandfather Ufkes--enough to generate at least one additional blog post.

Great-granddad Ufkes is the only one of my direct line relatives to appear in the pages of the Hancock County Farm Bureau Bulletin. I  looked for Great-grandpa Habben, but family tradition told me his name would not be in the pages of the Bulletin. The reason why has been lost to history, but the fact that he was not a fan of the Farm Bureau is a story that's been passed down.

It's the Analysis that Matters-Direct or Otherwise

Sometimes it's easy to get a little too bogged down in definitions and lose sight of the real problem that caused us to get caught up in the definitions in the first place. Such is the case with the genealogical use of the terms "direct" and indirect." Terms are just ways to help us categorize information and sometimes the use of terms can be a hindrance as well as a help.

In genealogical research, it is the analysis that really matters.That analysis must be clear and must reflect contemporary law and contemporary record practice. Your analysis will not be faulty simply because you fail to use the terms "direct" or "indirect," although it does assist the researcher to understand what those terms mean. 

The marriage record of John Smith indicates that he married Susan Jones on 23 June 1839 in Totallylost County, Anystate.

That record provides direct evidence of the date and county of marriage--that's because the record states those items specifically. If it makes it easier for the researcher to use the phrase "direct evidence," then use that. It's just as easy to say "the marriage record says." 

The Smith-Jones marriage record provides indirect evidence of the age of John Smith and Susan Jones on 23 June 1839. It is indirect because the marriage record does not state their ages and, in the absence of any comment regarding consent of parent or guardian, John and Susan are assumed to be of the age of consent. The marriage record and date of the marriage, combined with the lack of consent and the fact that in Anystate a male had to be twenty-one years of age allows us to infer that John was born before 23 June 1818. Because we used information beyond what was stated specifically in the record, it can be said that the marriage record provides indirect evidence of John's range of birthdates (before 23 June 1818). 

Is it necessary to use that phrase "indirect evidence?" I don't think so. The genealogical world will not come to an end and the genealogy police will not come knocking on your door.  But there is something that I think is extremely necessary to include: an easy-to-follow discussion of how the birth date range was obtained. That discussion should include:
  • A complete, accurate citation to the marriage record
  • A complete, accurate transcription of the marriage record
    • the date and place are explicitly stated in the record
  • the following assumptions that are necessary for the analysis (after all, John's age is not on the record):
    • that no consent given for either party means John was of age--this appears consistent after viewing other marriages filed at the same time as John's)
    • that the marriage age in Anystate was twenty-one at time of marriage
    • that John was not lying about his age
If you choose not to call this argument "indirect" that's fine. It is also find if you wish to call it indirect. Your analysis will still be sound and others can follow your argument and decide whether or not to agree with you. 

And understanding your thought process and reasoning is what it is all about. Just saying that the marriage proves John was born before 23 June 1818 indirectly--without giving the reasons discussed above--is weak. The discerning genealogist wants to know why and you should too. 


(1) If you wish to apply for genealogical certification or submit articles for publication, then you must follow currently accepted practices for use of the words "direct" and "indirect."
(2) If the Smiths had married later and the marriage application had stated their age, then that would have been direct information because no inference was necessary to obtain their age from the marriage application. 

20 July 2013

Assuming and "He Who Shall Not Be Named"

One of the things I try very hard to do in Casefile Clues when analyzing one document is to "bring in" facts that are not stated in the document. The real reason for doing this is so that I can focus on analyzing the one document I have.

A master's deed from 1913 will be featured in the issue I'm working on today. The deed does not state the name of the property owner who had died and whose real estate was the focus of the deed. I realized that I simply "threw his" name in the analysis of the record even though it was not given in the deed.

When putting together complete research one should use all the information they have, but it is always worth remember what information is stated in a record and what information is not. In this case, I have good reason to know the name of the deceased landowner, but there are times when we may be too hasty in making an assumption.

18 July 2013

Ancestry--St. Albans Township is in Hancock County, IL not Iroquois County

I have mentioned the errors in the collection before at Ancestry.com , but apparently my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. "Us, Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918" at Ancestry.com continues to have materials that are incorrectly classified. All screen shots are current as of 6:45 PM central time on 18 July 2013.

The map shown is from Hancock County, Illinois---not Iroquois as indicated at Ancestry.com.

