28 February 2007

Who is a Mortgagor?

Question: If you found a land reference and your ancestor was the mortgagor, would you know if that meant he borrowed the money or loaned the money?
If you said it "doesn't make any difference," you've got some learning to do ;-)
We'll post the answer in a few days.

Answer--the mortgagor is the person who signed the mortgage--that is, they borrowed the money.

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Politicians lining up to advertise on Rootdig.com

This is not an endorsement of Douglas Fairbanks or John McCain. One is running for president. One is dead.
I can't specifically control the google ad content on my website, but usually the ads have a genealogical bent. Today that has changed. Politicians have discovered Rootdig.com--candidates are advertising on a site devoted to the search for dead people. Maybe the ads should appear on my pages on Chicago voters from the 1880s--some of them may still be voting.
I'm still waiting for return calls from other marketing managers of other national campaigns....


e e was really e e

Ever wonder what e e cummings real name was? Well before he was e e cummings, he was Edward E Cummings. And even if you are into unique ways of writing your name, the draft board is pretty standardized. His signature is shown here as it appears on his World War I Draft Registration Card.
Search the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database at Ancestry.com for your ancestors--who probably left it to the census taker to get creative with how their name was written...

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Just Making a Little Pot, Sir--no Beer Here

The World War One Draft Board found this well-known American employed as a chemical engineer for a pottery. Of course 1918 was Prohibition and we can't have any beermaking going on, now can we? This well-known member of a brewing family is making pots until the heat dies down and Prohibition is repealed. He's 34 years old at the time of the draft, but during Prohibition, age was not a factor.
Search the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database at Ancestry.com for your ancestors--you'll have to use other sources to determine how they felt about Prohibition...

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27 February 2007

World War I Draft Card--Ty Cobb

It might not look like Tyrus R. Cobb, but that is what it is meant to be. The 30 year old baseball player was a father of three and was playing for Detroit (that's his employer) at the time of his registration. He listed his address as 2425 Williams, Augusta, Georgia.
This card comes from the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database--where you might also be able to find your non-famous relatives.

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1880 Census--Honus Wagner

His nickname of Honus is derived from a pronunciation of his actual first name of Johannes. Of course the census taker in 1880, not aware his later fame, and desirous to de-Germanize or de-Latinize any names made him John. Honus Wagner is seen here with his older brother Louis in 1880. Of course the family's 1880 entry is split over two pages, and Louis and John appear on the top of the page following their parents. Search the 1880 Census for your own ancestors at Ancestry.com--just remember, sometimes, like Honus Wagner, when we search we strike out!

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Analyze the Tradition

We all have family traditions. Some are colorful, some are entertaining; some are exaggerations, and some are bold-faced lies. All can be used genealogically, whether for actual clues or just to provide "colorful" stories to add to the family history.

Most traditions are not completely false and contain a buried grain of truth. Finding that grain of truth and determining the difference between truth and fiction is not a simple matter.

The rest can be read in our "Analyze the Tradition" which was posted to our site some time ago in the pre-blog era.

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1920 Census-Famous African-Americans

Ancestry.com extends African-American Month Promotion

Ancestry.com has extended it's African-American History Month promotion until March 12th. You can get three days of free access to materials in their African-American Collection. It might be worth a try. We've blogged about a few famous African-Americans on our site:

There are a lot more on our site and we'll try and get an updated list out


1900 Census--Honus Wagner

Having two sons with occupations as ball-players might make a parent wish they would grow up and get a real job (like their brothers who were barbars or laborers). However, this family was a little different. The first "ball-player" in this 1900 census enumeration was John Wagner, better known as Honus Wagner. Now if Mom had just saved a few of those baseball cards.....
You can search the the 1900 census for your own relatives and see what their occupations were.

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1920 Census--Honus Wagner

We went ahead and located baseball great Honus Wagner in the 1920 census as well. He is living on the same street as 1930, but the house number in 1920 is 605 Beechwood Avenue while in 1930 it is 615 Beechwood Avenue. Nothing major, but just remember that people do occasionally move and house numbers do get changed. And of course, sometimes street renumberings are done solely to confuse genealogists..... ;-)

Of course, you can search the everyname index to the 1920 United States Federal Census for your own relatives.

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World War I Draft Card--Casey Stengel

Ball Player for the Brooklyn Base Ball Club is Casey Stengel's occupation when registering for the World War I Draft. The 26 year old was born in Kansas City, where he registered.
His card comes from the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database at Ancestry.com.

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World War I Draft Card-John D. Rockefeller

His signature is somewhat difficult to read, but it is his handwriting. The complete card shows a residential address on West 54th Street in New York City. Like other draft cards it is somewhat difficult to read, but not impossible.
This card comes from the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database where you can search for your less famous relatives.

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1910 Census--Wright Brothers

1910 finds the Wright brothers Orville and Wilbur living with their father (a retired minister) in Ohio. Both have the interesting occupation as "Aeroplane Inventors" as shown on the image to the right. Filling out the household is their sister.

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1880 Census--Jefferson Davis

The 1880 census enumerator found the former president of the Confederacy living in Biloxi, Missisippi, as a planter with his wife and his nephew's family--and more servants than family members. A pretty run of the mill census entry, although since Joseph's daughter was born during the census year, her month of birth is listed on the complete enumeration.
You can search the 1880 Census at Ancestry.com for your relatives or other famous Civil War participants.

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26 February 2007

The Space Time Continuum

I have long been aware of the importance of developing a chronology in working on the life of a specific ancestor. A simple ordering of the events in an ancestor's life from their birth to their death helps the researcher to see unaccounted for time periods, gaps in research, and records that have not been accessed. A chronology can also be an excellent synopsis of an ancestor's life, albeit a limited one. It provides a different perspective on an ancestor than does a family group or pedigree chart and can even be the framework for creating an ancestral biography.

The rest of the article on chronologies was posted as The Space Time Continuum on my website.


Sharpton Wants DNA test....

Al Sharpton now wants a DNA test to see if he has any paternal ties to the Thurmond family.
I am soooo glad I don't have any really famous relatives (although I am related to two well-known genealogists who shall remain anonymous).
While I like finding famous people in the census, obscurity has its benefits.

Figuring Out Iam Jones

A few years ago, we looked at an interesting census enumeration for an "Iam Jones." Our two part analysis discussed which parts of this census entry we thought were in error and which parts we thought were correct. It is important to note that the census taker occasionally makes mistakes.

The first article I am Jones or am I Something Else? begins our analysis and the second I am what I am, or am I?

