25 May 2015

In Support of My Son Focke

This is probably one of the greatest finds I have ever had at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

I mentioned Focke Goldenstein's emigration materials from Ostfriesland, Germany, in an earlier blog post ("Focke Gets Permission to Immigrate in 1873").

The records also included a letter from September 1873 where his father apparently is giving his consent for Focke to emigrate and also indicating that Focke's sister, Wilhelmina Janssen (yes that's her middle name), is already in the United States.

We're working on a translation of this two page letter.

It's not often I find a letter written by an ancestor. Well...it's a handwritten transcription, but still a letter.

Stay tuned.

Webinars in June

We are still accepting registrations for 4 webinars upcoming in June--registration entitles you to a complimentary recording of the presentation after it has been processed. This way if your schedule changes you still get the presentation. Topics are:

  • War of 1812 Pensions at Fold3.com-these are free on their site.
  • Using Colonial Land Patents at the Library of Virginia website-these images are free on the website.
  • Library of Congress online digital newspapers--free on their site.
  • Using local land records online at FamilySearch. Not all of these are online, but we will discuss how to use the ones that are.

Memorial Day Webinar Sale Ends today!

Memorial Day 20% Sale

If you missed our 20% off sale, it's back on for Memorial Day-ending 25 May-- and before the old inventory is physically removed from the host site at the end of the month. Download now and view the presentation as many times as you want.

Over thirty topics--easy to follow and easy to understand.

View the complete list and order here.

Citation Creation and Error Reduction

We are usually told to cite our sources because it allows us to go back and find things again if necessary and it assists us in the analysis of information.

Another reason: Reducing errors created by the researcher.

Creating citations after the research has been done can be time consuming, tedious, and repetitive process. For that reason, it's a good idea to capture information needed for the citation as the research is being done.

That's especially true when creating digital images from microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake.

The screen shot shown in this post shows the file name I used for an image taken from the section of deaths in the records of the Evangelical church in Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany. The entries are unpaginated and they are organized by year. My goal with the file names is that they be long enough to contain relevant detail to get me back to that image if I needed to and to allow me to find the file by searching on the contents of the file name--just in case I save the file and can't remember where I saved it on my computer.

When taking digital images of the desired record, I always make an image that includes the record of interest and the "top of the page" (usually the whole page to be honest). There are several reasons for this:

  • sometimes the top of the page contains headers--particularly in those years when records were written on forms
  • it's easier to analyze handwriting when one has more than one entry from the register
  • interpreting the item in context can't be done if there are no other entries to provide context
  • the top of the page frequently contains page numbers
  • the top of the page often contains other identifying information
Sometimes page numbers are on the bottom--that's when copying the whole page is advised. 

Then I usually copy just the item of interest, magnifying the image to make it easier later to read all the image.





Turns out there's another reason I should include the entire page: reduce the chance I make careless mistakes.

The file name I used to save this image included 1838 for the year of the record.

The year listed on the actual record is 1839.

I was simply off by a year.

If I had only made an image of the entry for Ameling, the year would not have been included--just the month and day.

And then later I would have wondered why I was off on his death by one year.

And someone else could have copied that information and it could have been repeated over and over.

But...because I made an image of the entire page, I caught my error.

And I caught it because I was thinking about citations while I was actually researching.

One more reason to cite your sources.



What Happened After Ameling Died?

I haven't had time to translate it yet, but this 1839 entry from the Evangelical church in Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany indicates that Ameling Jansen Sartorius died on 28 January 1839. Married in Aurich in 1833, Ameling left behind his wife Meta Margareta Janssen and three children. 


Now for the question.

Reading through the unindexed church records is time consuming. Meta was not originally from Aurich and baptismal records for her children indicate that her family was from an outlying village. Do I continue to look for Meta in the records at Aurich (perhaps for a second marriage?). Do I look for Meta in the records where her family was living? Did the young widow with three small children return "home" or stay? Searching unindexed records of this type takes time and I want to maximize the chance I find Meta quickly.

Meta's son Hinrich is my ancestor. This pretty much invalidates the story that Hinrich's parents came to America, living and dying near Peoria, Illinois.

Unless of course Hinrich's mother married again and someone confused his father with his step-fathe.

Stay tuned.

24 May 2015

Mary, Mary...That's not Contrary

This document comes from the guardianship of Mary Brown in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The mother and daughter are requesting that the court appoint a local man as the daughter's guardian.

[begin transcription]

[For it?] my Desier and my Daughter Mary Browns that Deacon Stephen Gipson Should be put in Garden for Mary Mary Brown

[end transcription]

I'm not quite certain about the [For it] part of the transcription, but it seems to make sense in this context. The spelling of guardian as "garden" is easy to understand, especially if the note was written by someone not overly familiar with legal terms.

