28 September 2013

Why No Freunds?

When I cannot locate a name in a database, I usually wonder a combination of the following:

  • What am I doing wrong?
  • Is the name written or transcribed in an unusual way that I'm not thinking of?
  • Is the search working the way I think it is?
  • Is the database complete?

The speed with which these questions can be answered varies.  Experimenting with the search interface can sometimes solve problems resulting from the first three situations. The last question can be more difficult to answer. It can be that the original records are incomplete or it is also possible that the database is "in progress." The page may not indicate if the data is complete.

I noticed that the 1905 Iowa State Census was recently updated or uploaded to FamilySearch and decided to perform some preliminary searches for a few family members in Scott County, Iowa. My search for George Freund failed to locate any references to this name in Scott County. There should have been at least two George Freunds in Davenport--first cousins of approximately the same age. There could have easily been a younger George Freund by 1905 as well.

FamilySearch is fairly robust in terms of spelling variants (usually), so I decided to broaden my search and look for Freunds in Scott County. There were none as of the time I made my search while writing this post. None. That's odd as both Georges had other family members who should have been enumerated in Scott County in 1905.

The 1905 census enumerated every one in the household. It seemed strange that no Freunds were obtained--so I broadened the search even more and only searched for Scott County, Iowa, residents..

Searching the 1905 Iowa State Census database at FamilySearch for individuals whose residence was only as specific as "Scott County Iowa" resulted in 30,666 matches as of 6:30 PM Central time on 28 September 2013 as shown below.

The 1900 population for Scott County, Iowa, was 51,558 according to the United States Census Bureau. 1900 and 1905 are not that far apart and I seriously doubt the population declined by nearly forty percent in five years.

The 1905 Iowa State Census is an every name census and the population of the area from one census to the other should be reasonably close. The difference between the FamilySearch total of 30,666 and the 1900 federal census count of 51, 558 is significant.

At this point, I do not have an answer for the discrepancy. What I do know is that until I find out what's going on, I'm not going to spend too much time searching this database for various family members in Scott County. There is no notation on the search page about whether the database is "in progress."

It is also possible that not all of the 1905 Iowa State Census for Scott County is extant.

As of this post. I don't know.

Updated on FamilySearch: Iowa 1905 State Census

This was an update I missed in an earlier post:

Iowa, State Census, 1905

Boston Pass. Lists 1891-1943 on FamilySearch

This is showing as updated since our last update on FamilySearch:

Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943

27 September 2013

26 September 2013

Edward is Not Eddie and Eddie is Not Edward

This is one of those rare times when I am not posting about a family I am actually working on. I stumbled across this information while looking for signatures in the "Arkansas First Draft Registrations 1940-1945" on FamilySearch to post on Daily Genealogy Transcriber. This was one of those times when I was strolling through images on one of my family names just to see how others signed the names. None of my Tinsleys were in Arkansas, but I really wasn't looking for relatives.

It was then that I became just a little confused.

The card below is for Eddie Tinsley born in 1897 in Arkansas. There was no signature on the card that was actually Tinsley's, so I progressed to the back of his card that has the physical information.

 Then I progressed to the next card for an Edward Tinsley.

I thought it was odd--this card had no signature either and the commentary about the signature appeared to be the same as the card I had just seen. I looked at the back of the card and this Edward Tinsley had a small knot on the back of his right hand.

I then went back to the first card. The "signature portions are the same (except one is Eddie and one is Edward):

I really thought I was seeing double. And it looked like I was.

The upper right hand portion of the front of each card appears to have the word "twin" written on it. The color also appears to be different and it could be that the original writing was done in pencil.

I wasn't seeing things. The physical descriptions of the men are also different.

The apparent family's 1900 census entry in 1900 is shown below. Note the sons Edward and Eddie in the Burrell Tinsley household.

Census Place: Choctaw, Lincoln,Arkansas; Roll: 65; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0118

What you think is a nickname may not be. Sometimes Eddie is Eddie and Edward is Edward and never the twain shall meet---they'll just share the same parents (at least in this case).

Lesson: watch those nicknames and diminutives. I almost thought Eddie was wrong. It wasn't.


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.

How I Made My Ancestor Table

As time allows, I'm updating an online version of my anhentafel (ancestor table). While a table of this type is never complete, there is quite a bit more information that I have that needs to be added (particularly my Ostfriesen lines and my New England ancestors stemming from Clark Sargent). 

While many software programs will automatically generate such lists, I'm creating mine by hand. The long way. There are two main reasons which readers may also find helpful.

  • I am forced to review the information. This serves to get me back "in touch" with families I have not researched in years. It is also giving me some writing ideas.
  • I can customize the display as I please. I realize that some genealogical databases allow for the creation of customized reports of this type. I've got a general format that I follow. I could have used a computer generated chart to edit, but I chose to.
No sources are included. This is intentional and because this chart is one quick place for someone who wants to see if they are related to me to view a listing of my ancestors. Generally speaking, dates of birth and death were obtained from civil or church records of the event. Approximations are always indicated as approximations. 

The table is a nice way for me to see where I still have gaps in my research. It does not substitute for larger, more detailed charts and forms that are used in working on specific families. It does not substitute for larger studies of all children and extended family members. But it is a nice way for someone to see how I connect to a specific person.


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. 

Do You Get Beyond Google Books?

There's more out there than Google Books.

This screen shot from a search on Google Books indicates that the located references to a Kile family history published in the 1950s are not fully digitized.
When I searched for the same reference at Hathitrust, a full digital copy was available:

Neat stuff.

