29 April 2014

A Picture of Aunt Lucinda--the Shaker With Descendants

This is the first time I have ever found a relative's photograph in an archival collection in any library. And a wonderful picture it is. It can be very easy to overlook special collections at regional, college, and university libraries in our ancestral search. Any archival collection has the potential to contain material on a relative, but the chance is increased when our relative was a member of a unique group--in this case a Shaker.

The original copy of this photograph is in the Shaker Collection at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Lucinda joined the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire in the 1840s and remained their until her death. 
The name on the back of the photograph is "Lucinda Furnum." Based upon the reasonableness of the variation and census records, I'm fairly certain this picture is the Lucinda (Sargent) Fairman who was born in Leicester, Vermont, the daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Gibson) Sargent.

What I am not certain of is when the picture was taken. I also need to find out of there is any significance to a Shaker to what she is wearing.

The image posted as a part of this blog post has been created from the front and back of the actual image by using a digital version of the photograph obtained on the Hamilton College Library website. It is a great little find.

Samuel and Sarah (Gibson) Sargent are my 4th great-grandparents.

Updated on FamilySearch: Wisconsin and Hamilton County, Ohio Materials

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

Wisconsin, Probate Estate Files, 1848-1948

Ohio, Hamilton County Records, 1791-1994

The Only Stone Left Standing

[this post was posted to my Casefile Clues blog some time ago and we're reposting it here since Shakers have been a recent topic of discussion]

This "find" found me thanks to my earlier blog post on Lucinda (Sargent) Fairman

Work on Lucinda, who lived in a Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire, has taken a back seat to other things. However, a contributor to FindAgrave recently photographed her tombstone in the Shaker Cemetery in Enfield, New Hampshire. According to the information on the cemetery on Findagrave, Lucinda's stone is the only one remaining. It's not often I get that lucky--over 300 burials and the only stone left is the one I actually need. 

This photograph of her stone was taken by Nicole S Vecchi and is used here with her permission.   

The Findagrave entry can be viewed here

Hopefully we'll have periodic updates on Lucinda and her life in the Shaker community.

Lucinda is a sister to Clark Sargent--my 3rd great-grandfather.

28 April 2014

Shakers Can Have Descendants

Ancestry.com recently released a set of databases concentrating on Quakers. Their marketing materials included an ad indicating that there were millions of Americans who descend from Quakers. While I can't verify the "millions" statement (no one really can), I have no reason to doubt it. As marketing material goes it's not as "out there" as some statements one sees in advertisements.

At this point in my research, I don't have any Quaker ancestors. But the ad got me to thinking. I do have a relative (Lucinda [Sargent] Fairman) who was a Shaker. The only reason I connect the two denominations is because their names rhyme. And in a moment of silliness, I hoped that Ancestry.com wouldn't include a similar ad for a collection of Shaker materials:

It's a joke and if you're not seeing it then there is something you don't know about the Shakers.

Shakers did not believe in reproducing, which is why they died out. It's difficult to keep a religion going when the adherents are not creating a new pool of potential members.

But there are individuals who have Shaker ancestors. My ancestor's sister was a Shaker and she has descendants. That's because she joined a Shaker community in New England after she and her husband had two children. The sister of my ancestor stayed in the Shaker community until her death. Her sons left upon reaching adulthood, married and had families of their own.

So Shakers can have descendants.

But probably not as many as Quakers.

New or Updated or on FamilySearch-WA County Mateials and NY Published Passenger Lists

The following are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Washington, County Records, 1803-2009

New York, Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1906-1942

26 April 2014

A Citation Question-Separate Publications Bound Together

Digital images are great, but sometimes they create slight confusion when crafting a citation from them.

I located a reference in a Depression era state university report to my grandmother's sister. Apparently putting her name on the list of students of junior standing was done prematurely. My aunt wasn't the only one in this situation and it's not clear if she didn't make sufficient progress that semester due to academic problems, financial problems or something else. It's very possible that money temporarily ran out, although she did eventually graduate.

I'm trying to craft a reasonable citation before I put the image on the blog. While I don't cite in proper format here, I do need to include all essential details of where the document was located. I located it on Mocavo.com and Mocavo.com's "publication" of this report appears to have been a digital copy of a bound volume of reports from several years housed in a university library. 

I might not have realized this if I had simply copied the image with Aunt Margaret's name and stopped. The fact that her reference was on page 8 and the image number from the Mocavo.com publication was over 800 should have been a clue that I was looking at either a serial publication or a bound copy of several individual items. People wonder why scanning covers of books is necessary. Materials like this make it clear.

It was clear to me that the cover was not the original, but rather was the result of items that had been sent by the university to the bindery to be bound for better preservation. 