The "Mary Mary" appears to be correct well. The first "Mary" refers to the daughter and the second to the mother.

It appears that this document was written and signed by the same person. But I'll have to compare this purported signature of Mary to other known signatures of hers in the probate records of Mary's husbands Ephraim Puffer and Amos Brown. They may or may not be a match.

20% off webinar sale back on for Memorial Day

Grow Your Genealogy Skills

If you missed our 20% off sale, it's back on for Memorial Day and before the old inventory is physically removed from the host site at the end of the month. Download now and view the presentation as many times as you want.

Over thirty topics--easy to follow and easy to understand.

View the complete list and order here.

23 May 2015

Finding the Desmarais Family in New York State in 1892

The recent update on FamilySearch of the 1892 New York state census reminded me that the name of one family for which I was looking is always hopelessly misspelled: Desmarais.

When I can, I've taken to searching without using that last name, focusing instead on other search paramaters.

In my case, I was pretty certain the family of interest was living in Clinton County, New York. And child Levi's name didn't have the issues with variants and diminutives that the names of the other children did.


There were several results that matched my query, but only one had a last name reasonably close to Desmarais.

The family was enumerated as Demarra. Given how light the handwriting was, I'm fortunate that it was transcribed accurately.

All members of the Lous Demarra household were born in New York and all were citizens. Lous was a miner.

And there's no notation where on household begins and another one ends.

But the head of household is the one with an occupation, leading one to infer where one household ends and another one begins.




FamilySearch Update: Brownsville, TX Crew Lists, PA Alien Landings, and 1892 NY State Census

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

Texas, Brownsville Passenger and Crew List of Airplanes, 1943-1964

Pennsylvania, Landing Reports of Aliens, 1798-1828

New York, State Census, 1892

How "new" they are I can't say.


Focke Gets Permission to Immigrate in 1873

I always knew that Focke Goldenstein immigrated to the United States as a teenager. His passenger list entry confirmed it.

Today I discovered Focke's set of 1873 emigration documents from Germany. Not his passenger list when he left, but instead local documents related to his departure from Europe. For some reason, I avoided using these records as I "had it in my head" that they only started in the mid-1880s. That was a mistake.

It's been a long time since I have gotten excited about finding a record, but this one was a great find.


Focke's age is clearly stated on the partial copy of the record used as an illustration on this blog post. It also indicated his name and provides his 12 January 1857 date of birth in Wrisse.


And it states he's headed to America.

There's more in this permission to immigrate--including a letter signed by Focke's father. My feeble attempts to read German so far indicate that it mentions Focke's sister who was already in the United States.

Stay tuned.

Meyers Orts at Ancestry.com: Free and a Search Suggestion

Ancestry.com has Meyers Geographical and Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire available online as color scans of an original copy of the book (as a free item). The scans are nice to use and very readable. The image in this post is for Timmel. Many details of the area are included in Meyers, such as population, nearby villages, records offices, churches, mail and rail stops, etc.











However, the search interface worked a little strangely for me when the "Any Event" box was used to search and the autocomplete was used to complete the location.

The search for Timmel as constructed below did not locate the entry for Timmel.

I had the same problem when I entered "timmel" as the only item in the "Any Event" box. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

The Fix?


When I entered "Timmel" as a term in the keyword search box the desired item was located. I'll have to stick to that approach for the time being.

If anyone knows what I'm doing wrong, please let me know in the comments box.I'd love to post that there's something about the search box that I'm getting confused.

Note: I recently gave a webinar on using Meyers Orts. It can be ordered on my webinar page.

22 May 2015

Citations With My Phone

Citation is a crucial part of the genealogical research process.

But let's be honest it slows down the data acquisition process. Researchers get excited about locating information. They rarely get as excited about capturing the raw data from which to craft a citation.

Yet there needs to be a middle ground.

This week I've been at the Family History Library in Salt Lake and when I can I'm using digital media to capture genealogical information, including taking pictures of book pages with my phone.

Tracking the source is crucial. I've been taking images from a variety of ortssippenbucher from Ostfriesland, Germany. To track the book from which the picture was made, I wrote the name of the town on a small slip of paper and inserted that over part of the page I did not need. I used that piece of paper on every image from that book.

Then after the pages from the book of interest were taken, I took pictures of the title page of the book. I could have written a little more than the name of the village on the piece of paper, but that was enough to allow me to tag which book was used when taking a specific picture.

I also made certain (not shown in the image) that the page number was also clear in each picture.

My images sync from my phone to Google Drive and my laptop so I have them almost immediately.

And I also have enough information from which to craft a citation later.

Some Simple Things Followup

A reader gently reminded me after reading "Some Simple Things" that children can be born after the father dies--up to nine months.  This is true.