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1880 Census--Coleman Sharpton

With a little snooping it was relatively easy to locate Coleman Sharpton (ancestor of Al Sharpton) living in Liberty County, Florida with his family in 1880. Those who want to see the whole image can search the 1880 Census on the Ancestry.com site. Strom Thurmond was not alive at the time of the 1880 census....

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1850 Census-Julia Thurmond Sharpton

Little did she know she would hit the newswires so long after her death. Julia Thurmond Sharpton, shown here in the 1850 Census for Liberty County, Florida, once owned Al Sharpton's ancestor, Coleman Sharpton.

Julia's husband was Jefferson Sharpton, shown here in 1850 as well.

Those interested in the complete image can Search the 1850 Census at Ancestry.com--the Sharptons didn't rate as "famous" enough for our famous pages...

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News? or Not?

Strom Thurmond's family used to own slaves. Absolutely shocking. I am completely floored and taken aback by the fact that a Southern family before the Civil War era owned slaves. Stop the presses (oh, they already did that). Rewrite the history books (oh wait..that's another story). This slave-owning thing is supposed to be a surprise? According to CNN it is. Any historian or genealogist with a modicum of experience in Southern research should great the revelation with a yawn. Many Southern families with a plantation or more than a subsistence level farming operation in the antebellum era owned slaves. Even my run of the mill families in Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky owned slaves before the Civil War and they certainly were not large plantation owners. While it is nothing to brag about....it should come as no great surprise either.

And one of Thurmond's shirttail relatives owned one of Sharpton's ancestors for a while? An interesting coincidence perhaps, but certainly not worthy of all the hoopla that has been made of it.

Julia Thurmond Sharpton was Strom Thurmond's first cousin twice removed. I have lots of first cousins twice removed. A first cousin twice removed would be a first cousin of my grandparent. I at least a hundred of those, many I never ever met.

Should we be surprised that the media are shocked about slave ownership and the Sharpton-Thurmond connection? Probably not. After all, the media have been focused on:
  • Brittany's shaved head.
  • Anna Nicole's decadent life and death.
  • the endless parade of anexoric actresses and models.

My great-great-parents were husband and wife and step-brother and step-sister. I'm still waiting for the news crew ;-)

24 February 2007

1870 Census--P T Barnum

The 1870 census indicates P T Barnum was relatively well-off, with real estate valued at $800, 000. Barnum is living with his wife in Connecticut, apparently on the "right side of the tracks." Keep in mind that even if you ancestor always went by his full name, the censustaker still might have decided to enumerate him only with his initials.
This image was part of the census images database at Ancestry.Com.

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Where Did the Farm Go?

Determining how your ancestor's farm left his possession may provide valuable genealogical clues. Land research is not complete until you have all the "ins and outs" the purchases and the sales or transfers of each piece of property. An article we posted on our site a few years ago discusses ways to locate these records--all of which may not be deeds. Of course, if your ancestor "bought the farm" before he had a chance to sell the farm, you will need to look at probate or estate records. That is, assuming had a farm in the first place.

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1850 Census--Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth did not always use that name. She used the last names of Baumfree or VanWaggener as well. The 1850 census taker found her in Northampton, Massachusetts, listed as age 60 and enumerated as Isabelle Vanwaggener. Of course, by 1880 she is indicating she was 104 years of age. The 1850 Census can be searched at Ancestry.com

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1880 Census--Sojourner Truth

While I really doubt if she is 104 years of age, the 1880 census for Sojourner Truth finds her living on College Avenue in Battle Creek, Michigan. Keep in mind that your ancestor's age in the census could easily be off as well, but perhaps not by quite this much. Search the 1880 Census for your own family member at Ancestry.com--remember the 1880 database at Ancestry.com is free--the images are not.

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23 February 2007

Still Room in Genealogy Computing Week

In less than two weeks we start our 9th annual Genealogy Computing Week at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. There is still room in each of our day-long, hands-on workshops. Our atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, yet informative. Galesburg is easy to get to via Interstate 74 and there are motels close to the College.
More information on our week of workshops can be found on our website. We would love to have you join us for one or more days. Questions can be emailed to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com

Bremen Passenger Lists 1920 - 1939

A newfound cousin passed along this website to me for passenger lists in Bremen. This database contains over 637,000 names from Bremen Passenger Lists 1920 - 1939. It may be old news to many, but it was new to me and I've already spent more time today on it than I should have!


1900 Census--William McKinley

Of course the census taker did not refer to it as the "White House," it is referred to as the "President's Mansion" in a notation made on the far right hand side of the enumeration. The 1900 Census is searchable on Ancestry.com.

The entry for McKinley is difficult to read, given that a statistician from the Bureau of the Census has made a notation right above his last name. This is compounded by the fact that the enumerator spelled the president's last name incorrectly (it's pretty clear that the last two letters of the name are "ly" as written in the census).

This is the screen that shows how McKinley's name was indexed---pretty reasonable for him considering what it looked like. Users can enter corrections or comments--which is what I intend to do as soon as I post this blog entry. His wife was Ida Sexton, although it is not the easiest thing to read either. If you find someone whose index entry is wrong (or that needs a comment because the original is slightly off) consider entering that comment when you find the name in a census entry at Ancestry.com. Those names eventually are searchable after the corrections and comments have been uploaded.

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1921 Murder or Suicide in Kansas City?

My great-uncle, Henry Goldenstein, died on 7 July 1921 in Kansas City, Missouri. I had never bothered to get a copy of his death certificate until recently when the Missouri Death Index came online at the Missouri State Archives.

The death certificate indicates he died at the Midwest Hotel in Kansas City and that the cause of death was suicide.
The family back home in Illinois was convinced that he was robbed and murdered. Tradition has it that an inquest was held into his death when his body was returned to Illinois for burial.
My goal is to learn more about this inquest. There are several things I am going to do as a part of this search:
  • Attempt to obtain coroner's records for Jackson County, Kansas, where the death took place.
  • Attempt to obtain corner's records for Adams County, Illinois, where the body was sent to and where the burial took place.
  • Attempt to locate newspaper accounts of this event in newspapers in the Kansas City, Missouri, area as well as in Quincy, Illinois (the Adams County, Illinois county seat) and Golden, Illinois (where the burial took place).

I'll keep you posted and suggestions are welcomed.


Using UK Census Records 1841-1871

For those who have never seen or used census records from the United Kingdom, we have posted samples from the family of Robert Frame in Carlisle, Cumberland, England on our site. Also included is an article discussing how these records were analyzed for clues to help us continue research on this family.
One of the Frame children emigrated to Chicago, Illinois, where many of his descendants live today.
I'd be interesting in hearing from anyone who is related to the Frame family, as Robert is my wife's 3rd great-grandfather.

