04 March 2015

One Mile to School in 1933 for the Ufkes Children--and No Hills According to the USGS Site

There's a site of historical USGS maps that may help you disprove that story of Grandpa walking uphill to school both ways....



While working on an unrelated post, I was reminded of the historical USGS topographic maps that have been posted online.

The image on this post comes from the 1933 map for Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. The only modification I made to the map was the "Fred & Tena Ufkes farm" notation (and the black line pointing to their house). My great-grandparents, the Ufkeses, would have been living there in 1933. All the Ufkes children (including my grandfather) attended the Union School which is shown in the northwestern corner of section 24 of Bear Creek Township. Not too far of a walk and a fairly flat one from the map (which I already knew).

These historical maps on the http://historicalmaps.arcgis.com/usgs/ site are a wonderful resource and a great way to locate former one-room schools. Churches are also indicated. There's one to the very very small "+" to the right of "farm." Cemeteries may also be noted as well, sometimes unnamed. There cemetery affiliated with the church near the Ufkes farm is approximately one mile north of the church and is indicated with an + with a box around it.


He Was Born in T: Being More Specific than the Database Won't Help

Too much information can be a problem in many ways. It can be a particular problem when querying genealogical databases created from original documents that may have information entered in a non-standard way.

Transcribers are encouraged to transcribe documents as they are written and not to transcribe them they way they think they should be.

That's what happened with the database entry in Ancestry.com's "Sweden, Selected Indexed Household Clerical Surveys, 1880-1893." for Samuel Johnson who was born in Tjarstad, Sweden, in 1867.

Searching for him with his birth place as that village brought back no results as shown below.

 That's because the only information listed for him as a place of birth is "T" and so that is what was transcribed.

I imagine the pastor from Tjarstad who compiled the Household Clerical Survey became tired of writing Tjarstad over and over--so he abbreviated it with a "T."

And that's how it got put in the index.


And that's how it should be done. 

Note: Samuel was searched for as an exercise simply for this blog post---and I discovered two entries for him in the Household Clerical Survey as a result.

Lesson number one: Avoid being overly specific in creating database searches. Sometimes too much information is too much.

Lesson number two: sometimes it pays to search for people you've already located. One never knows what might turn up.

1880 Era Household Clerical Register for Samuel--Part I

Ancestry.com recently announced an update to "Sweden, Selected Indexed Household Clerical Surveys, 1880-1893." As of this writing, the database is incomplete--Ancestry.com makes that clear.

But at this point, I'm happy as the database contains indexed entries for Tjärstad in the Östergötland province. Users of the database should confirm that their locations of interest are included in the index.

A not-so-quick search turned up the relative of interest: Samuel Otto Johansson Sund.

For those who have not used these records, the Household Clerical Surveys contain significant genealogical detail and are often cross-referenced to other records. Samuel is working on the farm of Jonan Mansson (line entry 6). I know this is the Samuel of interest as the date of birth and place of birth is consistent with records on him in the United States, although his name is slightly different--the addition of the Anders.

The "T" is relative here--and refers to Tjarstad, the parish in which this record was created. Like many records abbreviations may liberally used and are relative to the location and time period. The entry also references Samuel's migration to North America, which is known to have taken place during the time period of this register--an additional clue that I've got the right person.

Samuel was also vaccinated against smallpox and that's noted in the register.





We are working on a complete transcription/translation of this Household Clerical Register for Samuel.

Readers with Swedish ancestors may wish to take a look at Sweden, Selected Indexed Household Clerical Surveys, 1880-1893. on Ancestry.com. Like any database, the index is not perfect, but the ability to perform searches across all of Sweden is a significant ability.

Stay tuned.

03 March 2015

FamilySearch Update: IN Crew Lists; GA Pass. Lists; MS Freedmen; OH County Marriages

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

Indiana, Gary and East Chicago Crew Lists, 1945-1956

Georgia, Brunswick Passenger Lists, 1904-1939

Mississippi, Freedmen's Department (Pre-Bureau Records), 1863-1866

Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997

United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014


It Can Happen in an Instant

 Many things are relative.

The use of word "instant" (often abbreviated as "inst.") is one of those things.

Newspapers are one of the places where the genealogist first encounters "instant" in the sense of meaning "this month."

"Instant" does not necessarily mean in the past.

The 1865 newspaper reference indicated that the troops would start home on the "10th instant," meaning the 10th of that month--in this case June. In this case the date being referred to was in the future.

