Sunday, December 23, 2012


A common myth with family research is that the immigration officers purposely changed my families surname. This is a myth that needs to be broken. Remember when our family members entered the country they spoke with heavy accents and many were speaking a completely different language that that of the immigration officer. The immigration officers were reviewing hundreds of people every day. The goal was to take information quickly and accurately to process the new arrivals. Often errors occurred in the communication. Spelling errors were common. Language and accents played an important part in the mistakes. Immigrants often lacked the ability to read or write English when they came to this country. When the clerk showed them the information and asked if it was correct they would say Yes not realizing that an error had been made. This was by far the more common reason for the errors. This would even occur with English speaking people that did not know how to read. What would appear as simple names would sound correct to the ear, but be spelled wrong on the paper. As they worked there way into the fabric of our country the likely hood of the error's continuing was even more dramatic. The people our ancestors were coming in contact we in a lot of cases spoke and wrote English. It would take a while before our ancestors would if at all. This is a big reason why non English speaking immigrants located in the same communities with other folks that spoke the same language. Many of the non English speaking men would obtain jobs where communication was not their primary function, but using their muscles was. Mistakes were made from both parties. Confirming spellings with at least thee different sources is key. Listening to the stories of name origins are key. Name origins is one of the most difficult things to understand as genealogist. Keep track of all the various spellings. You will not know which was is correct until you have done a complete search.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Abrams Foundation Historical Collection

The grand opening of the Abrams Foundation Historical Collection will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at the Archives of Michigan in Lansing. There will be a small ceremony at 10:30a with welcoming remarks. Tours of the Archives will also be available throughout the day. January 5 also marks the first day of our new Saturday hours. Our new hours, effective 5 January 2013, are M-F 1p-5p and Sat 10a-4p. Researchers will now have weekend access to the terrific collections here at the Archives of Michigan. We hope to see you on the 5th!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

History- Local, Regional, National

It is important when researching our families to understand as much about their surroundings as it is to know about the family. By understanding the circumstances that influenced their lives it allows us to better locate sources of information on our families. Failure to do this will prevent us from totally understanding the history of our families. Understanding the impact and creation of the Erie Canal to points west in the 1820's is critical to understanding why our families migrated in this time period when they did. The ability to not only travel at a much faster and safer pace was critical to the migration to the western half of New York and the Northern portions of Ohio in the 1820's. Another large factor was the granting of bounty lands to soldiers that served in the Revolutionary War in Ohio. Looking at the history of the local area is key to learning more about our families. Researching the families that lived around our families is critical in our own family search. This is out of the boundaries in most cases of researching our collateral lines, but can help tremendously to resolve brick walls in our own families. What do they do for a living? Where was the land located? Where did they come from? Our families did not travel alone and did not relocate in areas where they were not familiar with the people around them. Understanding the effects of government policies explains a lot on why our ancestors originally came to this country. Government military service, religious persecution and famine are just a few of the many items that caused our families to leave the old country and come to America. Researching the immigration of ethnic patterns will offer clues on how our families located here. Get your history cap on when you are researching your family. Each area that they lived in is a important research project. Understand why they lived where they did. The information is out there you have to research it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Geography- What does it tell you about your family?

Understanding the history of a area while our ancestors live there is important in shedding light on the history of our families. Not doing our history research will prevent us from properly understanding our families lives. When researching ones families a thorough study should be done on the effect history both local and national plays on the decisions our families made in there lives. Despite what we think the events that were occurring around our ancestors effected the decisions that they were making just like they do our lives. Changes in geography played a important part in the migration patterns of our families. In the early stages of US history civilization clung to the coast line of the Atlantic. It was unusual for families to move into the wilderness areas around them due to the Indians and the limitations of the land. It would not be until the 1700's that people would start venturing away from the coast. Pressures from poor land and the common practice of passing the wealth to the first born played a major part in migration. The influx of immigrants started to put pressure on the lands limited resources and forced people to venture into the interior. After the Revolutionary War time period people started to look westward for new land. Early roads of travel were only wide spots in the wilderness. Travel was made difficult due to the unimproved nature of the trails. Migrating to the Ohio country from the East coast would take weeks. Travel was dangerous from the harsh conditions, wild animals and the fear of the native tribes. Water travel became the most common way for people to travel and helped ease the way. People would travel in groups to allow for a sense of security against the unknown that surrounded them on every side. With the opening of the Erie Canal in the 1820's now families could travel from the New England region to points west in day's as compared to weeks. Travel was eased so that more people would start their move. Identifying all the way stops for your family as they moved west will become more clear when you look at the primary routes that people traveled into the region your family would finally settle. Study your history. It will pay dividends on understanding why your family was making the decisions that they made. Identify the influences that may have effected your family. You will be glad you did.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vintage Audios

 This is what we are able to do at Legacy Stores.  Are you preserving your Legacy? Vintage Audios

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guardianship the forgotten Probate document.

One of the most common Probate documents that was often overlooked is the Guardianship files. If you had a male die with minor children living in the household the court even with out a will would create a guardianship for the care of the children. Guardianship were a common form of care that was administered to children when still minors in the event that the father passed away. The normal cut off age was eighteen. This was always done. This was the counties way to make sure that the children were being properly taken care of in the community. This would not happen in the event that the mother died. The perception was they had to be watched if a male was not in the picture. The courts would first establish the date of death for the deceased. They would make attempts to provide care for the children by another male family member or a trusted member of the community. Paying attention to this name is important, because you need to establish this persons relationship with the family prior to the death of the man. The court would detail the full names of the children along with the date of birth. The court would review the case each year until the child was no longer a minor. It is fascinating when reviewing a case file to see all the receipts for the purchases that were made for the care of the children. Reviews were done in the county of death when the children may have moved elsewhere. In a case I researched in Lima, Allen Co., Ohio the father passed in the county and left three minor children. The mother had proceeded him in death. Care for the children was done by family members back in Knox Co, Ohio. Records for there care can be found in both Allen and Knox counties. Provides a fascinating insight into the care of children during the 19th century. Review your male family members to determine if they still had minors in the household when they died. If this is the case make sure to consult the Guardianship records. Probate often does not tie the Will or Administration to the Guardianship. Information found in guardianship is a place that often Vital records are not being kept. Always review for these types of records.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finances- Was my family rich?

Throughout history the economic fortunes of our families have varied. In my own family the majority of my family have been farmers that owned their own land. The financial level of family members does a great deal to control the paper trail of our ancestors. Once vital records became common in the United States there were two controlling factors that effected if people recorded their life events. One was the distance that the family had to travel to the location where the records were being recorded. This typically was the county seat which was normally positioned in the center of the county. The second was their ability to pay the fee often collected to file this record. Counties began charging a fee for the filing of vital records for a source of revenue. When a family had a choice between filing a birth certificate or feeding little Johnnie food always won out. As a result the filing of records in certain places was as low as 50 percent. When a person died a will was not often created when the person had no assets to distribute. It was common practice to just hand over the keys so to speak rather than go through a formal court process. People with out money got very little coverage in the Newspaper so you would have no obituary or a very short line. Cemetery stones would not be purchased and this resulted in unmarked graves. There are reasons we can not find our families. It is important when doing research on our families to be aware of their economic situation. If they were experiencing modest financial situations their paper trail will be slim to none. The challenges of the search become even more difficult.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Who are those people that live around our family?

