27 February 2015

An Asterisk On a Compiled Service Record

Another gem from the National Archives. No smoking guns here, but if you've ever seen a footnote in a compiled military service record from the National Archives and wondered what could be in that record, here's what happened in my case.

In "Muster-Out Versus Paid Out for the 78th Illinois," it was noted that there was a notation at the bottom of the muster out card in the compiled service record of Riley Rampley.

That notation read:
"The members of this regiment were finally paid June 20, 1865, and they are considered by the War Department as having been under military authority until that time.--R. and P.[Record and Pension Office] 370,781."

Out of curiosity (and for a possible blogging topic), it was decided to obtain these records from the National Archives. 

Record Group 94 (Adjutant General's Office), entry 502 (Record &
Pension Office document files - record cards), box 367, file # 370781

Record Group 94 (Adjutant General's Office), entry 502 (Record &
Pension Office document files - record cards), box 367, file # 370781

Company D was mustered out on 7 June 1865 in Washington, DC. The 78th was kept together as a unit and sent to Chicago, Illinois, where they received their final pay on 20 June 1865. Their pay date and muster out dates differed by thirteen days.

The distinction probably would not have been a problem except for one member of Company G--Henry Ferguson. Ferguson claimed a pension based upon an injury received between 7 June and 20 June 1865. Ferguson had five years from the date of his discharge to file his pension claim and he filed that claim on 15 June 1870--more than five years from the discharge date but not five years from the final payment date. And if Ferguson wasn't under military command on 15 June 1865, he wouldn't be eligible for a pension based upon his military service. And so after his claim was filed, the correspondence began.

That correspondence is recorded on twenty cards to which "R. and P 370,781" refers.

In summary...

The 78th arrived at rendezvous in Chicago, Illinois, on 11 June 1865 where then men awaited their final payment. They were provided military rations through 20 June 1865 and received final payment on that date. It was being under military authority at the rendezvous in Chicago and being provided rations until 20 June that was the essence of the reasons why Ferguson's pension was approved and the footnote was apparently put on the muster out card in the compiled service record of every man in the 78th.

As genealogical fate would have it, there was no mention of Riley or John Rampley in the card explaining the footnote on their compiled military service record muster out cards. The footnote explanation gave me details about the unit's movement and payment, but for the most part it was military correspondence regarding muster dates, pay dates, providing rations, etc. Chances are if the footnote had directly involved and impacted the Rampleys there would have been a notation or mention in their pension files.

Is It Information or Evidence that Anna Goldenstein Lived in Palmyra in 1914?

Does this qualify as evidence that Anna Goldenstein was living in Palmyra, Missouri, in 1914?

After all, it did appear in the newspaper and was (supposedly) taken from court records.

Does that alone make it evidence that Anna Goldenstein was actually living in Palmyra in 1914? Should I add that as a residence for her in my genealogical database.

I don't think so--particularly without analyzing it in more detail.

It's information that states Anna lived in Palmyra in 1914. But I'm not quite ready to put it in the category of evidence.

There are a few reasons:

It contradicts everything else I know about Anna. Contradiction in and of itself does not make one piece of information wrong. It does make it suspect and require that the information be analyzed further. Anna Goldenstein is known to have lived in the following locations during the approximate time periods:

  • Near Coatsburg, Adams County, Illinois, from her birth until shortly after her 1881 marriage to Focke Goldenstein.
  • Rural Dawson County, Nebraska, from roughly 1881 until 1889.
  • Near Basco, Hancock County, Illinois, from roughly 1889 until approximately 1905.
  • Near (or later in) Golden, Adams County, Illinois, from approximately 1905 until her death in 1932.
Never in Palmyra or even in Missouri--to the best of my knowledge. That "to the best of my knowledge" is key because there could be something about Anna in 1914 that I don't know. It is possible that she lived there temporarily. 

This is a derivative source. The information about Anna's residence as shown in this image is derivative because the newspaper is getting the information for this article from court filings. Those filings are the original source as they are the original record. Anna's residence was likely obtained from their court petition. It is very possible that the newspaper made a mistake. 

I've not seen the original. The actual court records will make it clear what they actually said. If those records indicate Anna Goldenstein lived in Palmyra, then I will be more inclined to add it to my genealogical database.

Not every piece of information is evidence. We have to analyze that information and decide if it's perceived reliability warrants us putting it in the evidence category.
What do I think happened? 

My intuition is that the newspaper got mixed up. None of three women the newspaper references as living in Palmyra are known to have lived there--they were Adams County residents. Another heir (not mentioned in this newspaper clipping) lived in Palmyra is the the likely reason for the error.

Ancestry, I'm Not From Jersey County and Spelling Errors Are Bad Enough!

We've blogged about this in the past, but since the errors have fallen on apparent deaf ears, we're mentioning it again.

One always has to take database search results with a grain of salt. That's always been true and will continue to be true.

One should always look at the actual image from which the database entry was created because transcribers, as humans, make errors, and sometimes additional details simply don't into a nice "field" in a database. 

But when databases have fields keyed incorrectly it's a problem because it impacts how searches are conducted. 

A search for "Goldenstein" in the "Indexed County Land Ownership" maps at Ancestry.com located this reference to T. Goldenstein.