Don't forget to search at Archive.org as well.

25 September 2013

She's Around Doing Something in 1860 in Allen County, Indiana

I'm not exactly certain what this occupation is in this 1860 census reference from Allen County, Indiana. A fan of Genealogy Tip of the Day on Facebook posted it and I thought I'd post it here for readers to view.

Any thoughts?

Here is the "zoomed in" version:

And the full page


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.

Wrapping Up Webinar Sales

Wrapping it up--$5 Genealogy Webinar Sale

I have had great fun presenting webinars on a variety of research topics over the past three years. However, for a variety of reasons I’ve decided to no longer sell recordings of my forty previous webinars after 29 September. We will offer support for previous purchases after that time, but no new orders will be processed. If you've been waiting to order, don't wait any longer. Each presentation is $5 each--download is immediate. Our order page is here.

Topics are:
  • Using US Census on Ancestry.com
  • Using US Passenger lists on Ancestry.com
  • An overview of Archive.org
  • Brick Walls from A to Z
  • More Brick Walls from A to Z
  • Yet More Brick Walls from A to Z
  • Brick Walls from A to Z--The FINAL One
  • Barbara's Beaus and Gesche's Girls
  • Preparing for Mother's Death
  • Proving Benjamin
  • The Newmans in the 1830-1870 Census: A Case Study
  • The Missing 1840 Census Enumeration
  • Creating Families from pre-1850 Census REcords
  • Court Records: Pig Blood in the Snow
  • The Probate Process; An Overview
  • Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch
  • Female Ancestors
  • Sarah and Susannah: Two 18th Century Virginia Women and Their Property
  • Proving Florence
  • Using Fold3.com
  • Illinois Research
  • Local Land Records in Public Domain Land States
  • The Bureau of Land Management Office Tract Books
  • Sections, Townships, Base Lines, etc--Land Descriptions in Federal Land States
  • Using the Bureau of Land Management Website
  • DeedMapper
  • DeedMapper with Virginia Land Patents
  • What is Not Written
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional
  • Charts, Charts, and More Charts
  • Creating Research Plans
  • Making and Proving Your Case
  • Seeing the Patterns: Organizing Your Information
  • Determining Your Own Migration Chain
  • Crossing the Pond
  • Did Your Ancestor Get a Civil War Pension?
  • American Revolutionary War Materials on Fold3.com
  • United States Naturalization Records pre-1920
  • Newspaper Research
Our order page and more information is here:

Thanks for your support of our projects!

Michael John Neill
Genealogy Tip of the Day

24 September 2013

E. Ufkes in the Ostfriesisches Stutbuch (Ostfriesian StudBook?) from 1911

I've mentioned various types of agricultural publications before but they've always been in English. This is another item that I located on Hathitrust

This one is not.

It is the Ostfriesisches Stutbuch from 1911.  This listing indicates the breeders of the horses listed and the owners at the time the directory was published. As with other directories it does confirm that a person with a specific name was living in a certain location at a certain point in time. 

The two references from the 1911 publication indicate E[ielt] Ufkes of Wiesens was the breeder of two horses listed. I neglected to copy a legend with the abbreviations, but I'm reasonably certain that the "V" stands for the male horse (with "Nr." being a registration number) and the "M" being the mother horse. 

The clues here are pretty minimal, but it does indicate that Eielt was probably still living in Wiesens in 1907 and 1908 when the horses were born and that he probably knew the owners (assuming there were no intermediate owners). As Ufkes was not the owner listed, it is always possible that he was not living in 1911. 

I'm not certain I need to translate the remaining portion of the entry, but I wish I had copied the abbreviations.

Note: I had a response on G+ that included the following translation:

6229 Ferida
born 1907, brown, white forehead hair, both hind feet white.
Father: Tello, Mother: Feige
Owner: A. Goeman, Visquard, Emden County.
Breeder: E. Ufkes, Wiesens.

6887 Feige I.
born 1908, white/gray horse, little star, left behind the ball of the foot white.
F: Tello, M: Feige
Owner: J. Georgs, Damhusen, Emden County
Breeder: E. H. Ufkes, Wiesens.

23 September 2013

The Pig's Mother Is Nancy

A recent search for "rampley" on Hathitrust resulted in a hit from the "Standard Chester White Record" from 1911. Two of my uncles--children of Riley and Nancy (Newman) Rampley--are mentioned on page 128 of the directory of pedigreed hogs . Most researchers may simply bypass a reference to a relative in an item such as this.

After all, directories of pedigreed hogs are not where one typically thinks to look for genealogical information about humans. However, genealogical clues are anywhere one happens to find them--even in a book that documents hog genealogies.

There is some genealogical information on humans in the book. One just has to consider the implications of the each item in the work. The reference indicated that William and Virgil Rampley were living in the West Point area in 1911 and were alive during that time. In some situations that alone could be a significant clue.

Apparently William Rampley had a hog named Cloverleaf Model 37498 that was farrowed on 21 September 1905 by a sow named "Nancy." Four of Cloverleaf's offspring are mentioned on page 128. Three that were farrowed on 22 Feb 1909 and one that was farrowed on 10 August 1908. 

Hopefully the grandsow of these four sows was not named for William's mother, Nancy.

The name is most likely a coincidence and nothing more. Certainly it is not evidence regarding the name of the Rampley brothers' mother. I won't be citing this item as proof of name--although I can cite it as a source for where the Rampley brothers lived at the time the item was published.