Sometimes probate and guardianship records mention children born posthumously. One always needs to read all probate and guardianship papers as initial filings may not mention the child it is is born after initial paperwork is filed.


21 May 2015

Playing Grammar Cop in a 1763 Will

Part of the 1763 will of Joseph Daby from Middlesex County, Massachusetts, reads "...was my Sons Viz Daniel Daby Deceased..."

A superficial reading may interpret the word "Sons" to mean that Joseph had more than one son. The intent in this rendering is to indicate that Joseph is bequeathing something in his will that used to belong to his son Daniel.

It's not used to indicate that Joseph had multiple sons.

18th century scribes don't often use apostrophes to indicate possession. Genealogists need to "cut the scribe some grammar slack" or risk making incorrect conclusions.


FamilySearch Updates: Many US Passenger Lists and ME Seamen Proof of Citienship

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


Webinars: Local Land Records, War of 1812, Virginia Land Patents, LOC Newspapers


We're excited to offer four new presentations in early June 2015! These are new topics with new content. Register for individual sessions below or sign up for all four at a discounted price of $25. Registrants who are unable to attend all four live will get complimentary recordings after they have been processed. Handout included.

Using Online US Local Land Records at FamilySearch.org

10 June 2015--1:00 pm Central Standard Time

Most of the local land records online at FamilySearch are not full name indexed. Searches must be conducted manually. Learn how to effectively search these records from home using the FamilySearch website. Note that not every county's local land records are online. We will use representative examples from several different jurisdictions in the United States.

Register for US Local Land Records for $7.


Using the Free War of 1812 Pensions at Fold3.com

10 June 2015--3:00 pm Central Standard Time

Digital images from the War of 1812 pensions are available free at Fold3.com. See how to search and interact with this wonderful set of records. We will discuss organization of the records, search techniques, navigating the website and search results, downloading images effectively, and creating a search strategy.

Register for War of 1812 Pensions for $7.

Using Land Patents Online at the Library of Virginia

11 June 2015--1:00 pm Central Standard Time

The Library of Virginia has digital images of thousands of colonial land patents from that state on its website. Fully searchable, this presentation will include an overview of what patents are on the site, how to search those patents, site navigation and downloading of images, and ways to use the patents to advance your knowledge of your ancestors.

Register for Land Patents Online at the Library of Virginia for $7.

Using Digital Newspapers at the Library of Congress

11 June 2015--3:00 pm Central Standard Time

The Library of Congress has digital images of thousands of newspapers online for free. We will see how to navigate the site, determining what newspapers are in their online collection, creating effective search strategies, navigating search results, and interacting and download images.

Register for Digital Newspapers at the Library of Congress for $7.

20 May 2015

Why John Gibson Was Alive on 10 April 1811

The Gibson genealogy indicated that John Gibson who was born in Stow, Massachusetts in 1751 died after 10 April 1811.

The problem was that it made no mention in the section on John Gibson of why the author thought that John Gibson was alive on that date.

While the author appears to have utilized local court, probate, and land records in the compilation, there are no specific citations to individual statements. My suspiscion was that there was some document that referenced John Gibson on that date.

The discussion of John Gibson (in Mehitable Calef Coppenhagen's John Gibson of Cambridge, Massachusetts and his descendants, 1634-1899, published in 1900) indicated that the compiler lost track of him in 1799.

Then I got to thinking.

What document could a researcher find without knowing where John Gibson lived that would indicate he was alive?

The answer was obvious: the estate settlement of his father.


And sure enough in the estate settlement of Stephen Gibson of Middlesex County,Massachusetts (father of John Gibson and located in estate packet 9115) there was a final disbursement record to the heirs dated 10 April 1811. 

John Gibson is listed--there is just no indication of where he lived mentioned. This is the only document in the estate papers of Stephen Gibson that mentions all his children by name, including the married names of his daughters and the children of one daughter who died before the final disbursement was made.

It's important to note that the daughter may have survived her father. The only thing that this document specifically indicated is that she died before the final disbursement was made.




Marriage Return of Rosanne Neill and John Scott

It's been some time since I worked on Rosanne Neil Scott. I already had a transcription of her marriage return from the 1850 Quarterly Returns of Marriages in Ireland, but decided to obtain a digital image of the actual record.

In this case, there was really nothing on the actual record that I did not know. The couple were married on 1 August 1850 at the Newtown Limavady Church in Drumachose parish in County Londonderry, Ireland. Of course, one never knows how a transcription and an original record compare until one has the original record.


Unfortunately both the bride and groom were only listed as "of full age." Rosanne's father is listed on John Neil, a laborer.