It indicates that the 1916 map is from Prairie "Town" in Jersey County, Illinois. The fact that it should be Prairie Township is minor compared to the real problem.

The map isn't for a township in Jersey County, it's a map for Prairie Township in Hancock County. This was what I was actually hoping because I was unaware of any Goldenstein families in Jersey County.

The screen shot below is part of the actual map image. It shows that the database classifies the map as being from Jersey County, but the title page clearly indicates Hancock (oops!).

To keep the image size reasonable, I cut off the bottom portion of the map-which is where T[onjes] Goldenstein's farm was in section 36. The database entry was correct that he's listed on this image.

However, I quickly recognized the map and knew the reference to Hancock County (on the top of the page no less, was correct). The farm my grandparents lived on (not owned by them in 1916) is shown in orange. My uncle Andrew Newman's farm is shown in blue and my great-great-grandfather J. M. Habben's is shown in purple. Tonjes Goldenstein was an uncle as well--I have a lot of connections in Prairie Township.

But that's not the point. I shouldn't have to make discoveries because I stumbled upon someone else or I have a hunch the database entry is wrong. This error is not a simple spelling or transcription error. The location is wrong and that location is clear on the document itself. 

If Goldenstein had been a more common name, I would have narrowed my search parameters to only include Hancock County. 

And that wouldn't have located this reference using the database. With unusual names like Goldenstein "incorrect" entries aren't a "huge" problem because searchers often don't narrow their searches as much as they do when the names are common. But entries of this type are a problem.

And they really are a problem with a last name like Smith or Jones.

I'm not holding my breath that this gets fixed, but we will see. 

In the meantime, always consider the possibility that the database entry could have something wrong besides how your ancestor's name was spelled. 

As if searching for spelling variants isn't bad enough.

Note: In reference to the title of this post, there's nothing wrong with being from Jersey County. It's just that's not where I'm from--I'm a 6th generation Hancock Countian.

FamilySearch Updates:TN, MT, and UT Materials

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

Utah, Grand Army of the Republic Membership Records, 1879-1934

Montana, Sweet Grass County Records, 1887-2011

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

26 February 2015

Focke Goldenstein's Farm Sale is Front Page News

Newspapers today don't usually publish prices for specific pieces of real property.

That apparently was not the case in Quincy, Illinois, when the sale of my great-great-grandfather's farm was front page news.

Focke Goldenstein sold 100 acres of Adams County, Illinois, farmland for $110 an acre and apparently that was worthy of note on the front page of the Quincy Daily Whig in August of 1905.

I'm not a fan of "inflation" calculators, so I don't even bother computing that value in today's terms. Besides what really mattered was the relative value of $11,000 in 1905 terms. How did it compare to the cost of other items?

And that's not what I'm really interested in anyway.

I need to locate where this property was and obtain the deeds of transfer to and from Goldenstein. The county should have grantor and grantee indexes which should help me locate those records. Based upon what I know about Goldenstein, he likely did not inherit the property, but most likely purchased it himself. Land records will tell me that. They also may tell me what he paid for the farm as well.

What I'm really curious about is what Goldenstein did with the money. He did not retire and did not leave the Golden area.

Goldenstein is known to have purchased "rice land in Arkansas," which his son farmed in the late 1910s. Is that what Goldenstein did with the money?

That's going to take longer to answer as "rice land in Arkansas" is vague and I'll need a more precise location to find those records as they'll be recorded at the county level.

First steps towards finding the location of that "rice land" should concentrate on:

  • locating the son who farmed the land in the 1920 census--that will give me the county
  • access Focke's 1913 era probate information in Adams County, Illinois, as it may provide the legal description of the rice land in Arkansas. Hopefully the Arkansas rice land was inventoried in his probate in Adams County, Illinois, and not only listed in a separate Arkansas probate. Even if there was an Arkansas probate it is possible that the location of the rice land is mentioned in the Illinois probate.
And that's more interesting (at least to me) than what $11,000 is worth today. 

Because my suspicion is that 100 acres of farm land is worth more today than that inflation calculator is going to say the $11000 is.

24 February 2015

I Found Five Pages And I'm Going To Use It

You've found a recently published book that contains a lovely five page write up on your family. Here's some ways to responsibly use it:

  • Make a copy for yourself for your own personal use. This does not mean posting images of these pages to your Ancestry.com tree (public or private), your blog, website, or Facebook page. Make certain those personal pages for your personal use have a complete citation attached. We're not going to discuss whether copyright or fair use "allows it."  Reproducing someone else's work without their permission is something we we do not do and recommend readers do not either.
  • Read the material and see if you agree with it.
  • Read the material again to see if additional research is suggested. After all, a second reading won't hurt.
  • If you are using in any way, shape, or form, the author's conclusions about any specific events (eg. where someone was married and the location), cite the published book each time you use it to reference a specific event. Specific events are facts and can be phrased in short, to-the-point sentences.
  • Ask the author if they mind the use of brief passages (verbatim, in context, and cited) before quoting them. Indicate generally how the quote will be used. It may not be necessary, but I just find it courteous and prudent to do so. 
  • Facts cannot be copyrighted. "James Rampley was born in 1803 in Harford County, Maryland" is a fact. Anyone can use a fact--however, if a published book contains the first known discussion of the fact, it's prudent to cite the book as a source for that fact.
  • Paragraphs of reasoning are subject to copyright--such as:
  • "Thomas Smith was first known to have been living in Montgomery County, Kentucky in 1830 when he married Susannah Ruckerton. It is assumed that because there was no consent given in the marriage record that Thomas was of legal age to marry in 1830. This would mean that he was at least twenty-one years of age and born in 1809 or before. Thomas served in the Iowa Graybeard regiment and on his pension application indicated he was born in 1810. Thomas' death certificate indicated he was aged 80 (wow...he was old) upon his death in 1889, indicating he was born in approximately 1809. For these reasons, I have concluded that Thomas Smith was born in 1809 or 1810."