I'll let readers decide for themselves if they want to include hog genealogy in their own databases.

21 September 2013

FamilySearch Updates: AL & DE Marriages, NYC Passenger Lists, WWI Draft Cards

These databases are showing as updated on FamilySearch since our last post:

Is the Location of Remains a Genealogical "Necessity?"

I don't have an answer to this question.

Genealogists have always wanted to know where various relatives were buried. Some wanted this information so they could visit the final resting place of their relative or forebear and feel some sense of connection with them and visit the grave.

I understand that. I've visited many ancestral resting places myself.

But it seems that the real reason we want to know the final resting place of most of our relatives is to obtain the information on the tombstone. How many of us have visited the graves of all the thousands of relatives we have in our genealogical database? The answer is probably that very few have.

 It is always frustrating to know where a relative is buried and learn that there is no stone. Even if a person has a general idea of where the ancestor is buried, it often is the information on the stone that we are after. The frustration is even greater if an ancestor died before death records were kept and the stone is the one place we hope to obtain a date of death or other information for ancestor.

So do we need to know where a cremated relative had their ashes scattered or interred? I'm asking because I don't really have an answer to this question.

This "need"  to know and the importance of knowing where the "remains" were came up in a conversation I had with another genealogist recently. After our conversation ended, I remembered that I have an ancestor who died in 1916, was cremated and had his remains scattered in what now is an unknown location. I realized that it would have been nice to have known where they were, but there would have been no information on his stone that I already did not have from records that are probably more reliable.

Knowing the place would have given me a sense of connection. Is it necessary to have that?

Or is it really the information that we are after?

20 September 2013

1929 Cook Book

This blog post was originally published in 2007--but I'm figuring that most readers either did not see it or do not remember that far back. It is republished unaltered. It was posted today in light of today's Genealogy Tip of the Day. This cookbook mentions recipes from ladies in the Sutter area and from north-central Iowa, hinting at a common migration to that area. My assumption is that the north-central Iowans are former Sutter area residents, but as none of them are members of any of my families of interest, I am not positive of that.

[original post from 23 January 2007]

The Ladies' Aid of the Sutter-Salem Presbyterian Church published a cookbook in 1929. The book, published in Warsaw, Illinois, contains numerous recipies--many very high in fat and sugar by today's standards (not to mention one wonders why more people did not die of food poisoning).

Particularly interesting to me was one recipe submitted by Mrs. Cecil Barnett of Sutter.

She was my grandma Neill's sister--born Luella Trautvetter on a farm near Tioga, Illinois, in 1900 (she "went with the years" as we used to say). Occasionally Aunt Luella (or "Law" as she was sometimes called) would be at Grandma Neill's when we were there. Once in a while she'd be at Christmas or Thanksgiving at Grandma's as her children all lived a distance from her. For some reason I can remember her laughing frequently and most of the time she and Grandma having a good time.

I can send high resolution scans for any relatives who'd be interested.

The recipe for "Sugar cured meat" reads:

"For large hams and shoulders use the following: 3 cups coarse salt, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons black pepper, 1 tablespoon red pepper. For sides use half the amount. Mix all ingredients together and after meat has cooled out good (24 hours or more), rub each piece with this amount. Lay with rind down on paper and wrap each piece with paper and tie good. Let lie 2 days then hang up. Mrs. Cecil Barnett, Sutter, Illinois"

19 September 2013

1887 Suicide in the Barn and Why Didn't He Kill the Farmer?

When I really sat down to locate a little more detail on this event, it only took me five minutes. The event referenced in the clipping is not that of a relative, but it's mention in an 1887 letter spurred my interest in the event.
A letter by Noentje Lena (Grass) Ufkes written on 20 September 1887 states (in part):

Dirk (can't read last name--Frieden?) shot himself in the barn of Enne Koffman and that an "English girl" is in mourning. 

The names were not familiar to me as being part of the well-documented family of Noentje and her husband, but I still wondered to whom she was referring. It appears that the newspaper clipping from the Quincy, Illinois, newspaper shown above is mentioning the same incident.

The last names in the newspaper are consistent with the names in Noentje's letter written two weeks later. As mentioned in the earlier post, the names of the two involve appear to be Ostfriesen (at least to this writer's ears) and the English language newspaper could easily have gotten the names incorrect. It is also possible that the Quincy Daily Journal, from which the clipping is taken, copied the news item from another newspaper and compounded errors that first appeared in the original publication. The fact that the letter and newspaper clipping are close to each other chronologically and agree in the general details lead me to believe that both refer to the same incident.

There's not much detail about the suicide itself, but the phrase "instead of killing the farmer and marrying the widow" is an interesting one and may indicate there's more of a story here than meets the eye. Noentje only mentions that "an English girl is mourning." That covers a lot of ground.  Fortunately now I have a better date of the event than I had originally.

The item was located in the digital newspaper archive on the Quincy Public Library website. Locating it took a little doing, but was not all that difficult. The successful search was an advanced search that searched all newspapers in 1887 for the last name of Coffman (after Koffmann did not work). I was hoping that there would be a reference to the incident in the Quincy paper--at least enough of a reference to give me a date.

Now that I have an approximate date and a location, I'm going to check Carthage area newspapers for a more detailed mention of the incident. Given that the death took place in 1887 there probably is a death certificate on record at the county courthouse. And if the deceased was living near the German Lutheran Church south of Carthage (which the Ufkes family attended) there may be a mention of him in the church records.