One of the common over looked parts of genealogy that is overlooked is looking at the people that live around our families in their community. Understanding who lives around our families can often help in understanding more about our own families. An excellent place to start your search is to take a look at census records and city directories. Then follow it up by using tax and land records. Many genealogist become very focused on their family unit and do not look at the other folks around our families. A good rule of thumb in this situation is to use the ten up and ten down rule when looking at the census. This means looking at the ten families listed before and the ten that appear after. Be sure to look at their last names. Pay attention to where it says they were born. People traveled and lived around people they were familiar with. This did not always mean blood relation. In my own family over about a two hundred year period the families that lived around my family from Connecticut to Ohio were the same. Many followed with multiple moves in the migration trail. This does not become apparent until you look at more of the census record than your family unit. When researching families in urban areas the city directories are a excellent way to look at our families an their neighbors. These publications would start in the 1850's in many urban areas, but would become more popular as time moved towards the 1900's. One of the common tools used in the city directories was a section that listed the streets in a area and the people in order of their street numbers. Pay attention to the next door neighbors or the people that lived the street over. Understand the nature of the neighborhood. Were the people from a particular ethnic background? Do they work at the same places? Using this information later in the census helps you locate possible clues to your families origins and lives. When a family moved into a new area the greeting committee was often the tax man. Funny how that works. Prior to 1850 this is a excellent way to determine when a family arrived in a certain area and when they may have departed. It would be rare for the tax man to miss people for a period of time. If there is a gap it is a strong indicator that they have moved or maybe even died. Tax records provide valuable information during a time period where the paper trail may be weak. Look at who is around them again. Hopefully the records will be done by household and not alphabetized by the tax man. Finally land records which happen to be one of the less used documents to genealogist. Plot the properties around your ancestors to see who their neighbors were. Where they family? Do they have a connection to your family? Who was the person that your family originally bought land from when they arrived in a new area? How did your family know them? These are all important questions to ask. It was common for one person from a area go and scout out the new location for migration. This person would be entrusted with locating and buying the land. Then the others would move out and the land would be redistributed. Fathers would buy large tracks of land and redistribute them to their sons when they came of age. Use all the resources to research your family. Do not use blinders when it comes to the community in which your ancestors. The neighbors often provide the keys to breaking down those brick walls.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Families Falling out

The separation of a family unit happened even in old times. Husband and wives fought over similar things today that cause families to separate. Sometimes we may have the best of intentions, but things change. Prior to the 1900's the use of Divorce was less common to what it would be in the twentieth century. The common man would normally says things were not working out and would move out. Going through the court process of a divorce would be difficult to handle, because the newspapers would cover it as front page news. I am struck by researching in the early twentieth century and how the guy working in a plant has his separation front page news in the local paper. This would bring a great deal of pain to all parties involved. As with all things the more common the process became the less value it held for the newspapers to cover. Another common belief is that the spouse just disappeared. Understand at the time communication was not what we know of today and transportation was limited. People tended to travel within walking distance of their home. It was very common for the spouse to move outside of that circle and still live in the same town. Many a story has occurred where the spouse has gone and started a second family and the kids end up going to school together. Had one instance where they were dating and they were half siblings. The separation of children from the primary family was also a common event. In many cases we will never know the reasons why these events take place. It results in a major challenge to your research skills when trying to locate this missing person. Analyzing the event and the potential scenarios is key. Use the records at hand to help you uncover the mystery. Make sure that you consult all records. In this case no stone should be left with out being turned over.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Brick Walls- Extended Family

One of the common things when doing genealogy is that we tend to have blinders on when it comes to extended family. We become so focused on our direct line that we fail to take advantage of the clues that may be gained from researching collateral lines. Many road blocks occur with our direct lines due to the lack of a paper trail. The needed confirmation of information may not exist in direct family so we are forced to look elsewhere. In the early stages of my genealogy life I wore blinders and did not pay attention to the other members of the family. As I matured as a genealogist I found the gold that could be found when looking at the brothers and sisters in a family unit. One of the primary areas of confirmation is building a body of evidence to make a conclusion on your family line. Discovering the birth, marriages and deaths of other family members will help you in better understanding your direct line. In most cases these people had interactions with each other both good and bad. A great deal of information can be gained in these situations over a land sale, contention over probate or a military service record. Not to mention the vital records. When you run into a brick wall make sure to check out the whole family unit for clues. It is important to find all the pieces of the puzzle, because they will help you in resolving your direct line family. Good luck in your research and please be sure to share your ideas.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Brick Walls- Family Seperations

If you think families separating is a new thing check your history. The things that effect the family situation today occurred in a different time period in the same way. When you have tracked a family and suddenly they are not all together make sure to find the reason why. Ruling out death in the family results in checking out the other possibilities. Husbands and wives did not get along in earlier times as well. It was not fashionable to go through the court process prior to 1900. For many it was a matter of heading off to the corner store and not coming back. Ironically the newspaper is a excellent place to find this kind of information. This would fall more under tabloid journalism. Papers would cover stories that sold papers. Recently I was doing a search on a family in Detroit, MI that the father had separated in the early part of the 20th century. The primary document were the court records that were found and filed by the wife. She was looking for spousal support for the children. The amazing thing for me was that there were stories in the paper on the incident. The story in the family is that the father had moved far away. From the newspaper articles I was able to learn that he had only moved a short distance away to Port Huron, Michigan. The father lived a very colorful life and was good at getting himself in the paper for all the wrong reasons. Another source in the Catholic church is to look for the annulment papers that were filed to dissolve the marriage. These records are kept at the diocese level. Divorce was a big taboo in the church and as often the reason that a family member would be buried in the Protestant cemetery and not the Catholic one. Make sure to pay attention to all the clues. These records and events offer valuable insight to our families lives.Brick

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Brick Walls Land Deeds

The use of deeds is a very common document that is overlooked by most amateur genealogist. Land deeds provide important clues for both location and relationships. When you are attempting to identify when a person arrived in a particular location or left a particular area land deeds play a important part in this search. The vast majority of the population prior to 1900 were farmers. This would mean the purchase of land. Further you go back the higher likely hood that land was purchased. Identifying the date of departure and arrival in a area is important to creating a timeline of our ancestors life events. It is also a important document when you are attempting to establish First Family status for a family unit in a particular area. It was common for people to purchase land from people they know. This could be a friend that had lived close to them in the location they were in prior or a family member. Be sure to identify the potential relationship between your ancestor and the person they were buying the land from. Pay attention to the origins of the person selling the land. Did they continue living in the area after they sold the land? Do they share a common surname? Who were their neighbors? Make sure to look at people that shared the same surname purchasing land in the same area during the period of time your ancestor may have located. When looking at where they sold land check for others selling around the same time period and see if they show up in the new location. Please let me know your success with this process. It is a wonderful tool for breaking down those brick walls.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Don't forget the collateral lines- Brickwalls

Don't fall into the trap of wearing blinders when doing research and only focusing on our direct family lineage. The trail may run cold with our own direct line, but a sibling may have a rich paper trail that helps us identify our lineage. When I first started doing my family research I started my search with my mothers family line of Stevens. I was able to trace the line very quickly back three generations, but I was stuck on Seymour. In the early stages of learning genealogy I was always concerned with my direct family line and did not pay attention to the collateral lines. Seymour would be a brick wall for me for almost thirty years. Understand that I began my genealogy journey when I was thirteen. One day I decided to take a look at the line again to break the Seymour brick wall. I knew very little about his family other than his migration pattern from his birth in Massachusetts to his death in Fairfield, Huron, Ohio. The time period was early nineteenth century and did not have a very large paper trail. The one thing I did know was that he had a brother named Paul who lived by him in Huron County. Reviewing census records the two brothers were always close together. They bought and sold land together. There was a lot of crossing of paths for these two. I knew they had come from Monroe, Ashtabula, Ohio in the 1820's. When I searched the census and tax records Seymour and Paul were right next to each other in this county. The connection was very strong. There were many Stevens in this county and they lived in very close proximity to each other. Now to eliminate the suspects. My first search was in the Probate records for the county. It was here that I hit pay dirt. There was a Paul that died in the 1830's that had another Paul that was his executor. I had noticed the elder Paul in tax records next to my Paul and Seymour. When reading the will it mentioned Paul Jr and Seymour both listed as living in Huron County Ohio as his sons. There were also letters in the file back and forth from Paul Jr that were post marked at Fairfield, Huron, Ohio. The amazing part for me was able to trace Paul Sr back to when his family came to American in the 1630's. Did I mention to he was a Revolutionary War solider. The sad part was it only took thirty years. Always look at those that are around your family. Especially those that share the same name. Understand their possible relationship to your ancestor. Don't fall into the trap of wearing blinders.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Why do we do the things we do? Brickwalls