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1881 Census--Winston Churchill

None of my ancestors ever had "Master" in front of their name in the census--of course none of mine were the child of a lord who was a member of Parliament either. The 1881 UK Census finds Churchill and his family living in Westminster. The 1881 England Census is available at Ancestry.com for those who wish to search for their less well-known family members.

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1891 Census--Charlie Chaplin

The 1891 England Census taker found Charlie Chaplin living with his mother Hannah and brother Sydney in Surrey. The mother's occupation is listed as "Professional Music."

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1900 Census--Mary Baker Eddy

The 1900 census enumerator found Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, but he did not find her too cooperative. She refused to give her age or month and year of birth as shown in this enumeration. She is also enumerated with no occupation. Of course searching for her in the 1900 census for index requires that I leave the age or year of birth blank. Most of our ancestors were not quite that stubborn.

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1900 Census--Humphrey Bogart

1900 census enumerators found Humphrey Bogart twice, once here in Ontario County, New York as shown and again with his family in Manhattan. Both images can be viewed on our site.
I've found several of my relatives (all non-famous), enumerated in the same census more than once. It does happen...especially if people are moving at the time, or working and still living at "home." In some cases, marital discord may be the reason great-grandpa appears as the "head of household" and as a boarder in a boarding house in a nearby neighborhood.
This image comes from the 1900 census at Ancestry.com

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When the Index does not help

Research is much easier when the names are spelled and indexed correctly. Researchers who've progressed beyond surfing internet sites quickly realize that alternate spellings are a reality, especially in a time when ancestors were either not literate or unable to speak the language of their adopted land.

We've posted a couple articles on our site to hopefully give readers some ideas of what to do when the index is not helpful and you are "certain" the person is in there:

The second article discusses why I think an 1893 birth record for an individual named Eliney is actually supposed to be Frederick.

Does it look like Frederick to you?
The article also discusses how the error likely happened. Sometimes this cannot be determined, but if the genealogist can figure out "why" or reasonably explain the error, it helps to make the case.

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22 February 2007

Booze, Politics, and My Ancestor

Political oneriness is nothing new. My own ancestor, John Rucker, was involved in some interesting events in a 1740s era election in Orange County, Virginia. Booze, dancing on the courthouse tables, and swords were involved.

Of course, this was during the era when only propertied men were allowed to vote ;-)


1870 census--Laura Ingalls Wilder

The 1870 census is the first one in which future author Laura Ingalls Wilder is enumerated. At the time her family is living in

Montgomery County, Kansas, which can be seen in the complete enumeration.

The 1870 United States Federal Census has been indexed and can be searched at Ancestry.com

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1920 Census--Mae West

The 1920 census entry for actress Mae West finds her in Queens, New York with her parents and siblings enumerated as Mary J. West. The complete enumeration shows the address and lists her occupation as theatre actress. The 1920 United States Federal Census can be searched at Ancestry.com

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1920 Census-Franklin Roosevelt

The 1920 census found Franklin Roosevelt living with his family in Washington, DC while working as assistant secretary of the Navy.
The 1920 United States Federal Census can be searched at Ancestry.com

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Making a Case that Frames are Apgars

Work on my wife's family in Chicago has been challenging. The reasons are many. My one brick wall in Chicago, is a William Frame (aka William Apgar) born in Chicago in the 1880s, the son of English immigrants. For reasons that are unclear, he takes the name Apgar at the time of his marriage in 1909. This name has no significance in his family whatsoever.

A while back we posted an article where I outlined my "proof" that a 1910 census enumeration for William Frame is actually that of William Apgar. It shows how I outlined my case and organized the details to see if my conclusion was correct. Based upon what I knew then (and what I know now) I know I have the right person.

Of course, the problem is that William Frame/William Apgar disappears around 1918 and is never heard from again.

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1910 Census--Bette Davis

The 1910 census found future actress Bette Davis living with her parents in Somerville, Mass. The complete enumeration can be found on our site. The 1910 United States Federal Census can be searched at Ancestry.com

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21 February 2007

How Do I Know I Have the Right Family?

Sometimes knowing one has the right family can be difficult and in some situations it can be "easy" to inadvertantly connect two unrelated families. We've posted an article on our site that focuses on 1850-1900 census records with migrating families that discusses some ways one can avoid barking up the wrong tree.


Can You Read It?

This signature comes from a late nineteenth century Civil War Pension file. This Ohio native, born in the 1840s, was testifying for her sister-in-law.

Go ahead and post a guess...


1860 Census--Jesse James

The 1860 census finds Jesse James living in Clay County, Missouri. The partial image on the right shows him as twelve years of age, living with Reuben Samuel and family. The complete image can be viewed here. The the 1860 census has been indexed and is online at Ancestry.com

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Just a little difficult to read

I'm not certain if it qualifies as difficult to read, but this signature comes from the World War I Draft Card of a member of a well-known family. The complete card can be seen here. This card comes from the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database at Ancestry.com. Fortunately the registrar wrote the name more legibly than this signature.

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20 February 2007

Watch For Your Reflection When Photographing Tombstones

I got to looking at the picture we took of my grandparents' tombstone near West Point, Illinois, today and I realized that someone's reflection is in the picture. I'm not certain if I took it or if my wife took it, but it is just something to think about. Of course, reflections are not a problem with older stones.

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Michael's Trautvetter Connection

I'll post a longer entry here when I have more time, but for now and for anyone interested:

Erasmus and Mary (Gross) Trautvetter, of Thuringen, Germany, were the parents of several children, including John George Trautvetter.

John George Trautvetter (1798-1871), was born in Bad Salzungen, Thuringen, Germany, immigrated to Hancock County, Illinois, with his family and returned to Bad Salzungen where he died in 1871. His wife was Sophia Elizabeth Derle (1808-1877). She is buried at the church cemetery in Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois. They were the parents of several children including John Michael Trautvetter.

John Michael Trautvetter was born in Wohlmuthausen, Germany in 1839 and died near Tioga, Hancock County, Illinois in 1917. He married Franciska Bieger in 1868 in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois. She was born in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois in 1851 and died near Tioga in 1888. They are buried at the church cemetery in Tioga. They were the parents of several children, including George Adolph Trautvetter.

George Adolph Trautvetter was born in 1869 near Tioga and died in 1935 in Jacksonville, Morgan, Illinois. He was married to Ida May Sargent in 1898. She was born probably in Warsaw in 1874 and died in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois in 1939. They are also buried in Tioga. They were the parents of seven children, including Ida.

Ida Trautvetter was born near Elderville, Hancock County, Illinois in 1910 and died near Carthage, Illinois, in 1994. She married Cecil Neill in 1935. He was born near Stillwell, Hancock County, Illinois in 1903 and died in Keokuk, Iowa in 1968. They are buried in the West Point, Illinois, cemetery. They were my grandparents.

