Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another mystery to unfold

Its me again. I was poking around trying to see if I could find Cowden Roxberry's obit (or Joseph Cowden's for that matter) and came across something that like the last piqued my curiosity. The Butler County Library has a page where you can do a search for obituaries and then order copies of them. They also have a page where you can order a set of CDs that contain the 'News of the Day' which is similar to the Prospect Memories in that they are tidbits from the various newspapers in the area. I was poking around the News of the Day page and found a tidbit for a Lydia Lepley and the mention of a daughter that 'died' in April of 1883. IF and its a big 'IF' but if she is MY Lydia Lepley as in the same one who married Cowden Roxberry (Joseph Cowden) then the article (tidbit) could be a clue as to why in the 1900 census she is listed as having had a child but that he/she was not living at the time of the census. As far as I knew, my paternal grandmother was an only child. So if this little mention turns out to be her mother BEFORE she married (ten years before) it will certainly confirm what the census record shows about her.

Its also interesting to note that 1883 is about three years BEFORE my great-grandfather married his first wife Mary Wagner, a marriage that didn't last very long because Mary died in 1888. I doubt there could've been another Lydia Lepley in Butler county or for that matter Prospect township, but I suppose its possible since apparently there was another Upton Roxberry. The most frustrating thing is that the FamilySearch websites have very little if ANY databases for Pennsylvania and that's where the Lepley, Neely and Roxberry lines in my tree originate (or lived for most if not all of their lives). I sent an e-mail asking how to order specific articles from the News of the Day since I don't want to buy the CDs (not for $100 bucks). Five articles are $10 and I think I can find four more along with the Lydia Lepley one.

More later.

Another possible clue?

Haven't posted anything in a while became the holidays always become a time where other things need to get done and there is very little time if any to do some genealogy research. But since the holidays are coming to a close I had been thinking about starting 2011 off by posting at least once a month with a genealogical tip or strategy that has worked for me.

But I had to post something today because of what I came across when doing some transcribing. I had purchased the 4-volume set of 'Prospect Memories' which is basically a collection of newspaper tidbits regarding the goings-on in the town of Prospect in Butler County Pennsylvania from 1886 till around 1924 or so. They are exactly what I said too, 'tidbits' including when someone's just bakes pie were 'stolen' from a windowsill.

You may not think there would be anything of significance in the four volumes but believe it or not if you are familiar with certain names in your tree you can read through the books and pick out those ancestors and you might even learn a little more about them. My main reason for getting the books was to see if I could perhaps solve the mystery of just WHY my great-grandfather, Joseph Cowden (aka Cowden Roxberry) changed or rather 'assumed' a different name when he moved his family to Ohio, yet when he visited Prospect he was once again known by the name given to him at birth.

I didn't find much about Joseph, but did find a couple of entries regarding Cowden or 'Doc' and that brings me to what I noticed today. I had just started transcribing Volume #2 or Prospect Memories (and putting each into a Word document so that I could print them out) and noticed an entry that piqued my curiosity. It was an 'entry' of sorts, since the books are almost like a diary I guess that involved Lepley (Lepley) Cowden, my great-grandmother's brother Warren. It says 'Warren Lepley has moved from the borough into the house recently occupied by the late Doc Roxberry.'

I know what you're thinking, 'late' must mean that he died but I don't think that's the case here. In fact, I think this narrows down the time frame that 'Doc' went from being known as Cowden Roxberry to when he began calling himself Joseph Cowden. I know from other records that in 1910 Joseph, Lydia and their daughter Arrea, my grandmother were living in Minerva Ohio; this according to the census taken that year. I also know that later in this series of articles (volume #4) that 'Doc' and his wife come back to Prospect for a visit and it mentions Minerva. It also mentions Minerva a second time when it is actually reported that he was involved in an accident while digging a ditch. Both times he is referred to as 'Doc'.

I have been assuming that not long before my grandmother was born in 1903 that Cowden became Joseph, but now I have to consider that its just possible that once Cowden or 'Doc' decided to move from Prospect to Ohio and more specifically Minerva that it was THEN that he became Joseph Cowden and Lydia became Mrs. Joseph Cowden instead of Mrs. Roxberry. I still have not found an obituary for either Joseph Cowden OR Cowden Roxberry and I think that would provide some clues even if it wouldn't solve the name change mystery.

Once again more research is needed and in this week before we close out 2010 and begin 2011 I think I will pursue this mystery and see what other clues I can uncover.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and here's hoping that 2011 is a year of many genealogical discoveries in your own research.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Frustrations of Genealogy Research

Do you know what drives me absolutely crazy when it comes to genealogy research? Having more luck finding information on collateral lines than direct ones, or worse finding tons of information on a line that isn't even a collateral one, but one that is only linked to one of my lines because the person married more than once.

Yesterday I traced a line back, well more than one and although tracing any line back is exciting, the lines are neither direct nor collateral to me. You're probably asking, well then why do that research if the lines/branches aren't even linked to you? Simple, ANY research is a challenge and since I feel that even collateral lines are just as important than direct ones doing the research for them might prove invaluable to someone else someday, especially someone that IS directly linked to the line.