It is interesting to look back at the many family traditions about our family to identify clues of our families heritage. All families have specific traditions that have been handed down or shared over the years that we may not understand. Recipes and holiday traditions are just a few that come to mind. Families have the tradition of food. There are reasons that families serve foods that have specific food traditions that point to the families ethnic origin. In my own family my wife's grandmother on her father's side made most of her dishes around her Polish heritage. The serving of blood soup and kielbasa dinners was a tradition that was enjoyed by all. On my Mom's side of the family the Irish dish of Corn beef and cabbage was a popular dish. My grandfather always served his beer at room temperature and kept it by his chair. He told me this was the tradition of his English roots. Yuck! Holidays are a time for families to share these mysterious traditions that no one understands why, but knows we have always done it that way. In my wife's family her father is big into Christmas and one of his traditions is for the kids to locate the pickle ornament on the Christmas tree. The child that finds it gets a special gift. This was a tradition with German families at Christmas time. Think back on the many things our families do. Determine if they may offer clues to your families ethnic origins.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making a chronology of your family

One of the important ways I have found recently to understand your ancestors is to put their lives down on a piece of paper in the form of a timeline. By putting their known life events down on a piece of paper it better helps us understand new paths of research to fill in the gaps. In a previous post I had talked about writing a biography on your relatives, but this is different in that it only sticks to the facts. The main information is the milestone dates in their lives. Starting with birth and including all the important events that took place in their lives. This not only helps you understand how they fit into the lives of other members in your life, but helps you in understanding the effects of local and national events that make effect the decisions that they have made in their lives. A major pitfall is to think that all the decisions or influences in our ancestors lives were as a result of events withing their immediate families. The opening of the Erie Canal in the 1820's was a major stimulus that caused families to move further west. This is a major reason why folks started to come to Ohio or Michigan during this time period in much higher numbers. Another example would be the opening up of the Black Swamp in Northwest Ohio in the 1840's that caused people to move into that area and up into Michigan. Prior to the draining of the area you had a major block of bug and animal infested swamp. This was a major road block to westward migration. If you follow the average family coming to from the east coast it was why people stopped in the middle of Ohio for long periods of time. It was not until after the 1840 time frame that they were able to easily move further. The opening of the Wabash Erie Canal in the 1840's allowed easy travel from Cincinnati into the area of Defiance on the Maumee River. Looking at a map of the path of the canal will help you understand why your family may of come to a certain area and understand how the canal helped with this process. Understanding the events and history that were going on in the lives of our family will help us in better understanding their lives. Make sure to document all their life events and fit them in with the events that occur around them. Fit them with other family members and see if you can find patterns. Good luck with your search.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Brick Wall boundaries

What makes you think our ancestors understood Geography any better than we do? What of the keys to finding someone is knowing where they are. There are numerous times when family is not where we think they should be. It is not only important to know where they are, but why they have moved to where they are. Another important issues is that the person we have identified is in fact the person we are looking for in the search. The earlier you go back in doing genealogy the higher likely hood of confusion on locations. An example for me close to home is the boarder between Michigan and Ohio that was not resolved until 1837. People that lived in portions of Northern Ohio were considered to be in Michigan prior to 1837. Land deed evaluation during this time period can prove to be confusing. If you think your relative in was in Ohio may be wrong,because in fact they were in Michigan. Michigan is where the records will be. Another example of this is county boundaries in early Ohio. In the beginning of the states creation the amount of counties was limited. People would by land at a land office in Defiance, but there land would actually be located in Paulding or Williams counties. A distance of almost thirty of forty miles. A large county in the southern half of Ohio was Greene county. It was split up several times to create more counties. Be aware of the history of the area that your family was living and be aware of potential boundary changes. Once while doing research for a client she had spent decades researching her family in Vermont and could not locate vital records for them. This area was historically very good at keeping vital records and did not have any instances of the records being destroyed. What struck me about this family was their close proximity to the Canadian border. When looking at a map there was a fairly large town right across the border. On the US side I was struck by the distance that the family would have had to file vital records. Since the client had done a search on the US side I looked to Canada. Well much to my surprise after doing the search I was able to find the information we were seeking in the Canadian records. This was a real lesson in looking in the correct place. The client had spent over thirty years looking for this information. Understanding why someone was in a particular area is also important. In the vast majority of situations people moved for a reason and with people they knew. When you find the individual in a new location look at those that are around them. Pay attention to where it says these families are from as well. This will offer major clues on where your family came from. People often lived next to family members in old neighbors in the new place that they had lived before. Pay attention to the person they bought their land from. Understand what the connection may be to your relative. Are they related or did they come from the place that your relative came from before? Finally make sure you are looking at the correct person and have identified them with proof. As a result of naming patterns there were a lot of common names. Don't just assume that the person is your relative, because they almost fit the facts that you know. This is where a lot of bad genealogy occurs. In our eagerness to prove a new fact we accept things that have not been proven. Take the time to document everything. Boundaries throughout time have always moved and understanding the history of the area is a key to solving these brick walls.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Brick Walls Writing your Biography

In my years of research it took me a while, but eventually I started to understand the value of writing biographies on family members to better understand them. Looking at family members in the context of their lives helps me better understand them as well as understand the areas I need to do further research for clues. Taking the time to put it into writing has always helped me learn better. The same applies for genealogy. Starting from their time of birth and identifying all the events in their lives helps to understand them. Where were they born? Location? Do I know their parents? Did they attend school? How long did they attend? When did they get married and to whom? Where were they married? Did they go off to war? When were the children born and where? Have they moved? What local and world events were going on that influenced their decision making? What did they do for a living? Did they get married more than once and why? Did they have more than one family? What religion did they practice? Where did they die and when? Who was the witness on the death certificate? All of these questions force you to put your detective hat on to resolve questions on our ancestors. I am always struck how there is one little detail that we miss that when writing the biography sticks out and leads to resolution on our mystery. Stories are what make genealogy fascinating and more interesting to the average family member. The truth is out there we need to identify where it is and retrieve it. So as we move into the Fall months sit down with one of your favorite ancestors and write their biography. Better yet start with yourself. This can be a fascinating way to learn how to write a biography. Who do you know more information on than yourself? One day future genealogist will want to learn your story.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ideas for Breaking Down the Brick Walls

In upcoming articles I am going to offer ideas on steps to take in order to break down those many brick walls that happen as we do our family search. The first step is to not make assumptions that all things are correct with the information that has been collected on your family. Normally we gather information from a variety of sources when we first start working on our family line. It is important that you take the steps to verify all the information from vital records, census and the variety of other documents. Many errors and miss leading ideas occur in genealogy. Validating information with at least three sources is a excellent rule of thumb. Trust nothing until proven and make sure to document. An example of a common assumption is that the first child was born after the couple was married. This was not always the case. Only through documentation can we actually prove this fact. Many things today that we see as scandal would get easily swept under the rug in the early days. Stay tuned to more postings on Brick Walls. Look forward to your input.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Global Events and there effects on History

Found this interesting article in the Detroit News this morning. Every genealogist should be aware of the many names of locations around are ancestors and how it may be a clue to their lives. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Genealogy while walking the dog