I could use the "fact" that Thomas Smith was born in 1809 or 1810 in my database and cite the book and page where I located the paragraph above. I could include that specific fact in my published genealogy and cite the book and page. What I should not do is include the entire above paragraph about Thomas Smith and his records in my published material.

Communicate with the researcher regarding the records they have found. If they won't or can't communicate then locate the records mentioned in their discussion. Transcribe and analyze them yourself. You may located additional information or draw conclusions different from the author. That's what researchers often do.

Oh, and remember--paragraphs of reasoning are subject to copyright even if they don't make any sense.

Link to this post via this URL:


FamilySearch Website Tips and Tricks Webinar Released

Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch -This webinar discusses ins and outs of using the the FamilySearch site,   searching by family structure, global searches, interpreting searches (and the differences between image databases, non-image databases, and similarly named databases) and troubleshooting. Also discussed are strategies when approaching an unindexed set of images, a new type of record series, or incomplete records. Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers. A recording of the presentation and the handout can be ordered here for $7--download is immediate and upon ordering a download link is sent to your email

Riley Was Sick in the Fall of 1863

These are the only two medical record cards for Riley Rampley based upon his Civil War service in the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

The fall of 1863 was not a good one for Riley. He was in the Regimental Hospital with dysentery and diarrhea.

He was admitted to the 14 Army Corps Hospital, Army of Cumberland, on 30 July 1864 and returned to duty on 2 August [edited from the original post which said "2 July" incorrectly] 1864.

That illness is mentioned in more detail in his pension record. Fortunately his pension doesn't mention the diarrhea, but it does mention something happening in late July of 1864.

These records were separate from Riley's compiled military service record.

Stay tuned.

Readers can learn more about these records on the National Archives Site: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/094.html#94.12.3

The 78th Illinois Is Coming Home!

In an ongoing effort to learn a little more about the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, I've been searching for the unit on GenealogyBank among other sites. 

And I ran across this little gem in the Springfield, Illinois, Daily Illinois State Journal from 10 June 1865.

The 78th was in the eastern United States at the end of the War. I'm wondering if the family John and Riley Rampley (who served in the 78th) knew they were on their way home. I'll have to look in the Hancock County, Illinois, newspapers to see if there's any mention of the 78th's returning to Illinois. The majority of the men in that unit were from Hancock and Adams Counties and their return would certainly have generated local excitement.

I've had moderate success searching digital newspapers for mention of the 78th Illinois. One has to keep in mind all the various iterations by which the unit could be referred:

  • 78th Illinois (the most common)
  • 78th Ill Inf.
  • 78 Ill Inf.
  • etc.
78 is not often spelled out due to space considerations. "Illinois" (or abbreviated versions) may not necessarily be near "78," so proximity searches need to be constructed with those two terms near and not-so-near apart.

23 February 2015

Was John Michael Trautvetter Even A Citizen?

George Trautvetter, his wife and children immigrated to the United States in July of 1853. The family apparently made a relatively direct route to Hancock County, Illinois, where George appears to have paid cash for a farm in the northern part of that county's Rocky Run Township.

Trautvetter made a declaration of intention to become a United States citizen in January of 1855 (part of which is shown in this blog post). If he completed the naturalization process, it was not done in Hancock or Adams Counties in Illinois and, given that he apparently lived in Hancock County until his return to Germany in the 1869/1870 time frame, it would have been unusual for him to have traveled elsewhere to naturalize.

George's sons, Michael, George, and Theodore were all born in Germany before their family's immigration to the United States. If their father had naturalized and if they had been under the age of majority at that point in time, they would have become citizens via their father's naturalization.

George returned to Germany (by himself) in 1869/1870 where he died. His wife and children remained in the United States. 

There are no naturalization records for the Trautvetter boys in the United States--at least none in Hancock County where they lived from 1853 until their deaths in the early 20th century. Census records for the Trautvetter boys indicate that they were United States citizens. There's no record of them ever having naturalized in their own right and their father apparently never naturalized.

It's possible that they thought their father was naturalized by the 1855 declaration of intention and that, since they were underage at that time, they were naturalized as well. 


Some immigrants were confused by the naturalization process--especially in cases where the citizenship status of the father was not clear. It's also possible that George (the father) intentionally never completed his citizenship status--particularly if in the back of his mind he thought that some day he may return permanently to Germany.