Heck, if genealogists didn't have these frustrations or the occasional brick wall there wouldn't really be any point in doing the research to begin with. Not only that the research itself, especially if you only tackle the direct lines, would become really boring and no one wants that. Besides, you never know when doing collateral research when you'll come across that connection to a direct line that you've been wanting to find for YEARS.

So, even though it drives me crazy to find more on collateral or even non-connecting lines it still gives me a thrill when I CAN trace the line back to England and find the parents that I've searched for or have thought about lately. Like one of my favorite wrestlers is fond of saying, Never Give Up, and that's especially true when it comes to genealogy research.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Genealogy research ups and downs

Twice in the past few days I have come across names in my research that weren't exact matches to information I already had but they come too close for me to dismiss them immediately. Is it wrong to always go with your instincts? It can be but lately, I can't ignore what they are telling me. Over the past couple of weeks I've tried finding ancestors to a collateral line, because researching direct lines hadn't gotten me far, at least for my maternal lines. I actually did pretty good and got one line, the Bodemers, back to 1500. But then I saw something that I'd never come across before. I didn't get the line completely back to 1500. See, I traced the line back to 1785, but then found a line that I traced back to 1522. The problem is there are at least TWO generations MISSING. And now I don't know if the two lines, both Bodemer are even connected to one another or if they are just two lines of the same surname that happened to be from the same part of Germany. I've tried more than once to make a connection, but the later line only goes so far and the person that COULD connect the two doesn't have a date of birth, at least not one I could find.

Then the other day I thought I would try another line, this time a direct one, a 2nd great-grandmother, Dorothea BODE. I know what you're probably thinking, is she linked to the Bodemer line? I doubt it since because she married into the Gentzen line, they were both born in Prussia, which is a different part of what is now Germany.

I did find a person that ALMOST matches the information I had on Dorothea, in fact its close enough to mine because of the fact that her middle names (two, common in German naming traditions) happened to be two names that her daughters have, Louise and Henriette. One of her siblings also shares a name with her son, William (Wilhelm) Frederick (her son has the initial 'F'). I haven't committed that information to my tree just yet but my instincts are telling me that its probably as close as I'm going to get with that name.

Just a little while ago I tried another direct line to see if I could find any information, this time the country is Denmark not Germany. My 2nd great-grandfather, Fred A. Ring (long story), who isn't actually my 2nd great-grandfather but actually my 2nd great-grandmother's SECOND husband who happened to 'adopt' I guess you could say her four sons from her first marriage (I said it was a long story). Anyway, I put his father's name, Hans, into the FamilySearch 'pilot' site search box but didn't find anything. So then I thought I would try Fred's name and I added the initial 'A' because it just might help distinguish him from other 'Freds'. Believe it or not it worked but here's where your genealogical instincts play havoc.

As I scrolled down the first page I came across a Frederik Alexander Gotje Ring who was born 17 Mar 1854, the EXACT same DAY, MONTH, and YEAR of my Fred A. Ring. Not only that but his first child with Julia was named ALEXANDER. I know, it could just be a BIG coincidence that all that matches the information I have but in all honesty, even if I didn't use my instincts during my research I would still lean heavily toward Frederik and my Fred A. being one in the same person.

Having these research ups and downs are what make doing the research that much more fun, even if it can get frustrating at times. I wouldn't have it any other way, because each name, date or place I find, is one more piece to the never-ending puzzle in my family history. Genealogical instincts should never be ignored, but should also be taken with caution, especially if you don't have any information to compare with what you find on a website. More importantly, have FUN when doing research, because if you don't there's no point in trying to go back just one more generation to actually find an ancestor across the pond.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Persistence strikes again

Since my last entry, I have managed to add on another three generations to the Bertsche line. The cause was a little persistence and the fact that I was trying to update the family history report I'd created for the Walker line when I added another generations to that branch as well. It happened completely by accident and I can thank the FamilySearch 'pilot' site once again. I used that site as well as, which is the one that started my genealogy research in 1998. Even though the sites are linked and basically contain the same information more or less, going back and forth between the two I have now traced the Walkers back to my 6th great grandparents and the Bertsche line back to my TENTH great grandparents, for which I'm still gob-smacked over

I just wish I could have this kind of luck with the Wilhelm, or Gentzen lines, but because of progress I've made this week, it gives me a little more hope for those branches, especially the Wilhelm line. I never expected to get those branches back as far as I did and believe it or not there is still the tiniest bit of doubt sitting in the back of my mind, because if any of the research and progress I've done lately turns out to be wrong I will be completely devastated. But even IF that does happen, I will press on and continue my research. And that is all any genealogist can do.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taking a genealogy plunge

After a lot of thought and some opinions from other researchers, I've decided to add the information I found on Johann Georg Walker and Maria Anna Bertsche (aka George Walker and Mary Ann Bertseh) to my family tree. But before I actually jump in and do that I'm going to gather as much information about their siblings and parents, grandparents etc. as I possibly can. Why you might ask, especially if it turns out to be wrong and I end up removing it. Because IF it does turn out to be the wrong family (which it still might down the road) I want to be able to post the information on the genealogy message boards so that the right family can find it.