This spring I was out walking my dogs for one of their daily trips near my vacation home in Lakeside, Ohio when I cam across an interesting find. Most of my three times a day walks come out rather normally, but this one was going to be different. While walking I came across a large pile of garbage from a cottage that was in the process of being prepared for sale. Not normally being one to look through someone’s trash I was struck by an oil painting of a women that was staring back at me. The picture was of a woman that was dressed in a black dress from the mid 1850’s. Vision’s of the Antique Road show were dancing through my head, but then what caught my eye was the picture behind the women. The second image was of an older woman that looked similar to Queen Victoria and I was struck by how unusual it was to be throwing it out. The picture to me looked like a photograph that had been altered with color. I would later find out that the picture was taken just prior to 1903. Imagine my amazement when I turned to look on the back and discovered a genealogy of family names which included the women in the picture. Needless to say this got my genealogy blood flowing. The dog walk was shortened and I attempted to navigate the trip back with two paintings and two dogs on leashes that did not understand what I had just found. Walking two dogs can be a challenging task on its own, but with the addition of the two paintings and genealogy blood flowing it went fast without the usual stops along the way. Once back at the cottage I began to analyze the information that was on the second picture. The information was as follows. Card 1 Bella Brown Sarah Beatty’s mother John and Rachel Beatty’s grandmother Marcia Jane and Mary Louise Beatty’s great grandmother Card 2 Bella Brown Beatty Died Sep 3, 1905 Was married Dec 29, 1846 To John Beatty April 16, 1819 to 1897 Joseph Beatty July 4, 1865- March 1907 m. Sarah Henrietta Kerr John David Beatty Oct. 4, 1896 Father of Marcia, Mary Louise and David These were my beginning clues on my search. Being a professional genealogist I thought it would be an interesting test of my research skills in a new way. The older woman in the picture was Bella Brown Beatty. She was married to John Beatty on Dec. 29, 1846. Bella would die in Sep 3, 1905. I was curious about Bella and John’s potential connection to the cottage that was up for sale. The first step I took was to travel over to the Lakeside Archives to do a search of the property and determine the ownership history. A few years back the cottages in Lakeside were historically evaluated to get the area on the Historic Register. It is a valuable tool for reviewing the history of the homes. I hit pay dirt. The first name was Eloise Matham Hully who owned the property from 1909 to 1956. The owner of the property at the time of the survey was May Beatty Hagen. These were my key names to searching the history of the family in this picture both backwards and forwards. The second step was to look at both land records for the house and the property owner rosters. The land records date very early starting in 1910 and ending with 1924 with major breaks in between. The person listed as the owner during this time period was a Sarah Beatty. Could this be the Sarah Beatty listed on the cards on the back of the picture? I looked through the owner directories from 1930 to current with major breaks in the books. From 1930 to 1951 the property was owned by a E M Hully. Starting in 1964 the names listed was Mary H Beatty. The name changed to Mary Beatty Hagen in 1973. In 1985 the property would be owned by the Hammer family and this would be the case until 2006. Ownership then would change to the current owner and the person selling the cottage. The clues gathered here included the Beatty name and the long connection to Eloise who was the E M Hully in the directories. The other address for Eloise and Mary was listed as Deland, Florida. This would be the next step in my research. Starting with the US Census and working backwards I need to determine the connection between these two ladies and the Beatty family on the cards. The best way to complete the search was to take a look at the 1940 US census and the place to look was Deland, Volusia, Florida. I was able to locate Eloise Hulley age 72 years, widow and born in New Jersey. Living with her was Mary Beatty age 39, divorced and born in Pennsylvania. Eloise was born in 1868 and Mary was born in 1901. Need to identify a connection with these ladies to the cottage in Lakeside. Moved on to the 1930 census here I was able to identify a Louise Hulley with no age listed, but living in Deland, Volusia, Florida. She was married to Lincoln Hulley with no age listed. Lincoln was listed as a President of a University. The University was identified as Stetson. Louise and Lincoln were both identified as being born in New Jersey. Looking at Stetson University history would offer more clues to my hunt. Searching for Mary Beatty she was found in Pittsburgh, Alleghany, Pennsylvania along with John Beatty. Mary was listed as born 1901 in Pennsylvania. Curiously her parents are listed as being born in Northern Ireland. Her husband John was born 1896 in Pennsylvania. They had a daughter Marcia who was born in Pennsylvania in 1925. Is this Marcia Jane that was listed on the back of the picture? Later research would confirm this. It is amazing what you can put together from a picture. Fortunately I was able to piece all the puzzles together using the Lakeside Archives and the Family Search website on the internet. The paper trail continued through vital records as well as the Stetson University archives where pictures of the Hulley family at Lakeside. Lincoln was running bible classes every summer in Lakeside until his death in 1937. The search was complete. Preservation of pictures is important even if they are not your family. A wonderful story can be created from a picture. Amazing genealogy can happen even when walking the dogs.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Genealogy- What do I do with it when I am gone?

Have you thought about what happens to your life work your genealogy once we get the final date? This is a important item to be taken care of while we are still alive so that it does not end up in the dumpster. If you are not able to identify a family member that is interested that is the legacy of our family history we need to make plans for it's care once we are gone. Many opportunity exist outside of our family units to find a good home for our genealogies. An important step though is to make sure that we index the content of our collection. Make sure to identify the scale in which your family history covers. What are the primary surnames, locations and time periods involved. Does your archive include vital records, bibles, pictures, etc etc. Making a complete inventory and identifying significant items in your collection are important for those that will get the collection. The ability to make it a useful tool for others is hindered when the caretaker needs to start from scratch to inventory your archive. Make sure that items in the collection are protected properly. Put the information in a format that will allow others to use the collection. Several places exist that would be glad to have your family record. The library that holds the county genealogy collection would be a excellent place to start. Finally the Michigan Archives loves all things that relate to Michigan history. Contact these facilities prior to your passing to discover what their rules are on accepting new items. Most of all make sure to start quickly in taking care of it. So much time love and energy have been put into our work. It makes me cringe to think it is going to end up in a landfill. Many excellent ideas exist on the Internet to help you with this task.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sources Wayne County- Archive of Michigan

Thought this would be of interest to all those that are doing research in Wayne County Michigan. Have a great week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Genealogy Boot Camp- A to Z

Don't forget the Bootcamp on Oct 6 put on by Lapeer County Genealogical Society with speaker Derek Davey. Its going to be a GREAT day! If you have never had the chance to hear Derek speak you won't want to miss it! He is a very knowledable! We just had a group of 10 sign up! Make sure to get yours in!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Awesome weekend in Michigan

Had a very short weekend to enjoy Michigan again. Took a Gulf Oil trip that was produced in the 1950's from my home in Ohio up into the western half of Michigan. Saw some excellent sites. Started off the weekend on Friday night by visiting Jackson via Adrain. Took a tour of the Adrian college campus. Wow has it grown since I last visited. The sports facilities have expanded tremendously. Traveled to Jackson through the Irish hills what a view. Passed MIS and was glad that it was not next weekend when they are having the race. Got to Jackson to see the Cascades, but first took part in the Cancer walk that was in the park. What a great way to continue to honor my wife's battle with cancer. Beautiful night and the lights of the Cascades were awesome. Amazing sight and interesting history on the building of these man made falls. The next day we moved through Albion, Marshall, Battle Creek and Kalamzoo. Albion was having a lot of garage sales on the main street. Did a lot of looking, but not much buying. Checked out the college here. Another gem. Moved on traveling west on Michigan Avenue towards Marshall. The town has to have one of the most beautiful downtown's around. Love the statue in the center of town. Yes, they still make cereal in Battle Creek both Post and Kellogs. Moved on to Kalamazoo to see Western Michigan. Hope my Rockets can show them a thing or to this fall. Traveled up 131 towards Allegan and did some antiquing again. Son was able to find some vintage vinyl. He thinks it's cool just makes me old. In Holland was able to visit the Art festival they were having in the park downtown. Always love seeing peoples ideas for Art. My wife enjoys getting ideas for her winter creations. On to Sauguatuck. Needless to say Sauguatuck on a weekend in August was very busy. Unfortunately I was unable to find a parking spot, but was able to show the family where I stayed last fall while writing. Going to bring them back later in the season. Went over to Douglas that was having a old style baseball game at the field downtown. Was neat to see and really was a throw back to yesteryear. Moved further down 31 to Benton Harbor. Oh my what a view of Lake Michigan in the town of South Haven and then Benton Harbor. I think half of Chicago moves up here on weekends. Some lovely shops and nice places to eat. The storm that came in off the lake was awesome. The rain that came down was very much needed by the fruit growers in the surrounding region. Needless to say we had a great weekend. Was good to get away from the history research for a little while. Helps to recharge the batteries and get back on track.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Michigan Oakland County 1890 census redeveloped

The Oakland County Genealogical Society has reconstructed the 1890 census for their county. Awesome work and should prove to be a valuable resource.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Plymouth Michigan Genealogy 15 September 2012