Even the search results indicates that St.Albans Township is in Iroquois County--not Hancock. If any of my searches of this database included Hancock County as a location this result would not appear--because Ancestry.com has tagged this image as being from Iroquois County instead of Hancock County.

It is stated that the map is from 1904. I'm not certain of that. What I am certain of is that this map shows property owned by Samuel Neill which was owned by him from the 1870s/1880s until 1913 when it was purchased by his son.

There are other location errors in this database as well. I love being able to access these images and search them by name, but if I'm looking for common names I need the locations to be tagged correctly or searching is difficult and that negatively impacts my customer experience.

I have mentioned these errors repeatedly and Ancestry.com still refuses to make the correction.

Here's problem number one: I continue to subscribe to Ancestry.com despite these issues. And they know this. Note: I do not have a complimentary Ancestry.com subscription--I purchase it myself. Problem number two is that many people are not aware of these occasional digitization issues and just assume everything is correct.

And as a reminder--these sorts of errors are different from errors in user-submitted trees. I don't blame Ancestry.com for those--any more than I blame a library for what is in books that are on the shelf. It is when there are problems with digital images or search features that I get frustrated--justt like I would get frustrated at a brick and mortar library if materials were not organized in any way that made sense or books were in the wrong order on the shelf.

I'm Raising Capons this Summer

There is a lovely letter from Veta B. Markley in her American Red Cross File from 1942 which I originally mentioned yesterday.

There are other letters from Veta in the file, but this is one that provides the most details about her life outside of her employment and it mentions her mother.

The letter is dated 28 April 1942 in Loraine, Illinois. The notation of "Peoria Com." is likely a reference to the Peoria [Illinois] Committee, which appears to have been part of the Red Cross organization structure at the time.

Veta indicates that she is "planning to raise capons this summer and may do private duty this winter. My Mother is too old and her health too frail to stay alone any longer, and that is why I resigned from United States Veterans Administration. I do not feel I could accept any position that would take me from from home."

The material in Veta's file only documents her work with the American Red Cross, but it does provide a glimpse into her life and does help track her movement around the United States. Information on her employment with the Veteran's Administration is provided mainly as it relates to Veta's residence and ability to serve the Red Cross should the need arise. There may be additional records on her employment with the Veteran's Administration elsewhere. If I think those records will be useful in my search, my search will begin with the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis and go from there.

Assuming that Veta mailed the letter the day she wrote it, it only took two days for mail to get from Loraine, Illinois, to Washington, DC. Pretty good for wartime mail service.

This image came from Ancestry.com as a part of their database "U.S., American Red Cross Nurse Files, 1916-1959"

Ancestry.com includes the following source information for these records:

Original data: Historical Nurse Files, Compiled ca. 1916–ca. 1959. Series number A1 27140, textual materials, 101 boxes. Records of the American National Red Cross, 1881–2008. National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

Veta Markley was a first cousin to my grandfather Cecil Neill (1903-1968). Their mothers, Laura (Rampley) Markley and Fannie (Rampley) Neill were sisters.

17 July 2013

The SPT Test At Ancestry.com

[if you're not an Ancestry.com fan, just ignore this post]

It must really be a "test" at  Ancestry.com  today. There's a "new record" showing as of 7:25 PM central time on 17 July 2013--the "SPT Test 2." It looks like something just slipped in and someone at Ancestry.com jumped the gun just a little bit. 

There is a search box for the "SPT Test 2"

And Ancestry.com indicates that the database is a "Beta mode testing for new features." 

 I'm not certain what it is, but as of my testing there were no Smiths in it.

Must not be in English then !

All screen shots were current as of 7:25 PM Central time 17 July 2013.

Mother Always Said It Was Hot Enough for the Tastee Freeze

I've heard the story from my mother a million times:
"It was really hot the day before you were born. Your Dad and I went to the Tastee Freeze in the evening the day before." I don't remember if she told me if she had a plain vanilla cone or what.

 It is difficult to quantify "really hot" and the genealogy gods tell us not to believe anyone when they say anything. But sometimes it is difficult to find evidence to prove what the weather was on a certain day.

And so I went to WolframAlpha and searched for:

weather carthage illinois daybeforebirthdate

where "daybeforebirthdate" is the day before my actual date of birth. And sure enough, there was the weather. And sure enough, Mom was right. The few screen shots included have the date omitted, but there's enough information there to see what was obtained.