But this brings me back to the original question: "What do I need in this citation?"

While I haven't crafted the citation yet, I think it needs to include more than just the reference to the publication name that Mocavo.com has given to this bound item. Websites come and go. My citation needs to include:
  • the website-Mocavo.com, date of access, and the publication name Mocavo.com assigned to this publication.
  • reference to the university library that houses the original from which the digital image was made.
  • complete name and date of original publication.
  • Title, author, etc.
  • Specific report which mentions the individual in question--that's necessary as it gets to which state school she attended and helps others find this publication if the original bound one cannot be found.
Some may say that the university library portion of this reference is not necessary if the complete date and place of original publication is provided. Perhaps. But it makes it easier for someone else (or me) to later locate the original if necessary. 

Stay tuned. Aunt Margaret's "change" in classification has created a few issues for me. It probably created a few issues for her as well, but I don't have any first hand knowledge of those.

New Webinars End of April-Land and Court Records and Illinois Research

Illinois Research-rescheduled due to recording difficulties
Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers, it focuses on local records, what makes Illinois different, and larger statewide facilities. Handout included.

29 April 2014—9 PM Eastern-8 PM Central-6 PM Pacific Register .

Court Records-Pig Blood In the Snow
If searching and using court records has confused you, this presentation will help you break through those barriers that may be hindering your research. This session will include an overview of local court record structure in the United States, how records are organized and how they can be searched, and effective research strategies in these records. There is a good chance that your ancestor interacted with a local court in his area. Don’t miss out on these records. And---we’ll show you why this lecture has the subtitle “Pig Blood In the Snow.” Handout included.

30 April 2014—8 PM Eastern-7 PM Central-5 PM Pacific Register 

Land Records
If you have avoided land records because searching, finding, and interpreting them has confused them, you may be missing out on good genealogical information. This presentation will discuss the elements of a land deed, how land records usually are organized in the United States and how to effectively and accurately interpret these records. This session is geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher. Handout included.

1 May 2014—9 PM Eastern-8 PM Central-6 PM Pacific Register

Email me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com with questions or registration difficulties. 

This page is http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2014/04/new-webinars-end-of-april.html

FamilySearch: IL Naturalization Petitions; IN Marriages; NH Marriages

The following databases are showing as having been updated since our last posting:

Illinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991

Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959

New Hampshire, Marriage Certificates, 1948-1959

24 April 2014

Henry Miller Enumerated in 1880 Dead and Alive

Millers can be difficult to find. My Henry Miller is no exception to that rule. Trying to find Henry in the 1860 through 1880 federal census schedules lead to an interesting discovery in the 1880 enumeration.

In 1860, Henry and his wife, Geske Catherine Miller, are enumerated in Brown County, Illinois, with their daughter Anke and her husband Henrich Adams. The adults in the enumeration are all indicated as having been born in Hanover. The women, at least on this census page, are enumerated as "Mrs. FirstInitial Lastname."

The Millers cannot be located in 1870. I'm still working on locating that enumeration, but quick approaches have not been successful and a detailed study and search via the family structure may be necessary. The Millers probably are still living with the Adams family, although is possible that they are living with or near their other married daughter, Heipke Mueller Dirks in Adams County, Illinois.

In 1880, Henry Miller is indicated as being a father-in-law in the household of Henry Adams in Brown County, Illinois. Except the entry for the 81-year old is crossed off  on the census sheet which is dated 12 June 1880. The instructions indicated that only people living in the household on 1 June 1880 should be listed.

Apparently that's why Henry's name is crossed out--he's dead. The 1880 Mortality Schedule for Pea Ridge Township, Brown County, Illinois, indicated that Henry died in March of 1880.

So why was he listed as being in the household of his son-in-law on 1 June.

The only explanation is that someone was confused or misunderstood the instructions. Henry cannot have died in March of 1880 and been alive on 1 June 1880.

The other name crossed out on the same census page in the household before the Adamses is Henry Harberts. The 1880 mortality schedule indicates he died in August of 1879 making his listing in the 1880 population schedule all the more confusing as more time has elapsed.

Which makes me wonder, was the census taker confused? Is it possible that Germans being enumerated did not speak adequate English and that the census taker simply did not understand them?

I started this census search with the hope of finding the Millers in an actual passenger list. The 1880 mortality schedule and Henry's enumeration while dead, got me slightly distracted.

The mortality reference indicated that Henry had lived for 22 years in the county where he died. That may come in helpful locating a passenger manifest entry--assuming it is correct.

Stay tuned.

23 April 2014

Freedmen's Bureau Records on FamilySearch: North Carolina and Virginia

The following databases are showing as new or updated since our last update:

North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Records, 1863-1872

Virginia, Freedmen's Bureau Letters or Correspondence, 1865-1872

The More Specific I Am the More Hits I Get

Again, I am confused by Ancestry.com's search. 