Genealogy Workshop at the Plymouth Historical Museum On Saturday, September 15, the Plymouth Historical Museum will hold the fourth in a series of genealogical workshops to help family historians of all levels research their 19th-century American ancestors. This workshop features David McDonald, CG and Michael Lacopo. David serves as president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists and is a director of the National Genealogical Society. More importantly, he's got 35+ years of experience as a genealogical researcher and nearly 30 years as a lecturer on matters of genealogy and family history. As a result of marrying well, Dave's research scope has expanded beyond his own family's mid-south and midwest connections into New England and central Europe. He has traveled to, and researched in, England and Germany on both his own and his wife's immigrant forebears. Beyond the genealogical realm, he serves as pastor at Windsor United Church of Christ near Madison, Wisconsin. Dave and his wife, Dr. Jennet Shepherd, an optometrist, have three adult children and fill their newly-emptied nest with a basset hound, two indeterminate cats and one mother (hers). Dave and will be speaking on: From New England to the Plains & Beyond At the turn of the 19th century, the American frontier was fairly bursting with anticipation. New England, with its rocky soil and smaller-than-subsistence tracts, was teeming with folks ready to explore and head westward. With the opening of the Erie Canal, the impediment to outbound migration was largely broken and New Englanders poured westward to populate the Midwest and Great Plains. Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio all received significant numbers of pioneer settlers in the Federal Era (to 1850). In addition to general patterns of movement, we'll examine the life of Polly Putnam Betts, born in Vermont of a father native to Massachusetts, in 1793, and who died in Iowa in 1886 with granddaughters then living in Colorado and California. Lutherpalians & Presbygationalists: Where Did Grandma's Church Go? Part confirmation class refresher, part Intro to Religion, we'll take a look at Protestant denominations, Catholic traditions and other Christian bodies of note when considering genealogical research. Did your family play cards? Did Grandma dance? Was Uncle Frank known to take a nip or two? We'll consider how these sorts of behaviors may well reflect religious traditions and upbringings that are frequently no longer a familiar part of Americans' lives. What happens when churches close? Where do their records, if any, go? We'll consider clues for finding those records as well. Mike is a small-animal veterinarian born and raised in northern Indiana. He takes a scientific approach to his research as he does to his trained profession. Researching since 1980, he has lectured nationally and appeared in numerous journals and periodicals. A self-described “all-American mutt,” his research skills cover a broad range. He has written or co-written several single name studies since 1985. Mike will be speaking on: Deconstructing Your Family Tree: Re-evaluating the "Evidence" When information passed on from researcher to researcher doesn't add up, it's time to tear down the walls and rebuild anew. This methodology lecture shows how erroneous conclusions can sneak into our research uncontested. This lecture is pertinent especially today with so many Internet family trees that get cut and pasted into our own research. “She Came from Nowhere…” How to Incorporate Social Histori into Your Genealogical Problem Solving This lecture shows the importance of knowing the social history of an era, a location, and an ethnicity to solve genealogical problems. By knowing this we can identify the parents of Elizabeth Stith, the ancestor “from nowhere.” The workshop begins at 9:30 a.m. and will end at 3:30 p.m. There will be limited seating and the event will fill up rapidly, so please buy your ticket early. The fee for the day, $40, includes the four lectures, lunch, and the option of touring the Museum's special exhibit, "Inaugural Gowns of the First Ladies," during lunch and the afternoon break. Tickets are available at the Plymouth Historical Museum or on its website at The Plymouth Historical Museum is located at 155 S. Main Street, one block north of downtown Plymouth. For more information, call the Museum at 734-455-8940.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Detroit Polish Sources

Here are some books recommended to me about Detroit Polish research. Sto Lat by Ceil Wendt Jensen Detroit Polonia by Ceil Wendt Jensen Polish Roots by Rosemary Chorzempa Polish Surnames, William Hoffman In their Words, Shea and Hoffman Hope this helps those conducting Polish research in Southeastern Michigan.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Poles to Southeastern Michigan

The vast majority of Poles located in the city of Detroit. It became a major destination of immigrating Poles to the United States. The attraction of prosperity and high paying jobs was a big attraction. The wave started to come in the late 1870's and came primarily from the area of Prussia. Wars were occurring in this area and the peasants in this area were a primary group to fill the ranks of the army. Many chose not to go and looked elsewhere to escape the military conscription. Starting in the 1900's the Polish outpaced the third place Irish in the amount of people that were immigrating to the United States. Most of these people were landless peasants. Poland in the latter half of the 18th century had become fragmented so you had people that spoke the Polish language but did not live in what we know today as Poland. About 20% lived in Prussia, 35% in Austria and finally 45 % in Russia. When they came to the United States this became a major challenge, because they were identified all as Polish, because of the language they spoke. Broadly lumping this group into one makes it difficult to identify areas of origin. The Polish also had a very high return rate back to Poland that reached numbers close to 30 to 40 percent. Austrian and Russian Poles came with the intent of earning enough money to purchase land back in the home country. German Poles on the other hand came to stay. The attraction was the many jobs in the Detroit area that involved manual labor with little speaking like the automobile, steel and railroad industries. The Polish nationality was the least likely immigrating group to be self employed. Polish when they arrived in Detroit located in the same neighborhoods. This allowed this group to assimilate into the over all community more slowly. They came to live close to family members, former neighbors or relatives that had already come to the United States. They valued the use of their hands over the ability to get educated. Larger the family the better able to take care of the whole group. They valued the ownership of property meant they had to work so they did. Poles were primarily Roman Catholic and tended to shun other nationalities churches. St Albertus and St Albans were the primary churches that they attended. The church was the center of their cultural lives. Polish preferred to send their kids to parochial schools than have them in public schools. They created their own ethnic, religious and fraternal groups. Unfortunately in Detroit by 1963 close to 300,000 Polish in Detroit had modified their names. The groups mentioned are so important to identifying the original immigrants names. Many of have taken a interest in researching their families. Resources are plentiful in the Detroit area for this ethnic group. The Polish History center in the area is a excellent resource for one researching their family. A group has also been created that is called Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan. Take advantage of these groups and your researcher will be smoother.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Probate Court- Guardianship records

A gold mine for information is in the case of the process when a father dies with minor children or a wife has died and her family leaves money where she had surviving minor children. Both of these scenarios provide a source of genealogical related data that may not be found in any other source. When the father died the court's of the county appointed a guardian for all children under 18 that survived in a household. This occurred even when the mother survived. It was felt that the women were not able to take care of the children so a man was appointed to make the decisions. The papers filed were included in the deceased Probate records. The court establishes the date of death of the individual, age of children with birth date, full name of children and name of guardian. I have seen in cases prior to the normal filing of vital records this to be a gold mine of data. In one situation I was able to get the exact date of death for a individual prior to 1860 along with children's birth dates going back into the 1830's. Each year after the guardianship was established the court reviews the case to make sure that the children are getting proper care. This generated more paper work on the children. The second scenario that would fall into a guardianship proceeding is when the mother has died and money is being left to the children from the mother's side of the family. Here again the children are identified along with birth dates and the mothers death date. Connection to the person leaving the money is also established. This is a outstanding way to establish the maiden name of a wife. Court records are a overlooked resource when doing your family research. Irony it can provide valuable information about a family unit that can be found no where else. Make certain to check for Guardian files on your family members when a parent died with minors. These records were filed also even when the person may not have left a will. Good luck with your search and please give me your input.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Great Polish Newspaper in American link

Following up on my article on Polish Newspapers in the Detroit area I came across a great link for Polish Newspapers in the United States. Sorry you will have to cut and paste.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Up date 3- Polish Newspapers

The West Side Courier index which was done by Pam Lazar, is sold by the Dearborn Genealogical Society. To the best of my knowledge, the Burton collection has a few bound books but not many. Dearborn Genealogical Society Society Research DataIndex of Society Ancestor ChartsHistoric Northview Cemetery Index Historic St. Alphonsus Cemetery IndexIndex of Dearborn Death Certificates at the Burton Historical CollectionDeaths in the Dearborn Press 1918 - 1928Marriages in the Dearborn Press 1918 - 1928

Polish Newspaper Additions 2

The Citizen Weekly is really just called the Citizen. It was started in 1934 but printing ceased in 2009. Obits and Death notices are being indexed by some members of the Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan. The Zak Library in Hamtramck also has a full set but from what I understand, the books are stored away and one has to ask for them.