There was a high temperature of 92 that day, which did strike me as being warm for that time of year--but it was possible I was wrong.

Sure enough, I wasn't imagining that 92 was a little warmer than usual for that day. Of course, I don't remember the year I was born, but I do remember the weather on my birthday in years after my birth. The historical temperature data included on the site told me that the average high was only 83--nine degrees cooler than the high the actual day before I was born.

WolframAlpha may be able to give you some insight into the weather on a day of interest in your personal or family history. It's pulling the weather statistics from some national database is my hypothesis and you probably won't get weather data this specific for 1235.

Whether your mom is right about the weather in your case is another story entirely.

That Fine Print On The Edge

This is the very top of a deed recorded in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1950. At the very top of the deed in the fine print, one can see exactly what type of deed it was:
ADMINISTRATOR'S DEED--Sale of Real Estate to Pay Debts

The rest of the document may provide additional details, but even if does not, this phrase indicates that an estate is being settled (the word administrator implies that) and that there was a loan on the property. Based on this document, estate records should be accessed--and perhaps additional court records in case there was legal action beside the probate involving the estate.


No citation here?

Our general citation philosophy on Rootdig:

I'm a strong believer in citations and in my work (and in Casefile Clues) I cite material in the spirit of Evidence Explained. Here on the Rootdig blog, I have a different philosophy. Posts made here have enough information that the reader could locate where the material was obtained. 

Veta Markley's File in the American Red Cross Nurse Files at Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com recently released a new database "U.S., American Red Cross Nurse Files, 1916-1959"

The database contains color images of personnel files from Red Cross nurses during the early part of the 20th century--particularly for the World War I and World II era.

This is part of the "Application for Enrollment" for Veta Blanche Markley. Veta was living in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois when she applied and had graduated from Blessing Hospital's nursing school.

The file for Veta contains at least fifty scans of various letters and reports during her time with the American Red Cross and the Veteran's Administration.

If you have a relative who served in either one of these organizations during this time period, access these records. The file on Veta contains information about her assignments, a local disaster to which she was assigned, her mother's health, and her capon raising.

We will discuss these records here in more detail as I get time to go through them.

Ancestry.com includes the following source information for these records:

Original data: Historical Nurse Files, Compiled ca. 1916–ca. 1959. Series number A1 27140, textual materials, 101 boxes. Records of the American National Red Cross, 1881–2008. National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.

Veta Markley was a first cousin to my grandfather Cecil Neill (1903-1968). Their mothers, Laura (Rampley) Markley and Fannie (Rampley) Neill were sisters.

15 July 2013

Phil Troutfetter Heads to New Mexico in Search of Gold

A fan on Genealogy Tip of the Day mentioned Elephind, which allows searches across numerous free sites containing digital images of newspapers.

Thomas County Cat., August 23, 1888, page 5
Documenting trips and other "short-term" migration can be difficult. Newspapers are one way in which some of these items can be evidenced, especially for those of us who do not have family letters and diaries containing such clues.

I have information on Philip's exploits to other locations, but this is the first to reference him being in New Mexico. Just goes to also show you that no matter how "done" you think you are, you are never done.

In October of 1888, the same paper indicated that Philip was in Cimilario, New Mexico.

Proving Genealogical Proof

The word "proof" confuses some genealogists and scares others. The confusion centers on the fact that different disciplines and occupations define "proof" differently for their own uses. Researchers coming from different pre-genealogy backgrounds may assume that everyone defines and uses proof in the way in which they are familiar. The fear comes from negative experiences with creating an "argument" for a composition class, constructing geometric proofs in a high school geometry course, or being on the "negative end" of "proof" in some legal sense.

Nothing to Fear

There's no reason to fear genealogical proof. There's no genealogy police sitting behind the leaves on the genealogy tree waiting for you to speed past. You won't be arrested for incomplete citations. An understanding of proof can assist any genealogist into better research and better conclusions--and we all want that.

What is Proof?

