29 August 2014

New or Updated on FamilySearch: OR; MT; and Chicago, IL

The following databases have been added or updated since our last posting:

Oregon, Douglas County Records, 1850-1983

Montana, Big Horn County Records, 1884-2011

Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1939, 1959-1995

28 August 2014

Why Did I Call Anna Margaret Margaret?

After I published my recent post about my Aunt Margaret (Habben) Hutchison's marriage in 1947 I realized that I didn't comment on her name. It's listed as Anna Margaret Habben on the marriage entry and that name is technically correct. I referred to her as Aunt Margaret throughout the post.

Because we never called her Aunt Anna. I never knew that Anna was her first name until I began doing genealogical research.

Anna Margaret (Habben) Hutchison had a sister named Anna. A biological full sister with the same first name.

Well sorta the same first name.

Anna Margaret (Habben) Hutchison did have a sister Anna (Habben) Tout. The problem is that Anna (Habben) Tout's first name wasn't really Anna. It was Anke.

The sisters (along with my grandmother Dorothy (Habben) Ufkes) were daughters of Mimka and Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben of Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. Mimka's mother was named Anke and Tjode's mother was named Anna Margaret. That's where the sisters got their names--from their grandmothers. In Platt (the low-German dialect the Habbens spoke at home) the names were different.

The problem was that eventually Anke (born in the early 20th century along with her sister) began using the anglicized version of her name--Anna. Because of that, Anna Margaret started using Margaret, although she retained Anna Margaret as her legal name.

Their grandfather John also had a full brother named John.

We do these things just to confuse people.



Aunt Margaret Married in the State of Providence

I make discoveries on Mocavo.com, but like any online database provider they have the occasional irregularities.

This first entry is for my great-aunt Margaret and her husband Robert. They married in Cache County, Utah, in 1947.

The database entry is a little bit off--probably due to irregularity when merging the original database into databases at Mocavo.com. The state and year are clearly off.

In the process of writing this blog post, I searched for Aunt Margaret again and discovered there were two entries for their marriage in the Mocavo.com database called "BYU Idaho Western States Marriage Index, 1809-2013."


The first reference shown is the one for which the detailed entry is shown above. The second entry in the search results contains the information in the correct fields.  Why there are two entries for this same marriage I'm not certain.

This data was incorporated into Mocavo.com's database from the original database which is housed on the BYU website. There are not two entries for the Habben-Hutchison marriage in that database (I know because I searched).

Sometimes it pays to put names in the wrong boxes when searching. Most databases do not have issues of this type, but occasionally when databases are automatically merged into larger databases errors do happen.

Mocavo.com finds things that are already online (in addition to some databases that other sites do not have)--the value they are offering for subscribers with these already online materials is that the results are grouped together and their search engine may locate things that you've not stumbled online while doing other searches.

The incorrect marriage entry indicates my aunt was married in the state of Providence--something ironic in that.

Does a Death Certificate Provide Evidence of an Employer Relationship?

An article on CNN/Money references a lawsuit filed by the heirs of "Aunt Jemima."

The family of "Aunt Jemima," Anna S. Harrington, filed suit against Quaker Oats, etal. saying they have not been paid money that should have been theirs based upon the company's use of Harrington's image. The purpose of this blog post is not to discuss the merits of this case, whether the case has any valid base, or whether it should have been filed years ago.

This is the item from the article that struck my interest purely as a genealogist:

Harrington's family, according to the complaint, filed the suit after it was able to obtain a death certificate that listed Quaker Oats as Harrington's employer.

Having used a number of death certificates and having a good idea of how information is obtained for those records, I'm not certain I would say that a certificate provides solid evidence of an employer-employee relationship.

That's the point of this post. Would you use one item from a death certificate as solid proof in the way the article indicates?

(off topic responses to this thread will not be published).

FamilySearch: SD and OR Materials

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

Oregon, Deschute County Records, 1871-1985

South Dakota, Grand Army of the Republic Membership Records, 1861-1941

Oregon, Douglas County Records, 1850-1983

26 August 2014

Habbens are Happening

Having unusual surnames sometimes makes research easier. Sometimes it doesn't.

Automated indexes have the potential to make research more difficult or easier--depending on the situation.

I usually don't get too many hits for the last name of Habben, even when I have the soundex option turned on at Ancestry.com  and other sites. So I was somewhat surprised when a soundex search for Habben in Illinois records turned up nearly 3,000 results.