We'll post more as time allows. The Trautvetters a very colorful family and have been very fun to research. Hopefully I'll be able to work more on their German connections.


Probate mentioned in the Papers

A search of the online Quincy, Illinois, newspapers located this mention of my ancestor's estate in The Quincy Daily Whig of 14 Aug 1889. I already had seen the will, but there are a few things about this worth noting:
  • in an earlier era, many newspapers published summaries of probate information--may be helpful if the courthouse can't find the record, burned, etc.
  • more and more newspapers are being put online and can be searched via OCR. If I had not already had the probate information this would have been a neat way to locate it.
  • if I did not have the probate information, I would want to contact the courthouse in order to locate it. This is only a summary of the information, the probate packet contains an inventory of the estate.
  • Newspapers sometimes get things wrong--granddaughter Ricka Iders is actually Ricka Ideus.

I descend from three of the people mentioned: Ulfert Behrens, Trientje Satorius, and Ricka (Reka) Sartorius. Reka Satorius Janssen is my great-great-grandmother.

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Changing History?

I found a typo on one of my old blog posts and after I fixed it, the old entry (with the error) no longer existed and it got me to thinking.

I think it is Orwell's 1984 where people are employed to go back and "edit" newspapers after the fact...to change history as it were. I may have the wrong book, but the memory sticks with me from somewhere.

Ever wondered about when we get to the day where we have no print news and the only archives are electronic? How easy will it be for someone to change an old online article from five years ago to "clean it up" or alter it in someway?

Just something to think about.

Can You Read It?

This name comes from a mid 1740 era estate settlement in Orange County, Virginia. This is a name, but not a signature.
Go ahead and post a guess.


Can You Read It?

This comes from the name of a godparent on a 1860 christening record in Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany...it's not too hard.


Did Your Ancestors Get Divorced?

Some would have us believe that divorce and family discord started in the 1960s and that it has been all downhill ever since. Genealogists who have spent time searching in court records know that is far from the truth.

Divorce is not a 20th century invention. Court records from the early 20th and nineteenth century contain numerous divorce records. These are records that every genealogist should include as a part of a conprehensive research design.

My wife's great-grandmother was divorced in Chicago twice in the early twentieth century.
My 3rd great-grandmother was divorced twice in rural Illinois in the late nineteenth century.
In both cases the records of these divorces were very telling and provided significant genealogical clues.
We've posted an article on divorce records on our site--something you should consider--unless you think your ancestors never never had a disagreement ;-)


Who is it in 1930?

This family's 1930 census entry in Hamilton County, Ohio, contains a well-known actor--the 18 year old son. Any guesses as to who it is?

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World War I Draft Card--Duke Ellington

I realized we had a "bad image" for Duke Ellington's World War I draft card, so we have re-uploaded it to our site. The 19 year old government messenger is living in Washington, DC and listed his mother as his next of kin.

The World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 are one of the databases at Ancestry.com

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1930 Census--Laura Ingalls Wilder

The 1930 census enumeration for Laura Ingalls Wilder as shown to the right indicates the importance of looking at the neighbors--her daughter, author Rose Wilder Lane, is living next door.

The Wilder's complete enumeration in Wright County, Missouri, can be viewed on our site. The 1930 can be searched at Ancestry.com.

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1860 Census--Frederick Douglass

Writer and anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass is living in Monroe County, New York in the 1850 census. He is apparently listed with an occupation of Editor--at least that is what I think "E D ' R" stands for in the complete enumeration.

As a note to those using the 1860 index at Ancestry.com:
Douglass' place of birth is somewhat difficult to read. While the intent was Maryland, the indexer read it as "Mordland" and that is what appears as the place of birth in the index. Another reason to occasionally omit the birthplace when census searching.

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1930 Census--Howard Hughes

Billionaire Howard Hughes is living at 211 Muirfield Road in 1930 in a home valued at $45,000. The 24 year old Iowa native is listed as a film producer. His complete enumeration can be seen here.

The 1930 census and other census records have been completely indexed by Ancestry.Com.

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19 February 2007

Pre-1850 Census Searching

Ancestry.com's blog has published my latest article Starting Pre-1850 Census Searching. Working with pre-1850 census records can be a challenge, especially the first time around. This article focuses on my search for a William Newman and includes information on how I found him in the 1840 census. Census records before 1850 can be used, but it takes some time and practice to avoid making incorrect conclusions. We will follow this article with more on census records in this era. Suggestions can be sent to me at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

I know there are a great number of genealogists who struggle with census records during this period--I know I did when I first started.

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1861 Census--Karl Marx

To the untrained eye, it certainly looks like Karl Mara, but in actuality it is Karl Marx, famed philosopher whose writings have caused all kinds of twentieth and twenty-first century problems.
He and his family are living in the United Kingdom in the 1861 census which can be viewed on our site.
The 1861 England Census can be searched at Ancestry.com

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Poor Farm, Girl Friends, Sisters, and who knows?

One of the most confusing families I have had to sort out has been the family of Philip and Sarah Kile Smith of Mercer County, Illinois. This couple lived in Keithsburg, Mercer County, Illinois from the 1870s until the early 1900s. The problem was that Philip also had a long-standing relationship with his wife Sarah's sister. Philip also had children with this sister-in-law, Nancy Kile.

Part of locating information on this family hinged on local poor farm records from when the family was institutionalized in the 1870s. An article explaining more about our search for this family and the importance of not jumping to conclusions and not immediately performing data entry has been posted on our site.

Every genealogy should have at least one Smith line. It makes things interesting.

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Manifests--Babe Ruth 1938

In 1938, baseball great Babe Ruth and his wife apparently spent some time in Bermuda, returning to New York in March 1938 on board the Monarch of Bermuda.

Ruth is listed under his actual name of George H. Ruth and the Ruths indicated an NYC address as shown below.

These lists can be searched as a part of the Ancestry.com collection

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Manifests--Sinatra and Gardner 1951

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner returned to the United States in December 1951 on board a Pan American flight from Frankfort, Germany that arrived in New York City. These images came from the Ancestry.com passenger lists database or can be searched manually on the actual National Archives microfilm. Here is a picture of Sinatra and Gardner supposedly taken the day after they landed in New York.

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18 February 2007

Manifests--Mark Twain in 1877

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) is shown as arriving in the United States in 1877 on the Steamship Bermuda. The boat landed in New York and Clemens is listed as shown on the partial manifest image, in this post not under Mark Twain. These passenger manifests are part of the Ancestry Immigration Collection or can be viewed on microfilm via the National Archives. The advantage to using Ancestry is that they have indexed the records. Clemens must have been on a speaking tour in 1877 when he made this trip.
Of course, Mark Twain was born in Missouri and has already been located in several US census records.