There is no probate for a man with this last name in the 1887 and after era. But if he was working as a farmhand, a failure to locate one is not unusual.

We may have an update if more details are located.


Memory can be wrong. A relative asked me if I had located any information on this incident a few days ago. The answer was "no." In remembering the "barn death" I could have sworn the death was by hanging--both the letter and this newspaper account indicate the cause of death was a gunshot.
Newspapers may not be close. This newspaper account is in the county seat paper for the county south of the county where the event took place.

Do You Read the Terms of Use?

A Genealogy Tip of the Day fan mentioned www.mundia.com recently. It's not a new site, but it never hurts to take a look at something even if it has been around for a while. I may have quickly taken a look at it when it first went up a few years ago, but didn't give it another thought until now.

I took a look at the "Terms of Use" which are partially quoted here:

For each item of content that you post, you grant to us and our affiliates a world-wide, royalty free, fully paid-up, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, and fully sublicensable (including to other Website users) license, without additional consideration to you or any third party, to: (i) reproduce, distribute, make available, transmit, communicate to the public, perform and display (publicly or otherwise), edit, modify, adapt, create derivative works from and otherwise use such content, in any format or media now known or later developed; (ii) exercise all trademark, publicity and other proprietary rights with regard to such content; (iii) use your name, photograph, portrait, picture, voice, likeness and biographical information as provided by you in connection with your content for the Service, in each case, in connection with your content. For example, after your registration or subscription has ended, we may continue to use and display any content that you previously posted, and other users may continue may access, change, edit, add to, subtract from or otherwise amend such content. If you do not want to grant us the rights set out in these Terms of Use, please do not post any content on the Website.

Well isn't that interesting.

They can use whatever I submit to that site, including both text and image material, in any way they want. Even after I leave the site. I lose control over what I submit.

Of course from a practical standpoint that's what happens when you post information on a blog or a webpage. The risk of "losing control" has always been there. That's not new--don't put anything online that you don't want to share. Terms of use have always been around and are not new either.  It's just that many researchers, in their urgent desire to connect with other people, have clicked past the terms of use to get to the "search boxes." You can easily acknowledge the terms of use without ever reading them--all because you are in a hurry to "search" and "find."

You can sign a mortgage without ever reading it. That I really would not advise.

Is this a great scandal in the making? No. Agreeing to the terms of use is nothing new. The problem comes when a researcher "discovers" them after the fact.

Are these bad terms? Like anything else, it all depends upon what the user is comfortable with.

As for me I'm not comfortable with these terms of use. I don't like it that they make it clear they are taking the rights to do whatever they want with your data. It's doubtful that your picture will end up posted to CNN. What they could be doing is laying the groundwork to include the information in some sort of subscription or fee-based database. And if you've agreed to these terms then you've given them permission to do that because you agreed to the terms.

It's fine with me if a reader is comfortable with these terms and doesn't have any personal issues with them. The key is to actually read them so that you know what you're agreeing to when before you submit data to a site.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Mundia.com is owned by Ancestry.com. But then some of you already suspected that (or even knew it!).

An 1887 Suicide Causes an "English" Girl to Mourn

[note: I've blogged about this letter before in February of 2008, but this is something of an update]

This is part of a letter written by Noentje Lena (Grass) Ufkes on 20 September 1887 to a relative of her husband's family in Nebraska. The original is in the possession of a member of the Nebraska family that received the letter. This is the only part of the letter that mentions a recent suicide.

Starting with the word "Dirk" in the first line, it basically indicates that Dirk (can't read last name--Frieden?) shot himself in the barn of Enne Koffman and that an "English girl" is in mourning.

Noentje was living in Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois and was from the Wiesens area of Ostfriesland, Germany. The Ufkes family was also from that area of Germany as well. Because of those common connections, I am assuming that either the suicide victim or the barn's owner had some connection to the Hancock/Adams County, Illinois, area or to the Wiesens area of Ostfriesland. [Lesson/reminder: include your "reasons" as to why you think things--just be certain to clearly mark off your commentary as your commentary and not part of the actual document. There's nothing blatant in the letter that indicates the geographic connections I've mentioned--those connections are based upon my perceptions.]

The names of Dirk and Enne make it fairly clear to me that there's an Ostfriesian connection (those are Ostfriesen names)--it is just determining what that connection is. 

It's been a while since I've tried to find out more about this reference in Noentje's letter. Maybe it's time to try again.

17 September 2013

The Absence Was Duly Noted--Negative Evidence

My apologies to those who already get Genealogy Tip of the Day. I thought this would be a good thing to post here with more commentary than I usually include in the daily tip.

When my ancestor died in Illinois 1903, she was survived by her husband who died in 1904. His death record, probate record, tombstone, and obituary all make it clear he died in 1904 as all her records make clear she died in 1903. Their years of death are correct--there's nothing wrong with them or any "trick" about when they died.

The ancestor's husband is not mentioned in her will (which is not unheard of) and, more importantly, he is not listed in the court record listing all of her heirs-at-law at her decease. In every other record I've seen during this time in this state, the surviving spouse is included in the court order establishing heirship as the spouse is an heir. His failure to be listed as an heir is "negative evidence" that he was not her husband when she died in 1903. His absence from the record is what makes it "negative evidence."

It's negative evidence because we are using the fact that something we expect to be a part of the document is "not there" (ie. his name is not on the heir list). It is his absence that is the evidence. The difficulty for some is that there's nothing which can be quoted as a part of a citation because his name is not on the list.