Scanning the results made it clear why there were so many results.

The automated indexing system apparently grabbed the phrase "can't happen" and "can happen" and determined that they were names of individuals.

Habben and happen are soundex equivalent, so the result came up as a hit when my search was conducted.


I was not surprised to see the items, but it was still frustrating. I can still perform an exact search for the last name of Habben or include first names in my search.

But it looks like with this database my usual approach isn't going to work.

The yearbooks at Ancestry.com , like the newspapers at all digital image sites, are not indexed manually by humans reading the words.

I need to remember that or my search results will not be happening in the way I would like them to.

25 August 2014

Yearbooks Are Not Just for Students

Ancestry.com  recently announced an update of their yearbook collection. A quick search located a 1941 reference to my grandmother's sister, Margaret Habben, who was teaching home economics in Gridley, Illinois, in 1941.


I've found Aunt Margaret in yearbooks before, but I think this is the first time I've seen an entry with her picture. The yearbooks have been especially helpful as Aunt Margaret taught in several different schools after her graduation from Western Illinois University in Macomb and before her service in World War II.

When searching old yearbooks, don't forget to search for relatives who might have been teachers or staff as well. There are other people in yearbooks besides students.


FamilySearch Updates: IA, MO, MT, CA and DC Materials

The following are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Montana, Sweet Grass County Records, 1887-2011

Missouri, State and Territorial Census Records, 1732-1933

Iowa, State Census, 1905

United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014

California, County Birth and Death Records, 1849-1994

District of Columbia Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964

District of Columbia Deaths, 1874-1959

21 August 2014

Every Name in the World War I Era FBI Files--Not Quite

Fold3.com has had FBI investigative files from the World War I era on their site for some time. They contain information on a variety of investigations during this era, including draft violations and records of investigations into "un-American" activity.

The image included in this post is from an investigation in October of 1917 that centered on John Fecht of Varna, Illinois.

I received an email yesterday from Fold3.com notifying me of a "content update" to their site that referenced this database (titled "FBI Case Files" on Fold3.com the materials are named "Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation 1908-1922" by the National Archives are appear in their microfilm publication M1085).

There is no description of what type of index Fold3.com has to these records and I was hoping, since there was an update, that a full-name index had been created for these records.

That does not appear to be the case. The index is only to the "person of interest." In this case that is John Fecht. There are not (as of this writing) index entries for Anton Fecht and Anna Fecht who are also referenced in the investigation.

That's a shame.

There are witnesses and other individuals mentioned in these files who are not the actual people of interest and locating their records means searching for their associates and hoping to find something. While this is an excellent research strategy, a full name index would facilitate the location of records and the usage of these materials.

And it would help if the "about" section of this database indicated just what type of finding aid is currently available as Fold3.com has some databases of images that contain every name indexes.

Ancestry.com's Updated World War I Draft Cards-Better Images

Ancestry.com recently announced that there had been an "update" on their World War I draft card collection. The update did not indicate what the "update" really was. A colleague on Twitter was able to get a response from Ancestry.com that indicated the images had been improved. That appears to be the case, although I don't have any images that were saved from this collection from Ancestry.com. My images were made from microfilm copies I made years ago.

However, the images at Ancestry.com do appear to be slightly better than those at FamilySearch.

The first image (unmodified other than a copy/paste) in this post is from FamilySearch. 

The second image (unmodified other than a copy/paste) is the same card on Ancestry.com.

And a gentle reminder that your source citation should always indicate the source--hopefully that's clear from this post.

I just wish websites that announced "updates" made their announcements as clear as they sometimes do the images.

$5 Webinar Sale Back Until 25 August

Due to popular demand, we have brought back our $5 webinar sales now through 25 August. If you've not seen our list of topics, a complete list and ordering instructions are available here.

We have a variety of topics and our presentation is informal with a focus on increasing your skill level and knowledge.

Download is immediate and you can view the presentation as many times as you want.

20 August 2014

Understanding Meanings in the Standards

Meaning and context matter and I was reminded of this while reading the Genealogy Standards: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. Reading the Standards will enhance anyone's research, even if your personal goals are not certification or publication of material in any peer-reviewed journal. Just thinking about what is in the Standards will hopefully cause the reader to think more about their research and process and that is always beneficial.

 Page 17 in the Standards for Researching section of the Standards states:

"Understanding meanings. Genealogists correctly understand the meaning of all legible words, phrases, and statements in the sources they consult. Their understanding includes the meaning for the source's time and place."