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World War I Draft Card--Groucho Marx

The World War I Draft Registration found Groucho Marx living in Chicago, Illinois under his actual name of Julius Marx. He is listed as an actor, but his card is difficult to read. This card comes from the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database at Ancestry.com. I didn't know his middle name was Henry ;-)

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World War I Draft Card--Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin's World War I Draft Card lists him as living at 30 West 70th Street in New York and self-employed as a composer. The 29 year old indicates a birth place of Mogilov, Russia. Those wishing to see the complete card can do so here. This card is a part of the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 at Ancestry.com.


Quit Claims?

Ever wonder what the difference is between a quitclaim deed and a warantee deed?
In a nutshell the seller (grantor) on a quitlcaim deed is giving up any claim he or she has to the property in question. Usually on a quitclaim deed the seller has a questionable claim or the buyer is 100% certain the seller has a claim (usually because the seller is an heir to the property and the buyer is as well). On a warantee deed, the seller is guaranteeing that he has clear title.

We have posted two articles on our site regarding quitclaim deeds and their use in genealogical research. Both article one and article two can be linked to on our site.


Can You Read It?

This is a name of a child from a birth record in Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany in the 1820s.

Go ahead and post a guess.


Can You Read It?

This name comes from an early 1900s probate file in Chariton County, Missouri. This name appears on the list of heirs.
Go ahead and post a guess.


Can You Read It?

This name comes from the 1885 agricultural census for Dawson County, Nebraska. For those who want to give it a try, the last name is written first, then the first name.


Hugh Grant in 1850--better known as Ulysses

A reader reminded me that US president Grant is enumerated twice in the 1850 census. This enumerated "Hugh Grant" is with the other military staff. The other enumeration on our site lists Grant with his in-laws, the Dent family, in St. Louis.

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17 February 2007

Special Prices At Ancestry.com

Ancestry is currently running specials on their memberships...good prices. They won't last forever and if you've been putting off subscribing now (with winter set in) might be a good time to subscribe. Specials are:

US Deluxe is $99 a year, or $19.95 a month.
World is $199 a year, or $29.95 a month.

Pretty good prices considering you sit at home at 3 in the morning and research (what you wear is at your discretion--libraries and archives are less flexible about clothing).

Ancestry's site has more information on the price reductions.

Just remember, to keep track of what you sign up for. The only thing to keep in mind is what it costs to actually visit libraries--for those of us who do genealogy "after work" being able to use ancestry.com whenever we have time is a significant advantage (no driving, parking, etc.).

As a note, I only mention on this site databases, software, or books I have actually paid for myself and use myself. If there's something you do not see here, it means that either I haven't found it useful for me or it covers a geographic area in which I have no interest. One can't buy every program or book that comes along and I don't like to suggest things to people if I haven't purchased them and used them myself.

Making Certain You Have It All...

The online 1880 census census databases at FamilySearch and at Ancestry.com both are great finding aids (although each works slightly differently). However both are not 100% complete transcriptions. The 1880 enumeration for the family of Anna Fecht in Prairie Township, Hancock County, Illinois, does not include the fact that three of the family members had the measles at the time of the enumeration-children John, George, and Anna. The measles was not a huge clue, but it was neat to know and sometimes the omissions are greater than the one shown here.

The transcription also indicates that the relationship of Henry Fecht to Anna Fecht is "other." On the actual census, Henry's relationship is not given and the space is left blank.

It always pays to go to the original. Sometimes transcribers make mistakes (because they are human) and sometimes things are not transcribed.


16 February 2007

World War I Draft Card--Louis Armstrong

The handwriting of 18 year old musician Louis Armstrong is easily read on his World War I Draft Registration Card. The future jazz great was still living in Louisiana with his mother who is listed as his nearest relative on this draft card. This card is part of the World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 database at Ancestry.com.

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World War I Draft Card--Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini's World War I Draft Registration Card indicates his middle name was "Handcuff." Regardless of whether or not that is true, it does make for an interesting card. Houdini's actual card includes his signature and indicates that he had a weak left hand. The World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 are a part of Ancestry.com's genealogy databases. Houdini's card can be viewed on our site.

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Can You Read It?

This comes from an 1853 passenger list manifest of a German immigrant arriving in New Orleans.

Go ahead and post a guess.


1870 census--John Rockefeller

In 1870, John Rockefeller was already on his way to establishing his fortune. The census taker found him in Cincinnati, Ohio, living with his wife and two young children in addition to a variety of servants. The complete enumeration for Rockefeller can be viewed on our site. The 1870 census can be searched at Ancestry.com.

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1860 Census--Theodore Roosevelt

Future president Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt is enumerated in 1860 in New York City with his family. There has been a notation made by someone in the census department. Elliott Roosevelt (listed below Theodore) was the father of Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt, wife of FDR.

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1860 Census--Buffalo Bill Cody

Enumerated in Kansas with his mother and siblings as William F. Cody aged 14. The complete image along with citation has also been posted on our page. The father had died by the time of the 1860 census.

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The Censustaker is at the door...

Census records can contain many errors, but in addition to variants of spelling , pronunciation, and handwriting, think about what might have really happened when that census taker came to your ancestor's door.
  • Who answered the questions?
  • What did they really know?
  • Did the census taker really care?
  • Were they actually lying?
  • etc.

We've posted an article on our site The Census Taker Cometh that might get you to thinking about what really happened when the censustaker came around.


Can You Read It?

This comes from a early twentieth century pension file in Hancock County, Illinois. This individual was born in the 1820s in New Jersey.
Go ahead and make a guess...


What is the point of the handwriting site?

A few have asked what is the point of guessing at the writing samples on our handwriting site and do I know the answers? To answer the last question, I do know what the names are supposed to be and will be posting those after each image has remained up for a little while and those who want to guess have made their guesses.

The answer to the first question is just partially fun--some of us (myself included) like to try our hand at reading various types of handwriting. The other point is the importance learning how to read writing with which we are unfamiliar. All of us have occasionally encountered a name or a phrase that we have had a difficult time reading and we perhaps had no clue what script it was written in. Sometimes we can read the word from the context of other words on the document, particularly on a census or a deed book, etc. The problem comes in when an ancestor signs a document, and none of the other writing on the document is in his handwriting. Sometimes his name will be written on the document elsewhere and once in a while it will not be. Hopefully posting the images along with the answers will help those who are having difficulties.

And I'm open to suggestions as well.