The one place that stands out in the research I've done so far has been Schlaitdorf, Germany. That doesn't seem to change except for the occasional marriage record where the couple is married where the bride was born. The FamilySearch pilot site is about the only place I've found information, I haven't found the right trees at Rootsweb, but then again I have never come across another tree there with Gentzen in it either.

I feel reasonably confident that Johann Georg Walker is my George Walker and I feel equally as confident that Maria Anna Bertsche is Mary Ann Bertseh (or Pearce if you like). So if you come across information in your research that is similar to what you know but not EXACT, don't write it off as wrong. Look between the lines and see if it is possible that you could actually be on the right track, because in the end you might be.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Clue for George Walker

Did you ever come to a point where your brain is telling you one thing and your heart is telling you something else and your instincts are trying to mediate between the two? That's what I am going through right now and believe it or not I really want to go with my instincts on this one.

I went to the library to use Ancestry to see if I could find any immigration/emigration information on George Walker (or Johann Georg Walcker). Believe it or not you can do the particular search I did for free and at home if you don't have a subscription. Anyway, I put Johann Georg Walker in the search boxes and clicked 'search'. Much to my surprise, the very first hit that came up was for a Johann Georg Walker that was born in SCHLAITDORF, Germany and his destination was OHIO. His application date was 1831, all which pretty much coincide with my George's obituary and I STILL think that Schlaitdorf was shortened to Slidor and its even entirely possible that whoever provided that piece of information for the obituary SPELLED it that way because maybe that's how its pronounced.

I honestly don't know but seeing not just the name but Ohio in the listing made me smile and told me (or at least my instincts) that the parents and siblings I'd found were the right ones. I also tracked Johann George's siblings in Germany and they ALL stayed there, George was the ONLY one to make the trip to America. Unfortunately, the Wuerttemberg Germany Emigration Index at Ancestry doesn't give any other information AND I couldn't find anything on a ship or when specifically in 1831 he arrived. But the word 'Ohio' was the biggest clue for me because that's where my George ended up.

What are my instincts telling me? They are saying that it is very possible that you may have found the key to George Walker's ancestry. I tracked the siblings to see if maybe one of their children went to America and possibly found George or something. With genealogy anything is possible. As for his wife Mary Ann Bertsche (or Bertseh or Pearce) I haven't found anything concrete yet, but the Bertsche family I DID find is the most likely candidate, at least that's what my genealogical instincts are telling me.

More later.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Genealogical instincts

Tracing ancestors back across the pond is sometimes a lot harder than tracing them as they moved from one city or even one state to another here in the US. But the funny thing about tracing them in countries and eventually cities across the pond is that if you go with your instincts, much like detectives sometimes do, you can actually come out on the other side with more than just a clue.

Here's what I mean. Earlier this year I happened across a listing for an obituary for what I had hoped was my 3rd great grandfather, George Walker. At first I didn't know that much about him or when specifically he died, at least until I found a probate listing for his wife and then the obituary for him. Obituaries can hold crucial clues as to not only who someone was but where they came from. George's did just that. He wasn't referred to as George Walker but rather 'Father' Walker. According to the obituary, he was born in 1805 in SLIDOR, Wittenberg, Germany. I looked that city up and couldn't find ANY listing for it, even though I found Wittenberg (or Wittenburg). He died 18 Sep 1895 at the age of 89 years, 11 months and 11 days, which when calculated makes his date of birth 7 October 1805.

I used the FamilySearchLabs beta site and put George Walker, 1805 and Germany in the search boxes and I wanted an 'exact' match. The closest I came to getting an exact match was a Joann (Johann) Georg WALCKER born 12 October 1805.

Now at first I thought, 'well this can't be him because the place of birth is completely different.' It was Schlaitdorf, Wurttemberg, Germany. But now that I can't find a 'Slidor' in Wittenberg, I'm wondering if perhaps his place of birth actually IS Schlaitdorf and not Slidor. I know what you're thinking 'It can't be the right guy because the birthdate doesn't match.' And yes I thought the same thing but Slidor MIGHT HAVE existed back then and then again, that COULD have been the fault of the person writing up the obituary, after all, the headline reads 'SAW NAPOLEON' and it claims that George when a lad of only seven years saw Napoleon as he passed through the town WHERE HE WAS LIVING. Now that may or may not have been the same town where he was born. More research is needed to see just what towns Napoleon passed through in 1812.

But the big question is, do I put this and all the other information I found through Johann George Walcker in my tree right now? The answer is no, simply because I just don't have enough evidence to say with absolute certainty that Johann George and MY George Walker are one in the same. As much as I hope they are. I have this same problem with George's wife but that's another story for another entry.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Facebook and genealogy

I haven't posted anything in a couple of months, but I thought I would post today about the positive benefits of signing up for a Facebook account. The social networking site isn't just about playing games (like Farm Town or Mafia Wars), it can also benefit genealogists when they are looking for cousins to connect with.

The simplest way to find possible cousins would be to put a surname in the Friend search box and see what comes up. I did that about a year ago and believe it or not had moderate success. I found familiar names that I already had in my tree (when I talked to an aunt, uncle or cousin) and through simple deduction and matching of birthdays (also which I got when talking to family) I sent friend requests. Some accepted right away without asking who I was and others asked who I was, which I didn't mind because it gave me a chance to let them know how we were related. Most I'm happy to report were interested in their own family histories happy to provide information.

