30 June 2014

Ephraim Puffer's 1756 Estate Inventory, Part II

Here are three more items marked from the estate of Ephraim Puffer in Middlesex County, Mass. in 1756.

I think I know what they are, but comments are appreciated.
Inventory of Estate of Ephraim Puffer, Middlesex County, Mass.,
Probate file 18232, filed by Mary Puffer in December 1756
These inventories provide a detailed glimpse into the lives of our ancestors that we don't get from other records.

Old Tender, Skep of Bees, and Some Orchards

The first portion of the inventory of the estate of Ephraim Puffer from Stowe, Massachusetts, in 1756 contained three items that may appear confusing at first. Here's our take on what they mean.

"in old Ten" 

This really seems to be a reference to "old tender," indicating the currency in which the items were valued.

"Som Orcharding"

This appears to indicate that there were some orchards or fruit bearing trees of some type on the property.

"Scip of bees"

This reference seems to be to a skep of bees--a beehive.

Thanks to all who submitted responses--both publicly and privately.

29 June 2014

Theodore Trautvetter's Disappearance From Start to Finish Part VIII

[Warsaw Bulletin, 7 February 1890, page 4]

Theo. Troutvetter wholly dispelled the mystery surrounding his sudden disappearance by returning home last Saturday, accompanied by John Heger, of Pittsburgh, Kan., whither Troutvetter went. Heger was a neighbor of Troutvetter a few years ago; hence Troutvetter's visit. The latter is possessed of his right mind, and is, perhaps, as glad to get back to see his family as they are to see him. The whole affair is a sensation that could have been easily avoided, but since it has terminated to fortuitously no good can come of any criticism.


Editor's Note:

That seems like a truly anti-climatic ending to Trautvetter's disappearance, given some of speculation the newspaper printed in earlier editions. If there's more to the story, I am not aware of it.

28 June 2014

Ephraim Puffer's 1756 Estate Inventory, Part I

This is part of the inventory of the estate of Ephraim Puffer filed by his wife in 1756. I can read most of it and will be posting a transcription of it online.
Inventory of Estate of Ephraim Puffer, Middlesex County, Mass., Probate file 18232, filed by Mary Puffer in December 1756.

There are a few things I can't quite make out--or would like suggestions on. Those items are in the colored boxes. I have ideas about those things, but am interested in reader thoughts.

I'm pretty certain the blue box isn't a "Sip of beer."

The handwriting is fairly easy to read compared to other documents in this file.

Theodore Trautvetter's Disappearance From Start to Finish Part VII

[Warsaw Bulletin, 31 January 1890, page 4]

Since Troutvetter's disappearance it has been discovered that he had transacted business in a very careless manner, of which is relatives were wholly in ignorance. Although there was nothing criminal about this, it is supposed to have had some influence in causing him to pursue the strange course he did. His careless consisted in letting interest accumulate for several years on one note, and a neglect to pay another, when his family was led to believe both matters had been attended to. If the man was sane, there was not sufficient cause in these neglects for him to leave his family, and that too without a word as to his intentions. This phase of matter is what inclines people to the belief that Troutvetter is at least partially demented.

[to be continued]

FamilySearch Update: Indiana Marriages 1811-1959

I'm not certain what's been updated, but a database of Indiana marriages has been updated on FamilySearch since our last post:

Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959

Ft Wayne, Indiana, Library Research Trip

Join me for 3 plus days of research at one of the largest genealogical libraries in the United States, the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in August of 2014. Additional details are on our web site.

See you there!

27 June 2014

A Picture of Grandpa's 1941 Hay Rake

This picture was posted on the Facebook page for Genealogy Tip of the Day, but I thought it made a really good point so I'm posting it here as well.
Taking pictures of family items (not just farm machinery) is an excellent way to document their existence and the story that goes along with them. It can also be a great way to get family members talking about items and the "old days" as images can jog memories in ways that words cannot. 

Digital cameras can take great pictures of things besides tombstones and family documents. 

Theodore Trautvetter's Disappearance From Start to Finish Part VI


[Warsaw Bulletin, 24 January 1890, page 4]

 and if he had, the river offered a convenient repository for the body and the season was opportune for thus shielding the crime for months to come---perhaps forever.