Can You Read It?

This entry comes the record of baptisms in Tjarstad, Ostergotland, Sweden in 1822.
Go ahead and post a guess.


1920 Census--Fred Astaire

By 1920, the family of Fred Astaire has left Nebraska for New York City, where they are enumerated. The family is also listed with the last name of Astaire instead of Austerlitz. The complete enumeration for the family can be viewed here.

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1900 Census--Spencer Tracy

Actor Spencer Tracy is a mere babe in the 1900 census enumeration with his parents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1900. The young family only has two children at this point, the actor and his older brother, Carroll. The complete enumeration for this family can be seen here.

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1870 Census--Harriet Beecher Stowe

The author of Uncle Tom's Cabin is enumerated with her family in 1870. Not many females are listed in 1870 with an occupation, but Stowe is listed as an "authoress" and her husband is appropriately listed as a clergyman. The complete enumeration for the Stowes, along with a citation, can be viewed on our site.

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15 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This name comes from an early nineteenth century marriage record from Nevele, Belgium.
Feel free to post a guess.


Lectures from FGS Conference-Boston 2006

Genealogists can still download for $1.99 individual copies of lectures from the FGS 2006 conference in Boston.

Copies of my lectures are still available on Lulu.com

I'd be interested in hearing how anyone liked being able to download the lectures from this site.


Can You Read It?

This comes from a mid-nineteenth century marriage record in Nevele, Belgium.
Feel free to post a guess.


Where O Where Can the Obituary Be?

Genealogists often spend time searching for obituaries of their ancestors. Local newspapers are a great first place to look--however there are quite a few other places one should look.
The obituary on the right was published in the Christian Advocate, published in St. Louis, Missouri, nearly 100 miles from where good old Wesley Jones died. Had our search stayed in the local area we would have missed this wonderful writeup. An article on our site discusses places to search for obituaries so that they are not overlooked.


1860 census--John Wilkes Booth

The entry on the right is part of the 1860 census entry for John Wilkes Booth, who a few years later would assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Booth's complete entry here, in Philadelphia, can be viewed on our site.

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1880 Census--Lizzie Borden

The image to the right shows part of the 1880 census for Lizzie Borden, when her parents are still living in Fall River, Mass. The complete enumeration along with the citation can be viewed here.

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1930 Census--John F. Kennedy

Future US President John F. Kennedy can be found living with his parents in Westchester County, New York State in 1930. The partial enumeration shown on the right includes the entire family--at least the ones who were born by the date of the enumeration.
For a complete image and a citation, the entire page can be viewed here.

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14 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This comes from a nineteenth century declaration of intent filed in Adams County, Illinois by a native of northern Germany born in the 1820s or 1830s.

Feel free to post a guess.


Can You Read It?

This comes from an 1830s era deed in Hawkins County, Tennessee. This is from the text of the deed transcribed by the clerk, not any actual signatures.
Go ahead and post a guess.


Ida Sargent Trautvetter Miller

Perhaps my biggest brick wall is my great-grandmother, Ida May Sargent Trautvetter Miller (1874-1939). The image on this post comes from her 1939 death certificate, although other sources do indicate her mother was a Florence (or Ellen) Butler, who was born in Missouri in the 1850s.

Ida's date of birth (1 April 1874) is given relatively consistently in the records, her place of birth however is not. She has been located in all censuses from 1880-1930, none providing clues as to her parents beyond their general places birth. Her tombstone provides little additional data. Her second marriage application provides no new information either.

Her parents apparently were "dropped" in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois in 1880 when they were enumerated in the 1880 census. Her mother "evaporated" a few years later, and supposedly was never heard from again. Her father Ira (as William I. Sargent) married again to Martha Morris in Adams County, Illinois, in 1888. Ira died in 1916 in Limestone Township, Peoria County, Illinois, and has no burial location or stone. The most precise place of birth obtained for Ira has been Canada (although one census does indicate he was born in Quebec). Martha cannot be located in the 1920 census and the one child she supposedly had before her marriage to Ira has never been located. She has no stone at the cemetery where she is buried.

This discussion of Ida is somewhat informal. Records of Hancock and Adams Counties in Illinois have been exhausted in an attempt to locate more on this family. Suggestions are welcomed... mjnrootdig@gmail.com

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Can You Read It?

This comes from an 1882 marriage record in Lee County, Iowa.
Feel free to post a guess.


Can You Read It?

This was written on a 1901 marriage application in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
Go ahead and post a guess.


Which President Did Coke?

Headline caught your attention, huh?

There is an interesting article in the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune.
Apparently in the 1860s, Abraham Lincoln purchased Cocoaine from a drugstore in Springfield. A historian, assuming it was a spelling error jumped to a headline, err. conclusion. After all, they couldn't spell well in the 1860s, now could they? And who hasn't had to do some interpretation when reading old records?

Read the article online. If you've seen my picture on this site, turns out I need some of the stuff ;-)

Makes a very good point about the importance of not jumping to conclusions.


Can You Read It?

Can you make out the name of the father from this 1895 birth certificate in Hancock County, Illinois? We've included more than "just the name" because there was some overlapping writing.
Go ahead and post a guess.


1930 Census--Charles Schulz (Peanuts Creator)

Cartoonist Charles Schulz is listed as a seven year old with his parents in San Bernadino County, California in 1930. Those readers of his strip familiar with Snoopy will notice a special significance to the town where the Schulzes are living. They apparently did not remain in California for too long.

The entire page can be viewed here.

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1880 Census--Thomas Edison

By 1880, Thomas Edison has established himself as a scientist, has started a family and is living in New Jersey. This partial image of his 1880 enumeration includes his family and a few servants as well.
Those wishing to see the entire page can do so here-it is too large to publish on the main page of our site.

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13 February 2007

Do You Ear What I Ear?

This is one of the most popular articles on our site. What your ancestor heard, how he heard it and what she thought when she heard it impact what gets written in the record. If you have never tried to be a bug in your ancestor's ear, give the article Do You Ear What I Ear? a read. And if you have been a bug in your ancestor's ear...well that is another matter entirely.

Seriously, though how your ancestor interpreted the question may explain why her ancestor makes no sense to us today.

Organizing Your Data

Gathering information is great, but unless it gets "put together" clues are missed and leads are left unfollowed. A while back we posted an article on our site about organizing data and the importance of problem solving. The methods listed are not comprehensive, but perhaps breaking down that brick wall is as simple as moving the bricks.



Can You Read It?

This actual signature comes from an 1856 Declaration of Intent in Adams County, Illinois. This German native was born in the 1820s.

Go ahead and post your guess...


Can You Read It?