Neil and Scott were both living in Muskey at the time of their marriage. I was a little confused on how to interpret their residence, but comparing it to the "R" in Rosanne and Robert made it clear that the intent was Muskey. It also didn't hurt to look at an online list of place names for the Drumachose parish. If Neil and Scott were married in Drumachose parish at least one of them would have been living in the parish.

Another lesson:

When I began reviewing my notes on Rosanne, I was uncertain of why I thought she connected to my Samuel Neill and his brother Joseph. My reasoning behind her connection to the Neill brothers was no where in my notes. Her marriage return is the reason I think she connects to them. Joseph's 1862 marriage indicated that he was also a son of John Neill. Joseph was living in Tagues Hill in the Drumachose parish when he married in 1862. The question is: Was there more than one John Neill living in that section of the Drumachose parish?

This is my first real shot at finding relatives in Ireland. Stay tuned.

FamilySearch Updates: ND 1915 Census, LA WW1 Records, MA-Salem and Beverly Crew Lists

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




North Dakota Census, 1915


Louisiana World War I Service Records, 1917-1920


Massachusetts, Salem and Beverly Crew Lists and Shipping Articles, 1797-1934

Some Simple Things

I use the online trees for the occasional clue. However in reviewing many of these trees while searching for research leads this week, I was reminded that apparently not everyone is aware of the following:

  • People do not marry after they die.
  • People do not have children after they are dead.
  • People are not born before their parents.
  • People do not marry before their parents are born.
  • The letters "bef" in front of a date matter.
  • The letters "aft" in front of a date matter.
  • The letters "about" in front of a date matter.
Note: A reader pointed out that men can have children born up to around nine months after they are dead. That's correct. Nine years afterwards is a bit much though!

19 May 2015

Webinar Link Corrected in Troutfetter-BLM post

The webinar link "Using the BLM tract books" has been corrected in the "Two Troutfetters in the BLM Tract Books" post. Email me if you have issues with the link. Thanks!

Webinar Closeout

Our order page wouldn't load for everyone yesterday so some who wanted to take advantage of our closeout sale were unable to. So...we've left the 20% coupon turned on to allow them to process orders.

If you ordered and had a question or concern, please email me at the email address on your receipt and I'll take care of it.

Two Troutfetters in the BLM Tract Books

A search of the Bureau of Land Management website indicated that Christian Troutfetter received a homestead in Thomas County, Kansas in 1892. 1892 was the year his claim was completed and a patent was issued.

The BLM site only indexes land claims where a patent was issued to transfer title to the claimant. Others may have started claims in federal land areas and never completed them. To see all the land claims filed in a certain geographic location, reference to the BLM tract books is necessary. Sometimes these uncompleted claims contain as much information as completed ones.

The tract books are organized geographically and I searched for the section of the BLM books that contained section 5 in township 7 South 33 West of the 6th Principal Meridian in Kansas, which is where Christian's property was located.

There was a name in section 6 that looked familiar: George Troutfetter.

Apparently George obtained land in neighboring section 6. George's acquisition was via a public sale so there will not be the amount of detail that there would have been if it had been a homestead claim.

The reason for looking at the tract book was to determine if any of Christian Troutfetter's relatives filed a homestead claim near him. Relatives who had started claims but never finished them would appear in the tract book, but not in the BLM database of patents.

-----------------------------------
If you have never used the tract books, my webinar may help  you utilize them:

The Bureau of Land Management Office Tract Books. These books are a good source for additional information on your homesteading or federal land acquiring ancestors. This material supplements what is in the homestead file, allows you to see names of neighboring claims, even if those claims were not completed. If you've ever wondered who might have started a claim near your ancestor, but never completed it--these books are the way to find out. Our webinar on using the books (most of which are available for free on FamilySearch) discusses several examples in Ohio, Illinois, and Nebraska for a variety of federal land purchase types. If you've never used the tract books because you found them too confusing, let this webinar cut through the confusion. The webinar can be downloaded immediately here for only $5.

18 May 2015

Sale Bills in the Case File

Circuit court case files generally contain court findings, reports, depositions, statements, subpoenas, motions, etc.

Once in a while other items may be bundled in with the more typical records.

This sale bill that was filed among the court papers in a 1908/1909 Hancock County, Illinois, court case involving the heirs of Riley Rampley is a good example of such an item. Often these actual bills aren't in the files, but sometimes they are.

There's nothing in here that's not in the actual records. There's a judge's order authorizing the date and place of the sale.

There's even a report documenting the public locations where this sale bill was placed in addition to publication in the newspaper.

Usually these items aren't smoking genealogical guns. But they are nice discoveries no matter what.

Webinar Closeout Ending

The webinar closeout is ending. If you had issues with a purchase, please let me know by responding to the email listed in your receipt. If you didn't take advantage of our closeout sale, there is still time.  Thanks for your support.