Updated on FamilySearch: Freedmen's Bank Records 1865-1874

The following database has been "updated" on FamilySearch since our last update:

United States, Freedmen's Bank Records, 1865-1874

Their website indicates it includes over 480,000 names.

22 February 2015

Dying While A Claim Was In Process

In "Bounty Land Warrants Go to Heirs Not Debtors in 1859," I mentioned a newspaper article from 1859 that discussed briefly that bounty land warrants were to be treated as personal property in estate settlements and what the process was for obtaining a patent to federal property if the warrantee had died before the warrant could be surrendered and a patent issued.

This image comes from a few years before that (1853), but the process was similar. The heirs of James Kile had to submit proof from the court that James had died and how his estate was being administered.

This petition from August of 1853 is one of the statements from the court that is contained in the surrendered bounty land warrant file for War of 1812 veteran James Kile.

Fortunately, Mercer County, Illinois, is not a burned record county, but if it had been this file would have been an excellent location to get some of the material regarding the settlement of his estate--particularly the names of his heirs.

If any of your elusive ancestors died while they were "in process" of a federal land claim, there could be local court documents in their file. Another relative was paying for federal land in Ohio on credit in the early 1820s when he died and there is mention of his estate settlement in his cash purchase file-unfortunately it's not as detailed as the documentation in the file of James Kile from 1853.

Did any of your ancestors die while completing a federal land claim?

Webinar Recordings Released: Females and Genealogical Proof

We've just released updated recordings of two of my more popular webinars: Female Ancestors and The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional. Now's a great time to check them out at the best prices around.

Female Ancestors. This presentation discusses approaches and techniques for female ancestors. Researching women in many locations is made more difficult because of laws and social practices of the time. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, this discussion focuses on American records and sources. The content is not specific to any one time period and many of the approaches can be refined for different locations or types of records. If you are stymied on your female ancestors--and half your ancestors are female--this may give you the insight you need. Order for immediate download--media file of the presentation and handout for $7. (You can view the presentation as many times as you want for your personal use.)

The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional. One of our most popular webinars, this presentation provides an overview of the “Genealogical Proof Standard,” including a discussion on the “exhaustive search.” The Proof Standard is not just for professionals, any genealogist who wants to improve their research and get past those stumbling blocks would be well served by implementing it in their research. Our discussion is practical, down-to-earth, and hands-on. Order for immediate download--media file of the presentation and handout for $7. (You can view the presentation as many times as you want for your personal use.)

19 February 2015

FamilySearch Update: GenealogyBank Obituaries

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

United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014

This database is an index to the decedent and the others named in the obituary--so search for the living as well who may be mentioned as parents, children, other survivors (or occasionally the minister).

The index entry can be viewed on FamilySearch. The text of the obituary can be viewed on  GenealogyBank.

Why Research Associates?

A recent Genealogy Tip of the Day mentioned searching newspapers for ancestral associates. It caused a reader to ask why researching associates was important. That's a good question.

Some of are fortunate enough that a significant amount of their genealogy can be traced relatively easily without researching all the individuals with whom their ancestors were associated. Some people do leave behind enough detailed records that accurately uncovering their parents, spouse(s), children, and vital events is not overly difficult. Personally it was easy for me to trace back to my great-great-grandparents without doing a whole lot of work.

Then it got more difficult. My relatives were on the frontier in states that did not keep vital records. They moved frequently. Not all of them owned land or left records that detailed their existence. Some left very few records at all.

In those cases searching the individuals with whom they associated became even more important as those individuals who appear on other documents with my ancestor may not have been random people who had absolutely no connection to my ancestor.

  • The witness on a deed may have been a brother-in-law, the brother of the man selling the property
  • The witness on a will may have been a step-brother of the man who wrote the will.
  • The men who serve as bondsmen when the widow is appointed administrator of an estate may have been her brother. 
  • The man who signed a marriage bond for a bride may have been her uncle or brother of her first husband. 
  • The man who makes an affidavit in a widow's pension where he states that he knew she was married to the soldier fifty years ago may have actually been her brother, her cousin, or former neighbor "back east."
  • The man from whom your ancestor bought their first property after heading west may have been your ancestor's cousin or other relative.
Is everyone with whom your ancestor interacted a relative? No, of course not. 

But those people with whom your ancestor interacted in various Bourbon County, Kentucky, records in the 1810s may have been former neighbors of his in Amherst County, Virginia, in the 1790s. And if you can't trace your ancestor out of Bourbon County, Kentucky--maybe you'll be able to trace his associates out of Bourbon County into Amherst and find your actual relative hanging out there as well.

Do you have to completely research every person with whom your ancestor associated in order to document his vital events and parentage? No. I have quite a few ancestors that were relatively easy to research without going to "all that work."

However, there are some for whom looking at the associates is crucial--for those associates may have left better records that help me track the actual ancestor and may either mention my ancestor or give me enough information on the associate that it helps me research my ancestor. Your ancestor usually doesn't interact with complete random strangers on legal documents. Witnesses, bondsmen, and others are typically people they knew before the document was drawn up. 

But there's more.