This comes from an 1830s era marriage record in Aurich, Germany.
Feel free to post your rendering of the writing.


Can You Read It?

This was written by a German born Lutheran minister in the 1870s.
Feel free to post your guess as to what the name is. The first name is pretty easy...


1880 Census Laura Ingalls Wilder

The image to the right lists author Laura Ingalls Wilder at the age of 13 living in Desmet, Dakota Territory in the 1880 census with her parents and sisters.

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Abraham Lincoln in the 1850 Census

Abraham Lincoln's 1850 enumeration appears partially in this blog post. The spelling of his name is clearly Abram, although someone has entered a "correction" to Ancestry's index indicating it should be Abraham. While indexers do make mistakes, it is not their job to correct the actual entry. Lincoln's complete entry in the 1850 census in Springfield, Illinois can be seen here.

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12 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This comes from an 1850 christening entry in Tjarstad, Sweden (the 21st entry in 1850 for those who want to know where it came from).


29 March 2007 Princeton, Illinois

I will be presenting "Discovering Your Own Migration Trail" at the monthly meeting of the Bureau County, Illinois, Genealogical Society on 29 March 2007. I always enjoy my trips to Princeton. The Bureau County group is a very active one and usually have well attended meetings--a model group for others in similarly sized communities.

Meeting starts at 7:00 and is at the Society's downton library.

More information about the Society can be found on their website.


Al Capone World War 1 Draft Card

To the right is the signature of the infamous Al Capone from his World War 1 Draft Registration Card. His occupation is listed as a paper cutter and he lists his mother Theresa as his nearest relative. At the time he was 5 foot 7 inches tall and had no distinguishing marks. An image of the entire card can be viewed here.

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1930 Rosa Parks

One of our more popular pages is Rosa Parks in the 1930 census.

She is enumerated as Rosa McCall in Montgomery, Alabama as shown in the image on the right. Those wanting a complete census page along with the citation can view the entire image here.

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11 February 2007

Pre-1850 Census Records

Analyzing census records before 1850 can be a problem for many genealogists, especially those who have not done much work in these records that list only heads of household. In a four part series on our website, we analyze 1800-1850 census entries for a resident of Bedford County, Pennslyvania, showing how to compare/contrast the entries and reach a reasonable conclusion as to how many children Thomas Chaney likely had.

Also included are the assumptions we made and a discussion of when those assumptions may need to be changed.
The series of articles (and links to the actual census images) can be viewed on our site. And if anyone is related to Thomas, fire off an email to me-he's my 4th great-grandfather.


10 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This signature comes from an 1810 era document from Maryland, written by an English native born in the 1740s.


09 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This entry comes from a 1851-1856 era Household Clerical Register from Tjarstad, Sweden. It is NOT a signature.
Feel free to comment with your interpretation.


May 2007 Trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana Genealogy Library

The St. Charles County Missouri Genealogical Society is proud to announce it's eighth annual research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The library has recently reopened from in its remodeled location and we are looking forward to our annual research trip.

Our trip is a little different. People in the St. Louis area can ride the bus from St. Louis to Ft. Wayne.

Others can elect to drive and pay a lower free because they are providing their own transportation.

Either way you get to be a part of our online preparation group where we do planning, give suggestions and guidance before we ever leave. Our goal is to have you hit the library with a list of things to do.

To learn more about our trip, visit our website for more information. The group from St. Charles is an excellent congenial group of people and we always have a great time (and most importantly, we always get a good deal of research done). We are still working on an unofficial contest for who makes the most copies. Our winners from last year know who they are!


Getting those Special Characters

Those of us with ancestors in countries where English is not spoken occasionally need non-standard characters as part of our ancestral names or locations.

Jans Jürgens Janßsen was born in Holtrop.
Samuel Johnson was born in Tjårstad.

You get the idea.

Directions for creating such characters can be found at: http://www.forlang.wsu.edu/help/keyboards.asp

Can You Read It?

Another Civil War veteran born in the midwest, writing this ca. 1898.
Feel free to enter a guess...


Can You Read It?

Another signature from an 1890 era Civil War Pension. This person I believe to have been a French immigrant.
Feel free to post a guess...


07 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This comes from an 1820s era set of court papers in Kentucky. It is the signature of a Virginia native, born in western Virginia in the late eighteenth century.


Can You Read It?

This comes from a court document in Fleming County, Kentucky, in the early 1800s. This is the signature of the Justice of the Peace on a affidavit.



My earliest NEILL ancestor is a John NEILL who was born ca. 1810 in Ireland and most likely lived in or around Newtown Limavady and environs in County Derry. John supposedly had more than twelve children. I only know of two, Joseph and Samuel. Samuel was my great-great-grandfather. Some information I have already obtained follows.

Additions, corrections, and comments are welcome. I'd love to hear from relatives still in Ireland. These areas are the only ones where I have information on the NEILL family. Please do not email me about NEILLs in Virginia in 1750--I don't have the information.

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

What follows is an abstract. My attempts to interpret illegible handwriting are in brackets.

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.

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, Brian MITCHELL, Genealogical Publishing Co., Balto., MD. 1988.

p. 158 listing of passengers who sailed to St. John in 1864 mentions Samuel NEILL (aged 22 from Limavady) and the family of Joseph NEILL (aged 26), Ann NEILL (aged 30) and Sarah Ann NEILL (aged 1). They were also from Limavady as well.

Joseph and Samuel migrated to Hancock County, Illinois, settling near West Point. What brought them there is a story well post later to this blog.


Laurence Olivier arriving on the Normandie in 1938

Laurence Olivier came over to the United States several times. The image to the right is his arrival in 1938 on the Normandie.

Fortunately this list was typed which really makes the reading a little easier on the eyes and aids in the transcription process.

Those who wish to search for Olivier in Ancestry's immigration databases can do so
here. There are several entries for his name the "right" way.

Remember that when searching for your own ancestors or those whose names are handwritten, transcription discrepancies are a definite possibility.


Married in Vegas? Not...

Ancestry's running a website where you can (based upon marriage record entries) determine the chance that you get married in Los Vegas and the name of your spouse. Those who want to try their hand at the marriage game can do so here. Most of us have played the marriage game without ever heading to Vegas ;-)

I don't know about anyone else...but the odds I get married in Vegas are 0. This is closely tied to the odds that I enter a casino which are also 0 (for those who don't know, I live within shoutin' distance of numerous gambling boats on the Mississippi River and have never set foot in one. I have also never purchased a lottery ticket either. More proof that I descend from a bunch stubborn and contrary people). Actually I was taught that life was a gamble enough as it was and have had enough statistical and probability theory to KNOW who comes out ahead on the boat or in the casino.

