30 November 2014

Stumbling Upon Lubbe and A Migration Chain

In all honesty, I stumbled upon this record.

I was searching for Lubbe Albers in the Nebraska homestead records on Ancestry.comMy searches for him were not going very well and I decided to simply search for homesteaders with the first name of Lubbe in the records.

After all, there shouldn't be too many of them. There weren't. One of the entries was for a Lubbe Aden. Being related to some members of the Aden family, I decided to quickly review Aden's homestead for any clues that might have bearing on my research-or just something that would strike my interest.

Aden completed a homestead in section 20 of Township 14 N Range 1 East in Butler County, Nebraska. At this point, I have no idea whether he remained there after obtaining the homestead or whether or not he is related to the Adens in which I have a peripheral interest.

However, in reviewing the documentation in his completed homestead file, I ran across a copy of his naturalization from 1871--in Hancock County, Illinois. That's where many of my Ostfriesian families settled at about the same time Aden was there naturalizing.

It doesn't mean that this Aden is connection to me. However, people did migration in clusters and chains. I also know that there are homestead claims that are incomplete and currently unindexed by name. I know that these unindexed incomplete claims can be located on the Bureau of Land Management tract books. I can't look at the tract books for the entire state of Nebraska.


I can look at sections of the tract books for those areas of townships where I know that other Ostfriesians settled in hopes of locating a few of my "missing" people in those records. Since Aden was an Ostfriesian with a Hancock County, Illinois, connection who completed a homestead claim. there may be others Ostfriesians with Hancock County connections who at least started a claim in the same location as Aden. The tract books will tell me that and provide me with the names of those individuals. The incomplete homestead applications are not online, but I can obtain them from the National Archives. 

I can also search based upon locations in the database of these Nebraska homestead records on Ancestry.com The patents can be searched geographically at the Bureau of Land Management website.  Both of these sites only search for those individuals who completed the homestead process.

My Genealogy Search Tip of  the Day  contained links to the tract books and the tract book guide on FamilySearch ("Guide to the BLM Tract Books"). There is more about my webinar on using the BLM tract books here.

29 November 2014

Holiday Webinar Sales

Give yourself the gift of genealogy education this holiday season.

Our $5 genealogy sales are running until 2 December! 

Don't wait! Download is immediate.

A Santa Claus Letter Documents a Birth Date

Digital image located on Genealogybank..

Evidence analysis is all about the perceived reliability of the source and the information it contains.

A six-year old knows when his birthday is. He knows it because he has been told it. While his knowledge of the precise date comes from what others have told him, his general idea of his age does not. If a child is around other children--as this one apparently is because he attends school--then he knows approximately how old he is from first hand experience. He knows he's older than any three or four year olds that he sees and he's also well-aware that he's not ten or eleven years old. James would provide primary information for his age based upon his first hand knowledge.

Because the statement made by James comes from a handwritten letter that was in a newspaper there is always the chance that an error snuck in. The word "six" is spelled out in James' letter as it appears typed in the newspaper and it is reasonable to conclude that he wrote it that way in his letter as well. If the number "7" had been used instead, the chance of a potential typographical or transcription error would have been higher.

Realistically speaking, there's a good chance that James was actually born on 1 November 1894. Hopefully a researcher doesn't have to use a letter to Santa Claus as a source, but it's always possible. Of course, it should be cited so that if more contemporary sources for James' birth are located, a proper analysis can be conducted.

James provides primary information for his age, but not for his date of birth based upon how he came to know both those pieces of information.

The letter is the newspaper is a derivative source. The original letter is the original source. Sources contain information.

And you thought Santa Claus letters were only for requesting genealogical presents for yourself?


The citation manual for genealogical research is Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 2nd Edition. A shorter, less-detailed guide is the Bureau for the Certification of Genealogists'  Genealogy Standards: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition.  And there's always Casefile Clues--which is easy to read and understand and very practical.

28 November 2014

My Blogs and Newsletters

The following are links to my blogs and newsletters:

  • Genealogy Tip of the Day--one short daily genealogy-related research tip. This usually focuses on offline sources, methods, analysis, terms, and organization. Free.
  • Casefile Clues--my PDF genealogy newsletter concentrating on genealogical sources, methodology and research. Subscription required.
  • Genealogy Transcriber--not always every day, but a signature or piece of writing where readers are encouraged to try their hand at interpreting. Free.
  • Genealogy Search Tip--periodic short tips for online searching or an occasional mention about a "new to me" website. Free.
  • Michael's Blog Updates-sent roughly every week with a summary of the my more recent blog posts, updates to popular topics, news of research trips/seminars and more. Free.
  • Rootdig.com-updates about research I'm doing, research frustrations, pitfalls, etc. Free.

Uriah by Any Other Name Would Still Uriah

Every so often I come across a transcription that reminds me that sometimes it is necessary to leave out first names (or last names) when querying databases.

Such is the case with an entry I discovered while searching the Nebraska homestead records on Ancestry.com

The entry for this 1887 land entry indicates the first name of the Wickiser claimant is "Neiah."

Upon closer inspection of the actual images, it's clear that the first name is not Neiah.

Instead it's Uriah.

I suppose that first letter could be misred as a "U."

But that "r" that's the second letter? How does one get an "e" out of that? That's almost a classic lower case cursive "r."

We won't start posting every transcrption error on Ancestry.com here. But occasionally, it helps all of us to remember that any name can be read and keyed into a database incorrectly sometimes so incorrectly that searching based upon that name is not really effective at all.

27 November 2014

Documenting Migration in Homestead Files

Affidavits in virtually any record can contain unexpected clues. 

This 1887 statement made by Renke Kaiser in the homestead application of Jurgen T. Ehmen of Dawson County, Nebraska, documents how long the men have known each other. Kaiser indicates that he has known Ehmen for over twenty years and that Ehmen lived in Adams County, Illinois, until 1870 and then in Knox County, Illinois, until 1880 and then in Grand Island, Nebraska, until September of 1882 and then on his tract in Dawson County, Nebraska.

I knew Ehmen was in Adams County, Illinois, and eventually ended up in Dawson County, Nebraska, but was unaware of his residence in Knox County, Illinois. Hopefully Kaiser's testimony is accurate and his knowledge of the information firsthand. Some witnesses' answers to this question are vague and not as detailed as Kaiser's answer is. Kaiser also does not indicate whether or not he lived near Ehmen in these locations, only that he has known him for over twenty years.

Note: this image was taken from "Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936."

Note 2: Ehmen is a first cousin of Focke Goldenstein, my ancestor who also homesteaded in Dawson County, Nebraska.

26 November 2014

Attending Church in Nebraska in the 1880s

Testimony in homestead records is like testimony in virtually any record: one never knows what details will be mentioned. That's especially true when affiants are trying to prove specific points--any detail that helps to prove their case may be included. 

And so Renke Kaiser thought that the Bureau of Land Management needed to know that Jurgen Ehmen attended church weekly.

This 1887 era statement by Renke Kaiser in the homestead application of Jurgen Ehmen indicated that Kaiser saw Jurgen and Jurgen's family in church every Sunday.Church wasn't important to the Bureau of Land Management. What was important was that Ehmen was on his claim constantly and living there. If Kaiser saw Ehmen weekly in church, then Ehmen was obviously living in the area.

Kaiser didn't indicate which church, but it shouldn't take too much work to determine what churches were within close distance of both Kaiser and Ehmen.  Officials weren't interested in the specific church attended by Kaiser and Ehmen. Genealogists are.

Note: this image was taken from "Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936."

25 November 2014

FamilySearch Updates: NYC Passenger Lists and Queens County, NY Probates

The following databases are showing as updated on FamilySearch:

New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957

New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1785-1950

Complete Homestead Claims Lead to Tract Books Lead to Incomplete Claims

A search of the "Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936," located four completed homestead applications for section 12 in 11 North Range 25 West in Dawson County, Nebraska as shown below and as mentioned in a previous blog post:

As these results were created from the database Ancestry.com has for these records, there's always the possibility that something was coded incorrectly.

So I went to the Bureau of Land Management tract books for Nebraska to see what entries there were for section 12.

The BLM tract book agreed with Ancestry.com. Actually I should say that Ancestry.com agreed with the tract books as the tract books are the authoritative source, not Ancestry.com.

The tract books indicated that the only homesteaders in section 12 to complete their homestead were:

  • Campbell
  • Friesenborg
  • Goldenstein
  • Meyer
Those names are underlined in green in the tract book image below.
General Land Office Tract Book, Nebraska, Volume 22, page 28;
digital image from FamilySearch, 25 November 2014.
There are other homestead entries for section 12. Those all show in the tract book as having been cancelled (underlined in red in the image above). Those homestead files are at the National Archives as well and can have a great deal of information. It's not just about the completed claims. 

The only way to know if your ancestor had an incomplete claim is to search the tract books manually. I usually search the tract book for areas where relatives had completed claims in order to determine if other relatives filed claims in the same area that were incomplete. My relative's incomplete claim from the 1870s contained a copy of his declaration of intention to become a citizen--which I did not have before. 

My Genealogy Search Tip of  the Day  contained links to the tract books and the tract book guide on FamilySearch ("Guide to the BLM Tract Books"). There is more about my webinar on using the BLM tract books here.

Note: this image was taken from "Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936."

Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936 on Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com has "Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936," on their site. This database has been on Fold3.com for some time.

What's apparent, but not explicitly stated, is that the index is only to the patentee--the person who received the title to the property. There are witnesses and other people mentioned in these documents, but their names are not indexed. It's important to search for other family members, neighbors and immigrants from the same point of origin.

A nice feature of the search page for this database is the ability to search based upon the location of the homestead as shown in the screen below.

A minor frustration with the search box is that the geographic locations based upon the legal description of the property are "out of order" for how the descriptions are usually stated.

It's not a major problem, but for those of us who are fairly linear in our thinking it's likely that a few incorrect searches will be formulated.

My own ancestor, Focke Goldenstein obtained a homestead in section 12 of Township 11 North Range 25 West--in Dawson County, Nebraska.

A search for others who obtained homesteads in this same location resulted in four records, including the one for Goldenstein.

I've not had time to review all those homestead application files, but the one for Ehme Friesenborg contained an affidavit from William Ehmen--who also testified in the Goldenstein application and actually was a cousin of Goldenstein.

Homestead records are a rich source and this finding aid facilitates their use. Just remember that not every name in every record is indexed.

There may be others who started the homestead process in section 12 but never completed it. In an upcoming post we'll see how to get their names. Those incomplete applications can contain as much information as these completed files. But, because those homestead applications were not completed and patented, they do not appear in this database.

24 November 2014

Casefile Clues Back Issue Topics

For those who have asked about back issues of Casefile Clues, here is a list:

Issues 1-1 Through 3-39

This is a complete list of back issues as of 3-39.


  •  Issue 1- A Method to the Madness: Starting A Search for William Rhodus. Beginning a search on a man whose first "known" document is an 1860 marriage record in Missouri.
  •  Issue 2-"Know" Objection That I Know Of: Letters of Consent and a Bond from a 1798 Marriage. This column analyzes a set of marriage consents from the marriage of Thomas Sledd and Sally Tinsley in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1798. 
  •  Issue 3-Thomas and Elizabeth Frame: Arriving Outside the Time Frame. This column discusses establishing an immigration framework for an English immigrant family to American in the 1860s.
  •   Issue 4-An 1873 Chicago Naturalization: Two Thomases to Confuse. This column looks at the 1873 naturalization of Thomas Frame from Cook County, Illinois
  •  Issue 5-Copied from the Ashes: The 1850 Declaration of Peter Bigger. This column looks at a declaration of intent to become a citizen from Hamilton County, Ohio, that was recreated or copied from the partially burned one. 
  • Issue 6-A Venture into Harford County: A 1790-Era Grant and Deed. This column looks at two land records from Harford County, Maryland, the patent to James Rampley and the subsequent deed of sale for part of that property about a year later. 
  • Issue 7-Potatoes Not Worth Digging: The 1863 Personal Inventory of Paul Freund. This column analyzes an 1863 estate inventory from Davenport, Iowa, paying particular attention to clues that might provide details about Paul's occupation and origin.
  •   Issue 8-We Were at the Wedding: A Civil War Pension Affidavit. This column looks at an affidavit made out in California in the early 1900s regarding a marriage that took place in Michigan nearly fifty ears earlier. Accuracy of information along with research suggestions are included.
  • Issue 9-Finding William and Rebecca in 1840. Discusses a search for a couple in their first census enumeration as man and wife.
  • Issue 10-More Brick Walls From A to Z. Another installment in our popular series of brick wall techniques from A to Z.
  •  Issue 11-Mulling Over a Deposition: Testifying For a Fifty-Year Neighbor. This column analyzes a deposition made in  Revolutionary War pension case where the deponent has known the applicant for fifty years. Plenty of clues and leads to analyze in this document.
  • Issue 12-An 1836 Kentucky Will. This column includes a transcription and an analysis of an 1836 Kentucky will.
  • Issue 13-An 1815 Marriage: Augusta Newman and Belinda Sledd. This column analyzes a marriage register entry and marriage bond for this couple in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
  • Issue 14-Going Back: James and Elizabeth Rampley in 1850. This 1850 census enumeration is completely analyzed for clues on this apparently well-documented family.
  • Issue 15-Selling My Part of My Father's Farm: An 1820 Deed From Maryland. This column looks at a Harford County, Maryland, deed where Thomas Rampley transfers his ownership in his father's farm to his brother. The relationship is not stated in the document, but all clues are completely analyzed and research suggestions given.
  • Issue 16-At the Baby's Birth in 1859. This column looks at a proof of birth for an 1859 birth as given in a Civil War children's pension file.
  • Issue 17-Dead or Alive: G. W. Garrett?  This column looks at a transcription of a guardianship order contained in a Union Civil War pension application. The document is somewhat unclear and indicates that further research is necessary.
  • Issue 18-From a Life Estate to a Fee Simple. This column looks at an 1880 era deed that essentially converts a wife's life estate in a ten acre parcel into one that is a fee simple title. Of course, the deed does not explicitly state that.
  • Issue 19-An Estate of Inheritance: Benjamin Sells His Forty. This column looks at an 1840 era deed from Michigan. Interpreting boilerplate text must be done with care. Benjamin left few records about his origins and this one is maximized for all the clues it contains. 
  •  Issue 20-Giving Up Germany: An 1855 Declaration of Intent. This column looks at an 1855 declaration of intent for George Trautvetter--what it says about him and what it does not.
  • Issue 21-Analyzed in Isolation: An 1855 Guardianship Appointment. This column looks at an 1855 guardianship appointment from Scott County, Iowa.
  • Issue 22-Get Off My Rented Ground: An 1812 Ejectment Survey. A Bourbon County, Kentucky survey that was the result of a court case.
  •  Issue 23-Our Daughter Can Get Hitched: An 1868 Marriage. A underaged bride never goes to the courthouse with her intended to get the license.
  •  Issue 24: About My Husband: Cook County Divorce Statements. This issue takes a look at several statements made in an early 20th century divorce in Cook County, Illinois.
  •  Issue 25-Giving Grandma My Claim. A homestead claim is transferred from a twenty-something female to her aged grandmother in response to a neighbor’s petition.
  •  Issue 26-Contingent Life Estates: the 1912 Will of James Rampley. This will provided for a contingent life estate to one of Rampley’s heirs.
  •  Issue 27-My Grandpa Owned this Farm: The 1942 Affidavit of James Rampley. This statement made in the 1940s documented land ownership for approximately one hundred years earlier.
  •  Issue 28-Too Many Margarets: The 1850and 1860 Census Enumerations of Michael Trautvetter. This issue looks at some confusing census enumerations from Campbell County, Kentucky.
  • Issue 29-The Straw Man: Thomas Tipton in the Credit Under File of James Shores. This issue looks at a file for a credit under purchase of federal land where a straw man was used to complete the transcation.
  • Issue 30-A Year to File: the Death Certificate of Lucinda Kile. This issue takes a look at a death certificate that was filed nearly a year after Lucinda Kile died in Mercer County, Illinois in the 1870s.
  •  Issue 31-Two Sentences: the 1902 Will of August Mortier. This issue takes a look at a two-sentence will from 1902. There’s always more to things than meets the eye.
  •  Issue 32-One Fifth to You: A “Son” Sells His Part. A deed from Nicholas County, Kentucky, where a man styled as the “son” of the deceased sells his interest in the family farm.
  • Issue 33- Why Do I Get 9/567th of Grandpa’s Farm: Fun With Fractions. This issue of Casefile Clues explains how one heir received 9/567th of his grandfather’s farm. It’s not quite as straight forward as you may think.
  •  Issue 34- The Cawiezells Come to Davenport: Estimating Immigration Information. This issues uses census information to formulate an immigrant search strategy for a Swiss family.
  •  Issue 35- Mastering Deeds: Samuel’s Heirs Go to Court. A family fights over their deceased father’s farm resulting in a judge issuing a deed for the property.
  •  Issue 36-M is for Melburn: An 1879 Birth Certificate. Completely analyzing a birth certificate where the middle name’s significance is still not understood.
  •  Issue 37-The Clerk Can’t Find What Is Right There: An 1851 Marriage in St. Louis. A marriage record in St. Louis that the records clerk was unable to locate in the 1890s because he failed to look page by page.
  • Issue 38-My Sun May Marry: Two Kentucky Marriage Bonds. This issue takes a look at two marriage bonds from early 19th century Kentucky where the witness was the real person of interest.
  • Issue 39-Tonyes or Tonjes: A Minor Naturalization from 1889. This issue looks at a minor naturalization from 1889 that provides clues about the witness as well as the individual being naturalized.

Year 1 Issue Topics

  • 52--Benjamin Butler in 1880 and 1870--correlating an 1880 and 1870 census enumeration when the head of household has a different first name
  • 51--Clarifying Clara--a widow's War of 1812 Bounty Land application
  • 50--Special Examiner's Report--Discussion of testimony taken by a Special Examiner in a Union Civil War Pension File
  • 49--Levi Rhodes' War of 1812 Pension--A discussion and and an analysis of a War of 1812 pension issued in 1871.
  • 48--Determining Your Own Chain of Migration--Ways to determine the unique migration chain that your ancestor took
  • 47--Finding the Ellen--Finding someone in an 1870 census when she's a child and I don't have the names of the parents. Discusses proximity searches, eliminating false matches, etc.
  • 46--Ira Located--the correct marriage record for Ira Sargent was located. This issue includes the image and a complete transcription, an analysis, additional searches that were conducted, and where to go next.
  • 45--Organizing My Search for Ira--discusses brainstorming to locate the parents of Ira Sargent, how and why records were prioritized, and how records would be searched.
  • 44--Philip Troutfetter in the Special Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society--fraud, postal investigations, and abandoned wives--all from one relative.
  • 43--Unacquiring Property--ways your ancestor might have "disposed" of his real estate.
  • 42--Multiple Johns--two brothers with the exact same name--apparently.
  • 41--Brick Walls from A to Z--the title says it all--ideas for breaking those brick walls
  • 40--Finding John--analysis, including charts and maps, in an attempt to find a missing 1870 census enumeration.
  • 39--Multiple Marias--Analyzing more than one 1893 obituary for a Swiss immigrant in Iowa.
  • 38--From their Mouth to Your Screen. Discusses all the "filters" information passes through.
  • 37--Pullman Car Company Employment Records. Discusses several employment records from the Pullman Car Company in Chicago. Discusses William Apgar, Thomas Frame, Louis DeMar.
  • 36--Where are they in 1840? Analyzes an individual who is "missing" from an 1840 census. Includes a discussion of how he was "found" and how land records actually solved the problem. Discusses Abraham Wickiser.
  • 35--A 1910 Birth. Analyzes primary and secondary sources for a date and place of birth in 1910 and how differences might not be all that different. Discusses Ida Trautvetter.
  • 34--Ready to Go? Discusses some things to contemplate regarding your genealogy material before you die.
  • 33--Where there is a Will there is Confusion. Analyzes an early 19th century will from Maryland and what the different bequests likely mean and what potentially brought them about. Also discusses different ways some things can be interpreted. Discusses John DeMoss.
  • 32--When There is No Probate. Some things to think about when there is no probate file.
  • 31--Analyzing the Mortgage. Discusses an 1870 era mortgage in Illinois. Discusses John Ufkes and Rolf Habben.
  • 30--Behind the Scenes Chaos. Discusses the importance of thinking about what "caused" a record to be recorded.
  • 29--Un-American Activity. Discusses an invesigation by the fore-runner of the FBI into a German-American family in World War I. Discusses the Fecht family.
  • 28--Do You Ear What I Ear? Discusses things to remember about how things are heard.
  • 27--Analyzing Andrew Trask. Discusses work on an Mass. native (born ca. 1814) who lived in St. Louis, southern-Illinois, and western Illinois where he died in the 1880s. Focuses on analyzing and working on later records to discern patterns, etc. Discusses Andrew Trask.
  • 26--Using Google Books.
  • 25--Finding Valentine. Steps in locating a man whose only real mention is in an 1870 era estate settlement. Discusses how I organized my search for him.
  • 24--The Brick Wall is in Your Head. Talks about ways you may have made your own genealogical brick wall.
  • 23--You Ask and I Wonder. Things that pop in my head when a person asks a certain genealogical question.
  • 22--Crossing the Pond.
  • 21--One Clipping Leads to More.
  • 20--Organizing 1870 Census Search--thoughts on organizing online census searches.
  • 19--Public Sale--Analyzing an old sale bill.
  • 18--Analyzing the Biography--Charting and Organizing what You Know Using a Biography
  • 17--Working with the Professional. Getting started with the professional genealogist who is performing Chicago area work for me.
  • 16--A Lot from Barbara's Lot. Clues from a series of records on a small lot in a town in rural Illinois betwen 1856 and 1905.
  • 15--Finding Gesche's Girls. Tracking down an "evaporating" German native who "condensed" somewhere in the United States.
  • 14--Jumpstarting Your Research. Just some ideas to get you started.
  • 13--Brick Walls and the Census Taker
  • 12--The Heirs Complete the Homestead
  • 11--Is the Wrong Name Correct?
  • 10--Connecting the Iras. Working to determine if two men of the same name are the same man.
  • 09--Pre-1850 Census Analysis. Analzing pre-1850 census records for a family to determine the household structure. Discusses Thomas and Sarah Sledd.
  • 08--Platting Out Thomas Sledd's Heirs. Platting out the estate division of the Thomas Sledd estate in Kentucky in the 1830s. Discusses Thomas Sledd family.
  • 07--Looking for Ira's Lucretia. Working on my "brick wall" Ira through his sister Lucretia. mid-to-late nineteenth century work.
  • 06--The Civil War Pension file of Riley Rampley. An overview of a Union Civil War pension record.
  • 05--Finding a Chicago Christening. How a 1913 era Chicago christening record was found. Discusses Anna Apgar.
  • 04--Multiple Parents
  • 03--Preemption Claim. The Missouri pre-emption land claim of John Lake. Discusses John Lake.
  • 02--Passport Records. Discusses an early twentieth century passport application. Discusses Robert Frame.
  • 01--Lessons from an Estate Record. Analyzes an 1870 era Illinois set of estate records.

Year 2 Issues Of Casefile Clues--

  • Volume 2-Number 1--Problem-Solving--a variety of techniques for breaking through those brick walls.
  • Volume 2-Number 2--A 1907 Committal--An insanity record.
  • Volume 2-Number 3--A 1921 Divorce--looking at a 1921 era divorce from Chicago
  • Volume 2-Number 4--Leaving John's Hands: Documenting Post-Death Land Transfers
  • Volume 2-Number 5--The Acquisition of John Michael Trautvetter's 228 Acres
  • Volume 2-Number 6--The Original Versus the Record Copy
  • Volume 2-Number 7--Multiple Marriage Mayhem:
    Starting the Search for Emma (Sargent) Pollard Ross Oades Pollard Snavly Olenbaugh
  • Volume 2-Number 8--A Handful of Problem-Solving Strategies
  • Volume 2-Number 9--Two-Thirds of an Acre from Uncle John: A Partition Suit Proves a Sibling Relationship
  • Volume 2-Number 10--A Minimal Estate Gives Some Direction: The 1886-1888 Probate of Benjamin Butler
  • Volume 2-Number 11--Signing What We Could Not Read--immigrants unable to read English sign a 1870 era document that is incorrect and a lawsuit results.
  • Volume 2-Number 12--Dad Raised my Daughter--A newspaper account of a court case in the 1880s discusses an early 1870 out-of-wedlock birth.
  • Volume 2-Number 13--Using the 1860 Census to Formulate a Passenger List Search Strategy
  • Volume 2-Number 14--Search Strategy for Benjmamin Butler in pre-1870 Census Records--this looks at ways to find the missing 1850 and 1860 census enumerations for man who "appears" in Iowa in 1870.
  • Volume 2-Number 15--Pre-1850 Census--analyzing 1810-1840 census entries for Thomas Chaney in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
  • Volume 2-Number 16--Names in the Probate--analyzing various names in a probate settlement from 1903. Nicknames and diminutives were part of the problem.
  • Volume 2-Number 17--Bridging a Twenty-Year Census Gap-1870 to 1860. Showing that an 1870 Iowa, 1880 Missouri, and an 1850 Michigan enumeration are for the same man.
  • Volume 2-Number 18--Four Passports and a Foreign Death: George Washington Drollette. Analyzes four early 20th century passports and a US State Department death report from 1933.
  • Volume 2-Number 19--Diplomatic Employment Applications. Analyzes and summaries letters of support for employment with the US State Department between 1901-1906.
  • Volume 2-Number 20--Just One Wife Who Shaves Her Age. Records hinted that a man might have had more than one wife. Despite age discrepancies and first name variations, we've likely proven that there was just one wife.
  • Volume 2-Number 21--1930 Census: Primary, Secondary, Original, Derivative, Direct and Indirect. You'll never look at a census entry the same way again-also shows how in this case, New York became Kentucky
  • Volume 2-Number 22--Finding the Biegers in 1850. Organizing our search and our negative search results in an attempt to find a German immigrant living in Cincinnati in 1850.
  • Volume 2-Number 23--Separating Two George Butlers--working on two men born in Michigan in the same year with a father of the same name.
  • Volume 2-Number 24-A Minor Naturalization
  • Volume 2-Number 25-Genealogical Potpourri
  • Volume 2-Number 26-Looking for Benjamin-Formulating a Census Search
  • Volume 2-Number 27-An 1849 Cash Land Sale
  • Volume 2-Number 28-From 1820-1870 Analyzing Enoch Tinsley's Census Entries
  • Volume 2-Number 29-Middle Name Issues: Finding Henry J. Fecht in 1870 and Passenger Lists
  • Volume 2-Number 30-The Master Reports--An Assignment of Homestead and Dower in the 1890s
  • Volume 2-Number 31-The Parents Sell 10 Acres-an 1880 era land transaction
  • Volume 2-Number 32-Clues from a Pig Murder--an 1820 era Kentucky Court Case
  • Volume 2-Number 33-Civil War Pension Application-Why My Name's Different
  • Volume 2-Number 34-Staying Focused on Divorces and a German Immigrant
  • Volume 2-Number 35-Strategies for a 1820 New York Birth
  • Volume 2-Number 36-First Appearing in an 1847 Marriage
  • Volume 2-Number 37-The Chattel Property Will from Maryland
  • Volume 2-Number 38-Emmar Osenbaugh Civil War Pension-Proving 6 Husbands(1st Part)
  • Volume 2-Number 39-1870-1880 Era Guardianship Proves All the Children
  • Volume 2-Number 40-Moving Mother-Transferring a Life Estate in 1769
  • Volume 2-Number 41-War of 1812 Bounty Land Application and Surrendered Warrant
  • Volume 2-Number 42--An 1875 Poor Farm Admission for the Smith Family
  • Volume 2-Number 43-An 1811 Tennessee Will
  • Volume 2-Number 44-More Problem-Solving
  • Volume 2-Number 45-Emmar Osenbaugh's Civil War Pension Part II
  • Volume 2-Number 46-Comments on 1856 Missouri Revised Statutes
  • Volume 2-Number 47-A Will Denied--and Why
  • Volume 2-Number 48-Blank Children and Three Completers on a Birth Record
  • Volume 2-Number 49-Petitioning to Administrate an Intestate Probate in 1869
  • Volume 2-Number 50-Fighting the Will of Trientje Sartorius
  • Volume 2-Number 51-With Little to Probate: The Estate of Wesley Jones
  • Volume 2-Number 52-Iam What I Am: An 1860 Census Enumeration

23 November 2014

What's Under the Ribbon?

I'm transcribing and analyzing several of the documents in the surrendered Bounty Land Warrant file for James Kile of Mercer County, Illinois (based on his War of 1812 military service from Ohio) for an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues.

The lovely ribbon covers up a few words of this court document that appears in his file.

I think I know what some of it says based upon what I can see through the ribbon and the context.

Can you read the words under the ribbon?

22 November 2014

Did the Lawyer Use the Facts to Seize the Moment--And the Land?

Without the surrendered bounty land warrant file for James Kile, I never would have located this interesting little item.

James Kile received a bounty land warrant for 40 acres based upon his service in the War of 1812. The resident of Mercer County, Illinois, died after the warrant was issued but before any specific land could be patented.

As a result his heirs surrendered the warrant in order to patent 40 acres in Mercer County, Illinois. They appointed Cyrus Aldrich as their "attorney-in-fact" to complete the process at the Dixon, Illinois, land office.

This image below shows part of the entry for the completed Kile patent in the tract books of the Bureau of Land Management. These books effectively serve as a geographic index to who patented property were.

Aldrich completed the patent process for the Kile heirs as evidenced by the green entry above-all the properties shown in this clip are for parcels in section 35 in Township No. 13 of Range No. 5 West of the 4th Principal Meridian in Mercer County, Illinois). It's rather difficult to read the names of who received the property, but it appears to be Enoch Kile and others (based upon the information in the surrendered bounty land warrant file).


There was another piece of property in the same section that was "located by" Cyrus Aldrich in August of 1853. A review of the dates that property in section 35 was all located by August of 1853, except for the Kile parcel and the Aldrich parcel.

The Kiles were Mercer County, Illinois, residents and would have known that no one was farming the property. Aldrich does not appear to have been a Mercer County, Illinois, resident and appears to have been living near the Dixon Land Office at the time.

Did he discover that there was an "unclaimed" 40 when he did the paperwork for the Kiles?


We might have to get that paperwork and see if more about how Aldrich obtained the property can be located.

Links to the BLM Tract Books on FamilySearch and the guide to the books can be found here. My webinar on using these tract books can be ordered here for only $6.

Stay tuned!

21 November 2014

New Dates for My 2015 Salt Lake City Library Trip

Due to a scheduling conflict, I've had to change the dates for the 2015 Family History Library Research Trip to:

  • arrive and check in on 19 May 2015
  • check out and leave on 26 May

20 November 2014

Paying for Two Coffins in 1862

It always pays to read the entire probate case file.

This is part of a claim allowed to Philip Smith in 1865 that is contained in the estate case file for William Smith of Mercer County, Illinois.

N. B. Partridge states that in August of 1862 Philip Smith paid him $10.00 for "making two coffins for Wm. Wmith & wife."

The fact that the claim didn't get paid until 1865 does not seem highly unusual. However, there are two aspects of this claim and payment that are interesting:
  • Philip Smith has paid the "coffin bill."
  • The "coffin bill" is for coffins for William Smith and his wife.
Philip Smith is mentioned in other documents in this case file, but his relationship to William Smith and his wife is never stated. It would seem reasonable to conclude that Philip Smith is related to William Smith and his wife based upon the fact that Philip paid for their coffins himself. It's not unusual for someone to request reimbursement from the estate for an expense of this type. It would be unusual for someone related to the Smiths to pay for their coffins on the hope that they would eventually be reimbursed.

The payment by Philip is suggestive of a relationship. The specific nature of that relationship cannot be surmised solely from what is in this document.

William Smith and his wife most likely died reasonably close to each other--time wise that is. Just how close cannot be surmised based upon this reference. The wife of William is not named in the estate case file and no "relinquishment of first right to administer the estate" for her is included either. This is suggestive of her dying before the start of the administration of the estate in January of 1862. However it is possible that a relinquishment was simply not filed. What is sure is that the wife of William Smith was deceased by August of 1862 when Philip paid for both coffins.

Like most records during this era, the clues here are suggestive and require further research.

Cleaning Mother's House

We're reprinting this article I wrote for the former Ancestry Daily News in 2002. It's still relevant today. Reprint requests should be sent to mjnrootdig@myfamily.com

Cleaning Mother's House

It has been nearly a year since fictional genealogist Barbara passed away. Her daughter Charlene reflects upon that year in a letter to her friend Karen. Charlene truly has been busy. Barbara is probably rolling over in her grave.


As usual, my cards are late. It has been a busy year.

We spent much of the year settling up Mother's estate. The house sold well, but cleaning it took longer than we expected.

You are probably the only person who did not know Mother was a genealogy buff. She told practically every human she encountered. I'm convinced that genealogy "nut" was the most accurate phrase. The stuff was all over the house. The inheritance would have been enough to pay for my new Mercedes had she not insisted on spending money on that blasted hobby. I don't know why she couldn't be more like Tom's mother. Nadine spends her day doing needlepoint and watching reruns of 50s television shows. Tom just does not realize how lucky he is, but men never do. My mother had to run off to cemeteries and courthouses. She even went to a conference in Davenport, Iowa, last year! Can you imagine? Davenport, Iowa! After she got back, she was so excited about all that she had learned and all the fun she had. She was planning on going to another one in California this year. Well the grim reaper took care of that.

Because of my promotion to head of knick knack sales at Garbageforless.com, I had not been home for several years. I was appalled to learn that Mother had converted my old bedroom into her family history "headquarters." My shelves of Teen Beat and other magazines documenting my adolescence had been replaced with old family photographs, copies of old documents, and something called family group sheets. She even got rid of the pants I wore to my first junior high dance. I cried at the thought.

I could not bear to go in the room and be reminded that my childhood had been stripped from me and replaced with an obsession with the past. I told the children that if they would clean the room and prepare the items for the garage (should I say "garbage"?) sale they could have the proceeds. I learned what true entrepreneurs they are.

Kenny stripped Mother's hard drive in under ten minutes. I kept hearing him say "GedCom is GedGone . . . GedCom is GedGone . . ." I have no idea what it meant, but the computer fetched a good price. Before he unplugged the computer, he erased all Mom's floppy disks and downloaded public domain games. He sold these at a nominal price.

Susan took the old photographs to a flea market and was able to sell many of them. Some special labels had to be taken off and we had to take them out of protective envelopes. Mother had written the names on the back of many of them. At least none of those pictures of depressing old dead people had our last name written on them. I don't want to be associated with such sour people.

Mother had some type of old plat book -- whatever that is. Kenny tore out the pages individually and sold them separately on Ebay. It was so clever. His dad said he got much more than if he had left the book in one piece.

Susan didn't tear the bibles apart though. I thought that showed tremendously good sense. She's learning that not everything can be marketed in the same way. The 1790 bible brought her a good penny, but she couldn't get the one from 1900 to bring more than fifty cents. She donated it to a local church, and here is where I am so proud of her. We can write if off as a charitable deduction. Someone had written what they had paid for the bible on the back cover. Susan converted that to 2001 dollars and will use that for our tax deduction amount. I've already enrolled Susan in tax lawyer summer camp this coming August.

There was some old large certificate of written on heavy paper. The silly thing wasn't even in English, so why would Mother keep it? Kenny used the other side to keep track of the things he had sold. Waste not, want not. When we were finished we put the paper in the recycling bin.

The kids put an old wedding dress from the 1870s in the washer to get the stains out. It was terribly filthy. The worthless thing didn't even survive the extra long cycle and the half-gallon of bleach. It's doubtful we can even use it for cleaning rags.

The dress was in some kind of old trunk. I'm not certain what it was for, but it had a name stenciled on the front in huge letters along with the name of a town. Susan gave it a good coating of red paint and sold it as a toy box.

The filing cabinets were emptied of their contents, as were the three shelves of binders. Kenny got the bright idea to shred the paper and sell it in bags as New Year's confetti. The file folders were too heavy to shred.

The baby did not react well to any of this. She cried and fussed almost the entire time. Kenny thought she wanted tea, which made no sense to me at all. As she cried, it sounded like she was saying "family tee." She can't even talk yet and I think Kenny was hearing things. The baby does look exactly like my mother though, it's the oddest thing. The fussing didn't stop until she spit up an entire bottle of strained prunes on my junior high jeans, which we did find in the basement. They were ruined -- it was the one real loss. Now my past has really been taken from me -- magazines and all.


Whether you have a child like Charlene or not, have you thought about what might happen to your genealogy collection upon your demise?

18 November 2014

Updated on FamilySearch

The following databases are showing as recently updated on FamilySearch:

Montana, Sanders County Records, 1866-2010

Montana, Lake County Records, 1857-2010

Pennsylvania Obituaries, 1977-2010

Tennessee, White County Records, 1809-1975

Weir Sulky Plow

The 1886 estate inventory of Andrew Trask in Mercer County, Illinois, contained a detail that is not always included: the manufacturer of several of the pieces of farm equipment. Modifiers of this type make it possible for the researcher to learn a little more about the item in question.

A "Weir Sulkey[sic] plow" was valued at $10 and was one of a handful of items in the Trask estate for which a little more background information could be obtained. 

A search on GenealogyBank located several references to the Weir company, one of which is shown below. This article appeared in the Daily Inter Ocean and included brief summary of the Weir Plow Company based in Monmouth, Illinois. Given the proximity of Monmouth to Mercer County, Illinois, it seems pretty reasonable that this is the company that manufactured the sulky plow that was inventoried among Andrew's items.

 A sulky plow is one that has an actual seat for the user instead of requiring the user to walk behind it. Weir patented the plow in 1877 as evidenced by the illustration contained in his patent application that was obtained on Google Patents:

W. S. Weir, Sulkey-Plow, Patent No. 190,652 Patented May-8, 1877;
digital image from Google Patents (http://patents.google.com) obtained 18 November 2014
I knew what a plow was, but wasn't quite certain what a "sulkey-plow" was until I started doing a little searching. And I got a history lesson besides.

16 November 2014

That Place of Birth is How Specific?

[this is more of a commentary than an actual post]

The devil usually is in the details.

How precise is the location of that event?

The death certificate of my ancestor indicates that he died in Limestone Township, Peoria County, Illinois. He was actually at the Illinois State Hospital in Bartonville, Illinois, at the time of his death. If I use the death certificate as my source for his date and place of death, I should indicate that he died on the date and place given on that death certificate. The death certificate does not use Bartonville when referencing his death and I should not indicate that a record provides information that it does not.

Locations are more of a problem when there are no sources providing primary information about an event. Numerous references indicate that Riley Rampley was born in 1835 in Coshocton County, Ohio. No source provides any location more precise than that and it is doubtful that I ever find one. I may surmise that Riley was born in Jackson Township as that is where his parents owned real estate at the time he was born.

But that land ownership doesn't necessarily mean Riley was born there. His mother could have travelled to an adjacent township to stay with another family member as the birth approached. I have no evidence to indicate that. It's also remotely possible that while the Rampley family owned property in Jackson Township that they didn't live there. However since I have no evidence to indicate that they lived elsewhere, I'm concluding that they did live in Jackson Township where their property was located.

Should I indicate that Riley was probably born in Jackson Township, Coshocton County, Ohio in 1835? At this point, I'm not. I'm content saying that his parents owned property there (something which can be documented) and most likely lived there (something I'm surmising). Knowing Riley's precise place of birth would be nice, but it's not crucial to my research at this point to be more specific. Nothing about Riley's life or parentage hinges on knowing the place more specifically than Coshocton County.

The potential problem with saying that he was "probably born in Jackson Township, Coshocton County, Ohio," is that it is often easy for the "probably" to get dropped. If the knowledge of a more precise of birth was necessary for other research reasons I'd be tempted to include it.

But for now, it's sufficient to know that his parents were probably living in Jackson Township when he was born.

Short Course-Organizing Genealogical Information

Still time to join us---our first discussion isn't until 23 November!

By popular demand, we're bringing this course back....

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 3 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.

Students will have a week to view the presentation, discuss or ask questions on the bulletin board and submit optional homework before the class discussion via GotoWebinar. 

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
Register here

Lecture downloads:
  • 17 November (or until day before class starts)
  • 24 November
  • 1 December
Discussions are at:
  • 23 November 2:30 pm.-3:15 pm.Central Time
  • 30  November 2:30 pm.-3:15 pm.Central Time
  • 7 December  2:30 pm.-3:15 pm.Central Time