Ok, I'm not really confused. I know it's not working the way it is supposed to and I'm irritated. I love the wildcard options we have, but there's simply something about the search algorithm (or at least the error message) that is incorrect. 

It was fairly simple. I wanted to search for Johann(es) Grass who is believed to have made the trip from Germany to the United States in the 1880s. I'm not exactly certain of the year, but the Ostfriesen native appears as a sponsor for a grandchild in Illinois in the 1880s. Those details formed the basis of my search. 

Not certain of what port Johann would have used for his arrival, I chose to search all of the "Immigration & Travel" records at Ancestry.com by searching as shown below.

There were only 132 hits. This is not so many that I cannot go through all of them, but I decided that since Johann was around 1815, I would refine my search to concentrate on immigrants of that age.

And so I added 1815 (plus or minus ten years) to my search.That should give me fewer hits and make it easier to concentrate on those items that match my more narrow search.

Except I got "Too many matches."

How can there be too many matches? I've refined my search even more than it was originally constructed.

This search is more narrow than the one that resulted in 132 hits. I should have obtained fewer than 132 hits.

How can less than 132  be "too many?"

This is not the first time I have received results of this type.

I don't want to be told to "refine" my search--that's what I did.

I don't want to be told to search specific databases--after all, we're told now that "broad" and "global" searches are the way to go. That's how searchers get a more "positive user experience." I have a "positive user experience" when search responds in a way that makes sense.

There is no reason why this search should return "too many hits."

My problem with this is two-fold:

  • There simply are not too many hits to display them.
  • If Ancestry.com cannot get this search to work the way that it should, are there other searches (ones that don't give errors) that might not be working correctly? It makes me wonder if I'm missing results (and maybe there were "other" Bernards on my search from yesterday that simply didn't show up). My conclusion that I had "my" Bernard yesterday was partially based on what search results were returned to me by the search at Ancestry.com
Many of us make conclusions based upon search results at various sites. We may not want to admit it, but we do....especially when we are looking for a needle in a haystack and don't have any other contextual names upon which to draw conclusions. That's the case with Bernard--he traveled alone. 

I just wish Ancestry.com could make this search work the way it should work. 

I don't need smart phone apps. I don't need the ability to research at 3 a.m. on my cell phone in my bed when I'm half asleep. I don't need to know where my DNA was 2,000 years ago.

And I don't need lectures on Boolean searching--which is what I got from a staffer a few years ago. I have a master's degree in mathematics--I understand Boolean logic, ands, inclusive ors, exclusive ors, nested searches, order of operations, etc. etc. 

I just need this damned search to work. 

FamilySearch: Freedmen's Bureau Records (MD, DE, TX), IN Marriages, Naturalizations (NY and RI)

FamilySearch indicated the following databases are new or updated since our last posting:

22 April 2014

After Thirty Years I Have Found Bernard

I've searched for my mother's immigrant ancestors in passenger manifests for over thirty years. All of her families immigrated to the United States from Ostfriesland, Germany between the 1850s and 1883. Most of them have been found on passengers lists arriving through either New York or New Orleans.

Today I think I've located another one: Bernard Dirks. Bernard was a native of Etzel, Ostfriesland, Germany who settled near Coatsburg in Adams County, Illinois, where he died in the 1910s. I really didn't "need" his passenger list, as his origins in Germany have been well documented. But it was a missing piece of the puzzle and one never knows what additional information may surface on a manifest.

Bernard's two census enumerations where immigration information is provided both indicate an arrival year of 1852:

  • 1910  US Federal Census, Honey Creek Township, Enumeration District 12, sheet 4B
  • 1900 US Federal Census, Honey Creek Township, Enumeration District 109, Sheet 6B
The consistency suggests that the same person provided the same information--it's not a guarantee that the year is correct. But at least the years are consistent.

After some additional time spent with wildcard searching at Ancestry.com I discovered a "Bernard Dirks" having arrived in New York in July of 1852. This was the only reasonably close match that I was able to locate performing a wildcard search with vowels replaced by wildcard operators.

Family tradition (from Altje Goldenstein Worthington, grand-daughter of Bernard) was that he landed in New York, worked there a few years and came to Illinois. I am uncertain of how true that is as very few Ostfriesens spent time in New York State upon immigrating during the time period that Bernard arrived.

I'm as certain as I can be at this point that this is the entry for "my Bernard." It is known that he immigrated before he married and, to date, no relatives of his have been located in the United States so his arriving without other Dirkses isn't unusual. 

