30 March 2015

If There Was A Bear in the Creek, I'd Never Find It On Ancestry.com

Locations are crucial to genealogical research.

Ancestry.com understands that in theory. I'm not so certain they understand that in practice.

One of the civil townships in Hancock County, Illinois, is Bear Creek Township. Bear Creek Township has been called Bear Creek for some time. How long I'm not certain, but Hancock County adopted township government in November of 1849.

Ancestry.com obviously knows that Bear Creek Township exists--they've coded it in as location in the 1910 census as shown below.



However, Hancock County's Bear Creek Township does not appear in Ancestry.com's drop down list of locations.

How hard can it be to include geographic locations from the census in the drop-down list of geographic locations? It certainly would make it easier for the user to narrow their searches to just Bear Creek Township if desired (now the workaround to search just Bear Creek Township is to use "bear creek" as a keyword and search only in a location of Hancock County, Illinois). It's frustrating to have to gerryrig the search for some locations and not for others.

What about Bear Creek Township?

Bear Creek Township--from Wikipedia
 placed in the public
domain by creator Omnedon
Errors like this are frustrating for paying users of Ancestry.com. The naive user will think the location does not exist if it's not in the drop down menu. They may even blame themselves for not being able to find it. Experienced users will realize that it's probably just a quirk in Ancestry.com's system and see what workarounds are available.

Cynical users will wonder if Ancestry.com can't manage to find a 36 square mile area in Illinois what else can't they find?

Keeping Track of the Ps and Ws

Abbreviations and symbols are great, but can be confusing when users are unaware of what they mean.

Such is the case of P and W on the Bureau of Land Management website.

The results page on the Bureau of Land Management website indicates that names on the patent are either the name of a warrantee or a patentee. The warrantee is the person(s) who qualified for bounty land based upon their or someone else's military service. Warrants were for a specific amount of property--but not location specific. The patentee is the person to whom a deed was issued for a specific piece of property. Patentees could have obtained title to federal property through a cash sale, a preemption claim, a homestead claim, surrendering their own warrant, or surrendering a warrant they had purchased from someone else (in addition to a few other ways).

Generally speaking cash land sales have the least in the way of genealogical documentation. Homesteads, preemption claims, and warrant applications have more genealogical material in them.

We've mentioned these files in the past, but will be looking at some new examples in upcoming blog posts.

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If you'd like to learn more about federal land records, check out my three webinar offerings on this topic.


How Do You Know Who Those Tic Marks Are?

It can be difficult in pre-1850 United States census records to know to whom reference is made in various age category tick marks.

Usually the person listed as the head of the household is the oldest male shown in the enumerator's tick marks. However there are potential exceptions:

  • a widowed female is the head of household and the oldest male is her underaged son or the oldest male is her aged father or father-in-law who may not actually be the actual "functional" head of household but is still living in the household
  • the oldest male is the father or father-in-law of a younger male in the household and that younger male is the actual head of household
We'll have a future post about "Grandma and Grandpa" hiding in the pre-1850 census tick marks.

29 March 2015

Newspaper and Ancestry.com Census Search Strategy Webinars Released


Getting More From Newspapers

There is more to newspaper searching than obituaries and marriage announcements. In this presentation, we will see how to see what newspapers are available, both digitally and on microfilm. We will look at effective search techniques for online newspapers, including search structures, keyword searching, and more. We will also discuss approaches for accessing newspapers that are not available online. Order an immediate download of this product.

Effective Census Search Strategies for Ancestry.com

There is more to searching the online census than simply putting a name in a box and clicking. We will look at effective use of wildcards, soundex options, location parameters, and more. Included will be a discussion of a general organizational strategy so that searchers spend less time "going in circles. This presentation is not sponsored or endorsed by Ancestry.com and Michael John Neill is not an Ancestry.com employee. Order an immediate download of this presentation.

View a complete list of webinars here.