Yesterday I took it one step further especially with those that I had just sent friend requests to and also to those that I hadn't introduced myself to. That's exactly what I did and explained that I was the 'resident' family genealogist. I asked for basic information on their spouses, marriage, children and the like. I also let them know that they could e-mail me 'off' Facebook and that I understood if they didn't want to provide any info at all. Two asked about family histories and I plan on tweaking two of those histories and sending them so that they can not only get a better idea of how we are related to one another but also who else they are related to.

Unfortunately, a couple of cousins haven't accepted my friend requests and one even confirmed that I had the right person because she posted a comment to her nephew's page. I wouldn't say I'm sad about that, just disappointed that she could chat with her nephew and not me or even just accept the friend request and have that be it. I'm certainly not looking to have long conversations with every cousin I find on Facebook, heck some aren't actually related to me but they happened to marry a cousin.

So the next time you are on Facebook (which I like more than Twitter by the way), try a cousin's surname that you know about, you never know who might pop up on Facebook. You'd be surprised how many cousins and other relatives are out there playing Farm Town.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Another generation added

I finally broke down and added the information I found on John Robinson and his family to my genealogy program. I was hesitant about doing this because once you add information it becomes a pain (you know where) to remove it. Even though my instincts were telling me I had the right family, I'm still not sure. I think the hesitation comes from the fact that for John's place of birth all it says for each census record is 'England' which could me just about anywhere in the country. Much like for Edmund 'Canada' for his place of birth could also mean just about anywhere, although I've narrowed it down to Ontario simply because that's where his parents lived in all the Canadian census records I found them in.

The kicker for me anyway is the fact that John's wife is always referred to by initials M.E. except for one census where she's 'Eliza M.' I also solved the mystery of 'St.' George. Upon finding a death record for him in Silver City, Grant County, New Mexico it seems that the 'St.' is actually 'S.T.' initials, which makes more sense than his being a 'saint'. It also seems that each of the children including my great-great grandfather had at least 3 initials not counting their last name, which also fits what I already knew about him. According to Edmund's death certificate he's listed as 'Edmund Lowell C. Robinson'.

I found two more possibles for Mary (Eliza) Robinson's death in Canada, but again I'm not sure about them because the records don't give a whole lot of information. The last one I found is the most promising, May Robinson, died 26 Oct 1880 (which fits the timeline), born in England, married and the informant was John Robinson. Its entirely possible that the 'r' was left out of her name and that's why its listed as 'May' and not Mary, but who knows.

I also found a possible in the 1841 England census for Mary and her maiden name which has yet to be consistent since I've only seen it twice and spelled differently both times. So I'm going to do some digging on that particular family to see if I can gain any other clues about Mary.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Paydirt, but still not sure.

Well, someone from the genealogy group was nice enough to send me the census page and with a little tweaking (and printing, scanning and saving so I could crop it) I now have the 1871 Canadian census that has Edmund L. C. Robinson and his parents and siblings. Its still a little hard to read but I feel very confident that its the right family.

Yesterday I went to the library and used Ancestry Library Edition and found some interesting information. I found John Robinson (Edmund's assumed father) in the 1881 Canadian census as a 'widower', living with three of his children, St. George (that's how he's listed), Herold B., and Hattie A.; his occupation is 'Tinsmith', which is the same as it was for 1871. I then started with the other children, since I already knew about Edmund, being that he's my direct ancestor.

This is where collateral genealogy research comes in, but I have to be honest in that I'm still not COMPLETELY sure I found the right ones, but since I usually listen to my genealogical instincts, I'll go with what my gut says. That doesn't mean that I'll be right but well, if you read this tell me what you think.

I started with 'St.' George since I thought that maybe, just maybe he would be listed just like that more than once. Believe it or not he was. I found a 'St.' George in the 1900 census in New Mexico of all places, but the kicker was who was living with him. His FATHER John. Upon doing this research I was going on the fact that all the children of John and Eliza (or Mary) Robinson were born in Canada and that both John and his wife were born in England. It stands to reason that any hits with that criteria would stand out.

According to the 1900 US Census, John was born July 1819 in England, he was 80 years old, widowed and was a 'retired' Tinsmith. It also said that John came to the US in 1891 and had been there 9 years. This made some sense because I hadn't found him in the 1891 Canadian census, but I had assumed that IF they had come to the US from Canada that they would go to Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota or somewhere just over the border. New Mexico kind of threw me for a loop. Living next door to John and George was Hattie McCullough who was also born in Canada and had a 'niece' living with her Nannie who was born in Illinois. In later census records she was listed has Hattie's daughter.

I traced the second oldest child, William to Iowa and with him I also found his death certificate at the FS site which provided another clue, but again, its ONLY a clue. The death certificate was from the District of Columbia where he died. William Hamilton Robinson, born 13 Jan 1849 in Bethel, Ontario and died 1 May 1928 in DC. He was buried in Iowa. His parents were listed as John Robinson and Mary SHIMPTON. I got excited about this because I had now found her listed with the same two initials that were in the book inscribed to Edmund 'M' and 'E'. Her name could be Mary Eliza or Mary Elizabeth or vice versa. I immediately started trying to find any other references to those two names but didn't.