War of 1812 Warrants on BLM Site--A Suggestion

[note: this post is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion of these records]

Researchers sometimes forget about the War of 1812 and the military benefits later provided to its veterans and widows. The majority of benefits for War of 1812 service took the form of land warrants which were good for a specific quantity of land in areas still owned by the federal government.

The bulk of these warrants were given in the 1850s, stemming from legislation during that time. The warrrant image in this post was created from the surrendered warrant of Clara Lake and was based upon her husband's service in the War of 1812 from Virginia.

One quick (but not full-proof) way to locate these warrants is through the Bureau of Land Management website. When searching for these warrants on the site, make certain you search for warrants (I leave the patents unchecked as that's for the person who actually settled the property which may or may not have been the veteran/widow and which may "clutter" my search results). 

Make certain you have the location set to "any." The warrants are tied in the database to the location where the property was patented (actually settled). That location may have nothing to do with where the veteran served from during the war or lived at during the warrant application.

Richard Lake and his wife Clara lived in Virginia and Kentucky. The property was eventually patented in Iowa by the person who purchased the warrant. If I had ignored the result because the Lakes never lived in Iowa, I would have missed the reference.

And when there is a patent on the BLM site based up on a military warrant, there are two things at the National Archives that you want to obtain copies of:
  • the application for the warrant
  • the surrendered warrant
The application tends to have more detailed information on service and life after the service, but the surrendered warrant can have clues as a well. 

And for people who lived during this era, we need all the clues we can get. 

21 April 2014

Updated on FamilySearch: Boston Taxes from 19th Century

These are showing as updated since our last update:

Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918

Comparing Population and Agricultural Schedules in 1885--Different Names for the Same People

Agricultural census schedules are not always just about farming. They can also provide clues to what is in the population schedules as well.

Finding Tamme Tammen in the 1885 population schedules for the Nebraska State Census proved to be somewhat difficult.

Finding him in the agricultural census schedules (shown on the left hand side in the image below) was not a problem. He was enumerated as Talman F. Tammen on that enumeration.

Before manually browsing the images (which would not have been too hard), I decided to search for the other farmers on the ag census and see if I could find them. My theory was that they should be listed together. I also thought that the reason I couldn't find him was because the name was probably blurry or difficult to read on the population schedule.

A search for R. Costin located the page on which Tammen is listed. His last name certainly appears to be "Tammen" to me, but that's probably because that's what I'm looking for.

The interesting this is that he is listed as "Tom" in the population schedule and Talman in the agricultural schedule. His ag schedule neighbor, John F. Gronewold, is apparently listed as John Griswold in the population schedule.

There are several lessons here other than the approach I took to finding Tamme in the population schedule. Names can easily be anglicized--but the surprise here was that the enumerator chose to use different names in the differing enumerations. That just struck me as interesting.

And I have not even analyzed the ag schedule for additional clues. But it did help me to interpret "correctly" the names from the population schedule.

FamilySearch Updates: WV and US Army Enlistments 1798-1914

Updated on FamilySearch since our last update:

West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971

United States Registers of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914

19 April 2014

Our Informal Style Guide--Image Provenance

George & Ida (Sargent)
Trautvetter family,
Adams County, Illinois
about 1920
I've mentioned this in a few posts over the past few weeks, but we're going to add this to the unofficial style guide for my blogs.

All images made from original records and photographs will include source information. We're not in the habit of formulating them in academically format, but there will be sufficient detail for people to know where the image originated. There's two reasons for this:

  • it's faster--at least for me
  • it's a format that readers can more easily emulate and I'd rather people had source details on their images in "unacademic" format than nothing. I'm not trying to scare people off with citations. 
We're not putting that information in the caption. Why? 

If people copy and paste the image the caption doesn't come with it as a part of the "paste." That's why it's been added to the image---making it easier for someone who uses the image to include the citation.

This helps me, too. Then if I view an old blog post I know exactly where the image came from. No one can remember everything.

It Was Wild In Nebraska In 1885---That's Why We Search With Wildcards

We've mentioned using wildcards at FamilySearch, but the release of the 1885 Nebraska State Census reminded me of their importance.

A search for ann* goldenstein (exact unchecked) did not provide any hits as shown below:

But a search for ann g*ld*st*n did:

 Readers familiar with Soundex will know that Goldenstein and Goldensten are Soundex equivalent. They will also remember (hopefully) from earlier blog posts that unexact searches are FamilySearch do not necessarily pull all hits that are Soundex equivalent.

The desired entry was located in Dawson County, Nebraska's Willow Island precinct.

The young homesteaders had been married around four years at the time of this enumeration and their household had been joined by two children, including Tjode (listed as Tyoda above), the author's great-grandmother. 

Renhert is actually Bernard--named for Annie's father, Bernard Dirks who stayed behind in Adams County, Illinois, where the couple had been married in 1881. 