However, many always held to the opinion that Troutfetter had wandered away.

[Warsaw Bulletin, 31 January 1890, page 4]

The Troutvetter mystery, while partially solved, still remains unsettled as to his whereabouts and his probable mental condition. A letter was received from the missing man by Hill Dodge & Co., last Friday morning, directing them to turn over to his wife the money there on deposit ($500) and also his papers. The letter was not dated, nor did it contain anything to indicate where it was written, but the envelope was postmarked Mansfield, Mo.

Mr. Geo. Troutvetter has continued the search for his brother, hoping to find him and bring him back, but so far without success. Since Troutvetter's disappearance, it has been discovered that he..."

[to be continued]

New or Updated on FamilySearch

The following are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists Index, 1800-1906

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872

Alabama, Madison County Chancery and Circuit Court Records, 1829-1968

25 June 2014

Updated on FamilySearch: Plymouth Co. MA Probates, VA Freedmen's Bureau Files

The following databases are showing as being updated on FamilySearch:

Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Estate Files, 1686-1915

Virginia, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872

Manually Searching the IRS Civil War Era Tax Lists-Getting Started

Ancestry.com released some sort of update on their Internal Revenue Service Lists recently.

One thing they did not include in their update were the guides that appeared on the microfilm before the actual records. That guide indicates what counties are in what districts and on what rolls of microfilm those districts appear. The guide also includes background material on these records.

If  "typing in the name" at Ancestry.com  does not work (or you don't have access to Ancestry.com), then try browsing the images at FamilySearch.  View the county guide before you do. Searching these records through Ancestry.com's index is easier than searching manually. Also keep in mind that many Americans did not pay income tax during this period. Also keep in mind that, generally speaking, these records confirm residence in a specific location and general economic status at a certain point in time. They do not usually provide information on other family members or any other genealogical data on the person being taxed.

It takes a few clicks to actually get to the guide...

The guide will be several pages. The introduction explains the records and the process (which you should read), and then includes the listing as shown below:

I cut the headings off in the image above, but the reference indicates that Hancock County is in district 4 for Illinois and that the annual lists for that district appear on rolls 12 and 13 and that quarterly and special lists for that district appear on rolls 12 and 14, 15, and 16. I'll have to browse those manually after going back to the main page of records for Illinois.

Going back is easy. Just click on the appropriate section of the "trail" at the top of your browser--in my case that's Illinois.

Actually, FamilySearch has made it a little easier to get to the roll of film for the right district. You can simply browse by county by clicking on the county name:


That link will simply take you to the correct "roll" of microfilm for the district that includes the county of interest. I will still have to manually search the "roll" for the areas of the district that include Hancock County. The name of the county will not be on the page--just the district and the division within the district. Without knowing district number, that is going to be a lot of searching.

So I cheated.

I searched for a name in Ancestry.com's index to these records and determined the districts that included Hancock County, Illinois. The name I searched for was located in division 4 of district 4. In reviewing those pages, I noted several Hancock County villages, but did not note Carthage, La Harpe and others in the northern portion of the county. In reviewing the entries for division 5 I noted those towns.

So, to search for all of the county, I need to view the entries for divisions 4 and 5 within district 4. It is worth noting that the filming of these tends to be done chronologically, then by district, and then by division.

Searching manually for people in other areas will be similar. I would have a contemporary map of the county in which the person lived to assist. Make certain when browsing that you find all the towns within the county.

24 June 2014

FamilySearch Updates: Maine Vitals and NC Freedmen's Bureau Records

Maine, Vital Records, 1670-1907

North Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870

Can They Have Our Back?

Does the website you use make it easy to determine what front goes with each back?

Share this post and let others know that genealogists need for digital content providers to "have our back."

Looking for a Green Woman in at Attempt to Find the Brown People

Of all the places to have a hole in a document, the name is the worst.

The absolute worst.
This affidavit was made on in 1884 in support of the War of 1812 pension claim for Sarah Brown of Mercer County, Kentucky (obtained digitally on  Fold3 ). The reverse side of the document was digitized as well. It does not name the person making out the affidavit and it does not provide any additional clues as to her identify.