Genealogists, generally speaking, define "proof" as that written argument supporting a specific conclusion. Proofs written for a scholarly journal better not contain comma splices--whatever they are. Proof written for your own immediate use can contain comma splices and other grammar mistakes (although spelling errors make you look careless and that will impact how others judge your work). Proof written for a genealogical journal needs to make sense. Proof written for your own use needs to make sense. A genealogical proof argument is a clearly written and carefully constructed analysis of information (evidence). That's the part where it has to actually make sense.  Evidence used has been obtained as a part of comprehensive research. That is, you've not overlooked obvious sources of information that could answer your question, you've even looked in some unexpected places for information, and you have also discussed information that is inconsistent with your conclusion and explained why you think that "other information" is incorrect. You cannot just pick one document that it consistent with your point and say that's "proof." It is not. Part of creating a proof is discussing all the evidence you have found.

Is it difficult? No. Do some people make it sound harder than it is? Yes. Personally speaking, genealogical "proof" is "easier" in post-1850 families. Before then, records and sources are not always as clear cut.

A genealogical conclusion, supported by genealogical proof, can always be revised if new information comes to light.

My job defined "proof" differently

Mine sure does. In mathematics, once there is a proof that is based on a set of assumptions and sound reasoning, the result is proven. Period. There may be additional ways to prove the result, but the result itself does not change. Mathematicians don't look for "evidence" in the ways that other sciences do. When I use the word "proof" in a genealogical sense, I have to constantly remind myself that I am not using it in the mathematical sense. And I have to remember, that if I want to play with other genealogists, I need to be using the proof concept in the same way that they use the proof concept.

But my definition of proof is better.

No it is not. It is different and it may work for you and your discipline. Within your own personal work, you can define proof differently. That is up to you. But if you want to "play genealogy at a certain level," you will have to follow the general concept of "genealogical proof." And it really isn't that hard. Genealogy proof, in a nutshell, can be revised if new evidence is located, and is the result of looking at all appropriate sources, extracting relevant pieces of information and creating a well-written, clearly reasoned conclusion. That concept isn't hard. What's hard is doing that in a 1690 era Virginia family that left few records. There the difficulty is not the proof itself--but the time period and the location. And that's often the difficulty--constructing a "good" proof requires a knowledge of the time period, the location, and the relevant records--and that's not something a researcher can develop overnight.


Some people do make genealogical proof too difficult. Others argue with the definition itself. I wrote genealogical "proof" long before I became familiar with the academic concept. Other did as well. That's because sound research, soundly analyzed, and soundly reasoned is the goal--no matter what you call it.

Initials and No Names in Hawaii

One never knows where a reference to a relative will be located, as this item from The Hawaiian Star in 1901 indicates. 

The person of interest is George Drollette and in 1901 he was travelling with United States Minister to China Conger. Drollette is mentioned at the very end of the article as being Conger's secretary. 

The Hawaiian Star, July 24, 1901, Page 3; digital image, Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov)
Two quick points about this piece--don't tie yourself too closely to geography when searching newspapers and remember that first names may not be included in all references to your person of interest. Drollette is only listed with his initials and Conger's first name is never mentioned at all and the name of Conger's son is also omitted.

14 July 2013

A Regular Visit by the Cat in 1888--And One More Reason to Cite

Newspapers can provide unique insight into our relative's life. This reference from 1888 is a case in point:

"Phil Troutfetter is now at Cimilario, New Mexico, where the Cat visits him regularly,"


"Where the Cat visits him regularly" looks strange on the surface, until the source is considered. Just what "Cat" is visiting Phil? Items taken out of context can create drama where there is none.

This sentence regarding Phil Trotufetter is from the Thomas County Cat of 4 October 1888 (page 5), published in Colby, Kansas.

The "Cat" to which the sentence refers is the newspaper--not the sort of cat that meows. The capitalization of the word "Cat" should have been a clue as well that the reference was not to a general feline.

And there's just one more reason to adequately cite your source--not all cats are created equally.

And we certainly wouldn't want to think Phil Troutfetter was cattin' around.

The reference was located in the "Chronicling America" collection at the Library of Congress website (with images provided by the Kansas State Historical Society).

13 July 2013

What Does Updated Mean for the Census At FamilySearch?

The following items are showing as "updated" on FamilySearch as of 12 July:

What I do not understand is "how" these have been updated. These databases have been online at FamilySearch for some time, complete with images. Are the images better images? Have there been alterations to the index? 

Without knowing "how" these items have been updated, it is difficult for me to know whether or not they should be searched. Should I revisit the indexes for my "missing' 1930 and 1920 people? Should I revisit the images that I have for 1920 and 1930? 

I do not know.