The more I search on FamilySearch, the more I use wildcards as they are more effective. At least most of the time. I'll have to do a little more searching, Frank's uncle and several cousins should also be in Dawson County in 1885.

Uncle Henry Was Tall in 1918

An earlier post mentioned that my uncle's World War II draft registration card indicated he was 6' 4" which was something of a surprise.

His World War I draft registration card only indicated that he was "tall.' I'm not certain how "tall" "tall" actually was but at least the card did not indicate he was "short."  Unfortunately not all records provide the same types of details as do others.

Users of these cards know that the images are often blurry and the quality of this image is not unusual for a World War I draft card. This digital image, obtained on Ancestry.com, as made from the microfilmed copies of these cards--which are blurry as well.
Unless I can locate some pictures, this is probably the end of my research into Uncle Henry's height. I'll have to go back and review the World II Draft cards on FamilySearch. There may be more physical characteristics discoveries waiting for me.

18 April 2014

FamilySearch Updates: WA State and AZ

The following databases are showing as new or updated since our last post regarding FamilySearch:

Washington, Western District, Naturalization Records, 1853-1957

Arizona, Douglas, Arrival Manifests, 1906-1955

Uncle Henry was 6' 4" Tall

The World War II Draft Registration card for Henry William Trautvetter didn't provide any earthshattering information on this younger brother of my great-grandfather. (These cards are available digitally at FamilySearch).

It confirmed his date and place of birth which I had obtained from church records. And, of course, the church baptismal record would be a preferred source for information on Henry's date of birth.

I'm not really certain why William Shauw[sic] of Tioga is listed as the person who "will always know your address." Shaw was not a relative as far as I know and Henry would have been married at the time of this registration.

Trautvetter is like many who live near a county line--he has a Sutter mailing address in Hancock County, Illinois, but registered in Lima Township, Adams County, Illinois.

 For me, the most interesting thing was his physical description.

I always thought the Trautvetters were short people.

Uncle Henry as 6'4" tall and weighed 140 pounds.

Not a major revelation, but neat little discovery. Of course a stickler for genealogical details and accuracy would wonder if there's any other evidence as to Henry's height. I don't think I have any pictures of him. 

But he would have registered for the World War I draft, given his age.

And that's something I can try and find.

World War II Draft Cards on FamilySearch Updated

FamilySearch indicates that this database has been updated as of 17 April 2014:

United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 (Image Browse)

Born in Oklahoma City in 1863

As a rule of thumb, death certificates where informants only knew the deceased towards the end of their life tend to be suspect. This death certificate for Montvill Harness is no different.

We've talked about Montvill before, but haven't really looked at the place of birth given on his 1925 death certificate from New Mexico.

It indicates he was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1863. While it is possible that Harness was born in Indian Territory in the 1860s, all other extant records indicate that he was born in Illinois. This is the only record that provides an Oklahoma place of birth.

Simply because Oklahoma didn't exist by that name in 1863 doesn't mean the location is wrong. Locations exist well before they have names and people can easily be born in "unnamed" locations that later have named.. Montvill did live in Oklahoma for a time before going to New Mexico and it is possible that for this reason the informant concluded he was born there for that reason.

Of course, I would transcribe the document as written and include my commentary about the likely reason for the error in my notes.

And in my final analysis and proof argument regarding Montvill's place of birth, I would include this record and why I think it is incorrect. I would include it because 1925 era death certificates are logically places to look for information regarding place of birth and leaving it out would make it appear as if the research was incomplete.

Organizing Genealogical Information-April 2014

April-May 2014 Class
(revised dates)

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.
  • 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 here.

Lecture downloads will be posted at the beginning of class.

Discussions last for approximately  30-45 minutes and are at:
  • 30April 8:00 pm central time.
  • 7 May-8:00 pm central time
  • 14 May -8:00 pm central time
  • 21 May.-8:00 pm central time

Lectures and discussions will be via GotoMeeting.

Register here.

Or use this webpage:

17 April 2014

Determining Your Own Migration Trail/Chain Webinar

I made a revised recording of this popular webinar. I always seem to learn something when I represent these sessions. 

Determining Your Own Migration Trail/ChainThis lecture discusses ways to find the names of your ancestor's associates and ways to determine how your ancestor fit into a larger chain of migration. Geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers. Order for $5 here

URL: http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2014/04/determining-your-own-migration.html

Updated on FamilySearch: NE and SD Materials

The following are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch since our last update:

Nebraska, State Census, 1885

South Dakota, Grand Army of the Republic Membership Records, 1861-1941

Searching FamilySearch Webinar Released

My recent webinar on FamilySearch focused on using and interpreting databases versus image sets, navigating images, and search techniques. It's geared towards advanced beginners and intermediate researchers, or anyone who has used FamilySearch some, but is uncertain that they're searching correctly or wondered if there were other ways of doing things. The download of the presentation is only $6 (there is no handout).