27 March 2015

FamilySearch Update: Massachusetts Marriages 1695-1910

This database is showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Massachusetts, Marriages, 1695-1910

I suspect that it's not new--but rather updated. How updated it is I can't say. Nor can I say how complete the coverage is for any specific county.

Venters...

I don't often repost items from Genealogy Tip of the Day here as many readers get both, but for those who missed our "venter" tip--it can be seen here.

26 March 2015

Why No Index

"Those who use the book as a part of the research for ancestors can well afford the relatively few hours necessary to read the entire book..."

Now there's an interesting thought.

The 1958 genealogy of the Kile family has no index. In place of the index is a one page statement "Why No Index."

The author makes some good points. Indexing a book in 1958 was a more intensive process than it is today.

And reading the entire book is never a bad idea--just looking at the one page that mentions the person of interest can easily cause the researcher to overlook other significant information.

25 March 2015

He Wore His Hair Plaited in 1774

In all honesty for a long time I never searched for any relatives in newspapers before 1850. The reason was simple--they simply were rarely mentioned.

That was a mistake--although it's a rare find for me to locate a reference such as this from 1774.

Absalom Hooper and a few of his cohorts--Innis Hooper, Charles Holmes, Richard Holloway, and Reason Young--murdered a Mr. Corbonneau and four other unnamed persons on the Mississippi River according to this newspaper reference from 1774.

According to the article Innis Hooper and Charles Holmes were convicted and sentenced to death. Absalom Hooper, Richard Holloway, and Reason Young were indicted for murder and have "escaped the hands of justice."

The article goes on to describe Hooper as five feet eight or nine, "stoops much," has long light colored hair (which he generally wears plaited) and is about thirty years of age. The other two are also described. Reason Young shaves his head and often wears a silk cap or a handkerchief on his head.


I've known about this incident for a while, but have never researched it. Maybe it's time to do a little additional sleuthing.

Search for items on your ancestor in newspapers at GenealogyBank.

Using Archive.org and WorldCat Webinars Released.

I've just released recorded versions of these two presentations. Archive.org has scans of thousands of books--all downloadable in multiple formats (including Kindle for many). WorldCat allows researchers to search thousands of library card catalogs at once--including for print and manuscript materials.

Using Archive.org

Archive.org is a free resource containing digital scans of thousands of out of copyright books and thousands of rolls of microfilm (including all 1790-1930 United States Federal census records) Learn how to effectively search for specific materials, navigate the site and interact with uploaded items, and download items for personal offline use in a variety of formats. You will be using the site for days after you've seen what's available on this free site. Download the recording for only $8.

Using WorldCat

WorldCat contains an online library catalog for libraries across the entire United States and many foreign countries. Search thousands of library card catalogs in one interface. See effective ways to search for print, microfilmed, and manuscript materials on this site that contains millions of library catalog entries. Download the recording for only $8.

24 March 2015

FamilySearch Updates: TX Marriages, KY Probate, PA GAR Records

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


Texas, World War I Records, 1917-1920

Pennsylvania, Grand Army of the Republic Membership Records, 1866-1956

Kentucky Probate Records, 1727-1990

United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014

Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1977


Evidence of a Canine But No Passport

I've made no headway on locating  the five "passports" for the dog of Marie/May Drollete as mentioned in an earlier post. However, I did come across a picture of the dog in a 1921 article on Drollette in the Evansville Courier. It's not often I come across pictures of relatives and their pets in the newspaper.

That still doesn't answer the question of the "dog passport."

I'm inclined to think that Drollette was referring to some type of permit for the dog to board the ship and to accompany her on the voyage from Hong Kong to the United States.  After all, dogs probably don't need to document their citizenship status--only their health status. I'm also reasonably certain that the reporter who wrote the article didn't ask Mrs. Drollette for any "paper proof" of the five passports to which she referred. Like many newspaper articles, the information contained is only as accurate as the person providing it and is also dependent upon the amount of due diligence the paper exercised. I'm doubtful made an any attempt to back up Drollette's "dog passport" story.

And "dog passport" makes for an interesting headline.