Polish Newspaper additions

This link gives more locations for the Dziennik Polski or Polish Daily. The one thing that is not totally accurate is for the Polonica Americana Research Institute, the Dziennik Polski are in bound books rather than bundles. There is not a complete set but quite a few volumes. Dziennik Polski Newspaper - The Polish Daily News (Detroit, MI) Dziennik Polski was the Polish language newspaper published in Detroit, MI from 1904-present.

Polish Newspapers Detroit, Michigan

As in most of America the Polish population played a important factor in the population growth in Detroit, Michigan.  The language barrier provided a opportunity for the establishment of Polish newspapers to cater to the local population.  This leads to a new place to locate information on your ancestors.

When searching our family history the general assumption is the information about our ancestors will appear in the English speaking newspaper in their community.  For recent immigrants and non English speaking ancestors this is not the case.  We often overlook researching our ancestors in the local ethnic newspapers.  In the history of Detroit there were four Polish newspapers.  These papers played a important part in the lives of Polish in Detroit as well as staying in touch with their Polish homeland.  It is here that you will find the records of births, marriages and deaths.  They often did not get covered in the English speaking paper.  It often took generations to learn the English language.  Blending into the English speaking population often took decades.

The newspapers that were published in Polish, time period and location of copies are as follows.

Citizens Weekly- 1935- 1973 State Archives of Michigan, Lansing, MI
Dziennik Polski- 1904-1941 State Archives of Michigan, Lansing, MI\
The Polish Daily, 1904-1941, State Archives of Michigan, Lansing, MI
Glos Ludowy, 1942-1969, 1972-1979, State Archives of Michigan, Lansing, MI

The information you will find in these newspapers could be the key to locating origins of your Polish families back in Poland.  Remember that the term Polish often applied to the language and not the place of origin.  Included in these groups would be people that came from Russia and Prussia.  The common denominator between all these groups is that they spoke some form of Polish and were often lumped together with the people that came from Poland proper.  They were often identified by the area within Poland they came from as well.

The language barrier for us can be difficult, but many language word translators exist on the internet.  They identify the common words like birth, marriage and death in Polish and translate to English.  By no means do you have to know how to read Polish.  Just like the English written newspapers of the time the events of the time appeared in the same sections and often the same pages from day to day.

In the upcoming weeks I will be working on the other language groups and the papers that existed in this area.  As always I look forward to your input.  Don't be afraid of leaving comments.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Free Genealogy Websites- Part 2

Let me clarify that sections of these websites are free.  Some sites charge a nominal fee.  Still have value though when you use the free areas.


        Over 21 million individual listings.
        Some databases need a small fee.
        Free passenger lists for Canada. Must order the actual record for a fee. 
        Free look ups from people offering this service.
         Lists Dawes rolls, WW II Draft registration, Casualty list, Indian Bounty Apps, Criminal Case files
         Must register to access. List of passengers between 1892-1924
         Lists vital records between 1837-1983. England and Wales Vital Records.
         Over 2,000 names and helps with locating ones that do not exist anymore.
        Immigration information between 1830 to 1890. Port of New York
        Primarily based on French records across the world.
        Lists land grants from 1623-1992.Digital images of 6,000 + bibles. Searchable index of wills pre 1800. Digital library of Virginia

Have some fun with these websites.  More to come in the upcoming weeks.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More City Directory Info

This link is to the collection at the Abrams library and what they have in the way of City Directories for Michigan.  Lists by city and year is starts.  Hope this helps.,4615,7-140-54504_18635_51181-117864--,00.html

City Directories- Unused Genealogical source

Have you been attempting the time of arrival or departure of family member to a Urban area between census records?  Looking to see where your ancestors were between 1880 and 1900 the large census gap in the United States?  City directories offer a excellent way to track your family that is very accurate.

Directories were printed for all large cities, but were also printed for a large amount of small towns.  Many records date back into the 1700's.  Majority of directories started consistently in the 1850's in the United States.  Provide a excellent year to year way of tracking your ancestors.  Allows you to pinpoint location as a catalysis to finding other records.  These records are also also being put on the internet in large amounts.

There are many successful methods that will help in locating your ancestors.  The first one is the "Straight Search".  This allows you to see all the persons living in a particular area at a specific time for possible family relationships.  Lists employment of both females and males.  You want to look for people with common employers and living in same neighborhoods as your ancestors.  Look for multiple names that are located at the same address.  Listings will include older children that are living under their parents roof, but have outside employment.  Make sure to compare the addresses with a city map for the time period to be aware where all people are located.

The next method is the address or street search method.  Will identify people living at the same address with your ancestor that may not share the same surname.  This is a great way to find parents, in-laws, siblings and other collateral family lines.  Allows you to also look at neighbors for possible relationship.  Make sure to check out business listings to see if other family members are working at the same employer.  Family members often worked the same occupation for generations.

Get out there and look at those city directories.  Excellent way to locate ancestors between census records and is often more accurate.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Free Genealogy Websites

Thought you might be interested in trying some free websites.  Let me know your results.

    1. One of the largest family tree based genealogy based sites on the internet.
      Allows for updating and correcting information.
      Proceed with caution and check all data.
      Data base contains over 3 billion names and 300,000 family trees.
      You can also submit your family information for free.
    1. This is the official website of the LDS
      Provides the largest collection of free records in the world.
      Has excellent image quality and interesting ways to access the information.
      Provides a wide variety of records that cover the world and are in English.
      Will be the portal on the internet to access the complete collection of the LDS in ten years.
    1. More than two million land records between 1820 to 1908.
      Includes most of the midwest.
    1. Has over 5,000 listing from across the world.
    1. Similar to USGenWeb but it covers the rest of the world.
    1. Includes WW1, census, dominion land grants, immigration records.  
    1. List of bios on regular folks.
    1. Dates back to 1995
      Lists over 2,500 obits daily
      This is a index.
    1. Lots of free record listing pertaining to specific geography in the US
    1. 64 million citizens that have died since 1962.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Genealogy Boot Camp- Update

“Researching your Family from A- Z”
Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 9:00 am- 3:00pm
First Presbyterian Church
433 N. Calhoun St.
Lapeer, MI   48446

 Are you interested in your family history?  Learn about genealogical principles and ethics, research tools, records, and how to use them. Attendees will learn how to research, organize, and evaluate their findings. Sources discussed will be vital, court, church, immigration, military, and cemetery, burial, probate and land records.  Special attention will be given to using the internet as well as libraries, historical and genealogical societies.  The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) will also be discussed.

Derek teaches genealogy at Lourdes University in Sylvania, OH and Terra Community College in Fremont, OH.  Derek is the coordinator of the Michigan Research Community sponsored by Family search which is located on Facebook. He holds a certification from Boston University in genealogy and is a member of the Assoc. of Professional Genealogists, the Ohio Genealogical Society, and Genealogical Speakers Guild.

Class size will be limited to the first 75 registered.  Cost for this one day class will be $40.00/person for members. The cost for non members will be $45.00/person. Discounts will be given to groups that register together over 10.  Brown Bag it or Restaurants in the area.  Doors will open at 8 am.  Door prizes will be available.  Make checks out to Lapeer County Genealogy Society POBox 353 Lapeer, MI  48446

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elusive Maiden Names

Very shortly after you start researching your family you will discover many gaps in the known information.  This is where the fun begins as we proceed to discover new pieces of the puzzle.  The maternal maiden names are often a challenge that creates brick walls to our search.  In the following article I will discuss steps that can be taken to eliminate these brick walls.

            The most important issue in this search is that most records were created and for men.  Property records were normally created in the man’s name.  Men ran businesses and ran the government.  Women’s names were changed with every marriage and did not provide a good paper trail.  Men were the creators of the paper trail that allow us to follow their lives throughout time.