Note: If you were in this presentation or registered for it and missed it, please let me know (mjnrootdig@gmail.com)  if you did not receive a complimentary download link. That's something registrants for the "live" session get at no additional charge.

This page's URL:

16 April 2014

Updated or New on FamilySearch

The following are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch since our last update:

Arkansas, Oakland and Fraternal Historic Cemetery Records, 1867-2013

Iowa, State Census, 1925

Blanket Statements About Recorded Copies

Generally speaking, local record copies of deeds and other original records do not contain the actual signature of your ancestor.

They contain the clerk's handwritten copy of your ancestor's signature. Some clerks may have tried to "copy" the "mark" your ancestor made if he did not sign his name, but there was rarely any attempt by the clerk to "match" the style of the signature on the original record with the transcription that constitutes the record copy.

Of course when recorded copies were reproduced by some type of "image capture" instead of being transcribed by hand or typewriter, the "signature" is a "picture" of the signature.

This 1950 deed makes the point.

At some point before February of 1950 the Hancock County Recorder's Office stopped making manual copies of deeds and began using a photoduplication process as shown in this illustration.

When you conduct searches in record copies of documents do you indicate the process by which the record copy was made?

Would you give more credence to a handwritten transcription or an image copy such as this one?

Shouldn't your research notes indicate the type of record copy you were using?

15 April 2014

Twenty Percent Webinar Sale

From now until 9 PM on 16 April, we're offering 20% off all my webinar offerings.

Our prices are already the lowest around, but we're cutting the price even lower through the 16th. I have over thirty presentations on a variety of topics....make your choice here:


Use coupon code twenty to get your discount at checkout.


Good luck with your research

Updated on FamilySearch: MT, TN, MA, MO

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

Montana, Chouteau County Records,1876-2011

Tennessee, White County Records, 1809-1975

Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001

Missouri, County Marriage, Naturalization, and Court Records, 1802-1969

I am not certain which ones have had significant changes.

Our Use of the Word "Proof"

I've been muddling over the concept of a style guide for some time now. Not because I like to sit down and write definitions, but because I believe that it makes for clearer and more consistent writing. It is important to say what you mean, mean what you say, and know what you are saying.

I know that few genealogy blogs do not have a style guide and that's really of no concern to me. An earlier blog post discussed how we are handling the distinction between homestead and homeplace.

The word "proof" is another word that genealogists and others throw around. "I have proof of this or I have proof of that." Usually what they mean is that they have one record or piece of paper that says something--usually what they were hoping it would say. I'm no different. I get excited when a piece of paper or a record says what I want it to say. But the excitement needs to wane so that the analysis can begin. And the analysis consists of more than simply typing up the record and saying it is true.

While I'm still refining some concepts in my head, use of the word "proof" on my blogs will mean that I have looked at all the available information (after performing an exhaustive search) have concluded that a certain statement is true based upon what I have located. That's not quite how the BCG manual defines proof in Genealogy Standards, but it's going to be the definition I use on my blogs.

Proof as a noun

Material from an exhaustive search, that when combined with analysis, logic, and reasoning supports a genealogical statement.

Prove as a verb

To write a proof or go through the process of gathering information from which a proof can be made. We will refrain from using "prove" as a verb until the material has been gathered and the analysis has been done.

We may tweak this definition as necessary. If we do, we'll simply strikeout the original and put the new text in red. That way later readers can see our thought process a little more clearly.

Did South Dakota Annex Canada East in 1915?

This may look I made it up, but it is right off the Ancestry.com website as of 12:49 PM central time today.

The 1915 South Dakota State Census contains information from "Canada East." Yes, Canada East.

This is an unaltered image.

Apparently someone at Ancestry.com is using an altered map. I hate it when I realize there's some United States history I don't know.

This appears to be the same database that FamilySearch has had on their site for some time. That database indexes the cards created from the 1915 South Dakota state census.

Updated On FamilySearch

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

North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663-1979

United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

I think these are updated only, but am not certain.

12 April 2014

My Blogs

For those of you who did not know, this is not my only genealogy blog. Here's list with the links. Enjoy!
You can subscribe to any of the above blogs for free--please tell your friends. We don't have an advertising budget!

Homestead Versus Homeplace

Words that have different meanings can confuse people. Homestead is one of those words. Sometimes it even gets confused with "homeplace."

For this reason, I've written this short "style-guide" for how I'm going to use "homestead" and "homeplace."