One always has to be careful taking at face value what one reads in any newspaper. Just because the word "passport" was used does not mean that "passport" was what was meant.

And...

It is also possible that this dog was not the one that accompanied Drollette to Indiana from China. It could easily have been a different one. The dog is never referenced by name or even breed.

Genealogy takeaways from the picture:

  • Newspapers may not use words in quite the way the reader thinks.
  • Reporters may take what an informant says at face value.
  • Newspaper items should be used as clues to further avenues for research.
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This item was located on GenealogyBank.

23 March 2015

You Ask...And I Wonder

[note: This originally appeared in the Ancestry Daily News in January of 2001. There is still a lot of good food for thought in this piece.]

Genealogists ask questions of relatives, record keepers, librarians, family members, archivists, historians, and just about anyone who might have knowledge to assist them in their ancestral search. Family historians need to ask questions of others; after all, it's a great way to learn. But questions should not only be directed outward. Sometimes it is helpful if we ask a few questions of ourselves. Here are a few you should ponder.

YOU SAY: "I FOUND A NEW DOCUMENT TODAY."

And I wonder:

- Have you entered the information into your genealogy database?
- Have you completely analyzed the document?
- Have you thought about what other records the document suggests you
research?
- Have you filed the document so you can find it?
- Have you adequately cited the document so someone else can find the
original?

YOU SAY: "I HAVE A DOCUMENT I DON'T UNDERSTAND."

And I wonder:

- Have you read the document out loud?
- Have you typed the document?
- Have you asked someone else to look at the document?
- Have you read the entire document?
- Have you read the document backward?
- Have you looked up words you do not understand?
- Do you have the entire document?
- Do you have an incomplete transcription or abstract?

YOU SAY: "I CAN'T FIND WHERE MY ANCESTOR CAME FROM."

And I wonder:

- Have you looked at the entire family?
- Have you looked for unknown family members?
- Have you analyzed the neighbors?
- Have you read local histories?
- Have you read regional histories?
- Have you considered geography?
- Have you considered economics?
- Have you considered migration trails?
- Have you considered chain migration?
- Have you considered boundary changes?
- Have you traced the person's life as far as you can?
- Have you started with the most recent events and worked backward?

YOU SAY: "I'M STUCK."

And I wonder:

- Have you interviewed all the relatives?
- Have you interviewed former family neighbors?
- Have you identified all the family pictures?
- Have you considered all the spellings?
- Have you considered all the pronunciations?
- Have you taken a break and worked on another line or family?
- Have you written up what you already have?

Also:

- Have you CHECKED vital records?
- Have you checked LAND RECORDS?
- Have you checked court records?
- Have you checked probate records?
- Have you checked local records?
- Have you checked state records?
- Have you checked federal records?
- Have you checked church records?
- Have you checked occupational records?
- Have you checked ETHNIC organizations?
- Have you checked fraternal organizations?
- Have you researched every organization to which your ancestor
belonged (church, fraternal, ethnic, military, etc.)?

Furthermore:

- Have you checked your assumptions?
- Are you researching from the present to the past?
- Have you organized your information?
- Have you double-checked research you did when you were new to
genealogy?
- Have you put queries on appropriate bulletin boards?
- Have you posted your question to appropriate listservs?

YOU SAY: "I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS TOPIC."

And I wonder:

- Have you attended a relevant workshop or seminar?
- Have you read an article or book on the subject?
- Have you listened to a conference tape?
- Have you read an appropriate reference work?
- Have you subscribed to an appropriate listserv?
- Have you looked for articles on the Internet?

YOU SAY: "I GOT IT OFF THE INTERNET."

And I wonder:

- Have you contacted the compiler?
- Have you located the original source?
- Have you located records the online source suggests?
- Have you considered that the online source might be incorrect?
- Have you considered using offline sources as well?
- Are you using the Internet source as a clue?

YOU SAY: "I CAN'T FIND IT IN THE INDEX."