Don't get me wrong, I love searching to find famous people in census and other records---more for the search than for anything else. And searching for someone else can give me ideas on my own lost people.

Frankie Laine 1920 and 1930 Census

CNN is reporting the death of singer Frankie Laine. Wayyyyy before my time

Laine was born Frank LoVecchio on March 30, 1913, in Chicago, the son of John and Anna, Italian immigrants.

The 1920 Census for Chicago, Cook County, finds the family living at 1446 North Park Avenue--and no one remembering when they immigrated to the United States (or at least not answering the question...)

The 1930 Census finds them living in Chicago's 43rd ward at 331 Schiller Street. In the remaining portion of the entry (not shown here) the father indicates an immigration date of 1905.


06 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This one also comes from a German native and was written on a late nineteenth century naturalization.


Can You Read It?

This German native's signature comes from his late nineteenth century naturalization.


Lecture Availability and Contact Information

I would be happy to discuss the possibility of coming to present to your genealogy group or club for their workshop or seminar. Genealogy workshops and seminars are great ways for members of your group to enhance their research skills and network with other genealogists. There is a world away from the computer.

For more information on speaking availability, fees, expenses, and opportunities, send an email to me at michaeln2@winco.net. Please indicate the potential date of the seminar, typical format, and general audience level. We can go from there. Lectures are informative, relaxed, and fun. Topics can be arranged and new lectures can be developed upon request.

I have presented over fifty all-day workshops across the United States on a wide variety of genealogy and computer genealogy topics. Some have been hands on all day workshops on Ancestry.com, Genline, Family Tree Maker. Others have been more traditional days of lectures and presentations on a wide variety of topics. I have lectured for small and large groups including NGS and FGS conferences.

A list of incomplete topics is available at http://www.rootdig.com/topics.html


Pittsburgh, PA--21 April 2007

I will be the featured speaker at the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society's annual Spring Seminar on 21 April 2007 at the Holiday Inn in Greentree. More details will be posted as they become available and some information is on the Society's website. I'm looking forward to my first trip to Pittsburgh.


Computer workshops-St. Peters, Missouri 14 April 2007

I will be presenting two half-day computer genealogy workshops in St. Peters, Missouri, for the St. Charles County Genealogical Society on 14 April 2007. One session will be on preserving and publishing your research online and the afternoon session will be on using DeedMapper to plat ancestral properties.

Sessions will be held in a computer lab and registrants will have a computer to use during the applicable parts of our workshops.

The workshop will be held at St. Charles Community College in St. Peters.

The St. Charles group is an excellent group to work with and I always look forward to my trips there.

More information on the workshop can be found at

Hope to see you there.


05 February 2007

Virginia Beach--31 March 2007

I'll be presenting at an all-day conference in Virginia Beach on 31 March 2007 at the Virginia Beach Central Library, sponsored by the Virginia Beach Genealogical Society.

Topics include:
Online Genealogy Research: what to do, how to do it, and how to keep organized
Effective Internet Searching
Beginning Your German Research

More information can be found on the Society's conference website.


Write Your Congressman

I never thought my family was the kind to write letters to their Congressman.
Apparently my great-great-grandmother was just that kind of person--especially when it involved her pension. One has to admire her gumption, she didn't even wait to get home to Illinois to write her complaint (she likely was visiting her daughter in Minnesota).
Nancy was denied a pension several times, but was finally approved.
We're a stubborn bunch (and apparently a little outspoken too).

Civil War Pensions are WONDERFUL documents. Treat yourself to your ancestor's Civil War pension file---it'll be a great history lesson. Mine certainly have been.

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Eli Short, Wilford Cubbage, Wilford Manlove-Civil War Pensions

The Civil War Pension file of Riley Rampley of Hancock County, Illinois contains testimony from these three comrades. I am contemplating ordering their complete pension files in order to determine if Riley provided testimony in their cases or if their pensions shed any additional light on his service. All three men lived in either Hancock or Adams Counties in Illinois and served in Company D, 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Ordering the complete pension is $37 each from the National Archives.
Are there any relatives of Cubbage, Manlove or Short, who would like to chip in? I would send a copy of my copy or scan the whole file and send it to you. Thanks!
Riley is my great-great-grandfather

Draft Cards at Family History Library

We've been posting information regarding draft cards and I forgot that we have a page with links to those cards that are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.



Can You Read It?

This one was also written in 1913 in a Civil War Pension application.


Can You Read It?

This one is from a 1913 Civil War Pension affadavit. It is a signature.


World War Two Draft Registrations

WW2 Draft Cards are best looked at in two categories: OLD MEN's DRAFT and TRADITIONAL AGE DRAFT REGISTRANTS

OLD MEN's DRAFT (born between 1877-1897) (card from Henry Mortier is a sample)

Ancestry.com members can search some of the Old Men's Draft cards from WW2 in the military databases at Ancestry.com. This database does not currently contain all the cards from this registration.

Currently this database currently contains draft cards for the following states:
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
West Virginia

TRADITIONAL AGE WW2 Draft (born between 1897 and 1921)

If the guy is deceased, you can obtain his card from Selective Service if you can prove he is dead. Information on how to do this can be found in an article on our site. Sample card from this registration is below.


03 February 2007

Double Entry Census Error

It looks like a typo on the 1870 census in Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois for the family of James and Elizabeth Rampley---and it is. They did not have two sons named John--the 23 year old should have been enumerated as James. Just goes to show that the census taker can make mistakes.
And keep in mind that the copy we use on microfilm is the "cleaned" up copy the census taker sent to the Bureau of the Census and one that was compiled from his field notes.


Winter Driving in Illinois and Genealogy

When Franciska Trautvetter's funeral is held in January of 1888 in Tioga, Illinois, it was likely cold and wintry. The newspaper account of her funeral indicates that several people attended her funeral from Niota, Illinois. Of course the paper fails to indicate "why" they came to the funeral (Franciska's death being the main reason). Being familiar with the area, I knew it was a good thirty mile drive from Niota to Tioga and definitely not a quick trip back in 1888. Research into the individuals who attended indicated they were all half-siblings of Franciska, with a different surname because they shared a mother, but not a father.
Always pay attention to those "unstated" clues and keep in mind distances, likely travel modes, and the time of the year. Context is everything...


02 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This comes from a late nineteenth century naturalization...written by a German immigrant.

Any guesses?


01 February 2007

Can You Read It?

This handwritten signature comes from a White County, Indiana probate case in the 1860s. For a point of reference, this individual was born in either Kentucky/Indiana and grew up in a family that operated a small farm.
We are now allowing reader comments to the signatures and will be posting the answer in a few days.