All in all I traced all the children through the US census records 1900-1920 and even one in 1880. The places ranged from New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and Michigan and even some Ohio. I also even managed to find a child of one that had lived in Cook County, but haven't done a more thorough search on him. I'm going back to the library tomorrow for more research and have an e-mail contact that had a bit of info and I want to see if he has more or if what he posted on Rootsweb was all he had.

Sometimes your instincts are all you have when it comes to genealogy research, just like famous detectives sometimes you have to go with what your gut says or that hunch you've been thinking about because every once in a while, that hunch could snowball into a lot of information especially for a genealogist.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Canadian connection

Dumb luck strikes again. I was poking around the FamilySearchLabs website plugging various names in and collecting bits and pieces of information. Some I knew some I didn't, I even found a few names I didn't know about. Most of the info was for my father's side, since I have a lot more surnames to research on his side than on my mother's.

But tonight I decided to try some of my maternal lines just to see what would happen. As previously reported, the FamilySearchLabs site has added millions of records and it can sometimes be a goldmine. Well, tonight, I wouldn't say I hit the 'mother' load yet but I gained a possible clue to my great-great grandfather, Edmund L.C. Robinson.

According to his death certificate, he was born in Canada, and because of a book that his mother had inscribed to him, I have been assuming that he was born in Hamilton, Ontario. I know nothing else about his mother since when she inscribed the book she used only initials 'M.E.' which doesn't help me find her name. His father's name is John, at least according to his death certificate but again I know nothing else about him

So I plugged Edmund L C Robinson into the FS website and one of the first two hits was obvious, his death certificate, which I already have. But the second was interesting. It was for the 1871 Canadian census. It gave the right birth year (1848), his age (23), ethnic origin, religion, and more importantly the census PLACE, that being St. Andrew's, Ward C, Hamilton 24 Ontario. It also gave the page, line, house and family numbers.

I could view the matching image at Ancestry (if the library was open tomorrow) and see if he is living with his parents, which would definitely make it a goldmine. At the moment I've got a request into a genealogy group asking any member that has access to Ancestry if they could send me a link to the image. If that doesn't come through I'll wait till Tuesday (tomorrow being Memorial Day) and look it up myself. What I'm most curious about is whether or not Edmund had any siblings, because if (and I know its a BIG if) but if he did then maybe I can track them to America, since I know Edmund came to Chicago eventually as he married my great-great grandmother in 1881. I might also be able to track his parents back to England, but again, that's only IF he was living with them when the 1871 census was taken. It also depends on when he came to Chicago, if it was after 1880, then I'll never find him in the 1880 census (though I always look for him). I can also try that tact again now that I know for sure he was born in Canada.

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Genealogy spring cleaning

Genealogy can take on many forms and have a variety of effects on different people. It can be exciting when you find an ancestor you've been search years to find. It can also be frustrating when you know your ancestor is in the census records but they claim different.

Even if you don't think you have that many relatives, say your family was small, don't think that you won't find anything interesting. Even a family that had one or two children can lead to ancestors that had 10 or 12 who had children and well you know how it goes from there. That's the other reason collateral genealogy is so important, because you never know what you'll find out about great-grandpa if you don't dig into information about his siblings, aunts and uncles.

Yesterday, I wanted to find a photo to put on Facebook. Its of my brother (13 years my senior) holding me a few days after I was born. It was taken in front of the Christmas tree and its always been a favorite. I cleaned out the closet in the room I use for an 'office' but haven't found it yet. The room itself has its own history in that it was once my brother's bedroom, before I came along anyway. Then it was my room, once he moved to the room upstairs. Then it was my mother's room for a while. After she passed away and I finally broke down and went through her things, I decided to turn it into an office.

Its been an office where I keep my computer, my genealogy information and for at least a part of it, my Nancy Drew and series book collection. It has my computer desk, a desk my paternal grandfather refinished that holds office supplies, a day bed (that my cat loves to sleep on and under), a bookcase that holds some genealogy and some series books along with a stereo and a 5-shelf bookcase that has most of my paperback series book collection. But the closet, at least until yesterday, had mostly junk in it. It is just right for a genealogist who is accumulating a LOT of paper and let's face it, even though you do most of your research using a computer (or at least I do) and put what you find in a computer program, you are STILL going to collect information on paper, especially when you print things out.

I know you're thinking, what's your point? My point is that even if your family is small now, it probably wasn't this small 100 or even 200 years ago and if you have been thinking about starting to research your family, be prepared to collect lots of information. Even if you don't think you will, BELIEVE ME you will. You can start out using part of a room but if you have the space, like an extra room in your house, take advantage of it and make that your genealogy room. Granted I have split my office between genealogy and Nancy Drew but don't think the teenage sleuth takes up more room than my ancestors, she doesn't.