            The place to start this search is with the women’s name.  Write out as much of the name as you know.  Make sure to include as part of your list all the various spellings of the first, middle and last names.  A simple name like Elizabeth can also be called Mattie, Betty, Liz and Sally.  Individuals did not always go by their birth name.  In my own family my paternal grandmother went by the name Babe for the first five years of her life until her parents decided on the name Cleota.  Ironically many people in the family would continue to call her Babe throughout her adult life.  Many vital record documents would also include the use of the name Babe.  Knowing the variety of name spellings is often key to the maiden name hunt.

            Make a list of the names of all husbands and children.  Be certain to list first, middle and last names.  The use of previous surnames for naming children is a common practice.  Frequently the first son and first daughter are named after the paternal line.  The second son and daughter are named after the maternal side of the family.  With additional husbands and having children involve a new list of names on the paternal side.  Middle names that do not sound like first names, but sound like surnames are often from the maternal side of the family.  This was common with the creation of middle names in the 19th century.  In my own family a nephew was named Andrew Preston French.  The middle name Preston is a family surname on the maternal side of the family.

            The third step is to create a timeline of your female ancestor’s life.  Start from the birth of the women and work until her death.  Include place of birth, school attended, marriage, children’s birth, employment, children’s marriage, and death.  The timeline should include the local and world events that went on during their lifetime.  I am struck by the events that are going on outside the family unit that effect the decisions of our family members on a scale that we may have never even considered.

            Obtaining a photograph of the person is very valuable and may offer clues to the individual that we are researching.  What are the distinctive features looking back at you from the picture?  Does she have black hair, high cheek bones, tall or short and does she look healthy?  What is the clothing she is wearing?  Are you able to pinpoint in where, when, what and why the picture was taken?  With evaluation of the picture clues can come out that will help with our search.

            Make sure to contact the older females on the side you are researching and ask questions.  Ask them questions that may provide clues to your search.  Do you remember particular habits, recipes and traditions?  During holidays the women were way more likely to be talking about family matters than the men.  Great family nuggets were shared during this period of time.

            Weddings mean marriage records that provide clues on our families.  Records of this type start very early in the history of our country.  Recent records provide the greater amount of information that exists on individuals.    Pay attention to the other names that are listed on the marriage certificate.  Although early certificates do not provide a lot of names pay attention to the people during the same time period who are also getting married by the same person.  This indicates a strong possibility of relationship that needs to be researched to see if they provide clues on your family line.

            Birth records of children will also provide clues to maiden names.  These records date back to the 1630’s, but there are many large gaps.  Town records often listed the maiden name of the women in birth records from an early period.  The majority of birth records do not appear consistently until the latter half of the 19th century.  This information was not always filed and in many states did not become mandatory until the 1900’s when the states took over collection of the vital records.  Prior to this time submission of this records can be sporadic.  Many church denominations that were strong in baptism kept the records in the church.  Often records in the protestant denominations followed the minister to the various churches, but look for these records in the state denominations holdings.  Catholic baptisms were kept at the parish level, but many have been transferred to the diocese.   Pay attention to the sponsor’s name, because they are often related to the mother by birth.

            Immigration and land records also offer clues to maiden names.  Females gained citizenship by their husband gaining this status or marrying a person with US citizenship.  Reference will be made to the maiden names.  Early land records will mention the spouse and records will be conducted between paternal family members.  Understand the people that your family unit was living next to and who they were doing business with during their lives.  Spouses came from the neighborhood in both rural and urban situations.

            Complete the search by looking through all records that relate to the husband.  Some records to review are probate, military, funeral home, cemetery, obituaries, and social security applications.  Do not leave any stone unturned.  Completing research of sources is critical to resolving this brick wall.

            Finally pay attention to all witnesses on documents.  Women did not travel or conduct business during the early previous to the early 20th century by themselves.  Eliminating those around them is key.  The solution often lies beyond the primary family and is with those that live around her.

            The key to the search is collect all you know on the person.  With this information evaluate what sources are available that will be key to finding the maiden name.  Only by checking all the records will you find the solution.  Complete search is key to finding the name.  

Genealogy and Historical Societies

Have you attended or joined your local genealogy or historical society?  You are missing out on a valuable resource for your research.

It amazes me as I travel across Ohio and Michigan on the subject of genealogy how few people attend the meeting.  With the creation of TV programs covering the subject and the aggressive marketing of Ancestry in all medias the research of one's family is very popular.  A missing component to your research is collaborating with like minded folks in your community on the subject of genealogy and history.  Many of the members are more than willing to share with others concerning ways to conduct their genealogy and get over many of the brick walls.  The projects of indexing records or taking cemetery censuses is invaluable resource for current genealogist as well as those into the future.  These projects are coordinated at this level.  They need your help in participating.

Another important component is the programming that is offered normally on a monthly basis that will help you learn about genealogy.  Yes, lot's of this can be found on line these days, but the local meetings offer a local flavor.  You also get the immediate gratification of getting your questions answered by a genuine person.

If you are a member of a group make sure they advertise.  The groups I find with the best turnout have sent press releases to the local paper of radio stations.  Please help support these groups you don't know what you are missing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

DNR- Principles and Substitute list Civil War,1607,7-153-54463_19313-125416--,00.html  Thought people would find this link interesting.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New England Research

Many of our ancestors in this area trace their migration pattern back to New England.  A excellent book has come out recently published by the New England Historical and Genealogical Society that updates the bible of research titled "Genealogist's Handbook fr New England Research" edited by Michael J. Leclerc.

This book is in it's fifth edition.  The updates include essay introductions for each state, maps of the state and counties, updates to the various repositories and list of parent and daughter towns.  With the large amount of research that I have done in both my personal and clients genealogy I have found it to be a invaluable tool.

The introductions for each state offer a short concise overview of the history of the records within the state and the location and archiving practices of each state.  Locating records is often the biggest trick to breaking down a brick wall.  This book allows you to minimize the difficulty involved with this task.

One of the major issues I have had with my own research in New England has been the location of borders and  the creation of counties.  There is a general assumption that the way it is today is the way it has always been done.  Not so.  Many of the smaller states in this area when it came to probate were not done on a county basis, but were done in districts.  The records were then centralized within the district and not be in the county that you are looking for your ancestors.

Identifying the information available in the various states is key.  With the shear size of documents created in New England since the 1620's knowing where they are stored is key.  The helpful description of key sources in each state was one that I found valuable for research.  Realizing where the records or family papers are located is a outstanding resource.  Understanding the shear size of records available and understanding that not all things are on the internet is key.

While researching in New England towns appear and disappear like popcorn.  The section that helps you in understanding what cities were original and where the new towns came from was excellent.  The dating of the creation of the various counties and towns is critical to knowing if your family was located in the correct place when you are looking for them.  I have fallen into the trap of thinking the towns were always there and find that in fact they were living in a adjacent town or county.  This book helps with improving those happy moments of discovery.

Please check out the new book area of your local library or historical society for this book.  Better yet order a copy for yourself, because it should be a part of your genealogical library when it comes to New England family research.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Offline vs Online Genealogy

A interesting question has been bouncing around in my head about Online resources vs offline resources.  Genealogist today are fortunate because of the abundant amount of records and lineages that are online, but it does not come without it's pitfalls.

One of he primary reasons for me getting professional work for clients is that they have reached a brick wall and they are unable to locate the records that they seek online.  For this reason they do not believe the records exist or do not know how to locate them.  Reality is that close to 95% of genealogy is not located online.  The records that you need to resolve your brick walls are still located in libraries, archives, court houses and historical societies.  Realizing this fact is key to doing your research and staying in the world of reality.

We are fortunate that so much is online and continues to be added to the internet, but the vast majority is not available.  This is why a research plan for each family group in your genealogy that includes both online and offline sources is so important.  There is so much information hidden away offline that provides the key to our brick walls.  I am convinced that it is out there we just have not looked in the correct place yet.