Our commentary regarding the order finding heirship should indicate that the husband's name is not on the order and then cite the order (including name of the estate being settled, date of record, packet number, court, etc.). We can cite a record even if there's "nothing" we are quoting from it.

FamilySearch Update: US Veterans Administration Payment Cards 1907-1933

This database is showing as updated on FamilySearch as of today:

United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933

15 September 2013

Is It Jasper Newton or Newton Jasper?

I never gave "Jasper Newton" much thought until a few years ago while helping a trip participant at the Allen County Public Library. She asked me a question about her relative whose first name was Jasper and whose middle name was Newton.
Indiana county map--showing bordering Newton and Jasper Counties.

After I helped her, I remembered that my children also had a relative with those names: Jasper Newton Lake. The relative was actually a cousin who I had not had time to research and I had assumed that his name had come from the "other" side of the family as there were no Jaspers or Newtons in the Lake family which was the actually the family I was researching. When time allowed, I would get around to researching him.

I thought it odd that my fellow researcher had a relative with the same somewhat unusual first and middle name combination and so I began to research Jasper Newton, assuming he would be some historical figure.

It turns out Jasper Newton was not one man but two--men who were supposedly involved in Revolutionary War era rescue in the Carolinas. Their rescue attempt was memorialized in a painting by John Blake White and recorded for written history by Parson Mason Locke Weems.

It was not only people who were named Jasper Newton or Newton Jasper--towns and counties were as well.

  • Illinois and Iowa have Jasper Counties with Newton as the county seat.
  • In Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and Texas Jasper and Newton Counties share a border. 
  • Jasper is the county seat of Newton County, Arkansas.
There are probably other geographic connections as well but these make the connection rather clear.

Probably the most famous Jasper Newton is Jasper Newton Daniels, also known as Jack Daniels.

Maybe those names that suddenly appear in your family are not names of relatives at all, but instead are historical characters. Do a little searching on those names and make certain there was not someone famous with that name before assuming your family has a closer connection to the name than was actually the case.

14 September 2013

What Is Unstated Is Often Key

Sometimes documents are just as much about what they leave out as what they include.

This is the back of photograph that was in my grandmother Ufkes' collection of photographs and other items.In the upper right hand corner is the word "Dot" which I take to mean that the photograph was intended to be given to my grandmother as "Dot" was what she was called.

The larger handwriting is clearly in my grandmother's handwriting:

"Ed + Alice Cherrill at Calif[ornia] Motel."

That would be an accurate transcription of what is on the back of the photograph.

The problem is that the people in the picture shown below are not Ed and Alice Cherrill. They are Ed and Alice (Cherrill) Habben. Grandma clearly knew that the man in the picture was her brother Ed Habben, so no last name was necessary--after all, what other Ed was there?

If I had nary a clue as to who the people in the picture were, I might have concluded that the people really were Ed and Alice Cherrill instead of Ed and Alice (Cherrill) Habben?

Ed and Alice (Cherrill) Habben, undated World War II era photograph taken in California. The Habbens were life long residents of Hancock County, Illinois. Original in possession of Michael John Neill. 

Is it possible that there are unstated items on a photograph or document in your collection? There are times when people do not include what they assume what they consider obvious.

The Basco B and Granddad's 4th Year of High School

This is one of the more unique items I have: my Grandfather's letter from Basco High School.What makes it more unique is that I have several pictures of him wearing it. 

The three young men in the picture attended Basco, Illinois, High School in the 1930s. The young man on the left is my grandfather, John H. Ufkes, who was born in Bear Creek Township in 1917. I'm not certain how old he is in this picture. The picture has their names on the back, but the handwriting of the names does not appear to be from the same person. The picture was in the personal effects of my grandmother and I have no doubt about the accuracy of the identification. 
John Ufkes, Leon LeMarie, L.Vradenburg; Basco, Illinois, High School, early 1930s. Picture in possession of Michael John Neill. 

The red Basco "B" was also in the personal effects of my grandmother and it is shown below in this picture.Now I just have to find a way to preserve it. I don't have many cloth items in my genealogy collection.
Basco "B"of John H. Ufkes in possession of Michael John Neill. Picture taken September 2013.
In the 1930s Basco had a three-year high school. Granddad rode a horse to Basco High School. He purchased a car to drive the six or so miles to attend his fourth year of high school in Carthage, which is from where he graduated.

And I could swear that he and someone else bought the car and they rode together for that year. If only I had written down the name.

12 September 2013

My Ancestor Table

I have posted an incomplete copy of my ancestor table on this permanent blog page. Updates will be made as time allows.

Barranquilla Communications Regarding Troutfetter

This is the very end of the Troutfetter report written by Denver postal investigator Wm. T. Sullivan on 6 July 1900 which was referenced in an earlier blog post.

I was so focused on Pinkerton's that I neglected a clue in the very last line of the letter where it is indicated that the agent was in communication with the U. S. Consul at Barranquilla. I realized that the National Archives may have records of the consul which may reference that correspondence.

That's on my list and I've already contacted a researcher to see what they can ascertain. Hopefully I'll either hear from Pinkerton's or be able to locate these records.

Lesson--actually a reminder

Don't get so focused on one aspect of something that you neglect other clues that could be just as helpful.

Stay tuned...

Updated on FamilySearch: Arkansas Draft Cards 1940-1945

This database is showing as updated since our last post:

Arkansas First Draft Registration Cards, 1940-1945

11 September 2013

Pinkerton Investigations and Post Masters Monitoring Mail in 1900

One encounters a variety of references in manuscript records. 