Those associates may have left journals, diaries or other materials that while they don't mention my ancestor do help me get a better picture of "what life was like" for my ancestor--giving me additional insight into his life. 

And even if your ancestor did leave behind adequate records that allow you to trace them, learning something about the associates may allow you to paint a more detailed accurate picture of your ancestor's life--and get beyond the vitals, names of parents, and children.

There's other reasons besides these to search associates...the key is to remember that unless your ancestor was a Hoover, they didn't live in a vacuum.

18 February 2015

Needing Permission to Get Married?

When searching and utilizing marriage records, do you always consider the age of the bride and groom? Do you ask yourself if they were of legal age to marry and what additional information may be in their marriage record if consent was required?

Going back as far as my great-great-grandparents, I only have two ancestral couples where one party was under the marrying age and required permission from their parents.

  • My maternal grandmother was 16 when she married in 1941. The marriage application gives the names of her parents (which I already knew) and her mother gave consent for the marriage. Her mother did not sign the marriage application and the application only says "mother" gives consent. All marriage applications during this time in Illinois required names of parents so that information being on the application is not unusual.
  • My great-great-grandmother Trautvetter was 17 when she married in 1868. Her family lived some distance from the county seat and her husband-to-be apparently obtained the license at the courthouse by himself, taking a letter of permission for her to marry signed by her parents. 
Remember that the age to marry with (or without) consent is set by state statute and can vary over time. Do you always take the age of the marrying parties into account when searching marriage records to make certain you have obtained the entire record?

Webinars This Week: FamilySearch, Females, and Genealogical Proof Standard

Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch  (Moved to 21 February 2015 at 4:00 pm central time)-This webinar discusses ins and outs of using the "new" family search,   searching by family structure, global searches, interpreting searches and troubleshooting. Also discussed are strategies when approaching an unindexed set of images, a new type of record series, or incomplete records. Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers. Registration is $6 and can be done via this link

Female Ancestors--February 21, 2015 (1:00 PM central time). This presentation discusses approaches and techniques for female ancestors. Researching women in many locations is made more difficult because of laws and social practices of the time. Geared towards the advanced beginner or intermediate researcher, this discussion focuses on American records and sources. The content is not specific to any one time period and many of the approaches can be refined for different locations or types of records. If you are stymied on your female ancestors--and half your ancestors are female--this may give you the insight you need. Registration is $6 and can be done via this link.

The Genealogical Proof Standard for the Non-Professional--February 21, 2015 (2:30 PM central time). One of our most popular webinars, this presentation provides an overview of the “Genealogical Proof Standard,” including a discussion on the “exhaustive search.” The Proof Standard is not just for professionals, any genealogist who wants to improve their research and get past those stumbling blocks would be well served by implementing it in their research. Our discussion is practical, down-to-earth, and hands-on. Registration is $6 and can be done via this link.

Presentations are made via GotoWebinar. Registrants who are unable to attend live or who have internet connection issues during the presentation can receive a complimentary copy of the recording for personal use only.

Compiled Military Service Records from the US Civil War on Fold3.com--Sometimes

After posting a link to Riley Rampley's compiled military service record for the US Civil War to Genealogy Tip of the Day a reader reminded me that some of these materials are available on Fold3.com

This is true, but the materials on Fold3.com are not complete for the compiled military service records for the Civil War. Many states, as of this writing, only have the index cards available. This is true for several states, including Illinois from which Riley served.

Readers with a Fold3.com membership can view the images on the site. Just remember that what Fold3.com has is not complete.

Like most fee-based sites, they don't remind you that there are other materials out there that they don't have. Readers can always get copies from the National Archives.

You can browse Fold3.com's Civil War Collection on their site for free--to determine what they have. Viewing actual images requires a subscription. Fold3.com can be used at local FamilySearch Family History Centers at no charge or through a personal subscription to Fold3.com.

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part X

Our series on the compiled military service record on Riley Rampley concludes with cards compiled from the muster-in roll and the company descriptive book

This wraps up our series of posts with images of Riley's compiled military service record cards. 

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

17 February 2015

Bounty Land Warrants Go to Heirs Not Debtors in 1859

An earlier post mentioned searching newspapers for references to ancestral associates. While searching for information on man to whom a relative assigned a warrant, I came across the following newspaper item from 1859:

[from the St. Albans (Vermont) Messenger 12 May 1859]

1) That the bounty land warrants issued by the United States are declared by the act of Congress, approved June 3, 1858, to be personal property. 

2) That such warrant cannot be sold by an administrator of the estate of the deceased warrantee, for the payment of debts contracted by such warrantee.

3) That such warrants, when issued during the lifetime of the warrantee, and not disposed of by him, become, if he die intestate, the property of his heirs-at-law, in accordance with the law of the domicil, and cannot be attached and sold for the payment of his debts. [If he dies intestate, see fifth paragraph following.]

5) [sic] Warrants issued after the death of the warrantee, but upon proof filed during his life-time, become the property of his widow, if there be one; and if no widow, then the property of his heirs-at-law, without regard to their age.