And I wonder:

- Have you made certain you know how the index is compiled?
- Have you read the compiler's introduction (it might list record
problems)?
- Have you considered typographical errors?
- Have you considered transcription errors?
- Have you considered searching the records themselves?

YOU SAY: "I CAN'T FIND IT IN THE PUBLISHED SUMMARIES."

And I wonder:

- Have you considered reading the original records?
- Have you read the published material's preface?

YOU SAY: "I STARTED RESEARCH IN A NEW AREA."

And I wonder:

- Have you read research guides to that area?
- Have you located maps of that area?
- Have you contacted the local genealogical/historical society?
- Have you considered joining genealogy listservs for that area?
- Have you seen the USGenWeb page for that county?
- Have you seen the UsGenWeb page for that state?
- Have you checked Cyndi's List for that state?
- Do you understand the political boundaries of that area?
- Are you remembering that each area has different records?
- Are you remembering that each area may have different laws?
- Are you aware that each area has a different culture?

There are a lot of other things I could wonder too. This listing is
not meant to be comprehensive. However, if it makes you wonder about
your own research, then it has served its purpose. (After writing
this article, I realize I have a lot of work to catch up on as well!)

This post is:
http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2015/03/you-askand-i-wonder.html


22 March 2015

The Genealogist and Her Son--a Little Genealogy Humor

I'm not certain of the origin of this joke, but I'm paraphrasing it here. I'm fairly certain this joke first crossed my path at least ten years ago...
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A widow had "discovered" genealogy and found it a great way to occupy some of her spare time in her retirement. She spent some money, but was judicious in what she spent and was not in any danger of frittering away her retirement. In fact, she stayed well within her genealogy budget.

Her son, thinking that his mother was spending too much time "looking for dead people," constantly berated her for it and criticized her for spending too much money.

She finally told him that since her genealogy work bothered him so much, she had decided to develop a new past time that might cost less. The local tavern had a weekly "ladies' night" and she was hopeful that she'd meet a man there would could be her son's stepfather.

He never complained about genealogy again.
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Webinars This Week: Archive.org, Ancestry.Com, WorldCat, and Newspapers

We are excited to offer four new webinars this week.

Registrants can get a complimentary copy of the presentation to use personally as many times as they wish---you don't need to take as many notes that way! Webinars are held via GotoWebinar and attendees do not need any special equipment--just a high speed internet connection. Join us!

Using Archive.org--24 March 2015-7:00 p.m. Central Time

Archive.org is a free resource containing digital scans of thousands of out of copyright books and thousands of rolls of microfilm (including all 1790-1930 United States Federal census records) Learn how to effectively search for specific materials, navigate the site and interact with uploaded items, and download items for personal offline use in a variety of formats. You will be using the site for days after you've seen what's available on this free site. Register for only $6 and reserve your spot.

Using WorldCat--25 March 2015-8:30 p.m. Central Time

WorldCat contains an online library catalog for libraries across the entire United States and many foreign countries. Search thousands of library card catalogs in one interface. See effective ways to search for print, microfilmed, and manuscript materials on this site that contains millions of library catalog entries. Register for only $6 and reserve your spot.

Getting More From Newspapers--26 March 2015-7:00 p.m. Central Time

There is more to newspapers than obituaries and marriage announcements. In this presentation, we will see how to see what newspapers are available, both digitally and on microfilm. We will look at effective search techniques for online newspapers, including search structures, keyword searching, and more. We will also discuss approaches for accessing newspapers that are not available online. Register for only $6 and reserve your spot.

Effective Census Search Strategies for Ancestry.com--26 March 2015-8:30 p.m. Central Time

There is more to searching the online census than simply putting a name in a box and clicking. We will look at effective use of wildcards, soundex options, location parameters, and more. Included will be a discussion of a general organizational strategy so that searchers spend less time "going in circles. This presentation is not sponsored or endorsed by Ancestry.com and Michael John Neill is not an Ancestry.com employee. Register for only $6 and reserve your spot.