However, locating the individual should not be too difficult as the front does provide clues.

The Reed woman was aged 72 in 1884, making her born in approximately 1812 (she's a woman because she is referred to as "she" in the statement). Reed was living in Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1830 when the Greens were married. Most likely this unnamed Green woman lived in Mercer County from 1830 until the time this statement was made out. Probably, but there is no guarantee she didn't live in a different state for forty years only to return to Kentucky in the 1880s. Despite this possibility, attempts to locate the Green woman should begin with the 1880 census and work backwards.

Without knowing when this lady was married, it is possible that she is enumerated in the census under a different last name. Most likely she has the same surname in 1880 that she had in 1884. Locating her in pre-1850 census records will be difficult because those enumerations only list heads of household.

A Henry S. Reed is a witness to Reed's signature. It is possible that he is either her husband or her son.

Why do I care who this person is?

I care because this person was at the wedding of Thomas and Sarah Brown in 1830 and was someone with whom they had not lost touch 54 years later. That hints at a potential relationship between the Reed witness and one of the Browns.

I just hate it when holes are in the most inappropriate place in a document.

We'll have an update when there's information to warrant one.

23 June 2014

Updated on FamilySearch: Baltimore Pass Lists and MO Freedman's Bureau Records

The following databases are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists Index, 1820-1897

Missouri, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872

Tell Moses Speese that African Americans Didn't Homestead

If nothing else, the study of genealogy teaches us that what others tell us about the past is often simply not true. 

Carolyn Finney states in an article in the Boston Globe website:
"[The] Homestead Act of 1862 made it possible for European immigrants to come here and go out West and grab large tracts of land, literally just by grabbing it before anybody else did. And you could just live on it for five years, and build a home and grow food, and it could be yours. That’s amazing. And they were the only ones allowed to participate. That land, we know already, used to belong to Native Americans. And black people weren’t allowed to participate at all."
My first response was "What?"

Finny was interviewed in response to a book she had written about how African-Americans are under-represented in the history of environmentalism in the United States. There's no doubt that is true.  But Finney's statements about the Homestead Act are not quite on the mark. 

The original Homestead Act of 1862 provided that individual homesteaders could obtain 160 acres of land. The majority of immigrants and homesteaders were not speculators or land barons. Finney implies the work of completing the homestead claim was easy. It wasn't--homesteading was more than "just living" and "just living" on the frontier was no easy experience. 

And 160 acres is not a large tract of land nor is it a vast estate. 

What concerns me most is the statement that "black people weren't allowed to participate at all." The Homestead Act, when actually read, indicates that "any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres." 

Before the 14th Amendment in 1868, that may have effectively barred African-Americans from initiating homestead claims. But history shows that the vast majority of homestead claims were initiated and completed after the 14th Amendment was passed.

Restrictions are often placed in statute with an unwritten agenda. However after the 14th Amendment, the restriction would only have applied to African-Americans who had served in the Confederacy or to immigrants who refused to initiate naturalization proceedings. This hardly seems like a backhanded way to single out African-Americans. 

And it wasn't. Because African-Americans did homestead. NebraskaStudies.org has an entire section on them. Moses Speese and his family are just one example.

They were living in Seward County, Nebraska in 1880.
1880 U.S. Census, Precinct K, Seward, Nebraska; Roll: 756;
Page: 475A; Enumeration District: 142

Speese's testimony in his homestead claim indicated that he was a United States citizen and that he had been living in Seward County before he settled on his claim. There is no reference to Speese being an African-American in the claim. His citizenship and the proving of his claim are what mattered. Speese's paperwork looks like virtually every other claim I've looked at. I wouldn't have known he was an African-American by looking at his application.

What is ironic is that Finny's statement that there were no "black people" who homesteaded does a disservice to those African-Americans who did homestead. 

Were their numbers large? No. But to say "black people weren't allowed to participate" really doesn't do justice to those who did. It was a hard existence for anyone on the Plains.

It took me all of five minutes to confirm my suspicion that African-Americans did homestead under the Homestead Act. 

Finny's quote also implies that European immigrants were the only one allowed to obtain homesteads. I'm just hoping that was a misquote.