Homestead as a noun:

Homestead as a noun will be used in two ways on this blog. One is in reference to an actual parcel of real property acquired by someone via the procedure set forth in the United States under the Homestead Act of 1862 (and amendments). The second is in reference to that portion of an individual's real property to which they have certain rights as their residence. For those with farming ancestors, this concept of homestead usually refers to the residence and a portion of the farm, but not usually to the entire farm. A surviving spouse may also have some legal rights to the homestead portion of a farm, even if there are unsettled debts. The legal concept of homestead allows property tax relief in some states. State statute in the state of interest should spell out these rights more clearly than I am here.

Homestead as a verb:

When I use homestead as a verb it means to participate in the process of acquiring title to real property in the federal domain of the United States under the Homestead Act of 1862 (and amendments).

Homestead and homeplace have similar meanings. When I talk about the first farm my ancestors purchased from a fellow German couple in the 1880s in Illinois and where they lived their entire married life, I am talking about the "homeplace." They acquired it through direct purchase and did not "homestead" it. When I am talking about this entire farm, I'll use the word "homeplace."

Some may see it as a minor distinction, but we're going to make this distinction going forward. When the word "homestead" is used in the above two contexts, there may be records of that "homestead" (either federal land records or potentially local court action to have the specific property that constitutes the homestead clearly surveyed and marked).

And it is always about locating records!

This post is based in part on definitions obtained at:
  • http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homestead

Time Stands Still for No Stone

Andrew and Lucinda Trask tombstone
Norwood Cemetery, Mercer County,
Illinois. Taken 2005 Michael John Neill
I took this cemetery photograph several years ago at the Norwood Cemetery in Mercer County, Illinois not too far from my home.

I'm really glad that I did. It's one of those stones that weathers somewhat easily.  Facing west on the Illinois prairie, the winter weather probably doesn't help the inscription to stand the test of time.

As warmer weather approaches, I'm thinking of other stones that for which I need digital images. Some I transcribed years ago early in my research.

But as this stone makes clear, time does not stand still.

Do you have any stones like this for your ancestors?

FamilySearch Updates: IL, IA, and UT

The following databases are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch since our last update:

11 April 2014

It's About Them...Not About Me

Search Results for Nan* Ramp* in the 1920 US Census at Ancestry.com. Search performed 11 April 2014. Can there be two Nancy Rampleys living in the same rural Illinois township in 1920?
Some will bemoan the fact that people don't cite their sources, research too quickly, and give nary a thought as to accurate and sound methodology. I understand that, but I also understand that many people just don't want to read lengthy diatribes extolling why those things are important.

I firmly believe in those concepts and I don't want to read those diatribes either.

Two quick examples in my own research indicate why it's important to take our time and think as we research. Our ancestors did things on purpose to confuse us. Many times that confusion centers around names.
  • Hancock County, Illinois brothers Riley Rampley (1835-1893) and James Rampley (1844-1913) married first cousins who were both named Nancy Newman. Of course both men served in the Civil War and both their widows received pensions. This was done just to confuse the pension department. It is fun to confuse the government.
  • Scott County, Iowa, first cousins George A. Freund (1858-1928) and George K. Freund (1854-1941) married women named Katharine Cawiezell and Catherine Schilling, respectively. Can you imagine how easy it is to get those two couples confused? After all, they were both George and "Catherine" Freund....and we know that first names can be spelled incorrectly.
I have more, but this makes the point.

And the confusion is even worse in frontier families where there are fewer records one can use to distinguish them. The two examples shown above, while confusing, are relatively easy to sort out--if one takes the time to be concerned about that.

My grandfather John H. Ufkes (1917-2003) had a first cousin John G. Ufkes and another first cousin John H. Ufkes. You don't even want to know how many John H. Ufkeses there have been since the immigrant John H. Ufkes died in Illinois in 1924.

It's About Them...Not About Me

Doesn't their information deserve to be recorded accurately? From what I know, Nancy (Newman) Rampley and Nancy (Newman) Rampley were confused with each other enough when they were alive--enough so that one spelled her name "Nancie" upon occasion. Now that they're dead, don't we owe it to them to record their information as correctly as we can.?

That's why we cite our sources and strive to use sound methodology. It's not so that I can say my research is better than anyone elses or that my research is "perfect." Because it's not.

It's so that I can keep Nancy (Newman) Rampley separate from Nancy (Newman ) Rampley and Catherine (Schilling) Freund separate from Katherine (Cawiezell) Freund and the myriad of John Ufkeses separate from each other.

It's about them....not about me.

Updated/New On FamilySearch

The following are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch since our last update:

United States, Cancelled, Relinquished, or Rejected Land Entry Case Files, 1861-1925--looks like Dodge City Land Office only.