5) The proceeds of the sale of a warrant made by an administrator is the absolute property of the widow herself, or legatees, without regard to any debt contracted by the warantee; but the practice of this office has been to recognize assignments properly made by an administrator for distribution of the  proceeds among the heirs-at-law, after payment of the funeral and proper court expenses. 
[Attorney's and administrator's fees, not taxed by the court, are not regarded as proper court expenses.]

6) The rules of this office require, in all cases, when a warrant has been sold by an executor that a duly certified copy of the will, with letters testamentary, shall be attached to the warrant; and in cases where a sale is made by an administrator or guardian, that certified copies of the letters of administration or guardianship shall be attached; and that the sale has been made for the use of the heirs only must be shown either in the assignment or in the papers submitted with each case.

[end transcription]

What does this mean? 

It appears that bounty land warrants in the possession of a deceased warrant holder were to be considered personal property instead of real property. This makes sense as warrants were not documents that transferred title to any specific real property. They were vouchers which could be redeemed for a tract of a specific acreage amount within the federal lands. 

If an executor, administrator, or guardian were to sell a warrant owned by a deceased warrant holder, certified copies of their appointment as executor, administrator, or guardian were to be included along with the surrendered warrant. The executor, administrator, or guardian may also have submitted a certified copy of the court order authorizing the sale of the warrant as well. 

So...in burned record counties where no local records exist, copies of some estate papers may appear in the surrendered warrant file along with the warrant. Of course, all surrendered warrants which were sold and assigned by an executor, administrator, or guardian should include this paperwork.

Some of the "best" federal land claims, from a genealogical standpoint, are those where the warrantee or out right purchaser (in the case of land sales) died before the process could be completed. 

The bounty land warrant James Kile of Mercer County, Illinois, received for his War of 1812 service was one such warrant. It was inventoried in his estate and sold by his administrator-along with all the concomitant paperwork as discussed in the newspaper article. We'll post a few images of that record in upcoming blog posts. 

The upside for the heirs of a federal land warrant holder were that the warrant could not be sold to pay his debts---at least according to this newspaper article. 

Sometimes it pays to search sites such as  GenealogyBank and the Chronicling America collection for more than just ancestors--and to browse through articles in those papers besides ones that include your ancestor's name. 

Sometimes the best finds don't mention ancestors at all. 

Welcome to Our New Readers/Followers/Fans!

We've added quite a few new readers over the past week or so and I'd like to welcome them.

Our mix of topics and content is eclectic, based upon whatever family I'm working on at the moment. I only write about my own families and my own research.

I don't post press releases or other "new" items--there are other sites that do that.

I don't take research requests, but if there's a topic on which you'd like to see a follow up or an area you'd like to see a blog post on, please let me know (mjnrootdig@gmail.com). I won't make any guarantees, but knowing there's interest in a certain topic or person we've written on before helps me to focus my research and writing time.

In the short term, I'm posting images of a variety of National Archives records to help give exposure to those materials.

We've got some interesting things coming, so stay tuned--and feel free to send ideas and suggestions--otherwise you'll end up reading about whatever interests me.

And, as always, thanks for your support of this blog. It is appreciated!

Feel free to let your friends know about us as well--there is no marketing budget here ;-)

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part IX

Our series on the compiled military service record on Riley Rampley continues with cards compiled from muster rolls in 1864.

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

16 February 2015

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part VIII

Our series on the compiled military service record on Riley Rampley continues with cards compiled from muster rolls in 1863.
Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

Did Your Relative Assign their Land Warrant?

We often use names of associates for clues, but sometimes associates may not be as closely associated with our relatives as we would like.

I came across this advertisement in the 1856 Abbeville Banner while searching for something else and it got me to thinking about those land warrants I have that a relative assigned to someone instead of patenting the property themselves.

In a few cases, the person to whom they assigned the property was clearly a relative. In other cases the assignment was not made to a known associate.

Now maybe I should search newspapers to see if the person to whom my relative assigned a bounty land warrant advertised that they were willing to purchase such warrants. Sites such as  GenealogyBank and the Chronicling America collection may digital images of newspapers that have ads of this type.

15 February 2015

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part VII

Our series on images from the compiled military service record for Riley Rampley continues with these three images from 1863 and 1864.

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part VI

Our series on images from the compiled military service record for Riley Rampley continues with these three images from 1864 and 1865.

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

Our Other Update List

Periodically I send out email updates about genealogical events, summaries of popular blog posts, announcements, webinars, and other items--separate from the postings to this blog and with email addresses kept in a separate list and not sold, shared, traded, etc.-just like the emails on this blog.

If you'd like to receive these updates--subscribe via this link. You can easily unsubscribe to this update and announcement email without giving up your subscription to this blog. That's why the emails are kept on a separate list.

Using this separate list allows us to focus this list on it's genealogical content. If you want to receive the announcements, subscribe. If you want to just keep getting the posts to this blog, do nothing.


George Rothweiler Disappears in 1904: Part II

We complete the transcription of the article on the disappearance of George Rothweiler from the Belleville News Democrat of 21 January 1905. There's a slight twist at the end.

[begin transcription]

"Rothweiler says he left home in the hope of bettering his condition, but that he has thus far failed to meet with success anywhere. He has traveled hundreds of miles, he says, but during his trips has failed to find a place as good as 'dear old Belleville.'