21 June 2014

What Illinois Methodist Items Did Ancestry.com Index?

Ancestry.com recently released a set of records from some Methodist congregations in Illinois (generally ones that have been disbanded). The search interface indicates that this image database is searchable. There's no discussion in the "about" section about what the index covers and what it does not. I wish it did.

A cursory review seems to indicate that indexed records focus on baptisms, marriages, and deaths/funerals.

This entry from the "Membership Roll" of the West Point Methodist Church (West Point, Illinois) contains brief information on Ella Tammen.

Despite the typed name which should be easy to index, this item does not appear in the Ancestry.com index as of the date this was written. This item was only located by manually searching the entire roll for the West Point church. There were entries for other families of interest who do not appear on the index. A search for the last name of Neill only resulted in a few results (despite the fact that there are nearly fifteen individuals with that last name who appear on the membership rolls of the West Point Methodist and Stillwell Methodist churches). A search for the last name of Rampley resulted in no matches despite a number of Rampleys who were members of either the West Point or Stillwell churches.

It appears to me that this index is not an every name index. While manual searches are usually suggested even when indexes include every name, a manual search is especially warranted in this case given the apparent nature of the index.


Ella Johanna Tamen is the sister of my great-grandmother Trientje (Tena) Janssen (Johnson) Ufkes (1895-1986). Locating her makes an excellent point about stumbling on unexpected items. I was actually looking for members of my paternal families (Neill/Rampley) in these records and did not even think that Aunt Ella would appear in these records.

US Census Enumeration District Maps on FamilySearch

I mentioned these maps on Genealogy Tip of the Day as memory joggers after locating the ones for the area where I grew up.

The US National Archives filmed these census enumeration district maps (1900-1940) years ago and FamilySearch recently digitized them and made the available online. The maps are a wonderful resource for those with ancestors in the US during this era. The maps are available for urban areas as well.

This map contains "dots" for rural homes and schools. I probably never will get around to it, but it would be an interesting exercise to see how many of the "dots" I could identify, even if I had to have some help.

If your rural genealogical or historical society is looking for a project, consider taking the map for your area and working on identifying as many dots as you can being certain to indicate the name of the person who provided the information.  

19 June 2014

A Cancelled Marriage in Oklahoma

It has been a while since we've mentioned Montville Harness.

A search for Montville Harness's marriage record on FamilySearch indicated there were two references to he and Ella Boyer marrying in Canadian County, Oklahoma.

Both of these references indicate there was a marriage date.

The problem is that there was no marriage in 1901.

 The 1901 reference, shown in the image below, indicates that the marriage was cancelled. That word is written across the entire page in the marriage record and the "certificate of marriage" section of the record (not included here) is entirely blank.The couple was not married in 1901.

However, 151 pages later, in the entries for 1902, there is another entry for Harness and Boyer. This time they actually completed the marriage ceremony. A Methodist minister married the couple in Quincy, Oklahoma, in June of 1902.
FamilySearch.com makes it difficult to determine the specific letter of the volume from which these marriage record entries are taken. These images are taken from either volumes 4,5,or 6 from Canadian County, Oklahoma.

Probably Don't Need the Surrendered Brown Warrants

A reading of the entire War of 1812 pension application file for Thomas Brown indicated that the bounty land applications were contained within the pension file itself.

That's the reason the bounty land warrants were referenced on the cover packet for the file.

Obtaining the surrendered warrants (which were used to obtain the actual patent) probably won't tell me anything beyond what is in the pension file. The warrants will be issued in the name of the serviceman (or his widow). If the patent was actually issued to someone else because it was assigned to them, then the signature of the serviceman (or his widow) will appear on the back of the warrant. The chance that there is information on the surrendered warrants connecting Thomas Brown to Charlotte Lake (even indirectly) is very minimal.

And that's my goal--connecting Brown to Lake.

Sometimes children (or sons-in-law) would witness an aged parent assigning the warrant over to someone else. But since by the 1850s the Browns and the Lakes were living in different states, that is unlikely.

Never seen surrendered warrants?

Here are images of a surrendered land warrant for another relative--for readers who have never seen one. That family has nothing to do with the Brown-Lake families but the surrendered warrants would be similar. Neat stuff, but I'm not certain I need to spend money on it at this point.