New Mexico, Naturalization Records, 1882-1983--only four counties included so far:

Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1990--records for many counties included--at least some records.

10 April 2014

New On FamilySerach: Alameda County, CA Obituary Cards

The following database is showing as new/updated on FamilySearch as of our last update:

California, Oakland, Alameda County, Obituary Card Files, 1985-2011

Missing Uncle Heads to St. Louis in 1890

There must still be more to the Theodore Trautvetter disappearance of 1890 than I know.

Trautvetter disappeared from Warsaw, Illinois in January of 1890. He sold a load of oats, tied up his horse and wagon in town and left. This reference from a Kansas paper indicated that Trautvetter took a train from Keokuk, Iowa to St. Louis. 

It is not known if Trautvetter ever got to St. Louis or not. Children of his first cousin Wilhelmina (Trautvetter Hess) Rothweiler lived in the area and it's possible that his long-lost Hess cousins did as well. 

Why did the forty-something year old man leave?

That's a question I'm going to have to see if I can find the answer to in local area papers that are only available on microfilm. 

Genealogy Lessons: Always check for alternate spellings. Theodore's branch of the family never used "Troutfetter." Consider the possibility that a relative is mentioned in a newspaper a distance from their home, especially if they did something noteworthy.

Theodore was a brother to John Michael Trautvetter (1838-1917), my great-great-grandfather.

09 April 2014

Updated on FamilySearch: Montana Materials

The following databases are showing as updated at FamilySearch since our last update:

Montana, Teton County Records, 1881-2012

Montana, Pondera County Records, 1910-2012

A Few More Photo Identification Comments

The original post on photo identification was one of our more popular posts, so I could not resist doing one more.

This is an image of a photograph of my great-grandparents and their children. In hindsight, I could have put more text on it than I did. 

Just remember to only stick to what you know in your textual information on the picture. If the photograph requires analysis or suggests a variety of scenarios put that discussion elsewhere. The text on the photograph should focus on the picture, how you got it, how you identified the people in it, and when you made the image. 

Discuss grandma's hairstyle elsewhere and do the same with who "looks like who." Those are interesting discussions to have, but concentrate on the origin of the photo in your text that you add to the image. There are two main reasons why other researchers will benefit from your text:
  • they can see how the photograph "got to you."
  • they can determine if the informant likely knew who the people were or not

In this case, I did include the nickname of one son (Babe). I don't think I ever heard him called Carl. Cecil also went by Pete, but didn't use either name exclusively. I always have to stop and think about what Uncle Babe's real name is. Uncle Pete's I don't.

My Grandma, Ida (Trautvetter) Neill is the young girl on the right. My own daughter looks a lot like her, but that's something for a blog post--not commentary on the picture itself.

Getting to the Goals On Philip Troutfetter

Philip Troutfetter has the potential to be one of those genealogical "rabbit holes" from which one can never escape. There seems to be a never-ending amount of information on him.

There's not really an infinite amount of information on Philip Troutfetter, but reading the very end of the letter a post office inspector wrote about him in 1900 reminded me a of sources I have not tried:

  • the Pinkerton private investigation company's records (I've actually contacted them once, but heard no reply)
  • the records of the U. S. Consul in Columbia (which should be at the National Archives)

Letter from W. T. Sullivan to Chief Post Office Inspector, 6 July 1900,
investigation of Philip A Troutfetter (aka P A Taylor), W. T. Sullivan files,
Kansas Historical Society
The potential exists for some really neat records with some potentially "neat" discoveries to be made.


The questions are "what is my goal?" and "will that goal be served by locating these records?" The records of the consul may be expensive to obtain and I'm still working on even making initial contact with Pinkertons. Finding out everything about Philip Troutfetter is interesting and provides some fascinating insight into the very late 19th and early 20th centuries. But is worth the cost to obtain this insight? What do I really want to know about Philip?

I already have pretty good information on where Philip was born, who his parents were, when and where he married, and when and where he died. If the items the investigator mentions can be located, they will likely only provide secondary information on those events in his life and I already have more reliable sources for those items.

I may get some details on Troutfetter's time in Cuba and South America and that may be interesting. There is the chance that the investigations may provide some details about his family or his lifestyle. The key word here is "chance." I need to remember that the investigation is only concerned with finding Troutfetter and documenting his crimes. Investigators of this type are not interested in compiling family histories of their charges. They would only be interested in his background if it was determined that it would help their case. And, as already mentioned, information on his origins and early life would be secondary at best.

Some of the information could be interesting and some may even be a bit scandalous. But it all still depends upon how much I'm willing to pay for "interesting."

And that's something I should think about before I spend too much time and money accessing these records (unless blog readers start sending me massive amounts of email wanting to know more...).