His wife states that she will not send him the money to get out of jail. The spouse, she says, failed to inform her of the fact that he intended to leave, and that now he could get back to Belleville in any way that he possibly could."

[end transcription]

Well that's an interesting, if understandable, response. 

I'm still wishing that the wife was named specifically in the article. Going forward, I'm looking for additional references to George Rothweiler in GenealogyBank and other newspaper websites. The first part of this article suggests that there might have been other articles published about Rothweiler's disappearance when it was first noticed. He had been gone for several months when his wife received the letter that prompted this article. Those earlier articles may provide additional details on his family. It's important to remember that locals in the Belleville area would have known who George Rothweiler was so the additional details were not necessary to them in 1905.

And the question remains: did he come back to Belleville? Was there an eventual divorce?

This newspaper account located on GenealogyBank may be only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Stay tuned.

Taking the California Zephyr to Salt Lake for My Group Trip

With the unfortunate cancellation of CSIG this year, I've decided to take Amtrak's California Zephyr to Salt Lake on my annual group trip

Michael's Train Schedule

I'm taking the California Zephyr from Galesburg, Illinois. If you'd like to take the train with me either way, here are my departure dates:

  • leave Galesburg on the Zephyr on 17 May which arrives in Salt Lake on 18 May around 10:30-11:00 pm. We'll all take a cab to the hotel.
  • leave Salt Lake City on the Zephyr on 28 May at 3:30 or so am., headed east. 

14 February 2015

FamilySearch Updates:

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

Illinois, Soldier burial places, 1774-1974

This index appears to have been created from a finding aid at the Illinois State Archives and in some cases lists the name of the township instead of the name of the cemetery--without using the word "township" as part of the entry.

Reading and Interpreting 18th Century Probate Records for Beginners

Reading and Interpreting 18th Century Probate Records -This webinar will discuss reading, interpreting and analyzing 18th century probate records through specific examples. Transcription techniques will also be included. Complete handout will be sent as a PDF file to all registered attendees. Aimed at advanced beginners and intermediate level researchers. Focus is on practical transcription techniques. If you registered for this presentation in November and were not able to attend live, email Michael for a complimentary link to attend.

This session is over and has been recorded. The recording and handout can be ordered for immediate download for $7.50

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part V

The next three cards from Riley Rampley's compiled military service record are from 1864 and 1865. They are from his entries on the:

  • Muster-out roll
  • Muster roll from March and April of 1865
  • and a return from July of 1864 indicating he was "absent sick."
When we revisit his pension, we'll see more about that July 1864 absence.

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

George Rothweiler Disappears in 1904: Part I

A little searching on  GenealogyBank located an article on an extended member of my Trautvetter family. Apparently Theodore Trautvetter wasn't the only member of his larger family whose disappearance involved a train. 

The article transcribed is from the Belleville News Democrat from 21 January 1905 and was obtained on  GenealogyBank.

[begin transcription]

Geo. Rothweiler in South Dakota

Teamster Who Mysteriously Disappeared from Here Four Months Ago

Writes Letter to Wife

States That He is a Prisoner in Jail for Beating His Way on a Train

The mysterious disappearance of George Rothweiler, a well-known teamster of this city, who has been missing from here for the past four months, has been cleared. 

A letter received by his wife on Friday afternoon, dated South Dakota, imparts that he is a prisoner in a jail in South Dakota.

Rothweiler, it will be remembered, left his home four months ago to go to work. He failed to show up for work and also failed to return to his home in the evening.

The disappearance was reported to the police and every effort was made to discover a clue which would lead to the discovery of the whereabouts of the man. 

Nothing, however, was discovered, and Rothweiler's wife concluded that her husband had met with foul play.

Her surprise, therefore, can be imagined when on Friday she received a letter from Rothweiler. In the letter he stated that he had been arrested for beating his way  on a train. He also said in the letter that if his wife would send him $5 or more he would be able to get out of jail.

He says that he as been under arrest for the past two months, and that he is very anxious to get back to Bellville.

Rothweiler says he left home in the hope...

[end transcription]

Stay tuned...there's more to this item.

What's a little frustrating about the newspaper item at this point is that Rothweiler's wife is not named. I'm trying to make certain he's the same George Rothweiler who was a member of my extended Trautvetter family and my attempts to do that at this point are focusing on census records and city directories. 

Why Original Versus Derivative Matters

On page 24 Elizabeth Shown Mills in  Evidence Explained (2007, Genealogical Publishing Company) defines the following terms:

  • original sources as "material in its first oral or recorded form." 
  • derivative sources as "material produced by copying an original or manipulating its content."
Reasonable researchers may slightly disagree about whether certain specific sources are original or derivative. And that's ok. It really is. The genealogy world will not end. 

What's important is that the researcher thinks about the source that they are actually using, how it was created, and how it came to their possession. Did they see the actual deed the owner signed giving their ancestor ownership to a certain piece of property? Did they see the record copy of that deed in the county recorder's office in the courthouse? Did they see a microfilmed copy at the Family History Library of the record book? Did they use a published transcription of the book made by a local genealogical society? Or did they see an abstract of title for the property in question  which was compiled from extractions made from the record copies of the deeds? Whew.