Searching for Reverend Joseph Whitehead

An 1884 affidavit made out by Sarah Brown indicated that she and Thomas Brown were married in 1830 by Reverend Joseph Whitehead in Mercer County, Kentucky.

A search on Google Books for "joseph whitehead kentucky" (sans quotes) located several references, including one to a published set of records from the Bethel Baptist Church in Washington County, Kentucky. It's a good thing I didn't include Mercer as one of my search terms or this item may not have been returned as a hit.

Washington County borders Mercer County. At this point, it is not know where within Mercer County the Brown family lived, so it is very possible they are mentioned in these records or at the very least there may some mention of Reverend Whitehead in the church records that have been published. One has to be careful not to assume residential details that are not known.

Given that these records were published recently, there's no full text available for them on Google Books. A search of the Allen County Public Library's card catalog indicates that the item is in their collection, so it will be added to my list of materials to locate when I'm there in August.

Baptist church records are typically not overly detailed in terms of vital records information, but one never knows what may be included.

18 June 2014

FamilySearch Updates Fifty United States Databases

FamilySearch updated quite a few of their databases since our last update:

A Digitization Wish on Fold3 and Other Sites

I don't normally post blog updates that are short, but...
Who knows what was in this
envelope returned to the
Pension Office?

Using the images of War of 1812 pension files at  Fold3 would be easier if there were some type of notation as to what image "front" goes with what image "back." Sometimes one can tell (because of worn edges in the pages or holes that can be matched up, etc.) but other times it is extremely difficult to pair pages up correctly. Analysis is hindered when this matching cannot be done.

And letters that were taken out of envelope? No idea there either.

Guessing is not good.

17 June 2014

Pension Suggests Bounty Land Applications for Thomas Brown

Thomas Brown's War of 1812 pension does not directly provide enough information to connect him to his potential daughter, Charlotte (Brown) Lake, despite the fact that the file is a rather large one. But teh file folder suggests additional records that should be accessed.

Cover sheet from Thomas Brown pension file--
based on his War of 1812 service in Kentucky; obtained on  Fold3
The upper right hand corner of the cover sheet indicates that bounty land was received based upon  Brown's service. There is no indication of the applicant for that bounty land.

The bounty land references indicated that there were two separate applications based upon Brown's service--one under the 1850 act and one under the 1855 act. Both were for 80 acres.

Upper right hand corner of cover sheet from Thomas Brown pension file--
based on his War of 1812 service in Kentucky; obtained on  Fold3

The first part of the number indicates the number of the warrant that was issued. The numbers contained three parts so that a clerk seeing the number would be able to find the warrant, know the amount of the acreage, and the act under which the warrant was issued.

The image below was obtained from the Bureau of Land Management website. The warrant number, acreage, and year of the act are shown on the patent.

The warrant was issued to Thomas' widow--his second wife Sallie. It is possible that the names of his heirs in addition to his widow are listed in the paperwork. There is no guarantee that any of his children are listed in the bounty land application. The more realistic situation is that there are affidavits in the application that provide details not given in the pension application.

Stay tuned.

Are All Your Genealogy Eggs in One Basket?

Are you putting all your genealogy eggs in one basket?

Do you only use one genealogy website?

Do you only post your information (if you choose to post it online) on only one website?

Do you only post queries to one website?

If that one site goes "kaput" for whatever reason, what happens to the information you have submitted to it?

Is it time to get more than one basket?

FamilySearch: Lake County, Montana Records

The following database is showing as updated on FamilySearch:

Montana, Lake County Records, 1857-2010

16 June 2014

Four Thomas Brown Signatures

The top three signatures are known to be the same man. The bottom one is from the marriage bond of my wife's great-great-grandparents.

The first two images were obtained from Thomas Brown's War of 1812 pension file--on Fold3.
The second two images were obtained from digital images of Mercer County marriage records on FamilySearch.