Presentations are geared toward advanced beginning and intermediate researchers.

This webpage is:

http://rootdig.blogspot.com/2015/03/webinars-this-week-archiveorg.html

Genealogical Information from a Kewpie Doll

The newspaper said the picture was not of a "kewpie doll," but instead was a four year old musician.

One wouldn't really think that there would be much in the way of genealogical information in a newspaper account of an "embryo musician." That would be a mistake as this 1922 reference to Lillian Drollette contains quite a bit of information on her heritage, including naming her parents (with her mother's maiden name), grandmother, and great-grandfather.

The item goes on to mention that her great-grandfather was a well-known Evansville musician, Josef Cintura, and that she was related to another local musician Arnulf Cintura. Residential information was also given on her parents and grandmother.

Genealogical clues can turn up in unexpected places. Based upon what is known from other records the genealogical information in this account appears to be correct.

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This item was located on GenealogyBank.


21 March 2015

Do You Know the Qualifications?

How one gets listed in a record is an important part of the analysis process.

It should be fairly obvious how someone gets listed in a death record--at least the principal person. There are other people who may be alive and whose names may appear on a death certificate (the parents, the informant, the doctor, etc.).

In the cases of other records the qualifiers may not be so clear:


  • What were the qualifications to vote in Ohio in 1823? 
  • Who had to pay personal property taxes in Maryland in 1845? 
  • Who was required to register for the Civil War draft? 
  • Who was eligible to serve on a jury in South Carolina in 1810?
  • Who could witness a document in Maryland in 1798?
  • Who could serve as an administrator in Missouri in 1878?
  • Who could serve as a guardian in Illinois in 1856?
The answers to the above questions usually lies in contemporary state statute.

But there are more:
  • Who was eligible to naturalize in the United States in 1860?
  • Who was supposed to be enumerated in the 1840 census?
  • Who was eligible to be a schoolteacher in Ohio in 1920?
If your relative acted in any capacity, appeared in an official record, or was "required" to do something, find out more about why that was necessary.

The way may not be stated in the record, but knowing it may tell you more about your ancestor.




I'm An Adult--You Don't Need My Age

It is frustrating when a record lists information as "unknown," but it happens. It's even more frustrating when it's pretty clear that the information really is not "unknown" to the informant.

In an attempt to find passport records and application for May Drollette (and her dog!), I came across her 1941 marriage in Hong Kong as reported to American Consulate.

The groom, John Oram Sheppard indicated he was 62 years of age. 

May Cintura Drollette only indicated that she was an "adult."

This may explain why her age tends to get younger and younger as documents become more recent. There probably were only so many record agencies who would list her age as "adult" and required a specific age.

It was probably clear to the marrying official that May was over the legal age to marry--and that really was all that was required. If we think about it for a minute, whether a person is aged 40 or 60 does not impact their ability to marry as long as they are single and legally competent to enter into a marriage.

Fortunately most record clerks are a little more particular about requiring an age than this one.

Unless May's new husband didn't know her age either....

-------
Source:

Consular Reports of Marriage, 1910–1949. Series ARC ID: 2555709 - A1, Entry 3001. General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59. National Archives at Washington D.C

Upcoming Speaking Engagements in 2015

I'll be speaking at the following locations/events for the duration of 2015:


Visit the group's website for more information, or email me for information on having me speak to your group.

20 March 2015

Webinars Released: BLM, Fold3.com, and Your "Process"

We've released copies of my three latest webinars--download is immediate!

Is Your Process the Problem?

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. $7 includes registration and handout.


Using the Bureau of Land Management Site

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. $7 includes presentation and handout.

Navigating Fold3.com-

Frustrated with finding databases and people on Fold3.com? This presentation discusses 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. Download complete presentation for $7.

Dog Passports and Leaving Servants in China

Sometimes one just simply cannot make things up.