Making that clear is what really matters.  Letting others know exactly what you used really matters. 

I tend to take a conservative approach--original is the first time something is written down and derivative is everything else. Usually original items are a will or deed an ancestor actually signed, the baptismal certificate signed by the pastor, etc. I just find that use of the phrase easier and more consistent. Anything that doesn't meet this "first time criteria" is derivative. Once I start making exceptions to that "first oral or recorded form," I start getting confused. I don't like being confused.

Describing something as original or derivative is not the same as evaluating its perceived reliability. Some original sources aren't worth a pewter of warm spit and some original sources are highly credible. If your analysis of a source only hinges on classifying it as original or derivative, then you simply need more hinges. 

Don't get me wrong. It's crucial for researchers to understand the difference between original and derivative sources. But it's important to acknowledge that reasonable researchers may see a variety of shades of gray between those seemingly black and white definitions. 

And that's ok. If a researcher clearly explains exactly what they used (eg. The Family History Library's microfilmed copy of the county deed record book) then others can use that to base evaluation decisions. 

And if you don't know what source you used, it matters little whether you classify it as original as derivative. 

That's classified as dreaming!

Which Great-Grandchild Are You?

Regular readers know that I'm not a big fan of writing prompts, memes, or other activities that I loosely categorize as "busy work." I've got a long list of things to write about as it is, don't really follow the crowd in any way shape or form, and usually need to see a reason behind doing just about any activity.


I got to thinking about my great-grandparents and their great-grandchildren the other day. I realized that in my attempt to document the deceased, I really, out of personal preference, don't document the living as much as other genealogists do.

In the case of two sets of great-grandparents, I know (off the top of my head) where I fit in the age order of all their great-grandchildren.

  • Fred (1893-1960) and Tena (Janssen) (1895-1986) Ufkes--I'm the oldest great-grandchild. In fact for nearly twenty years, my brother and I were their only great-grandchildren. 
  • Charlie (1875-1948) and Fannie (Rampley) (1883-1965) Neill--I'm their third oldest great-grandchild. Two of my first cousins are the oldest great-grandchildren and then there's me. At least I'm pretty certain.
  • George (1869-1934) and Ida (Sargent) (1874-1939) Trautvetter. I'm not certain where I fit into the age order of great-grandchildren. 
  • Mimka (1881-1969) and Tjode (Goldenstein) 1882-1954) Habben. I'm even less certain where I fit into their list of great-grandchildren. 
Do you know where you fit in your great-grandparents' list?

Something else to add to my to-do list (grin!).

13 February 2015

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part IV

This post in our series on Riley Rampley's compiled military service record includes three cards from 1863. Note that the entry for July and August of 1863 has his name listed as "Ryley."

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

FamilySearch: Freedmen's Bureau and NY Naturalization Index

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

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

New York, Naturalization Index (Soundex), 1792-1906

12 February 2015

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part IV

Our series on the compiled military service record on Riley Rampley continues with cards compiled from muster rolls in 1864 and 1863.

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part III

This post includes the first three cards (in reverse order) in the compiled military service record for Riley Rampley. He was listed as present on the cards compiled from muster rolls in 1862 and 1863.

Again these aren't the actual muster rolls, they are card entries created from the actual muster rolls and were transcribed by a copyist and checked by a "comparer."

How Did I Know Who Wrote on the Back of the Photograph?

I'm working on an update/followup to the "Source Within A Source" post thanks to several private emails that I received. I think there are several ways to handle the citation with the overriding goal of providing as much information about how the image and identification was done as possible.

However a "Genealogy Tip of the Day" (which was written some times ago--long before it was published) reminded me of another element of the identification process:

How do you know the identify of the identifier?

That's important to know and sometimes we do have photographs that have identification on the back of them, but the person who did the identification is no longer alive.

In my citation of the identification of the individuals on photograph on which these names are written, I need to indicate how I knew who wrote these names (if possible). That knowledge gets at how accurate I think that identification is.  In the case of the illustration, I'm pretty certain the handwriting is that of my great-aunt, but I'm getting confirmation of that from her daughter. There were pictures in my great-aunt's collection that were identified. Based on the handwriting on the backs of those photograph, several different people wrote on those photos.

And if it's possible for me to determine who wrote on them, I should indicate their identity. And how I made the identification of that handwriting is also something I should include.

We'll have an update on this photograph in a future post.

There's always something to cite.

11 February 2015

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part II

click on image to view larger image
We continue our posting of the compiled military service record with a very highly exciting item.

This is the back side of the pouch for the compiled military service record. One does never know what information may be on the back side of a pouch.

In this case, there appears what may be a reference to his military tombstone being approved.

Those tombstone records are on Ancestry.com and we'll look and see what that tombstone application says.

Stay tuned!

Compiled Military Service Record of Riley Rampley-Part I

This is the cover pouch for the compiled military service record of Riley Rampley who served in Co. D of the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in the American Civil War.

Over the next several days, we'll be posting a complete set of images from Riley's compiled military record. The whole set has been received, all I need to do is process the images.

We won't probably post too much discussion of each image, but are hoping that readers who have never seen color digital images of these records will get a better feel for what they contain.

Stay tuned!