You may start out with just your four grandparents but remember that they EACH had two parents. One other thing, have FUN doing the research I think that's the most important thing you can gain from starting, even if you only do it on weekends or when the kids are asleep. Remember, you can always search online in your PJs at 3 am. :-)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

FamilySearchLabs does it again

FamilySearchLabs has been on a major updating roll as of late. They recently completed their 'beta' site and have introduced within the last few days dozens of newly indexed records to the site. The majority of the indexes some of which include actual images, have been birth/baptism, marriage and death/burial indexes for various states as well as one for the entire US. This is a plus for researchers because much like I did the other day with Elizabeth (Wear) Hahn's first husband Jacob, they can find bits of information on ancestors and/or relatives where they have some info but need that one missing piece to confirm that they really did find the right person. In other words, take my finding Jacob Hahn. I used the daughter he had with Elizabeth, Lillie because I wanted to find whether or not she did die after the 1880 census. At the same time I was able to find her father's first name.

Just today the site released another database/index that I was pleasantly surprised to see. They have had indexes for both Cook County, Illinois (specifically Chicago) birth and marriage records complete with images and now they have added the third vital record, death certificates. Granted it is only for the years 1878-1922, but much like the other two it is one database that I had been secretly hoping they would index and one day release to the site. As far as this researcher is concerned, FamilySearchLabs is on the right track and if they complete the birth and marriage record databases for Cook County I'll be doing a LOT more research for my maternal lines in the coming days and weeks.

As a matter of fact, when I got my daily digest of messages from the Cook County, IL message board announcing this latest addition to the site I immediately went there and started a search for my great-great grandmother's first husband and the actual father of my great-grandfather, Albert John Ring. His father's name, at least according to his brother's birth record, was Martin Olsen. Dozens came up but I had a bit of an idea when he died. And I actually thought I'd found him but the date is off. This Martin Olsen died in 1887, which is six years or so after Julia, his widow married Fred Ring. The one clue that made me think at first that it was him was where he is buried, Mt. Olive. That happens to be the name of the cemetery where Julia is buried (though she had no headstone). So I am going to continue to look for him and perhaps I can find some other relatives from my mother's side of the family since most if not all lived in and around Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Persistence really does pay off

I just knocked down a brick wall that has been bugging me ever since I discovered one of my great-great grandfather's siblings was married twice. But the discovery wasn't about the husband, but rather his wife's FIRST husband.

I started trying one of the newest databases at FamilySearchLabs and for a lark if nothing else I started going through my Wilhelm names and those associated with it and thought I would take a stab at Charles L. Wilhelm's second wife, Elizabeth (Wear) Hahn. Wear is her maiden name and Hahn is the surname of her first husband. She had three children with him but I hadn't been able to find his first name, until just a few minutes ago.

I typed in Elizabeth's name and used Hahn not Wilhelm, since in the database parents of the deceased person are sometimes, but not always listed. As I scrolled through the list of names looking for anything familiar I spotted Elizabeth with her MAIDEN name of Wear. In that one listing was her daughter from her first marriage, Lillie, who died in 1898 (I didn't have this information either). And there in the column 'Spouses and Children' it said JACOB HAHN and Elizabeth Wear. BINGO, there he was just waiting to be found, her first husband.

I still can't believe that I finally found him but it really is true, persistence DOES pay off. Now that I have his first name I can see what else I can find out including his parents and perhaps I can even locate him in the census records and find out why he didn't live with Elizabeth and maybe even when he died.

Knocking down these little brick walls are what make genealogy research fun, thanks to FamilySearchLabs this is one brick wall that I am glad to have finally knocked down.

New databases to search

FamilySearchLabs has completed its 'beta' testing and has 'launched' its site with brand new databases for genealogists to search. I haven't tried them all out yet but one did catch my eye as I was scrolling through to get to one I use regularly, the Ohio death records. Its similar but titled 'Ohio Deaths and Burials'. Of the dozen or so names I've tried, just to see what would come up, I've found three that contain a little bit more information than I had before the search. It isn't much but then again EVERY little bit helps, especially when someone died before 1908, which is when the Ohio death certificate database starts (it ends with 1953). The new 'index' doesn't have images (wish it did) but has basic information and the dates go up to 1997 and start in 1854 or thereabouts.

I'm quite excited about the new database and plan to try as many of my Ohio names as possible. Should make things interesting and as always frustrating which goes with the territory of genealogy research, but it isn't that bad.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No new clues

Haven't heard back from Maureen, but then she is busy with other genealogical projects. I told her there was no hurry. Haven't gotten any other clues through the photos, though a few of them have the 'I.N. Conrad' on the back, one has 'Port C. Baxter', one has 'J.W. Gould, Artist, Carrollton, O.' stamped on the front, one has 'Gould & Baxter Unexcelled Pictures, West Side Public Square Carrollton, Ohio' and in fine print 'All negatives preserved for future orders'. Speaking of negatives, the very first picture has one behind it and I am still very tempted to go and get a print made just to see if a clearer image can be produced.