In the process of searching for items on GenealogyBank while working on a separate blog post, I located a reference to a visit George and Marie Drollette made to her hometown of Evansville, Indiana, in 1921. The article contained an interesting subheading:


"Five Passports for Dog"

In explaining the subheading further, the paper states that "in speaking of the difficulties of entering the United States, Mrs. Drollette remarked that she had to have five passports to get her dog over."

Five passports for her dog? I'm inclined to think that she's referring to some sort of permission for the dog, but I'm doubting that she obtained canine passports.

Mrs. Drollette also lamented that she was unable to bring over her Chinese servant due the apparent amount of time the Drollettes were staying in the United States.

I'll have to look for Mrs. Drollette's passport and see if any dog is mentioned.

Stay tuned.

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GenealogyBank may contain similar items on your relative.

17 March 2015

FamilySearch Update

The following database is showing as updated on FamilySearch:

Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013

How much of this is "new" I am not certain. I've used this database personally and it's been on the site for some time. My advice is to check and see if your counties of interest are showing up.

My Irish Immigrants

Like many genealogists with Irish immigrants, I don't have a great deal of information on my Irish family in Ireland. 

Samuel Neill immigrated as a single man in 1864, arriving in Canada's New Brunswick Province with his married brother Joseph and Joseph's young family. The Neills were living in Limavady when they left Ireland for Canada. Their immigration information appears in Brian Mitchell's Irish Passenger Lists 1847-1871: Lists of Passengers Sailing from Londonderry to America on Ships of the J. & J. COOKE Line and the McCORKELL  Line (Genealogical  Publishing  Co., Balto., MD.  1988).

Samuel's brother Joseph was married in Ireland before the family's immigration to the United States:

From  the "Quarterly returns of Marriages 1862 Ireland  Vol.  9," LDS microfilm roll 0101440, page 375.

On  16 January 1862 at the Derrymore Presbyterian Church,  Joseph NEIL[sic] and Ann BRYCE[sic] were married by Wm. [JAMISON?], with witnesses  of  Wm. MC INTOSH and John ARCHIBALD.  Joseph  was  of full  age  and was a bachelor who lived in [Taques] Hill  in  the parish  of Drumachose.  Joseph was a servant, and was the son  of John NEIL[sic] who was a laborer.  Ann was a spinster of full age and  was  a servant living in White [??] in the parish of  Drumachose.  Her father was James BRYCE, a laborer.

Samuel and Annie Murphy were married in New Brunswick in 1865. Unfortunately there is no additional information on the family in their marriage record there. Nothing is known about Annie's Irish origins other than she was born in the late 1830s/early 1840s and was a native of Ireland.

The Neills moved to near West Point, Hancock County, Illinois in the late 1860s and remained there until their deaths. Research in Hancock County has not located any information related to Annie's Irish origins. The Neills settled in Hancock County likely because Joseph's wife, Anne Brice, had family already in the area. 

Annie (Murphy) Neill died in St. Albans Township in 1897. Samuel died at his home on 17 March 1912.

Samuel and Joseph supposedly had several siblings. One may have been a Roseanna Neill who died in Ireland.

Related to Michael?

For those who've read various postings here and have wondered if they are related to me, I've posted an incomplete copy of my ancestor table on my website. My email indicates that there are several followers/readers who are related to me in one way, shape, or form.

I have quite a bit more of my Ostfriesen lines but just don't have them uploaded to the page yet. While some of the Ostfriesen last names are unusual, the nature of patronymics does not necessarily mean that we're related just because we have the same last name in common. There are several different Ufkes families out there for example--unrelated (I'm from the Ufkes family from Holtrop/Wiesens). Ufkes descendants have a male ancestor whose first name was Ufke--meaning that unrelated men with the first name of Ufke could both have children with the last name of Ufke. And every Ostfriesen has at least one (or five, ten, fifteen, etc.) ancestors with the last name of Janssen). Exceptions to the Ostfriesen patronym rule are generally the last names of Fecht, Flessner, Gronewold, etc. which are not patronymic in origin.

If you think there's a relatively close connection, I'd love to hear from you--but keep in mind that responding may take me a little while.