This image is part of a letter written on 6 July 1900 by W. T. Sullivan, Inspector in Charge, Denver Division to the United States Chief Post Office Inspector. The letter summarized the current state of Sullivan's investigation in Philip A. Troutfetter and was obtained from the files of the Kansas State Historical Society.

Apparently Sullivan had been in communication with someone from the Pinkerton Agency in regards to Troutfetter. It appears that the Pinkerton Agency had already been investigating Troutfetter when Sullivan began his investigation. I've contacted the archives of the Pinkerton Agency and we'll see if they have any materials from this time period and what those material might entail.

It's also interesting to note that the Post Master in North Platte, Nebraska, had been given a copy of Troutfetter's handwriting. Troutfetter's sister, Mrs. A. J. Senter, lived in North Platte during the time Troutfetter was being investigated and her mail was being monitored for communication from her brother. The Post Master did not open her mail, but the report by Sullivan indicated that the Post Master from North Platte was keeping track of the dates she received mail from Troutfetter, the return addresses on that mail and the dates the mail was received in North Platte.

We'll have an update about the Pinkerton records when there is one. The monitoring of Senter's mail is interesting, to say the least.

Double Couins Get Their Picture Taken

The photograph in this post is another that was in the collection of my grandpa Neill's sister, Nellie (Neill) Shanks. I was fortunate that this is one of the many pictures she identified by writing the names on the back.

There are a couple of things about this picture and the identification that can serve as reminders when we are identifying our own pictures. 

Make it clear who is who.

The cousins in this picture are not standing in two straight rows. On the back, the names of all seven people are included. Those names just are not in quite the right order. One option in pictures such as this one would be to make a quick sketch of "body outlines" and use that on which to write the names (I'm not a fan of writing on the actual photo's surface). Another option in this case would be to go from left to right using details in the photograph as necessary.
  • Walter Rampley
  • Herschel Neill (boy without jacket)
  • Cecil Neill (holding Walter's arm)
  • Nellie (Neill) Shanks (light colored dress)
  • Lester Rampley (toddler with stocking hat)
  • Ralph Neill
  • Edna (Rampley) Dion (girl with dark dress)

It's important to be as clear as possible while keeping in mind what is clear to you may not necessarily be clear to someone else.

This photograph's identification.

In this case the determination of "who was who" was not all that difficult. Details from other records and my own knowledge were sufficient. There were only two girls named in the picture and their years of birth were well established from other records. Nellie is clearly the oldest girl in the photograph.

Lester was clearly the youngest. Cecil (my grandfather) was the apparent oldest in the picture and I also recognized him from other photographs. I knew that Herschel was several years younger than Ralph and those two I also recognized as my Grandpa's brothers. That left only Walter.


As I progress through these pictures, I'm becoming more convinced than ever that it's important not only to identify the individuals, but to also include an idea of when and where the photograph was taken. It should be made clear when this is a guess. Commentary about how the individuals were identified is helpful as well. The commentary on the actual photograph does not need to be long, but should give someone viewing the picture later an idea of "how" the identification was made.


The Neills and Rampleys shown in this picture were first and second cousins. They were all grandchildren of Samuel and Annie (Murphy) Neill--Irish immigrants to Hancock County, Illinois. They were also all great-grandchildren of James and Elizabeth (Chaney) Rampley, Ohio residents who migrated to Hancock County, Illinois, in 1849.

10 September 2013

Admitting Mistakes

A reader of Casefile Clues very graciously pointed out that there was a probable error in a transcription of a marriage record from St. Louis, Missouri, that was used in a recent issue.

And there was an error--mine, not one made by the clerk.

The year of recording was incorrectly transcribed by me as 1851 when it should have been 1852. The error was an unintentional typographical error and is discussed in more detail on the Casefile Clues blog. It also serves as a good reminder of the importance of using "sic" when appropriate when transcribing documents.

It is always good to remember that anyone can make mistakes.

And it is always appreciated when people graciously point them out.

And it's always good to remember that conclusions are always subject to revision. The analysis of the document did not hinge on the incorrect date in this case because the error was not noticed and my analysis was done from my original copy. The transcription was only done so that it could be included in the newsletter and that readers could focus on the analysis and not the transcription process.

Updated on FamilySearch: AR, Co, OK, and SC Materials

The following are showing as updated on FamilySearch as of 10 September 2013:

08 September 2013

A Tragic End in 1906

A very gracious fan of Genealogy Tip of the Day on Facebook sent me the transcription of this accident involving my great-great-grandfather's youngest son Joseph Neill in 1906. The accident was rather horrific and one does not envy the brother who was summoned to identify the body. Aside from the details of Joseph's death, the account (apparently written the day the incident happened), contains details about:

  • Joseph's son and his age.
  • Joseph's age and marital status
  • Joseph's brother's name, his residence, and his employer
  • the length of time Joseph had lived in Monmouth
  • were Joseph had resided before moving to Monmouth
No mention is made of where Joseph was from (other than the fact he had previously lived in Nauvoo) or details about his burial. It is possible that a followup obituary in the Monmouth paper may mention those items and provide the name of his wife. One can only imagine how Joseph's family--his father was living and would not die himself until 1912--reacted to the news. Now on my research list is to obtain newspaper articles from papers local to where Joseph was from (near West Point in Hancock County, Illinois) to see their accounts of the accident.