Got an e-mail from a woman off one of the message boards I posted the album link to, unfortunately she couldn't identify any of the pictures but liked that I had them. That's nice but that's also no help to me. I really wish the others had names on the bottoms like the one of Emma Wilhelm did, it would make my life a whole lot easier. I would like to add these photos eventually to my family album because at least then I would know what they looked like. Maybe someday I'll get to do that.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Mystery of the Photos part 2

This mystery may get solved yet, or at least it may get some new life put into it with the help of Maureen Taylor. She specializes in identifying photos and has offered to help me. I'm waiting to hear back from her on what she wants me to do and gave her some additional information that I didn't put in my original query. She said that the first couple of photos are the most important folks to the creator of the album. If that's indeed true, and since Emma Wilhelm, my great-grandmother's sister was the 6th photo in the album, its entirely possible that the first two photos are that of her and my great-grandmother Mary, and my great-great grandfather, Henry Wilhelm. I'll keep you posted and see what happens.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The wrong maiden name leads to the right one

Collateral genealogy is a funny thing sometimes. Finding information on a great-grandparent's siblings can sometimes be a challenge but finding anything on their spouses can be more of a challenge. Today I was going through my Fry file to see if I could find any new information on siblings of my great-grandfather or great-great grandfather. FamilySearchLabs is a 'pilot' site, meaning they are still trying things out but the databases they have online are incredible and most of all its FREE, which is of course the best part for genealogists that can't afford the ridiculous prices states charge for vital records.

The one database I use the most at the site is Ohio Death records because you can save and then print the records later on. So I go looking for relatives and have been surprised every once in a while when I find a name I didn't expect and even when I don't find a name. Some databases contain errors (let's face it most of them do, no one's perfect) especially the ones on Rootsweb, that's why its always a good idea when you find information online to do your own investigating to see if what you've found is actually accurate.

That's exactly what I did with Willard Grant Fry's wife, Rose. I haven't been able to find not only when she died but anything about her parents and so I thought I would try again. I tried the Ohio death records at FamilySearch with no luck, though I found her husband easily, but in listing his widow it didn't mention her maiden name, which I had thought was HUEBNER. Turns out it was partly right. I noticed that I'd found their marriage information at another site, Stark County Probate records (google it). And there her maiden name was listed as EBNER. Now sometimes there are errors in the probate records (which also have marriage records not just wills and estate files). So I went to the other FamilySearch site, the one that I started at in 1998, and put Rosa Ebner in just to see what would come up.

BINGO, she was listed in the 1880 census with her parents and siblings. I returned to the other site and found five of her siblings and her mother listed in the Ohio death records. But the one thing that gave me proof I was now on the right track and it hadn't been an error was the name of the informant for her mother, Josephine Ebner, nee Miller. It was 'Mrs. Wm. Fry' aka Rosa! That's the one piece of information (and sometimes the undertaker or funeral director) that can knock a brick wall down, the informant on a death certificate. It can sometimes be the only thing that can convince you that you found the right person, especially if you are researching John Smith. Always look over everything contained on a record like a death certificate, you never know when it will give you a clue to solve a mystery.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Collateral genealogy

Collateral genealogy is the study and/or research of those relatives that you are not directly related to but that could hold the key to information you are seeking regarding those direct ancestors. Some people find that researching ONLY their direct ancestors/relatives is enough for them but they are missing the possibility of knocking down brick walls if they don't research the siblings of their great-grandparents.

When I write up a family history, I want it to contain as much information as I can possibly find on that particular surname. Granted most information is usually gleaned from other databases posted online at various websites but if you take what you find and seek out more information that corroborates what you initially find then you can at least add to that information and even correct errors you find.

And sometimes when researching those siblings or collateral relatives you come across connections that you might've suspected but didn't have any evidence to substantiate that your hunch was right. Speaking of hunches, detectives sometimes rely on a 'hunch' or 'feeling' and genealogists sometimes have to do the same because its the only thing they have. If you think you know that a relative is linked to a surname you've already been researching 9 times out of 10 you are probably right.

Everytime I come across a surname that I recognize I go through my files and look for that name and then see if I can connect the dots and find a common ancestor that they share. You'd be surprised how many families have intermarried in different generations, especially if they both lived in small towns. Some of my Ohio ancestors have done this more than once and my instincts usually tell me there's a connection somewhere but it always takes more research to hunt it down and find it.

Never brush off the possibility that your great-grandfather's brother is the key to finding out your great-grandmother's maiden name, it just might surprise you to learn that the two brothers married two sisters and not only her maiden name but her parents are waiting to be discovered. Give collateral genealogy research a try.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The package arrived

Well the package from Steve arrived today and it contains copies of the letters he collected as well as the transcriptions of those letters, the brief family history of the Morrisons and the Stanleys, census records, Civil War information on Amos and Robert Morrison, as well as his correspondence with Jason. He also included a photo of who he believes to be Robert Morrison in his GAR uniform around 1900.

I also saw two other names through his correspondence that I may try to contact. One was an e-mail and the other came from Ancestry in a family tree. The latter I can't do anything with till I go to the library. I didn't read through everything as it is a thick stack of pages but am grateful to Steve for making the copies for me. I learned that he found the information on the Morrisons because he was researching the soldiers in the 1st OVI (Ohio Volunteer Infantry) and isn't actually related to them but I agree that you feel like you are when you do that much research.

I'm going to post a link to the mystery photos on various message boards and may ask photo detective Maureen Taylor for some help. I'm not giving up but I'm running out of ideas about how to solve this mystery of mine.