The 1805 reference "On the 2d inst." indicated that the event referenced happened on the second of that month. In this case the event being referred to was in the past.

It's all about context.

But "instant" means the same month--usually the month in which the item was published.

And that "instant" can be in future or in the past.

Just as long as it's in the same month.

FamilySearch: US, Burial Registers for Military Posts, Camps, and Stations,1768-1921

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


United States, Burial Registers for Military Posts, Camps, and Stations,1768-1921

I think this is "new," but I'm not certain

02 March 2015

A Telephone, A Mail Route, and Proximity to Schools: Selling a Farm in 1915

The classified ads in a newspaper can provide more clues about something than simply who was selling what and when.

This 1915 advertisement from Quincy, Illinois' Daily Journal contains a "for sale" notice for a farm owned by my ancestor, Henry Sartorius.

I don't know just from this advertisement whether Henry lived on the farm at the time of his death or not and I don't know how long he owned it.

County land records would tell me when the farm was purchased, but it's not going to tell me whether or not Henry actually lived there. Henry was for the time fairly well-set financially (we will see this in a future post) and it's possible that the farm was purchased for a son or son-in-law to operate. The property may or may not have been purchased from Thomas Coffield as farm names sometimes tend to hang around--sometimes after several others have owned the property.

The property is in section 6 of Camp Point Township--a slight distance from where Henry lived for most of his time in Adams County. Henry lived in Northeast Township in 1910 and had lived there sometime before that. Of course that length of residence elsewhere doesn't mean he wasn't living in Camp Point Township at the time of his death. Henry's death certificate would indicate his residence at the time of his death and the "heirs of Henry Sartorius" indicates that this sale was being transacted after his death.

The house did have a telephone, was on a rural mail route and was within 1/4 mile of a school. Apparently in 1915 those were advantages to be had in rural Adams County.






01 March 2015

Webinars: Brick Walls, BLM, Fold3, and Research Process

The week of 9 March means no classes, so we've decided to put on these genealogical presentations instead:

  • Brick Wall Strategies for 2015
  • Using the Bureau of Land Management Website
  • Using Fold3.com
  • Is Your Process the Problem?

Join us and grow your genealogical research skills!

See bottom of post for general directions. Can't attend live? Registrants receive a complimentary download after the webinar has been recorded. Live attendees can also request a complimentary download after the presentation. Our instructional style is laid-back, yet informative and thorough.

Brick Wall Strategies for 2015--Tuesday 10 March 2015-1:00 Central

Aimed at the advanced beginner and intermediate researcher, this presentation will focus on a variety of brick wall problem-solving strategies and is different from my "Brick Walls from A to Z" series. Discussion will be through specific example emphasizing the problem and the process used to work through it. We will also discuss knowing when you may be at the "end of the line." A basic knowledge of American resources is suggested. $6 includes registration and handout.

Using the Bureau of Land Management Site-Tuesday 10 March 2015-3:00 Central

This presentation discusses search strategies for the Bureau of Land Management website--which hosts a database of federal land patent extracts and images. It will include a brief discussion of legal land descriptions in federal land states before discussing the several ways the site can be searched and queried. The presentation will conclude with several specific examples and how the site was queried for additional information. $6 includes registration and handout.

Navigating Fold3.com-Thursday 12 March 2015--1:00 Central

Frustrated with finding databases and people on Fold3.com? This presentation will discuss search techniques for determining what Fold3.com has, what it doesn't and how to search the entire site and specific databases for individuals of interest. $6 includes registration and handout.

Is Your Process the Problem?-Thursday 12 March 2015--3:00 Central

Is your genealogical research process part of your problem? We will look at ways to organize your search, your problems, and your results in order to make the most effective use of your genealogical and financial resources. Geared towards beginning and intermediate researchers. $6 includes registration and handout.

Note:

Registrants will receive a GotoWebinar link and a handout before the webinar begins. No special software is required to participate in the webinar, but a high speed internet connection enhances the participation experience. Questions can be addressed to Michael at mjnrootdig@gmail.com. 




Group Family History Trip to Salt Lake Approaching!

There's still room, but today's the deadline for "early" registration for my trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake--details here.

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. 
Remember: 
  • 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:

http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2015/02/i-found-five-pages-and-im-going-to-use.html

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. 

Possible.

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.

Possibly.

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.

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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?