Turnbull is still a name associated with funeral homes in the Monmouth area today. I've probably ridden on those very tracks where Joseph met his demise.

We have included the entire item below. It is rather graphic.

The Monmouth Daily Review
Thursday, 15 Nov 1906


Joseph Neil Struck Near Patte Shops While Returning to His Work


Scores of Spectators Saw the Accident - Victim was Dragged for Twenty-Five Yards

While walking down the track in the Burlington yards this afternoon, Joseph Neil was run over by train No. 13.  Death came without a moment's warning as the young man was returning to his work at the A.W. Ryan coal yard.

The accident occurred in front of the Pattee Plow works and in full view of scores of spectators. Mr. Neil who resides at corner of South C street and Eighth Avenue, was home to his dinner as usual and started back to his work  for A.W. Ryan about 1 o'clock.  He left behind him a loving wife and a pretty little lad of four summers.

When Neil came to the railroad crossing he started down the track. When near the Pattee Plow Company he encountered the sand train just pulling out for the east. The train was making a great deal of steam and Neil stepped out of the way of it. The steam made it impossible for the engineer on train No. 13, due at 1:07, to see the victim who was unconsciously stepping into the jaws of death.

The fast train, a few minutes behind time, came rushing in, striking Neil in the back. He fell heavily and was caught by the cow catcher. He was rolled over several times and was dragged about twenty-five yards. About 10 yards from E Street he was run over, his body being cut completely in two. The train was brought to a sudden stop and half of the body was found outside the rail, while the other half was found underneath the baggage car. It was a most gruesome sight and was witnessed by many passengers who were waiting for No. 13 at the Burlington platform.


The acting coroner, Dr. H.H. Pillenger was then summoned and he took charge of the remains. They were taken to Turnbull morgue where at 2:30 this afternoon an inquest will be held.


Mr. Neil is spoken of as a steady and industrious young man by all who knew him. He has been employed for about two months by A.W. Ryan. Besides his wife, he leaves a little boy of four years of age. He also has a brother, John Neil, who resides in this city and is a car repairman for Iowa Central. He was notified of his brother's death and a most affecting scene took place when he viewed the mutilated body of his younger brother. The unfortunate young man was 26 years of age and came to Monmouth from Nauvoo. The sincere sympathy of the entire community is with the stricken wife and little son.

[end transcription]

07 September 2013

06 September 2013

I Know Who Is In That Picture Taken Nearly 30 Years Before My Birth

Most of us have photographs taken before we were born that we can identify the people in. Of course, some of that identification will be because we've only seen pictures of those people before.

I identified the people in this picture, even though two of them I never met.

The two boys in the front are Roger Neill (standing) and Pat Neill (being held). My father is in the background being held by his mother, Ida (Trautvetter) Neill. Fannie (Rampley) Neill is sitting on the porch and Charlie Neill is standing holding Pat. The three boys are grandsons of Charlie and Fannie--Ida is their daughter-in-law.

I could tell the boy standing was my uncle and after a little bit of looking I realized who was being held by Charlie. That's my grandmother standing in the back and there's only one other baby who would logically be in the photograph--my Dad. These three were the oldest grandchildren of my great-grandparents and figuring out who was who really was not all that difficult.

I recognize my grandmother from knowing her and having seen other pictures. Charlie and Fannie I recognize from having seen other pictures. The fact that I can see my own father in Charlie's face isn't proof, but it was an interesting thing for me to note.

"Looks like a relative" is not adequate for identification.

It pays to proofread: As soon as I posted this image, I realized I left off the state in which the picture was taken. To me the state was obvious, but obviously that will not be obvious to others.

1721 Items in the Kitchen

This is part of the inventory of the estate of Samuel Sargent which was filed in 1721 in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Part of the difficulty in analyzing any of records of this type is getting through the handwriting. This part of the inventory was of items "In the Cetchen[kitchen]" 

How many can you read?
Part of the inventory of Samuel Sargent, Middlesex County, Mass., estate files, Estate 19896, obtained on microfilm through the Family History Library
 One thing about reading estate inventory items is that some of the words used are the same as today and that can help us in determining how certain letters were written in parts of the document where we may not have a good idea of what the word is.

05 September 2013

Two More of Ira's 1870 Family "Located"

Using the word located is a little strong--as these two people have not actually been located in the 1870 census, but since they've been found in 1871 in Ontario, we'll see why it's likely they were not in the United States in 1870.

This is the 1871 census entry from Ontario, Canada for Charlotte (Landon) Cummings--half-sister of Ira Sargent (my elusive 1870 census ancestor). A short analysis of the enumeration follows related to my attempts to find Ira in 1870.

Ancestry.com's source is listed as: Source Citation: Year: 1871; Census Place: Sombra, Bothwell, Ontario; Roll: C-9894; Page: 40; Family No: 144.

The date of the 1871 Canadian Census was 2 April 1871. George Cummings is listed as having been born in Ontario (the "O" in the birth place column) eight month before the census date. This would mean that the parents (actually at least the mother) was in Ontario in March or so of 1870 when George was born (according to this census). Given that the family was in Ontario on the census date eight months later, it seems likely that they were in Ontario when the United States census was taken for 1870.

There's nothing in this enumeration to indicate that Asa Landon was in Canada at the time of the 1870 United States census, but it seems probable.