The Mystery of the photos continues

Upon checking my e-mail this morning I learned that Jason's cousin could not ID any of the photos in my album. To say I'm disappointed is an understatement as like Jason, I was hoping for at least one ID to give me a further clue as to who those people are. They have to be someone in the family because why would Emma Wilhelm, my great-grandmother's sister be among them. I asked Jason to relay my thanks to his cousin and ask him (when he gets over his cold) about his connection to the Wilhelms, as I'm curious as to where he fits in. Being that they both live in Ohio and I'm assuming both live near to Minerva (Jason lives in Malvern) that his cousin's connection isn't to another Wilhelm, as both Minerva and Malvern are small towns.

If you think I'm going to give up on ever identifying the photos you are wrong, the problem is that I don't know anyone else that I could send them to. I've even sent them to 'cousins' that have nothing to do with the Wilhelm line simply because I have to try anyone. The only reason I feel they are connected to the Wilhelms or even the Walkers (my great-great grandmother's maiden name) is because of the photo of Emma Wilhelm. That one picture is my only clue as to who they might be. I've got some other avenues to try so wish me luck and if you are curious or want to look at the photos in case you think you can recognize them let me know.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good News, Bad news and other stuff

The good news...the guy that first contacted me about having information on the Morrison line has finally mailed the package to me. He sent it Priority on Saturday so maybe with a little luck I'll get it tomorrow, though with the mail delivery service we have around here, I'd be REALLY lucky to get it tomorrow.

The bad news... I still haven't heard from Jason's cousin about the photos. Jason is the one that is related to the Wilhelms 'by marriage', which frankly is another way of saying one of your parents married into the family.

I've decided to write an entry each day (hopefully I can actually keep that up). I watched the movie Julie and Julia tonight and I liked that Julie created the blog and blogged about the recipes she made and even ones that didn't turn out so well. I may not start the daily blogging right away but I do know that it'll be something around the subject of genealogy, that I'm sure of.

Genealogy is very similar to reading about history in that its the history of our ancestors. It isn't just names, dates and places but what they went through as they went from children living with their parents (or grandparents) to young adults to when they married and had families of their own and how the world changed around them.

I've really enjoyed the show 'Who Do You Think You Are?' and even though it isn't returning with a new episode for another week, I have to speak my mind about something. Various websites and even Facebook have places where you can comment about the show and in all honesty I have gotten so sick and tired of people complaining not only that the show evolved around 'celebrities' but also that those same celebrities are just 'handed' the information and that none of the real research is shown.

People, first off, those celebrities you keep complaining about ARE people just like the rest of us. They have family histories just like you and me and BEFORE they became famous or were discovered or whatever they were 'normal ordinary' people. Second, the show more than likely would NOT exist if they didn't have celebrities as the subjects of the searches and they probably wouldn't have gotten good ratings if 'ordinary' people were the focus. I think the genealogical community is LUCKY that Lisa Kudrow finally brought this show to the US and even luckier that it was picked up for a second season. The show isn't about the research, at least it isn't the main focus. The show is about celebrities finding out something about their own families that they never knew and hadn't thought about.

Some may agree with me and some may not, that's your right, however there IS a program that does focus on us ordinary folks. Its called The Generations Project and it comes from BYU in Provo Utah. It is on their own BYU Television channel which can be found in some areas but if you don't get the channel, you can always catch the episodes online. The program airs on Monday nights on BYU television and is re-aired (so to speak) online at their website, the link to the episodes are also posted on Facebook, which is where I watch them and much like WDYTYA, it too has been picked up for a second season. Try to remember that just because they are famous doesn't mean they don't have a few black sheep or skeletons in their family closets.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Never liked waiting

Patience is not one of my virtues, especially when it comes to genealogy. I finally found someone that could possibly identify some photos that were in an album I found at my paternal grandparents house. There are about 2 dozen photos most are those you find in antique stores mounted on cardboard but there are a couple that are on metal, one being about the size of a postage stamp. None of the cousins I share research with recognize any of them and I was about ready to give up on ever being able to put names to the faces. I did manage to read some faint writing at the bottom of one that said 'Emma Wilhelm'. She was my great-grandmother's sister. There at least I had a clue as to who the mystery people could be, part of the Wilhelms I had researched.

It was only after I had posted to a message board about a collateral line, the Morrisons that I thought I would finally have names for those photos. A cousin of a friend, of a friend who was helping to research the Morrisons was actually related to the Wilhelms by marriage. HIS cousin is directly related to them so I sent the first one a link to the photos and am still waiting to hear if he was able to recognize anyone. I had scanned the photos that were on metal and sent those as well. The only one I didn't send now that I think about it was the one of Emma Wilhelm.

The first contact that was helping a friend research the Morrison line offered to send me some of the research he had done, letters and other information that I didn't previously know about but has actually helped me put some pieces together about that family that my great-great grandfather's sister married into. I still don't like waiting but hope that the wait will be worth it not just for the Morrison information but also that I will finally be able to put those photos in my family album and solve that mystery that has bugged me since I discovered the album. Hope to have some good news soon.