4 March 1850—Attorney appointment in Thomas Brown War of 1812 Pension File on Fold3.

29 November 1850-statement in Thomas Brown War of 1812 Pension File on Fold3.

October of 1830—Thomas Brown signs his marriage bond in Mercer County, Kentucky. This is the same Thomas Brown who receives the War of 1812 pension as this marriage is referenced in the pension file as proof of the widow’s marriage to Thomas Brown.

This is the 1847 signature of a Thomas Brown that appears on the marriage bond for the marriage of John Lake and Charlotte Brown.

Other than the "T" in Thomas in the 1830 signature, these look consistent with each other and the last name is written in a very similar fashion every time. The November 1850 signature may have been written with a troublesome pen or Thomas may have had had a reason to write in a slightly more labored format as that signature does not seem to "flow" as much as the other ones do. The first three signatures are known to be for the same man.

These signatures are out of chronological order and were grouped by who they were "known" to have been written by. Putting them in chronology may make the similarities more apparent.

This does not "prove" that Thomas Brown is the father of Charlotte Brown who marries in 1847, but it does solidify her connection to the Thomas Brown who married in 1830 in Mercer County and received a War of 1812 pension. 

Which means I should be looking into probate, court, and land records in Washington County, Kentucky, where the 1812 pensioner Thomas died in the 1850s.

14 June 2014

"In the Devil's Snare" Mentions An Ancestor

I'm reading In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 after having discovered that an ancestor of mine, Capt. John Floyd, was accused of being a witch during the Salem witch trials.

It's not often that I actually find an ancestor discussed in a historical work, let alone one published by a major publisher. It does help that the witch trials are one of the most written about events in American history. Norton actually discusses Floyd's military career and how it potentially relates to the charges of witchcraft brought against him. Norton includes citations to several references in her discussion of Floyd.

Sometimes those additional references are the best thing about finding an ancestor mentioned in a published work. I discovered that Floyd was mentioned in several printed references by searching for him on Google Books. This search was conducted before I even discovered he was involved in the trials.

Norton's historical background will enhance my own research during this time period.

And she even discusses the importance of putting things in a chronology--something genealogists should be doing regularly anyway.

12 June 2014

pre-1850 Census Webinar

  • Creating Families from Pre-1850 Census Records --This presentation discusses how to analyze pre-1850 census records in order to determine the family structure that is suggested by those records. Enumerations for one household between 1810 and 1840 are analyzed in order to determine the number of children, ranges on their years of birth, and ranges on years of birth for the oldest male and oldest female in the household. Priced at $8.50 for immediate download. Includes recording and PDF of handout. 

The Same Person Writing in 1830 and 1847?

The image in this blog post is a marriage bond signed by a Thomas Brown and Alexander Riley in 1830 in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and was made from a digital image of the bond which appeared on FamilySearch

Yesterday's post included an 1847 marriage bond from Mercer County, Kentucky, signed by John Lake and a Thomas Brown.

The signatures from both bonds have been contrasted in the image shown below:

Are the two signatures the same? It is important to note that any person's signature can easily change over seventeen years and the type of pen being used and the writing surface can impact how different two signatures look--even when it is known that they are from the same person. The "T" in "Thomas" is different. However, the rest of the signatures are very similar (part of the last name is difficult to read in the 1830 signature).

If Thomas Brown was not such a common name this would not quite be the problem that it is.

11 June 2014

A Lake Bond

This marriage bond was taken out in Mercer County, Kentucky in 1847 by John Lake and Thomas Brown in preparation for the marriage of John Lake and Charlotte Brown. The image used in this blog post was made from a digital image of the bond that was located on FamilySearch.
John Lake is signing for himself. Thomas Brown is signing for Charlotte. There's no direct statement or indirect information here regarding the relationship between Thomas Brown and Charlotte Brown. The fact that he has the same last name as Charlotte and that one party on a bond usually signed for the groom and the other party usually signed for the bride suggests a relationship. Thomas could have easily been Charlotte's father, uncle, or brother. The law wasn't concerned about the specific relationship between the Browns. The law was concerned that he could vouch for Charlotte's age and eligibility to marry.

The best plan of attack at this point is to review 1840 and 1850 census enumerations for the Lakes and Browns in Mercer County, Missouri, for John Lake and Thomas Brown. It is worth noting that there's no guarantee that either man is in the county in either of those years.