Two final comments:
  • FamilySearch is free, so there's no way we can show our frustration with our pocketbook--and I do appreciate the vast amount of material they have. I just  wish I knew exactly what the update entailed.
  • Vague update announcements such as these is another reason why access date for digital materials should be included as a part of your source citation.

12 July 2013

I'm Getting A Flip-Pal

I have finally decided to purchase a  Flip-Pal  for my own personal use.  We will be occasionally blogging about my use of the scanner as well as my opinion about how it works and what my experience with it is.

I've decided to use it simply for its portability. I have one relative who has pictures of relatives that I do not have that I'm hoping to scan. My mother also has some pictures that I would like to scan as well, although she does have a scanner with her computer. The sooner I scan these materials, the better.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of the company that sells the  Flip-Pal --full disclosure here--so I will make small commission on sales you make if you click on  Flip-Pal  links on my site. However, posts will not be glorified ads for the  Flip-Pal  as those sorts of posts irritate me and I'm certain irritate readers as well. The intent is to allow readers to see how I'm using it and how it works for me. There will be no "copied and pasted" press-releases or company-created promotional as a part of any blog posts. 

Time Moves On

I am in the boat that I am assuming readers are. I have materials that have not been converted to digital format and the longer I wait to do that, the greater the chance something happens to the items and they are gone forever. I encourage readers to convert materials they have to digital format--whether you use the equipment I do or you use something else. Just do it.

And new images always make good fodder for post topics. 

Stay Tuned!

11 July 2013

Cawiezells in 1870--Now to Find 1860?

A while ago on Genealogy Tip of the Day we discussed this family and my attempts to locate them in the 1870 census. We've located the Cawiezell family in Davenport, Scott County, Iowa, in both 1870 and 1880 federal censuses and in the 1856 Iowa state census in part thanks to the efforts of some of the Genealogy Tip of the Day fans on our Facebook page.

The search does not end there.

I'm attempting to locate the family in passenger manifests as part of an upcoming Casefile Clues article. I'm also trying to locate them in the 1860 US federal census as well. The 1860 census is not crucial and it may be that manual search of the census is the best approach to take. A higher priority is the location of the Cawiezells on passenger manifests.

Challenges with this family are that the place of birth can be either Switzerland or Germany and that Antoine sometimes went by variants of that name or of his middle name Christian.

The enumerations are below.

1856 Iowa

1856 Iowa State Census, Scott County, Iowa, Davenport Township, page 516 (stamped upper left), Antoine Cavataselle household; digital image, Ancestry.com , obtained 11 July 2013.

1870 Federal

1870 U. S. Census, Scott County, Iowa, Davenport Township, dwelling 280, family 289, Anton Catwizell household; digital image, Ancestry.com obtained 1 January 2013.

1880 Federal

1880 U. S. Census, Scott County, Iowa, City of Davenport, 1st Ward, page 2B, dwelling 6, family 10, Marie Cawitzel, 1019 8th Street; digital image, Ancestry.com obtained 1 January 2013.

Sometimes even names that are unusual are difficult to find. Stay tuned, we hope to have an update.

More Ancestry.com Suggestions

I never received any type of response from Ancestry.com in response to my post "What I Want on Ancestry.com," but I didn't really expect to. Two other ideas came to mind while reading through some of the responses to my initial posting. There's no doubt some researchers do these things manually, but if Ancestry.com wants to be more "user-friendly" and "enhance my user experience" these would be nice additional features.

More Than One Shoebox

It would be nice to have more than one shoebox in which to "dump" records or items that I find on Ancestry.com. The reality is that most researchers do at least a little "jumping around" while using Ancestry.com. Even if working on just one family, it would be nice to be able to put material into different shoeboxes. Sometimes I do not want to "tie" a record to a person if I'm not quite certain I have the right person. Unconnecting them later can easily be forgotten.

A "Could Be Pile"

I would like some way to "tag" a record as it "could be" John Smith without actually tying the record to my actual John Smith in my database. It would be nice to have a way to quickly pull up my "potential John Smiths" within Ancestry.com. I really have no preference for how this is implemented but don't see a similar feature as of the time this blog post is being written.

I'll list more as I think of them. Ancestry.com is probably not listening, but that's ok. If they don't there's always the chance another company or organization will. Sometimes I think is Ancestry.com more focused on gathering than it is on research. But that may simply be a response to the market.