The lineage sites that are online can provide many pitfalls to our research.  First most of them are undocumented.  This we know is against Genealogical Proof Standards.  The major websites do not police or verify the accuracy of the genealogies posted on their sites.  We still need to verify everything and be suspicious of everything.  Until you document and meet the criteria of the Genealogical Proof Standard we are making a good book of fiction.  Just because hundreds of people say a lineage is right does not make it correct if they do not sight sources.  Someone who lived their whole life in the 1700's in Virginia does not have parents that share the surname that lived their whole lives in Massachusetts.  Be very careful.  Some websites that you can trace your lineage from you to King John in two hours.  Reality is it takes years.

For the sake of all future genealogist check all your resources both online and off.  You will soon find that the best resources are not online and will not be for a while.  Trust nothing until you locate proof.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Websites Family Search

Family Search provides a constantly updated genealogical database for free.  The site provides four different ways of conducting searches which include records, trees, catalog and books.  All of them prove to be valuable tools in conducting our genealogical search.

When accessing the Family Search page you will see the option of entering a name to conduct a search in the records.  If this is your first time visiting the site it is important to become a registered user.  The icon to click is in the upper right corner.  You will need to select a users name and password.  An email will then be sent to you that you will need to confirm your information.  By registering you will be allowed access to the scanned records like census page and vital records.  There is a big advantage to see the original source for the transcription.

Once you have become registered you will need to go back to the starting page.  You are given several options on this first page.  You have the four selections of records, trees, catalog and books.  Included on this page you can search by location or also look at the many databases that are available. 

The records search allows you to access many of the databases.  They are all location specific.  Providing as much information for the historical search is important so you are able to look at a smaller group of choices.  Records here are census, vital, migration, military, probate and other.  The more specific that you are with the details the smaller your group of people will be, but you can vary your search parameters.  One that I like to do is searching for a surname in a specific location like Wayne County, Michigan.  This gives you a list of people that go by the same last name in a specific location during certain time periods.  I have found this good when looking to search collateral lines.  Information when searching this way helps you in connecting families and to find more things that you would not be able to find in a very specific search.  When you are not certain of the specific location, but know a state for instance you can get a much larger group.  This does not work as well for popular names.  I will talk about various search methods in upcoming articles.

A note on the records search options is that not all the databases are available in the search option.  Example of this would be the Archdiocese records for cemeteries and parishes in the Toledo, OH area.  This source can be accessed by clicking on the “All records Collection” that is located just below the search function on the first page.  All records are listed by location.  Here you would have to move down to Ohio in the listing and look for the Toledo Archdiocese records.  Descriptions of the databases are included on the databases first page.  This section is by far the most updated and you should look at it regularly.  As I mentioned many records are not included in the Records search database, but are located on the site.

Now go back to the records search and look at what we got with our name search.  The returns for your search will cover all the databases included in the search.  For the sake of discussion we will be looking for a death record in Lenawee County Michigan.  We are given the option to look specifically for the death date.  Once you reach the second page which is the results of your search you need to look at the options of the databases searched.  If you conduct a narrow search for the name in the location and the way you have the name spelled the results will be very narrow.  If there is a chance the name could be spelled several different ways in a specific location narrow the search by making it location specific. 

To see what databases have been searched click on the word “Collections” in the filter section along the left side of the page.  Here you will see all the databases that were searched and how many were found.  You should come up with three different databases specific to Michigan which is divided by time period and the SSDI index.  By clicking on one of the four it will narrow the amount of names.  Search each database.  Information can vary.  Once you get to a record that you feel applies click on the name.  Here it will have a transcription if available of the actual record.  You can not look at the scan if you are not registered.  Much more information is included on the actual scan of the document.

The key here is to have a plan for what you are searching for and trying to learn.  Narrow the search by location.  Don’t be afraid to try different methods for searching the databases.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

War of 1812

The War of 1812 is referred to by many as our Second War for Independence. For the genealogist it provides another source for family history information during a period of time in our country’s early history that generally lacks good data.

As the western edge of civilization at this time, Ohio was the site of many important battles. Recent settlers defended their land against both Native American and British forces. Survival skills gained by early settlers—fighting a harsh environment and wielding a gun—played an important role in minimizing the duration of the war.

Northeast Ohio and the area around Cincinnati were important areas for recruitment for militia. Soldiers were organized by the U.S. government from local units originally created to defend against the local native population. Service tended to be short term and men had several short stints of service. They were called up when a threat was apparent or a campaign was being organized. Men were also organized into federal units that primarily occupied the forts that were created during this period.

A series of trails and forts were created in the state to help defend the frontier. The trails would become important routes of migration and trade in later years. For example, a trail ran from Cleveland down through Fremont and then to Perrysburg, where Ft. Meigs was located. This was a very big fort for its day and played an important part in the war. From here you could go further west down the Maumee River to Ft. Wayne or directly north along the western half of Lake Erie to Detroit. The route between Cleveland and Perrysburg would become Route 20 in Ohio and the northern route followed closely I-75 up to Detroit from Toledo.

From Cincinnati a trail was made that reached all the way to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, a major trading post at the time. All along this trail, a series of blockhouses were built that would provide protection for troops during potential Native American attacks. The locations of many of these outposts would later become towns.

In northwest Ohio, the Black Swamp acted as a barrier from the east and the south. Troop movement in this area was difficult. There was really no good time of the year to travel through this area. In the rainy season you had to travel through several feet of water along with large swarms of mosquitoes. In the winter, a solid sheet of ice ran for miles. This was a major reason for the direction of the trails created during this time. The Black Swamp also created a need for very hardy soldiers.

Finding Your Solider

How can you determine whether your ancestor served in the War of 1812? This war tended to accept a much larger age group for service. Check for those who lived in the area that were between the age of 18 and 50. Remember men were in short supply in the frontier so everyone was needed.

A microfilmed index to service records for soldiers and sailors can be found at the National Archives Records Administration (NARA) (M-602, 234 rolls). This listing is for volunteers. Actual service records are currently in the process of being filmed. The records for the Regular army are in “Registers of Enlistment in the US Army 1798-1914” (NARA M223, 81 rolls). In the index, you will find name, rank, organization of unit, dates he was mustered in and out and the state from which he served. Editor’s note: Some muster rolls and other records of Ohio military activity are available in Ohio repositories. See related article, “Selected War of 1812 Resources in Ohio.”

Pension records can be found in two places:
·         The “Old Wars” series covers death and disability claims (covered under special Congressional acts) for service during the entire period. The records are organized alphabetically and there is an index (NARA, T-316, 7 rolls). Included is the name, rank, military or naval unit and period of service. If the person applied for a pension, it will include age or date of birth, residence and sometimes place of birth. When a widow applied for a pension it shows her age, place of marriage to the veteran and maiden name. If the veteran left orphans, the names of the children, ages, and place of their residence will be listed.
·         The “The War of 1812 series” (NARA, M-602, 234 rolls) resulted from Congressional acts passed in 1871 and 1878. Due to the late passage of these benefits, most the people affected had passed on. Included in these records is a subseries that includes death and disability claims as well as bounty land warrants. This makes this source a valuable item due to the increased amount of soldiers covered and closeness to the actual war. The soldier’s information included in this file shows name, age, place of residence, if married, maiden name of wife, place and date of marriage, rank, military or naval unit, date and place of entering the service and date and place of discharge. The widow’s declaration includes name, age and place of residence of the widow, date and place of marriage, name of official conducting the ceremony, date and place of the veteran’s death, his rank, his military or naval unit, the date and place of his entering the service, and the date and place of discharge. This series is indexed on Ancestry .

Bounty land records are the final piece of War of 1812 documentation. For those who may have had family that relocated to the territories of Missouri or Illinois where the bounty land was given, this information is very important. The normal amount was 160 acres. Unlike other wars, land grants awarded from War of 1812 service could not be sold. This will help in understanding the migration pattern and hopefully will move you on to your next step in your genealogical research.
Find War of 1812 Military Bounty Land Warrants, 1815-1858 (NARA M-848, 14 rolls) indexed on Ancestry.