Ira's half-sister Charlotte is almost certainly in Ontario in 1870 and his step-father Asa Landon is likely in Ontario then as well. Ira's half-brother Edwin Landon has not yet been located. Two of Ira's four sisters are in Davis County, Iowa in 1870 and one ten-year old child of Ira's oldest sister Emmar has been located as a ten year old boy living in Lancaster County, Nebraska. It's highly likely that Emmar is somewhere near Lancaster County as she marries there a year later. Sister Minerva Sargent has still not been located in 1870, but she's likely somewhere in southern Iowa as she marries in Wapello County, Iowa, in 1870.

It doesn't seem likely that Ira went to Canada with his Landon kin in 1870 or so only to return in Davis County to marry in October of 1870. I'm not certain how much more time I'll spend looking for him in 1870, but writing up the search and working on it has not necessarily been a bad thing for me to do.

A Few Thoughts on Our Blog Philosophy

For those who are new to this blog, we'll post a little bit about my philosophy on this blog. Those who have been viewing for a while are probably aware of most of these things and can probably pass on the rest of this post.

In-progress research. 

There is a school of thought that any type of "publishing" should be relatively finished. I'm not a member of that school as far as blogs are concerned. In-progress research is fine as long as it's written clearly, has a point, and can serve as some sort of illustration. It's also important to point out that the research is very much in-progress and that conclusions are temporary and may need to be revised. 


I don't include "complete" citations in blog posts--at least not usually. However, there is usually enough information in the blog post for a reasonable reader to discern from where the information was actually obtained. Readers who think this amount of detail has been left out are free to post comments or email me and I'm happy to include more detail if I've accidentally left something out. 

Press Releases

I don't include information from press releases in blog posts. Ever. If your company or organization has a site, book, etc. that you think may interest me, you are free to email me that information. If I use it in my own research and find it helpful, I'll mention it. Otherwise I don't. Don't bother sending me "suggested text" to use in a blog post. If your book or item covers an area in which I have no interest, the chance I write about it is virtually zero. This blog is about my research. 


I only write about and research the ancestors and extended family of my children. That includes twenty states and eight countries in Western Europe and rural and urban areas--although I do tend to focus on the rural families. That's enough to keep me busy.

It does not matter how "neat" the site or service is. If it's not related to one of my areas of research or families, it's not going to be mentioned. While we love traffic to our blog, we don't write blog posts just to generate traffic.


Suggestions for content are welcome and can be sent to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. I do get behind, so please be patient. 

04 September 2013

My Ira Sargent 1870 Census Problem

Finding Ira Sargent in 1870 may require more than just looking for him. It is very possible that if he was enumerated, he is near one of his family members. This includes his siblings and his step-father, Asa Landon. and his two half siblings. This post summarizes what is known about them relevant to their 1870 census location and was done for our Genealogy Tip of the Day readers on Facebook who asked for a few more details. Sources are not included in this post.



Emmar has not been located in 1870. She was born around 1839 in Canada. In 1856 she married James Pollard in Iowa and should be enumerated as Emma(r) Pollard in 1870. She married Robert Ross in 1871 in Lancaster County, Iowa, and may not have been living with James Pollard in 1870. Her son Thomas Pollard is believed to have been enumerated in Lancaster County, Nebraska (page 181 stamped upper left, family/dwelling 868, George Aiken household), as a ten year old "cattle herder."


Lucretia was married in 1866 in Davis County, Iowa, to Frederick Price. They are living in 1870 in Soap Creek Township, Davis County, Iowa (page 7).


Martha was married in 1867 in Davis County, Iowa, to William Bell. They are living in 1870 in Soap Creek Township, Davis County, Iowa (page 5).


Minerva was born around 1848 (in Illinois) and married John Strobel in Iowa in 1876.

Step-father and half siblings:

Asa Landon-step-father

Asa was born between 1798 and 1809 in New York or Canada. He cannot be located in the 1870 census and it is possible that by 1870 he was in Canada as it is known that he returned to Canada sometime after the 1860 census where he is enumerated in Christian County, Missouri.

Edwin Thomas Landon-half-brother

Edwin was born about 1850 in Illinois.He cannot be located in 1870 and also moved to Canada after the 1860 census.

Charlotte Roxanna Landon-half-sister

Charlotte ("Roxie") was born about 1853 in Illinois. She cannot be located in 1870 and moved to Canada/Michigan after the 1860 census.

03 September 2013

September 2013 Organizing Genealogical Information Class

Deadline extended..

September 2013 Class

Need to grow your research skills this summer? Consider taking our homework-optional class! If you have registered you should have received your welcome message--email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com if you did not. Previous registrants for other sections who need to enroll in this section should email me for login information. Register via this link

Organizing Genealogical Information:
A Short Course
With Michael John Neill
(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 presentations will not focus on citation theory.
This time the course will be presented a little bit differently. Students will be able to download the lecture and view it at their convenience--ideally all on the same day that the download link is sent to registered students.
Course registration is only $30 for this run of the course. Class size is limited to 30 to encourage group interaction. Attendees will need to register 24 hours before the class starts. If you registered for a previous session and were not able to actively participate--email me to be put in this series at no charge.
  • 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 3— Constructing 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 4— Problem Solving Chart (problem-solving techniques not discussed in previous lectures)– pick your own problem
Register via this link.

Lecture downloads:
  • 16 September
  • 23 September
  • 30 September
  • 6  October
  • 19September 4  PM Central
  • 26 September 4  PM Central
  • 3 October  4  PM Central
  • 10 October  4  PM Central

Lectures and discussions will be via GotoMeeting.

Register via this link

Or use this webpage: