30 January 2015

FamilySearch Updates: US Passports, MN & OH Obits, ND 1925 Census, San Fran Airplane Arrivals

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

United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Minnesota, Clay and Steele County Obituaries, 1865-2006

Indiana, Daviess County, Washington Times Herald Obituaries, 1984-2012

Ohio, Crawford County Obituaries, 1860-2004

California, San Francisco Airplane Arrival Card Index, 1936-1949

North Dakota, Census 1925

More Than a Compiled Service Record For Union Veteran Riley Rampley

US Civil War draft registration for Riley and John Rampley
residents of Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois.
Digital image made from Ancestry.com .
Years ago I obtained the Compiled Military Service Record and pension record for Riley Rampley, my ancestor who was in Company D of the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

That was back in the days of paper copies. Riley's pension file is rather large and, since I have a paper copy already, I've opted to not get a digital copy at this point in time.

However I'm not certain that I have the complete Compiled Service Record as I obtained it decades ago, very early in my research. So, I've decided to have a digital copy made of the entire file.

The researcher completing the work indicated that there also is a correspondence file and a medical file for Riley and his brother John who served in the same unit. So out of curiosity I'm ordering copies of those files for the Rampley brothers who served in the 78th Illinois. We'll share those with readers as well.

As time goes on, we'll be featuring more "complete" sets of various records obtained at the National Archives, partially so that readers can see what these files typically contain. Some records tend to provide more genealogically relevant information than others. I'm hoping that these records will be representative of what types of materials certain records contain as I don't have any illustrious ancestors whose files would have probably generated more than the typical amount of paperwork.


I'm still trying to decide whether or not to obtain the additional records from the National Archives on the commander of the unit we've discussed in "Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut." The man injured in that incident was an uncle of my wife and the uncle's already fairly well documented. If readers are really curious, I may go ahead and order them--so let me know in the comments if you're interested in seeing what else there might be on Markham.

Riley's my great-great-grandfather and I've always had an interest in him, so I'm willing to pony up for those copies.

28 January 2015

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part VII

The Compiled Service for Henry C. Markham of the 37th Iowa did not make any mention of the train incident referred to in the Civil War Pension of William Kile who also served in that unit. Documentation and correspondence his file relate to his appearance on muster rolls, application for a leave due to illness, and some reassignments of his position.

Readers may remember that Kile and others in his unit indicated that Markham refused to give the men an order to move which reportedly resulted in the death of at least one soldier and injuries to several others. None of the correspondence in his file appears to have been the result of the train incident.

The question at this point is: "How interested am I in this incident?"

Like many discoveries we make, one has to balance the interest in the discovery with the likelihood that researching the discovery will result in new information about the people of interest. At this juncture, I'm not certain that knowing more about the incident will result in more knowledge about William Kile.

And there's the question of the cost of obtaining copies of unmicrofilmed copies of records from the National Archives. Will it be worth the expense?

There's parallels in this dilemma when one considers obtaining any record or document. One has to contemplate the perceived benefits with the costs.

Of course, blog readers may be interested to see if more can be discovered and learning in general about records in the National Archives is a good thing. So...I may go ahead and take the plunge and obtain the copies of the records.

And hope that readers are interested in what additional information may potentially be obtained.

Stay tuned.

FamilySearch Update: San Francisco Immigrant Registers; US Marine Muster Rolls, New England Passenger/Crew Lists

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

California, Immigration Registers of Japanese, Filipinos, and Hawaiians at San Francisco, 1928-1942

Maine, Crew Lists Arriving at Robbinston, 1947-1954

United States Muster Rolls of the Marine Corps, 1798-1937 (read the description before using--not all are indexed)

United States, New England Passenger and Crew Lists, 1911-1954

27 January 2015

That "C" Was From A Comparer, Not the Original Copyist

There is a reason they refer the compiled military records at the National Archives as "compiled." The cards that researchers use from these compiled military records are extracts from muster rolls and other records.  As such, they can occasionally contain errors.

These two cards are part of ongoing research into Henry C. Markham, a Civil War veteran. These two cards were created by the same copyist as noted on the bottom. 

The card on the left however contains an annotation in red. Apparently the initial copyist left out Henry Markham's middle initial and the comparer noticed the discrepancy and made the correction.

Even without the notation, the middle initial "C" on the left hand card is different from that on the right hand card, even though the copyist is the same. 

Cards from Compiled Military Service Record of Henry C. Markham,
37th Regiment, Iowa Infantry; National Archives.
Notations by comparers were made in red--at least on this card. The distinction made by the color would have been lost in a black and white photocopy. In this case, research doesn't hinge on the "C" or whether the original copyist or the comparer wrote it.

One of the purposes the cards served was to facilitate the processing of Civil War pension claims. These cards were not created for researchers.

But it is worth remembering that information on these cards is secondary and occasionally prone to error.

No Intelligible Statement, Word Blindness, and Word Deafness

I've been reviewing the Civil War pension file for Leander Butler, a veteran from Kansas who lived most of his post-war life in Missouri.

A doctor's statement from 1899 indicated that Leander was unable to provide an "intelligible statement" for the doctor at the time of the examination.

The statement goes on to provide more details about Leander's ability to answer questions. While my understand of "word-deafness" and "word-blindness" is a little vague, the implications are clear: Leander's ability to communicate was hindered.
How often do we think about how able our relative was to provide accurate, reliable information to the census taker? We often think about whether an informant actually "knew" the information and whether they had "first-hand" knowledge of that information?

But do we stop and ask how reliable their memory was when they were providing information? They may have had first-hand knowledge of an event, but their memory may have been challenged by the time they were providing information.

Based on this doctor's statement, here's hoping Leander didn't answer questions from the 1900 census taker.

Here's a fictional look at what might have taken place on the day the census taker arrived.

Organizing Information Class With Sunday Discussions

We've had requests from quite a few people to offer our "organizing genealogy information class" with discussions on Sunday instead of during the week. So we've done that. The posting with details can be seen here.

25 January 2015

28% Webinar Sale Celebrating 28,000 Fans

We've finally crossed the 28,000 fan threshold at Genealogy Tip of the Day on Facebook. In celebration, we're offering a 28% off sale on everything--webinars, newsletters, etc. Check out the list of items on our page.

Use coupon 28000 at checkout!

Before You Blog

This is not a post about where to host your blog or what service to use. Blogger and WordPress are two free sites to use--both have their advantages and disadvantages and neither are particularly difficult to use.

This post is about a few other things potential bloggers should think about.

What to Keep Private

Once you post something online, it is potentially there forever should someone go looking for it hard enough. Decide before you even start blogging about whether you will mention any living individuals and what details you will divulge about those individuals. You may also decide to not mention any generation more recent that your parents or grandparents. It's your decision, not someone else's. Personally it's easier to only mention the dead and leave it at that. Of course, you can mention yourself but don't post any details you are not comfortable with the entire world knowing.

It's "My Information"

We aren't going to discuss copyright here, but remember that facts cannot be copyrighted. If you post that Johann Ufkes was born in 1838 then anyone can use that fact--even if it took you $45,000 and twenty years to discover it. If you are going to be "mad" that someone else "used" a fact that you discovered, then it's best not to make that fact public on your blog. Users of your blog should credit you with the discovery, but they don't have to do that. 

Bloggers do have copyright to the text that they create--when it's facts combined with analysis and discussion. Usually anything longer that a few sentences requires permission for someone else to use. Keep in mind that not everyone will ask permission and staying on top of other blogs for "stealing" of your information can almost become a full-time job.  IF it's going to send you into cardiac arrest if someone reposts your paragraph without quoting you then seriously consider whether you want to blog or not.

The same thing goes for pictures. One way to reduce some use of your scanned images of pictures is to post them at a lower DPI than is best for online viewing and not for printing. Also consider adding some "blank space" to the scan where the identity of the people and the source can be put so that it appears as part of the image. If you don't care if people "use" "your" picture, then post them at a high enough DPI that they can be printed nicely.

There's not a right and a wrong answer to these questions---it's what is your level of comfort that is the concern.

Online Publication is Not Permanent

Don't consider online publication or blogging as the permanent way to preserve your information. Web hosts will come and go. Archive.org's "Wayback" machine may catch and preserve your information--or it may not. Online publication, from this writer's perspective, is a good way to share information with others and let others know what families and individuals on which you are working.

You Don't Have to Blog Daily

It's not necessary to post something every day. Blogging is best done when you have actually discovered something or have something to say. Sometimes that's every day and sometimes it's not.

I'm not a Writer

You don't have to be. Look at other blogs...there are several bloggers out there who aren't writers. Your goal of a genealogy blog is to share something about your journey, your family's history, and the research process.

You're not Going to Get Rich

You will not support yourself with your genealogy blog. Accept this now.

If we have time going forward we'll discuss a few other details of the blogging process in future posts. 

FamilySearch Updates: German-Russian Obits and Alexandria, VA Passenger Lists

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

United States, Obituaries, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1899-2012

Virginia, Alexandria Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels, 1946-1957

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part VI

In an attempt to get a little more information on Henry Markham of the Iowa Graybeard Regiment, I decided to search the "Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Iowa" (M541) from the National Archives and Records Administration which is available online on Fold3.

There were two Henry Markhams from Iowa with "General Index Cards." There was a Henry E., who was a captain in the 8th Iowa Infantry and Henry C. who was in the 37th Iowa.

The card for Henry E. was the first one that came up on my search results and had I been hasty I could have requested information on the wrong person.

Of course a careful reading of the card would have indicated the unit was wrong, but sometime careless researchers conclude that something is "close enough" and that maybe the Henry of interest simply mustered into that unit before he was transferred to another one. Had that been the case, the "see also" would likely have contained a reference to service in another unit. Fortunately in this case, "scrolling" to the next index card located the entry for the Henry from the Graybeard Regiment (the 37th Iowa).

If the Henry of interest had not been located, searching for variant spellings may have been in order.

One never wants to assume that there's only one man with a first and last name combination. It's always possible that there is more than one.

As of this writing, Fold3 only has the index card for the compiled service records for the state of Iowa, so I can't get those from that site.

We'll have to see if the compiled service record for Markham makes any reference to the little train incident in Memphis in the summer of 1864.

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part V

The testimony of William Kile and his comrades painted a fairly consistent picture of the accident at the train warehouse in Memphis that injured his abdomen.

The testimony of Henry Markham was also consistent with Kile's comrades--except that he did not mention his refusing to allow the men to move. He just confirmed the injury to Kile, but was somewhat evasive about his role in the incident. The date of the incident was also not precisely stated in any of the depositions--just July of 1864.

I've decided to try and learn more about the incident. My first attempt will be to obtain the compiled service record for Markham from the National Archives--and then go from there.

This series is ongoing as the research progresses.

What this means is that I don't know the answer and that sometimes we'll have wait for updates.

22 January 2015

Using FindAGrave Information Responsibly

FindAGrave is a great genealogical source. But, like any source, it must be used with care. Like any published source used in family history research, the information it contains must be evaluated to determine it's perceived reliability.

When I cite FindAGrave pages and analyze the information that they contain, I make a distinction between information located in the "Memorial" and the "Photos" portions of the site. My citation indicates whether I used the "Memorial" page or the "Photos" page.

The information on the "Memorial" section could be information that the compiler:

  • copied from an obituary
  • copied directly from the tombstone
  • copied from a published book of cemetery transcriptions
  • copied from an unpublished set of cemetery transcriptions
  • copied from death certifiates
  • copied from an unknown location
Some of the time the "Memorial" section will include a source for that information on the "Memorial" page. Other times it does not. Do not assume what is on the "Memorial" page is what is on the tombstone. Do not assume the "title" of the page or the "name" given for the person is the name that is on their tombstone. Some FindAGrave volunteers add additional information in order to be helpful. 

I try and validate information on the "Memorial" page from other sources.

The "Photo" page is where photographs of the tombstone can be placed. If the stone was legible and the photo is a good one, the inscription can be read. I generally to view the photographs are pretty reliable. The "Memorial" pages I am more careful with and use them for clues.

I'm grateful for all that FindAGrave volunteers submit to the site.

It's just that genealogists need to use the site responsibly.

Organizing Genealogical Information

In case you missed it:

By popular demand, we're bringing this class back in January of 2015. Registration is limited for "Organizing Genealogical Information--A Short Course." View details here.

FamilySearch Update: US Marine Corps Muster Rolls 1798-1892

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

United States Muster Rolls of the Marine Corps, 1798-1892

21 January 2015

General Suggestions for Tracking the Family Farm

From a reader:

"My ancestors came into possession of farmland in Indiana circa 1815.  A portion of that original land has been passed to me and I am a current owner - and nonresident farmer.  I would love to identify the start of this land ownership and the subsequent transfers by will or otherwise - no family exists today to ask.  Do you have any recommendations for me on how to begin and what records to begin with? I have some particulars on land ID numbers, etc., but that's about it."

Since the land is still in the family, the number of transfers should not be all that great and would probably have been done by either a deed or a will. The place to start looking is at the local Recorder of Deeds office. The first deed by which the family acquired the property should be recorded there. It is possible that the original acquisition was by the purchase or patenting of federal land, but there should still be a record copy of that document at the county Recorder of Deeds office.

Subsequent transfers of land are probably within the family either through deeds or wills and probate documents. Deeds would have likely been from parent to child or from a group of heirs to the remaining heir. It is also possible that the transfers from one generation to the next were effected by will or probate records.

Searching the land records can be done by searching for the various family owners in the grantor/grantee indexes in the recorder's office. Given that Indiana is a federal land state it is also possible that lot or tract indexes exist. These geographic indexes would be the ideal ones to use since you know the location of the property and are wanting to document the chain of ownership over time.

The real estate in question could also be referenced in will or probate records for the various owners. As a consequence those records should be checked as well.

Lastly, real property tax records should indicate who was paying tax on the property during what time. Those records could augment what is found in other records and may help to fill in gaps that can't be located in land and will/probate records. Given the goal of your project, I would research the tax records last as the other record types discussed will likely provide the details for which you are looking.

FamilySearch Update: Colorado Naturalizations and Freedmen's Bureau Records

The following databases have been updated on FamilySearch:

Colorado, Naturalization Records, 1876-1990

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

United States, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Assistant Commissioner, 1865-1872

Copies from the DAR Genealogical Research Committee Reports Arrive

The copies of the Genealogical Research Committee Report that I requested from the DAR have arrived.

The title of the specific volume was "family bible records and other family records."

I had hoped that the entry was to a DeMoss family bible.

It wasn't.

It was a copy of a 1975 extract of the will of John DeMoss that was admitted to probate in Harford County, Maryland, in 1820. The extract was performed by a DAR member who lived in Pennsylvania which is why it was included in the Pennsylvania materials and not in the Maryland volumes.

I already have a copy of John DeMoss' will so the it wasn't a huge discovery and it certainly was not the bible record that I was hoping it was. As often happens in research, we may find the same document or record in different ways.

There are a few things to keep in mind.

This extract included all the names mentioned in the will. The original record book only indexes the name of the testator, not all the names of those mentioned. If I had only had the name of Christianna Rampley and not known her parents' names, this would have been a significant find. These research reports index materials that may not be indexed anywhere else.

I'll keep using the research reports of the DAR because sooner or later I may make a discovery there that I've not made anywhere else.

You don't know what something contains unless you look.

So what are the lessons from this exercise:

  • material in the DAR reports may be included in a geographic location that is unexpected
  • material in the DAR reports may index items that are not indexed elsewhere
These reports (in other volumes) also contain some tombstone transcriptions made over fifty years ago-perhaps from stones that are no longer legible. 

So while this wasn't a "new" discovery on Christianna, it did provide me with some reminders. And I would not have known what the item contained had I not requested it.

20 January 2015

FamilySearch Update: Boston Passenger Lists 1848-1891

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

Boston, Passenger Lists, 1848-1891

No John Aden: An Incomplete Land Claim not Referenced in the BLM Tract Book

In "Do You Need to Match the Edges?" we looked at a homestead claim relinquishment" signed by John H. Aden in 1872. As indicated in that post, John H. Aden filed his initial claim to the property on 7 June 1872. Typically these claims are recorded in the tract book. The There is no entry in the BLM tract book for section thirty in township 14 north 1 east for John H. Aden as shown in the image below.

There is an entry for Roolf J. Aden on the property he eventually homestead, but John H. Aden is not referenced as being an earlier claimant on the land. There are two other Adens who settled in the same section and they are likely relatives of Roolf or John H. Aden.

This raises an interesting research question and consideration. Typically researchers are advised to search these tract books for areas where their relatives are known to have homesteaded or patented land in order to locate patentees in the same general area who may have the same last name as the patentee or be known to the researcher.

I have seen incomplete or relinquished claims listed in the tract book and as we've mentioned in other blog posts, those claims can contain significant information. 

But now I'm wondering:

  • How many of these relinquished claims do not appear in the tract book?
I don't know. It could be that John H. Aden is a fluke.

Or maybe not.

Another example of why sometimes finding aids are not considered to be failsafe.

19 January 2015

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part IV

As expected, the testimony of Lieutenant Henry Markham differs slightly from that of William Kile as his peers. Markham made out a statement in Ringgold County, Iowa, on 6 November 1886.

He does not mention ordering the soldiers to stay put, but instead indicated that there simply was no time to move the men from their position alongside the warehouse because the men were so "alarmed."

Markham is also somewhat evasive about who was injured, but that does not seem unusual. There were quite a few men involved, Kile was not under his immediate command, and twenty years had elapsed between the incident and Markham's deposition.

It important to remember that what's material in this pension case is Kile's injury--after all, it's Kile's pension claim and not an inquiry into Markham's actions. Whether Markham should have ordered or allowed the men to move is a separate issue. It is possible that there are records contemporary to the incident that more specifically address Markham's behavior.

[begin transcription]

State of Iowa-Ringgold County

In the matter of clame No 525005 of William Kile late private of Co B. 37 Iowa Inft" I Henry C. Markham-resident of Mt Ayr Iowa state on oath that I was a First Left"[sic] of Capt. Joab Stovers Co of 27 Iowa Volunteer Inft" And was detaled With a squad of private soldiers from the 37 Iowa Inft and took command of said squad to guard a transport train from Memphis Tenn" to Hamelton or Hollow Springs (as it acors to my memory now) I do not now remember the name of the R. Road
marched said Detail from the Quarters of the 37 Iowa then on duty at Memphes Tenn" And to my best recolection and memory now William Kile was a member of said detail and was injured at the Memphis Dept" in the latter part of July 1864 while in the line of duty--under the folowing curcumstances as I now recolect them. After arriving at dept I halted the command preparetry[?] to getting aboard of transportation train on a side track of said R R and close to a ware Roome and in a few minutes after halting (having just arrived) there was send down said track a  lot of switching cars with oute notice to clear the track from any signell or Ringing of Bell
with sutch force that it was impossible for the soldiers to get away or giving me time to move my men and regardless of the consequences they continued that Speede and the men seeing the danger they was in and taken by surprise the result was the men be came so alarmed it was imposable for me to command or move them oute of danger and resulted I think now that one was Kiled and several was crushed and injured by the cars cruching them between the ware Roome Spoken of and the Space was as I now

recolect Sume 18 or 25 inches between the [rwy?] of moving cars and waeroome and to my best recolection now William Kile was one of those that was caught between the cars and war roome But say now where that injury was on the extent of it I am unable to say or do not remember but if injured it was as I have stated above.

These are the facts as I now recollect them not having any thing to refresh my memory as to names of the soldiers in my command except those detail from my own company and by a faint recolection of mine now I believe myself and his commanding officer of Co B and me had some talk about Kile but not a posative recollection as to any one oute side of my own Co--The above are the facts as I recollect them...Henry C. Markham
[end transcription]

The 1864 train incident involving William Kile was an unexpected discovery in his pension file. Our next research approach will be to locate Markham's service record and see if there is any mention of the incident.

That research is ongoing.

Stay tuned.

Source:6 November 1886 affidavit of Henry C. Markham, stamped as received in the Pension Office 12 February 1888, Civil War Pension File of William Kile, Company B, 37th Iowa Infantry Invalid’s Application #525005, Invalid’s Certificate #321230, NARA Record Group 15.

18 January 2015

What's A Record?

The copy of E. A. Wrigley's  Identifying People in the Past that I ordered recently has arrived.

I'm still working my way through it and, to be perfectly honest, it's a pretty academic read. For the faint of heart, there's even some mathematics and several charts and tables scattered throughout the text. The book is actually a series of six articles written by several different academics. More than anything it has gotten me thinking about terminology that researchers use, how records are created, and how one determines that two records are actually referring to the same person.

The definition of "record" interested me

In his essay "On referring to ordinary historical persons," Ian Winchester writes on page twenty-one Identifying People in the Past that "by a record, I mean, in general, any particular material object produced due to the presence of a once living person, which would not have been produced, had that person not lived."

Compare that to the definition of  a record in Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills, which states in the glossary (page 88) that a record is "an account of an event, circumstance, etc,; a piece of writing created to preserve the memory of certain 'facts.'"

I tend to like Winchester's definition as it is broad and all-encompassing. Mills' definition is specific to the fact that genealogists use records for the information they contain. 

One definition is not really better than the other. Most items that genealogists classify as records would meet both definitions. 

A death certificate for any individual meets both definitions of a "record." After all, if the person has never lived the record would not have been created and it certainly was created to preserve the "memory of certain facts." It does seem that Winchester's definition would include items that may or may not actually contain any "information." Of course, the definition of information is another matter entirely. 

Thinking about definitions and research methodology can easily enhance our research and get us beyond self-imposed limitations that often we are not aware of. And isn't that how we grow as researchers?

That's one for the record.

Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills, second edition, published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009, Baltimore, Maryland.

Identifying People in the Pastedited by E. A. Wrigley, published by Edward Arnold Publishers, 1973, London.

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part III

Our continuing series of "Loose Trains and Bolts to the Gut" continues with part of a deposition from William Kile himself. Kile adds a few new details that are not contained in other statements extracted to this point.

[begin transcription--extracted]

“At the time affiant received the injury complained of the detail which was composed of fifty men all from his regiment command of Lieut Markham of Co “G” The Regimental Camp was about two miles from the Depot. The detail was marched from the Camp to Memphis Depot to take a trail for Holly Springs as heretofore stated.

The detail upon arriving at the Depot was halted along the side of a large brick warehouse close to which and on the same side there was a side track for freight cars to be loaded from said warehouse. The detail was halted and the men were standing against said warehouse. The orderly Sergt” seeing the freight cars coming down on said side track ne
xt to the men stepped toward the Lieut in Command and spoke to him about the danger. The Leiut paid no attention to the Sergt” but by a motion of his sword ordered the Sergt back.

It was said at the time that the Lieut was intoxicated whether that was true or whether the Lieut believed the cars would be stopped before reaching the men affiant does not know. but no order or command was given to the men and in a moment the cars which were coming on the siding on a down grade were upon the men. At the point where affiant received his injury there was just twelve and a half inches of space between the car by which he was injured and the wall of said warehouse. A bolt or a nut on the end of a bolt struck him on the right side of the lower abdomen and turned him about half around tearing a hole in his lower abdomen causing the hernia complained of. Affiant was immediately taken back to the camp in an Ambulance where his injury was dressed and attended to by the Surgeon of the Regt who died soon after the Muster out of the Regt. Said Lieut Markham was immediately after said accident placed under arrest but what further proceedings were had in relation to the matter affiant does not know.”

[end transcription--extracted]

Kile's statement parallels the other two that have already been used in this series. He does add two significant pieces of information:
  • Markham was drunk
  • Markham was arrested
It is important to remember that those pieces of information are only as accurate as Kile's memory. Neither one may have happened, one may have happened, or both may have happened. Pension affidavits made by claimants are usually made to enhance the chance of their claim being approved. 

Kile also provides more detail about the incident itself, including how close the train was to the warehouse. 

Kile's statement makes the point that it's important to read all such statements in records of this type as one may contain statements not contained in other documents. 

It may be worth our time to research Markham's military career and see if there was any consequences to his actions at that warehouse in Memphis in August of 1863.

Stay tuned!

Source:18 July 1884 affidavit of William Kile, stamped as received in the Pension Office 23 October 1884, Civil War Pension File of William Kile, Company B, 37th Iowa Infantry Invalid’s Application #525005, Invalid’s Certificate #321230, NARA Record Group 15.

16 January 2015

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part II

We continue our exploration of the abdominal injury to William Kile at a depot in Memphis, Tennessee, with a letter written by an eyewitness to the incident. John Cunningham wrote to the Commissioner of Pensions in response to an inquiry for more information and a more detailed statement. Cunningham's letter is reproduced here first.

It's a little unnerving to imagine these soldiers standing by the warehouse seeing the freight cars headed their way and being unable to move.

[begin transcription]

To the Hon Mr. John C Black
Commissioner of Pensions
Washington D C

Dear Sir

Regarding My Information on the Claim of William [-] Kile one of the [---] that Sent out to guard the Supply Train from Memphis to holly Springs Miss under Charge of Lietenant Markem I was and Eye witness to the Accident at the Charleston Depot in Memphis he marched to the East Side of the Depot there A Railroad Track for Loading freight bordered one file of the Men Between the Track and the Brick wall one of the men Remarked that the men would

 all killed the place was [to?] other and Markim Refused to Some Loose freight under charge of A Brakeman Came Down the Track and squashed Down Every man of that file Some two or three were killed and Several others Badly Hurt Some thing Belonging to the Cars Struck William Kile in the Abdomen on the Right Side and Tore open the Lower Part of the Abdomen Which the Rupture as near as Can get at the Date it was in the month of August 1863 All Blame was to Lieutenant Markim I was on the Detail and Seen the whole of the Accident
                                                                                                Pleas Excuse my Pore Writing
Mr. John C. Black Commissioner of Pensions Washington D.C.

Yours Most Respectfully

John Cunningham
[end transcription]

Cunningham's letter was written response to this request (not transcribed here):

Stay tuned...we have two other statements from comrades of William Kile.

Markham himself also submitted a statement. And, as one can expect, his story was a little different.

Source: undated letter of John Cunningham, stamped as received in the Pension Office 22 May 1885, Civil War Pension File of William Kile, Company B, 37th Iowa Infantry Invalid’s Application #525005, Invalid’s Certificate #321230, NARA Record Group 15.

15 January 2015

Getting Copies from the DAR Genealogical Research Committee Reports

In all honesty, I've not actually used the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolutionary War) Genealogical Research Committee Reports too much.

That can be a mistake.

The reports were created from items that were extracted from various unpublished genealogical materials from across the United States by various DAR members. These submissions were grouped by state and "published," usually in a volume kept at DAR headquarters and in another volume sent to the appropriate state DAR body. It should be noted that these materials are not limited to the Revolutionary War time period.

Searching these volumes could be time consuming and tedious and difficult before the index was created. Not all of these volumes have been microfilmed by the Family History Library and utilizing them had to be done by physically using the volumes on site.

Some years ago, an index was created to these materials. That index is online and searchable at the DAR website. There is no charge to use the index.

A search of that database for the last name of Rampley resulted in several entries, one of which was particularly interesting: Christiana DeMofs Rampley. The reference had to be to my ancestor, Christianna (DeMoss) Rampley--after all how many people can there be with that name?

Clicking on the page number (160) pulled up the other names on the same page as Christianna DeMoss Rampley. Those names made it clear to me that I needed to obtain a copy of the actual page.

As mentioned, some of these reports have been microfilmed and are in the Family History Library--so their catalog should be checked if an item of interest is found in the DAR database of index entries. The DAR Library in Washington, DC, has a complete set of these printed reports and there may be duplicate copies housed in the states from which the materials were compiled--perhaps in a state historical library. 

An overview of the DAR Genealogical Research Committee Reports is available on the DAR website and it is recommended that those who have not used these materials look at that page first for additional background information.

I decided to request a copy from the DAR directly.  

Copies can be ordered through the DAR through their Search Services using the form on their website. I completed the PDF form, providing the state, series number, volume, number and page number as listed in my search results. 

Note; these reports do contain tombstone transcriptions and it is very possible that your non-Revolutionary war relative is in the index.

We'll post an update when the copies have arrived. 

FamilySearch Updates: GenealogyBank Obits and Oakland, CA Newspaper Records

The following databases on FamilySearch have been updated since our last post:

United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014--over 4,000,000 index entries

California, Oakland, Alameda County, Newspaper Record Collection, 1985-2011

Short Course-Organizing Genealogical Information-Jan/Feb 2015

Still time to join us---our first discussion isn't until 28 January!

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:
  • 25 January (or until day before class starts)
  • 1 February
  • 8 February
Discussions are at:
  • 28 January 4:00-4:30 pm.Central Time
  • 4 February 4:00-4:30 pm. Central Time
  • 11 February  4:00-4:30 pm.Central Time

14 January 2015

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part I

Civil War pension applications can contain a wide variety of information about the soldier and his family. The pension application of William Kile from the 37th Iowa Volunteers is no different.

One of Kile's comrades details his account of how Kile was injured in the Civil War. It wasn't a bullet that injured Kile. It was a bolt attached to a runaway freight car.

The Statement of Samuel R. Chase

[begin transcription]
I S. R. Chase residing at Moscow, Muscatine Co. Iowa do hereby testify that I am 75 years of age and was late a Private in said Co. B 37th Iowa Vols and that I was well acquainted with the said Wm Kile. I was one of the detail and an eye witness of the accident by which Mr. Kile was ruptured and was myself wounded by the same accident. There was some three of four Killed and quite a number wounded at that same time. The facts regarding the accident were briefly as follows. The sqaad on detail under command of Lieut Markham marched from camp to the Memphis depot and halted by the side of a large brick warehouse close to which there was a side track for loading freight cars from said warehouse some loose or detached freight cars in charge of breakman were being run down on said side track the Orderly seeing the danger of the mess spoke to Lieut. Markham who refused to give any order to change the position of the men but ordered them to stand as they were in a moment the cars were upon them said Kile was squeezed in between a freight car and the brick of said ware house and a boult or something projecting from the side of said car caught Mr. Kile in his right side and tore open the lower part of his abdomen causing the rupture of which he has ever since then been afflicted. I have no interest whatsoever in the claim of said Wm. Kile My Post Office is Moscow Muscatine Co. Iowa

                                                [signed] Samuel R. Chase
[end transcription]

Stay tuned. Apparently Markham didn't think the men needed to move from their position and Chase was not the only veteran who made such a statement.

Source: Statement of Samuel R. Chase, dated 23 October 1884, Civil War Pension File of William Kile, Company B, 37th Iowa Infantry Invalid’s Application #525005, Invalid’s Certificate #321230, NARA Record Group 15.

12 January 2015

Do You Need to Match the Edges?

 Digital images of original documents can sometimes be a little confusing when it's not clear what front goes with what back. 

That's what happened when I was working with a homestead application contained in the 
"Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936,"at Ancestry.com.

The original item of interest was an 1872 relinquishment by John H. Aden in the homestead application of Roolf Aden. 

It appeared to be a relinquishment of the property John H. Aden initially laid a claim to in 1871. In fact, this was the next digital image available--a receipt for John H. Aden's payment.

However, Ancestry.com, like many sites with digital images, contains no tags or method to be precisely certain which "front" goes with which "back." What it looked like was that the relinquishment was digitized first, even though it was the back of this document and it seemed logical that John H. Aden was relinquishing his claim approximately one year after he made it.

So I compared left hand edge of the receipt with the top edge of the relinquishment. It took a little rotating, but I was able to line digital images of the two edges up as shown in the image below.

click on image to enlarge
Comparing the edges makes it crystal clear that the receipt and relinquishment are the front and back of the same document.

In this case, I was already pretty certain that the images were from the piece of paper. But there are other records where it's not as clear.

A little copying and pasting may help you to determine if you really have the front and back of the same piece of paper. It also helps to make certain you are viewing both images at the same magnification.

And it also helps if there are jagged edges.

In the analysis of some records, confirmation that one has the front and back of the same piece of paper is crucial. If you've never experimented with such image manipulation, it might be helpful to try it with images you know are from the front and back of the same piece of paper. Practice helps.

10 January 2015

A Relinquished Homestead Application

I'm continuing to experiment with the "Nebraska, Homestead, Records, 1861-1936," that were recently posted on Ancestry.com. The image below appeared in the homestead application of a Roolf Aden in Butler County, Nebraska. It makes the point that effective searching needs to include the extended family as this John Aden does not appear in the index to these records as he was not the final claimant.

Apparently John H. Aden was a previous claimant to the property Roolf eventually homesteaded. The image used in this post was apparently taken from the back of a receipt John H. Aden received for his initial payment for filing his claim to the property in question.

One word is slightly difficult to read.

But the circled word on this statement is not really hard to read when done in context and when one realizes that John H Aden was not the man completing the claim. "Relinquish" makes perfect sense in this context.

The image reads:

"I hereby Relinquish to the Government of the United States My Right to the Within described land this 26th April 1872"

Attest [not certain]

[signed] John H Aden

No relationship between the Adens is given, but the Bureau of Land Management really was not concerned about that. In a future post we will see how I determined what this document was releasing as there is no indication as to what fronts and backs should be paired when using these images on Ancestry.com.

But reading the whole file located this reference to John Aden.

Aden could have an incomplete homestead application file that could provide additional information on him. Those records are at the National Archives. There should also be an entry for John's claim in the tract books from the Bureau of Land Management.

07 January 2015

FamilySearch Update: New York City Passenger Lists 1820-1891

This database on FamilySearch is showing as updated since our last post:

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891

I'm not certain how it has been updated or changed.

My Rampleys were Adverse and Notorious--Watch Out!

The meaning of words can get us in trouble if we are not careful. That's the case with some of the language in this affidavit.

Nancy Rampley's statement is actually recorded in the mortgage records of Hancock County, Illinois, and was recorded at the same time the Rampley heirs were involved in a partition suit over Riley Rampley's real property. There were deeds of ownership wherein Riley obtained title, but his estate was not probated upon his death in 1893 and it was not until 1907 that the heirs filed a partition suit to settle his real property.

Riley held an "open, adverse, notorious, and uninterrupted possession" in his real estate and his widow and children held such a joint "open, adverse, notorious, and uninterrupted possession" from his death until the filing of Nancy's affidavit.

It makes them sound like a bunch of hellraisers with shotguns fending off neighbors. Not exactly.

"Open," "adverse," "notorious," and "uninterrupted" as underlined in the document image, are being used in their legal context. Their usage does not mean the Riley was a mean, onry old cuss who went around shooting anyone who got near his property.

Generally speaking, these words are implying that the Rampleys made it known publicly ("open") that they were owners of the land (by living on it, farming it, and using all of it as a normal owner would) in such a way that another "true owner" would clearly know they were there. In other words, they were not hiding on the back forty hiding in a tent the whole time. Their possession of the land was uninterrupted--in other words they had acted towards the property in this way since Riley's death. The likely reason for this affidavit is that some time had elapsed between Riley's death and the family's partition suit and this affidavit discussed the family's ownership during that time period.

A complete reading of that partition suit does not indicate any petition or reference to someone else claiming to have an ownership interest in the farm. It does not appear there was some one else making a claim towards the property.

As often is the case with legal documents, words are used in their legal sense. Make certain you are interpreting them legally and not in layman's terms. You don't have to be a lawyer or even completely understand all the legalities of the terms involved in order to have a good handle on what was going on. It's important to remember that there may be nuances to the words of which you are not aware even if you have a good grasp of what they mean.

Additional reading (on which this blog post was partially based):

03 January 2015

Updated on FamilySearch: US Passports, El Paso and Honolulu Arrivals

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

United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925

Texas, El Paso Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of El Paso, 1905-1927

Hawaii, Honolulu Passenger Lists, 1900-1953

Minnesota, Clay and Steele County Obituaries, 1865-2006

Indirect Evidence Information is Inadequate?

 The inside front cover of Evidence Explained contains a nice one-page graphic on "evidence analysis." 

It refers to "indirect" evidence as "relevant-inadequate."

A too quick reading may leave one wondering "what?" How can something be relevant and inadequate at the same time? 

It can and it's an excellent situation where reading the entire book and remembering that graphics and charts are often used to provide quick visual summaries of the actual text is important. Charts are meant to jog the mind not replace it.

Indirect evidence is evidence that cannot answer a question all by itself. Indirect evidence can, with other indirect evidence and careful analysis and reasoning, answer a question. 

Indirect evidence just needs help. It needs more indirect evidence and a scaffold of support. 

That's why one piece of information which is labeled indirect evidence is called inadequate in the graphic on the inside front cover. 

That one piece isn't adequate by itself. 

Just like one brick isn't adequate to build an entire building.

There need to be other bricks (more indirect evidence) and mortar (arguments and analysis) in order to complete the building process.

I don't think Mills uses the building metaphor, but it works for me. 

And I'll avoid any references to mills being built of bricks and mortar. 


Note: We're not reproducing the chart here because it's a violation of copyright law do so without being asked and because that's just the way we do things here.