It may be implied by the phrase "time and place," but I think I would add the something regarding the correct contemporary legal definition of any words used in any document created in a legal setting (court, probate, land records, etc.). There are words that specific meanings in a legal context that may have a slightly different meaning in another context (family letters, autobiographies, obituaries, etc.).

Readers of the Standards should think about what it is saying and analyze it---just like they would any document. If you've not taken a look at the Standards, consider doing so (it's not that expensive to order).Your research will be better for it. Even if you don't necessarily agree with every word on every page.



19 August 2014

FamilySearch Updates New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891

FamilySearch  is indicating that this database has been updated since our last announcement:

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891

What changes are made I can't say as this database has been on FamilySearch for some time.

18 August 2014

"These are to desire you to appoint my Grand Father"

I've been using the recently released probate files for Middlesex County, Massachusetts on American Ancestors (http://www.americanancestors.org) and have been making some interesting discoveries, including this little gem:


Simon hopefully would be a good source for the identification of his grandfather as Joseph Daby. I need to research Simon's parents as completely as possible first, but researching Joseph Daby may help me in locating information on Simon's parents.

I'm not exactly certain that the document should be transcribed as "These are to desire you to appoint my GrandFather Mr. Joseph Daby of Stow for my Guardian." The phrase "These are to desire" seems oddly phrased.


Archibald Kile Testifies that "The Pensioner is My Brother"

National Archives of the United States Washington, DC
Selected Documents (everything except medical examinations)
From the Civil War Pension File of: WILLIAM KILE
Company B, 37th Iowa Infantry Invalid’s Application #525005
Invalid’s Certificate #321230 Record Group 15

This affidavit from the Civil War pension file of William Kile makes two good points. One is that relationships can be stated in these documents. This is the only contemporary document where one of the Kile brothers explicitly states the relationship.

The items underlined in red and blue make the point that transcription of documents sometimes is really about context. I might have a difficult time transcribing them as "Prvt" and "Vols." but their positioning in the document makes their meaning rather clear.

Pension affidavits frequently contain unexpected surprises.

17 August 2014

I Want To Join My Boys

I really had no idea what to expect from the "pardon from the Illinois governor" file for William Kile. I expected a petition for early release and maybe a few letters about his behavior while incarcerated, but also ran across this letter from October of 1862. Apparently Kile wanted to join his four sons  and son-in-law who were already in the Civil War.
letter dated 10 October 1862 to Illinois Governor Yates from C. C. [---],
 Executive Clemency Files, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Illinois.
A search of the "Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls" at the Illinois State Archives website indicated that there were actually six men with the surname Kile in Company H of the 84th Illinois. The men who were not Kile's sons were likely his nephews as William had several brothers who also lived in Mercer County, Illinois.

As of this posting, I'm not exactly certain who wrote this letter. Hopefully a little searching will reveal the name of the author. He apparently was a Mercer County, Illinois, resident based upon his being a friend of the "prisoners relatives."

Stay tuned.



14 August 2014

FamilySearch Updates: Boston, MA Tax Records & Oakland Co. CA Obit Card Files

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

Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918

California, Oakland, Alameda County, Obituary Card Files, 1985-2011

Kile Absent From the Muster Because He Was "Under Arrest"

Research on William Kile continues--and it just gets more interesting.

I don't always obtain the service record cards for Civil War servicemen. It's not because they aren't interesting, but because the cards usually contain minimal information about the soldier and it's not always worth the expense to do it. My personal interest is not very high in the military career of every person for whom I decide to obtain a copy of their pension. Whether or not that violates the philosophy of an "exhaustive search" is another matter entirely.

However, there are times when the cards are interesting.

Like this time with William Kile.

He was absent from the muster roll of Company K of the 37th Iowa regiment in March and April of 1865.  He wasn't sick. He was under arrest as the card below illustrates.

National Archives of the United States Washington, DC
Complete Compiled Civil War Service Record of:
WILLIAM KILE Company B, 37th Iowa Infantry
Record Group 94
At this point, I'm not certain why he was under arrest and this arrest is apparently separate from his apparent larceny conviction in Mercer County, Illinois, before his enlistment.

Stay tuned...we're going to see what information can be found on his arrest.

12 August 2014

New or Updated On FamilySearch: ME, NY, NC, IL, and MA Materials

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

Maine, Vital Records, 1670-1907

New York, Orange County Probate Records, 1787-1938

North Carolina, Civil Action Court Papers, 1712-1970

Illinois, Lee County Records, 1830-1954

Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Files, 1731-1925

Speak Now or Forever Keep Your Peace in 1757

There is a story here. I just don't know what it is.

The marriage intention of widow Mary Puffer and Amos Brown was published on 20 July 1757 according to the Vital Records of Stow Massachusetts to the Year 1850.

However someone wasn't happy and there was an objection to the marriage.

According to the printed transcription "the Widow Martha Robins of Stow forbids the bains [sic]."

There are several reasons why Martha may have objected to the marriage, but at this point that's pure speculation. I hate to comment on the reasons why without any information to support that speculation.

We'll see in a future post why I think the marriage did take place. There's some pretty clear evidence that Robins protest didn't stop the marriage.

At this point, all I know about Robins is that she was a widow and lived in Stow in July of 1757. That's not really enough to determine her probable motivation for opposing the marriage. Further research into her may reveal her potential motives.


09 August 2014

Inscriptions in the Inside Front Cover

Digitized books are great, but sometimes there is a copy of a book that contains something unique to that copy of the book. And sometimes that "unique" copy does not get digitized.

The image with this post is from the 1895 genealogy of the Sargent family by Aaron Sargent in the possession of the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

This is a wonderful find. Not every library copy of a book has an inscription of this type. How the copy made it's way from Massachusetts to Indiana is another story and one that I do not know.


Citation for book in general:

Sargent, A., & Sargent, J. S. (1895). Sargent genealogy: Hugh Sargent, of Courteenhall, Northamptonshire and his descendants in England. Somerville, Mass: A. Sargent.

My citation for this image needs to indicate that it came from the copy of the book at the Allen County Public Library--usually genealogists suggest that citations to published materials not be specific to the library. This is an exception because the library version contains original manuscript-type material that is not in every other published copy of the book.

We're crafting a citation specific to this text and will have one in a future post.

07 August 2014

Pardon Me, Are There Records?

In the past two weeks, I've written about two individuals who are mentioned in various printed materials as having received a pardon from an Illinois governor in the 19th century:
It dawned on me today that there may have been some records generated during the process of receiving a pardon from the governor. I'm contacted the Illinois State Archives and they are searching to see if there's any additional information on Knaeble or Kile in the "Executive Clemency Files."

I'm just curious what happened to Knaeble after his release. He was a tenant who rented a few rooms from my ancestor in the building that housed her tavern in Warsaw, Illinois. Kile was an uncle of my wife who also served in the Civil War.

Stay Tuned

06 August 2014

New or Updated on FamilySearch: NYC Passenger Lists and MS State Archives

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

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891

United States Census, 1900

Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951

Pardon Me Google Books

Lawrence Knaeble shot and murdered a man in Warsaw, Illinois, in the 1850s. The murder is of personal interest to be because it took place outside the tavern owned by Barbara Bieger, my 3rd great-grandmother.

Knaeble was arrested, tried, and convicted of the murder.  According to the January 1860 report of the Illinois General Assembly, he was pardoned by the Illinois Governor in October of 1860, having served approximately two years of an seven year prison term.


I've not had too much luck research Lawrence, but I've always been slightly curious as to what happened to him. There is one clue on this list that I did not have before: his age.

Knaebel and his wife were renting rooms from Barbara Bieger that were adjacent to her tavern. I've always wondered what happened to him and have also wondered if he had some connection to the family.

Maybe his pardon records will provide an additional clue.

Stay tuned.

05 August 2014

A Restored Citizen Gets a Pension

The "restored citizenship" act for William Kile referenced his service in the Civil War. I had copies of his brother Archibald's Civil War pension, but had never looked into William's military service. A further search indicated that his service was in the 37th Iowa--company B. William would have been in his early fifties when he enlisted.

Kile was living in Mercer County, Illinois, at the time of his enlistment. His brother Archibald served in the same unit as he did which was not a surprise as Archibald was nearly forty when he enlisted. Many of the men in company B of the 37th Iowa were older than the typical soldier, causing the unit to be referred to as the "Graybeard Regiment."

Pension card for William Kile; digital image from Fold3.com


William Kile returned to Ohio sometime after the war. I am getting a copy of his Civil War pension to see if it contains any additional details on his early life. Since his brother and he served in the same unit, I'm hoping that there may be a reference to that in the file.

Stay tuned.